May 14, 2022
Five very different stories address the powerlessness one can feel when facing daily life. All are beautifully told, and find hope and inspiration within the challenges explored, whether aging and health issues or historical and political turmoil. These writers capture the triumphant spirit that can battle what seems overwhelming, and somehow find the positive in the negative.
Buyer, The Center for Fiction Bookstore
By Ali Smith
Published by Pantheon
Smith’s stunning Quartet was made up of seasonally titled fictional ruminations on subjects of the immediate moment. Her new novel stands alone but fits perfectly into what the Guardian calls her “writerly collage.” This story in which choice and language are playfully intertwined is set in both contemporary times and during the Black Plague. It is not only a companion piece to her previous work but a celebration of companionship, yet another astonishing book to savor and to give to others. Her books inevitably bring solace to anyone who picks them up. “Every hello, like every voice, holds its story ready, waiting.”
By Eugene Vodolazkin
Published by Plough Publishing House
Translated by Marian Schwartz
This timely publication is by a prize-winning Russian author who was born in Kyiv. Vodolazkin’s newest novel arrives as his birth country is being decimated by war and we look to the history of Russia and Ukraine to help us apprehend the conflict. The novel uses music and language to explore the differences in the cultures, featuring a renowned guitarist diagnosed with Parkinson’s who must face that he will not be able to express himself as he once did. The story is told both from his POV and his biographer’s, its structure likened, aptly, to a fugue composition..
This Time Tomorrow
By Emma Straub
Published by Riverhead
It’s always a pleasure to see a new book from one of our favorite independent booksellers. Straub’s latest hits close to her home as well as being a time travel novel. Like the movie Pleasantville, it has revelations for our protagonist, Alice, when she revisits her life at 16 years of age from the view of turning 40. There, her father, now an ailing writer, was a vibrant 40ish man himself. This lively trip back to the past is touching, with deep resonance for anyone with aging parents. But, of course, it’s also witty and fun as usual. Straub always delivers the perfect summer reading.
By Patrick McCabe
Published by Biblioasis
McCabe’s novel The Butcher Boy, which brought him literary acclaim, was published thirty years ago. In the meantime, he has continued to write dark, acerbic stories of the Irish. His most recent, a 600-page novel in verse, is the story of a man caring for his sister in a nursing home as she slides into dementia. It showcases McCabe’s skills in the creation of gothic worlds while he examines the nature of memory against the backdrop of ’70s Irish London. The music in his head as he wrote, led by David Bowie, juxtaposes a woman slipping away with the exhilaration of those times she fondly remembers..
By Selma Blair
Published by Knopf
Blair’s life took a horrible turn when she was diagnosed with MS in 2018. Her incredibly moving 2021 documentary, Introducing, Selma Blair chronicles the debilitating disease and her new memoir deepens that experience. She writes about the dark, ugly aspects of her life, but also the pleasures, starting with a difficult childhood in Michigan, modeling, Hollywood fame (Legally Blonde), addiction, her love of literature (Didion is a favorite) and motherhood to her eventual medical condition. It is a powerfully inspiring story that reminds one not to take anything for granted: beauty, health, success. She says, “We are all in search of a story that explains who we are.” This is hers.