The first novel Anthony Powell published following the completion of his epic A Dance to the Music of Time, O, How the Wheel Becomes It! fulfills perhaps every author’s fantasy as it skewers a conceited, lazy, and dishonest critic. A writer who avoids serving in World War II and veers in and out of marriage, G. F. H. Shadbold ultimately falls victim to the title’s spinning—and righteous—emblem of chance. Sophisticated and a bit cruel, Wheel’s tale of posthumous vengeance is, nonetheless, irresistible.
Written at the peak of the late British master’s extraordinary literary career, this novel offers profound insight into the mind of a great artist whose unequaled style, ear for dialogue, and eye for irony will delight devotees and new readers alike.
Object Lessons explores a fundamental question about literary realism: How can language evoke that which is not language and render objects as real entities? Drawing on theories of reference in the philosophy of language, Jami Bartlett examines novels by George Meredith, William Makepeace Thackeray, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Iris Murdoch that provide allegories of language use in their descriptions, characters, and plots. Bartlett shows how these authors depict the philosophical complexities of reference by writing through and about referring terms, the names and descriptions that allow us to “see” objects. At the same time, she explores what it is for words to have meaning and delves into the conditions under which a reference can be understood. Ultimately, Object Lessons reveals not only how novels make references, but also how they are about referring.
Oil and Water: A Novel
Mei Mei Evans University of Alaska Press, 2013 Library of Congress PS3605.V3693O45 2013 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
What happens when the American dream collides head-on with a nation’s dependence on fossil fuels? Oil and Water, a novel by Mei Mei Evans, focuses on precisely this question. Starting with a star-crossed supertanker, a wayward fishing boat, and a well-known hazard in the Gulf of Alaska, the story presents a region plunged into an oil-slicked crisis. As thousands of miles of shoreline and sea are obliterated, the spill threatens the lives and livelihoods of the coastal community of Selby.
At the center of the disaster are Gregg, a down-on-his-luck skipper, and Lee, his lone deckhand. As they cross paths with the tanker and later the residents of Selby, they are faced with decisions that will have a lasting impact on the entire community. And when the residents are presented with a controversial deal—accept handouts in the form of work from the very company responsible for the disaster—they must learn just how important it is to find strength in the connections that bind humans to each other and the natural world.
Evans’s compelling story, influenced by her own experiences during the Exxon Valdez oil spill, is a provocative look at the choice that must be made between environmental safety and economic survival. A PEN/Bellwether Prize finalist, it will have readers reconsidering where they draw their own lines.
The Old American: A Novel
Ernest Hebert Dartmouth College Press, 2001 Library of Congress PS3558.E277O44 2000 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
In 1746, Nathan Blake, the first frame house builder in Keene, New Hampshire, was abducted by Algonkians and held in Canada as a slave. Inspired by this dramatic slice of history, novelist Ernest Hebert has written a masterful new novel recreating those years of captivity. Set in New England and Canada during the French and Indian Wars, The Old American is driven by its complex, vividly imagined title character, Caucus-Meteor. By turns shrewd and embittered, ambitious and despairing, inspired and tormented, he is the self-styled "king" of the remnants of the first native tribes that encountered the English. Displaced and ravaged by disease, these refugees have been forced to bargain for land in Canada on which to live. Having hired himself out as interpreter to a raiding party of French and Iroquois, Caucus-Meteor returns from New Hampshire the unexpected possessor of a captive, Nathan Blake. He decides to bring the Englishman to his own village rather than sell him to the French. Ambivalent about his former life, Blake gradually fits into the routine of Conissadawaga. Meanwhile, Caucus-Meteor struggles to protect his people from the rapacious French governor. Constantly plotting and maneuvering, burdened by responsibility, the Old American exhibits cunning and courage. A gifted linguist who was forbidden to learn to read or write; a former slave who is now a king; a native leader who has seen more of London and Paris than his English captive, who knows more of European politics than the French colonial administrators, Caucus-Meteor is a brilliant, cantankerous, visionary figure whom readers will long remember.
"This book aims to be about the best of us as it shows us at our least. Thank goodness for Darrell Spencer, the only writer in America to be trusted on the subjects of faith, love, weal and woe."
---Lee K. Abbott
" . . . absolutely dire and dear, his best book, a novel about American life right now. . . . this book is accurate, acerbic, and heartfelt at once."
Praise for Darrell Spencer:
"Mr. Spencer's writing crackles with freshness and lucidity, featuring characters who slide into one another in random encounters and relationships."
---New York Times Book Review
"[Spencer] possesses a remarkable ear for the cadence of everyday speech."
From the acclaimed author of Caution: Men in Trees and A Woman Packing a Pistol comes a tale of kinship, love, and lawlessness.
One Mile Past Dangerous Curve is the story of the Dancers---a family on the verge of collapse. Glen Dancer has come to Ohio to set up another in a series of Snapper franchises. But in the midst of construction, Glen finds himself fighting a painful and futile battle with cancer.
His son Eddie, recently divorced, moves from Las Vegas to help. A sign painter by trade, Eddie finds only intermittent work in town until the day a mysterious and wealthy businessman commissions a series of twenty road signs, each different, all featuring odd, cryptic messages. It is on a back-country road, where Eddie has gone to assemble one of the signs, that some previously vague threats become concrete.
Though Eddie doesn't know it, the neighboring woods hide a secret, a secret that a gun-toting rural gang wants to keep at any cost.
Oy Pioneer!: A Novel
Marleen S. Barr University of Wisconsin Press, 2003 Library of Congress PS3602.A836O9 2003 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
What would happen if a feminist Jewish wit and scholar invaded David Lodge’s territory? Marleen S. Barr, herself a pioneer in the feminist criticism of science fiction, provides a giddily entertaining answer in this feisty novel. Oy Pioneer! follows professor Sondra Lear as she makes her inimitable way through a world of learning—at times fantastic, at times all too familiar, often hilarious, and always compulsively interesting.
As if Mel Brooks and Erica Jong had joined forces to recreate Sex and the City for the intellectual set, the story is a heady mix of Jewish humor, feminist insight, and academic satire. Lear is a tenured radical and a wildly ambitious intellectual, but is subject nonetheless to the husband-hunting imperatives of her Jewish mother. Her adventures expand narrative parameters according to Barr’s term "genre fission."
Mixing elements of science fiction, fantasy, ethnic comedy, satire, and authentic experience of academic life, Oy Pioneer! is uncommonly fun—a Jewish feminist scholar’s imaginative text boldly going where no academic satire has gone before—and bringing readers along for an exhilarating ride.