Ellyne's Past Picks 1

 

Ellyne's Staff Picks:

(Go back to my more recent Staff Picks here.)


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Marine Park: Stories Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780143124603
Availability: Special Order
Published: Penguin Books - July 29th, 2014

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Marine Park

Comments:

Marine Park, a name I recognized, sits on the edge of Brooklyn across the bay from the narrow tip of the Rockaway peninsula; beyond which is the Atlantic. This tight neighborhood is bared for us through the eyes and actions of two brothers, but the stories extend outward to include and focus on other denizens; occasionally in other states.

Some of the stories don't work as well as others, but the author is only 23 and his acuity at this age makes this book well worth reading.


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Duck & Goose Go to the Beach Cover Image
By Tad Hills, Tad Hills (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780385372350
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Schwartz & Wade Books - April 8th, 2014

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Duck and Goose Go to the Beach

Comments:
Duck and Goose go to the beach with Goose as the reluctant traveler. My favorite line: "I'll walk but I will not hike." They have a great day, but are very happy to be home again: isn't that the essence of a great vacation?


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All Our Names Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780345805669
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - January 6th, 2015

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: All Our Names

Comments:
Two intertwined love stories, each movingly illuminative.  Love is the theme that so well propels all of Mengestu's works, and in this, his latest work, he gives us another look at the bonds that hold us together throughout a lifetime.  This is a rich, easy to read story that certainly satisfies. 


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The Tiger-Skin Rug Cover Image
By Gerald Rose, Gerald Rose (Illustrator)
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ISBN: 9781408813027
Availability: Backordered
Published: Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children's Books - February 11th, 2014

Bookseller: Ellyne & Zazu!
Title: The Tiger-Skin Rug

Comments:
Did you know that in India, China and Tibet some people believe that tiger-skin rugs  protect them, especially when they''re sitting on one?  They don't even have to be actual tiger skins; they can have just a tiger design on a cloth rug.  

Here is a story about a tiger who really did protect a whole family.  I love the faces he makes!  That tiger is so funny.  Enjoy.


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Another Man's Moccasins: A Longmire Mystery Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780143115526
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - May 1st, 2009

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Another Man's Moccasins

Comments:
Set in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid's west, right near their hole-in-the-wall  hideout, this is a series that has some good elements reminiscent of other mystery series, but these well-written books have their own flavor.  A new mystery writer for me:  I put one down and I'm ready for another.  I hope you'll like Sheriff Walt Longmire, too.  Do start at the beginning with The Cold Dish.


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Every Day Is for the Thief: Fiction Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780812985856
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House Trade - March 3rd, 2015

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Every Day is for the Thief

Comments:
The thing about Teju Cole is that what he writes lingers. Suddenly, I'm back in the book with his nameless character - returning to Lagos; then in a lot there at the edge of town waiting for a delivery of school supplies. If they are delivered directly to the school people will know and they will be stolen. Throughout, there is the question of where to live and where to belong. Lagos, Nigeria? New York? Connected to Open City in character and emotional climate, and offering a unique look at life in Lagos, this is another excellent Teju Cole read.


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Redeployment Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780143126829
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Published: Penguin Books - February 24th, 2015

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Redeployment

Comments:
Phil Klay writes about what he knows, offering us a glimpse into the world of the military at war and at home. This is the first book that I've read that allowed me to understand why soldiers sign on for another year and another redeployment. Don't miss these short stories, heartfelt, well-written and incisive as they are.


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Dept. of Speculation Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780345806871
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Published: Vintage Books - October 7th, 2014

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Dept. of Speculation

Comments: I read this in one sitting.  I laughed; I pondered. Taking a cue from David Markson's brilliant "The Last Novel" (and who did he take his cue from?) (Rilke?), Ofill writes many short, keen passages and references big thinkers from Kafka to Keats.

 

Relationships, parenting, just being in the world: it's all here waiting for you to enjoy.


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Americanah Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780307455925
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Published: Anchor Books - March 4th, 2014

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Americanah

Comments:
A fluid, well-paced story that will leave you thinking in a more enlightened way about race in America. Hair is a topic that runs through this book about a Nigerian woman who never thought about being black until she came to the U.S. It starts off in a hair salon and then goes back and forth in time and place - but in a very followable way.

This book is about race, but more than that, it's a good novel as much about love and relationships as anything else.


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Warning: Do Not Open This Book! Cover Image
By Adam Lehrhaupt, Matthew Forsythe (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9781442435827
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books - August 27th, 2013

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Warning: Do Not Open This Book!

Comments:
Coming Soon!!


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Little Failure Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780812982497
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Published: Random House Trade - October 7th, 2014

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Little Failure

Comments:
Gary Shteingart's memoir is funny, sad, and hopeful; and that combination in the hands of a really good writer makes for a lovely and thought-provoking read. Lovely is an odd word to use here, but this is about a son learning to act independently of his parents, his father in particular; about an immigrant remembering his childhood in another country; and the roughness of the road to Americanization. Throughout, even if he is describing - what can I say? Not the best behavior? - he does it with poignancy, humor, and a great deal of love for the people he is writing about. So, a lovely and loving memoir. And don't forget funny.


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The Apartment Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9781455548361
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Twelve - November 18th, 2014

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: The Apartment

Comments:
Alienated American moves to European city, makes a friend who happens to be a woman, and with her help, looks for an apartment. That's the deceptively simple arc to the story in this almost-novella, where the layers of information that build the real fabric of the book are tauntingly revealed. The writing is good and the characters and their stories grow on one and make a more-than-enjoyable afternoon read.


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Thank You for Your Service Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781250056023
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador USA - September 23rd, 2014

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Thank You for Your Service

Comments:
Another devastating book from David Finkel. That doesn't mean we shouldn't read it; just the opposite. What is amazing about Finkel is how he lets events and people speak for themselves, acting as a conduit rather than an arbiter. I think you'll be surprised by some of what you read, but surprising or not this is a book to which attention should be given.


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The Goldfinch Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780316055437
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little Brown and Company - October 22nd, 2013

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Goldfinch

Comments:
I read the whole thing, and really that was no big deal (although, ok, some parts could have been edited a bit). So, lit light with an engrossing plot and absolutely terrific, fabulous rendering of a character: Boris is the work of art in this story about art and life. There are other good characters- the narrator, of course- but Boris makes the book.

The perfect book to come home to on nights that begin earlier and earlier as we move into winter.


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The Lowland Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780307278265
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage Books - June 17th, 2014

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: The Lowland

Comments:
You'll find all of the Lahiri hallmarks here: beautiful prose, a storyline that jumps the continents portraying all points from India to Rhode Island believabley, and characters that age spot-on with appropriate emotion and development. If you are a Lahiri fan, you'll dive in and enjoy; if you haven't read her before, please begin with the Interpretor of All Maladies and then keep reading until you arrive at this moment in her writing life.


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Someone Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781250055361
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador USA - October 7th, 2014

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Someone

Comments:
I read Someone in two gulps, disappearing completely into McDermott's effortless writing. Nothing showy here; just the pure joy of reading about life as it was lived from 7 to 70-something. Call it a "coming-of-age-and -then-some" book, with the emphasis on the "then-some".

Alice McDermott is one of my favorite contemporary writers. I've waited 7 years for this book, and it was worth the wait.


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& Sons Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780812984354
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House Trade - May 27th, 2014

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: & Sons

Comments:
Here is a writer who can play with words & plots & people, including his readers, all the while juggling serious themes that can go under F-word headings like Fathers, Filial loyalty, Fame, & Friendship. I enjoyed reading "& Sons"; enjoyed the writing and the story; enjoyed having to say "wait a minute!" and then realizing that the author was looking at me, shrugging and grinning. It's a good read. Enjoy.


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A Marker to Measure Drift Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780345803863
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage Books - June 3rd, 2014

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: A Marker to Measure Drift

Comments:
The slow-but-steady rhythm of this book may discourage some; those that read on will be rewarded by the author's prose and his story; will, if you will, drift; will feel time moving at the pace that its main character, Jacqueline, feels it move. Maksik made me feel so at one with this protagonist that I could feel the ground under her as she slept, and taste the food that she ate. The story, however, is hers alone: penniless and lost in all senses, she struggles with her past and present. The subject matter is serious; the writing splendid. A book worth reading.


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Between Shades of Gray Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9780142420591
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Published: Speak - April 3rd, 2012

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Between Shades of Gray

Comments:
Like to watch "Survivor"? If so, how about reading a story based on the real-life experiences of hundreds of thousands of people from Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia caught up in Stalin's cleansing of the Baltic region. They were taken from their homes and, in this story, sent to the farthest reaches of Siberia. Those who survived the trip- and many did not- lived in unbelievably harsh conditions with scant food, clothing, or shelter. I cannot imagine how cold it was, that makes reading 15-year-old Lina's story both scary and exciting at the same time.

Would you have survived? I don't know if I would have! This is a really good read.


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Mr. Fox Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781594486180
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Published: Riverhead Books - November 6th, 2012

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Mr. Fox

Comments:

When one reached a certain point in life one knows that there is no new story under the sun. One can only hope to find smething that is retold well and inventively. That is why I am so happy to have discovered this delightful novel by Helen Oyeyemi which was published a couple of years ago. Not only does it retell the blue-beard myth, it also riffs on it, and on the tale of Reynardine and on other myths, many, many times as the three main characters appear and reappear in an ongoing story of love anbd art. Mr. Fox is a writer in whose stories the women are always killed; MAry Foxe, who challenges him to write a story where the woman does not die, is his muse; and Daphne, who searches for her place in all this, is his wife.

This is an incredibly clever and charming look at the process of writing and creating; the power and life of words. And, of course, at relaitonships. It may confuse in the beginning but I urge you toride the wave. Eventually you will catch it and go with it right to the end with no regrets.


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Ten Rules for Living with My Sister Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9781250010216
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Square Fish - September 4th, 2012

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Ten Rules for Living with My Sister

Comments:
It's difficult living with a sister who is a teenager, not to mention living with parents and a grandfather. That's Pearl's life- and it is wonderful to read about it. Sometimes a bit suspenseful, sometimes funny (laugh-out-loud) and always heartfelt.


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Bobcat & Other Stories Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781616201739
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Algonquin Books - June 11th, 2013

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Bobcat and Other Stories

Comments:
The characters in these stories are so appealing, especially the student in "The Banks of the Vistula"; but then there was "Slatland" and "Min" and "World Party", as well. I liked what this writer did with the people she created in these interesting tales; a good collection of easy-to-read stories that will leave you smiling, but smiling ruefully.


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A Constellation of Vital Phenomena Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780770436421
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Published: Hogarth Press - February 4th, 2014

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

Comments:
I turned down page corner after page corner so that I could reread Marra's sumptuos sentences. This is not only a beautifully written book, but on that is beautifully conceived, taking us into the past, present, and future of the fully-realized characters that inhabit this war-torn Chechnian landscape. It marries heart with writing ability - a rare combination - for a great and highly recommended read.


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The Son Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062120403
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ecco Press - January 28th, 2014

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: The Son

Comments:
The Dallas Morning News hated this look at Texas. It particularly hated the "tedious encyclopedic descriptions of details ranging from the workaday world of Comanche life to the mechanics of oil drilling." I particularly loved the encyclopedic descriptions of Comanche life. Chapters cycle between generations of one family, and I hated moving on to the next generation (though those chapters were good too).

One can't help but think of those authors who in their novels have been able to capture America: Dreiser and Dos Passos, Norris and Ferber. I'm not sure that Meyer is their equal, but I do appreciate his efforts to portray America; although his observations are not limited to country or state. A good beach read, for sure.


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The Woman Upstairs Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780307743763
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage Books - February 4th, 2014

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: The Woman Upstairs

Comments:
The gift of piggy-backing on someone else's drive and fearlessness; finding and acting on your own creative juices; and then... you have to read Messud's emotionally gripping novel to see what happens to a single, 40-year-old good girl whose life is impacted by one of her students and his family. The author is masterful in creating both plot and characters. A unique and provocative read.


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The Story of a Life Cover Image
$14.00
ISBN: 9780805211269
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Published: Schocken Books Inc - August 8th, 2006

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: The Story of a Life

Comments:
This is a moving and beautifully written book in which one of Israel's most distinguished writers tells of his pre-war, war, and post-war experiences. It is not hyperbole to say nothing I could write would do this memoir justice.

At this time of year - around Holocaust Rememberance Day - I always read a Holocaust related book. Aharon Appelfeld's book practically fell into my hands, where I will always hold it in wonder.


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Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948 Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780062030344
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Published: Harper Perennial - February 19th, 2013

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Prague Winter

Comments:
The Jewish heritage of Medeleine Albright's family was "outed" when she was Secretary of State. She didn't know about her heritage. Actually, many who survived WWII chose not to speak about their war experiences and pre-war lives. What Albright seeks to and succeeds in exploring is how the war crept up on Czechoslovakia and how it was caught in the middle; the part her father had in making history; and her family's wartime experience.

Albright was very young during the war and her story reflects that as well as her life as a diplomat - in its controlled, somewhat detached emotionality. It is the detachment that gives this history/memoir its edge: how can she be so detached? Given who she is, how can she not be?


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Dear Life Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780307596888
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - November 13th, 2012

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Dear Life

Comments:
Many liken Munro's stories to miniature novels, but then all really good short stories are miniature novels; and all of Munro's stories are really good. Those in this collection are no exception. Her prose is simple, lean, and beautiful. Here lives are full of poignant longing; you may recognize yourself in a particular stroke of this writer's pen.

This book by the 81-year-old author ends with four autobiographical pieces - "thought not entirely so," she tells us. They will give you an appetite for more Alice Munro stories - autobiographical or not. Let's hope she keeps writing.


The Tree House Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781590788066
Availability: Special Order
Published: Lemniscaat USA - May 1st, 2010

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: The Tree House


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Going Underground Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781599909196
Availability: Special Order
Published: Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children's Books - September 4th, 2012

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Going Underground


Comments:

He's a good kid, but he's a 14-year-old teenager, so wired to make mistakes. But is sending his 13-year-old girlfriend (14 in two weeks) a picture of himself naked, and receiving on from her. a mistake or an illegal act?

This book is about Del and what happened to him. Read it and find out the answer: A mistake or an illegal act?


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This Is How You Lose Her Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781594631771
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - September 3rd, 2013

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: This Is How You Lose Her


Comments:

Oh, these stories are wonderful. Once again Junot Diaz manages to infuse his work with a pure, visceral energy. Yunior is back (narrated Oscar Wao) bringing with him the angst of a macho-immigrant-Dominican man. The stories may be testosterone driven, but the content is rich with compassion for the characters. Yunior, his parents and his brother, Rafa figure in all but one story, together with a host of women who pass in and out of their lives.

The one story that focuses on a woman - Yasmin, who works in a hospital laundry and is in a relationship with a married man whose wife lives in the DR - shows how skillfully this author can present an entirely different perspective and how gender sensitive he really is. Read these stories and enjoy.


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Rules of Civility Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143121169
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - June 26th, 2012

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Rules of Civility

Comments:
"This is a flesh-and-blood tale you believe in, with fabulous period detail. It's all too rare to find a fun, glamorous, semi-literary tale to get lost in." That quote is from the Guardian's review and about sums up my feelings. This is one of those visual books; you can see the movies while you read. I confess, I love the 1930s film that this story reminds me of, the ones had some depth wrapped in sparkling gossamer.

It was great fun to read and to listen to, too. That is to say that when I left the car, I didn't want to leave the story; so in addition to the audio, I got a copy of the book. I opened it here and there and read prtions that I had already heard and then continued reading. This is the "perfect" lighter read, well written. A good read.


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Open City Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780812980097
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House Trade - January 17th, 2012

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Open City

Comments:
We are in step with Julius, Teju Cole's protangonist, as he lives his solitary life, despite his many interactions - visiting his old professor, friends current and past, and chance meetings with strangers. The conversations are rich and thoughtful as a life unfolds; as your life could unfold, or mine, with observation, loss, friendship and past actions that reappear to haunt.

I closed this book filled with respect for the author's intelligence and breadth of knowledge, his wonderful writing and his ability to make me think about and feel deeply for his characters. Books like this don't come along that often, so enjoy.


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Binocular Vision: New & Selected Stories Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780982338292
Availability: Special Order
Published: Lookout Books - February 11th, 2011

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Binocular Vision

Comments:
About a year ago a customer whose reading preferences coincide with mine told me to read Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman. The bedside pile, however, was as tall as a year, so I am just now passing this recommendation on to you. After reading the first story I needed to wait a bit before starting the second. It was just so rich. Same for the second and the third, but after the fourth story - well, it was like eating potato chips: I just couldn't stop.

Each story reflects this author's ability to create whole worlds and lives that feel so real; and she does this with grace, and with compassion for our very human frailties. Don't miss this one, even if you usually shy away from short stories.


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Istanbul Passage Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781439156414
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Atria Books - May 29th, 2012

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Istanbul Passage

Comments:
A well-written, intelligent, post World War II thriller with realized characters and a genuine moral dilemma. What more could anyone want?


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The Good Father Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780385535533
Availability: Special Order
Published: Doubleday - March 20th, 2012

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: The Good Father

Comments:
This may be a story of cause and effect, but it is also a chronicle of a certain type of violence in America. Is this father responsible for his son's actions - shooting a beloved presidential candidate - or does some responsibility fall on life in America? A catalog of violent role models runs through the book like a refrain, assassination attempt after assassination attempt, with notable successes.

The characters are thoughtful and sincere and the pages turn rapidly as the plot, paths taken by father and son, unfolds. A riveting read.


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Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781400067558
Availability: Special Order
Published: Random House - February 7th, 2012

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Behind the Beautiful Forevers

Comments:
Have you ever boon to a performance or movie where, at the end, the audience is stunned into silence? That's how I felt after finishing this book. Beautifully written and fully realized, it will leave you reeling. Boo follows several families and individuals, a few of the 3000 people living in 335 huts or any number of other places outside in the Annawadi slum. Many collect garbage to sell to recyclers. All work to lift themselves out of Annawadi, often at a cost to their fellow slum dwellers.

Boo's investigatory thoroughness is more and more apparent the further into the book one gets, but her often lyrical writing elevates this beyond the reportorial. There is so much important information and emotion to sift through that to catalog would be to demean. This is a book that will stay with you.


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The Grief of Others Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781594486128
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - September 4th, 2012

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: The Grief of Others

Comments:
Families are families. Even when they like each other, loving and relating one to another is difficult. Here is such a family, with its attendant secrets, regrets and longings, suffering through, and perhap recovering from, a tragic event. I liked each character;found myself looking forward to spending time with each. That would be enough of a recommendation, but here the writing is excellent (the description of the mother, Ricky, holding her baby is breathtaking), and the issues are illuminated in this dark, but rich story.


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Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman Cover Image
$40.00
ISBN: 9780679456728
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House - November 8th, 2011

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Catherine the Great

Comments:
Non-fiction paced to read like a novel replete with eccentric characters, wars, rebellions, plagues, and a coup d'etat; who could ask for anything more? Me. I'm embarrassed to say that I wanted a little bit more from the book. But don't let that stop you; it was still a fascinating read about a woman who knew what she wanted, and went after it. Catherine as enlightened ruler? As scholar? As collector of art, philosophers, and lovers? All of the above, and more. The geopolitics resonated; and if you thought Potemkin was the name of a ship in a movie, this book will give you the backstory. Really, it was a fascinating read. I guess I wanted a 1,200 page book. Silly me.


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The Sense of an Ending Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780307957122
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Alfred A. Knopf - October 5th, 2011

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: The Sense of an Ending

Comments:
My initial response to Julian Barnes's new book was: Delicious. I was eager to continue reading, and a good read it was: thoughtful and thought provoking, at least for those of us who have amassed memories that throw us back 30 or 40 years. Seriously, if you are 30 now, how will you understand the pathos of looking back and perhaps seeing things from a different perspective, realizing that you have had it all wrong for how long? What are the memories we live with? Truths that make us who we are or stories that we write about ourselves? Here is a little story with many layers and much to think about. There is an odd moment or two that doesn't quite ring true, but other moments are so evocative and resonant that I was thankful to Barnes for this examination of that "sense of an ending."


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This Beautiful Life Cover Image
$13.99
ISBN: 9780062024398
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - February 7th, 2012

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: This Beautiful Life

Comments:
The method is modern, an emailed sex video, but the action is ancient: a teenager in a split second makes an error in judgment that causes ramifications. The setting is Manhattan's upper financial stratosphere, but because teenagers are everywhere and the threads that hold family together are subject to many of the same strains no matter where, the story is imaginable and believable.

This book was well reviewed in the New York Times, but please don't read the review: what a spoiler! Instead, just read the book. And then read the young adult novel, Going Underground (out mid September, 2011) about a 17-year-old boy whose experimentation with sexting when he was 14 led to his being registered as a sex offender - for the rest of his life.


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Travels in Siberia Cover Image
$22.00
ISBN: 9780312610609
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador USA - September 27th, 2011

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Travels in Siberia

Comments:
I took a fascinating trip to Siberia with Ian Frasier. Learned about driving on ice and the Trans-Siberian Railway; about migrating east to escape Stalin, or being sent by him to the Gulag. Met a lot of people, ate interesting food, and camped out some.

Sometimes Ian got testy and wanted to go home. I appreciated his honesty because all trips are like that, aren't they? But then there is the excitement of experiencing the unknown: Ekaterinburg, Ulan Ude, Skorvorodina, Irkutsk and Yakutsk (the former a stop on the Trans-Siberian Railway; the latter in the deep of Siberia).

Had a great time. Wish you had been there? Here's your opportunity.


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Vaclav & Lena Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780812981636
Availability: Special Order
Published: Dial Press - February 7th, 2012

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Vaclav and Lena

Comments:
Here are Vaclav and Lena, who will draw you into their love story and then leave you thinking of them in Russian-cadenced English. That's how good Haley Tanner is at recreating their Brighton Beach, a place Russian immigrants have made their own. She creates characters that accurately and gracefully reflect the immigrant experience: I loved Vaclav's mother and how she expressed her concerns.

Speaking of beaches (Brighton), this would be a great beach read. Hide under your hat and take a wonderful voyage with Vaclav the Magician and his lovely assistant, Lena.

Enjoy.


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Lord of Misrule Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780307946737
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - March 8th, 2011

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Lord of Misrule

Comments:
The true star of Jaimy Gordon's book is her lush and luscious language. Enter a space where syntax is redefined and no word is without import; I fell in love with "anymany," wouldd like to roll it off my tongue many times a day. The story floats up between the words; suddenly there are realized characters, plot and place, Indian Mound Downs, a two-bit race course in West Virginia. Most happenings revolve around Maggie, who arrives with Tom, a flawed man with big dreams. But here, as everywhere, everyone is flawed. Medicine Ed, a 72-year-old black groom, will stand out; but then there are so many (but not too many) wonderful characters, including the horses, that effortlessly move the plot.

The best recommendation I can give is to tell you that I am moving on to other books Gordon has written, beginning with "She Drove Without Stopping." Writers this good don't come along that often.


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The Man from Saigon Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780307472168
Availability: Special Order
Published: Anchor Books - March 8th, 2011

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: The Man from Saigon

Comments:
Not for the first time, a war story, a love story, and a story about loss of innocence; but I think this one is beautifully written and deftly paced. Vietnam is the place, with the descriptions of the jungle, the napalm strikes, the choppers, of everything, bringing the intensity of the moment to life. I could not help thinking that in years to come someone will write a book like this with incredible descriptions of stark desert landscapes, IEDs and all the rest.

Still, I was gripped, cared about the characters - and recommend this read.


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The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis Cover Image
$23.00
ISBN: 9780312655396
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador USA - October 26th, 2010

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis

Comments:
A true story: How I became a member of the Lydia Davis Fan Club. I bought this book for my best friend who lives in New Mexico. I had read a few of the stories and thought the book a perfect gift. Then, every time a copy passed by my desk I would read a story. Then I got the book for myself and read 2 stories, randomly chosen, that knocked my socks off. Then I immediately called my friend and left a message telling her to read the story on page ; we could, I said, have our own book club. Then she left me a message saying that was a great idea. Then we both got very busy and forgot to talk about the stories when we spoke. Then, next call, we talked about how we had forgotten to talk about the stories, but that Lydia Davis was such an incredible writer; I said that I always feel that she has gotten right into my head and my friend said that the stories, long or short, are masterfully crafted and beautifully realized. Then we decided that we were more suited to be a fan club than a book club. I still get and leave messages; they still say, read the one on page __ .

Read a few stories, join the fan club.


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How to Read the Air Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9781594485398
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - October 4th, 2011

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: How To Read the Air

Comments:
Dinaw Mengestu is a born storyteller; or perhaps, in this instance, he was born into a story for it is said that two of the four characters in this book take the path that his own parents took, from Africa to the midwest with stops in between. So there is the story, and then there are the stories that all of the characters tell about their lives, or make up about their lives and about the lives of the other characters; and all of these stories woven together, with one story impacting the next, make a wonderful book.

Make no mistake: this is a work of fiction with graceful writing, a poignant and substantive tale; realized characters; this is a really good read.


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The Appointment Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780312420543
Availability: Special Order
Published: Picador USA - September 7th, 2002

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: The Appointment

Comments:
Muller, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2009, sets this stream of consciousness novel in her native country, Romania, while it was under Ceausescu's rule.

The internal monologue jumps from the protagonist's "here and now" - a bus trip to an appointment with a secret police interrogator that is filled with musings about fellow riders - to an assortment of disjointed memories, the happenings that make a life: how she met her boyfriend, her relationship with her boss at the factory where she works, the life of her ex-inlaws; so many stories, so much bleakness masterfully rendered by this writer.

One thing is clear: nothing is as it seems; there is no such thing as solid ground, everything shifts; betrayal is the only truth. And fruit; watch out for the fruit; it's everywhere: from apricots whose pits seem to pulsate to peaches, cherries, watermelon, and ,of course, plums, the fruit that figures in the title of another of Muller's books.


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Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide Cover Image
$29.95
ISBN: 9780307267146
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - September 8th, 2009

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Half the Sky

Comments:
In its totality this book empowers rather than depresses.

Yes, there are terrible man-against-man stories, most of which are actually man-against-woman (or women) stories; and there is the factual as well - statistics, etc. However, it is the accretion of information showing how women not only "holdup half the sky" (a quote from Mao), but how successful they are at building the worlds below that sky that makes this book a must read.

The book ends with a list of organizations that focus on helping women and that allow those who donate to feel connected, to feel they are equally helping and being helped by women all over the world.


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The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel Cover Image
By Amy Hempel, Rick Moody (Introduction by)
$18.00
ISBN: 9780743291637
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner Book Company - September 18th, 2007

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel

Comments:
I've just finished reading Amy Hempel's award-winning collection of short stories and think you should read it, too. She can be a minimalist, with some stories only a few paragraphs; but she can also delight with a 50-page story. Her work is rampant with black humor; she works her words. She'll zing you at least once a story with a "slap-upside-the-head" thought - she sees too much for comfort. She sets great store by animals, especially dogs.

This is the kind of book that is perfect to carry around. Pull it out while on line at the bank or the supermarket and it will spin you around; everything will be differently shaded.

Ah, the short story, where less is more often more.


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After This Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780385334693
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Dial Press - September 25th, 2007

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: After This

Comments:
Alice McDermott's novel, After This, is almost elegiac in tone, ripe with the loss of innocence to come. At its broadest, it depicts the coming-of-age of an entire generation of Americans; but the focus is on the Irish-American Keane family; how they came to be and their journey into the unknown future.

An almost-old-maid and a soldier recently returned from WW II meet in Manhattan-at Schrafts!-and eventually marry and make that upwardly mobile move to the suburbs of Long Island. As the children arrive, two boys and two girls, we find ourselves with both curiousity and trepidation, wondering how this family will transition from the 50s comfort of church and close-knit community to the turbulent 60s. The country's naivete is laid bare as the eldest goes off to serve in Vietnam; and the oldest daughter studies in England, evoking Henry James' inncocent abroad.

McDermott leaves us with a novel so visual it keeps replaying in my mind, scene after scene, so well drawn with language so elegant that I am, we all are, part of this family as the trevails of every-day life unfold.


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Theft: Stories Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780316001861
Availability: Special Order
Published: Back Bay Books - March 25th, 2008

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Theft

Comments:
These five long short stories, one really a novella, are wonderfully engrossing and surprising in breadth, spanning the continents as they do and transporting us, on many levels, to parts unknown. Koenings' characters are richly crafted, real people - even the occultists who people "Wondrous Strange," a perfect story that will leave you smiling and sated. This is a rich book, with graceful writing that is a pleasure to read.

 


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The Keep Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781400079742
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Anchor Books - July 10th, 2007

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: The Keep

Comments:
I'm not a huge fan of gothic/neo gothic novels, but this was such an entertaining, sustaining read that I barely thought of it as gothic. Though there is a castle replete with twisting tunnels, a mysterious baroness, and a splash of surrealism, it is the characters that make this work resonate. So well limned are they that I know I must have been on line next to one of them somewhere, sometime. Certainly, I cared about them and was grateful to Jennifer Egan for holding them and her story so tightly, right up to the end.


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Brooklyn Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781439148952
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner Book Company - March 2nd, 2010

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Brooklyn

Comments:

Colm Toibin is such a fine writer, this book so quiet in its delivery, that it takes one by surprise. What seems a simple story of a girl in post WWII Ireland having to immigrate to the US because there is no work for her at home is actually a vehicle for examining the consequences of being submissive and of families communicating below the surface; of what happens to the past when one lives in the present, of what happens when Eilis (eye-lish)- even her name is quiet- is ushered forward to create a life in brooklyn.

I won't say more about the story. Read it and enjoy.