New fiction at the Libraries, April 10

April 10, 2012 – 1:56 PM

Practical Jean: a novel by Trevor Cole
PR9199.4.C646 P73 2010 

This eagerly awaited new novel from Trevor Cole combines the humour and sharp observations of contemporary life that he is known for with an irresistibly twisted premise, for fans of the quirkily macabre Six Feet Under and Dexter, and readers of Paul Quarrington, Miriam Toews, Jonathan Franzen, and, of course, Trevor Cole.
In his first two, GG-shortlisted novels, Trevor Cole proved himself a master of drawing us into the shadowy side of human nature with sharp observation and warm wit. In Practical Jean, he goes a step further: this is a darkly humourous and revelatory tale of an ordinary, small-town woman with the usual challenges of middle age — a do-nothing husband, a family that refuses to understand her — who realizes her fondest wish is to protect her dearest friends from the indignities of aging and illness. And that’s when she decides to kill them . . .

Lives: Whole and otherwise by H. Nigel Thomas
 PR9199.3.T455 L58 2010 

These stories of triumph and despair present a gallery of characters, Caribbean immigrants struggling against the odds, as they make their way through the maze of urban life. Set in Montreal, Lives breaks the stereotypes to give us a side of Canada rarely acknowledged. Mary Fellows is a sex-worker organizing a demonstration on St Catherine Street; Margaret is on a perpetual quest for a suitable man, her latest folly a suave, much younger man she brought over from Jamaica; Greta, a domestic help, proudly holds up her son’s high school diploma; but can he read it? Lives adds to Thomas’s already considerable reputation as a chronicler of black life in Montreal.

The Uninnocent: Stories by Bradford Morrow
PS3563.O8754 U48 2011

A young man whose childhood hobby of collecting sea shells and birds’ nests takes a sinister turn when he becomes obsessed with his brother’s girlfriend, in “The Hoarder” (selected as one of theBest American Noir Stories of the Century). An archeologist summoned to attend his beloved sister’s funeral is astonished to discover it is not she who has died, but someone much closer to him, in “Gardener of Heart.” A blind motivational speaker has a crisis of faith when he suddenly regains his sight, only to discover life was better lived in the dark, in “Amazing Grace.”

Mr g: a novel about the creation by Alan Lightman
PS3562.I45397 M7 2012

“As I remember, I had just woken up from a nap when I decided to create the universe.”

So begins Alan Lightman’s playful and profound new novel, Mr g, the story of Creation as told by God. Barraged by the constant advisements and bickerings of Aunt Penelope and Uncle Deva, who live with their nephew in the shimmering Void, Mr g proceeds to create time, space, and matter. Then come stars, planets, animate matter, consciousness, and, finally, intelligent beings with moral dilemmas. Mr g is all powerful but not all knowing and does much of his invention by trial and error.

Even the best-laid plans can go awry, and Mr g discovers that with his creation of space and time come some unforeseen consequences—especially in the form of the mysterious Belhor, a clever and devious rival. An intellectual equal to Mr g, Belhor delights in provoking him: Belhor demands an explanation for the inexplicable, requests that the newly created intelligent creatures not be subject to rational laws, and maintains the necessity of evil. As Mr g watches his favorite universe grow into maturity, he begins to understand how the act of creation can change himself, the Creator.

With echoes of Calvino, Rushdie, and Saramago, combining science, theology, and moral philosophy, Mr g is a stunningly imaginative work that celebrates the tragic and joyous nature of existence on the grandest possible scale.

Murder in Mount Holly by Paul Theroux
PS3570.H4 M87 2011

Paul Theroux, one of the world’s most popular authors, both for his travel books and his fiction, has produced an off-beat story of 1960s weirdos unlike anything he has ever written. During the time of Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, Herbie Gneiss is forced to leave college and get a job, and he lands one at the Kant-Brake toy factory, which manufactures military toys for children. His income keeps his chocolate- loving mother, who tips the scales a smidgeon over two hundred pounds, from starvation. Mr. Gibbon, a patriotic veteran of three wars, also works at Kant-Brake. When Herbie is drafted, Mr. Gibbon falls in love with Herbie’s mother and they move in together at Miss Ball’s rooming house. Since Herbie is fighting for America, Mr. Gibbon feels that he, too, should do something for his country and convinces Miss Ball and Mrs. Gneiss to join him in the venture. They decide to rob the Mount Holly Trust Company because it is managed by a small dark man who is probably a communist. There are some complications, including Herbie’s death in action, Miss Ball’s jealous Puerto Rican lover, and a few unavoidable murders—not to mention three people over sixty pulling off a bank robbery in broad daylight.

Combine Donald E. Westlake with Abbie Hoffman, add a bit of Gore Vidal at his most vitriolic, and you get Murder in Mount Holly.

No One Is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel
PS3601.U868 N6 2012

An isolated village tries to save itself from a war through sheer force of imagination—all at the suggestion of a girl.

In 1939, the families in a remote Jewish village in Romania feel the war close in on them.  Their tribe has moved and escaped for thousands of years—across oceans, deserts, and mountains—but now, it seems, there is nowhere else to go. Danger is imminent in every direction, yet the territory of imagination and belief is limitless. At the suggestion of an eleven-year-old girl and a mysterious stranger who has washed up on the riverbank, the villagers decide to reinvent the world: deny any relationship with the known, and start over from scratch. Destiny is unwritten. Time and history are forgotten. Jobs, husbands, a child, are reassigned. And for years, there is boundless hope. But the real world continues to unfold alongside the imagined one, eventually overtaking it, and soon our narrator—the girl, grown into a young mother—must flee her village, move from one world to the next, to find her husband and save her children, and propel them toward a real and hopeful future.

The Galley Slave by Drago Jancar
translated by Michael Biggins
PG1919.2.A54 G313 2011 


The Galley Slave
 is a tour de force of historical fiction centered on the misadventures of an Everyman of indeterminate origins named Johan Ot, who is part picaresque anti-hero, part Josef K. Driven by a restlessness that he can barely comprehend, Ot consorts with merchants, peasants, pilgrims, pagans, heretics, thieves, and prostitutes, while continually trying to evade the forces of the Inquisition. Everywhere he encounters superstition, the Church, political power, and the mob inextricably linked and wreaking pious, desperate violence on anyone who stands out. The Galley Slave paints a vivid, Bruegelesque panorama of a brutal and plague-threatened late-medieval Europe, seen through the eyes of a rebel in spite of himself as he flees across the length and breadth of the Slovenian lands, from Austrian-controlled Styria to the Venetian-dominated Adriatic coast, in an endless quest to survive.

Raylan by Elmore Leonard
PS3562.E55 R39 2012

The revered New York Times bestselling author, recognized as “America’s greatest crime writer” (Newsweek), brings back U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, the mesmerizing hero of ProntoRiding the Rap, and the hit FX series Justified.

With the closing of the Harlan County, Kentucky, coal mines, marijuana has become the biggest cash crop in the state. A hundred pounds of it can gross $300,000, but that’s chump change compared to the quarter million a human body can get you—especially when it’s sold off piece by piece.

So when Dickie and Coover Crowe, dope-dealing brothers known for sampling their own supply, decide to branch out into the body business, it’s up to U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens to stop them. But Raylan isn’t your average marshal; he’s the laconic, Stetson-wearing, fast-drawing lawman who juggles dozens of cases at a time and always shoots to kill. But by the time Raylan finds out who’s making the cuts, he’s lying naked in a bathtub, with Layla, the cool transplant nurse, about to go for his kidneys.

The bad guys are mostly gals this time around: Layla, the nurse who collects kidneys and sells them for ten grand a piece; Carol Conlan, a hard-charging coal-mine executive not above ordering a cohort to shoot point-blank a man who’s standing in her way; and Jackie Nevada, a beautiful sometime college student who can outplay anyone at the poker table and who suddenly finds herself being tracked by a handsome U.S. marshal.

Dark and droll, Raylan is pure Elmore Leonard—a page-turner filled with the sparkling dialogue and sly suspense that are the hallmarks of this modern master.

 Every Home Needs a Balcony by Rina Frank
translated from the Hebrew by Ora Cummings
PJ5055.21.R36 K6613 2010b

Braiding together the past and present,  Every Home Needs a Balcony relays the life story of a young Jewish girl, the child of Romanian immigrants, who lives with her family in the poverty-stricken heart of 1950s Haifa, Israel.

Eight-year-old Rina, her older sister, and her parents inhabit a cramped apartment with a narrow balcony that becomes an intimate, shared stage on which the joys and dramas of the building′s daily life are played out. It also a window through which Rina witnesses the emergence of a strange new country, born from the ashes of World War II. While her mother cleans houses and her father drifts from job to job, as the years pass Rina becomes desperate to escape her crowded, dirty surroundings. Eventually she falls in love with a wealthy Spaniard and moves to a luxury apartment in Barcelona.

Yet although she enjoys money and status in her new land, it is not Israel. Longing for the past, Rina, now pregnant, returns to the simple life she has missed – a move that soothes her soul, but destroys her marriage. Alone, raising a new baby, comes the painful realization that no matter how much she yearns for the past, the old Haifa of her boisterous youth has gone.

Told with the light touch of a humorous, incredibly dexterous writer,  Every Home Needs a Balcony reveals how our choices shape us – and how we learn to survive life′s most surprising turns

 Dead Low Tide: a novel by Bret Lott
PS3562.O784 D43 2012

In this long-awaited sequel to The Hunt Club, set in the swampy South Carolina Lowcountry, New York Times bestselling author Bret Lott returns with a literary page-turner about murder and family secrets. ThoughDead Low Tide continues the story of Huger Dillard, this haunting work of fiction brilliantly stands on its own. No longer a teenager and now a young man, Huger must come to terms with and confront the truth about his community, his past, and the mysterious place he calls home.

While most of the residents in the wealthy, historic Charleston enclave of Landgrave Hall are asleep at two-thirty in the morning, Huger Dillard and his father, “Unc,” are heading, via jonboat, to the adjoining golf course. Blinded by a terrible accident that killed his wife, Unc prefers to practice his golf game when no one is watching. But before anyone can even tee off, Huger makes a grisly find: a woman’s body, anchored deep in the mud at the water’s low tide.

The discovery sets off a chain of events that puts Huger and his family up against secret military forces, old friends, longtime neighbors, lost loves, and shadowy global networks. The only thing connecting them all is Landgrave Hall—and the treacherous reason why this area is so important to so many people.

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