Big Girl Small, by Rachel DeWoskin (FSG). Several years ago I read and enjoyed Foreign Babes in Beijing, DeWoskin's memoir about starring in a Chinese soap opera, as the vixen of course. Her second novel, after Repeat after Me, is about a little person, Judy Lohden, who gets caught in a sexual scandal. Library Journal praised DeWoskin for giving an old story line new depth. No reads in our store, but I've heard good things from other booksellers. I hoped DeWoskin might make it up to Milwaukee, as she spends part of her time in Chicago. Here's an update--this book is not out until May 5th!
Mothers and Daughters, by Rae Meadows (Holt). The story of a woman mourning her mother while caring for her newly born daughter, Meadows lived for a number of years in Madison, and I hosted we hosted a joint event with Meadows and Darin Strauss at our Brookfield Schwartz. With Strauss touring for Half a Life in paperback (recent winner of an NBCC award comes out in paper on 5/31, though I am quite fond of the McSweeneys hardcover), could a return engagement be possible? Only problem #1: I think Meadows moved to Minneapolis. And #2: we're not on the list of tour cities for Strauss. That said, we're rarely on the list of tour cities! I've read Meadows' first two novels so I suspect I'll read this one too, only not yet!
The School of Night, by Louis Bayard (also Holt). After an initial foray of writing contemporary fiction, Bayard has found his voice with historical, literary-influenced mysteries. The newest has dual plotlines, one contemporary, one Elizabethan, featuring protagonist Henry Cavendish. Was there really a group of men called "The School of Night?" Publishers Weekly called this "a superb intellectual thriller." And on launch day, who walked in but one of Bayard's friends from college. We agreed the new author photo is very becoming. The world is so freakishly small that sometimes I worry that if I slip I might fall off.
The Troubled Man, by Henning Mankell (Knopf). The first Kurt Walldender mystery in a decade is also his swansong, with advance reviewers comparing this installment to Ian Rankin's final Rebus novel. This time a retired Naval commander goes missing after relating to Wallender a strange story about a territorial invasion of Swedish waters, followed by his wife. It's hard to remember which advance critic said "masterful" and which said "intricate" and "deft." There's no way around it--those are positive adjectives.
All this and the final Jean Auel too, The Land of Painted Caves. It's said that once you discover fire, it's all downhill.