Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Amy Einhorn Books. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.
I have been swept off my feet by Dianne Warren's Juliet in August.
Here's what the publisher has to say:
With writing reminiscent of Alice Munro, Carol Shields, Larry McMurtry, and Elizabeth Strout, Juliet in August uncovers the incredible drama beneath the inhabitants of a sleepy prairie town.Here's what I want to say: Read it. Trust me. But there is, of course, more to talk about. The two things that struck me the hardest about Juliet in August were Dianne Warren's writing style and the way she constructed the novel. I'm not quite sure how to tease out one from the other, but I'm going to give it a go.
Juliet, Saskatchewan, is a blink-and-you-miss-it kind of town—a dusty oasis on the edge of the Little Snake sand hills. It’s easy to believe that nothing of consequence takes place there. But the hills vibrate with life, and the town’s heart beats in the rich and overlapping stories of its people: the rancher afraid to accept responsibility for the land his adoptive parents left him; the bank manager grappling with a sudden understanding of his own inadequacy; a shy couple, well beyond middle age, struggling with the recognition of their feelings for each other. And somewhere, lost in the sand, a camel named Antoinette.
Warren introduces us to only a few of Juliet's 1,011 citizens, but we come to know those people intimately as we follow them over the course of about twenty-four hours. We are mesmerized by Warren's beautiful and powerful prose, and we feel a shock of recognition from the way in which the characters' memories and thoughts are triggered by the ordinary things they see or hear or dream. Juliet in August is not a stream-of-consciousness novel—in fact, there is a nice balance of dialogue and action—but the introspective passages perfectly uncover the secret core of what makes us who we are.
Lee leans his face into the animal's side, closes his eyes, and sucks in the sweet familiar smell—the blend of dust and grass and warm sweat. The smell of the horse takes him back to when Rip and Tom were there in the pasture, when he was boy on another hot summer night, when the fences of the farm encompassed his world and he knew every inch of it as well as he knew his own skin. (p. 29)The novel consists of what I would call shuffled or stacked stories arranged into eight sections with titles such as "Night Travel," "Dessert Dwellers," "Solo," and "Hurry Sundown." You can read the book from start to finish as Warren likely wants you to. But after the first several stories you can reorder them, following a character who catches your attention. Prompted by that reading, you can then start over to follow someone else who is calling to you. Although all the stories are connected in various degrees, they could stand somewhat on their own. But, in fact, you'll want to know more, and you'll be thankful Warren obliges.
Be prepared: When reading Juliet in August, your physical world will seem to have disappeared; you won't be conscious of anything except what's happening in Juliet on a sunny August day.
Juliet in August is an Indie Next pick for July 2012. The novel was published in Canada as Cool Water and acquired by Amy Einhorn for U.S. publication. For more on Dianne Warren, visit her website or blog (don't miss the great photographs) and check out her Facebook page.
Amy Einhorn Books is a featured imprint on Beth Fish Reads. For more information about the imprint, please read Amy Einhorn's open letter posted here on January 25, 2010, or click the Amy Einhorn tab below my banner photo. To join the Amy Einhorn Books Reading Challenge, click the link.