13 June 2010

Four Books to Add to Your Wish List

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.

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.
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:
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.

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.
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:
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.

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.
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:
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.

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.
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.

Which titles look interesting to you?


Ana S. 6/13/10, 6:56 AM  

Jane certainly sounds intriguing. I can imagine it either being awesome or going very very wrong.

And ha, I know which stationary you mean! I've come across it when cataloguing old letters at work :P

bermudaonion 6/13/10, 8:04 AM  

I think we went to totally different BEA's - I didn't see any of those titles! Muck catches my eye, because you know I do love a good memoir.

Jen - Devourer of Books 6/13/10, 9:17 AM  

I'm with Kathy, I think we were at totally different events! I did get Jane, but other than that I didn't see these titles! I really, really wish I'd picked up MUCK, though, because I'm planning to read a whole bunch of books about non-farming people deciding to go and farm soon.

Anonymous,  6/13/10, 9:55 AM  

Whaddya mean, which ones look interesting? They all do!

wisteria 6/13/10, 10:11 AM  

Barnacle Love sounds like one I would like to read. Perhaps your dark mood reflects the recent rainy weather, at least here in the NE. Take care....

Florinda 6/13/10, 10:13 AM  

The Jane Eyre rewrite sounds interesting, although I'm not a huge fan of the original (Mr. Rochester is another one of those characters whose appeal I just don't understand). The Wilding intrigues me too. Thanks for mentioning these, which were all new to me!

Eva 6/13/10, 10:36 AM  

I've been getting more into New Zealand lately, so Muck jumped out at me! :)

Amused 6/13/10, 12:48 PM  

I think we have a very similar taste in books because every time you do this I add a bunch of books to my wishlist! I am particularly excited about Muck!

Kim 6/13/10, 1:37 PM  

Ummmm...I guess I should thank you! (My tbr wish list overflows!)
Much looks the most intriguing to me. I really like memoirs!
Although The Wilding is not the genre I typically read, it definitely caught my eye.
Great post.

Jan von Harz 6/13/10, 2:33 PM  

Wow some really terrific finds I am especially drawn to Muck: A memoir. I have always fantasized about going to New Zealand some day and the summary sounds intriguing.

Anonymous,  6/13/10, 3:35 PM  

Thanks so much for the heads up about Muck: A Memoir and The Wilding. This is the first I've heard of them and they both sound really interesting. I'll be sure to track them down upon release!

Heather 6/13/10, 3:35 PM  

I too have a thing about New Zealand. In fact, my friend's daughter is arriving here from NZ next week and will be staying with us for 6 months. Of course I'll be adding Muck to my reading list.

I read Barnacle Love when it was fresh in print. I rather enjoyed it. There is a review on my blog somewhere.

Look forward to your comments on these.

Margot 6/13/10, 4:32 PM  

I got out my Wish List when I saw your post's title. I put a couple of stars by Barnacle Love. I also love immigrant stories and this one sounds very good.

Booksnyc 6/13/10, 8:01 PM  

I love immigrant stories too so Barnacle Love is going onto the wishlist - thanks for spotlighting it!

Vasilly 6/13/10, 10:25 PM  

I'm so glad to hear Barnacle Love is finally being published in the U.S.! I've been wanting to read this book for years but it's been so expensive to get a copy of it. Thanks for posting this news!

Arch 6/13/10, 10:31 PM  

Thanks for introducing some good books to readers like me who couldn't attend BEA... All the 4 books sound interesting but I would have to say the write-up about "The Wilding" interests me the most...

Andi 6/14/10, 4:14 PM  

Well, crap. You weren't kidding. I'll be adding these to my wishlist. Every single one of them. My wallet groans.

CLM 6/15/10, 10:14 PM  

Both Jane and the New Zealand book sound great. I must admit that my New Zealand interest was inspired by years of reading Essie Summers as a teen!

Serena 6/16/10, 12:03 PM  

Jane: A Modern Retelling of Jane Eyre by April Lindner sounds like a book that would be up my alley!

CGLnyc 6/18/10, 3:29 PM  

Barnacle Love sounds great! Loosely connected stories, intrigue....thanks!

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