A Friend of the Family by Lauren Grodstein
In A Friend of the Family, Lauren Grodstein, author of the breakout debut novel, Reproduction Is the Flaw of Love, goes to even greater literary heights with a contemporary suburban drama brewing with an undercurrent of violence that, with each turn of the page, takes on the weight of an American tragedy. As the book opens, Peter Dizinoff, a successful New Jersey doctor, is struggling to adjust to the aftermath of his actions as the foundation of his personal and professional life crack beneath his feet. At the center of his troubles is his beloved son Alec, who deflates his father's high expectations when he drops out of college after just three semesters and moves into the apartment above their garage. And when his son begins seeing Laura, the troubled daughter of Peter's best friend who is ten years older than Alec and lives in the tainted shadow of being acquitted for an unspeakable crime when she was 17, Alec's ambivalence to his father's hopes in living a good life turns into a simmering rage. Dizinoff, a man with a clear definition of right and wrong, flips back and forth in time as he narrates the history of events that build their way to a layered, emotionally wrenching climax. From Brad Thomas Parsons for amazon.com.
Then Came Evening by Brian Hart
Bandy Dorner, home from Vietnam, awakes with his car mired in a canal, his cabin reduced to ashes, and his pregnant wife preparing to leave town with her lover. Within moments, a cop lies bleeding on the road. Eighteen years later, Bandy is released from prison. His parents are gone, but on the derelict family ranch, Bandy faces a different reunion. Tracy, his now teenaged son, has come to claim the father he's never known. Iona, Bandy's ex-wife, has returned on the heels of her son. All three are damaged, hardened, haunted. But warily, desperately, they move in a slow dance around each other, trying to piece back together a family that never was; trying to discover if they belong together at all.
With unflinching honesty and restrained beauty, Brian Hart explores the possibilities and limitations of his characters as they struggle toward a shared future. Like a traditional Greek tragedy, suffused with the mud, ice, and rock of the raw Idaho landscape, Then Came Evening is tautly plotted and emotionally complex. From the Publisher.
Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving
In 1954, in the cookhouse of a logging and sawmill settlement in northern New Hampshire, an anxious twelve-year-old boy mistakes the local constable's girlfriend for a bear. Both the boy and his father become fugitives, forced to run from Coos County to Boston, to southern Vermont, to Torontopursued by the implacable constable. Their lone protector is a fiercely libertarian logger, once a river driver, who befriends them.
In a story spanning five decades, Last Night in Twisted RiverJohn Irving's twelfth noveldepicts the recent half-century in the United States as "a living replica of Coos County, where lethal hatreds were generally permitted to run their course." From the novel's taut opening sentence"The young Canadian, who could not have been more than fifteen, had hesitated too long"to its elegiac final chapter, Last Night in Twisted River is written with the historical authenticity and emotional authority of The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany. It is also as violent and disturbing a story as John Irving's breakthrough bestseller, The World According to Garp.
What further distinguishes Last Night in Twisted River is the author's unmistakable voicethe inimitable voice of an accomplished storyteller. Near the end of this moving novel, John Irving writes: "We don't always have a choice how we get to know one another. Sometimes, people fall into our lives cleanlyas if out of the sky, or as if there were a direct flight from Heaven to Earththe same sudden way we lose people, who once seemed they would always be part of our lives."
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
In her most accomplished novel, Barbara Kingsolver takes us on an epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover. The Lacuna is a poignant story of a man pulled between two nations as they invent their modern identities.
Born in the United States, reared in a series of provisional households in Mexico-from a coastal island jungle to 1930s Mexico City-Harrison Shepherd finds precarious shelter but no sense of home on his thrilling odyssey. Life is whatever he learns from housekeepers who put him to work in the kitchen, errands he runs in the streets, and one fateful day, by mixing plaster for famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. He discovers a passion for Aztec history and meets the exotic, imperious artist Frida Kahlo, who will become his lifelong friend. When he goes to work for Lev Trotsky, an exiled political leader fighting for his life, Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution, newspaper headlines and howling gossip, and a risk of terrible violence.
Meanwhile, to the north, the United States will soon be caught up in the internationalist goodwill of World War II. There in the land of his birth, Shepherd believes he might remake himself in America's hopeful image and claim a voice of his own. He finds support from an unlikely kindred soul, his stenographer, Mrs. Brown, who will be far more valuable to her employer than he could ever know. Through darkening years, political winds continue to toss him between north and south in a plot that turns many times on the unspeakable breach-the lacuna-between truth and public presumption.
With deeply compelling characters, a vivid sense of place, and a clear grasp of how history and public opinion can shape a life, Barbara Kingsolver has created an unforgettable portrait of the artist-and of art itself. The Lacuna is a rich and daring work of literature, establishing its author as one of the most provocative and important of her time.
Invisible by Paul Auster
Sinuously constructed in four interlocking parts, Paul Auster's 15th novel opens in New York City in the spring of 1967, when twenty-year-old Adam Walker, an aspiring poet and student at Columbia University, meets the enigmatic Frenchman Rudolf Born and his silent and seductive girlfriend Margot. Before long, Walker finds himself caught in a perverse triangle that leads to a sudden, shocking act of violence that will alter the course of his life.
Three different narrators tell the story of Invisible, a novel that travels in time from 1967 to 2007 and moves from Morningside Heights, to the Left Bank of Paris, to a remote island in the Caribbean. It is a book of youthful rage, unbridled sexual hunger, and a relentless quest for justice. With uncompromising insight, Auster takes us into the shadowy borderland between truth and memory, between authorship and identity, to produce a work of unforgettable power that confirms his reputation as "one of America's most spectacularly inventive writers."
La's Orchestra by Alexander McCall Smith
As WWII begins, Lavender Stone's life in London comes to an abrupt end when she learns that her husband has run off with another woman. Seeking refuge in the countryside, Lavender (La to her friends) moves into her father-in-law's house in Suffolk, where, among other things, she starts an orchestra -- and discovers a friendship that proves to be the most important thing to her in a world turned upside down. You will adore this story. From Anne Holman, The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT for Indiebound.com.
Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro
A new work by Alice Munro is always cause for celebration, and this collection of stories is no exception. These stories are like smooth, fast rivers on the surface, hiding a deep turbulence. Each cool and intelligent voice lures me deep into the tale, but never fails to deal a swift jerk and embed a hook deep and permanent. From Karen M. Frank, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT for indiebound.com