"(Out 1/26/10, 260p) A history teacher in Mississippi has to deal with his family's, town's, and state's troubled local history. When the sister of his childhood friend comes back to town forty years later, her arrival tempts him into an affair and brings back memories of their fathers' attempts to help stop the integration of Ole Miss and her father's murder of her mother."
"(Out: 2/2/10, 208p) Linked stories about a man in an apocalyptic world after a Y2K meltdown. Floods, viruses & food shortages plague everyone, but the sensitive narrator demonstrates great survival instincts. Faves: "What We Know Now" -the narrator as a boy is the only one who believes his father's Y2K warnings; "The Theft That Got Me Here" -he's on the lam in dystopia w/ his grandparents."
"(Out: 2/9/10, 368p) Family falls apart, when father's real estate development project collapses because of its proximity to an industrial waste dump. Told from multiple perspectives of the family -- father, wife, two sons, and daughter. Everything turns for the worst when eldest son gets burned in a gas explosion at their home. Terrific insights into famly life with elegant turns of prose."
"(Out: 2/16/10, 320p) Woman with an unstable history kidnaps a girl she'd given up for adoption 5 yrs earlier & enlists the support of a new boyfriend. Great character study of this woman's borderline personality & her longing & regret. Also told from the perspective of the boyfriend & the adoptive mother, a born-again Christian who has her own problems with a cheating, hypocritical husband."
"(Out: 2/16/10, 320p) Funny, satirical look at the world of publishing & MFA schools. An Iowa Writing Workshop grad is now on the lowest rung of the book world. As a media escort he transports ridiculousy demanding authors while fending off over the top New York publicists and coping with his own failed ambitions & resentment of classmates who won the fame and accolades he so badly wanted."
"(Out: 2/19/10, 320p) Impressive in scope. A look at corporate skullduggery & the tensions between punishing corporate sinners & keeping the financial world afloat. Told from multiple perspectives: the cheating trader; his elderly neighbor Â– a retired history teacher w/ a great iconoclastic view of history; & her brother, chairman of the NY Federal Reserve."
"(Out: 3/4/10, 304p) More popular than literary fiction, a fast read with good characters (albeit a few too many Hollywoodesque premises) about the ways a couple's relationship gets tested when a beautiful rich woman moves into their Brooklyn neighborhood and wins them both over."
"(Out: 3/16/10, 288p) Penetrating look at the rarefied air of the super-rich and their hangers on through the prism of an exclusive country club. Told from multiple perspectives. A great glimpse into the hearts of those at the top and the social climbers aiming to reach their lofty heights. A great follow-up to Academy X."
"(Out:3/23/10,264p)Half of these stories are straightforward tales about the risks or routine aspects of our lives for granted. The 2nd half bends reality to examine the conflict b/w the way our minds order our worlds & the time & space limitations the exterior world imposes. Faves: Â“TestimonyÂ” about adult bullying gone wrong & Â“AyudameÂ” about the danger of pining for greener pastures."
"(Out: 4/1/10, 336p) Wonderful story of a guy whose wife has walked out on him and moved in with his best friend, leaving him alone to be the primary caregiver for their autistic son. A fun, lighthearted and moving read."
"(Out: 4/6/10, 288p) Told from the multiple perspectives of the employees who work for an international, Rome-based newspaper. A bit like a series of short stories, but all the characters are the same. A great device to get inside the heads of a team of journalists, copyeditors, and account types as they strive for meaningful work & lives."
"(Out: 4/20/10, 256p) A contemporary Huck Finn with a trip on a bus from Calif. to Penn. taking the place of the raft ride down the Mississippi. A boy gets dumped on a bus for a cross-country trip to go live with his grandparents because his mother wants no part of him. He encounters crazy drivers & a would-be molester. An older black man befriends the boy, protects him, & imparts life lessons."
"(Out: 4/26/10, 336p) Mutiple story lines, told from the perspectives of mutliple characters, that at first seem to disburse, but then culminate in an incredibly moving portrait of the stories we tell in our lives, and the impact of the Holocaust on the descendants of its victims."
"(Out: 6/1/10, 272p) A 17-year-old boy is caught between the extreme polar worlds of his divorced parents -- a father who runs a strip joint in the 1970s and who's having to start a peep show to keep up with the competition and a mother who's becoming a Hasidic Jew. Braff shows how the worlds might not be too different in the second-class citizen role women have in each."
"(Out: 7/13/10, 272p) Aspiring writer gets talked into writing a fake memoir by a would-be con artist who knows the inside game of the publishing/literary agency racket. A fun take on all the frauds in today's publishing world, not the least of which is James Frey."
"(Out: 8/2/10, 208p) More novella length than novel, it's also not heavy on plot. But it is an interesting look at the life of a soldier who works in the typing pool for General MacArthur during the occupation of Japan right after WWII, and who becomes an odd friend for General MacArthur's 10-year-old son."
"(Out: 8/31/10, 672p) A classic in scope. Prologue reveals a young boy at an Irish school dies. Most of rest of book is a flashbook to his life and all the disconnected people in it, desperately searching for someone to love them and failing every step of the way. A very powerful book with many comic touches amid the tragedy."
"(Out: 9/21/10, 304p) An amazing new talent. An incredibly funny and well written book about a low-level Queens pot dealer who fell in love with, and impregnated, his big brother's girlfriend while the brother was in jail. Now the brother is being released, and Alfredo has to deal with the way his world will be rocked."
"(Out: 10/5/10, 320p) Not for everyone. This books demands patience, but it ultimately pays off. Young boy is in therapy because he's convinced his dad went off to IRAQ & is in a VA hospital, but his mother doesn't believe him. His father was a fan of Frederick Exley & the son believes if he finds him he can save his father. Chapters alternate b/w boy's POV and that of his crazed therapist."
"(Out:12/30/10,202p) Great short stories of boys, young men (& in 1 a college-aged woman) trying to find their way in a Jersey shore town, despite not getting much help from their disconnected parents & friends. All stories are excellent. My fave: "The Castle of Horrors" a security guard at an amusement park horror house scares a young mother to death & is then is haunted by her ghost."