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Fiction A to Z July 2007

"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested."
~ Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626), British philosopher

In This Issue...
Learn about PEN, specifically the PEN American Center, one site in a network that defends expression and advances literature worldwide; prepare to "Fall for a Book" in Delaware County. Scroll down to Links for details.

Author websites are included for many of the individual reviews below. ("Celestial Timepiece" was created and is maintained by a reference librarian at the University of San Francisco.)

Wednesday July 25, 2 @ 3 PM: Adult Book Discussion Group, Upper Darby PrimosMonday, August 13, 6:30 @ 8 PM: The Great Gatsby Book Discussion, Prospect Park

For details on these and other programs around the county, click on "Library Events" below our logo at the top of this newsletter.

New and Recently Released!
Falling Man: A Novel - by Don DeLillo
Publisher: Scribner
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 05/15/2007
ISBN: 9781416546023
As Falling Man opens, a stunned Keith Neudecker is stumbling towards his estranged wife's home, covered in blood, soot, and glass from the collapsing World Trade Center. Weeks pass as Keith and Lianne try to come to terms with their new, frightening world, their young son scans the sky, looking for more killer planes sent by "Bill Lawton," and a performance artist known as the Falling Man terrifies passers-by as he plunges from balconies and bridges, strapped into a harness. Booklist says that DeLillo's recreation of the sights and sounds of 9/11 is "devastating."
The Maytrees: A Novel - by Annie Dillard
Publisher: HarperCollins
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 06/01/2007
ISBN: 9780061239533
Beautiful Lou Bigelow and her husband Toby Maytree fell in love shortly after World War II; they lived, laughed, and raised a child in a house among Cape Cod's sand dunes. Then, suddenly, Toby left his wife and child for another woman, Deary Hightoe; the two moved to Maine, where they sent semi-monthly letters back to Lou until Deary's heart started to give out. When Toby and the dying Deary arrive on Lou's doorstep, Lou tends to Deary--and is finally reunited with Toby. With a focus on the natural world and the universal peculiarities of relationships, this novel will stay with you long after the last page is finished.
On Chesil Beach - by Ian McEwan
Publisher: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 06/05/2007
ISBN: 9780385522403
In this, his newest novel, acclaimed author Ian McEwan focuses on the anxiety and anticipation surrounding a newlywed couple's wedding night in 1962. Florence and Edward have done little more than kiss; Edward has his fears but is eager to experience what he feels he's been so patiently waiting for, but Florence is nearly petrified by what is to occur in their dreary hotel room. Though they come from vastly different backgrounds, they are very much in love--but their assumptions, misunderstandings, and inability to speak honestly of what they are feeling changes everything.
The Gravedigger's Daughter: A Novel - by Joyce Carol Oates
Publisher: Ecco
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 06/01/2007
ISBN: 9780061236822
Growing up as the gravedigger's daughter, Rebecca had to contend with a violent, paranoid father and troublesome brothers. When she marries, it is to a traveling salesman who becomes abusive at home; she eventually escapes with her son, changes their names to Hazel and Zacharias, and attempts to move on. The two lead nomadic lives until they meet kindly Chet Gallagher, who takes an interest in Zach, but Rebecca's past is never far from home. As with many novels by Joyce Carol Oates, this one offers one woman's psychologically complex reaction to the violence in her life.
Be Near Me - by Andrew O'Hagan
Publisher: Harcourt
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 06/04/2007
ISBN: 9780151013036
Fifty-six-year-old Oxford-educated Father David Anderton is decidedly out of place in his small working-class parish, where the primarily Protestant inhabitants view him and his intellectual ways with suspicion and dislike. Things go from bad to worse when a pair of manipulative and rebellious teens (who remind him of his own youth) push his limits ever farther. Publishers Weekly cites author Andrew O'Hagan's "effortless prose" and life-like characters as factors in creating a "heartrending tour de force."
Forgive Me: A Novel - by Amanda Eyre Ward
Publisher: Random House
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 06/12/2007
ISBN: 9780345494467
Nadine, a foreign correspondent in her mid-30s, is constantly looking for her next high--though in her case the rush comes from tracking down a newsworthy story. Ever restless, she's recuperating in her father's Cape Cod home after nearly being killed by Mexican drug traffickers when she hears about a new story--a murder trial with a Cape Cod connection--brewing in South Africa. Soon she's escaping to Cape Town, but being in South Africa forces her to face up to the personal and professional choices she's made in her life. Meanwhile, the young woman at the center of the trial wants only one thing--for the parents of her victim to forgive her.
Stories within Stories
The Blind Assassin - by Margaret Atwood
Publisher: Nan A. Talese
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 09/01/2000
ISBN: 9780385475723
Iris Chase grew up in a prosperous family whose eventual financial woes neccesitated her early marriage to the only man who could save the family from poverty. Long after the deaths of her father, her husband, and her sister Laura, Iris relates the tragedy, betrayals, and madness that surrounded her family. In addition to newspaper clippings that focus on family events, Laura's posthumously published novel about a woman's illicit affair with a science fiction writer intertwines around Iris' tangled narrative. The tantalizing layers of this Booker Prize-winning novel will draw you effortlessly in as Iris slowly reveals the truths at the heart of her story.
Oracle Night - by Paul Auster
Publisher: Henry Holt
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 12/01/2003
ISBN: 9780805073201
While recovering from a near-fatal illness, 34-year-old novelist Sidney Orr purchases an attractive blue notebook. Although he finds that owning it inspires him to work on a new novel as stories sprout in its margins, his return to writing coincides with an inability to distinguish between the real world and the one in his imagination. Sidney's novel, about a man who uses a near-death experience as motivation to walk out of his old life and into another, is aided by footnotes that explore Sidney's surroundings as well as his work itself. So seductive is author Auster's literary sleight-of-hand that The New York Times warns that "one might not wish to play cards with Paul Auster."
The Master and Margarita - by Mikhail Afanasevich Bulgakov
Publisher: Penguin USA
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 07/01/2000
ISBN: 9780141180144
This complex piece of storytelling brings together such characters as Satan (in the guise of a black magician named Woland who terrorizes Moscow's literary circle), a gun-happy cat, and The Master, an unpublished author driven mad by rejection. His novel, which relates the meeting between Pontius Pilate and Jesus of Nazareth, is expressed in three ways: through a story told by Woland; in the dreams of a poet; and as read by Margarita, The Master's devoted lover. Though originally written in the 1930s, The Master and Margarita was not published until decades after the author's death.
Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land - by John Crowley
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 07/01/2006
ISBN: 9780060556594
Lord Byron's novel, The Evening Land, is the semi-autobiographical tale of an Albanian boy who is taken from his homeland and dropped into English society, where he embarks on a life revolving around fortune, love, and murder. But the novel was never published--in fact it was destroyed, but not before his daughter Ada had preserved an encoded version. Nearly 200 years later, it is found by a young woman who intends to write about Ada. Though Lord Byron never (in reality) wrote the above-mentioned novel, author John Crowley ponders what might have been written if, on that night that Mary Shelley created Frankenstein, Lord Byron, too, had completed a masterpiece.
The History of Love - by Nicole Krauss
Publisher: Norton
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 05/01/2005
ISBN: 9780393060348
When octogenarian Leo Gursky was a teen, he fell in love and wrote a book. Both book and love were lost to him during World War II, and now Leo struggles every day not to become invisible to his New York neighbors. Not far away, 14-year-old Alma watches over her rather odd younger brother while her mother tries to work away her grief and loneliness. There is a connection between them, though neither knows it yet--and it all has to do with Leo's book, published years before under another man's name in Chile...where Alma's father found and fell in love with it. If you've ever been truly affected by a book, you'll enjoy this reflection on reading, writing, and the impact that books can have.
Criminals: A Novel - by Margot Livesey
Publisher: Picador
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 09/01/2005
ISBN: 9780312424695
On his way to Scotland to visit his troubled sister Mollie, Ewan Munro discovers a baby left in a bus station's men's restroom; panicking, he brings the baby to Mollie. Although Mollie's troubles stem in part from her recent split with her novelist lover (who had fictionalized her in his work, parts of which appear throughout Criminals), she's also a paranoid schizophrenic convinced that the faucet speaks. Nevertheless, she instantly decides to keep the baby, and Ewan, his mind on his own troubles, doesn't do enough to stop her. "Impeccably written and thoroughly engrossing," says The New York Times.
Contact your librarian for more great books!