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The Human Comedy Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780440339335
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dell - August 15th, 1966

The landscape drawn is innocent small-town America excited and disturbed by the outbreak of WWII. One might say that the story is sappy and meant to uplift the nation with quasi-propaganda. Saroyan's philosophy is evident in monologues presented by Homer's mom and Willie Grogan the besotted old man of the telegraph office. These two sages are the repository of life knowledge for our young hero.


Vile Bodies Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780316216340
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Back Bay Books - December 11th, 2012

This is a high farce of an unrelenting staccato rhythm. Waugh's sarcasm is biting and his dialogue is pitch-perfect. Most of the novel is as light as a feather as he skewers British society just before WWI. Waugh actually ends the story on a battlefield with impending doom to remind us of real life. 


Mrs. Caliban Cover Image
By Rachel Ingalls, Rivka Galchen (Introduction by)
$13.95
ISBN: 9780811226691
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - November 28th, 2017

The setting and characters are reminiscent of John Cheever. Dotty and Fred have a marriage distraught by the death of their children. In walks a six foot seven frog man and with his webbed feet, sweeps her off hers. Is her imagination that vivid? 

(January 2018)


The Dog Stars (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780307950475
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Published: Vintage - May 7th, 2013

This is a portrait of a dystopian Colorado that is like all my fantasies. Most every human has died from disease, the survivors are armed and murderous, the natural world is trying to make a comeback. A big part of the book is a twisted buddy story. 

(January 2018)


Swami and Friends, The Bachelor of Arts, The Dark Room, The English Teacher (Everyman's Library Contemporary Classics Series) Cover Image
By R. K. Narayan, Alexander McCall Smith (Introduction by)
$27.00
ISBN: 9781400044764
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Published: Everyman's Library - March 7th, 2006

Sweet with large doses of wry humor, Narayan's first of his Malgudi trilogy introduces us to Swaminathan, a lazy and clever school boy. The unrest of India before 1948 is part of the backdrop for this novel. And cricket is the obsession of the neighborhood boys that rotate around our young hero. 

(December 2017)


Turtles All the Way Down Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9780525555360
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dutton Books for Young Readers - October 10th, 2017

Aza is an anxious girl with an exuberant best friend, a widowed helicopter mom and a psychiatrist. This is Green at his autobiographical best and most vulnerable. I read it in three days. That is always a good sign. Enjoy meeting an orphaned billionaire's kid and a tuatara besides the captivating Aza. 

(December 2017)


Water for Elephants Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781565125605
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Published: Algonquin Books - May 1st, 2007

I love fiction that teaches me about a subject of which I am ignorant. Gruen has researched depression era traveling circuses and weaves a great story of a love triangle and murder. Another spectacular aspect of this book is the insightful reflection of the world from 90 year old Jacob wasting away in an old folks' home, trying to retain his dignity in spite of being forgotten. 

(December 2017)


What Is Left the Daughter Cover Image
$13.95
ISBN: 9780547521824
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability

Published: Mariner Books - May 3rd, 2011

This book follows Wyatt through a quiet life in Halifax and small town Nova Scotia. Upheaval comes in the years leading up to WWII as his adopted cousin falls for a German student, spoiling his chances with her. I love Norman's writing. His The Bird Artist is spectacular. 

(December 2017)


The Immortalists Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780735213180
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - January 9th, 2018

Benjamin's second effort shows much maturity in her writing. This is a book for those of us with many siblings or those interested in family dynamics and a good story. As young children, the four Golds surreptitiously visit a psychic who names the dates of their respective deaths. Four narratives braid and unravel as the sibs create their lives. 

(December 2017)


Mrs. Dalloway Cover Image
By Virginia Woolf, Maureen Howard (Foreword by)
$13.95
ISBN: 9780156628709
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - September 24th, 1990

Woolf was an early proponent of stream of consciousness writing, so her style takes some getting used to. This is much more than a novel of manners. The suicidal downward spiral of Septimus Smith is woven through a day of Mrs. Dalloway's preparations for hosting a dinner party. 


Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, Revised Edition Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9780140178241
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - June 1st, 1993

Reisner gives us wonderful writing and compelling stories. The appalling and criminal overuse and misuse of the water of the West is the point of this scathing indictment of Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation and Army Corps of Engineers. After reading this book, the environmentally correct choice may be to leave California and move back East. 


The Awakening (Dover Thrift Editions) Cover Image
$4.00
ISBN: 9780486277868
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dover Publications - November 4th, 1993

This book caused such a scandal upon its publication in 1899 that Chopin, a society woman, stopped witing and was ostracized. The story is of a woman who is in a pleasant enough marriage and still feels the constraints of proper society. She has the vague desire to break free, dabbles in painting and struggles with an extramarital love. The resolution is provocative and controversial. 


Gentlemen of the Road: A Tale of Adventure [title page only] Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780345502070
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Del Rey - September 30th, 2008

Another pleasure in the Chabon galaxy. Fun and swashbuckling and wild and entertaining. And it satisfies one of my cravings in reading, learning something about which I know nothing. Khazaria was an empire of medieval times most famous for religious tolerance. 


Telegraph Avenue: A Novel Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780061493355
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - September 10th, 2013

Another great entertainment by Chabon. Vintage and classic jazz vinyl records, midwifery, births, pregnancies, doughnuts, and over all, fatherhood. One could also say this is a buddy book. Gwen and Aviva are besties as are their spouses, Nate and Archy. 


An American Tragedy Cover Image
By Theodore Dreiser, Richard Lingeman (Introduction by), Margaret E. Mitchell (Afterword by)
$9.95
ISBN: 9780451531551
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Signet - August 3rd, 2010

Dreiser is one of the most revered writers of the naturalism movement. He, as well as Crane and Norris, were journalists. As a naturalist writer, Dreiser kept a detached posture while fictionalizing the true story of the murder of Grace Brown by Chester Gillette. Another theme of the story is fatalism or determinism and that the unverse is indifferent to Clyde's life, his despair and his death. Lastly, Dreiser is considered a genius in socialist Russia, this novel being an example of the futility of capitalism and the evil of society's caste system. 

(September 2017)


The Drowned World Cover Image
By J. G. Ballard, Martin Amis (Introduction by)
$15.95
ISBN: 9780871403629
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Liveright Publishing Corporation - May 20th, 2013

This is one of Ballard's atmospheric portrayals of a world gone wild in the near future. The sun has transformed and caused Earth's temperatures to rise, melting the polar regions and making the temperate into a verdant, humid jungle. Most of 20th Century civilization is drowned and not far beyond reach. Enjoy the reserved British romance, one legitimate madman, and some anachronistic and racist caricatures. 

(September 2017)


Life in Prison Cover Image
$6.99
ISBN: 9781587170942
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Published: Chronicle Books - February 1st, 2001

This is written as a cautiionary tale for youngsters and teens that might be at risk for entering the gang life. Tookie Williams writes from inside San Quentin's death row about his personal experiences of prison dispelling any idea of the glamorous myth prision life may hold for young people. 

(September 2017)


Avenue of Mysteries Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781451664171
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - June 7th, 2016

Irving's themes oft-visited from previous books...religion, specifically Catholicism, prostitution, writers and fiction writing as a profession and its attendant celebrity, sex, physical fitness and deformities, tattoos, families dysfunctional and not, morality, the medical profession, and circuses, are revisited here. It's a ride. 

(June 2017)


The Good Earth Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780743272933
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Washington Square Press - September 15th, 2004

Pearl Buck's Pulitzer Prize winning sympathetic portrayal of poor Chinese peasants set before WWI. Wang Lung and his wife, O-Lan, are hard-working and heroic characters cherishing the land and raising a family adherent to traditional values. 

(June 2017)


The Spectator Bird Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780525431879
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - March 21st, 2017

An intelligently written book with intelligent characters. This is partly a whine from an aging, lonely man and partly a reveal about a loving, faithful marriage and the "pebble in the shoe" from a twenty year old flirtation. 

(June 2017)


The House of Mirth Cover Image
By Edith Wharton, Cynthia Griffin Wolff (Introduction by), Cynthia Griffin Wolff (Notes by)
$11.00
ISBN: 9780140187298
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Published: Penguin Classics - May 1st, 1993

A novel of manners and an indictment of the stifling, snooty world of "high society." We are to sympathize with the lovely Miss Lily Bart, the shining light of New York, as she approaches her thirtieth year and remains unmarried. She is the object of jealousies from married women in her set and unwanted advances from married men of her set. All of which sends her down a slowly constricting funnel toward ruin and poverty.

(June 2017)


Letters to a Young Poet Cover Image
By Rainer Maria Rilke, Stephen Mitchell (Translated by), Stephen Mitchell (Foreword by)
$11.00
ISBN: 9780394741048
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - October 12th, 1986

A one-sided correspondence from Rilke to a nineteen year old budding poet. Rilke gives the young man advice on how to develop and trust his inner voice. This is a book that has inspired artists and writers for decades.

(June 2017)


The Forever War Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780312536633
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Published: St. Martin's Griffin - February 17th, 2009

There is a taste here of Orwell's 1984 and O'Brien's The Things They Carried. When published in 1974, this announced the beginning of an illustrious career for Haldeman, though this remains his most noted and admired book.

(June 2017)


The Ghetto Swinger: A Berlin Jazz-Legend Remembers Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9780983254041
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Published: Doppelhouse Press - January 19th, 2016

Uplifting biography of a little known German swing jazz guitarist. As he says, I am a musician that spent some time in the camps, not a survivor of the camps that plays some music. 

(June 2017)


The Leavers Cover Image
By Lisa Ko
$25.95
ISBN: 9781616206888
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Published: Algonquin Books - May 2nd, 2017

An heroic and atypical mother is torn from her son by an unanticipated deportation.  She is tough, funny and devoted to Deming. He is troubled by repeated unexplained abandonments.  The two of them are survivors in this gritty and uplifting debut.

(May 2017)


The Light in the Forest Cover Image
$7.50
ISBN: 9781400077885
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Published: Vintage - September 14th, 2004

Another great book for not writing to dominant culture. The protagonist is a teenage white boy who has been captive and adopted in the Lenni Lanape culture since he was four years. True Son is completely indoctrinated and considers the white settlers his enemies. The tale revolves around his forced relocation to his birth family in eastern Pennsylvania, his escape back to his home, and the difficult and painful resolution of his crisis of identity. 

(March 2017)


The Sympathizer: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780802124944
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - April 12th, 2016

Nguyen does an interesting thing with this book. He has the strong intention to write a story about Vietnamese people for Vietnamese people. Or rather, to NOT write a book for dominant culture. He purposefully does not translate, does not explain, and all the characters save one are Vietnamese, et cetera. The story is a spy thriller and historical fiction centering on the fall of Saigon in 1975 and the subsequent diaspora of refugees. 

(March 2017)


The Wayward Bus Cover Image
By John Steinbeck, Gary Scharnhorst (Introduction by)
$17.00
ISBN: 9780142437872
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Classics - March 28th, 2006

In the tradition of the Canterbury Tales, a dozen strangers are thrown together on Juan's bus and then get stranded on the road in a rainstorm. Find the excitable adolescent, the trampy young woman of the world, the buttoned-down business man and his controlling wife and the grizzled, old curmudgeon. Their lives and their stories weave and enrich the tapestry of the reader's experience. Steinbeck is a master. This was his most successful book commercially on publication in 1947. 

(March 2017)


Delta Wedding Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780156252805
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Published: Mariner Books - March 21st, 1979

An atmospheric portrait of a family and place, the tale opens with motherless only child Laura traveling to visit her cousins, aunts and uncles in the Delta of the Mississippi. Evocative of a hot, languid, spoiled life, this is Welty at her best. 

(March 2017)


Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Dover Thrift Editions) Cover Image
$6.00
ISBN: 9780486280615
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Published: Dover Publications - May 26th, 1994

Just plain fun. I understand there are sociological messages and political messages here...

Oh. Read what Ernest Hemingway has to say about this book. 

(March 2017)


The Hotel New Hampshire Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780345417954
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dutton - April 10th, 2018

Irving returns to favorite motifs, physical fitness, Austria, prostitution, writing as a profession. His books are universally funny and provocative. The targets of his spoofing and barbs continue to be religion, societal mores regarding sex in particular, politics and conservatism. 

(March 2017)


Everything Is Illuminated Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780544484009
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - April 14th, 2015

I am always fascinated by Holocaust stories. The history of Jewish shtetls in the Ukraine annihilated by the Nazis is partly my family's story. Alex, the Ukranian guide, is worth the read by himself. The novel is categorized as American magical realism. 

(March 2017)


Our Man in Havana Cover Image
By Graham Greene, Christopher Hitchens (Introduction by)
$16.00
ISBN: 9780142438008
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Classics - July 31st, 2007

This is one of the funniest books of all time. Greene spoofs the British secret service and especially James Bond and Ian Fleming's thrillers. Wormold and his daughter, Milly, have a wonderful relationship. The spy play is hysterical and by itself, worth the read. 

(March 2017)


Tess of the D'Urbervilles Cover Image
By Thomas Hardy, Tim Dolin (Editor), Tim Dolin (Notes by), Margaret Randolph Higonnet (Introduction by)
$10.00
ISBN: 9780141439594
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Classics - May 27th, 2003

Heartrending and tragic. Hardy's writing is exquisite. Tess' family aspires to rise above their status as peasants. Tess represents the Earth goddess and is Hardy's sacrifice doomed partly because of the Victorian moral and sexual double standard for women. 

(March 2017)


Brave Companions: Portraits in History Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780671792763
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Published: Simon & Schuster - November 1st, 1992

Spurred me to a raft of Wikipedia reading. McCullough gives us a series of short bios culled from his other books and research. Best are the first two on Alexander von Humboldt and Louis Agassiz, naturalists and explorers of the nineteenth century. 

(February 2017)


Trajectory: Stories Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9781101947722
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Published: Knopf - May 2nd, 2017

Russo goes to his comfortable themes, marriages, parenting, New England regular folks versus slick L.A. movie industry gadflies, academics, sibling struggles. All of this is mixed with his excellent writing, urbane wit and piercing insight into people and their motivations. 

(February 2017)