Title: The Thieves of Manhattan
Author: Adam Langer
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (2010)
Summary: Ian Minot is a struggling writer working at the Morningside Coffee diner. Ian works alongside Joseph, a struggling actor, and Faye, an aspiring artist. Of the three, Ian has been the least successful in his career. His Romanian girlfriend Anya, however, is very close to getting her collection of short stories published while Ian continues to get rejection letters. One of the most memorable of these comes from the literary agent Geoff Olden who simply wrote “good luck placing this and all future submissions elsewhere”.
When Faye draws Ian’s attention to a customer they have nicknamed The Confident Man, Ian is appalled to see that he is reading a copy of the recently published memoir “Blade by Blade”. In Ian’s opinion, the book is a “bogus piece of crap”. As it turns out, The Confident Man feels the same way about it. The Confident Man is Jed Roth, a former editor at a very respectable publishing house. Jed left his position at Merrill Books when his decision not to publish “Blade by Blade” was overruled by the owner of Merrill Books. Jed has devised a plan to bring down Merrill Books and agent Geoff Olden and recruits Ian to play a crucial role in his scheme. Ian agrees but soon finds himself in over his head and unsure who to trust.
This is a fun story, full of humor and intrigue, which takes a few shots at the publishing industry along the way. The last few pages contain a glossary of selected terms used throughout the book, all based on literary figures.
Who will like this book? Anyone looking for a fun read, especially those who like intrigue. Anyone familiar with the publishing industry.
Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator
Title: Red Hook Road
Author: Ayelet Waldman
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing, July 2010
Summary: A young couple is killed on the way to their wedding reception in coastal Maine. Red Hook Road takes the reader on a journey with the surviving members of their families over four summers. Iris and Daniel Copaken are the parents of the bride and they are native New Yorkers who summer in Maine; they are “from away”. Jane Hewins, the groom’s mother, is their cleaning lady who was never happy with the union of the young couple. Emil Kimmelbrand, Iris’ father, is a famous violinist who discovers that Jane’s adopted Cambodian niece is a musical prodigy. There are many layers to this novel but rather than being complicated and confusing Waldman manages to build each story gradually and thoroughly. The relationships between husband and wife, mother and daughter, father and daughter, mother and son, brothers and sisters are all so believable that you can relate to their tensions, their frustrations, their joy and their pain.
Waldman is a skilled writer whose descriptions of Maine and its inhabitants are so real that she had this reader yearning to visit this fictional place. Although a story of loss and grief it is also a story of possibilities and hope. This book is a quick read that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.
Whi will like this book? Readers of Jodi Picoult, Chris Bohjalian, and Anna Quindlen.
Recommended by: Claudia, Technical Services Department
Title: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand
Author: Helen Simonson
Publisher: Random House, March 2010
Summary: I fell in love with widower Major Ernest Pettigrew about six pages in! The story takes place in a quaint English village, where the Major’s brother’s sudden death and the propriety of a family heirloom spark an unexpected friendship with a local shopkeeper, Mrs. Jasmina Ali. His quiet world changes as he deals with his growing affection for Mrs. Ali (after all they share a love of literature), his yuppie, shallow son, and the various unattached ladies in the village vying for him. It is a charming and endearing love story. The Major’s wry, witty humor combined with his chivalrous old fashioned courtesy, yet sarcastic jabs about modern situations had me laughing out loud. There is a gentle humor and a quiet lovely rhythm with a romantic twist that will appeal to both sexes. I kept picturing Sir John Gielgud delivering the Major’s lines! Such a wonderful debut novel!
Recommended by: Cindy B., Children’s Department
Title: The Nobodies Album
Author: Carolyn Parkhurst
Publisher: Knopf, June 2010
Summary: Writer Octavia Frost and her son Milo had a game they used to play together when he was a young boy. He’d ask “have you ever heard the Beatles version of I’ve Been Working on the Railroad?” And she’d say, no, I didn’t know they’d ever recorded that. He’d respond “they didn’t, it’s on The Nobodies Album.” So “The Nobodies Album” is an album made up of songs that don’t exist. It also happens to be the working title of Octavia’s yet-to-be published book, which is made up entirely of the last chapters of all her previous novels, completely rewritten with the purpose of taking her characters in the exact opposite direction she’d originally taken them – a book made up of endings that don’t exist.
It seems that Octavia is a woman who’s trying to bring many things into existence, and trying to change lots of original endings. Octavia’s relationship with her son and her career as a writer are at the top of the list, and the two are woven together brilliantly in this novel. It is when Octavia’s on her way to deliver the manuscript of “The Nobodies Album” to her publisher that she sees her son’s name displayed in the news crawl in Times Square – Milo, a successful musician, has been accused of murdering his girlfriend. This is the beginning of her journey back to Milo – they haven’t spoken in four years. And it’s also the beginning of the reader’s journey through Octavia’s fiction. The novel is interspersed with the last chapters of her previous books, both the original and the revised endings. The family drama, the short story and the classic mystery all come together in Parkhurst’s incredibly creative, inventive and unforgettable book.
Recommended by: Mary, Branch Reference
Title: These Children Who Come At You With Knives and Other Fairy Tales
Author: Jim Knipfel
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, June 2010
Summary: Fractured fairy tales have long been a popular genre in youth literature, and in this wicked, inspired collection, the grown-ups finally get their own twisted takes on ‘happily ever after.’ If you are expecting a modern-day Cinderella or Little Mermaid story, this is not the book for you.
Instead, you will meet a chicken who is too smart for her own good, a demented gnome bent on world domination, and a gossipy houseplant that would give Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors a run for her (it’s?) money. And it’s not giving too much away by saying that none of the stories has the traditional fairy tale ending. This bold collection will make you laugh and squirm at the same time.
Who will like this book?: Fans of satire. Cynics. People who think to themselves, ‘if Cinderella’s slippers were really made of glass, wouldn’t she cut up her feet?’
If you like this, read this: Another great (albeit less brutal) take on fairy tales for grown-ups, the Fables graphic novel series by Bill Willingham.
Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian
Title: The Last Time I Saw You
Author: Elizabeth Berg
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group, April 2010
Summary: Do you remember those dreaded high school reunions? You know, trying to lose weight, getting your hair done, wondering if you should drag your spouse along. Elizabeth Berg’s new book is about that and more. She touches on several groups of people who will be attending their 40th high school reunion. The in-crowd, the out-crowd and all of the silly high school crushes. Several of the characters, who might never have gotten together in high school, suddenly find themselves enjoying each others’ company. If you’re moving into that boomer category, you will enjoy this trip back to those sweet, and sometimes not, ole days of high school.
Recommended by: Nancy, Deputy Town Librarian
Title: One Amazing Thing
Author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Publisher: Unbridled Books, October 2009
Summary: There are nine strangers in an Indian visa and passport office who are thrown together when an earthquake hits and leaves them trapped under the rubble. As time passes and there is no communication available to the outside world anxiety rises and tempers flare! After organizing what little provisions they have and securing themselves in the office as well as they can, tensions increase and a young graduate student sizes up the situation and suggests that they all tell a story about an “amazing” thing that has happened in their lifetimes. After initial reluctance and suspicion each character reveals their stories. These stories range from a young Chinese woman who has to flee India during the Sino-Indian War of 1962 leaving her Indian lover and family behind, to a seventy year old accountant orphaned at nine who only found comfort in doing math. Other stories include a young Muslim man struggling with America’s prejudice after 9/11, a rebellious teenager who discovers the gift and healing of music and a woman whose entire view of life changes after glimpsing a display of affection between an elderly couple.
These stories bring the characters to life and also give many different pictures of India. Divakaruni’s writing is beautiful and you can hardly wait for her to get to the next story. A novel about nine people trapped in the rubble of an earthquake would have been compelling enough but the author raises the bar by making these characters jump off the page with their “amazing” stories. This is a fast read that you will not be able to put down until you get to the last page!
Who will like this book? Fans of historical and contemporary fiction.
Recommended by: Claudia, Circulation
Title: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
Author: Beth Hoffman
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books, January 2010
Summary: Twelve year old CeeCee Honeycut is struggling to find normalcy in her chaotic life. Her mother is suffering from a mental illness and her father stays away from home as much as possible. Ceecee is left alone to care for her mother, confiding in her only friend, Mrs. Odell. When a tragic event turns CeeCee’s world upside down, it’s her Great Aunt Tootie to the rescue. Tootie brings CeeCee down to her home in beautiful Savannah where CeeCee learns about her mother’s childhood and what it feels like to be unconditionally loved. This is a delightful debut novel that brings to life the beauty of the south and the strength of a family’s love.
Who will like this book? Fans of women’s fiction and anyone who liked The Secret Life of Bees should try this.
Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator
Title: Where The God of Love Hangs Out
Author: Amy Bloom
Publisher: Random House, January 2010
Summary: Amy Bloom’s new collection of short stories will make you laugh, cry, cringe and gasp and it is possible that you will feel all these emotions in just one story. In this book there are two sets of stories that are intertwined and then there are four stand alone stories. One set of stories revolve around William, Isabel, Clare and Charles who are old friends until two of them start an affair. The other set of stories are about a mother and her stepson and what foolishly happens after the death of her husband! Bloom writes about life and love in a real way which is sometimes messy, sometimes raw and sometimes joyous. The characters are so memorable and each story will leave you satisfied but also hungering for more! Bloom explores the themes of love, aging and death with such grace and gusto that she will blow you away. At the core of every story is family in all their glory – good, bad and ugly. I could not put this book down and then it stayed with me long after the last page.
Who will like this book? Fans of Amy Bloom’s Away.
Recommended by: Claudia, Circulation
Title: How I Became a Famous Novelist
Author: Steve Hely
Publisher: Grove Press, July 2009
Summary: Pete Tarslaw writes for a living: He works for a slightly-shady company that rewrites entrance essays for grammar-challenged college and grad school applicants. When he learns that his college girlfriend (who betrayed him by being ambitious enough to apply to law school while he drifted through his slacker senior year) is getting married, he decides to take action. Pete sets out to become rich and famous enough to make Polly see the error of her ways – or at least really depressed at her wedding – by writing the best selling novel…ever. Pete discovers it’s not so hard to do: Just examine the best seller list and insert every last literary cliche into one story.
Poking fun at nearly every blockbuster author, the publishing industry, and the staggering entitlement of a certain segement of post-collegiate Americans, the story of the rise and fall and rise of Pete and his book, The Tornado Ashes Club will have fiction fans laughing out loud. And while he is a scoundrel, you’ll find yourself rooting for Pete in his scandalous adventures. A terrific book for the post-holiday season.
Who will like this book?: Readers (and writers) who go crazy looking at best seller lists. People who ‘don’t get’ the popularity of trash fiction authors. Fans of literary satire. Recent liberal arts college grads.
If you like this, try this: Books by Christopher Buckley (Boomsday, Thank You For Smoking) and Christopher Moore (Lamb, The Stupidest Angel.)
Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian