When memory fails, what can take its place? Speculation, Brigitte Lewis suggests, other ways of knowing: myth, history, science. Imagination. The quicksilver of language itself. The result is a memoir about what it means to re-member a life. Hybrid in form and lyrical in style, Speculative Histories is driven by an authentic voice and a singular intelligence. This is a mind on the page, a story unfolding. To read it, is to fall in love with what writing can do.
In 1929, Thomas Mann won the Nobel Prize for Buddenbrooks. While he balked at working with a female translator, his standing in the Western canon can be in part credited to the translating work of Helen Lowe-Porter. Based closely on historical source material, the novel follows a young Helen as she struggles against gender roles in the early-mid 20th century to realize the life she desires as a writer and translator. Married to the charming classicist Elias Lowe, whom she met and fell in love with in Munich, the story weaves one woman’s journey as her husband Elias’s career soars, and her translation work earns Mann the Nobel Prize. The novel celebrates the life of Helen Lowe-Porter as she learns to risk stepping out from the long shadow of the dominating men of her life to become a person of letters in her own right.
In 1992, ten years after whaling was banned, a scientific expedition set off from Tahiti on a voyage around the Pacific to New Zealand, following the 'whale road.’ Deborah McCutchen joined the crew as a nanny for the two children of the captain and his wife. The Whale Road is a montage of snapshots, layered together in a colorful album of words. McCutchen strikes a fine balance between lyricism and musing on the one hand, and action and anecdote on the other. Humor enlivens the mundane: the nausea and cabin fever, dwindling supplies, brief island sojourns, and the work of photographing whales and collecting skin and excrement samples. Without being preachy, this book is a plea for the conservation of whales and other creatures, and a lament for human interference in nature.
— Phillippa Jamieson, New Zealand Herald
Reginald Gibbons' first novel takes place in east Texas in 1910 during the time of white rule—not by law but by lynch mob. Amid the suffocating racism and fear, half-Choctaw, half-white Reuben Sweetbitter and Martha Clarke, a white woman, fall in love… Reuben and Martha's love is strong, but dishearteningly, racism is stronger. Timely in the subject of interracial love, this authentic, richly detailed novel plumps sacrifice, fear, and the loss of one's identity, bringing the anguish of the two young lovers to life. Highly recommended.
“Sometimes our past is the only truth-teller, specially when the real-life persons are not always factual to us, or when the personal memories likewise are not so certain over the years.” Such is the wisdom of kind-hearted Erasmus T. Yang, frustrated journalist wannabe and proprietor of a mama shop in the fictional Southeast Asia of Tandomon, who finds himself inadvertently embroiled in the Sino-Soviet border clashes of the late 1960s. Told by journalist and award-winning novelist, Scott Shibuya Brown, the novel takes a comic look at one ambitious man’s efforts to promote a fraudulent war memorial, thereby almost precipitating international conflict through Yang’s enthusiastic news reporting. Narrated in a charming first-person narrative of Singlish and Manglish (Singaporean and Malaysian English), as well as invented colloquial English, the tale is both an entertainment and a warning, in the tradition of early Naipaul, Graham Greene, and Joseph Heller.
The rain-sodden, southern world of David Wesley Williams’ Everybody Knows overflows with satiric fun as it churns up a rich detritus of Biblical allusions, political backstory, musical opinions, literary puns, and local anecdote. The story, set a decade hence, introduces a raft of characters, too, including musicians, an escaped felon, a tyrannical governor atop his state’s old electric chair, various and likable sidekicks and mistresses, and even a writer, the ironic double of the work’s author, whose enthusiasm for his subject matter spills over into strongly opinionated footnotes. And that’s all before the pirates arrive. Original, energetic, and obsessive, Everybody Knows recalls the worlds of Faulkner, Welty, Flannery O’Connor, Kurt Vonnegut, and John Kennedy Toole in its broad wit and sorrowful joy.
In eleven fearless, wide-ranging stories, The Sexual Lives of Suburbanites offers us a sometimes absurdist, sometimes satirical but always fresh glimpse into the things that trouble us most. From materialism to regrets and everything in-between, Stenson dissects suburban milieu. Whether narrated by e-trading infants or drug addicts, the characters' worlds unfold with energy and surprise. Variously whimsical, obsessive, charming, and dark, the stories also break your heart.
Memory, grief, and self-reflection mingle in debut author Garza’s account of the death of her sibling. The 52-year-old author recounts her experience with survivor’s guilt, dissociation, and spirituality, as she undertook a long journey to reconstruct her identity. Throughout, the author illustrates, in observant, poetic prose, the reverberating effects that grief can have on a life and the many ways that her family has coped with it. Garza draws on multiple outside sources, including the work of Rebecca Solnit, the words of Saint Teresa of Ávila, and the Tibetan Book of the Dead, to explore how people understand and interact with death and how they ultimately learn to accept it as a constant companion. An achingly vulnerable, elegantly worded meditation on grief and recovery. ―Kirkus Review
Missing centers on the author’s connection to William Maxwell, legendary fiction editor at The New Yorker and old friend of Cornelia Maude Spelman’s parents. Maxwell and Spelman become acquainted in his later years; through him, she is able to see her parents as young people with potential, when previously she’d been saddened by what seemed like their mediocre, unsuccessful lives...Maxwell’s presence dominates the first chapter with warmth, affection, and charm; later, his appearance in the book is sporadic and just right: otherwise, readers might miss out on Spelman’s fine narrative voice and rich nonfiction storytelling skills.
―Lisa Romeo, Foreward Reviews
Not since Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf has a writer given us such an intense, provocative, and poetic look at the tensions between art and marriage, illusion and reality. Jean McGarry’s Blue Boy is as heartbreakingly beautiful as a pieta by an Old World master. —Eileen Pollack
The Spring is the haunting account of a young woman's return, alone, to her family's house in the Tuscan hills and of the locals and foreigners who jostle around her in uneasy community. Subtle, intense, and elegant, Weiler's novel evokes rich experiences and essential themes.
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