Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tuesday Books

Basically it's Here Comes Honey Boo Boo Child, but in print. Horrors!

“Establishes Lindqvist as Sweden’s Stephen King.”
—The Washington Post on Harbor

John Ajvide Lindqvist has been crowned the heir apparent to Stephen King by numerous sources, and he is heralded around the globe as one of the most spectacularly talented horror writers working today. His first novel, Let the Right One In, is a cult classic that has been made into iconic films in both Sweden and in the United States. His second novel, Handling the Undead, is beloved by horror fans everywhere. His third novel, Harbor, is a masterpiece that draws countless comparisons to Stephen King. Now, with Little Star, his most profoundly unsettling book yet, Lindqvist treads previously unmarked territory.

A man finds a baby in the woods, left for dead. He brings the baby home, and he and his wife raise the girl in their basement. When a shocking and catastrophic incident occurs, the couple’s son Jerry whisks the girl away to Stockholm to start a new life. There, he enters her in a nationwide singing competition. Another young girl who’s never fit in sees the performance on TV, and a spark is struck that will ignite the most terrifying duo in modern fiction.

Little Star is an unforgettable portrait of adolescence, a modern-day Carrie for the age of internet bullies, offensive reality television, and overnight You Tube sensations. Chilling, unnerving, and petrifying, Little Star is Lindqvist’s most disturbing book to date.

I was first introduced to Erdrich in 1994 with her book Love Medicine.

One Sunday in the summer of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface as Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to reveal the details of what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. In one day, Joe's life is irrevocably transformed. He tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. Increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world for which he is ill prepared.

While his father endeavors to wrest justice from a situation that defies his efforts, Joe becomes frustrated and sets out with his trusted friends, Cappy, Zack, and Angus, to get some answers of his own. Their quest takes them to the Round House, a sacred place of worship for the Ojibwe. And this is only the beginning.

I find it somewhat ironic that a book about someone being institutionalized for trying to commit suicide has a blurb on its cover by David Foster Wallace, who committed suicide in 2008.

Well...erm...sorry, the actual, physical copy that I had in my hands earlier had said blurb on it.

Benjamin arrives with his parents for a tour of Roaring Orchards, a therapeutic boarding school tucked away in upstate New York. Suddenly, his parents are gone and Benjamin learns that he is there to stay. Sixteen years old, a two-time failed suicide, Benjamin must navigate his way through a new world of morning meds, popped privileges, candor meetings and cartoon brunches — all run by adults who themselves have yet to really come of age.

The only person who comprehends the school's many rules and rituals is Aubrey, the founder and headmaster. Fragile, brilliant, and prone to rage, he is as likely to use his authority to reward students as to punish them. But when Aubrey falls ill, life at the school begins to unravel. Benjamin has no one to rely on but the other students, especially Tidbit, an intriguing but untrustworthy girl with a "self-afflicting personality." More and more, Benjamin thinks about running away from Roaring Orchards — but he feels an equal need to know just what it is he would be leaving behind.

Another author I've been meaning to read, but that pesky having a job keeps getting in the way.

Sherman Alexie’s stature as a writer of stories, poems, and novels has soared over the course of his twenty-book, twenty-year career. His wide-ranging, acclaimed stories from the last two decades, from The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven to his most recent PEN/Faulkner award–winning War Dances, have established him as a star in modern literature.

A bold and irreverent observer of life among Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest, the daring, versatile, funny, and outrageous Alexie showcases all his talents in his newest collection, Blasphemy, where he unites fifteen beloved classics with fifteen new stories in one sweeping anthology for devoted fans and first-time readers.

Included here are some of his most esteemed tales, including “What You Pawn I Will Redeem," “This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona,” “The Toughest Indian in the World,” and “War Dances.” Alexie’s new stories are fresh and quintessential—about donkey basketball leagues, lethal wind turbines, the reservation, marriage, and all species of contemporary American warriors.

An indispensable collection of new and classic stories, Blasphemy reminds us, on every thrilling page, why Sherman Alexie is one of our greatest contemporary writers and a true master of the short story.

A hottie with wings...I'm game.

Boston PI Remy Chandler's true identity is the seraphim Remiel, an angel who has chosen to live among humans. When Ashlie Berg, a young woman who has become like a daughter to him, is kidnapped by a powerful sorcerer, the angel willingly walks into the sorcerer's lair. But Remy finds that he has become embroiled in the machinations of a cabal of sorcerers whose greed for power may cost the lives of millions. Sniegoski's fifth installment (after Where Angels Fear To Tread) of his hard-boiled supernatural series brings the conflict between Heaven and Hell to a new level, as the stage is set for a cosmic war. VERDICT Remy and his human friends are engagingly believable characters in a series noted for flashes of humor despite its overall serious tone. Series fans and followers of Jim Butcher's "Dresden Files" titles should enjoy this urban fantasy.

It was the cuffed pants that first drew my attention...

“Reading a Petterson novel is like falling into a northern landscape painting—all shafts of light and clear palpable chill.” —Time

Fans of Per Petterson’s other books in English will be delighted by this opportunity to observe Arvid Jansen in his youth from a fresh perspective. In It’s Fine By Me, Arvid befriends a boy named Audun. On Audun’s first day of school he refuses to talk or take off his sunglasses; there are stories he would prefer to keep to himself. Audun lives with his mother in a working-class district of Oslo. He delivers newspapers and talks for hours about Jack London and Ernest Hemingway with Arvid. But he’s not sure that school is the right path for him and feels that life holds other possibilities. Sometimes tender, sometimes brutal, It’s Fine By Me is a brilliant novel from the acclaimed author of Out Stealing Horses and I Curse the River of Time.

And you thought you had father-son issues. Imagine if your father was a drug baron! Yeesh!

“A brief and majestic debut.” —Matías Néspolo, El Mundo

Tochtli lives in a palace. He loves hats, samurai, guillotines, and dictionaries, and what he wants more than anything right now is a new pet for his private zoo: a pygmy hippopotamus from Liberia. But Tochtli is a child whose father is a drug baron on the verge of taking over a powerful cartel, and Tochtli is growing up in a luxury hideout that he shares with hit men, prostitutes, dealers, servants, and the odd corrupt politician or two. Long-listed for The Guardian First Book Award, Down the Rabbit Hole, a masterful and darkly comic first novel, is the chronicle of a delirious journey to grant a child’s wish.

For those of us who have OCD or who have OCD friends.

A British copywriter house-sits at his composer friend Oskar’s ultra-modern apartment in a glum Eastern European city. The instructions are simple: Feed the cats, don’t touch the piano, and make sure nothing damages the priceless wooden floors. Content for the first time in ages, he accidentally spills some wine. The apartment and the narrator’s sanity gradually fall apart in this unusual and satisfying novel.

Oskar has left several notes for his friend, gently instructing him in the proper maintenance of the flat. But over the course of one disastrous week, as the situation in (and out) of the apartment spirals out of control, the notes take on a more insistent — and creepily prescient — tone.

Anyone who has ever felt inferior to a perfectionist friend will sympathize with the narrator’s plight. Wiles is a genuinely funny comic novelist in the tradition of those two earlier British W’s, Wodehouse and Waugh.

What drew my attention to this collection of short stories was the blurb on the back from Lee K. Abbott whose short story collection All Things, All At Once I featured and enjoyed back in 2009.

Though Hugh Sheehy’s often tragic, sometimes gruesome stories feature bloodied knives and mysterious disappearances, at the heart of these thoughtful thrillers are finely crafted character studies of people who wrestle with the darker aspects of human nature — grief, violence, loneliness, and the thoughts of crazed minds.

Sheehy’s stories shine a spotlight on the bleak fringes of America, giving voice to the invisibles who need it most. A dismal assistant teacher spiking her coffee after school is suddenly locked in a basement with a student who has just witnessed his father’s murder. A seventeen-year-old girl at a skate rink whose name no one can remember is motherless, friendless, and sure she will be the next to go. The heartbroken victim of a miscarriage dreams of her fetus’s voyage through the earth’s plumbing. The estranged addict son, certain of his innate goodness, loses himself in a blizzard and fails his family again. Sheehy’s characters learn that however invisible they may feel and whatever their intentions, their actions incur a cost both to themselves and those around them. They struggle to tame or come to terms with the forces they meet — the tragedies — that are far larger than their small existences. In this debut, Sheehy illuminates the all-but-silent note of adult loneliness and how we cope with it or, perhaps, just move past it.

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