Mostly Fiction BOOK REVIEWS


Contemporary Fiction

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The Sorrows of an American Siri Hustvedt - A soaring feat of storytelling about the immigrant experience and the ghosts that haunt families from one generation to another.When Erik Davidsen and his sister, Inga, find a disturbing note from an unknown woman among their dead father’s papers, they believe he may be implicated in a mysterious death. The Sorrows of an American tells the story of the Davidsen family as brother and sister uncover its secrets and unbandage its wounds in the year following their father’s funeral. author page

coverThe Story of Marriage by Andrew Sean Greer -“We think we know the ones we love.” So Pearlie Cook begins her indirect and devastating exploration of the mystery at the heart of every relationship, how we can ever truly know another person. (March 2009) author page

The Cure for Modern Life by Lisa Tucker - A riveting tales about work and love, family and responsibility -- and how we live now. (March 2009) author page

The Third Angel by Alice Hoffman - A magical and stunningly original story that charts the lives of three women in love with the wrong men. (March 2009) author page

coverHis Illegal Self by Peter Carey - The story of Che—raised in isolated privilege by his New York grandmother, he is the precocious son of radical student activists at Harvard in the late sixties. Yearning for his famous outlaw parents, denied all access to television and the news, he takes hope from his long-haired teenage neighbor, who predicts, They will come for you, man. They’ll break you out of here. (February 2009) author page

coverA Man of No Moon by Jenny McPhee - It’s 1948, and postwar Rome is giddy and chaotic. Poet Dante Sabat is attending yet another film industry soirée at Tullio Merlini’s apartment off the Via del Corso. Disaffected and deeply self-absorbed, Dante finds Tullio’s glamorous evenings tedious but welcomes any distraction. This rainy evening, the distraction is double: sisters Gladys and Prudence Godfrey, both beautiful, sharp-witted, and remarkably compelling American actresses who have recently arrived in Rome. As the new acquaintances leave the party together, it marks the beginning of a story of three damaged people struggling to live with their memories, and with themselves. (February 2009) author page

coverMy Revolutions by Hari Kunzru - Chris Carver is living a lie. His wife, their teenage daughter, and everyone in their circle know him as Michael Frame, suburban dad. They have no idea that as a radical student in the sixties he briefly became a terrorist —protesting the Vietnam War by setting bombs around London. And then one day a ghost from his past turns up on his doorstep, forcing Chris on the run. (January 2009) author page

A Person of Interest by Susan Choi - When a mail bomb explodes in the campus office next door, Lee, an Asian American math professor at a second-tier university in the Midwest, comes under suspicion. The authorities believe he may be the infamous “brain bomber,” an elusive terrorist whose primary targets are prominent scientists and mathematicians. (January 2009) author page

coverThe Senator's Wife by Sue Miller - Meri is newly married, pregnant, and standing on the cusp of her life as a wife and mother, recognizing with some terror the gap between reality and expectation. Delia Naughton—wife of the two-term liberal senator Tom Naughton—is Meri’s new neighbor in the adjacent New England town house. Delia’s husband’s chronic infidelity has been an open secret in Washington circles, but despite the complexity of their relationship, the bond between them remains strong. Delia and Meri find themselves leading strangely parallel lives, both reckoning with the contours and mysteries of marriage, one refined and abraded by years of complicated intimacy, the other barely begun. (January 2009) author page

coverExit Ghost by Philip Roth -The last ordeal of Nathan Zuckerman, the indomitable literary adventurer of Roth’s nine Zuckerman books, returns to his hometown to find that all has changed. (November 2008) author page

The Secret Between Us by Barbara Delinksy - Deborah Monroe and her daughter, Grace, are driving home from a party when their car hits a man running in the dark. Grace was at the wheel, but Deborah sends her home before the police arrive, determined to shoulder the blame for the accident. Her decision then turns into a deception that takes on a life of its own and threatens the special bond between mother and daughter. (November 2008) author

Bleeding Kansas by Sara Paretsky - Set in the Kaw River Valley where Paretsky grew up, Bleeding Kansas is the story of the Schapens and the Grelliers, two farm families whose histories have been entwined since the 1850s, when their ancestors settled the valley as antislavery emigrants. (October 2008)

coverTree of Smoke by Denis Johnson - This is the story of Skip Sands—spy-in-training, engaged in Psychological Operations against the Vietcong—and the disasters that befall him thanks to his famous uncle, a war hero known in intelligence circles simply as the Colonel. This is also the story of the Houston brothers, Bill and James, young men who drift out of the Arizona desert into a war in which the line between disinformation and delusion has blurred away. Denis Johnson’s first full-length novel in nine years. (September 2008) author page

Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo - Six years after the best-selling, Pulitzer Prize–winning Empire Falls, Richard Russo returns with a novel that expands even further his widely heralded achievement.
(September 2008) author page

coverTrespass by Valerie Martin - From the author of Property, winner of Canada's Orange Prize. Chloe Dales' life is in good order yet, she is disturbed—by the aggression of her government’s foreign policy, by the poacher who roams the land behind her studio, punctuating her solitude with rifle fire, and finally, by Toby’s new girlfriend, a Croatian refugee named Salome Drago. (September 2008) author page

The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta - Ruth Ramsey is the human sexuality teacher at the local high school. She believes that “pleasure is good, shame is bad, and knowledge is power.”  Soccer Coach, Tim belongs to an evangelical Christian church that doesn’t approve of Ruth’s style of teaching.  Adversaries in a small-town culture war, Ruth and Tim instinctively mistrust each other. But when a controversy on the soccer field pushes the two of them to actually talk to each other, they are forced to take each other at something other than face value. (September 2008) author page

The Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England by Brock Clarke - "Delightfully dark story of Sam Pulsifer, the 'accidental arsonist and murderer' narrator who leads readers through a multilayered, flame-filled adventure about literature, lies, love and life....Sam is equal parts fall guy and tour guide in this bighearted and wily jolt to the American literary legacy." (September 2008)

In the Meantime by Robin Lippincott - Kathryn, Luke and Starling live in the same neighborhood in a small Midwestern town, in the 1930s, ages five and/or six, each alone yet in and among their disparate families -- meet and become somehow bigger, an inseperable threesome. One chance meeting in that innocent summer changes their lives. (September 2008)

Salt by Jeremy Page - Set in Norfolk, England, this is a haunting, evocative portrait of three generations of a family which explores the relationship between people and the landscape in which they live. Atmospheric and lyrical. (August 2008)

Songs Without WordsSongs Without Words by Ann Packer - A richly layered portrait of a family torn apart by grief and and a friendship tested by crisis -- of two woman forced to confront the limits, and the power, of their lifelong bond. (July 2008) author page

On Kingdom Mountain by Howard Frank Mosher - Set in northern Vermont in 1930, On Kingdom Mountain recounts the life and times of Miss Jane Hubbell Kinneson. Abounding with Howard Frank Mosher’s trademark action scenes, from daring bank robberies to outrageous comedy to a passionate and surprising love affair, On Kingdom Mountain is rooted deeply in Mosher’s own family history, in one of America’s last frontiers, and in a way of life on the brink of extinction. (July 2008) author page

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell - In the middle of tending to the everyday business at her vintage clothing shop and sidestepping her married boyfriend’s attempts at commitment, Iris Lockhart receives a stunning phone call: Her great-aunt Esme, whom she never knew existed, is being released from Cauldstone Hospital—where she has been locked away for over sixty years. (June 2008) author page

Falling Man by Don Delillo - The defining moment of turn-of-the-21st-century America is perfectly portrayed in National Book Award winner Don DeLillo's Falling Man. The book takes its title from the electrifying photograph of the man who jumped or fell from the North Tower on 9/11. It also refers to a performance artist who recreates the picture. (June 2008)

What You Have Left by Will Allison - In 1976, on the day of his wife's funeral, Wylie Greer drops off his five-year-old daughter, Holly, at his father-in-law's dairy farm on the outskirts of Columbia, South Carolina. Wylie tells her he just needs a little time to clear his head, but thirty years pass before Holly sees her father again -- "time I spent wondering what I'd done to make him leave," she says, "and what I could do to make him come back." (June 2008)

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan - It is July 1962. Florence is a talented musician who dreams of a career on the concert stage and of the perfect life she will create with Edward, an earnest young history student at University College of London, who unexpectedly wooed and won her heart. Newly married that morning, both virgins, Edward and Florence arrive at a hotel on the Dorset coast. At dinner in their rooms they struggle to suppress their worries about the wedding night to come. (June 2008) author page

Lottery by Patricia Wood - Perry's IQ is only 76, but he's not stupid. His grandmother taught him everything he needs to know to survive: She taught him to write things down so he won't forget them. She taught him to play the lottery every week. And, most important, she taught him whom to trust. When Gram dies, Perry is left orphaned and bereft at the age of thirty-one. Then his weekly Washington State Lottery ticket wins him 12 million dollars, and he finds he has more family than he knows what to do with. (June 2008)

The Big Girls by Susanna Moore - In spare yet hypnotic prose, Moore examines the bond between a young psychiatrist and a mentally ill patient in her devastating sixth novel, set at an upstate New York federal women's prison. (May 2008)

Letter from Point Clear by Dennis McFarland - An absorbing, resonant domestic drama set in Point Clear, Alabama triggered by the youngest sibling intends to marry an evangelical preacher. (May 2008)

The Custodian of Paradise by Wayne Johnston - In the waning days of World War II, Sheilagh Fielding makes her way to an island off the coast of Newfoundland, deserted except for some horses and a pack of wild dogs. But she comes to suspect another presence: that of a man known only as her Provider, who has shadowed her for twenty years, ever since she made a mysterious pilgrimage to her mother's home in New York City. (April 2008)

Ten Days in the Hills by Jane Smiley - (April 2008) More on Author

The Phony Marine by Jim Lehrer - A salesman buys a Vietnam-era Silver Star medal on e-bay and transforms himself into a former marine. (April 2008)

You Don't Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem - (April 2008)

For One More Day by Mitch Albom - This is the story of Charley, a child of divorce who is always forced to choose between his mother and his father. He grows into a man and starts a family of his own. But one fateful weekend, he leaves his mother to secretly be with his fatherand she dies while he is gone. (April 2008)

The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton - Hamilton's captivating third novel follows Fiona Sweeney, a 36-year-old librarian, from New York to Garissa, Kenya, on her sincere but naïve quest to make a difference in the world. (April 2008)

And Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris - No one knows us quite the same way as the men and women who sit beside us in department meetings and crowd the office refrigerator with their labeled yogurts.- Every office is a family of sorts, and the ad agency Joshua Ferris brilliantly depicts in his debut novel is family at its strangest and best, coping with a business downturn in the time-honored way: through gossip, pranks, and increasingly frequent coffee breaks. Ferris tells a true and funny story about survival in life's strangest environment. (March 2008) read review

The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle - A breathtaking and beautiful novel set on a horse ranch in small-town Colorado. (March 2008) read review

Traveler by Ron McLarty - A beautifully crafted story of a man who returns to his hometown to discover the truth about his past. (March 2008) About Us| Last Modified | Join Newsletter | Contact Us | ©1998-2009