0ne of the sad truths about the release of the Indie Bound list is that it reminds me of all the titles I meant to read but hadn’t gotten around to yet. For you, the adventures begins, but for me, it often ends, as I’ve missed deadline and feel guilty about the whole reading process, like sneaking candy. Not that I don’t sneak a lot of candy.
So the August Indie Next list begins tomorrow. M.L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans is the #1 book. I know that my friend Sue at Lake Forest Books loves it. I’m sure Wendy is very disappointed that I didn’t read it yet.
The Light Between Oceans, by M.L. Stedman (Scribner)
“World War I is over and Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia as a lighthouse keeper on remote Janus Rock. His young bride, Isabel, joins him, and they love their isolated life on Janus. Sadness descends, however, as they try unsuccessfully to start a family. A small boat washes ashore carrying a dead man and a beautiful, healthy baby girl whom they make their own, living happily until they go back to the mainland and begin to realize the consequences of their actions. With incredibly visual prose evocative of the time and place, compelling characters, themes of forgiveness and redemption, and a riveting plot that won’t let you put the book down, this is a great debut novel.” —Judy Crosby, Island Books, Middletown, RI
Jane is a huge fan of this book, which just got a Booker Longlist nomination. The review by Janet Maslin this week was mixed. Of late, that’s good for her.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce (Random House).
“‘He walked so surely, it was as if all his life he had been waiting to get up from his chair.’ Recently retired Harold Fry receives an unsettling letter from a co-worker from years past. Queenie is dying in hospice and when Harold sets out to post a return letter, he is seized by the idea that if he keeps walking, Queenie will live. So begins a pilgrimage of personal transformation for Harold — and quite possibly for the reader as well. Insightful and touching, this journey will stay with readers for quite some time.” —Julia MacDonald, The Yankee Bookshop, Woodstock, VT
Jane also read and enjoyed (no surprise) the new Tsukiyama. We’ve just confirmed with the Milwaukee Public Library that Tsukiyama will be coming to the Loos Room at Centennial Hall for a conversation with novelist Jane Hamilton on Thursday, September 27, 7 pm.
A Hundred Flowers, by Gail Tsukiyama (St. Martin’s Press).
“The words of Chairman Mao, ‘Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend’ prove to be a trap for Sheng, a high school teacher who dares to speak out against the Communist Party. He is imprisoned, leaving his wife and young son to make their home with his father, a retired university professor. Sharing their story through alternating voices, Tsukiyama is a masterful craftsman and storyteller, and the reader is quickly caught up in the turmoil of the early days of the Cultural Revolution in China.” —Elizabeth Merritt, Titcomb’s Bookshop, East Sandwich, MA
I haven’t run into Mr. Cook at a book convention in several years, but I do remember that he has great taste that plays well to many of our Boswell customers (let alone booksellers), and we had a great run with Powell’s The Interrogative Mood. So a Southern retelling of Waiting for Godot can’t seem to miss.
You and Me, by Padgett Powell (Ecco)
“Experience the utter joy of shooting the breeze on the porch with a couple of crotchety, intelligent old codgers. Inventive, funny, and profound, Powell turns phrases like a dervish in this Southern-styled ersatz retelling of Waiting for Godot. A wonderful book that perfectly captures kicking back and trying to make sense of the crazy world streaming by.” —Josh Cook, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA
I've heard of other good bookseller reads on Klaussmann's novel, which sounds Postmistress-y, doesn't it? And that Martha's Vineyard thing--I want to tell a struggling writer to head off on vacation, but instead of relaxing, check the head count to make sure there's an audience, and start writing. You can use this to crib notes, a 2009 list from AOL of America's most popular resort towns.
Tigers in Red Weather, by Liza Klaussmann, Little, Brown
“Pull up a chair, pour a cup of tea — or something stronger — and get ready to travel from post-WWII America to 1980s Martha’s Vineyard. You are about to meet five beautifully drawn characters who will fascinate you and break your heart. Klaussmann brilliantly weaves their lives together and, as the story unfolds, we find that each of them is covering up something. The dynamite ending comes as a complete surprise and yet it is so right. Don’t miss this gem.” —Elaine Petrocelli, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA
And finally, it makes me worry that I am the only bookseller in America in love with this book. Say it isn’t so! Please prove me wrong.
The Collective, by Don Lee (W.W. Norton)
“In this sometimes heartbreaking, at other times hilarious novel, Eric Cho contemplates the life of Joshua Yoon, the Korean novelist with whom he, along with provocative visual artist Jessica Tsai, once formed the 3AC or Asian American Artists Collective, first in college and later in Cambridge. What may have led Joshua to commit suicide — or was it? — by running into the path of an oncoming car? Lee once again tackles identity themes, but this time through the lens of the college novel. A triumph!” —Daniel Goldin, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI
You can read the rest of the list on the Indie Bound website.
But I sort of prefer the low-tech preview version, which does not seem to be for members only.
Mr. Strycker has the ability to write about the worlds of man and fowl without simplifying either.... He thinks like a biologist but writes like a poet, and one of the small pleasures of The Thing With Feathers is watching him distill empirical research into lyrical imagery.... Part the palm fronds behind his sentences, and you can almost see the British naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough standing there in a pith helmet, smiling with amused approval at Mr. Strycker's off-center sensibility." – Wall Street Journal
5 hours ago