If the Lost Generation produced Ex-pat novels, do military spouses publish pat-pat novels? I would say no, but the effect is appealing in the same way. The Confusion of Languages gives us not only a deeply interesting character study, but also a propulsive plot, while bringing up themes of friendship, military life/civilian life divides, war, world politics, family, and cultural differences.
Louisiana, a state rich in cultural history and natural beauty, struggles for its survival after years of plunder by the oil and natural gas industries, and the underperformance of its government programs. This tragedy occurs with the consent and support of the governed. Why? Sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild spends time in the bayou country with local residents to learn their perspective. These well-written pages will make their views real for readers, and Appendix C fact-checks talking points which have been used to persuade people to vote against their own interests.
Michelle Hoover who wowed Prairie Lights’ audience, reading from her first book, The Quickening, now has a second book. It’s called Bottomland and, like her first, deals with rural culture in Iowa in the early 20th Century. This book is more of a thriller than The Quickening, involving a Germ, as always, well researched with characters formed by the dark circumstances of their lives. She’ll be reading the end of April, a reading all lovers of Willa Cather and the great mid-western writers will not want to miss.
A near-future dystopian novel by the author of The Windup Girl.
Through his compelling characters, Bacigalupi explores the disparate effects income inequality has on technology, society and personal ethics in the face of changes brought about by climate change. It deals with water rights and water privatization on the Colorado River in an arid American Southwest, making it a particularly timely “summer read”—but one that will leave you thinking about it past summer.
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This book is a winner on several levels. The bicycle’s progressive influences on American life are manifold, and Guroff manages to tell the story with a convincing thoroughness and a prose style that never drags. The bicycle improved mobility for the working class, allowed women greater freedom and a more practical mode of dress. Cyclists were instrumental in getting the awful 19th century road improved, and the list goes on. For what is a relatively brief book, the notes and bibliography are impressive.
A quirky and interesting take on the Western. It’s short (just a tad over 200 pages) but it packs an outsized wallop. It reminded me of Patrick DeWitt's excellent Sisters Brothers, but with all the fat stripped out. This is pure literary muscle. (And if you haven’t read Sisters Brothers, you now know what to read when you finish Haints Stay).
Which of us has not noticed the same people every day of our lives and, not knowing anything of their real circumstances, created an imaginary narrative around them to satisfy our own fantasies? This is certainly the case of Rachel, our protagonist, who sees a couple on their terrace every morning on her commute to work, and builds her own biography of their lives. When the woman goes missing and is the subject of endless media reports, Rachel feels she knows this woman and tries to help the police with their investigation. This intriguing premise is the springboard of Ms. Hawkins' fascinating suburban thriller -- a tale told by three women: Rachel, an alcoholic; Megan, the missing woman; and Anna, who remarried Rachel's husband, Tom, after their divorce. All three narrators are unreliable, wearing the blinders of their addictions, dissatisfactions, and jealousies. Full of red herrings, flashes of revelations, and plenty of twists and turns, this is a splendid mystery populated with fascinating characters. Enjoy!