Wish Her Safe at Home by Stephen Benatar
PR6052.E449 W5 2010
Rachel Waring is deliriously happy. Out of nowhere, a great-aunt leaves her a Georgian mansion in another city—and she sheds her old life without delay. Gone is her dull administrative job, her mousy wardrobe, her downer of a roommate. She will live as a woman of leisure, devoted to beauty, creativity, expression, and love. Once installed in her new quarters, Rachel plants a garden, takes up writing, and impresses everyone she meets with her extraordinary optimism. But as Rachel sings and jokes the days away, her new neighbors begin to wonder if she might be taking her transformation just a bit too far. In Wish Her Safe at Home, Stephen Benatar finds humor and horror in the shifting region between elation and mania. His heroine could be the next-door neighbor of the Beales of Grey Gardens or a sister to Jane Gardam’s oddball protagonists, but she has an ebullient charm all her own.
Kneller’s Happy Campers by Etgar Keret
Translated from the Hebrew by Miriam Shlesinger.
PJ5054.K375 K3513 2009
Kneller’s Happy Campers is a strange, dark but funny tale set in a world very much like our own but it’s an afterlife populated by people who have killed themselves – many of them are young, and most of them bear the marks of their death…bullet wounds, broken necks…(those who have over-dosed are known as ‘Juliets’). Mordy, our hero, discovers that his girlfriend from his life before has also ‘offed’ herself so he sets out to find her, and so follows a strange adventure… Full of the weird and wonderful characters, and the slightly surreal twist of events that we’ve come to expect from Etgar Keret, this novella is full of humour and comic flashes, but it is also wistful, longing for a better world and perfect love.
The Old Whitaker Place: A Novella by David Chambers
PS3603.H353 O43 2010
In The Old Whitaker Place, we walk with Tom Whitaker through the last years of his long life. He lives alone in a Vermont farmhouse built by his great-grandfather shortly after the Civil War and struggles with blizzards and squatters, with aphids and storm windows, and with Ben, his only child. But most importantly, he struggles with himself and with the indignities of advancing age. Too infirm to live on his own but fiercely attached to the family land, he devises various schemes to permit him to remain at home. His situation looks increasingly hopeless until he meets Teresa, a strong, like-minded woman thirty years his junior. Told in Tom’s dry, cranky, sardonic voice, this short novel reveals much about life’s richness–and absurdity–in the face of adversity.
Chicago: A Novel by Alaa Al Aswany
Translated by Farouk Abdel Wahab.
PJ7814.S93 S5513 2009
“Egyptian and American lives collide on a college campus in post-9/11 Chicago, and crises of identity abound in this new novel from Alaa Al Aswany. Among the players are a sixties-style anti-establishment professor whose relationship with a younger African American woman becomes a moving target for intolerance; a veiled phD candidate whose belief in the principles of her traditional upbringing is shaken by her exposure to American society; an emigre whose fervent desire to embrace his American identity is tested when he is faced with the issue of his daughter’s “honor”; an Egyptian informant who spouts religious doctrines while hankering after money and power; and a dissident student poet who comes to America to finance his literary aspirations but whose experience in Chicago turns out to be more than he bargained for.” Populated by a cast of intriguing, true-to-life characters, Chicago offers an illuminating portrait of America – a complex, often contradictory land in which triumph and failure, opportunity and oppression, licentiousness and tender love, small dramas and big dreams, coexist. Beautifully rendered, Chicago is a novel of culture and individuality.
A Jew Must Die by Jacques Chessex
Translated from the French by W. Donald Wilson.
PQ2663.H396 J8513 2010
A novel based on a true story.
On April 16, 1942, a handful of Swiss Nazis in Payerne lure Arthur Bloch, a Jewish cattle merchant, into an empty stable and kill him with a crowbar. Europe is in flames, but this is Switzerland, and Payerne, a rural market town of butchers and bankers, is more worried about unemployment and local bankruptcies than the fate of nations across the border. Fernand Ischi, leader of the local Nazi cell, blames it all on the town’s Jewish population and wants to set an example, thinking the German embassy would be grateful. Ischi’s dream of becoming the local gauleiter is shattered, however, when the milk containers used to dissimulate Bloch’s body parts is discovered floating in a lake nearby, leading to his arrest.
Jacques Chessex, winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt, is one of Switzerland’s greatest authors. He knew the murderers, went to school with their children, and has written a terse, implacable story that has awakened memories in a country that seems to endlessly rediscover dark areas of its past.
Under the Small Lights: A Novella by John Cotter
PS3603.O86848 U63 2010
Jack wants Corinna, Star wants Jack, Paul wants fast money, Jack and Bill want immortality in art. On a freezing January day Jack and Bill construct elaborate theatricals on the shores of Walden Pond. In burning July, Jack attempts to insinuate himself into the life Corinna’s picked with another man, the moneyed town and overgrown garden she was born to, the wealthy poet next door, and the distant world of artistic success. Fireworks misfire. A summer party and a winter confrontation heat into harsh words, violence. Long-held secrets are revealed.
Under the Small Lights is a lyrical take on the lives of lost 20-somethings, lust, and the state of art. Jack, Bill, Star, and Corinna grow up without roadmaps, with dubious role models, and with more pills and gin than they know what to do with. They are actors in search of roles, and they are betrayed in these roles by real life. This is a novel about the doubtful possibility of collective love and the painful experiences which, once having endured them, we wouldn’t be without.
The Peculiar Boars of Malloy by Doug Crandell
PS3603.R377 P43 2010
This Sherwood Anderson–award winning farcical novel follows two teenage boys living on a farm in Indiana. Their father—a diminutive man and the laughingstock of their small town—purchases two boars in an attempt to impress his neighbors and demonstrate, by proxy, his masculinity. The boars, however, turn out to be resolutely gay and deeply committed to each other, setting off a ridiculous chain of events that brings the spotlight and accompanying media circus to Malloy.
In the midst of all of the madness is the boys’ ongoing, and at once heartbreaking and hilarious, quest to find their wayward mother through a series of touching and humorous flashbacks. Disappointed in their pitiful father, the boys cling to an unrealistic fantasy of their mother, who is in actuality a promiscuous drifter.
Crandell’s depiction of the gay boars provides much of the book’s humor and, unexpectedly, its moral compass as he weaves significant and subtly articulated themes of animal rights and gay rights. The Peculiar Boars of Malloy captures the best traditions of American satire while turning the conventions of the coming-of-age novel on its head. Crandell’s heart and humor will be appreciated by lovers of satire and animals and those readers possessed of a uniquely Midwestern sense of the ridiculous.
In Envy Country: Stories by Joan Frank
PS3606.R38 I52 2010
Winner of the 2010 Richard Sullivan Prize in Fiction, Joan Frank’s second story collection, In Envy Country, explores the uncertainties and triumphs of women and men in and out of love and marriage, at varying ages and stages of contemporary American life. By turns wry, pained, and amused, In Envy Country investigates those small, complex truths that gain clarity with time and distance. Frank, whose earlier books have been reviewed in The New York Times Book Review and Publisher’s Weekly, sets these stories in Paris, California, and Spain.
In addition to her many published short stories, Joan Frank is the author of two novels, Miss Kansas City, which won the Michigan Literary Fiction Award, and The Great Far Away, and a book of short fiction, Boys Keep Being Born. She lives in Northern California.
The Thieves of Manhattan: A Novel by Adam Langer
PS3612.A57 T47 2010
Ian Minot, an aspiring writer with a low-paying day job at a coffee shop in New York, is enraged by the easy literary success of his girlfriend, a beautiful Romanian short story writer, and even more so by Blade Markham, whose “memoir” Blade by Blade, about his drug addiction and his time as a gang member, becomes a bestseller. Convinced that Blade’s book is a fabrication, Ian becomes increasingly dejected–until he’s presented with an irresistible proposition. As he becomes embroiled in an elaborate scheme to create a fake memoir of his own, Ian becomes wrapped up in the hypocrisies of the publishing industry and realizes that fact and fiction can be dangerously intertwined. Full of humor and suspense, The Thieves of Manhattan is a truly original skewering of the book publishing industry.
The More I Owe You: A Novel by Michael Sledge
PS3619.L43 M67 2010
In this mesmerizing debut novel, Michael Sledge creates an intimate portrait of the beloved poet Elizabeth Bishop – of her
life in Brazil and her relationship with her lover, the dazzling, aristocratic Lota de Macedo Soares. Sledge artfully draws from Bishop’s lifelong correspondences and biography to imagine the poet’s intensely private world, revealing the literary genius who lived in conflict with herself both as a writer and as a woman. A seemingly idyllic existence in Soares’s glass house in the jungle gives way to the truth of Bishop’s lifelong battle with alcoholism, as well as her eventual status as one of modernism’s most prominent writers. Though connected to many of the most famous cultural and political figures of the era, Soares too is haunted by her own demons. As their secrets unfold, the sensuous landscape of Rio de Janeiro, the rhythms of the samba and the bossa nova, and the political turmoil of 1950s Brazil envelop Bishop in a world she never expected to inhabit. The More I Owe You is a vivid portrait of two brilliant women whose love for one another pushes them to accomplish enduring works of art.
Ice Cold by Andrea Maria Schenkel
Translated from the German by Anthea Bell.
PT2720.E65 K3513 2009
Munich, in the late thirties, the first years of fascism – the last before the war: Kathie is desperate to leave her sheltered village life and sets out for the city, determined that she’ll get by, one way or another. She is dark-haired, buxom and pretty, like the women who recently disappeared without a trace. Young women are being found around Munich, abused and murdered. Josef Kalteis has been arrested, but is he really responsible for all those misdeeds? Did they execute the wrong one while the murderer is still on the loose? Spellbound by the magnetizing story of the dead women, the reader follows young Kathie. Somewhere in between her naive search for luck and existential concerns, occasional prostitution and the desire for true love, she is in grave danger. Andrea Maria Schenkel has again created a novel based on real events, in which the story is told through several voices and documentation, including interrogation logs, witness statements and the dark thoughts within the murderer’s mind.