Oddly modern moments which occur in the most familiar of public places, from offices to airports to schools to zoos to emergency rooms: a young girl who refuses to go anywhere unless she’s dressed as a ghost; a bank robbery in Stockholm gone terribly wrong; a teacher who’s become enamored with the students in his school’s Model United Nations club; a couple affected by a strange malady—a miniature city which has begun to develop in the young woman’s chest, these inventive stories are hilarious, heartbreaking, and unusual.
Joe Meno is the best-selling author of the novels Hairstyles of the Damned, The Boy Detective Fails, How the Hula Girl Sings, and Tender As Hellfire. He was the winner of the 2003 Nelson Algren Award for short fiction and is a professor of creative writing at Columbia College Chicago.
*A portion of the author's proceeds from the book will go directly to benefit 826 CHICAGO, a nonprofit tutoring center, part of the national organization of tutoring centers with branches in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, and Seattle.*
A selection of the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Program.
"Meno gives his proverbial coming-of-age tale a punk-rock edge, as seventeen-year-old Chicagoan Brian Oswald tries to land his first girlfriend...Meno ably explores Brian's emotional uncertainty and his poignant youthful search for meaning...His gabby, heartfelt, and utterly believable take on adolescence strikes a winning chord."
"A funny, hard-rocking first-person tale of teenage angst and discovery."
"Captures the loose, fun, recklessness of midwestern punk."
"Captures both the sweetness and sting of adolescence with unflinching honesty."
"Joe Meno writes with the energy, honesty, and emotional impact of the best punk rock. From the opening sentence to the very last word, Hairstyles of the Damned held me in his grip."
--Jim DeRogatis, pop music critic, Chicago Sun-Times
"The most authentic young voice since J.D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield...A darn good book."
"Sensitive, well-observed, often laugh-out-loud funny...You won't regret a moment of the journey."
"Meno is a romantic at heart. Not the greeting card kind, or the Harlequin paperback version, but the type who thinks, deep down, that things matter, that art can change lives."
--Elgin Courier News
"Funny and charming and sad and real. The adults are sparingly yet poignantly drawn, especially the fathers, who slip through without saying much but make a profound impression."
"Underneath his angst, Brian, the narrator of Hairstyles of the Damned, possesses a disarming sense of compassion which allows him to worm his way into the reader's heart. It is this simple contradiction that makes Meno's portrait of adolescence so convincing: He has dug up and displayed for us the secret paradox of the teenage years, the desire to belong pitted against the need for individuality--a constant clash of hate and love."
"Joe Meno knows Chicago's south side the way Jane Goodall knew chimps and apes--which is to say, he really knows it. He also knows about the early '90s, punk rock, and awkward adolescence. Best of all, he knows the value of entertainment. Hairstyles of the Damned is proof positive."
--John McNally, author of The Book of Ralph
"Filled with references to dozens of bands and mix-tape set lists, the book's heart and soul is driven by a teenager's life-changing discovery of punk's social and political message...Meno's alter ego, Brian Oswald, is a modern-day Holden Caulfield...It's a funny, sweet, and, at times, hard-hitting story with a punk vibe."
--Mary Houlihan, Chicago Sun-Times
"Meno's language is rhythmic and honest, expressing things proper English never could. And you've got to hand it to the author, who pulled off a very good trick: The book is punk rock. It's not just punk rock. It's not just about punk rock; it embodies the idea of punk rock; it embodies the idea of punk--it's pissed off at authority, it won't groom itself properly, and it irritates. Yet its rebellious spirit is inspiring and right on the mark."
Hairstyles of the Damned is the debut novel of our Punk Planet Books imprint, which originates from Punk Planet magazine.
Hairstyles of the Damned is an honest, true-life depiction of growing up punk on Chicago's south side: a study in the demons of racial intolerance, Catholic school conformism, and class repression. It is the story of the riotous exploits of Brian, a high school burnout, and his best friend, Gretchen, a punk rock girl fond of brawling. Based on the actual events surrounding a Chicago high school's segregated prom, this work of fiction unflinchingly pursues the truth in discovering what it means to be your own person.
In the twilight of a mysterious childhood full of wonder, Billy Argo, boy detective, is brokenhearted to find that his younger sister and crime-solving partner, Caroline, has committed suicide. Ten years later, Billy, age thirty, returns from an extended stay at St. Vitus' Hospital for the Mentally Ill to discover the world full of unimagi-nable strangeness: office buildings vanish without reason, small animals turn up without their heads, and cruel villains ride city buses to complete their evil schemes.
Lost within this unwelcoming place, Billy finds the companionship of two lonely, extraordinary children, Effie and Gus Mumford--one a science fair genius, the other a charming, silent bully. With a nearly forgotten bravery, Billy treads from the unendurable boredom of a telemarketing job, stumbles into the awkward beauty of a desperate pickpocket named Penny Maple, and confronts the nearly impossible solution to the mystery of his sister's death. Along a path laden with hidden clues and codes that dare the reader to help Billy decipher the mysteries he encounters, the boy detective may learn the greatest secret of all: the necessity of the unknown.
Kirkus Reviews,June 15, 2006
"What happens when a Hardy Boy grows up?
Mood is everything here, and Meno tunes it like a master, even though such a task initially appears impossible. Billy Argo, resident boy detective of his small New Jersey burg, seems to have inherited the aura of brains, fearlessness and rigid moral compass that always served the likes of Encyclopedia Brown in such good stead. Billy solves crimes and foils villains without breaking a sweat, aided by younger sister Caroline and heavyset friend Fenton. Their successes are trumpeted in newspaper headlines straight out of kids' adventure books ('Boy Detective Solves Fatal Orphanage Arson'), prompting suspicions that what the author has in mind is a long and ironic riff on children's fiction. But the book takes a dark turn as the years pass. Billy continues solving crimes and generally being a prodigy ('College Now For Boy Detective'), but Caroline slips into depression and ultimately commits suicide. Her brother winds up in an asylum as a result, not re-entering the world until he's 30. This is the point at which Meno, a tricky postmodernist who likes to embed separate story capsules on blank pages and leave nonsense words in the margins, might be expected to throw the curtain back, showing that our hero was crazy all along, no crimes were solved and his whole life was a lie. Instead, the author gives Billy a gallery of rogues to combat and even sends him to investigate the Convocation of Evil at a local hotel ('Featured Panel: To Wear a Mask?'). Meno sets himself a complicated task, marooning his straight-arrow, pulp-fiction protagonist in a world uglier than the Bobbsey Twins ever faced but refusing to go for satire. Instead, the author takes his compulsive investigator at face value. A full-tilt collision of wish-fulfillment and unrequited desires that's thrilling, yet almost unbearably sad."
BOOKLIST, July 2006
Comedic, imaginative, empathic, and romantic, Meno, whose diverse works of fiction include Hairstyles of the Damned (2004) and Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir (2005), is particularly attuned to the intensity of childhood and its lifelong resonance. In this cartoony and dreamlike novel, Billy Argo of Gotham, New Jersey, receives a True-Life Junior Detective Kit for his tenth birthday, and in no time, the gifted boy detective becomes front-page news as he thwarts comic-book villains with the help of his younger sister, Caroline. But Caroline commits suicide,
“The author moves the story along at a surprisingly fast and easy pace. The evil eyes of small-town America seem to peer from every page of Meno’s claustrophobic noir, where the good and the bad are forced down the same violent paths.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Joe Meno writes with the energy, honesty, and emotional impact of the best punk rock.”—Jim DeRogatis, pop music critic, Chicago Sun-Times
“A likable winner that should bolster Meno’s reputation.” —Publishers Weekly
“Joe Meno writes with the energy, honesty, and emotional impact of the best punk rock.” —Jim DeRogatis, Chicago Sun-Times
“Fans of hard-boiled pulp fiction will particularly enjoy this novel.” —Booklist
A young ex-con in a small Illinois town. A lonely giant with a haunted past. A beautiful girl with a troubled heart. Strange and darkly magical, How the Hula Girl Sings begins exactly where most pulp fiction usually ends, with the vivid episode of the terrible crime itself. Three years later, Luce Lemay, out on parole for the awful tragedy, does his best to finds hope: in a new job at the local Gas-N-Go; in his companion and fellow ex-con, Junior Breen, who spells out puzzling messages to the unquiet ghosts of his past; and finally, in the arms of the lovely but reckless Charlene. How the Hula Girl Sings is a suspenseful exploration of a country bright with the far-off stars of forgiveness and dark with the still-looming shadow of the death penalty.
“Extremely vivid. . . . Any number of novels have been written about unhappy childhoods and bizarre families, but this one surpasses many.”—Kirkus Reviews
Joe Meno limns a near-fantastical world of trailer park floozies, broken-down ’76 Impalas, lost glass eyes, and the daily experiences of two boys trying to make sense of their random, sharp lives.
Joe Meno is the author of the novels Hairstyles of the Damned, The Boy Detective Fails,and How the Hula Girl Sings. He was the winner of the 2003 Nelson Algren Award for short fiction and is a professor of creative writing at Columbia College Chicago.
Named a Booklist Editors' Choice for 2015
Longlisted for the American Library Association's 2016 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction
"Compelling and necessary....[Meno] has a knack for giving small happenings emotional weight....Meno knows how to make you love his characters, want what they want. But don't think he's going to let things turn out well for them. Marvels and wonders aren't worth the trouble. Fortunately, this book is."
--New York Times Book Review
"[A] rugged page-turner....There's a bit of the country noir of Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone in the stark atmosphere Mr. Meno evokes (A faded town, fading, harried with dusty light, midafternoon), and a bit of the Clint Eastwood movie Gran Torino in the story of the vigilante grandfather. But the writing is propulsive enough to make you forget its influences. And at moments the book's consuming darkness is lifted by potent, if inscrutable visions of the talismanic horse--a flash of lightning curving along the horizon."
--Wall Street Journal
"But in two new books--a big novel, Marvel and a Wonder, and the anthology Chicago Noir: The Classics, published simultaneously in early September by Akashic in hardcover and paperback--we're reminded that Meno has a dark side that on occasion he lets out of jail, allowing it to cast a long and menacing shadow."
"Evoking William Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy, Meno's suspenseful, mordantly incisive, many-layered tale can also be read as an equine Moby-Dick. As he tracks the bewildering seismic shifts under way in America, Meno celebrates everyday marvels, including the hard-proven love between grandfather and grandson."
--Booklist, Starred review
"In this high-stakes, mordantly incisive, compassionate drama, Quentin, a mixed-race teen, is spending the summer with Jim, his white grandfather, when a magnificent white racehorse is inexplicably delivered to Jim’s Indiana farm."
--Booklist, Editors' Choice
"Talented Meno has penned a wise and touching novel of love, loyalty, courage; an extraordinary book not to be missed."
--Library Journal, Starred review
“Marvel and a Wonder . . . [is] a great contemporary Western that’s deliciously dark and full of unpleasant characters. I loved it, for whatever grim reason that lurks in my soul (and it’s got a fantastic cover), though I’d say it’s probably not for the faint of heart.”
-- Library Journal,"What We/re Reading" Section
Marvel and a Wonder is a darkly mesmerizing epic and literary page-turner set at the end of the twentieth century. In summer 1995, Jim Falls, a Korean War vet, struggles to raise his sixteen-year-old grandson, Quentin, on a farm in southern Indiana. In July, they receive a mysterious gift--a beautiful quarter horse--which upends the balance of their difficult lives. The horse's appearance catches the attention of a pair of troubled, meth-dealing brothers and, after a violent altercation, the horse is stolen and sold. Grandfather and grandson must travel the landscape of the bleak heartland to reclaim the animal and to confront the ruthless party that has taken possession of it. Along the way, both will be forced to face the misperceptions and tragedies of their past.
Evoking the writing of William Faulkner and Denis Johnson, this brilliant, deeply moving work explores the harrowing, often beautiful marvels of a nation challenged by its own beliefs. Ambitious, expansive, and laden with suspense, Marvel and a Wonder presents an unforgettable pair of protagonists at the beginning of one America and the end of another.
The Boston Globe, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and The Denver Post
In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf's inimitable fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have known of each other for decades; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis's wife. His daughter lives hours away, her son even farther, and Addie and Louis have long been living alone in empty houses, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with. But maybe that could change? As Addie and Louis come to know each other better--their pleasures and their difficulties--a beautiful story of second chances unfolds, making Our Souls at Night the perfect final installment to this beloved writer's enduring contribution to American literature.
When Dad Lewis is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he and his wife, Mary, must work together to make his final days as comfortable as possible. Their daughter, Lorraine, hastens back from Denver to help look after him; her devotion softens the bitter absence of their estranged son, Frank, but this cannot be willed away and remains a palpable presence for all three of them. Next door, a young girl named Alice moves in with her grandmother and contends with the painful memories that Dad's condition stirs up of her own mother's death. Meanwhile, the town’s newly arrived preacher attempts to mend his strained relationships with his wife and teenaged son, a task that proves all the more challenging when he faces the disdain of his congregation after offering more than they are accustomed to getting on a Sunday morning. And throughout, an elderly widow and her middle-aged daughter do everything they can to ease the pain of their friends and neighbors.
Despite the travails that each of these families faces, together they form bonds strong enough to carry them through the most difficult of times. Bracing, sad and deeply illuminating, Benediction captures the fullness of life by representing every stage of it, including its extinction, as well as the hopes and dreams that sustain us along the way. Here Kent Haruf gives us his most indelible portrait yet of this small town and reveals, with grace and insight, the compassion, the suffering and, above all, the humanity of its inhabitants.
A heartstrong story of family and romance, tribulation and tenacity, set on the High Plains east of Denver.
In the small town of Holt, Colorado, a high school teacher is confronted with raising his two boys alone after their mother retreats first to the bedroom, then altogether. A teenage girl—her father long since disappeared, her mother unwilling to have her in the house—is pregnant, alone herself, with nowhere to go. And out in the country, two brothers, elderly bachelors, work the family homestead, the only world they've ever known. From these unsettled lives emerges a vision of life, and of the town and landscape that bind them together—their fates somehow overcoming the powerful circumstances of place and station, their confusion, curiosity, dignity and humor intact and resonant. As the milieu widens to embrace fully four generations, Kent Haruf displays an emotional and aesthetic authority to rival the past masters of a classic American tradition.
In 1987, Miri Ammerman returns to her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, to attend a commemoration of the worst year of her life. Thirty-five years earlier, when Miri was fifteen, and in love for the first time, a succession of airplanes fell from the sky, leaving a community reeling. Against this backdrop of actual events that Blume experienced in the early 1950s, when airline travel was new and exciting and everyone dreamed of going somewhere, she paints a vivid portrait of a particular time and place—Nat King Cole singing “Unforgettable,” Elizabeth Taylor haircuts, young (and not-so-young) love, explosive friendships, A-bomb hysteria, rumors of Communist threat. And a young journalist who makes his name reporting tragedy. Through it all, one generation reminds another that life goes on.
In the Unlikely Event is vintage Judy Blume, with all the hallmarks of Judy Blume’s unparalleled storytelling, and full of memorable characters who cope with loss, remember the good times and, finally, wonder at the joy that keeps them going.
Early reviewers have already weighed in: “Like many family stories, this one is not without its life-changing secrets and surprises. There is no surprise that the book is smoothly written, and its story compelling. The setting—the early 1950s—is especially well realized through period references and incidents.” —Booklist (starred review) and “In Blume’s latest adult novel . . . young and old alike must learn to come to terms with technological disaster and social change. Her novel is characteristically accessible, frequently charming and always deeply human.” —Publishers Weekly
From the Hardcover edition.
Winner of the Michael L. Printz Award
Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist
New York Times bestseller
Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . .
After. Nothing is ever the same.
Jackie Kay's 'Sonata' will be one of the first Picador Shots and comes from her new collection, WISH I WAS HERE.
In 'Sonata', Two strangers meet on a train and connect in a way that one only can when you know that you only have a few hours together, and that anything you do or say will never be held against you. One is a good listener and one is a good talker – they are the perfect combination. One tells the other about her recent loss of love whilst the other watches on, falling, secretly, in love. What will become of them? Will this journey be the sum of their relationship?
A boy and his grandfather try to cope with the arrival of a new man in the household and his effect on the woman who is their mother and daughter. The boy dreams of violence and the grandfather retreats to the only sanctuary he knows.
Learning to Swim
On a beach in Cornwall, the nuances and memories of a stagnant marriage are explored by a man, a woman – and ultimately their son, as he finally learns to float in the sea and strikes out for a more independent emotional life.
From the magical landscapes of coastal Ireland to the grotesque bustle of sixties London, Sive gives the history of her grandmother, her mother, and herself. She traces the path of her grandmother's cruel and unbearable marriage to her mother's wild escape to London, and, finally, to her own return to the family home. Each woman endures the hardship of being poor and uneducated, and of becoming involved with the wrong men. Their lives are difficult and harsh; and yet, in their own ways, they are able to draw on their inner strength to help each other have a better life.
Beautifully written with the Irish flare of weaving in a touch of magic, Suzanne Power's The Lost Souls' Reunion is the story of a mother's love for her child, a woman's love for her man, and a family's love for their land.
'With a hugely likeable narrator, and a narrative that gallops along at the breakneck pace of a runaway steer, I loved the energy of the writing, and the way the world of the Wild West is painted so clearly in swift, deft strokes. A terrific and unusual voice' Kate Long
'Kita's gold-rush setting incorporates all the dusty heroism of the Wild West. But Wilbur McCrum is the book's truly unforgettable element. His folksy speech and wry humour are engaging and unrelenting, taking the reader from a troubled childhood to an old age of reminiscence. Few first novels have employed imaginative freedom and picaresque invention with such aplomb' Waterstone’s Books Quarterly
When Sir Malcolm Bradbury died in 2000, he left behind a lifetime's work; some of it published and some of it not; fiction and non-fiction; short stories and novels; completed work, work in progress, work barely begun; plans, sketches, notes, titles. Given shape and coherence by his son, Dominic, that work has now become Liar's Landscape, a book about books, about writing and writers, about being a writer and, of course, about being Malcolm Bradbury.
'Liar's Landscape is essential reading for all admirers of Malcolm Bradbury and, for those who don't know his work, an invaluable sampler of his worldly-wise humour and satirical wit' Tom Rosenthal, Independent
After spending a year teaching in an American university in the 1950s, Malcolm Bradbury returned to England only to realize that his native country had become nearly as mystifying to him as the American Midwest. As Britain marched toward a new decade, much of the country was changing inexorably, its agrarian past paved over by suburban developers, its quiet traditionalism replaced by beehive hairdos and shiny, glass-walled office buildings. And so, to confront this curious moment in British history, Bradbury turned to the sharpest tool in his arsenal: humor. In All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go, he writes of a country balancing precariously on the boundary of two worlds, with the wry wit and keenly observant eye that have made him one of the twentieth century’s greatest satirists.
So speaks Jeronimus Cornelisz, a thirty-year-old apothecary who transforms before our eyes into a murderous madman.
The Company is a novel based on the 1629 voyage of the Dutch East India Company flagship Batavia, bound for the colonies with a cargo of untold riches. Among the passengers is Cornelisz, a man ousted from polite society by sordid rumors of necromancy. Corrupt to the very marrow of his soul, Cornelisz considers himself God's equal, the rightful heir to gold, silver -- even another man's wife. So twisted is he by lust and greed that he incites a mutiny, running the ship aground on a reef.
All is lost -- the ship is wrecked, its passengers dying, the treasure trashed at the bottom of the sea. "The apothecary will heal us," the survivors pray, believing themselves lucky to be alive. In the name of benevolence, Cornelisz seizes command of their island refuge. The brave castaways stir with hope -- until the killing begins. For forty frenzied days, Cornelisz decides who shall live and who shall die, leaving his victims with just one wish -- that they had gone down with the ship.
Soaked with the blood of the innocent and the wicked, The Company plunges, with the weight of history, deep into the heart of darkness.
Welcome to Crooked River, population 2,851 and falling.
Eli has lived in Crooked River his whole life, ever since he was born in the dead of winter with the cord wrapped around his neck nearly thirty years ago, and he knows better than anyone about that shrinking number. His father, uncle, and grandmother have all died, he didn't know his mother, and his grandfather, Clarence, founder of the town and eccentric builder of hotels and a now-underwater castle, walked to the river one day and never returned. Eli's childhood best friend, George, went missing, too, when they were kids, around the time his dad started going a little bonkers, and George was never seen again.
Eli's always been obsessed with Clarence and George's disappearances. Now, while the town half-heartedly celebrates its centennial and the river, long ago diverted to make way for a mine, reclaims its original path, Eye Lake is vanishing day by day. As new tensions in town rise and the lake's water level drops, Clarence's castle—and his many secrets—begin to surface.
But when another young boy goes missing, Eli's past and present collide.
Tristan Hughes is the author of three previous books: The Tower, Send My Cold Bones Home, and Revenant. He was the winner of the 2002 Rhys Davies Short Story Award. He lives in Wales.
As unconventional as the eponymous Ragab, Robert Twigger's novel takes the reader on a surreal journey. Clever, funny and thought-provoking, Dr Ragab's Universal Language is, in every sense, beyond belief: part tall tale and part self-help manual, it is, like Dr R himself, impossible to pin down -- or, indeed, to put down.
While walking through a cliff-top graveyard in the village of Morwenstow on the coast of Cornwall, Jeremy Seal stumbled across a wooden figurehead which once adorned the Caledonia, a ship wrecked on the coast below in 1842. Through further investigation, he began to suspect the locals, and in particular the parson, Robert Hawker, of luring the ship to her destruction on Cornwall's jagged shore. Wrecking is known to have been widespread along several stretches of England's coast. But is that what happened in Morwenstow?
Seal weaves history, travelogue and vivid imaginative reconstruction into a marvellous piece of detective work.
Stretching from mid-century China to the United States at the turn of the millennium, Beautiful as Yesterday explores issues of identity, of family and friendship, love and loss. Written in beautifully crafted prose, this is a penetrating exploration of what it means to belong, and the impact of history and memories on one’s life.
Years later, Isabel returns to her home town in the north of England for Owen’s funeral. She hadn’t seen him since they recklessly burned down the local supermarket together; he was sent to prison and she, just shy of her 18th birthday, to a young offenders’ centre. Isabel suspects that Owen was responsible for Julia’s murder, and she’s hoping finally to find some kind of resolution.
Feeling cut off from her husband and child in Turkey, and awash with unexpected memories, Isabel ventures further into the murky depths of her past. But nothing is as it seems – either past or present – and as Isabel’s world unravels we finally realise the stunning, shattering truth . . .
'Exquisitely written yet utterly chilling, this will keep you gripped from start to finish; a potential book-group classic' Elle magazine
Growing up on the streets of New York, young Lou Sciortino learned many lessons from his grandfather, Don Lou: that whiners are fools; that in order to get respect from other people, you sometimes have to whack a guy; and that the movie business is a perfect place to make dirty money clean. So when young Lou is set up as the head of Starship Pictures, everybody's happy. That is, until the day a rival Mafia family plants a bomb in their offices. Nobody's happy after that, especially not Don Lou, who decides to send his grandson to Sicily to stay out of danger; after all, a really nice, decent person like Lou just doesn't take part in Mafia warfare.
Not long after young Lou goes to work for Uncle Sal Scali—a hapless Mafia boss from Catania who can't even keep the peace in his own neighborhood—a cop is killed during a routine robbery and young Lou is chosen to bring the situation under control. But there's someone else Sal has to reckon with: Lou's grandfather. Don Lou doesn't like the way things are shaping up in Sicily, and decides it's time he paid one last visit to the old country. That's when the bullets really start to fly.
New York Times Editors’ Choice, the breathtaking third novel from Booker Prize finalist and national best-selling author Trezza Azzopardi is at once a powerful love story and an intricately plotted mystery that explores the staying power of family and memory, and the pull of unlikely but destined romance. For twenty years Lewis has been haunted by his brother’s death. Try as he might to escape this tragedy, the ghost of Wayne confronts him at every turn. When he meets Anna, a young woman who is also haunted—by her loud and carefree mother, Rita, who just so happens to be very much alive—Lewis is pulled into a world of carousing, music hall turns, and cocktails as he searches for the person he believes responsible for the death of his brother. Against the backdrop of the Norfolk coast with its massive skies and relentless seas, Anna and Lewis slowly learn to trust each other and accept that an uncertain future can be as wild and alluring as the landscape they have grown to love.
For the past thirty years, George Grey has been a ship bunker in the fictional west African nation of Montedor, but now he's returning home to England-to a daughter who's a famous author he barely knows, to a peculiar new friend who back in the sixties was one of England's more famous singers, and to the long and empty days of retirement during which he's easy prey to the melancholy of memories, all the more acute since the woman he loves is still back in Africa. Witty, charming and masterly crafted, Foreign Land is an exquisitely moving tale of awkward relationships and quiet redemption.
He was a Booker Prize finalist for The Butcher Boy, which won the Irish Times Aer Lingus/Irish Literature Prize for Fiction and was made into a motion picture directed by Neil Jordan and cowritten by McCabe and Jordan. He was again a Booker Prize finalist for Breakfast on Pluto, which won the Spirit of Life Arts/Sunday Independent Irish Literature Award and was a number one international bestseller.
McCabe has been described as "the lodestone of new Irish fiction" (Wall Street Journal), "a dark. genius of incongruity and the grotesque" (Sunday Observer) and "one of Ireland's finest living writers" (New York Times Book Review).
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune commented on McCabe's "remarkable...ability to induce compassion for the unlikeliest people," and in Mondo Desperado: A Serial Novel, that ability and the full range of his "grotesque genius" (Marie Claire) combine to produce a brilliant, macabre' dementedly funny and surreally imagined fiction of intertwined narratives set in a small Irish town. McCabe himself has described Mondo Desperado as being "like Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio -- on drugs."
In his mondo tales of the insular town of Barntrosna, McCabe assembles a distinctly Irish crew of odd and unusual inhabitants who live on and regularly cross, often unconsciously, the border between fantasy and reality. In "Hot Nights at the Go-Go Lounge," Larry Bunyan is certain his demure wife is secretly out at night with deadbeat swingers, shooting drugs and having wild sex, while in "I Ordained the Devil," the Bishop of Barntrosna confesses that his ordination of Father Packie Cooley was really an ordination of His Satanic Majesty.
Another Barntrosna resident, Dr. John Joe Parkes, discovers "The Valley of the Flying Jennets," the secret place in the mountains created by his Dr. Frankenstein -- type medical ancestor where his horrible, mutated genetic failures live. In the concluding "Forbidden Love of Noreen Tiernan," Noreen escapes Barntrosna, goes to London for nursing school, finds a lesbian lover, and teams up with her to rob and terrorize London until her mother, boyfriend and parish priest bring Noreen back home.
With sly wit, characteristic, brilliant blending of sadness and humor and macabre genius, Mondo Desperado is a wonderfully imagined work of fiction -- McCabe's most dazzling yet -- rom a truly original literary talent.
These thirty-three macabre, often comical short pieces revolve around moments of odd bliss–moments seized by characters who have found ways to conquer the bleakness of everyday life in the chaotic world of post-communist Russia.
Peopled by Mafia gunmen, desperate young prostitutes, bewildered foreign businessmen, and even a trio of hungry devils, the stories are by turns tragic and bleakly funny. From a sly retelling of the legend of St. Nicholas featuring a rich American named Nick, to a lavish gourmet feast in which the young female cook ends up as the main dish, these stories are above all playful and even surreal–and many of them are masterful tributes to Russian writers from Gogol to Nabokov.
Translated by John E. Woods.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
On the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Katherine wants only three things: a smidge of social grace, the body of Courteney Cox, and two parents. What she has instead is an almost complete lack of friends, a pudgy figure, and one extremely eccentric, nearly blind grandmother named Poll. Since Katherine’s father died and her mother disappeared, Poll is her only family. And not only does Poll buy all of Katherine’s clothes, but she forbids her to leave the house unless it’s absolutely necessary. Would a chance to go to Oxford count? But the bigger question is: How can she abandon her grandma?
Just when Katherine has resigned herself to a lifetime of watching daytime television, sparring with Poll, and visiting the town library for “fun,” along comes a handsome, magnetic young man named Collum, who claims to be Katherine’s long-lost cousin. But as Katherine is about to learn, when it comes to family, things aren’t always as they seem.
Praise for Kate Long’s The Bad Mother’s Handbook
“Kate Long manages to brilliantly balance equal parts heartbreak and hilarity in a novel that you will love unconditionally.”
–Sarah Bird, author of The Flamenco Academy
“There is a lovely sweetness to this heartbreaking/heartwarming story.”
–The Seattle Times
“Funny, touching and utterly winning.”
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Thirty-one-year-old Gavin Lamb is a shy hairdresser in London’s West End. Self-educated, he likes Mozart and can quote Tolstoy, but being something of a late bloomer, he still lives at home with his parents. Although he’s a master of the styling chair, he simply can’t work out how to be around women—not least his own mother. And the misguided efforts of his best friend, Harry King, don’t do much to assuage Gavin’s unfulfilled dreams of love.
One night, he reluctantly attends a party where the hostess, Joan, is a grotesque vision in an orange wig and silver lamé. Joan is rich and married, and Gavin soon finds himself opening up to her. That same night, he meets Minerva Munday, who’s taking a nap on one of the guest beds. Minerva crashed the party and claims to hail from a royal bloodline.
Both Joan and Minerva—polar opposites—will transform Gavin’s life in ways a lot more exciting than his nightly fantasies. But true love continues to elude him. Will he ever get it right?
The bestselling author of the Cazalet Chronicles has written a witty and perceptive comic novel that went on to win the Yorkshire Post Novel of the Year Award and inspire the 1989 film starring Jesse Birdsall, Jane Horrocks, and Helena Bonham Carter. A man looking for love in all the wrong places, Gavin may come to realize his soul mate has been in front of him all along.
Now Neil Gordon returns with The Gun Runner's Daughter, an equally compelling tale of moral and psychological suspense, the story of two lawyers who fall in love while they are on opposite sides of an arms-dealing scandal.
For twenty-seven years, Allison Rosenthal has lived the life of the liberal elite, from summers in Martha's Vineyard to her studies at Yale. But when her father is indicted on federal charges and his profession--arms dealing--is exposed to public scrutiny, her placid life changes radically. And when her secret childhood lover is named as her father's prosecuting attorney, she must decide where her loyalties lie in a trial that is rocking the presidential administration.
Does family come before politics? Love before law? Truth before loyalty? These are the questions the gun runner's daughter must face as she tries to negotiate the dangerous and murky world of her father's profession and the ambiguous morality of power politics in America and Israel. In this audaciously entertaining intellectual thriller, Neil Gordon brings the personal and political together with the mastery of a great storyteller.
From the Hardcover edition.
Fourteen years after her death, the ghost of their baby daughter, Sarah, haunts world-famous playwright Emmanuel Joyce and his fragile, embittered wife, Lillian. They have each learned to cope in their own way: Emmanuel seduces his secretaries and Lillian keeps photos of her lost child on the dressing table of every hotel they visit. They’re always on the move as they travel from city to city accompanied by Emmanuel’s orphaned, hero-worshipping manager, Jimmy. But now a minor crisis looms: Emmanuel’s latest secretary has taken a near-lethal dose of drugs on the eve of the Joyces’ departure for New York to cast his new play. They need to hire a replacement immediately. Enter stage right: Alberta Young.
A clergyman’s daughter from Dorset, Alberta arrives for the interview clutching a copy of Middlemarch. She is unlike anyone Emmanuel, Lillian, or Jimmy has ever known. And little by little, she will transform all their lives.
Narrated by four main characters, The Sea Change moves from London to New York to Athens and, finally, to the Greek island of Hydra. The bestselling author of the Cazalet Chronicles delivers a novel about learning to move beyond the past without giving up our memories, and how we can change and grow.
Schulze skillfully intercuts an assortment of moving and comic vignettes about seemingly unconnected people, gradually linking them into an exhilarating whole of tidal unity and emotional force, until we see that all the time we have been reading a novel in glittering fragments, spun by a master. With a piercing eye for detail and a magical ear for dialogue, Schulze portrays the tragi-comedy of ordinary people caught up in the last great historical upheaval of the century.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
British jazzman Leonard Lessing spent a memorable yet unsuccessful few days in Austin, Texas, trying to seduce a woman he fancied. During his stay, he became caught up in her messy life, which included a new lover, a charismatic but carelessly violent man named Maxie.
Eighteen years later, Maxie enters Leonard’s life again, but this time in England, where he is armed and holding hostages. Leonard must decide whether to sit silently by as the standoff unfolds or find the courage to go to the crime scene where he could potentially save lives. The lives of two mothers and two daughters—all strikingly independent and spirited—hang in the balance.
Set in Texas and the suburbs of England, All That Follows is a novel in which tender, unheroic moments triumph over the more strident and aggressive facets of our age.
It also provides moving and surprising insights into the conflict between our private and public lives and redefines heroism in this new century. It is a masterful work from one of Britain’s brightest literary lights.
From the Hardcover edition.
"Swift proves throughout this ambitious collection that he is a master of his language and the construction of provocative situations."--Houston Chronicle
Born attached at the chest, Chang and Eng were considered a marvel, an act of God. By any standard, theirs is a history of epic variety and drama. Mark Slouka recounts their tumultuous story, from the docks of Vietnam to American fame, with intimacy and compassion.
A Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and Dallas Morning News Best Book of the Year.
A chance phone call throws the biggest muder case in southern England into the hands of provincial attorney Leo Curtice. Twelve-year- old Daniel Blake stands accused of murdering an eleven-year-old girl. But who is truly responsible when one child kills another? As Curtice sets out to defend the indefensible, he soon finds himself pitted against an enraged community calling for blood. When the buildup of pressure takes a sinister turn, he fears for his wife and young daughter's safety. Must he choose between his family and the life of a damaged child? With piercing psychological insight, Lelic examines a community's response to a hideous crime.
Longlisted for the Crime Writers' Assocaition's Gold Dagger award fro Best Novel of the Year and the Steel Dagger for Best Thriller.
Seventeen-year-old Ming and twenty-four-year-old Yan have very little in common other than studying at the same college. Ming, idealistic and preoccupied, lives in her own world of books, music, and imagination. Yan, by contrast, is sexy but cynical, beautiful but wild, with no sense of home. When the two meet and become friends, Ming's world is forever changed. But their differences in upbringing and ideology ultimately drive them apart, leaving each to face her dark secret alone.
Insightful, sophisticated, and rich with complex characters, February Flowers captures a society torn between tradition and modernity, dogma and freedom. It is a meditation on friendship, family, love, loss, and redemption and how a background shapes a life.
But when Grace secretly applies to Candlin, a women’s college filled with intelligent, like-minded women, she finally feels her ambitions beginning to be take shape. There she forms an Antarctic Exploration Society with the gregarious suffragette Locke, the reserved and studious Hooper and the strange, enigmatic Parr, and before long the group are defying their times and their families by climbing the peaks of Snowdonia and planning an ambitious trip to the perilous Alps.
Fifteen years later, trapped in her Dulwich home, Grace is haunted by the terrible events that took place out on the mountains. She is the society’s only survivor and for years people have demanded the truth of what happened, the group’s horrible legacy a millstone around her neck. Now, as the eve of the Second World War approaches, Grace is finally ready to remember and to confess . . .
From one of the finest writers of the psychological thriller comes this beautifully woven, deeply unsettling historical novel; powerfully atmospheric, shivering with menace and reminiscent of the very best of Sarah Waters.
Harmony is a Las Vegas showgirl. At night she's a lead dancer in a gambling casino; during the day she raises peacocks. She's one of a dying breed of dancers, faced with fewer and fewer jobs and an even bleaker future. Yet she maintains a calm cheerfulness in that arid neon landscape of supermarkets, drive-in wedding chapels, and all-night casinos. While Harmony's star is fading, her beautiful, cynical daughter Pepper's is on the rise. But Harmony remains wistful and optimistic through it all. She is the unexpected blossom in the wasteland, the tough and tender desert rose. Hers is a loving portrait that only Larry McMurtry could render.
"A Simple Tale" is the moving account of Maria Poniatowski, an aging Ukrainian woman who was taken by the Germans for slave labor and eventually relocated to Canada as a displaced person. She struggles to provide her son Radek with every opportunity, but his eventual success increases the gulf between him and his mother. What of the past is she to preserve, and how to avoid letting the weight of that past burden the present? Maria's story is about the moments of connection and isolation that are common to us all.
"The Hunters," the second novella, is narrated by an American academic spending a summer in London who grows obsessed by the neighbors downstairs. Ridley Wandor, a plump and insipid caretaker of the elderly, lives with her ever-unseen mother and a horde of pet rabbits she calls "the hunters." While the narrator researches a book about death, all of Ridley Wandor's patients are dying. Loneliness breeds an active imagination. Is having such an imagination always destructive? Or can it be strong enough to create a new reality?
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Bazlo Criminale is one of Europe’s most legendary living men. A mysterious novelist and thinker known for his extreme elusiveness, the beloved Criminale is a cultural icon of the highest order. Seeking to find the man behind the myth, a London television-news station hires Francis Jay, an enterprising young reporter, to find Criminale. From Vienna to Budapest to the picturesque lakeshores of Italy, Jay journeys across the continent—and even briefly to Brazil—interviewing the man’s biographer, his publisher, and his former lover, all of whom have their own interests at stake. Through literary award dinners and other examples of “culture as spectacle,” Jay must navigate the chaotic world of post–Cold War Europe as he chases the specter of a literary legend.
In this dazzling collection, author Elizabeth Jane Howard mines the rich terrain of the heart with her trademark wit and style, as well as a Hitchcockian dose of spine-tingling suspense.
In “Pont du Gard,” a man on holiday with his sixteen-year-old daughter and her best friend gets his comeuppance when he confesses his infidelities to his long-suffering wife, and in Howard’s masterly hands, the seduction of the naïve, betrothed Englishwoman of “Toutes Directions” by a worldly Frenchman is fresh, tender, and liberating.
In another story, a twelve-year-old child star plots how to get the “Whip Hand” over her monstrous mother, while the effects of a family patriarch dying on Christmas day are shown through the shifting perspectives of his loved ones, including a loyal servant, in “The Devoted.” And in the hair-raising, hallucinatory title story, a young woman moves to London to satisfy her mother’s desire for her to meet her soul mate—only to encounter a menacing stranger who gives terrifying new meaning to the finding of Mr. Right.
In these and other tales, Howard proves once again that she is a master of the subtle, revealing domestic detail. Featuring wronged spouses, stalkers, and men and women falling in and out of love, the nine stories in this haunting collection skew our perceptions and reality while brimming with emotion that is at once unique and universal.
Every summer Isak Lövenstad gathers his three daughters by different wives to the windswept Baltic island of Hammarsö. Here Erika, Laura, and Molly find a sense of family and friendship, although nothing can match Erika's connection to the rebellious misfit Ragnar. But when an act of senseless cruelty separates them forever—and drives the sisters from the island in shame and regret—they must leave childhood and their growing relationships behind. Now, twenty-five years later, they return to visit their ailing father and confront the specter of that awful summer.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Based on a true story, Touching Distance is a stunning historical novel set in Scotland and the West Indies in the Age of Enlightenment. A vivid portrait of a pivotal moment in world history, it is also a universal tale of intimacy and estrangement, reason and passion, corruption and courage.
In 2009, Touching Distance was shortlisted for the McKitterick Prize and won the 2009 Medical Journalists' Association Open Book Award.
English author James Walker has three books to his name, each greeted with middling success and then promptly forgotten. But his résumé is significant enough to earn him a yearlong appointment at Benedict Arnold University as the American college’s writer in residence.
At Benedict Arnold, Walker is something of a celebrity—a firebrand of 1960s British literary culture whose work, though perhaps met with shrugs at home, is the subject of vibrant scholarly criticism among American academics. Walker, of course, is not quite what some were expecting, and culture clashes abound as he encounters the tropes of American academia in the sixties. Fusty, buttoned-up professors, spirited advocates of free love, and aggressively ambitious colleagues collide to ensure that Walker’s year in America will be anything but ordinary.
For readers of The Elegance of the Hedgehog and The Yacoubian Building, this is an atmospheric and unforgettable novel about the ties that bind.
Bartholomew Fortuno, the World's Thinnest Man, believes that his unusual body is a gift. Hired by none other than P. T. Barnum to work at his spectacular American Museum—a modern marvel of macabre displays, breathtaking theatrical performances, and live shows by Barnum's cast of freaks and oddities—Fortuno has reached the pinnacle of his career. But after a decade of constant work, he finds his sense of self, and his contentment within the walls of the museum, flagging. When a carriage pulls up outside the museum in the dead of night, bearing Barnum and a mysterious veiled woman—rumored to be a new performer—Fortuno's curiosity is piqued. And when Barnum asks Fortuno to follow her and report back on her whereabouts, his world is turned upside down. Why is Barnum so obsessed with this woman? Who is she, really? And why has she taken such a hold on the hearts of those around her?
Set in the New York of 1865, a time when carriages rattled down cobblestone streets, raucous bordellos near the docks thrived, and the country was mourning the death of President Lincoln, The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno is a moving novel about human appetites and longings. With pitch-perfect prose, Ellen Bryson explores what it means to be profoundly unique—and how the power of love can transcend even the greatest divisions.
Then a miracle appears: a string ensemble from Venice and, with it, a violinist named Gabriella Castoldi. Even though the worldly, beautiful musician seems incapable of giving her heart, love seizes Stephen Griffin ... unbidden and shaking every particle of his spirit.
Stephen's ailing father sees it and fears for his naive son. Nelly Grant, the green-grocer, predicted it and welcomes its sheer joy. Moses Mooney, the blind musician, has sensed its coming. None, however, can envision the depth and consequence of this union. For Gabriella will change not only Stephen's life but, in the deepest sense, the lives of everyone around them.
"As It Is In Heaven" evokes the magical essence of romance and its miraculous ability to grace even the darkest lifewith light. Splendidly crafted and charged with poignancy, it firmly establishes Niall Williams as a master storyteller in the grand tradition of Irish literature.
Here Kazuo Ishiguro advises on how to choose a guitar; Salman Rushdie arrives for Christmas under guard; Caryl Phillips shares a beer with the author at a nightclub in Toronto. There are private moments with Swift’s father and with his own younger self, as well as musings—on history, memory, and imagination—that illuminate his work. As generous in its scope as it is acute in its observations, Making an Elephant brings together a richly varied selection of essays, portraits, poetry and interviews, full of insights into Swift’s passions and motivations, and wise about the friends, family and other writers who have mattered to him over the years.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Meet Pat McNab, forty-five years old, and about to embark on a homicidal rampage sparked by matricide. Or is he?
Pat spent endless hours chain-smoking and propping up the counter of Sullivan's Select Bar (not that Mrs. McNab knew anything about it—she and Timmy the barman didn't get along at all) or sitting on his mother's knee singing away together like some ridiculous two-headed human jukebox. But that was all before the story really began—Emerald Germs of Ireland is in essence Pat McNab's post-matricide year.
Pat, who now spends many of his waking hours sitting by the window in his old dark house, watching videos and nibbling abstractedly on pieces of toast, reflects on those long-gone days with Mommy, while fending off the persistent interferences of his small-town neighbors: the puritanical Mrs. Tubridy; that irascible seller of turf, the Turf Man; Sgt. "Kojak" Foley, and other unwanted snoops who could soon come to regret their inquisitive, nose-poking ways.
This is Patrick McCabe at his fiendish best. Dark, emotionally powerful, and surreal, Emerald Germs of Ireland is also his funniest work to date, masterfully displaying the anarchic twists and turns that are the hallmarks of his comic genius.
What if the thing you most longed for was resting on a two week wait? From the author of the international bestselling One Moment, One Morning, comes a moving portrait about what it truly means to be a family.
After a health scare, Brighton-based Lou is forced to confront the fact that her time to have a baby is running out. She can't imagine a future without children, but her partner doesn't seem to feel the same way, and she's not sure whether she could go it alone.
Meanwhile, in Yorkshire, Cath is longing to start a family with her husband, Rich. No one would be happier to have children than Rich, but Cath is infertile.
Could these strangers help one another?
With her deft exploration of raw emotions and her celebration of the joy and resilience of friendship, The Two Week Wait is Sarah Rayner at her best.
Col. Herbert Brown-Lacy’s daughter, Alice, is getting married—more to escape her father than anything else. Though in truth Alice’s stepmother May has been nicer than her previous stepmother—and even her own mother. But May’s grown children, Oliver and Elizabeth, are certain their mother made a terrible mistake in her marriage to the dull-as-dishwater Herbert. May clearly didn’t marry him for his money or intellectual prowess—and at her age sex appeal was out of the question—so why did she marry him? That’s something May, whose first marriage ended in tragedy when her husband, Clifford, was killed during the war, is starting to wonder herself. Maybe she’s a woman who needs to be married.
With Oliver and Elizabeth in London discovering life on their own terms, Alice is also questioning her impulsive marriage to Leslie Mount. As crisis draws the disparate members of this patchwork family together—and apart—from the English countryside to the Cote d'Azur to Jamaica, a shocking occurrence will shatter lives.
From the bestselling author of the Cazalet Chronicles, Something in Disguise is a story about familial love, married love, love at first sight, and love that isn’t love at all.
At the height of World War II, while her husband, Julius, was away at the front, Esme, the mother of two young children, fell in love for the first time. Her lover, a poet named Felix, was fourteen years her junior. After Julius was killed during the evacuation from Dunkirk, Esme hoped that she and Felix would marry. Instead, Felix enlisted, and Esme never saw him again. Now, nearly twenty years later, they’re about to be reunited. But not in the way Esme imagined.
Past and present converge at Esme’s country house in Sussex where, during the course of one revelatory weekend, the far-reaching influence of the dead Julius begins to emerge. Narrated in turn by Esme; Felix; Esme’s daughters, Cressy and Emma; and Emma’s boyfriend, Daniel, the story moves seamlessly from one generation to the next as they all attempt to move on with their lives.
In the tradition of Jean Rhys and Rosamond Lehmann, Elizabeth Jane Howard’s wit, sensitivity, and unerring powers of observation are on dazzling display in this novel that explores the lingering impact of a heroic action on a soldier’s loved ones. With its timeless themes of courage, love, and loss, After Julius is a towering work of fiction from the bestselling author of the Cazalet Chronicles.
BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from James Salter's All That Is.