Exploring the art of prose


New Books Out This Week!

Here’s a quick look at some of the great books out the week of October 30.
Happy pub day to all!

Daniel Alarcón, The King Is Always Above the People: Stories
Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House

From Publishers Weekly: “Alarcón (At Night We Walk In Circles) delivers a superb collection of 10 stories about wanderers, lovers, and fractured families… Throughout the collection, Alarcón writes with a spellbinding voice and creates a striking cast of characters. Each narrative lands masterfully and memorably, showcasing Alarcón’s immense talent.” 


Romain Gary, The Kites
New Directions 

 From Kirkus Reviews:Hero of the French Resistance, diplomat, and two-time recipient of the Prix Goncourt under two different pen names, Gary (1914-1980; The Life Before Us, 1975, etc.) examines the fates of young love, naiveté, and idealism in his final novel, set in France during World War II and being published in English for the first time. Ludo Fleury, an orphan raised in Normandy by his eccentric kite-building uncle Ambrose, suffers like the rest of his family from “an excess of memory.” As a boy he falls desperately in love with a Polish nobleman’s daughter, the beautiful and spirited Lila de Bronicki. Ludo visits the Bronicki estate in Poland (“a country accustomed to being reborn from its own ashes”), discusses politics with Lila’s brother, and competes with her German cousin Hans and a musical prodigy named Bruno for her affection. But war is looming, and the lives of all five become inexorably entangled in it.”


Henry Green, Concluding
New Directions 

From Kirkus Reviews: “Mr. Green’s novels shimmer with life — his characters are never frozen into caryatids to support coincidence, nor do they stand alone in chilly isolation from life itself — they move freely as did Smollett’s “”originals””, yet appear obliquely to the reader according to the true nature of personality… Concluding is a summer idyll with delightful humor as well as an indulgent sadness at the passing of time. The story is concerned with the efforts of two exquisite harpies — managers of a State School for girls- to dislodge the famous old scientist, Mr. Rock (“”the horrid Rock””), and his deliciously unstrung daughter from the cottage which had been given to him along with the job of pig-tending by the State for previous services rendered.”


Garth Risk Hallberg, A Field Guide to the North American Family
Penguin Random House  

From Kirkus Reviews: “The success of Hallberg’s 2015 epic, City on Fire, prompted the reissue of this short but structurally ambitious novella, first published by a small press in 2007. As the title suggests, the story takes the form of a guidebook. Verso pages provide brief narrative sketches under thematic headings such as “Angst,” “Freedom,” and “Midlife Crisis”; recto pages feature documentary photos in a Mary Ellen Mark/Robert Frank vein, with cross-references and faux scientific captions.”

Read The Masters Review review of the original publication here!


Mary Kuryla, Freak Weather
University of Massachusetts Press

From Amy Hempel, Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction judge: “There is a feral quality to some of these stories, an attitude that is truly startling. The language is perfectly matched to the not-so-conflicted women living off venison, weed, and their husband’s paychecks. The territory here is sometimes disturbing; the treatment of these people who are in over their heads is always both tough and surprisingly moving. The ‘action’ resides as much in the brisk, fresh language as in what these people conjure in a crisis. Ultimately, the author delivers stories unlike anyone else’s.”