If you like nature, swimming, going to the beach or eating fish, this is for you. It consists of three sections: a fascinating history of human exploration and exploitation of the oceans, a clear-eyed account of the damages and dangers their ecosystems currently face, and a hopeful call to action to protect and heal the intricate, beautiful web of life under the sea. An important book on ecology, but even more a great piece of natural history writing.
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.
For variety and range in the topics, this story collection is a good choice. Lively, known for prize-winning novels, seems to have bundled together odds and ends of ideas from her stores. The historic volcanic eruption is told from the viewpoint of an ornamental bird in a Pompeii garden. A biographer interviews old friends of a deceased academic celebrity, producing a life portrait between the lines. Lively sketches a history of marriage between classes with the lightest touch, which seems to perform the very problem she describes. The book’s variety worked well for itinerant reading: a story can be read during a twenty minute wait, then contemplated during the flight or dental procedure… Lively’s masterful story crafting provides thoughtful company.
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.
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 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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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!