12-04-2007 04:36 PM - last edited on 10-01-2008 05:23 PM by ande
Set in Brisbane, Australia, during the stultifying 1950s, and moving to the grubby London of the 1970s, Feather Man is about Sooky, who, ignored by her parents, is encouraged to make herself scarce and visit Lionel, the farmer next door—there, an incident will take place that will impact the rest of her life.
Against the backdrop of rural Australia and the London art world, McMaster meticulously paints the landscapes of Sooky's internal and external worlds through a narrator that brings to mind Scout of To Kill a Mockingbird. Following Sooky from her neglected childhood to womanhood and her entry into the art world, the book combines comedy with emotional intensity. When Sooky's attraction to Redmond leads her to London, her past follows her into the future in a deadly confrontation. Rhyll McMaster, born 1947, started writing poetry while a child. Washing the Money won the Victorian Premier's Prize and the Grace Leven Prize. Her poems have been broadcast on national radio and television, in Australia. Feather Man is her first novel.
- A Pick of the week at Boston.com (The Boston Globe)
- A September Indie Next List pick from the American Booksellers Association
- Winner, the Barbara Jefferis Literary Award
- Winner, University of Technology, Sydney, Glenda Adams Award for New Writing
- Short-listed for the Australian Literary Society's Gold Medal Award
Samuel Shem's first novel, The House of God, the classic novel of life and death in an American hospital, has sold more then two million copies and is required reading in medical schools throughout the world. Thirty years later Shem returns with The Spirit of the Place, his most ambitious work yet. It goes beyond a focus on young doctors-in-training to that of a world-traveled doctor called home in the early '80s to become the doctor to the small town he ran away from, to face his own history and that of the town itself. A novel of love and death, mothers and sons, ghosts and bullies, doctors and patients, illness and healing, The Spirit of the Place spins a tale of universal human experience and the changing life of a small town with genuine warmth and humor. After a divorce and a year of wandering the world with "Doctors Without Borders," Orville Rose has settled into a new love with a beautiful Italian spiritual teacher. A telegram informs him that his mother has died. He returns to Columbia, "a Hudson River town plagued by breakage," and the startling terms of his mother's will. She has left him an enormous sum of money and her historic home, but there's a catch: he must live in her house on the Courthouse Square continuously for a year and thirteen days before he can collect. But that's hardly what Orville had in mind. As he struggles with the decision and its aftermath an entire set of unimagined events and personal transformations—both hilarious and poignant—occur. Spirit shows Shem at his finest—compassionate, capacious, funny, full of big ideas and memorable personalities. It offers an authentic, unvarnished portrait of the medical profession and underscores the crucial link between the health of individuals and the health of communities at a pivotal period of American history.Samuel Shem (pen name of Stephen Bergman) is a novelist, playwright, and, for three decades, a member of the Harvard Medical School faculty. His novels include The House of God, Fine, and Mount Misery. He is coauthor with his wife, Janet Surrey, of the hit Off-Broadway play Bill W. and Dr. Bob, the story of the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous (winner of the 2007 Performing Arts Award of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence), and We Have to Talk: Healing Dialogues between Women and Men.
The Leper Compound
A stunning debut novel by a psychiatric nurse in which illness unleashes the uncanny and essential of human identity, featuring an American missionary's daughter who grows into womanhood amid the social and political conflict of 1980s southern Africa The setting of this extraordinary novel is Rhodesia in the throes of the conflict that will give birth to Zimbabwe, a transition that Nangle witnessed when she lived there. Colleen, motherless from the age of seven, is left alone with her father, an American ex pat coffee farmer, and her younger sister, whose mental illness removes her from the family. The Leper Compound is the record of Colleen's passage into adulthood across an Africa in transformation. Extending beyond the usual parameters of a "coming of age" story, it is, simultaneously, about the forging of personal and national identity. Paula Nangle was raised by missionaries in the US and southern Africa and now lives in Benton Harbor, Michigan, where she works as a psychiatric nurse. This is her first novel.
The Big Eddy Club
Over the course of eight bloody months in the 1970s, a serial rapist and murderer terrorized Columbus, Georgia, killing seven elderly white women by strangling them in their beds. In 1986, eight years after the last murder, an African American, Carlton Gary, was convicted and sentenced to death. Though many in the city doubt his guilt, he remains on death row. Investigative journalist David Rose has followed this case for a decade in an investigation that led him to the Big Eddy Club—an all-white, members-only club in Columbus, frequented by the town's most prominent judges and lawyers . . . as well as most of the seven murdered women. The Big Eddy Club is a gripping, revealing drama, full of evocatively drawn characters, insidious institutions, and the extraordinary connections that bind past and present. The book is also a compelling, accessible, and timely exploration of race and criminal justice, not just in the context of the South but in the entire United States, as it addresses the corruption of due process as a tool of racial oppression.
Because a Fire Was in My Head
Kate Riley is not the sort of heroine we meet in most American novels. Self-centered, shape-shifting, driven from one man to another and one city to the next, she is all too real—but not at all the loyal and steady homebody of idealized womanhood. When we first encounter her, Kate (or Katherine, or Kate of the Prairie, or Katrina) is about to undergo exploratory brain surgery for a condition she herself has fabricated. Sobered by the gravity of the procedure, she commences a journey of memory that takes us back to the Saskatchewan village where she grew up and to the singular event that altered her forever and irrevocably set the course of her life. From her childhood, in which she was held captive to a mother gone mad, through her adult life, which unfolds as a mesmerizing sequence of men, abandoned children, and perpetual movement, Kate’s story is one of desperation and remarkable invention, a strangely American tale, brilliantly narrated by one of our most original writers.
Sam Savage, Michael Mikolowski (Illustrator)
Born in a bookstore in a blighted 1960s Boston neighborhood, Firmin learns to read by digesting his nest of shredded books. But he quickly learns that a literate rat is a lonely rat. Alienated from his family, he seeks the friendship of his hero, the bookseller and a down-on-his-luck science fiction writer who frequents the shop. Yet Firmin's inability to convey his thoughts to the humans he loves leads to a series of harrowing misadventures. Against a backdrop of urban destruction and burlesque cinema, Firmin is led deep into his own imaginative soul—a place where Ginger Rogers can hold him tight and tattered books, storied neighborhoods, and down-and-out rats alike can find people who adore them.
Monique and the Mango Rains
Monique and the Mango Rains is the compelling story of a rare friendship between a young Peace Corps volunteer and a midwife who became a legend. Monique Dembele saved lives and dispensed hope in a place where childbirth is a life-and-death matter. This book tells of her unquenchable passion to better the lives of women and children in the face of poverty, unhappy marriages, and endless backbreaking work. Monique's buoyant humor and willingness to defy tradition were uniquely hers. In the course of this deeply personal narrative, as readers immerse themselves in the rhythms of West African village life, they come to know Monique as friend, mother, and inspired woman.
This is what we'd get if Jane Austen were writing in 21st century America--a book that expands the possibilities of the national novel and of the female protagonist. Tillman brings into being a microcosm of American democracy, a scholarly colony functioning like Melville's Pequod, in which competing values--rationality and irrationality, generosity and selfishness, love and lust, shame and honor--compete with one another through a hilarious narrative, cycling through skin disease, chair design, Manifest Destiny--folded into the narrator's memories and emotional life, culminating, in Wagnerian fashion, in a supernatural event, offering escape, transcendence, or perhaps nothing…
Gate of the Sun
Elias Khoury, Humphrey Davies (Translator)
In a makeshift hospital in a refugee camp on the outskirts of Beirut, Yunes, an aging Palestinian freedom fighter, lies in a coma. Keeping vigil at the old man's bedside is his spiritual son, Khalil, who nurses Yunes, refusing to admit that his hero may never regain consciousness. Like a modern-day Scheherazade, Khalil relates the story of Palestinian exile, while also recalling Yunes's own extraordinary life, and his love for his wife, whom he meets secretly over the years at Bab al-Shams, the Gate of the Sun. Translated into nine languages, Gate of the Sun has been called the first magnum opus of the Palestinian saga.
The First Hurt
In this brilliantly original debut story collection, Rachel Sherman evokes the wonders and horrors of a young woman's life, from girl to teenager to adult, through crushes, sex, family, and the agonies and ecstasies of finding one's way. Sherman's beautifully direct and deceptively simple prose produces accessible, shockingly real narratives that combine a disarming sexual edge with great sensitivity and humor. From a high-school girl's crush on her female teacher, to a family's serenity threatened by a sexy Danish au pair, to a girl's sexually outrageous soldier penpal, all the way to a young couple's horrifying yet life-affirming experience of learning to love their brain-injured newborn twins, this collection wends its way around the deepest of struggles with unusual frankness and wisdom. The First Hurt heralds the arrival of a singularly fresh and remarkably assured new voice.
The Fires: Two Novellas
From acclaimed author Alan Cheuse come two novellas of compelling intensity. In "The Fires", Gina Morgan makes a pilgrimage to Uzbekistan to carry out her husband's final wish only to discover that in this former Soviet republic things are not as they used to be. And in "The Exorcism," Tom Swanson retrieves his angry daughter from her exclusive New England college after her expulsion for setting fire to a grand piano. In The Fires, Alan Cheuse demonstrates once more the poetry and range of his literary gifts in these finely-honed portraits of hope and change.
The World We Want
Peter Karoff with Jane Maddox
In The World We Want, Peter Karoff presents a collective vision of an ideal world. The book weaves together multi-sector, multidiscipline strategies, but—in large part—it is about the power of human connection and self-awareness, reinforced by personal stories of motivation and the human capacity for caring. Without ignoring the institutional and cultural obstacles and the courage needed to face down the dark side of human behavior, Karoff shows how citizen engagement and open-source solutions can tip the scale toward a better world.
12-05-2007 11:30 AM
These titles sound intriguing and am interested to reading them for discussion. Are there plans to discuss any particular titles in the near future?
We already had a wonderful visit with Lynn Stegner's BECAUSE A FIRE WAS IN MY HEAD....
Inquiring minds want to know.
"I am a part of everything that I have read."
12-05-2007 01:26 PM
Looking at the list of LVF books was there anything that caught your eye?
12-06-2007 11:44 AM
I forgot to mention that wonderful visit with Alan Cheuse's THE FIRES this summer.
I've read Kris Holloways MONIQUE & MANGO RAINS. That's exciting news that she's visiting B&N in January. Will she share her insights about Clinique Monique? That's something I am looking forward to chatting about!
I am interested in THE LEPER COMPOUNT by Paula Nangle.
THE BIG EDDY CLUB by David Rose
GATE OF THE SUN by Elias Khoury
I am placing these books on my holiday wish list (I hope my husband and daughter are reading this post!)
Will you let us know when you are scheduling the chats re these books?
"I am a part of everything that I have read."
12-06-2007 03:57 PM
Readers responded with enormous generosity (through a percentage of book proceeds and private donations)and Kris’ dream is coming true: Clinique Monique, a maternal and child health facility, is now being built and equipped in Monique Dembele’s honor and Monique’s children will be educated, including the girls who normally would not go beyond sixth grade. And the ripples continue: the book is being translated into several languages; medical professionals have begun using the book in their classes; midwives instruct pregnant women to read the book before giving birth; Monique and the Mango Rains has become required reading for thousands of students, an Alaskan book group is knitting caps for newborns in Mali (cotton only!) and, of course, Kris speaks to audiences regularly always reminding them that they don’t need to have millions of dollars to dramatically improve the lives of others, that they alone can make a difference.
12-06-2007 04:29 PM
It's an investigative expose of race, injustice, and serial murder in the Deep South.
Over the course of eight bloody months in the 1970s, a serial rapist and murderer terrorized Columbus, Georgia, killing seven elderly white women. An African American, Carlton Gary, through impetuous and circumstantial prosecution was convicted by an all white jury and sentenced to death. He remains on death row. David Rose has followed this case for a decade in an investigation that led him to the Big Eddy Club —an all-white, members-only club in Columbus, frequented by the town's most prominent judges and lawyers . . . as well as most of the seven murdered women. The Big Eddy Club is a compelling, accessible, and timely exploration of race and criminal justice.
The Leper Compound, By Paula Nangle(fiction), is being published in January by Bellevue Literary Press, an exciting newish publisher. It's already gotten great praise from both Publisher's Weekly and Kirkus!
Gate of the Sun is a beautiful book and very worthwhile. That was one of LVF's first books and the author's new one is about to be published.
12-07-2007 10:30 AM
Absolutely! Shortly, I will list some information about how we will go about reading and talking about LVF books. One sure thing: The extraordinary Kris Holloway, author of MONIQUE AND THE MANGO RAINS, will be back in January. She is heading to Mali this month to visit with MONIQUE's family and check on progress/deliver supplies to CLINIQUE MONIQUE. A portion of the the proceeds of the book and donations from readers have enabled her to fulfill a dream in the time since her book was published: building a modern and safe mother and child health facility near where Monique Dembele's village (where she had no such luxuries). Kris' appearance in Book Explorers this past spring stimulated a terrific discussion (check out the thread).
Looking at the list of LVF books was there anything that caught your eye?
I'm looking forward to hearing from Kris about her trip to Mali.
Jessica posted this link to the Monique and the Mango Rains discussion in another thread. Feel free to read the posts there, but come back here to post your thoughts!