Friday, July 29, 2011

This Week's New Books


“It’s safe to say your relationship is in trouble if the only way you can imagine solving your problems is by borrowing a time machine.”

In 2006 comic book dealer John Sherkston has decided to break up with his physicist boyfriend, Taylor Esgard, on the very day Taylor announces he’s finally perfected a time machine for the U.S government. John travels back to 1986, where he encounters “Junior,” his younger, more innocent self. When Junior starts to flirt, John wonders how to reveal his identity: “I’m you, only with less hair and problems you can’t imagine.” He also meets up with the younger Taylor, and this unlikely trio teams up to plot a course around their future relationship troubles, prevent John’s sister from making a tragic decision, and stop George W. Bush from becoming president.

In this wickedly comic, cross-country, time-bending journey, John confronts his own—and the nation’s—blunders, learning that a second chance at changing things for the better also brings new opportunities to screw them up. Through edgy humor, time travel, and droll one-liners, Bob Smith examines family dysfunction, suicide, New York City, and recent American history while effortlessly blending domestic comedy with science fiction. Part acidic political satire, part wild comedy, and part poignant social scrutiny, Remembrance of Things I Forgot is an uproarious adventure filled with sharp observations about our recent past.


Talismano is a novelistic exploration of writing seen as a hallucinatory journey through half-remembered, half-imagined cities—in particular, the city of Tunis, both as it is now, and as it once was. Walking and writing, journey and journal, mirror one another to produce a calligraphic, magical work: a palimpsest of various languages and cultures, highlighting Abdelwahab Meddeb’s beguiling mastery of both the Western and Islamic traditions. Meddeb’s journey is first and foremost a sensual one, almost decadent, where the narrator luxuriates in the Tunis of his memories and intercuts these impressions with recollections of other cities at other times, reviving the mythical figures of Arab-Islamic legend that have faded from memory in a rapidly westernizing North Africa. A fever dream situated on the knife-edge between competing cultures, Talismano is a testament to the power of language to evoke, and subdue, experience.


A grandson tries to buy the corpse of Lenin on eBay for his communist grandfather. A failed wunderkind steals a golden cross from an Orthodox church. A boy meets his cousin (the love of his life) once every five years in the river that divides their village into east and west. These are Miroslav Penkov’s strange, unexpectedly moving visions of his home country, Bulgaria, and they are the stories that make up his charming, deeply felt debut collection.

In East of the West, Penkov writes with great empathy of eight hundred years of tumult; his characters mourn the way things were and long for things that will never be. But even as they wrestle with the weight of history, with the debt to family, with the pangs of exile, the stories in East of the West are always light on their feet, animated by Penkov’s unmatched eye for the absurd.


The truth frequently hurts and rarely sets you free.

Ex-criminal Montgomery "Monty" Haaviko would prefer to be known as the friendly neighborhood daycare provider. Unfortunately, it's his criminal past (and his extensive bag of tricks of the trade) that brings him to the attention of Marie Blue Duck, a Canadian activist who wants Monty to set up a route to smuggle refugees into the US. Monty’s skeptical of her offer, but the money is too good to refuse. Even his wife, Claire, who ensures Monty stays on the straight and narrow, thinks he should take the job.

Marry the first person who doesn't publicly ask about the knife in your sock and the pistol in your waistband.

Monty's carefully laid plans quickly go off the rails when he squares off against local thug Samantha Richot, who tries to seize the route. Their power struggle rapidly escalates into kidnapping, torture, and a daring and highly explosive stand-off. Just when Monty thinks he might just have it all under control, his old jailhouse crony, Hershel "Smiley" Wiebe, shows up on his doorstep. Monty is more than suspicious of Smiley's motives, but figures if you should keep old friends close, you should keep old cons even closer.

Smile. If nothing else it makes them nervous.

Not since the bestselling novel Beat The Reaper or the TV show Burn Notice has there been such a quick-thinking, smart-talking anti-hero who will keep you pinned to your seat. A gripping and aggressive thriller, Your Friendly Neighborhood Criminal shows just how far a man will go to protect his family, home and neighborhood.


Set against the closing years of the Cold War, Constance Squires's debut novel introduces the family of Army Major Jack Collins through the eyes of his headstrong eldest daughter, Lucinda. Living on a military base, Lucinda feels displaced and isolated. Over time she finds her own tribe through rock and roll, and meets fellow Army brats, GIs, a ghost, and Syd, who knows how it goes. But after her father's final shocking betrayal, the only world she's ever believed in falls like the Berlin Wall, leaving Lucinda to chart a new path.

In spare, beautiful prose, Constance Squires offers us a rare glimpse into the experiences and sacrifices of an American military family. Along the Watchtower is a powerful story that reveals what it truly means to fight for the things we believe in and to defend the ones we love.


McGee Brown, the "emerging dean of participatory sports journalists," quits his job on a whim and finds himself in San Francisco. When he links up with his old friend Fillmore, a clinical psychologist/ bartender, Brown's life will never be the same.

Through Fillmore, he takes on a role as a bogus psychologist. As Dr. Brown, McGee meets with two patients: one is a troubled young woman who claims her filthy-rich financier husband is trying to kill her; the other is a former TV producer who has adopted the persona of his 1960s series superhero, DangerMan. Brown turns investigator when he's hired by the newly widowed financier to find his missing daughter. In exchange for a $50,000 fee, Brown agrees to do some private investigating, leading to a story packed with car chases, shoot-outs and other hedonistic delights to round out a novel cast with colorful and quirky characters.

3 comments:

David Allen Waters said...

east of the west is a must read :)

thanx for more books to add to my ever growing list sweets :)

Writer said...

Yeah, David, I really love books in translation. :)

Kyle said...

I'm looking forward to reading the Bob Smith novel.