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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Staff Picks

Some recent staff reviews:

Legend of a Suicide: Stories, by David Vann
The humor in the first few stories caught me off guard. The bulk of these stories evoke the Alaskan landscape, both physical and emotional. The survivalist, the disgruntled, the independent, and the unorthodox all surface in this beautiful collection.

Super, Sad, True, Love Story, by Gary  Shteyngart
This hilariously satiric sneak peek into our country’s potentially not so distant future frightens as much as it amuses. Shteyngart’s brutal re-envisioning of our world where our fates lie in our credit scores, books are artifacts and youth and sex dominate every corner of society will keep you up at night, first laughing, then worrying about what you were laughing at.

World Made Straight, by Ron Rash
A sparsely written coming of age tale set in North Carolina, where the past lingers amongst the inhabitants of the present. Rash's evocative landscapes and detailed description of wildlife bring the novel to life, using them both to reflect the inner turmoil of Travis, the young protagonist. It's one of those books that reminds us: the past doesn't go away, especially if you try to ignore it. In this case it's the Bloody Madison massacre during the Civil War. Look forward to reading more by Mr. Rash.

Dogs, by Emily Gravett
From one of my favorite illustrators, this book is sure to be a hit with any dog lover. I particularly love the ending when you realize the story is narrated by a cat. "But the dog that I love best? Let's see...is any dog that won't chase me!

Niki: The Story of a Dog,by Tibor Dery & Edward Hyams
Wonderful story of a dog and the couple she adopts. Set in and around Budapest during the Rakosi regime, this short novel follows the antics of Niki, the falling out of favor of her engineer, and the sad fortunes of his wife in the aftermath of his "disappearance." The closely observed evolutions of character (human and canine), fine moral distinctions, and a full freight of history and its human toll made this an entirely satisfying read.

Tinkers, by Paul Harding

Anything I write about this book will undoubtedly diminish it. So I will just say that there is a passage, about 3/4 of the way through that makes this entire novel worth it -- no, that's not severe enough... this particular passage is the reason we learn to read.

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