Genius: A Novel
Thomas Rayfiel Northwestern University Press, 2016 Library of Congress PS3568.A9257G46 2016 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Kara Bell spent her youth plotting escape from Witch’s Falls, Arkansas. Relentless focus and the spurning of all emotional attachment led to the doctoral program in philosophy at Columbia University. But Kara’s careful plans are upended by cancer, and suddenly she is home again, where she finds herself subject to her mother’s suffocating care, her brother’s puzzling love life, the local doctor’s meddling, and the strong gravitational pull of her old friend and obsession, Christy Lee. Will Kara find health and sanity? Will she learn what really happened to her father? Can she escape Witch’s Falls a second time, or will she succumb to the slow poison of local kindness and Snickers Salad?
In Genius, Thomas Rayfiel finds both poignancy and dark humor in deathly illness, family secrets, organized religion, parenting, abortion, gossip, senility, and the mysterious rhythms of small-town life.
The vast Texas borderland is a place divided, a land of legends and lies, sanctification and sinfulness, history and amnesia, haunted by the ghosts of the oppressed and the forgotten, who still stir beneath the parched fields and shimmering blacktops. It is a realm filled with scorpion eaters and mescal drinkers, cowboys and Indians, Anglos and Chicanos, spirit horses and beat-up pickups, brujos and putas, aching passion and seething rage, apparitions of the Virgin and bodies in the Rio Grande.
In his first collection of short fiction, award-winning poet, editor, and anthologist Ray Gonzalez powerfully evokes both the mystery and the reality of the El Paso border country where he came to manhood.
Here, in a riverbed filled with junked cars and old bones, a young boy is given a dark vision of a fiery future. Under the stones of the Alamo, amid the gift shops and tour buses, the wraiths of fallen soldiers cry out to be remembered. By an ancient burial site at the bottom of a hidden canyon, two lovers come face to face with their own dreams and fears.
In these stories, Ray Gonzalez is a literary alchemist, blending contemporary culture with ancient tradition to give a new voice to the peoples of the border.
This historical novel is the third and final book in American poet and fiction writer Janet Lewis’s Cases of Circumstantial Evidence series, based on legal case studies compiled in the nineteenth century. In The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron, Lewis returns to her beloved France, the setting of The Wife of Martin Guerre, her best-known novel and the first in the series. As Swallow Press executive editor Kevin Haworth relates in a new introduction, Monsieur Scarron shifts the reader into the center of Paris in 1694, during the turbulent reign of the Sun King, Louis XIV. The junction of this time and place gives Monsieur Scarron an intriguing political element not apparent in either The Wife of Martin Guerre or The Trial of Sören Qvist.
The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron begins in a small bookbinder’s shop on a modest Paris street, but inexorably expands to encompass a tumultuous affair, growing social unrest, and the conflicts between a legal system based on oppressive order and a society about to undergo harsh changes. With its domestic drama set against a larger political and historical backdrop, Monsieur Scarron is considered by some critics and readers to be the most intricately layered and fully realized book of Lewis’s long career. Originally published in 1959, Monsieur Scarron has remained in print almost continuously ever since.
Aimee Parkison and Carol Guess University of Alabama Press, 2019 Library of Congress PS3616.A7545A6 2019 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
A dark yet playful collection of short stories that pushes boundaries and blurs the lines between the real and surreal
Girl Zoo is an enthralling and sometimes unsettling collection of short stories that examines how women in society are confined by the limitations and expectations of pop culture, politics, advertising, fashion, myth, and romance. In each story, a woman or girl is literally confined or held captive, and we can only watch as they are transformed into objects of terror and desire, plotting their escape from their cultural cages.
Taken as a whole, this experimental speculative fiction invites parallels to social justice movements focused on sexuality and gender, as well as cautionary tales for our precarious political movement. Parkison and Guess offer no solutions to their characters’ captivity. Instead, they challenge their audience to read against the grain of conventional feminist dystopian narratives by inviting them inside the “Girl Zoo” itself.
Take a step inside the zoo and see for yourself. We dare you. Behind the bars, a world of wonder awaits.
Stephen Beachy University of Alabama Press, 2017 Library of Congress PS3552.E128G58 2017 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
An enthralling, epic tale of the webs of misinformation that saturate, obscure, and complicate the vagaries of day-to-day life in modern America.
It’s 2006, and a cloud of darkness seems to have descended over the Earth—or at least over the minds of a ragtag assortment of Bay Area writers, drug dealers, social workers, porn directors, and Melvin, a street kid and refugee from his Mormon family. A shooter runs amok in an Amish schoolhouse, the president runs amok in the Middle East, a child is kidnapped from Disneyland, and on the local literary scene, a former child prostitute and wunderkind author that nobody has ever met has become a media sensation.
But something is fishy about this author, Huey Beauregard, and so Melvin and his friends Felicia and Philip launch an investigation into the webs of self-serving stories, lies, rumors, and propaganda that have come to constitute our sad, fractured reality.
Glory Hole is a novel about the ravages of time and the varied consequences of a romantic attitude toward literature and life. It is about AIDS, meth, porn, fake biographies, street outreach, the study of Arabic verb forms, Polish transgender modernists, obsession, and future life forms. It’s about getting lost in the fog, about prison as both metaphor and reality, madness, evil clowns, and mystical texts.
Vast and ambitious, comic and tragic, the novel also serves as a version of the I Ching, meaning it can be used as an oracle.
The Goat Bridge: A Novel
T. M. McNally University of Michigan Press, 2005 Library of Congress PS3563.C38816G63 2005 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
"Brilliant. . . . The intricately layered narrative, moving back and forth in time and space, builds to a conclusion both bloody and subtle . . ."
". . . in his most far-reaching and scorchingly beautiful novel, [McNally] extends his acute insights into the workings of the mind to the traumas of a besieged city. . . . In Stephen, an artist with a conscience and a man who has lost what is most precious, McNally has created an unflinching witness to humankind's capacity for both evil and transcendent love. And every penetrating thought, harrowing predicament, vivid feeling, and powerfully evoked setting exerts a profound fascination in this lacerating and exquisite novel of crime and war, suffering and sacrifice, revelation and redemption."
---Booklist (starred review)
"With a sensitive yet razor-sharp vision, T. M. McNally probes the deepest and most difficult aspects of life in that great century of warring, the Twentieth. The Goat Bridge is a novel of love, loss, death, conflicts of the heart as well as between men who would kill in the nameof ideology. This is a poignant, masterful work."
---Bradford Morrow, author of Ariel's Crossing
" . . . at once an imaginative engagement with the war in Yugoslavia, and a moving story of human frailty, bewilderment, and grief. . . . The Goat Bridge is a magnificent novel."
---Christopher Merrill, author of Only the Nails Remain: Scenes from the Balkan Wars
"The Goat Bridge finds [McNally] at new heights. It's fascinating, heartbreaking, illuminating, poetic, wrenching, and unflinching."
"An unusual love story, The Goat Bridge is an unforgettable story of loss and redemption built around some very powerful images. Richly layered and emotionally compelling, this haunting tale is not only deftly written but also features masterful characterization."
---Register-Pajaronian (Watsonville CA)
At the center of Franco Ferrucci's God: An Autobiography is one tender, troubled character: God. In the beginning is God's solitude, and because God is lonely he creates the world. He falls in love with Earth, plunges into the oceans, lives as plant and reptile and bird. His every thought and mood serve to populate the planet, with consequences that run away from him—sometimes delightfully, sometimes unfortunately. Witty, thought-provoking, and beautifully translated, this playful and irresistible Short will leave you wondering where philosophy ends and fiction begins, while it recounts thousands of years of religious thought—and reminds you that above all else, God knows how to tell a good story.
Kevin Oderman West Virginia University Press, 2006 Library of Congress PS3615.D47G65 2006
In Granada, a boy in a dress begs in the white alleys of the old town. A vulnerable runaway, he turns to an American painter who is living in the city for protection, Madeleine James. The boy also meets Madeleine's new friend, poet Cy Jacobs. Although the two adults mean to help the boy, they unwittingly expose him to more peril. Soon, all the characters in the story have been scraped on the touchstone of hard realities and made to show their mettle, be it base or gold. This novel, at times somber and at times flaring with intensity, calls up indelibly the difficulties of making a good life—or a good death—in a world in which we are all, in one way or another, going.
Good for the Jews
Debra Spark University of Michigan Press, 2009 Library of Congress PS3569.P358G66 2009 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
". . . a smart, sprightly, sex-drenched, and neatly plotted novel . . ."
---Alan Cheuse, National Public Radio and the Chicago Tribune
"Spark is at her sly, funny, and cutting best in her third novel, a clever and affecting variation on the biblical story of Esther."
"Spark's prose is tight, funny, insightful and occasionally heartbreaking as it probes the current education system, the arts and society's ills."
Good for the Jews is a smart, funny, sexy novel set in Madison, Wisconsin, during the Bush administration. Part mystery and part stranger-comes-to town story, Good for the Jews is loosely based on the biblical book of Esther. Like Esther, Debra Spark's characters deal with anti-Semitism and the way that powerful men---and the women who love them---negotiate bureaucracies.
At the core of the story of right and wrong are young, attractive Ellen Hirschorn and her older cousin Mose, a high school teacher who thinks he knows, in fact, what is "good for the Jews"---and for Ellen, too. Their stories intertwine with those of the school superintendent, his ex-wife and son, and a new principal. Workplace treachery, the bonds of family, coming of age, and romantic relationships all take center stage as the characters negotiate the fallout from a puzzling fire.
Spark's evocative writing style and sharp, understanding treatment of her diverse characters draw the reader into this surprising page-turner, a finalist for the 2009 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award.
Debra Spark is the author of two previous novels, The Ghost of Bridgetown and Coconuts for the Saint, as well as Curious Attractions: Essays on Fiction Writing. She's been a fellow at Radcliffe College's Bunting Institute and a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts award. Her short stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in publications including Food and Wine, Esquire, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Yankee. She is a professor at Colby College and teaches in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. She lives with her husband and son in North Yarmouth, Maine.
Good-bye, Son and Other Stories, Janet Lewis’s only collection of short fiction, was first published in 1946, but remains as quietly haunting today as it was then. Set in small communities of the upper Midwest and northern California in the ’30s and ’40s, these midcentury gems focus on the quiet cycles connecting youth and age, despair and hope, life and death. A mother’s encounters with her deceased son, an aging woman sitting with the new knowledge of her troubled older sister’s death, and a teenager disillusioned by her own mortality are among the characters, mostly women and girls, whom Lewis delivers. Her understated style and knack for unadorned observation embed us with them as they reckon with the disquieting forces—incomprehensible and destructive to some, enlightening to others—that move us from birth, through life, to death. In the process, Lewis has crafted a paean to the living.
The Gourmet Club: A Sextet
Tanizaki Jun'ichiro; Translated by Anthony H. Chambers and Paul McCarthy University of Michigan Press, 2017 Library of Congress PL839.A7A2 2017 | Dewey Decimal 895.6344
The decadent tales in this collection span 45 years in the extraordinary career of Japan’s master storyteller, Tanizaki Jun’ichiro¯ (1886–1965), the author of Naomi, A Cat, a Man, and Two Women, and The Makioka Sisters. Made accessible in English by the expertise of translators Anthony H. Chambers and Paul McCarthy, the stories in The Gourmet Club vividly explore an array of human passions. In “The Children,” three mischievous friends play sadomasochistic games in a mysterious Western-style mansion. The sybaritic narrator of “The Secret” experiments with cross-dressing as he savors the delights of duplicity. “The Two Acolytes” evokes the conflicting attractions of spiritual fulfillment and worldly pleasure in medieval Kyoto. In the title story, the seductive tastes, aromas, and textures of outlandish Chinese dishes blend with those of the seductive hands that proffer them to blindfolded gourmets. In “Mr. Bluemound,” Tanizaki, who wrote for a film studio in the early 1920s, considers the relationship between a flesh-and-blood actress and her image fixed on celluloid, which one memorably degenerate admirer is obsessed with. And, finally, “Manganese Dioxide Dreams” offers a tantalizing insight into the author’s mind as he weaves together the musings of an old man very like Tanizaki himself-Chinese and Japanese cuisine, a French murder movie, Chinese history, and the contents of a toilet bowl. These beautifully translated stories will intrigue and entertain readers who are new to Tanizaki, as well as those who have already explored the bizarre world of his imagination.
In the dramatic third volume of Robert Laxalt’s trilogy, Leon—the eldest son of immigrant parents—becomes the governor of Nevada during the 1960s. An able lawyer in his own right, he is a neophyte when it comes to dealing with the political ploys of the entrenched officeholders who dominate in Nevada. Leon faces the crisis of his budding political career when he is caught between J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, bent on cleaning out the Mafia, and his own need to protect the autonomy of his native state. An unexpected ally appears when the only man rich enough to solve the governor’s dilemma comes to Nevada—reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes.
Grace for Grace brings celebrated cult filmmaker Steve De Jarnatt’s distinctive voice and cinematic vision to the page. Lush inner lives, idiosyncratic syntax, and sweeping scale characterize these wildly imaginative stories, which present characters in search of meaning and belonging, and often, at the same time, redemption and revenge.
“Rubiaux Rising” (a Best American Short Stories selection) is a tale of triumph amid calamity during Hurricane Katrina, while “Her Great Blue” a surreal interspecies love story. “Mulligan” reveals the private pain of parents traveling across the country to give away their children, and “Wraiths in a Swelter” is both a ghost story and a confessional memoir—following a deliriously exhausted EMT through a deadly Chicago heat wave.
Many of the stories in Grace for Grace are set against the backdrop of natural or manmade catastrophes. These disasters test the characters’ limits as they confront sudden changes and extremes, discovering through their unexpected resourcefulness and endurance something beyond suffering. . . something that approaches the sublime.
Grace Period: A Novel
Gerald W. Haslam University of Nevada Press, 2006 Library of Congress PS3558.A724G73 2006 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
A masterpiece by one of the West’s best-loved authorsJust when Sacramento journalist Marty Martinez thinks his life can’t get any worse, it does. His beloved son has died of AIDS, his wife has divorced him and joined a cult, and his daughter blames him for the disintegration of their family. Then a chance medical examination reveals that he has prostate cancer. Marty faces his new role as a cancer patient with awkward grit and desperation. He is a sympathetic, utterly convincing character seeking faith in a Catholic Church as troubled as he is. He brings increased intensity to his career as he investigates a far-reaching political scandal, reunites his family in unexpected ways, and finds love with a fellow cancer patient. Grace Period is a profound and sometimes hilarious novel about living with serious illness. Marty copes with fear and the painful, sometimes embarrassing, treatment of his disease, but instead of winding down his life he finds fresh purpose and a joyful new love. Haslam brilliantly depicts the complexities of everyday life and the intricate, sometimes tortured bonds of family and friendship. In Grace Period, Haslam shows us that existence at the precarious edge of life offers not only pain and loss but hope, a chance at redemption, love, and even happiness. Grace Period is his masterwork.
Grand River and Joy
Susan Messer University of Michigan Press, 2009 Library of Congress PS3613.E7893G73 2009 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
"With unsparing candor, Susan Messer thrusts us into a time when racial tensions sundered friends and neighbors and turned families upside down. The confrontations in Grand River and Joy are complex, challenging, bitterly funny, and---painful though it is to acknowledge it---spot-on accurate."
---Rosellen Brown, author of Before and After and Half a Heart
"Grand River and Joy is a rare novel of insight and inspiration. It's impossible not to like a book this well-written and meaningful---not to mention as historically significant, humorous, and meditative."
---Laura Kasischke, author of The Life Before Her Eyes and Be Mine
Halloween morning 1966, Harry Levine arrives at his wholesale shoe warehouse to find an ethnic slur soaped on the front window. As he scavenges around the sprawling warehouse basement, looking for the supplies he needs to clean the window, he makes more unsettling discoveries: a stash of Black Power literature; marijuana; a new phone line running off his own; and a makeshift living room, arranged by Alvin, the teenaged tenant who lives with his father, Curtis, above the warehouse. Accustomed to sloughing off fears about Detroit's troubled inner-city neighborhood, Harry dismisses the soaped window as a Halloween prank and gradually dismantles “Alvin's lounge” in a silent conversation with the teenaged tenant. Still, these events and discoveries draw him more deeply into the frustrations and fissures permeating his city in the months leading up to the Detroit riots.
Grand River and Joy, named after a landmark intersection in Detroit, follows Harry through the intersections of his life and the history of his city. It's a work of fiction set in a world that is anything but fictional, a novel about the intersections between races, classes and religions exploding in the long, hot summers of Detroit in the 1960s. Grand River and Joy is a powerful and moving exploration of one of the most difficult chapters of Michigan history.
Susan Messer's fiction and nonfiction have appeared in numerous publications, including Glimmer Train Stories,North American Review, and Colorado Review. She received an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in prose, an Illinois Arts Council literary award for creative nonfiction, and a prize in the Jewish Cultural Writing Competition of the Dora Teitelboim Center for Yiddish Culture.
Graziella: A Novel
Alphonse de Lamartine University of Minnesota Press, 2018 Library of Congress PQ2325.G6E5 2018 | Dewey Decimal 843.7
In its first modern translation, a novel-cum-memoir of a Frenchman’s erotic awakening in Italy by a preeminent writer of the Romantic period
In 1812 Alphonse de Lamartine, a young man of means, traveled through southern Italy, where, during a sojourn in Naples, he fell in love with a young woman who worked in a cigar factory—and whose death after he returned to France would haunt him throughout his writing life. Graziella, Lamartine called this lost girl in his poetry and memoirs—and also in Graziella, a novel that closely follows the story of his own romance.
“When I was eighteen,” the narrator begins, as if penning his memoir, “my family entrusted me to the care of a relative whose business affairs called her to Tuscany.” The tale that unfolds, of the young man’s amorous experiences amid the natural grandeur and subtle splendors of the Italian countryside, is one of the finest works of fiction in the French Romantic tradition, a bildungsroman that is also a melancholy portrait of the artist as a young man discovering the muse who would both inspire and elude him.
Remarkable for its contemplative prose, its dreamy passions and seductive drawing of the Italian landscape, and its place in the Romantic canon, Graziella is a timeless portrait of love, chronicling the remorse and the misguided ideals of youth that find their expression, if not their amends, in art.
Water, its use and abuse, trickles through Great American Desert, a story collection by Terese Svoboda that spans the misadventures of the prehistoric Clovis people to the wanderings of a forlorn couple around a pink pyramid in a sci-fi prairie. In “Dutch Joe,” the eponymous hero sees the future from the bottom of a well in the Sandhills, while a woman tries to drag her sister back from insanity in “Dirty Thirties.” In “Bomb Jockey,” a local Romeo disposes of leaky bombs at South Dakota’s army depot, while a family quarrels in “Ogallala Aquifer” as a thousand trucks dump chemical waste from a munitions depot next to their land. Bugs and drugs are devoured in “Alfalfa,” a disc jockey talks her way out of a knifing in “Sally Rides,” and an updated Pied Piper begs parents to reconsider in “The Mountain.” The consequences of the land’s mistreatment is epitomized in the final story by a discovery inside a pink pyramid.
In her arresting and inimitable style, Svoboda’s delicate handling of the complex dynamics of family and self seeps into every sentence of these first-rate short stories about what we do to the world around us—and what it can do to us.
On August 20, 1940, Marxist philosopher, politician, and revolutionary Leon Trotsky was attacked with an ice axe in his home in Coyoacán, Mexico. He died the next day.
In The Great Prince Died, Bernard Wolfe offers his lyrical, fictionalized account of Trotsky’s assassination as witnessed through the eyes of an array of characters: the young American student helping to translate the exiled Trotsky’s work (and to guard him), the Mexican police chief, a Rumanian revolutionary, the assassin and his handlers, a poor Mexican “peón,” and Trotsky himself. Drawing on his own experiences working as the exiled Trotsky’s secretary and bodyguard and mixing in digressions on Mexican culture, Stalinist tactics, and Bolshevik history, Wolfe interweaves fantasy and fact, delusion and journalistic reporting to create one of the great political novels of the past century.
Greetings from Cutler County is both a nonstop ride of tragic hilarity, and a piercing look at the complexities of youth.
In one northern Michigan community the lives of desperate small-town dreamers are examined through an ensemble cast as earnest as they are outrageous, and as compelling as they are heartbreaking. The lovers, crooks, failures, and survivors of Cutler County are so flawed and genuine you can't help rooting for them-no matter how foolish or hopeless their pursuits may seem.
The stories take place in Cutler County, Michigan. Most of the characters are young men who think of themselves as losers and outsiders. Short on cash, popularity, and the ambition needed for success, they nevertheless are able to examine their failings with the self-knowing humor and resignation of the perpetually thwarted ne'er-do-well.
The stories are inseparable from the stark shoreline of their Lake Michigan settings-the cavernous woods and vast inland lakes that shape life in northern Michigan-and create a landscape as rugged and dramatic as youth itself. Greetings from Cutler County explores the common triumphs and tragedies of coming of age, while providing a rationale and humor that is uniquely and unforgettably its own.
Hermann Broch Northwestern University Press, 2001 Library of Congress PT2603.R357S3813 2000 | Dewey Decimal 833.912
Murder, lust, shame, hypocrisy, and suicide are at the center of The Guiltless, Hermann Broch's postwar novel about the disintegration of European society in the decades preceding the Second World War. Broch's characters--apathetic, cruel, or indolent--are trapped in their indifference, prisoners of a "wakeful somnolence." They may mention the "imbecile Hitler," yet they prefer sex or a nap to any social action. Broch thought such ethical perversity and political apathy paved the way for Nazism and hoped that by revealing Germany's underlying guilt he could purge indifference from his own and future generations. In The Guiltless, Broch captures how ennui--a very human failing--evolves into something dehumanizing and dangerous.
The Guinea Pigs is a chilling fable about dehumanization and alienation representing Vaculik's vision of the menace of Soviet domination in the wake of the 1969 invasion. Written in 1970, it is a sweeping condemnation of totalitarianism, embedded in a rich, imaginative, highly experimental narrative. In the words of the New York Review of Books it is "one of the major works of literature produced in postwar Europe."