Frank Nichols is running. Running from memories of WWI’s trench warfare…memories that still wake him up at night sweating and thrashing…running from the fall-out from the two year affair he conducted with married colleague Eudora which ended in her divorce and his unemployment. Luckily, he has someplace to run to; he has inherited a house and property in small Whitbrow, Georgia, from an aunt he never knew. His aunt’s letter urged him to sell the property without visiting, but instead, Frank and Eudora decide to start their lives fresh in Whitbrow. Frank is planning to research and write a book about his great grandfather, a slave owner known for particular cruelty. Eudora has taken a job at the local grade school. At first, all is well in Whitbrow. Eudora is settling in nicely with her students and Frank is happy to spend his days talking to the men at the local general store. But when impoverished Whitbrow makes the decision to cease a strange local tradition—every month on the full moon, the town sends sacrificial pigs into the woods across the river—all hell begins to break loose. Strange things are seen in the woods, and people begin to die. Frank soon finds out that those who live across the river have a far more personal connection to him and his family than he could have imagined.
This is that rarest of books, a novel that is literary first and horror second. The characters, especially Frank, are fully-realized, believable, and interesting. The setting is atmospheric and vividly rendered, with the racial tensions of the time and place completely realized. The horror elements, when they are introduced, are creepy and visceral. Highly recommended.
We've all had our share of the "best of" lists of 2012 but here is one you may have missed! The New York Times posted a slide show of the best designed book covers from the past year and asked graphic designers why they were so great.
Next time you pick up a book, spend a little more time contemplating what's on the outside, it may be a work of art.
Emil Larsson is a contented bachelor living the high life in 1791 Stockholm. He has risen up in the world, managing to purchase for himself the position of sekretaire in the government, and he spends his evenings drinking and gaming in Mrs. Sparrow’s parlor. But when his superior tells Emil he must marry or lose his sekretaire position, Emil is at a loss. Mrs. Sparrow, by now a friend, does a special favor for Emil…a card-based fortune-telling she calls the Octavo. This special layout is meant to define the eight people one must find in order to create the future one desires. Emil is not certain he believes in it, but he goes along with the reading and begins attempting to put together his Eight. In the process, he finds himself caught up, not in a quest for love, but in political manuevering that might end in his death if he is not careful, and King Gustav’s if he cannot prevent it.
Fast-paced, colorful, vibrant, and quite unique. The mystical aspect of fortune-telling is subdued with the emphasis on the historical context. Sure to be enjoyed by fans of well-written historical fiction.
The subtitle to Hand’s new collection of short stories gives the reader some clue about what to expect here. These stories straddle a line between literary fiction, the fantastic, and horror, moving gracefully between all three. Dark and beautiful, filled with rich language and sensuous imagery. A stand-out in the collection is the Hugo-nominated “The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon.” Recommended for fans of A.S. Byatt, Caitlin Kiernan, and Tanith Lee.
Before there were Steve Jobs and Apple, there were Edwin Land and Polaroid. Land was a charismatic, inventive leader, holding over 500 patents. Land didn’t set out to reinvent photography; his first project was perfecting a synthetic polarizer. Land eventually succeeded; polarized sunglasses as we know them might not exist today without his efforts. From this humble beginning, manufacturing polarizing film for car headlights and sunglasses, Land managed to build his company into the hugely influential multi-national it became. He did this in much the same way Jobs did many years later; that is, by hiring the best minds available to him in any and all specialities, and then turning them loose in well-stocked labs to see what they could come up with. This approach worked well for a long time, but the end was inevitable. Several bad decisions and some bad blood led to Land stepping away from the company he’d built. That was the beginning of the end; Land’s sucessors did not have the same passion and ingenuity and the company changed hands several times before declaring bankruptcy twice, the second time in 2009.
While the behind-the-scenes details of Polaroid’s rise to the top and rapid fall are fascinating, this is truly Land’s story. Very few people today are aware of his contributions to technology and to business. A worthwhile read.
(alphabetically by author)
- By the Iowa Sea: A Memoir of Disaster and Love – Joe Blair
- Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity – Katherine Boo
- A Land More Kind Than Home – Wiley Cash
- Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk – Ben Fountain
- Crusoe: Daniel Defoe, Robert Knox, and the Creation of a Myth – Katherine Frank
- Some Kind of Fairy Tale – Graham Joyce
- The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
- The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer – Anne-Marie O’Connor
- NW – Zadie Smith
- Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from “Dear Sugar” – Cheryl Strayed
The Underwater Welder transports you to another world--the deep watery world of emotions and memories, past and present, birth and death. The welder is Jack, a man who lost his father at a young age and is now expecting his first child. As Jack dives deeper, he is pulled further away from his wife and their unborn son and back to his past and his despair over his father's tragic death. This haunting and gripping story is about the relationships between parent and child, growing up, overcoming grief, and looking toward the future to start again.
There are many things to love about Tim Kreider's collection of essays; they are beautifully crafted, insightful, and laugh-out-loud funny. But, best of all, they are wonderfully original. Kreider, known for his satirical cartoons, writes about his life in such a way that enables us to see the absurdity and sublimity of our own lives and of humanity in general. I recommend reading even just a few of these essays; they will give you a fresh prospective on life and make you laugh.
A patron of the Library recently shared this site with me, and I like it so much that I thought I would share it with you. If you're one of those people who never tire of reading about the humanities--particularly literary criticism and book reviews--you will adore the Arts & Letters Daily website. The site features links to a diverse array of literary and cultural news stories and reviews.
With teasers like:"Shakespeare endured syphilis, Jack London ulcers, the Brontës and Orwell tuberculosis. Only the cures were worse than the diseases...", how can you not be drawn in to read more?
If you now want to read the book about Shakespeare's syphilis and other famous authors' ailments, well, it's in the library, of course! You can reserve a copy below.