Today I'm featuring four books that caught my eye or were recommended to me in New York during BEA. I can't wait to read them and hope they grab your interest too.
First up is Craig Sherborne's Muck: A Memoir (Norton, paperback June 2010). I have had a soft spot for New Zealand for years, mostly because I had a really great pen pal from there when I was in sixth grade (yes, in the old days when you had to buy special airmail stationary that folded up to be its own envelope and there were no home computers). Here's the synopsis:
With their only son on the brink of adolescence, the nouveaux-riches Sherbornes move away from the city to start a new, gentrified existence on a three-hundred-acre farm—or “estate”—in Taonga, New Zealand. But life on the farm is anything but wholesome. Sherborne evokes his family’s slide into madness through a series of unforgettable, hilarious portraits: of “Feet,” his once-glamorous mother, now addled with snobbery, paranoia, and mental illness; of “The Duke,” his uncomprehending, sporadically violent father; and of himself, the “Lord Muck” of the title, at once helpless victim and ruthless agent of their undoing, who in the end must decide whether he can save his family.I don't have a cover image for the next book I want to tell you about: Jane: A Modern Retelling of Jane Eyre by April Lindner (Poppy / Little, Brown, October 2010). I loved Jane Eyre, and I'm very curious about this version. Here's how the publisher describes it:
Clear-sighted, lyrical, and marvelously funny, Muck has been widely hailed as a masterpiece. It is a heartrending memoir of family discord and an exquisite story of a young artist in search of a self.
Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance.I am always drawn to immigrant stories, and Anthony De Sa's Barnacle Love (Algonquin, August 2010), a series of linked stories, looks promising. Here's the synopsis from Powell's:
But there's a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane's much-envied relationship with Nico is soon tested by an agonizing secret from his past. Torn between her feelings for Nico and his fateful secret, Jane must decide: Does being true to herself mean giving up on true love?
An irresistible romance interwoven with a darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers.
At the heart of this collection of intimately linked stories is the relationship between a father and his son. A young fisherman washes up nearly dead on the shores of Newfoundland. It is Manuel Rebelo who has tried to escape the suffocating smallness of his Portuguese village and the crushing weight of his mother's expectations to build a future for himself in a terra nova. Manuel struggles to shed the traditions of a village frozen in time and to silence the brutal voice of Maria Theresa da Conceicao Rebelo, but embracing the promise of his adopted land is not as simple as he had hoped.The final book for today caught my eye for a number of reasons: the setting (Oregon), the environmental issues that may play a role in the plot, and the focus on family dynamics. The Wilding by Benjamin Percy (Graywolf Press, October 2010) looks like it could be gripping:
Manuel's son, Antonio, is born into Toronto's little Portugal, a world of colourful houses and labyrinthine back alleys. In the Rebelo home the Church looms large, men and women inhabit sharply divided space, pigs are slaughtered in the garage, and a family lives in the shadow cast by a father's failures. Most days Antonio and his friends take to their bikes, pushing the boundaries of their neighbourhood street by street, but when they finally break through to the city beyond they confront dangers of a new sort.
Echo Canyon is a disappearing pocket of wilderness outside of Bend, Oregon, and the site of conflicting memories for Justin Caves and his father, Paul. It’s now slated for redevelopment as a golfing resort. When Paul suggests one last hunting trip, Justin accepts, hoping to get things right with his father this time, and agrees to bring his son, Graham, along.Although I featured a nice mix of genres and settings, I realized after I finished this post that they are all a little on the dark side. I wonder what that says about me or my current mood? Regardless, I'm looking forward to reading these books.
As the weekend unfolds, Justin is pushed to the limit by the reckless taunting of his father, the physical demands of the terrain, and the menacing evidence of the hovering presence of bear. All the while, he remembers the promise he made to his skeptical wife: to keep their son safe.
Which titles look interesting to you?