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RECENT RECOMMENDATIONS FROM SOUTHERN INDIES...
British author and illustrator Sophy Henn's charming story of Edie's verve may touch a chord in your household. EDIE is VERY helpful decorating the walls, the dog, and even her sleeping grandpa? Sometimes even Edie knows she needs reining in a bit. This is the perfect book for those "Betty Bunny" and "Fancy Nancy" devotees.
Edie Is Ever So Helpful by Sophy Henn ($16.99*, Philomel Books), recommended by Square Books, Oxford, MS.
You think you know Mississippi? I bet you don't know THIS Mississippi. Dispatches from Pluto sheds bright light on a Mississippi that is is confounding and confusing and at times horrifically entertaining.
This book should be required reading for anyone born and raised in Mississippi, especially those of us who chose to leave. Large portions of Richard Grant's life in The Delta is probably unbelievable to those who have never experienced the rural South. I love the way Grant examines his friendships with those who hold vastly different viewpoints. It is healthy and respectful relationships with those that have different values that make us better people.
Dispatches from Pluto by Richard Grant ($16.00*, Simon & Schuster), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.
This extreme mind-bender is going to appeal hugely to those that love David Mitchell's puzzle box structure in Cloud Atlas, the paranoid/philosophical reality shifts of Philip K. Dick, the encyclopedic adventurousness of Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon and Baroque Cycle, William Gibson's razor-edged futuristic social dread, and perhaps even more so the epic literary tapestries of Thomas Pynchon, Wallace's Infinite Jest, and DeLillo's Underworld. Harkaway paints a cautionary future, an uncertain present, and a bloody past, all together in one hallucinatory mindscape of incredible storytelling bravura!
Gnomon by Nick Harkaway ($28.95*, Knopf Publishing Group), recommended by Carmichael's Bookstore, Louisville, KY.
Although I'm not a big fan of Hollywood, this story about Mary Pickford and her best friend Frances Marian quickly drew me in and kept me turning the pages.
Benjamin knows how to flesh out her characters. I kept wanting to know more about Mary and Frances. And even Douglas Fairbanks. Such interesting people. I knew nothing about the events that came crashing down on these silent film stars when the movies went to "talkies." Just never gave it a thought. But how devastating. Such a long fall from grace.
How timely this powerful novel is with all the horrific news of the casting couch in this decade. And look how long it's been going on.
Written with a loving hand and a knowing mind, Benjamin has once again knocked it out of the park with The Girls in the Picture.
The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin ($28.00*, Delacorte Press), recommended by Copperfish Books, Punta Gorda, FL.
Daily Writing Resilience: 365 Meditations & Inspirations for Writers by Bryan Robinson ($13.95*, Llewellyn Publications), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.
A reissue, first published in 1983, this is the surprisingly moving story of an unhappy suburban housewife who harbors, and loves, a six-foot-seven frog-faced creature who has just escaped from a research lab.
None other than John Updike had this to say about the novel: “So deft and austere in its prose, so drolly casual in its fantasy, but opening up into a deep female sadness that makes us stare. An impeccable parable, beautifully written from first paragraph to last."
Mrs. Caliban by Rachel Ingalls ($13.95*, New Directions Publishing Corporation), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.
I'm presently gobsmacked by and head-over-heels in love with Jamie Quatro's Fire Sermon, a gorgeous, searing first novel that takes on themes of grace, God, desire, truth, and family. Told in an array of tenses and forms that range from poetry to email (and everything in between), Fire Sermon takes great risks stylistically, as well as topically, and leaves nothing stable in its wake. It is unsparing and uncompromising; it is singular; it is innervating and strong; and it is a deeply, wonderfully stirring work of art.
Fire Sermon is a force. With the power of a sacred text, and the intimacy of a confession, Jamie Quatro lays bare marriage, sex, art, parenthood, everything. I am in awe of this book.
Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro ($24.00*, Grove Press), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.