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New Fiction

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Summer is the time for the blockbusters, the big names, the beach reads. You probably already know that we have plenty of those. Here's a list of some lower profile and offbeat new novels that you may have missed.

 

 

Click for availability and more information Autobiography of Us , by Aria Beth Sloss
 
Coming of age in the patrician neighborhood of Pasadena, California during the 1960s, Rebecca Madden and her beautiful, reckless friend Alex dream of lives beyond their mothers' narrow expectations. Their struggle to define themselves against the backdrop of an American cultural revolution unites them early on, until one sweltering evening the summer before their last year of college, when a single act of betrayal changes everything. Decades later, Rebecca's haunting meditation on the past reveals the truth about that night, the years that followed, and the friendship that shaped her. The book spans four decades (the 1950s through the 1980s), and gracefully explores the friendship of two women as well as the culture of the times. To get a feel for the novel, the author created and discussed a music playlist on the Largehearted Boy blog that she feels works as a soundtrack for the book. Take a look here.


Click for availability and more information Black Venus, by James MacManus
 
A story based on the romance between Charles Baudelaire and the Haitian cabaret singer who inspired his most famous and controversial poems is set against the art scene of 19th-century Paris and follows their enduring bond, the banning of his master work and their scandalous public trial for obscenity. McManus, who is managing director of the Times of London literary supplement recently wrote in the Huffington Post blog about how Baudelaire changed his life. 


Click for availability and more information Chocolates for Breakfast , by Pamela Moore
 
White Oleander author Janet Fitch has the best take on this recently re-released 1956 novel that I have come across. Here she is in a recent piece in Salon: "Fifteen-year-old Courtney Farrell has been raised by her actress mother to make a good martini and understand how to get around in the adult world of Hollywood's famed Garden of Allah, where her mother lives. She returns from boarding school in the East -- a touchstone of the best girl trash -- takes her first lover (a homosexual actor!), drinks a lot and becomes very jaded and sophisticated. A book to treasure forever."

There is a local angle here as well, it appears that when the novel begins, Courtney is going to boarding school right here in Greenwich. The book gained notoriety for its frank depiction of sexuality at a time when 18 year old girls were not expected to write or even read about such topics. The book also includes discussion of homosexuality, alcoholism, gender roles and sexual exploration that was, for the era, uncommon. Sometimes referred to as an American version of Bonjour Tristesse,  this is a very welcome and inspired title for the folks at Harper's to re-issue. A bit of literary and social  history for people to catch up with.


Click for availability and more information Cinnamon and Gunpowder, by Eli Brown
 
The year is 1819, and the renowned chef Owen Wedgwood has been kidnapped by the ruthless pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot. He will be spared, she tells him, as long as he puts exquisite food in front of her every Sunday without fail. To appease the red-haired captain, Wedgwood gets cracking with the meager supplies on board. His first triumph at sea is actual bread, made from a sourdough starter that he leavens in a tin under his shirt throughout a roaring battle, as men are cutlassed all around him. Soon he's making tea-smoked eel and brewing pineapple-banana cider. But Mabbot--who exerts a curious draw on the chef--is under siege. Hunted by a deadly privateer and plagued by a saboteur hidden on her ship, she pushes her crew past exhaustion in her search for the notorious Brass Fox. As Wedgwood begins to sense a method to Mabbot's madness, he must rely on the bizarre crew members he once feared: Mr. Apples, the fearsome giant who loves to knit; Feng and Bai, martial arts masters sworn to defend their captain; and Joshua, the deaf cabin boy who becomes the son Wedgwood never had.

Watch the book trailer here.


Click for availability and more information Good Kids, by Benjamin Nugent
 
At fifteen, Josh Paquette and Khadijah Silverglate-Dunn catch Josh's father and Khad ijah's mother kissing in a natural foods store. As both of their families fall apart, the teenagers sign a pact never to cheat on anyone, ever. They have no problem keeping the vow--until they meet again at twentyeight, both struggling with career and identity, and both engaged to other people. A reviewer in the Boston Globe calls the book "modest modern-day rebuttal of the fairy tale romance." 


Click for availability and more information In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods, by Matt Bell
 
In this debut novel a newlywed couple escapes the busy confusion of their homeland for a distant and almost uninhabited lakeshore. They plan to live there simply, to fish the lake, to trap the nearby woods and build a house upon the dirt between where they can raise a family. But as their every pregnancy fails, the child-obsessed husband begins to rage at this new world: the song-spun objects somehow created by his wife's beautiful singing voice, the giant and sentient bear that rules the beasts of the woods, the second moon weighing down the fabric of their starless sky, and the labyrinth of memory dug into the earth beneath their house. This novel is a powerful exploration of the limits of parenthood and marriage--and of what happens when a marriage's success is measured solely by the children it produces, or else the sorrow that marks their absence. NPR calls it "more a book-length fairy tale than a conventional novel" and "one of the smartest meditations on the subjects of love, family and marriage in recent years." 


Click for availability and more information Last Days, by Adam Nevill
 
Horror fans take note. When guerrilla documentary maker, Kyle Freeman, is asked to shoot a film on the notorious cult known as the Temple of the Last Days, it appears his prayers have been answered. The cult became a worldwide phenomenon in 1975 when there was a massacre including the death of its infamous leader, Sister Katherine. Kyle's brief is to explore the paranormal myths surrounding an organization that became a testament to paranoia, murderous rage, and occult rituals. The shoot's locations take him to the cult's first temple in London, an abandoned farm in France, and a derelict copper mine in the Arizonan desert where The Temple of the Last Days met its bloody end. But when he interviews those involved in the case, those who haven't broken silence in decades, a series of uncanny events plague the shoots. Troubling out-of-body experiences, nocturnal visitations, the sudden demise of their interviewees and the discovery of ghastly artifacts in their room make Kyle question what exactly it is the cult managed to awaken - and what is its interest in him?

Read an interview from Rue Morgue.com with Nevill on his inspirations for the book.


Click for availability and more information Malavita, by Tonino Benacquista ; translated by Emily Read
 
The Blakes are newcomers to a small town in Normandy. Fred is a historian researching the Allied landings, Maggie enjoys charity work, and their kids are looking forward to meeting other teenagers at the local lycée. Or so it seems. In fact, Fred is really Giovanni Manzoni, an ex-goodfella turned stool pigeon who's been relocated from New Jersey to France by the FBI's witness protection program. He's got a two-million-dollar bounty on his head, but he and his family can't help attracting attention (imagine the Sopranos in Normandy). And when imprisoned mobster Don Mimino gets wind of their location, it's like The Godfather as if written by Carl Hiaasen. Because while you can take the man out of the Mafia, you can't take the Mafia out of the man. Soon to be the motion picture The Family starring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Tommy Lee Jones, and produced by Martin Scorsese

 

Click for availability and more information The Story of My Purity, by Francesco Pacifico ; translated from the Italian by Stephen Twilley

 
Thirty years old, growing flabby in a sexless marriage, Piero Rosini has decided to dedicate his life to Jesus. He's renounced the novels and American music that were filling his head with nonsense; he's moved out of his fancy bourgeois neighborhood, which was keeping him from finding spiritual purity and the Lord's truth. Now that he and his wife have settled into an un?nished housing development on the far outskirts of Rome, he'll be able to really concentrate on his job at an ultraconservative Catholic publishing house, editing books that highlight the decadence and degradation of modern society. With a charismatic narrator as familiar with the finer points of Christian theology as with the floor layout of IKEA and the schedules of European budget airlines, Francesco Pacifico's exuberant novel brings us Europe old and new and the inner workings of a conflicted but always compelling mind. The Paris Review calls Piero Rosini "the funniest Catholic narrator in contemporary literature" in the introduction to this interview with the author.


Click for availability and more information The Tin Horse, by Janice Steinberg
 
It has been more than sixty years since Elaine Greenstein's twin sister, Barbara, ran away, cutting off contact with her family forever. Elaine has made peace with that loss. But while sifting through old papers as she prepares to move to Rancho Mañana--or the "Ranch of No Tomorrow" as she refers to the retirement community--she is stunned to find a possible hint to Barbara's whereabouts all these years later. And it pushes her to confront the fierce love and bitter rivalry of their youth during the 1920s and '30s, in the Los Angeles Jewish neighborhood of Boyle Heights. In a recent Los Angeles Times interview the author discusses Boyle Heights, the neighborhood the she evokes so poignantly in the novel.

New Fiction

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 2012 has been a great year for fiction. Here's a dozen titles from the last month to round out the year.


 

Click for availability and more information Alfa Romeo 1300 and Other Miracles, by Fabio Bartolomei
 
Diego is a forty-something car salesman with a talent for telling half-truths. Fausto sells watches over the phone. Claudio manages (barely) his family-owned neighborhood supermarket. The characteristic common to each of these three men is their abject mediocrity. Yet, mediocrity being the mother of outrageous invention, they embark on a project that would be too ambitious in scope for any single one of them, let alone all three together. They decide to flee the city and to open a rustic holiday farmhouse in the Italian countryside outside Naples. Things would have been challenging enough for these three unlikely entrepreneurs, but when a local mobster arrives and demands they pay him protection money things go from bad to worse. Now their ordinary (if wrongheaded) attempt to run a small business in an area that organized crime syndicates consider their own becomes a quixotic act of defiance.


Click for availability and more information The Balloonist, by MacDonald Harris
 
In 1897, three men, a scientist, a journalist, and an adventurer, set off in a hot-air balloon hoping to be the first men to land on the North Pole, as Major Gustav Crispin, the scientist, contemplates their situation and remembers his love affair with the exasperating Luisa. Originally published in 1976 and nominated for the National Book Award. 


Click for availability and more information The Canvas, by Benjamin Stein
 
Loosely based on the true story of Binjamin Wilkomirski, whose fabricated 1995 Holocaust memoir transfixed the reading public, The Canvas has a singular construction--its two inter-related narratives begin at either end of the book and meet in the middle. , a psychoanalyst in Zurich, encourages Minsky to write a book about his traumatic childhood experience in a Nazi death camp, a memoir which the journalist Jan Wechsler claims is a fiction. Ten years later, a suitcase arrives on Wechsler's doorstep. Allegedly, he lost the suitcase an a trip to Israel, but Wechsler has no memory of the suitcase, nor the trip, and he travels to Israel to investigate the mystery. But it turns out he has been to Israel before, and his host on the trip, Amnon Zichroni, has been missing ever since. . .


Click for availability and more information Finding Casey, by Jo-Ann Mapson
 
Glory Vigil, newly married, unexpectedly pregnant at forty-one, is nesting in the home she and her husband, Joseph, have just moved to in Santa Fe, a house that unbeknownst to them is rumored to have a resident ghost. Their adopted daughter, Juniper, is home from college for Thanksgiving and in love for the very first time, quickly learning how a relationship changes everything. But Juniper has a tiny arrow lodged in her heart, a leftover shard from the day eight years earlier when her sister, Casey, disappeared-in a time before she'd ever met Glory and Joseph. When a fieldwork course takes Juniper to a pueblo only a few hours away, she finds herself right back in the past she thought she'd finally buried.


Click for availability and more information The Greatcoat: a ghost story, by Helen Dunmore
 
It is the winter of 1952 when Isabel Carey moves to the East Riding of Yorkshire with her new husband, Philip, a medical doctor. While Philip spends long hours working away from home, Isabel finds herself lonely and vulnerable as she adjusts to the realities of being a housewife in the country. One evening, while Philip is on call, Isabel is woken by intense cold. When she hunts for extra blankets, she discovers an old RAF greatcoat hidden in the back of a cupboard. Sleeping under the coat for warmth, she starts to dream and is soon startled by a knock at her window. Outside is a young RAF pilot wearing a familiar coat. His name is Alec and his powerful presence disturbs and excites her as they begin an intense affair. Nothing though has prepared her for the truth about Alec's life, nor the impact it will have on her own.


Click for availability and more information Kafka in Love, by Jacqueline Raoul-Duval
 
An English-language translation of an accessible introduction to the literary master is inspired by the stories of his four defining romances as documented in Kafka's personal journals and offers insight into his decision to maintain long-distance, correspondence-based affairs with a sequence of fiancées he never married. The author uses his voice in her own writing, and a third of the book is pulled from Kafka's journals. It is the perfect introduction to this giant of world literature, and captures his life and romances in a style worthy of his own.


Click for availability and more information Mrs. Queen Takes the Train, by William Kuhn
 
When Queen Elizabeth, disguised in a skull-emblazoned hoodie, sneaks out of Buckingham Palace to escape her duties for a little while, an unlikely sextet of royal attendants team up to find their missing monarch and bring her back before her absence sets off a national scandal.


Click for availability and more information The News from Spain: seven variations on a love story., by Joan Wickersham
 
In these seven variations on a theme, a series of characters trace and retrace eternal yet ever-changing patterns of love and longing, connection and loss. The stories range over centuries and continents--from eighteenth-century Vienna, where Mozart and his librettist Da Ponte are collaborating on their operas, to America in the 1940s, where a love triangle unfolds among a doctor, a journalist, and the president's wife. A race-car driver's widow, a nursing-home resident and her daughter, a paralyzed dancer married to a famous choreographer--all feel the overwhelming force of passion and renunciation. With uncanny emotional exactitude, Wickersham shows how we never really know what's in someone else's heart, or in our own; how we continually try to explain others and to console ourselves; and how love, like storytelling, is ultimately a work of the imagination. 


Click for availability and more information The Nostalgist, by Griffin Hansbury
 
Stoop-shouldered and balding beneath a porkpie hat, Jonah Soloway is an old man before his time. Estranged from his astrophysicist father and effectively orphaned when an SUV took his mother's life, Jonah longs to make a human connection?even if it means lying to get it. When he calls the phone number on Rose Benevento's 9/11 missing poster and reaches her mother, Vivian, one lie gives birth to another and another, and before Jonah knows it, the truth becomes indiscernible even to him. Stalked by Rose's ghost and desperate to keep the Beneventos from uncovering his lie, Jonah finds himself adrift in a city he no longer recognizes and more alone than ever.


Click for availability and more information Noughties, by Ben Masters
 
Celebrating with his friends the night before his Oxford graduation, Eliot Lamb reluctantly prepares to confront his feelings for a fellow lover of literature while receiving ominous messages from an ex-girlfriend and revealing a tragic long-time secret. For fans of Martin Amis and Zadie Smith.


Click for availability and more information Raised from the Ground, by José Saramago
 
First published in 1980, this book follows the changing fortunes of the Mau Tempo family--poor landless peasants not unlike Saramago's own grandparents. Set in Alentejo, a southern province of Portugal known for its vast agricultural estates, the novel charts the lives of the Mau Tempos as national and international events rumble on in the background--the coming of the republic in Portugual, the two World Wars, and an attempt on the dictator Salazar's life. Yet nothing really impinges on the grim reality of the farm laborers' lives until the first communist stirrings. 


Click for availability and more information This book is full of spiders: seriously, dude, don't touch it , by David Wong
 
From the writer of the cult sensation John Dies at the End comes another terrifying and hilarious tale of almost Armageddon at the hands of two hopeless heroes as they become embroiled in a new set of horrific but absurd challenges when movie-induced zombie phobia enables a nefarious shape-shifter race to take over the world.

New Fiction

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Here is just a small sampling of newly released fiction titles acquired by Greenwich Library this month.


Click for availability and more information Big Ray, by Michael Kimball
 
Years after the death of his abusive father, an adult son whose relief overshadowed his other emotions confronts the enduring presence of his father's memory, in a story imparted through hundreds of brief entries that explore their complicated relationship.


Click for availability and more information Black Fridays, by Michael Sears
 
Struggling to rebuild his life after a two-year prison term for unscrupulous choices, former Wall Street hotshot Jason Stafford is tapped by an investment firm to investigate the suspicious death of a junior trader, a dangerous assignment that is complicated by his efforts to reclaim his young autistic son from his unstable ex-wife. The hold queue is already building on this one.



Click for availability and more information The Forgiven, by Lawrence Osborne
 
A couple in a deteriorating relationship are involved in a fatal car accident on their way to an annual wild party at a friend's house deep in the Moroccan desert and must deal with the repercussions.


Click for availability and more information The Life of Objects, by Susanna Moore
 
Drawn by a mysterious countess into the Berlin household of an aristocratic couple, Beatrice, a young Irish Protestant lace maker, is introduced to the highly rarified world of affluence and art collecting on the eve of a World War II that threatens their lives.


Click for availability and more information The 100-year-old man who climbed out the window and disappeared., by Jonas Jonasson
 
Confined to a nursing home and about to turn 100, Allan Karlsson, who has a larger-than-life back story as an explosives expert, climbs out of the window in his slippers and embarks on an unforgettable adventure involving thugs, a murderous elephant and a very friendly hot dog stand operator.


Click for availability and more information Persecution: the friendly fire of memories., by Alessandro Piperno
 
After being accused of a vile crime, Leo Pontecorvo's life is put under an examination that reveals all of his mistakes, regrets, and contradictions, while his family grapples with the aftermath and he tries to prove his innocence.



Click for availability and more information Skagboys, by Irvine Welsh
 
Chronicles the misadventures of Mark Renton and his friends as they cope with economic uncertainties, family problems, drug use and the opposite sex in 1980s Edinburgh. A prequel, of sorts, to the hugely entertaining Trainspotting



Click for availability and more information Trojan Horse, by Mark Russinovich
 
When a new form of the CIA's computer virus is countered by a Trojan horse virus developed in the East, cybersecurity analysts Jeff Aiken and Daryl Haugen are caught in the middle of a political uprising that threatens their lives.



Click for availability and more information White Forest, by Adam McOmber
 
Jane Silverlake, a young woman from the wild heath regions of Victorian England, uses her paranormal ability to see the souls of handcrafted objects to infiltrate a mysterious dream-manipulation cult into which the man she loves has gone missing.



Click for availability and more information Your House is on Fire, Your Children all gone , by Stefan Kiesbye
 
A village on the Devil's Moor: a place untouched by time and shrouded in superstition. There is the grand manor house whose occupants despise the villagers, the small pub whose regulars talk of revenants, the old mill no one dares to mention. This is where four young friends come of age--in an atmosphere thick with fear and suspicion. Their innocent games soon bring them face-to-face with the village's darkest secrets in this novel, which is evocative of Stephen King's classics short story "Children of the Corn" and infused with the spirit of the Brothers Grimm.

New Fiction

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Below are a selection of new fiction titles recently received by the Greenwich Library.

Click for availability and more information Lionel Asbo: State of England, by Martin Amis
 
Although some major critics have not been kind to this book, the joke is ultimately on them. Amis's novel is a satiric look at the media's fascination with celebrity. The book's anti-hero, Lionel Asbo is an uncouth petty criminal who wins millions of pounds in the lottery. He becomes a "celebrity" over night, thanks to a gullible media. The book is hilarious, as you might expect but by the time it nears its end, the Amis offers up plenty of thoughtful moments.


Click for availability and more information The Orchardist, by Amanda Coplin
 
At the turn of the 20th century in a rural stretch of the Pacific Northwest, a gentle solitary orchardist, Talmadge, tends to apples and apricots. Then two feral, pregnant girls and armed gunmen set Talmadge on an irrevocable course not only to save and protect but to reconcile the ghosts of his own troubled past. 


Click for availability and more information Office Girl, by Joe Meno
 
In the last months of the twentieth century, art school dropout Odile and her companion Jack, who spends his time capturing the sounds of the city on his out-of-date tape recorder, decide to start their own art movement. "The talented Chicago-based Meno has composed a gorgeous little indie romance, circa 1999 . . . A sweetheart of a novel, complete with a hazy ending." --Kirkus Reviews


Click for availability and more information The Twelve Rooms of the Nile, by Enid Shomer
 
Imagines shared encounters between Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert before their famous achievements, in a dramatic account inspired by their 1850 journey up the Nile during which they overcame considerable differences to forge a bond of intelligence, humor and passion.


Click for availability and more information We're flying : stories, by Peter Stamm ; translated from the German by Michael Hofmann
 
an anthology of stories that employ the acclaimed Swiss author's use of direct prose, deceptively simple narratives and deep psychological insights into the existential dilemmas of contemporary life.


Click for availability and more information Battleborn, by Claire Vaye Watkins
 
A debut collection of ten short works reimagines the mythology of the American West and includes stories of a foreigner's arrival at a prostitution ranch, a hermit's attempt to rescue an abused teen, and a woman's role in a friend's degrading Vegas encounter.

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