October 15, 2022
This week we offer an epic novel of the American South, stories that illuminate the absurdity of contemporary life, a glimpse into the making of a musical genius, and a novel about family secrets that don’t remain buried.
Buyer, The Center for Fiction Bookstore
By Barbara Kingsolver
Published by HarperCollins
Kingsolver always surprises and in her new novel she is taking on a classic piece of literature, David Copperfield. It is the perfect vehicle for an updated look at poverty and she has chosen rural Appalachia for her setting (the author grew up in Kentucky). The child of a single mother living in a trailer, Daimon is a scrappy character who must fend for himself. He’s an engaging narrator for the author’s canvas and must endure many hardships like all good literary lost boys. The novel is full of Dickensian touches, in the language, the wit and the passion of Kingsolver’s story. It feels like a major work, one that will be around for a long time.
By George Saunders
Published by Random House
Eight years on since his last prize-winning collection Tenth of December, Saunders shows his incredible range in the short form. In the profound futuristic title story, Custer’s Last Stand is re-enacted by brain-wiped performers, becoming a timely meditation on war, torture, freedom, racism, and even sexual harassment. In the domestic drama “Mother’s Day,” we find ourselves in the head of a woman dying of a heart attack who somehow communicates the whole life of a family in a few pages. Included in these nine stories are four entirely new ones. Sometimes experimental, visual, playful, challenging, they are always weird and wonderful..
A Ballet of Lepers
By Leonard Cohen
Published by Grove Press
Leonard Cohen was one of our finest storytellers, whose song lyrics could break your heart. This selection includes an unpublished novel and over a dozen stories which illustrate his great genius in the early work from the mid-50s to the beginning of the 60s. Always searching, always yearning, the themes in Cohen’s work going forward are all here: spiritual and sexual, the desire for love and fame, his need for isolation. “Sweat is perfume, groans are gold, gasps are bells, shudders are silver.” And if you’ve not seen this extraordinary film, do so!
By Dani Shapiro
Published by Knopf
Before and after stories are so irresistible. The setup here is three suburban teenagers joyriding on Division Street (aptly named). You know it won’t end well. After a breathtaking opening, Shapiro explores what happens to the people involved that fateful night, including a young doctor who tries to help and a troubled young boy who moves into the neighborhood. Shapiro knows what happens when family secrets fester (see her memoir, Inheritance). In fact, she hosts a very good podcast called “Family Secrets.” Listen to her read the first chapter and you will undoubtedly get hooked. She has crafted an emotionally powerful story that grabs you from the start..