Staff Selections

Kathleen

The Nix
Nathan Hill

The Nix is an historical novel of the 1960's hippies' protests at the Democratic Convention and a modern day commentary on politics, gaming, and the publishing industry.  The characters are funny and flawed and surprising, and this smart book has everything. It is a long book that is worth every page.

Mary

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
Karen Joy Fowler

The plot turns on the bond between species and lessons learned from species co-habitation, but Fowler's novel isn't a feel-good manifesto for animal rights. The “politically correct” ballast front-loaded into the central circumstance of this novel is farcically dispatched with a stolen Madame Defarge marionette.  Underlying issues of identity and perception, and stories of how families succumb to guilt and grief, are intellectually examined by a passionate stakeholder, and are performed, not preached.  This book offers great suspense and pathos, and provides a lot of points to ponder.  You will want to share it.

Paul

A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip
Kevin Brockmeier

Kevin Brockmeier is a marvelous writer of fiction, whose work ranges from realism to fantasy.  His most recent book is a tender, funny memoir of his year in seventh grade, by all odds the most horrifying time in a child’s life.  Your body changes, your social world changes, what is expected of you changes, and notions of who you might become begin to suggest themselves to you.  Brockmeier understands this but he also understands that 7th graders are children, sometime adorable in the manner of children.  Kevin doesn’t understand that he is gay, although he suspects something is different in his personality.  He manages to remember more about this scary time of life than I have suppressed.  I am thankful to him for sharing humorously, and wisely this horrifying but important time in his life.  It’s the best kid memoir I know.

Terry

Vanished Ocean: How Tethys Reshaped the World
Dorrik Stow

A scientific detective story that recounts the birth, life and death of the Tethys Ocean, which once encircled the Earth but vanished some 6 million years ago.

Tim

Until She Comes Home
Lori Roy

On Alder Avenue in 1958 Detroit, all seems a perfect picture of the American Dream:  breadwinning husbands work in the auto industry and come home every night to scenes of domestic bliss, where their wives have dinner on the table after a day spent cleaning and cooking.  But tensions simmer right under this pillboxed, buttondowned surface, and when a neighborhood teenaged girl goes missing, the residential community is turned on its head.   Ms. Roy has fashioned an incredible atmosphere of retro America ala "The Donna Reed Show" while at the same time showing the reader the dark complexities of the human soul, no matter how well-constructed the facade.  (By the way, Ms. Roy's first novel, the Edgar-winning Bent Road is also a wonderfully dark portrait of a Midwestern family.)