Monthly Archives: November 2011

2030, by Albert Brooks.

This is writer/actor/director Albert Brooks’ “real story of what happens to America” (as the novel’s subtitle indicates).  Lifespans have been extended through the eradication of cancer and the population of the United States is huge, tilted toward “the olds,” and straining the resources and future of youth.  And then Los Angeles disintegrates in an earthquake, providing the opportunity for an ingenious economic solution.

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Underground Time, by Delphine de Vigan.

Translated from the French and set in Paris, this novel takes place on 20 May, the exact date a soothsaying fortune-teller told Mathilde there would come a (much-needed) change in her life.  Mathilde feels herself disintegrating.  Her boss has turned on her and has been making her job and her life unendurable for months and months.  Physician Thibault is feeling similarly adrift & ready for a change in his life on the selfsame 20 May.

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The Human Bobby, by Gabe Rotter.

Wow!  This book begins, surprisingly, at “Chapter Thirty-One” and as you read along, you think you know why.  As you read along, you’re enveloped in the tale of this man whose life has fallen apart after unforgivable dalliances on his part.  He’s lost his wife.  He’s lost his child.  He’s homeless.  Then after chapters 1-30, 31-Fifty-Three and a completely surprising ending.

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Hint Fiction : An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer, edited by Robert Smartwood.

Impossible you say?  Not so.  Beginning with Hemingway’s (apocryphal “For sale : baby shoes, never worn.“), there’s a history of pared-down storytelling (“from novel to novella to novelette, short story, sudden fiction, flash fiction, micro fiction, drabble [exactly 100 words], dribble [50]”).  Take a look– a quick look!– at these.

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The Watery Part of the World

A compelling story that begins on a barrier island in 1813, as we are introduced to Theodosia Burr, the daughter of the notorious Aaron Burr.  We forward one hundred and fifty years  to meet the last three inhabitants of this island.   This Southern author, Michael Parker,  paints a colorful picture and tells a haunting tale.  Highly recommended.

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Americanisation : Lessons in American Culture and Language, by Angus Woodward.

In this inventive first novel, newcomer Biti Namoeteri encounters America through a variety of texts which introduce him to the American Way of Life and the American (rags-to-riches (to rags)) Dream.

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The Pilgrim, by Hugh Nissenson.

If you want to get into the true holiday spirit before sitting down to your Thanksgiving feast, read Hugh Nissenson’s The Pilgrim— yes, those pilgrims.  Of Plymouth.  The novel is a hard look at the hardships the colony (and, for that matter, all who lived in the 1600s) endured (told convincingly in a period first-person voice).   It will make you extra grateful for the bounty of 2011.

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