Booklists · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (November 2010)
Only a few books reach the top of the fiction bestseller charts, but there are many more terrific new titles available at the Library. Here are some recent favorites.
Harvellï¿½s intimate and sensual writing vibrates with sound as he tells the story of Lo Svizzero, the embodiment of Gluckï¿½s Orpheus. Born in a Swiss church belfry where his deaf mother rang the massive bells for the valley below, Mosesï¿½ ultra-sensitive hearing is both a curse and a gift. Rescued from drowning by passing monks, Moses finds his God-given talent for singing, bringing him to the attention of the local choirmaster and tasking him with a higher purpose.
Award-winning British crime writer Harvey can be counted on for page-turning suspense. In his latest he captures a parentï¿½s worst nightmare ï¿½ a missing child. Bad enough to happen once, but when Ruthï¿½s second child goes missing, at just about the same age as her first daughter, itï¿½s unbearable. As one police officer looks into a recently paroled pedophile known to be in the area, the other investigator returns to Cornwall where suspicions lingering from the first time around.
As aging prima ballerina Nina Revskaya prepares to auction off her jewelry collection, she reflects on her career, particularly as a young dancer in the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet. Scattered among the glittering gifts from admirers are pieces that she smuggled out of Russia when defecting to the United States. When an anonymous donor offers an amber necklace that appears to match Ninaï¿½s bracelet and earrings, she denies a connection that stirs up the past and possibilities too painful to face.
In hardscrabble Texas ranch country at the turn of the 20th century, Vaclav Skala looks to increase his land holdings through the marriages of his four sons. But when his fourth son proves to be particularly adept at horseracing, another avenue for acquiring land arises. Then a Spanish challenger with three daughters arrives in town, and more than just land is at stake in a potentially life-changing race.
An early favorite to win the Man Booker Prize this year (although that honor ultimately went to The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson), C continues McCarthyï¿½s dominance of the postmodern, avant-garde literary scene. The story presented here is the tale of one Serge Carrefax, a citizen of the twentieth-century and the age of communication. Serving as both a transmitter and receiver for messages, Serge plays out these roles making life and career choices that reflect the literary theme.
Like drawing a bow across the strings of a musical instrument, the lyrical writing in the tale of Milo and Honor tugs the reader back and forth in time. Milo is a wounded Iraq War vet receiving Honorï¿½s massage therapy. During treatment, they both see events from other times ï¿½ vivid love stories that span the ages. Simultaneously pleasurable and disturbing, fantasy and reality begin to blend as they explore their own relationship and what the past may be trying to tell them.
This complex, dark comedy introduces us to 14-year-old Daniel ï¿½Skippyï¿½ Juster and the other quirky adolescents who reside at Seabrook College, an elite Irish boarding school. Verbal bravado and one-upmanship are the sports of choice during puberty, carried on between fantasizing about the girls at St. Brigidï¿½s, classes, and sports practice. Of course, the faculty is no more chaste than the students. When Skippy ends up dead on the doughnut shop floor, there are plenty of suspects including a psycho drug-dealing love rival and his physics-obsessed roommate.
Sisters Shange and Bayeza make one powerful literary force, following the female line of one African-American family through seven generations after the Civil War. Musically talented, the former slaves try to make a living in Charleston, South Carolina, eventually moving north to the welcoming atmosphere of Harlem, before splintering across the country. Many in the book world guessed this title for Oprahï¿½s book selection before Franzenï¿½s Freedom was announced.
A clever, literary ambience infuses this tale of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the setting for intellectual activity as the Romantic era evolves into the scientific age. Young, naï¿½ve Dr. Jakob Sammelsohn personifies this image as his obsession with a girl at the opera draws him into the sphere of Sigmund Freud and other luminaries. But a spirit from Jakobï¿½s past haunts the object of his obsession and sends him fleeing to look elsewhere for happiness in love.
A chance encounter with a man in the woods changes Paul Phillipsï¿½ life. Will Claffï¿½s abuse of a dog pushes Paul to commit murder. Now his lovely wonderful life shared with a woman and her daughter, is consumed by his moral dilemma. Paul brought the dog home claiming it to be a stray, thus bonding himself to the only witness to the crime. But is it easier to live with his awful secret or be found out and held accountable?
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