Title: The Complete Stories
Author: Flannery O’Connor
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1971
Summary: When I travel, I like to read books written by authors from that part of the world. So, on a recent trip to Savannah, I finally picked up A Good Man is Hard to Find, a book that had been on my ‘to-read’ list for ages. That book is contained within this larger collection of all the O’Connor’s short stories. While her career was relatively short, Flannery O’Connor was a highly-regarded master of the Southern Gothic: the scenery is dripping with humidity and the haunted characters all struggle as they are forced to face the darkness in their twisted souls.
Some of the tales are downright terrifying and some, like The River and A Stroke of Good Fortune end in a shocking, unpredictable turn of events. Almost all have characters coming to a not-so-pleasant realization about their place in the world. These are not happy stories, but the writing is so mesmerizing that you will find yourself rereading each turn of phrase. Don’t wait as long as I did to pick up this American classic!
Who will like this book: Fans of short stories, regional fiction, and darker themes. People who like their books a little twisted.
If you like this, try this:Other great Southern Gothic authors include Truman Capote, Carson McCullers and Tennessee Williams. Flannery O’Connor: A Life by Jean W. Cash.
Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian
Title: Hold My Hand
Author: Serena Mackesy
Publisher: Constable, October 2008
Summary: All Bridget wants is a safe place to raise her daughter Yasmin. The flat they share in London has become a prison instead of a home. Though Bridget has divorced her abusive husband and the court has ordered Kieran to stay away, he continues to stalk the two vowing to make Bridget pay for leaving him. Bridget struggles to keep a roof over their heads and food on their table as fear and desperation set in. The hope for a new and better life for Bridget and Yasmin comes in the form of a job offer. Bridget is offered the job of housekeeper at Rospetroc, a manor house in a part of the country where no one will know them- where they will be safe. Rospetroc, however, has it’s own secrets and it’s own brutal history. The villagers have their suspicions as to why there is such a high turnover rate for housekeepers at Rospetroc. Bridget has run out of options and must stay at the manor house, even though the move now seems like a dangerous mistake.
Who will like this book? Anyone who likes ghost stories and a bit of mystery.
Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator
Title: American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks and the Legend of Iron Crotch: An Odyssey in the New China
Author: Matthew Polley
Publisher: Gotham, December 2007
Summary: This is not your typical travelogue or coming-of-age story, but this Alex Award winner will be as entertaining as any book you’ll read this year. In 1992, Matthew Polley dropped out of Princeton and went to China to learn kungfu from the legendary monks of the Shaolin temple in China. He lived there for two years at the temple, studying kickboxing and becoming the first American to be accepted as a Shaolin disciple.
This book chronicles not only Matthew’s story, but also the rapid changes occurring in rural China during the ’90s, where cultural traditions and social mores truly began to collide with the modernizing influences of the West. Written in an almost irreverent tone with several laugh-out-loud, cringe inducing moments (the noted Iron Crotch technique being among them), American Shaolin is really about the relationships between Matthew, his fellow trainees and monks, and the other laowai (foreigners) who come to Shaolin to study and to profit. The monks of Shaolin, young and old, provide the heart and soul of this terrific book.
Who will like this book?: People looking for a book about the changes in China that isn’t overly political or preachy. Readers who like stories about other cultures. Anyone who harbors fantasies about secretly being the toughest guy in the room…and being able to prove it.
If you like this, try this: A Fighter’s Heart by Sam Sheridan. Iron and Silk by Mark Salzman. Shenzen by Guy Delisle.
Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian