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 November 13.
Happy pub day to all!

Louise Erdrich, Future Home of the Living God

 From Kirkus Reviews: “The idea that evolution could suddenly move backward may seem like an incredible fantasy, but in this dreamlike, suspenseful novel, it’s a fitting analogue for the environmental degradation we already experience. A biological apocalypse has animals suddenly appearing in trippy, shocking manifestations—a dragonfly with a 6-foot wingspan, “golden-green eyes the size of softballs,” for example. Humans aren’t immune to “life dissolving into its mineral components,” which is why the new American government, the Church of the New Constitution, expands the original intent of the Patriot Act and requires all pregnant women to report to birthing centers. Like some of Erdrich’s (LaRose, 2016, etc.) earlier work, it shifts adroitly in time and has a thoughtful, almost mournful insight into life on a Native reservation. If Erdrich hasn’t previously ventured into tropes normally employed by sci-fi writers, she doesn’t show the inexperience here.”


Michele Roberts, The Walworth Beauty

From Kirkus Reviews: “Ghosts, echoes, and the life force of London connect two characters—a Victorian investigator approaching a personal crisis and a modern-day academic forced into early retirement who’s remaking herself, single and free. The links between two strangers, Joseph in the 19th century and Madeleine in the 21st, are many and varied, some as light as a fingertip on skin, others composed of bricks and mortar…..In this novel, her 14th, her subject is in part the texture of London, its markets, pubs, alleyways, and teeming populace. Past and present bleed into each other through themes of writing, food, and sex, and while in conventional ghost stories the spirits tend to move in one direction only, here something stranger and more resonant occurs. Roberts’ intense technique can sometimes overwhelm her storytelling, but this evocative tale of place, survival, and contact has a lingering impact.”


Joan Silber, Improvement
Counterpoint Press

From Kirkus Reviews: “With a group of characters woven together by a butterfly-effect chain of decisions, accidents, and consequences, Silber (Fools, 2013, etc.) examines the dynamics of relationships across races and cultures, the ramifications of smuggling both American cigarettes and European antiquities, the need to find and honor family, and the intentions to sell a Turkish rug, to start one’s own eyebrow-grooming business, to somehow make right things that have gone very wrong. Practically every page contains some insight you want to linger over. There is something so refreshing and genuine about this book, coming partly from the bumpy weave of its unpredictable story and partly from its sharply turned yet refreshingly unmannered prose. A winner.”


Susan Sontag, Debriefing
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

From Publishers Weekly: “The first complete collection of the late Sontag’s stories affirms both the range and depth of her literary gifts. The volume adds three previously uncollected works, all first published in the New Yorker, to the eight collected as I, Etcetera in 1978….Sontag’s best short fiction is sometimes overlooked because her essays and novels are so strong; this new collection is testament to the fact that, though she did not write short stories often, she wrote them well.”