New fiction at the UGA Libraries, July 28

July 28, 2010 – 12:24 PM

The Irresistible Henry House: a novel by Lisa Grunwald
PS3557.R837 I78 2010

It is the middle of the twentieth century, and in a home economics program at a prominent university, real babies are being used to teach mothering skills to young women. For a young man raised in these unlikely circumstances, finding real love and learning to trust will prove to be the work of a lifetime. In this captivating novel, bestselling author Lisa Grunwald gives us the sweeping tale of an irresistible hero and the many women who love him.

From his earliest days as a “practice baby” through his adult adventures in 1960s New York City, Disney’s Burbank studios, and the delirious world of the Beatles’ London, Henry remains handsome, charming, universally adored—and never entirely accessible to the many women he conquers but can never entirely trust.

Filled with unforgettable characters, settings, and action, The Irresistible Henry House portrays the cultural tumult of the mid-twentieth century even as it explores the inner tumult of a young man trying to transcend a damaged childhood. For it is not until Henry House comes face-to-face with the real truths of his past that he finds a chance for real love.

Elegy for April: a novel by Benjamin Black
PR6052 .A57 E44 2010

Quirke—the hard-drinking, insatiably curious Dublin pathologist—is back, and he’s determined to find his daughter’s best friend, a well-connected young doctor.

April Latimer has vanished. A junior doctor at a local hospital, she is something of a scandal in the conservative and highly patriarchal society of 1950s Dublin. Though her family is one of the most respected in the city, she is known for being independent-minded; her taste in men, for instance, is decidedly unconventional.

Now April has disappeared, and her friend Phoebe Griffin suspects the worst. Frantic, Phoebe seeks out Quirke, her brilliant but erratic father, and asks him for help. Sober again after intensive treatment for alcoholism, Quirke enlists his old sparring partner, Detective Inspector Hackett, in the search for the missing young woman. In their separate ways the two men follow April’s trail through some of the darker byways of the city to uncover crucial information on her whereabouts. And as Quirke becomes deeply involved in April’s murky story, he encounters complicated and ugly truths about family savagery, Catholic ruthlessness, and race hatred.

Both an absorbing crime novel and a brilliant portrait of the difficult and relentless love between a father and his daughter, this is Benjamin Black at his sparkling best.

The Man from Saigon: a novel by Marti Leimbach
PS3562.E4614 M36 2010

It’s 1967, and Susan Gifford is one of the first female correspondents on assignment in Saigon, dedicated to her job and passionately in love with an American TV reporter. Son is a Vietnamese photographer anxious to get his work into the American press. Together they cover every aspect of the war from combat missions to the workings of field hospitals. Then one November morning, narrowly escaping death during an ambush, Susan and Son find themselves the prisoners of three Vietcong soldiers who have been separated from their unit. Now, under constant threat from American air strikes, helpless in the hands of the enemy, they face the daily hardships of the jungle together. As time passes, the bond between Susan and Son deepens, and it becomes increasingly difficult for Son to harbor the secret that could have profound consequences for them both.

Eddie Signwriter by Adam Schwartzman
PR9369.3.S32 E33 2010

A stunning debut novel–its power and prose evocative of such diverse writers as Faulkner, Ondaatje, Nabokov, and Coetzee–about a young African’s international odyssey of self-discovery.

At its center: Kwasi Edward Michael Dankoh– Eddie Signwriter to his clients–a twenty-year-old painter of murals and billboards in the city of Accra, Ghana, who is buffeted by forces beyond his control and understanding as he is swept up by the passions and machinations of others. Struggling with a forbidden relationship, banished from school, held responsible for the death of a notable woman in the community, Eddie flees overland to Senegal and then, illegally, to France, determined to find a new life for himself among the immigrant communities of Paris.

Following him across magnificently rendered African lands into precincts of Paris, where the city of light shows a darker aspect, Eddie Signwriter gives us a spellbinding tale of rootlessness and desire, of disgrace and redemption, of politics both personal and global, of art and love. Empathic, wise, deeply humane, and luminously written, it is a novel of great importance, and Adam Schwartzman a writer of great promise.

All That Follows: a novel by Jim Crace
PR6053.R228 A78 2010

Set in Texas and the suburbs of England, All That Follows is a novel in which tender, unheroic moments triumph over the more strident and aggressive facets of our age.

British jazzman Leonard Lessing has spent a memorable yet unsuccessful few days in Austin, Texas, trying to seduce a woman he fancied. During his stay, he became caught up in her messy life, which included a new lover, a charismatic but carelessly violent man named Maxie.

Eighteen years later, Maxie enters Leonard’s life again, but this time in England, where he is armed and holding hostages. Leonard must decide whether to sit silently by as the standoff unfolds or find the courage to go to the crime scene where he could potentially save lives, as only someone who knows Maxie can. The lives of two mothers and two daughters—all strikingly independent and spirited—hang in the balance.

All That Follows provides moving and surprising insights into the conflict between our private and public lives and redefines heroism in this new century. It is a masterful work from one of England’s brightest literary lights.

So Much for That by Lionel Shriver
PS3569.H742 S6 2010

After his wife is diagnosed with cancer, Shep Knacker sees his dream of retiring to a developing country slip away, along with all the money in his once-plentiful bank account, as he tries to navigate America’s labyrinthine health-care system.

The Escape: a novel by Adam Thirlwell
PR6120.H575 E83 2010

Haffner is charming, morally suspect, sexually omnivorous, vain. He is British and Jewish and a widower. But when was Haffner ever really married? Or Jewish? When was he ever attached? There are so many stories of Haffner: but this, the most secret, is the greatest of them all.

In a spa town snug in the Alps, at the end of the twentieth century, the 78-year-old Haffner is seeking a cure, redress, more women; and ignoring the will of his wife. He is there to claim her inheritance: a villa on the outskirts of a forgotten spa town. But Haffner never does what he is told. On his arrival in the town, he has checked into the spa hotel – and tried to develop two affairs: a mildly successful affair with a younger woman whose breasts are lavish, and a much less successful affair with an even younger woman, whose breasts are the smallest he has ever known. And, intermittently, he has tried to secure the paperwork for the villa he never wanted. But gradually, in the tribulations of bureaucracy, he discovers that he wants this villa, very much. Now that he has to fight for it, he wants it. There are two character notes to Haffner: he is an egotist, and he adores women. A mediocre man, but a man of singular appetite. And so it is that, harried by his family, pursued by his women, menaced by bureaucrats, negotiating with the mafia, riven by his memory of the dead and of the missing, Haffner endures his many humiliations, as he tries to orchestrate his final escape, in the forgotten center of Europe.

Through the story of his couplings and uncouplings, emerge the stories of Haffner’s Twentieth Century. How can you ever desert from your past, your family, your history? That has been the problem of Haffner’s life. How do you remain a libertine? A novel about the fall of empires, and the beauty of defeat, The Escape is a swift, sad farce of sexual mayhem.

Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives: Stories by Brad Watson
PS3573.A8475 A45 2010

Dark and brilliant tales capturing the strangeness of human (and almost-human) life. In this, his first collection of stories since his celebrated, award-winning Last Days of the Dog-Men, Brad Watson takes us even deeper into the riotous, appalling, and mournful oddity of human beings.

In prose so perfectly pitched as to suggest some celestial harmony, he writes about every kind of domestic discord: unruly or distant children, alienated spouses, domestic abuse, loneliness, death, divorce. In his masterful title novella, a freshly married teenaged couple are visited by an unusual pair of inmates from a nearby insane asylum—and find out exactly how mismatched they really are.

With exquisite tenderness, Watson relates the brutality of both nature and human nature. There’s no question about it. Brad Watson writes so well—with such an all-seeing, six-dimensional view of human hopes, inadequacies, and rare grace—that he must be an extraterrestrial.

Walks with Men by Ann Beattie
PS3552.E177 W35 2010

It is 1980 in New York City, and Jane, a valedictorian fresh out of Harvard, strikes a deal with Neil, an intoxicating writer twenty years her senior. The two quickly become lovers, living together in a Chelsea brownstone, and Neil reveals the rules for a life well lived: If you take food home from a restaurant, don’t say it’s because you want leftovers for “the dog.” Say that you want the bones for “a friend who does autopsies.” If you can’t stand on your head (which is best), learn to do cartwheels. Have sex in airplane bathrooms. Wear only raincoats made in England. Neil’s certainties, Jane discovers, mask his deceptions. Her true education begins.

Ether: Seven stories and a novella by Evgenia Citkowitz
PS3603.I89 E75 2010

In “Leavers’ Events”, a teenage girl awaits exam results and has a sexual encounter with a teacher that she hopes will define her. In” Sunday’s Child”, a middle-aged actress evicts a homeless woman from her garden, which precipitates a crisis of conscience. In “The Bachelor’s Table”, a lawyer takes advantage of an accounting mistake and sets in motion a sequence of events that force him to evaluate his actions. In the title story, “Ether”, a blocked writer plagiarizes his own life with devastating consequences.

All the characters in Evgenia Citkowitz’s first collection of short fiction are connected by the quest for identity. Some are poised at a crossroads, while others teeter on the edge of a moral precipice. The stories are startlingly original, haunting, and often funny. From a hamster cage in Los Angeles to the bowels of the great houses of London and Long Island, Citkowitz depicts her characters’ frailties and humanity with a mordant humor and tenderness that never diminish their complexity.

Black Water Rising by Attica Locke
PS3612.O247 B57 2009

Jay Porter is hardly the lawyer he set out to be. His most promising client is a low-rent call girl and he runs his fledgling law practice out of a dingy strip mall. But he’s long since made peace with not living the American Dream and carefully tucked away his darkest sins: the guns, the FBI file, the trial that nearly destroyed him.

Houston, Texas, 1981. It is here that Jay believes he can make a fresh start. That is, until the night in a boat out on the bayou when he impulsively saves a woman from drowning—and opens a Pandora’s box. Her secrets put Jay in danger, ensnaring him in a murder investigation that could cost him his practice, his family, and even his life. But before he can get to the bottom of a tangled mystery that reaches into the upper echelons of Houston’s corporate power brokers, Jay must confront the demons of his past.

With pacing that captures the reader from the first scene through an exhilarating climax, Black Water Rising marks the arrival of an electrifying new talent.

Happy Now? by Katherine Shonk
PS3619.H65 H37 2010

The latest from Shonk (The Red Passport) will have anyone who’s ever complained about a crappy Valentine’s Day counting their blessings. Not quite two years after artist and dollhouse builder Claire Kessler gets married to Jay, he kills himself on Valentine’s Day, leaving a devastated Claire to learn how to navigate life alone. Ironically, Jay—who, the reader learns, suffered from crippling episodes of depression—was a psychologist, with a specialty in studying infant behavior. His knowledge about his condition didn’t make it any easier for him to deal with it, Claire learns, as she gathers the courage to read the packet of instructions he left behind, containing information on everything from taking care of his difficult cat, to a note exhorting Claire not to blame herself for his act. Both tear-jerking and laugh-out-loud funny, this will have readers rooting for its brave heroine and hoping that, indeed, she will one day be happy again.

Alone with You: Stories by Marisa Silver
PS3619.I55 A78 2010

In this elegant, finely wrought new collection, Alone With You, Marisa Silver has created eight indelible stories that mine the complexities of modern relationships and the unexpected ways love manifests itself. Her brilliantly etched characters confront life’s abrupt and unsettling changes with fear, courage, humor, and overwhelming grace.

In the O. Henry Prize–winning story “The Visitor,” a VA hospital nurse’s aide contends with a family ghost and discovers the ways in which her own past haunts her. The reticent father in “Pond” is confronted with a Solomonic choice that pits his love for his daughter against his feelings for her young son. In “Night Train to Frankfurt,” first published in The New Yorker, a daughter travels to an alternative-medicine clinic in Germany in a gambit to save her mother’s life. And in the title story, a woman vacations in Morocco with her family while contemplating a decision that will both ruin and liberate them all.

From “Temporary,” where a young woman confronts the ephemeral nature of companionship, to “Three Girls,” in which sisters trapped in a snowstorm recognize the boundaries of childhood, the nuanced voices of Alone With You bear the hallmarks of an instant classic from a writer with unerring talent and imaginative resource. Silver has the extraordinary ability to render her fictional inhabitants instantly relatable, in all their imperfections. Her stories have the singular quality of looking in a mirror. We see at once what is familiar and what is strange. In these stirring narratives, we meet ourselves anew.

  1. 2 Responses to “New fiction at the UGA Libraries, July 28”

  2. Adam Thirlwell’s “The Escape” was very interesting to me. I have shared the book and my friends have enjoyed it as well. Great recommendation.

    By Debbie bully alarm Psych on Oct 3, 2010

  3. Thanks for sharing. I would like to check out this fiction books.

    By Matthew Butte on Feb 9, 2011

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