Wednesday, July 9, 2014

New Fiction from Rufi Thorpe, Holly Brown, Edan Lupcki, Rebecca Makkai, and I also Included the Terry Pratchett/Stephen Baxter Collaboration, as This Whole Thing Was Getting Insular.

I was sad to confess to our rep Jason that we'd not had a read yet on The Girls from Corona del Mar (Knopf), by Rufi Thorpe. He knew exactly who would love it, only she was no longer a Boswell bookseller.  The story is about friendships made in youth, most notably Mia and Lorrie Ann; one girl's had a tough life, while the other's trajectory is smooth sailing, until of course, something goes wrong and Lorrie Ann hits a downward spiral. Advance quotes are from Ann Packer, J. Courtney Sullivan, Maggie Shipstead, Vanessa Diffenbaugh, and Anton DiSclafani. Publishers Weekly declared Thorpe's novel "a nuanced portrait of two women who are sisters in everything but name." I think that in the end, it's not that there wasn't the perfect bookseller to enjoy The Girls from Corona del Mar; there are several. It's just that we were all reading other books for Jason!

Holly Brown's Don't Try to Hide Me (Morrow) has quotes from Dorothea Benton and Meg Cabot. I don't know where that places it beyond being a novel published by William Morrow, as I think about the two authors more differently than the list for the Thorpe. The book is a novel about terrible secrets between mother and daughter, and it starts with 14-year-old Marley running away from their home in privileged Northern California suburb, having left a note to her mother Rachel. Having read more about the book, I think the Sophie Hannah, who also writes thrillers with domestic themes, is best: "Gripping, emotionally  compelling, and chillingly plausible. I loved it." now the only probably is breaking out Sophie Hannah enough (we like her books and we like her; what more do you need?) so that her quote is a hot commodity. Here's a read from the Bookfoolery blog.

One book that's been out a few weeks that we haven't yet mentioned is Terry Pratchett's collaboration with Stephen Baxter, The Long Mars (Harper), which follows up The Long Earth and The Long War. It's 2040 and a cataclysmic Yellowstone eruption is shutting down civilization. As the publisher notes, most of the population flees to the relative safety of myriad stepwise Earths (you have to read the book to know what this is), several folks stay behind for a cleanup. So the key here is that you can't really jump into this book, which means writing a seductive piece of copy is useless. You have to start with the first book in the series, The Long Earth. It starts as a do-it-yourself project just west of here in Madison, Wisconson where the world discovers "stepping", venturing in alternate worlds, but of course there are rules, and of course an anti-stepping demagogue gains power on the original earth. Two books later, here we are!

Speaking of dystopian (of sorts), July 8 was the on-sale date for Edan Lepucki's California (Little, Brown), the novel that Stephen Colbert and Sherman Alexie are pushing to break out in the face of Amazon's long odds, being one of the books where the company that controls a huge percentage of book sales turned off the buy button for tons of Hachette titles. In this story, Frieda and Cal have fleed a devastated Los Angeles into the wilderness, where they try to fend for themselves, only things don't go so well and they try to find a settlement, only that doesn't go so well either. Lots of really great quotes on this, including Dan Chaon's "stunning and brilliant", Jennifer Egan's "a lush, intricate, deeply disturbing vision", and Janet Fitch's "thrilling and thoughtful." Joanna Connors in The Cleveland Plain Dealer says "Lepucki's future – she never identifies the year, but it seems close – imagines the predictable, though still alarming, end to all the issues, fears and anxieties that divide and haunt us right now." Up until the event, California is on the Boswell Best, discounted 20% off the list price.

We're hosting Edan Lepucki for an event on Friday, August 1. What I want to really want to ask the author is what is going on with the water at The Millions? Her fellow correspondent, Emily St. John Mandel, has written a dystopian novel with similar themes, Station Eleven, which comes out on September 9 (and is a Boswell event on September 22). I haven't yet read California yet, but Jannis has, and she  enjoyed it. Of Station Eleven, so far Sharon and I are fans at Boswell.

Speaking of reads, I am currently in the middle of The Hundred-Year House (Viking) from Rebecca Makkai, author of The Borrower. It's a novel set at the Devohr household outside Chicago, once the home of the Laurelfelt artist colony, but closed and returned into a private residence, just to get a ne'er-do-well son in law out of the family's insular orbit in Canada. His wife is now a widow, and remarried to a gentleman, and each one has a child plus spouse who has taken up residence in the coach house. Oh, and there's a coach. I'm still in the near present, circa 1999 as there's a lot of talk of Y2K, but I'm very excited that this is one of those novels that reads backwards.  nice quotes from Eleanor Henderson, B.A. Shaprio, and Ru Freeman, all of whom were scheduled at Boswell, and would have shown up if their families stayed healthy. Richard Russo does like to give a quote, but they are always good. He calls Rebecca Makkai a writer to watch, "as sneakily ambitious as she is unpretentious."

We're hosting Rebecca Makkai when she returns to the midwest, as she is spending July in New England. Our event is Wednesday, August 6, when she appears with Cristina Henquiquez for her second novel, The Book of Unknown Americans. I wanted to call this evening Second Novel Showdown, but I didn't exactly have a format that matched the title. Competitive reading, anyone?

And since I've told you what several of us are reading, I thought I'd mention that my mom is in the middle of China Dolls (Random House), the new novel by Lisa See, and is enjoying.

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