Archive for August, 2010
Struggling writer and coffee barista, Ian Minot, is frustrated and depressed. For one thing, he just canât seem to write the kind of stories that will get the publishing worldâs attention. After all, Ian knows, his life isnât as glamorous as his Romanianâs girlfriendâs Anya Petrescu, whose travails under Ceausescu, has landed her an attractive publishing contract. In a snide reference to the New Yorkerâs 40 Under 40 list, Ian points out that âAnya had recently been named one of American Reviewâs â31 Most Promising Writers Under 31.â This year, I was too old to qualify,â he adds.
THE GOOD DAUGHTERS is about two girls, Dana Dickerson and Ruth Plank. They are called “birthday sisters” because they were born in the same hospital on the same day, almost nine months to the day after the great hurricane of 1949. Because of this connection, their families stay in touch as the girls are growing up. Usually they visit one another once or twice a year. The Planks own a large farm in New Hampshire that has been in their family for generations. The Dickersons are never in one place for very long.
In Martin Cruz Smith’s Three Stations, Arkady Kyrilovich Renko, Senior Investigator of Important Cases, may be nearing the end of his career. He has a bitter enemy in Prosecutor Zurin, who detests Renko’s tendency to “disregard orders and overstep [his] authority.” Zurin “exemplified the modest ambition of a cork…. He floated and survived.” When Renko and his perennially inebriated buddy, Sergeant Victor Orlov (“the smell of vodka came off him like heat from a stove”) look into the suspicious death of a beautiful young woman, they are ordered to declare the case a drug overdose and drop the matter. Ever the maverick, Renko decides to find the killer and worry about the consequences later.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN VAMPIRE HUNTER, obviously an alternate biography, is fun from beginning to end. Seth Grahame-Smith’s includes mock journal entries and Photoshopped historic photos, so that the novel reads like an actual biography. The story is riveting throughout.
One of Goodmanâs favorite authors is Jane Austen and it shows in her subtle, wryly witty social comedies. This latest takes place on both coasts between 1999 and 2002 and centers on two California sisters: responsible, ambitious, principled Emily and flighty, vegan, philosophical Jess. The title character, though deceased, plays a beguiling role in the plot.
Aldous Huxley once famously said, “Every man’s memory is his private literature.” In this luminous collection of short stories (including an 83 page novella), Anthony Doerr probes the fragility and endurance of memory, in locales that vary from South Africa to Hamburg…from Lithuania to Wyoming…and from the heinousness of the Holocaust to an immediate dystopian future.