New fiction at the Libraries, Feb 24

February 24, 2012 – 4:53 PM

Love and Shame and Love: A novel by Peter Orner
PS3615.R58 L68 2011

Alexander Popper can’t stop remembering. Four years old when his father tossed him into Lake Michigan, he was told, Sink or swim, kid. In his mind, he’s still bobbing in that frigid water. The rest of this novel’s vivid cast of characters also struggle to remain afloat: Popper’s mother, stymied by an unhappy marriage, seeks solace in the relentless energy of Chicago; his brother, Leo, shadow boss of the family, retreats into books; paternal grandparents, Seymour and Bernice, once high fliers, now mourn for long lost days; his father, a lawyer and would-be politician obsessed with his own success, fails to see that the family is falling apart; and his college girlfriend, the fiercely independent Kat, wrestles with impossible choices.

Covering four generations of the Popper family, Peter Orner illuminates the countless ways that love both makes us whole and completely unravels us. A comic and sorrowful tapestry of memory of connection and disconnection, Love and Shame and Love explores the universals with stunning originality and wisdom.

The Twelve Chairs: A novel by Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov
Translated from the Russian by Anne O. Fisher
PG3476.I44 D913 2011

Ostap Bender is an unemployed con artist living by his wits in postrevolutionary Soviet Russia. He joins forces with Ippolit Matveyevich Vorobyaninov, a former nobleman who has returned to his hometown to find a cache of missing jewels which were hidden in some chairs that have been appropriated by the Soviet authorities. The search for the bejeweled chairs takes these unlikely heroes from the provinces to Moscow to the wilds of Soviet Georgia and the Trans-caucasus mountains; on their quest they encounter a wide variety of characters: from opportunistic Soviet bureaucrats to aging survivors of the prerevolutionary propertied classes, each one more selfish, venal, and ineffective than the one before.

As Though She Were Sleeping by Elias Khoury
Translated from the Arabic by Humphrey Davies
PJ7842.H823 K313 2011

As Though She Were Sleeping is an homage to dreaming, “the only way of escaping oppression, be it familial, religious, or political.” Milia’s response to her new husband and to the Middle East of 1947 is to close her eyes and float into parallel worlds where identities and faces shift, and where she can converse with the dead and foresee the future. As the novel progresses, Milia’s dreams become more navigable than the strange and obstinate “reality” in which she finds herself, and the two worlds grow ever more entangled. This wondrous tapestry of love, faith, history, and vision breaks new literary ground.

The Lizard’s Tale: A novel by José Donoso
Translated from the Spanish by Suzanne Jill Levine
PQ8097.D617 L3413 2011

Defeated and hiding in his Barcelona apartment, painter Antonio Muñoz-Roa—clearly Donoso’s alter ego—relates the story of his flight with Luisa, his cousin, lover, and benefactor, after his scandalous desertion from the “Informalist” movement (a witty reference to a contemporary Spanish art movement and possibly an allusion to the Boom as well), in which he had been a member of a certain standing. Frustrated, old, and alone, the artist looks back on his years in the small town of Dors, a place he unsuccessfully tried to rescue from the crushing advance of modernity, and on the decline of his own family, also threatened by the changing times. In Levine’s able hands, Donoso’s clear prose shines through, forming a compact, powerful, and still-relevant meditation on the commercialization of art and the very places we inhabit.

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
PR6052.A6657 S46 2011; and Main Leisure Y10165

Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life.

Now Tony is in middle age. He’s had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He’s certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer’s letter is about to prove.

The Matter with Morris: A novel by David Bergen
PR9199.3.B413 M3 2011

When Morris Schutt, a prominent newspaper columnist, surveys his life over the past year, he sees disaster everywhere. His son has just been killed in Afghanistan, and his newspaper has put him on indefinite leave; his psychiatrist wife, Lucille, seems headed for the door; he is strongly attracted to Ursula, the wife of a dairy farmer from Minnesota; and his daughter appears to be having an affair with one of her professors. What is a thinking man to do but turn to Cicero and Plato and Socrates in search of the truth? Or better still, to call one of those discreet “dating services” in search of happiness? But happiness, as Morris discovers, is not that easy to find.

David Bergen’s most accomplished novel, The Matter with Morris is an unforgettable story with a vitality, charm, and intelligence all its own. Bergen proves once again that he is a rare and exceptional writer, dazzling us with his wit and touching us with his compassion.

Mitzvah Man by John J. Clayton
PS3553.L388 M57 2011

Boston businessman Adam Friedman goes a little crazy—or becomes a little holy—after the death of his beloved wife. He

becomes a very different kind of superhero. In a frenzy of mitzvot—good deeds, commandments—he saves lives and helps the needy. His teenage daughter begins to wonder if there isn’t something more than a shared joke to the Mitzvah Man T-shirt she has designed for him. When Friedman is propelled into the headlines, followers gather on his doorstep. Voices, dreams, and auras visit him. Miracles occur among family, friends, and strangers alike. But while some hail the Mitzvah Man as a modern-day prophet, others brand him a madman, and he is in danger of losing custody of his daughter. Through his experiences of love and loss, beauty and pain, Friedman’s daily quest reveals the unexpected ways in which God may inhabit us.

 

Holy Terror by  Frank Miller (story & art)
Folio PN6727.M55 H65 2011

There’s a deadly menace somewhere in Empire City, and The Fixer only has until dawn to save his town – and civilization as we know it.  Legendary Comics presents an all-out, head-busting, bone-breaking, neck-snapping brawl of a tale from Frank Miller, one of the most celebrated storytellers of the medium. Years in the making, Holy Terror features the desperate and brutal quest of a hero as he is forced to run down an army of murderous zealots in order to stop a crime against humanity.

Boundaries by Elizabeth Nunez
PS3564.U48 B68 2011

In an age of reality TV, a husband and wife cling to Victorian notions of privacy, though doing so threatens the life of the wife. Their daughter Anna yearns for her mother’s unguarded affection, and eventually learns there is value in restraint. But Anna, a Caribbean American immigrant, finds that lesson harder to accept when, eager to assimilate in her new country, she discovers that a gap yawns between her and American-born citizens.

The head of a specialized imprint at a major publishing house, Anna is soon challenged for her position by an ambitious upstart who accuses her of not really understanding American culture, particularly African American culture. Her job at stake, Anna turns for advice to her boyfriend Paul, a Caribbean American himself, who attempts to convince her that immigrants must accept limitations on their freedom in America.

Told in spare and transcendent prose, Boundaries is a riveting immigrant story, a fascinating look into the world of contemporary book publishing, a beautiful extension of the exploration of family dynamics that began in Nunez’s previous novel Anna In-Between, and a heartwarming love story.

The Death of King Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory; a retelling by Peter Ackroyd
PR6051.C64 D43 2011

An immortal story of love, adventure, chivalry, treachery and death brought to new life for our times. The legend of King Arthur has retained its appeal and popularity through the ages: Mordred’s treason, the knightly exploits of Tristan, Lancelot’s fatally divided loyalties and his love for Guinevere, the quest for the Holy Grail. Now retold by Peter Ackroyd with his signature clarity, charm and truth to the spirit of the text, the result is not only one of the most readable accounts of the knights of the Round Table but also one of the most moving.

The Wolves of Andover: A novel by Kathleen Kent
PS3611.E674 W65 2010

In the harsh wilderness of colonial Massachusetts, Martha Allen works as a servant in her cousin’s household, taking charge and locking wills with everyone. Thomas Carrier labors for the family and is known both for his immense strength and size and mysterious past. The two begin a courtship that suits their independent natures, with Thomas slowly revealing the story of his part in the English Civil War. But in the rugged new world they inhabit, danger is ever present, whether it be from the assassins sent from London to kill the executioner of Charles I or the wolves-in many forms-who hunt for blood. A love story and a tale of courage, The Wolves of Andover confirms Kathleen Kent’s ability to craft powerful stories of family from colonial history.

Queen of America: a novel by Luis Alberto Urrea
PS3571.R74 Q44 2011

After the bloody Tomochic rebellion, Teresita Urrea, beloved healer and “Saint of Cabora,” flees with her father to Arizona. But their plans are derailed when she once again is claimed as the spiritual leader of the Mexican Revolution. Besieged by pilgrims and pursued by assassins, Teresita embarks on a journey through turn-of-the-century industrial America-New York, San Francisco, St. Louis. She meets immigrants and tycoons, European royalty and Cuban poets, all waking to the new American century. And as she decides what her own role in this modern future will be, she must ask herself: can a saint fall in love?

At turns heartbreaking, uplifting, and riotously funny, Queen of America reconfirms Luis Alberto Urrea’s status as a writer of the first rank.

The Wasp Factory: A novel by Iain Banks
PR6052.A485 W3 1998b

Frank – no ordinary sixteen-year-old – lives with his father outside a remote Scottish village. Their life is, to say the least, unconventional. Frank’s mother abandoned them years ago: his elder brother Eric is confined to a psychiatric hospital; and his father measures out his eccentricities on an imperial scale. Frank has turned to strange acts of violence to vent his frustrations. In the bizarre daily rituals there is some solace. But when news comes of Eric’s escape from the hospital Frank has to prepare the ground for his brother’s inevitable return – an event that explodes the mysteries of the past and changes Frank utterly.

 

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