Great Reads

Donohue, Keith. Centuries of June

 

The narrator of Donohue’s somewhat surreal novel, Jack, awakens on his bathroom floor with a cracked skull, apparently having fallen.  From there, his night just gets stranger. A man who intially reminds him of his own father and later of Samuel Beckett has joined him in the bathroom and the two banter amusingly before being joined by seven women in succession. Each woman, apparently the ghost or spirit of a woman in one of Jack’s former lives, has an ax to grind with him—sometimes quite literally, as each woman initially tries to kill him before settling in to tell her story.  Each woman was wounded, betrayed, or even killed by a man in their life—and Jack may well be that man.  The woman’s stories are fascinating, told in a variety of styles and invoking their characters and periods vividly and effectively.  When Jack is finally visited by an eighth woman, his own wife, the reason for the night’s strange events become clear.

The women’s stories are the true stand-out in this novel, with the slightly absurdist, Waiting For Godot-esque interludes in the bathroom serving almost as a distraction at times. Not for everyone, but those with a taste for the offbeat will be pleased.

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Gibson, William. Distrust That Particular Flavor

 

Gibson, known for thoughtful science fiction exploring the ways in which technology changes human culture in impossible-to-anticipate ways, here brings his considerable talents to bear on the undiscovered country—non-fiction.  Gibson’s first collection of non-fiction draws from the last several decades of his writing career, with essays and articles featuring all the usual Gibsonian subjects—the rise of the Internet; the technology and culture of Japan; Gibson’s own past in small-town Virginia and early discovery of science fiction; and all the ways, both small and large, that human culture has already been irrevocably altered by technologies as commonplace as radio and as pervasive as cyberspace.  Many, if not all, of the articles, are grounded in Gibson’s own life and experiences, adding a personal touch to a topic which could otherwise seem dry.  A sly wit and a lively intelligence shine through the writing, and every article, regardless of whether its predictions have been borne out by reality, is fascinating without fail.

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Fallon, Siobhan. You Know When the Men are Gone

 

This series of interconnected short stories explores the lives of those men and women who make sacrifices for the sake of the U.S. Army—both the soldiers in Iraq and those they leave behind.  Centered around the Army base of Ft. Hood in Texas, each story explores the all-too-common issues faced by Army families—from the death of a loved one to infidelity, from loneliness to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  While some increased variation in the story’s themes might be wished—perhaps the story of a husband left behind when his wife went to war?—these short stories are sure to be fascinating to both those families who have experienced this lifestyle and those who wish to better understand the sacrifices made by our armed forces everyday.

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Just a Thought -- New Additions to the Book Club Collection

Our ever-popular Book Club Collection has gotten a makeover! A few less relevant titles have been cycled back out into our general fiction and non-fiction collections, and we have added four new titles for your consideration.  These books, as always, are challenging, literary, and fascinating, chosen with an eye toward "discussability" as well as leisure reading pleasure. We hope you'll check them out! (Pun intended, by the way.)

 

Brown, Eleanor.     The Weird Sisters

Fallon, Siobhan.     You Know When the Men are Gone

Jordan, Hillary.     When She Woke

Smith, Patti.     Just Kids (782.42166 Sm65) 

Schulman, Helen. This Beautiful Life.

When the Bergamots' fifteen-year-old son, Jake, forwards a sexually explicit video from a thirteen-year-old schoolmate on to his best friend without thinking, he ignites a firestorm that threatens to consume his family and the life they have built for themselves among the socially elite in New York City.

Already in fragile territory, the scandal reveals the true problems in Jake's family such as his father's overactive ego and his mother's ridiculous attempts to cope as a stay-at-home mom with a PhD. When the video goes viral, Jake is suspended from school, prompting his family to hire a lawyer and start a battle that even Jake does not want to be a part of. Schulman's poignant portrait of a family in crisis is not to be missed for lovers of literary fiction.

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