Friday, February 4, 2022

Staff Recommendations, Week of February 1, 2022

This week we'll all be celebrating Groundhog Day, but that doesn't mean our recommendations are going to be the same books over, and over, and over, and...

Okay, okay, enough strained, references. Here are the new staff recs.

First up is Don't Cry for Me, the novel by Daniel Black that has two recommendations from the Boswellains. The first comes from Chris Lee: "Alone and dying, a father writes his life story in letters, trying to explain to his estranged son the harsh understanding of manhood he once thought necessary to survive as a Black man in America. Daniel Black welcomes you to rural Arkansas with a detailed portrait of country life and Black boyhood in the mid-20th century. Particularly well captured is the whiplash of how much time and change can pass in the span of just one life. Don’t Cry for Me immerses you in another time and place and lets you breathe, smell, taste, and feel another man’s life as he reckons with the good and bad that he’s done to the people he loves."

And from Tim McCarthy: "Daniel Black tells the story of a father and his son. As the opening author's note explains, Daniel is the son, writing what he imagines his dying father might have said to explain himself in the aftermath of a troubled and broken family. As his father asks Death to allow him time, he writes to Daniel on days when he's not too sick: about being raised by a harsh grandfather who taught him that love was showing respect without emotion; about wanting to prepare Daniel for the cruel realities of being a Black man by making him tough; and about the fear and bitterness he felt over not getting the type of son he wanted and expected. I'll admit it. This book messed me up. I mean, really, how many times can a man can say, 'I almost... I wish I had... I should have... found a way to show my love and acceptance?' It's too damn personal, but I might just read it again. Because the writing is exquisite. The father's voice rings true and clear with a sincere emotion that he's never before expressed. And because it beautifully raises the question that matters to a damaged child: are there things a parent can do, or not do, which are unforgivable?"

Next is Kay Wosewick, who nearly always appears on our weekly recommendation round up. This week she suggests Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century by Kim Fu. Kay says: "Monsters of the 21st century include technologies containing inherent absurdity, faulty human decision-making, new modes of thrill seeking, new horrors, and more. This collection will tickle, taunt, and haunt you. And perhaps you’ll unknowingly read a sneak preview of YOUR future amongst Fu's clever stories!" FYI, this one is a paperback original.

Finally, Daniel Goldin recommends an event book from Tessa Hadley titled Free Love. Daniel says: "When idealist (or is it nihilistic?) young journalist Nicky Knight is invited over to the home of Roger and Phyllis Fischer, several complicated lives that were wound up tight burst open like a series of jack in the boxes. Hadley chronicles a woman’s awakening in 1960s London, which she vividly brings to life, particularly in Ladbroke Grove where much of the story takes place. The anything-goes sensibility is undercut with the awareness that this will all one day be torn down for a freeway. Sex certainly drives the narrative, but for demure readers like me, I should note that it’s hardly graphic. With Hadley’s understanding characterizations and exquisite writing, my test is how to bring her gifts to more readers, and I thought, if Hilary Mantel was writing more contemporary fiction, this is how it would read. Hope that tempts you!"

Hadley joins us for the Readings from Oconomowaukee virtual series on Thursday, February 10, 2 pm. Click here for more information and to register, please.

Paperbacks getting released this week? You got it!

First it's American Dirt, the controversial novel by Jeanine Cummins. Our Jen Steele liked it: "This book put me through the heart pounding, adrenaline rushing, emotional ringer! A poignant and dynamic novel about humanity, sacrifice, and hope. When Lydia and her son Luca survive a brutal massacre, Lydia knows that they must leave everything behind and endure the brutal journey north. Trying to stay alert for every waking moment, trying to outthink the man that wants to see them dead takes a toll; Lydia will do everything in her power to ensure her son lives. As they make this arduous crossing, pushing themselves to the brink, Lydia and Luca will encounter people of all walks of life, many who seek to do harm and many more who will shine a hopeful light helping them see the good in people. Jeanine Cummins delivers a powerful glimpse into the lives of people seeking a better life, a safe life with dignity and grace. American Dirt is one of those books that will stay with you forever."

Tim McCarthy recommends Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It by Ethan Kross. Tim's take: "I haven’t read many books from the self-help section of our store, but I’m truly glad I read this one! Kross is a smooth and entertaining writer, blending top-flight brain research with compelling real-life stories to give us a fast-paced manual for using our inner voice in ways that reduce stress. The book fascinated me, and it actually helped me. As the director of the Emotion and Self Control Laboratory at the University of Michigan, Kross is always looking for better scientific understandings of the human brain. He respects the mindfulness movement, but he also understands that consciousness is the greatest adaptation we've developed, allowing us to look at ourselves in order to create and plan and problem solve. The trouble is, for many of us, that chatter too often takes control. Ruminating, negative "thought spirals" drag us down. Kross is very open about how this sometimes happens to him, and he tells great stories about people we know from popular culture. The graceful mix of amazing research studies and anecdotes comes together in a toolbox for controlling the conversations we have with ourselves, and now he's piloting a promising curriculum for children based on his work. Thank you, Ethan Kross!"

Rachel Copeland has a write-up for Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. Here it is! "We split in two sometimes: move to a new city, change a hairstyle, gain a new nickname. The other half vanishes, unused, like a dream, or perhaps a box of pictures in the attic. Desiree Vignes lost her other half years ago, when her twin sister Stella decided to pass as white, leave her family behind, never return. Some people can do that. What they don't realize is that the vanishing halves have a way of returning, spotting you across the room, looking you in the face and seeing the real you, the one you left behind. From start to finish, Brit Bennett's follow-up to The Mothers is a revelation. This is a novel you want to savor, even as it unfolds so naturally and beautifully that you can't help but devour it. If her first novel made her a new author to look out for, this one proves that Brit Bennett is here to stay."

See you next week!

No comments:

Post a Comment