88 posts tagged with fiction.
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Book: The Big Door Prize
Deerfield, Louisiana, is a sleepy small town like any other until the mysterious DNAMIX machine appears at the local grocery store. Deposit $2 and a DNA swab, and the machine spits out a ticket displaying the user's potential. Who can resist? Even as residents discover their callings, the past returns for a history teacher, a grieving student, and a Catholic priest. How people navigate hope, pursue change, and reckon with choices are the heart of M.O. Walsh's sweet and cozy novel, The Big Door Prize (2020). [more inside]
Book: The Steerswoman
Steerswomen, and a very few Steersmen, are members of an order dedicated to discovering and disseminating knowledge. Although they are foremost navigators of the high seas, Steerswomen are also explorers and cartographers upon land as well as sea. With one exception, they are pledged to always answer any question put to them with as truthful a response as is possible within their own limitations. However, they also require anyone of whom they ask questions to respond in the same manner, upon penalty of the Steerswomen's ban; those under the ban do not receive answers from the steerswomen. [more inside]
Book: The Survivalists: A Novel
"In the wake of her parents’ death, Aretha, a habitually single Black lawyer, has had only one obsession in life—success—until she falls for Aaron, a coffee entrepreneur. Moving into his Brooklyn brownstone to live along with his Hurricane Sandy-traumatized, illegal-gun-stockpiling, optimized-soy-protein-eating, bunker-building roommates, Aretha finds that her dreams of making partner are slipping away, replaced by an underground world, one of selling guns and training for a doomsday that’s maybe just around the corner" (Penguin Random House). [more inside]
Book: The Deluge by Stephen Markley
In the first decades of the 21st century, the world is convulsing, its governments mired in gridlock while a patient but unrelenting ecological crisis looms. America is in upheaval, battered by violent weather and extreme politics. In California in 2013, Tony Pietrus, a scientist studying deposits of undersea methane, receives a death threat. His fate will become bound to a stunning cast of characters—a broken drug addict, a star advertising strategist, a neurodivergent mathematician, a cunning eco-terrorist, an actor turned religious zealot, and a brazen young activist named Kate Morris, who, in the mountains of Wyoming, begins a project that will alter the course of the decades to come. [more inside]
Book: The Measure
What would you do if everybody on the planet woke up one morning with the ability to know how long they will live? Would you even want to know? In "The Measure," that happens, and the book follows eight NYC residents as they grapple with the ramifications of that knowledge. Along the way, the book addressees some truly interesting questions, such as if you are 30 and know you will die at 42, is it selfish to marry and have children? If you are 30 can you marry somebody you know will die at 42? It also dives into the government response, and it's just as bad as you expect. I read this book in 3 nights, staying up late each night before forcing myself to put it down and go to sleep.
Book: Women Talking
"The Canadian writer Miriam Toews opens her astonishing eighth novel, Women Talking, with a matter-of-fact Author's Note. Between 2005 and 2009, she explains, eight men in a remote Mennonite colony in Bolivia raped many of the girls and women in their community, first rendering them unconscious with cow anesthetic. Women Talking is "both a reaction through fiction to these true-life events, and an act of female imagination." It is also a work of deep moral intelligence, a master class in ethics beautifully dressed as a novel. And, surprisingly given the title, Women Talking is narrated by a man." [more inside]
Movie: F for Fake
Documents the lives of infamous fakers Elmyr de Hory and Clifford Irving. De Hory, who later committed suicide to avoid more prison time, made his name by selling forged works of art by painters like Picasso and Matisse. Irving was infamous for writing a fake autobiography of Howard Hughes. Welles moves between documentary and fiction as he examines the fundamental elements of fraud and the people who commit fraud at the expense of others.
Book: The Kaiju Preservation Society
Jamie Gray is miserably working as a deliverator for füdmüd in the early days of COVID quarantine in New York City. A chance encounter with an old acquaintance gets Jamie on an interesting new career path: doing odd jobs at a secret base on an alternate Earth, helping scientists who are studying -- and helping protect -- kaiju.
Book: The School for Good Mothers
Jessamine Chan's debut novel, The School for Good Mothers, is the deeply unsettling story of how Frida Liu's bad parenting day turns into a court-mandated year in an experimental rehabilitation program for bad mothers. But this program is...different. Total surveillance. Public self-criticism. And dolls, sentient AI beings, to detect a mother's "stress, fear, ingratitude, deception, boredom, ambivalence...how often she makes eye contact, the quality and authenticity of her emotions." Say it with me: I am a bad mother, but I am learning to be good. Again, please. AGAIN. [more inside]
Book: The Lost Apothecary
This book was my prize from the white elephant book exchange at a Christmastime book club meeting. The story bounces back and forth between early 1800s London, where the secret apothecary exists to help women rid themselves of abusive or cheating husbands, and modern day London, where 30-something Caroline is rediscovering her love of history on a solo 10th anniversary trip that her husband missed because he was cheating on her. It's a really fun and well paced suspense story that will keep you interested until the last page as the historical story unravels while Caroline closes in on understanding what happened, 200 years later. It's also a story of a woman reconnecting with the things that bring passion to her life, while coming to terms with her decision to junk it all 10 years ago to get married.
Book: Devil House by John Darnielle
A true-crime writer begins a new book project, centered on a grisly 1986 double murder in southern California, that leads him to question the ethics of his trade and to delve into the paradoxes of storytelling itself. [more inside]
When an elderly customer at a Swedish big box furniture store ― but not that one ― slips through a portal to another dimension, it’s up to two minimum-wage employees to track her across the multiverse and protect their company’s bottom line. Multi-dimensional swashbuckling would be hard enough, but those two unfortunate souls broke up a week ago.
Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet's exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence-a commodity capable of unlocking humanity's greatest potential-only those who can conquer their fear will survive.
Book: The Lincoln Highway
The bestselling author of A Gentleman in Moscow and Rules of Civility and master of absorbing, sophisticated fiction returns with a stylish and propulsive novel set in 1950s America. [more inside]
Book: Beautiful World, Where Are You
Beautiful World, Where Are You is a new novel by Sally Rooney, the bestselling author of Normal People and Conversations with Friends. [more inside]
Book: Black Buck
Black Buck is a how-to manual for succeeding in sales, wrapped up in a brutal satire of start up tech culture, with a heavy dose of racial commentary disguised as satire. I say disguised because a lot of what our young sales star Darren experiences in the book seems completely absurd to me. But I’m a white dude. I expect most black people would just be nodding their heads thinking, yep, been there done that. I can't imagine this not being in my top 5 book list at the end of the year.
Book: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
"Addie LaRue was born in France at the very end of the 17th century — but no one remembers that. No one, that is, except for Addie herself and the devil she makes a deal with to escape an unwanted marriage and an ordinary life." (NPR Review) [more inside]
Podcast: The Left Right Game: Complete Series
Alice Sharma (voiced by Tessa Thompson) is an idealistic young journalist trying to make a name for herself by following a group of paranormal explorers, obsessed with a seemingly harmless pastime known as the Left/Right Game. The journey takes her into a supernatural world that she and the other members of the expedition can neither handle nor survive. [more inside]
Book: Big Girl, Small Town
A young working-class woman named Majella navigates a constrained life in Northern Ireland sometime after "peace broke out" in Ireland in the nineties. Some things distinguish her from her fellows: she's not social at all, she's unusually sensitive to sensory input, and her grandmother was just murdered. [more inside]
Convenience Store Woman, Sayaka Murata's first novel to be translated from Japanese to English, received glowing reviews for its portrayal of a woman who rejects the values of her family-oriented social class and finds her niche working in a convenience store. Now comes Earthlings. As one reviewer puts it:" The two books might be seen as siblings, though Earthlings would definitely be the evil twin." [more inside]
Book: Swords in the Mist
Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser discuss the tension between wage labor and freedom. Fafhrd finds religion. The Mouser tries his hand at career a in organized crime and gets bumped up into a supervisory role. They make a detour from Nehwon to explore the Levant. They see more of Ningauble's ocular organs than anyone should be comfortable with. [more inside]
Written by Neal Stephenson and published in 1999. Two groups of characters, one from the late thirties and forties and one in the then present-day ~1999 (a few who are descendants of the earlier group) involve themselves with codes, codebreaking, and Axis war gold, among other things. [more inside]
Book: Axiom's End
First contact happens in the year 2007. Cora Sabino, a college dropout and daughter of a famous whistleblower, unwillingly ends up in the center of it all, acting as an interpreter for the aliens.
Book: Don Quixote
Written by Miguel de Cervantes and published in two parts, first in 1605 and then in 1615, this is the story of Don Quixote, a knight-errant, and his squire, peasant Sancho Panza. Except errantry is out of style by the time Quixote begins his series of expeditions. The jury is still out on if this is fodder for great tragedy or great comedy. [more inside]
Book: Ducks, Newburyport
Ducks, Newburyport is a 2019 novel by British author Lucy Ellmann which won the 2019 Goldsmiths Prize and was shortlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize. The bulk of the book is a very long, digressive, free-associative stream-of-consciousness in the mind of a forty-something mother-of-four in small-town post-Trump, pre-pandemic Ohio. [more inside]
Avenue 5: Eight Arms But No Hands Season 1, Ep 9
After recent events, Matt goes into in hiding with a guilty conscience, and he has the airlock codes. Chaos ensues when a narrow window for escape on a rescue shuttle suddenly becomes available. [Season finale; renewed for Season 2] [more inside]
Avenue 5: This Is Physically Hurting Me Season 1, Ep 8
There's a new hope for Avenue 5, but it involves an effort to jettison non-essential items. Meanwhile, Billie tries to teach an inattentive Ryan how to dock the ship, and the passengers suspect all is not as it seems with the journey. "I'm around movie sets a lot. I work in VFX. Stands for visual effects." [more inside]
Avenue 5: Are You a Spider, Matt? Season 1, Ep 7
Judd enlists Ryan to help charm Harrison Aimes, an uber-wealthy passenger who has a strange effect on Judd. Meanwhile, the passengers become transfixed by a divine image circling the ship and Rav deals with the fallout when the ship's moral quandary hits the media. [more inside]
Avenue 5: Was It Your Ears? Season 1, Ep 6
As Avenue 5 celebrates the birth of a space baby, Ryan and Billie try to identify the source of an incessant beeping, and Judd shares his latest grand idea at Karen's passenger-crew liaison meeting. In the nation's capital, Rav appeals to the President for rescue funds but, in exchange, is faced with an ethical dilemma. [more inside]
Book: Here and Now and Then
Kin Stewart is an everyday family man: working in IT, trying to keep the spark in his marriage, struggling to connect with his teenage daughter, Miranda. But his current life is a far cry from his previous career…as a time-traveling secret agent from 2142. [more inside]
Podcast: The Carlötta Beautox Chronicles: Seasön Tweux
Carlötta has achieved her dream of becoming one of the most famous people in the world -- but is it all it's cracked up to be? Of course it is. It's amazing. Fame is a no-brainer. [more inside]
Book: Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life
This "historically engaging and pressingly relevant" biography establishes Shirley Jackson as a towering figure in American literature and revives the life and work of a neglected master. Still known to millions primarily as the author of "The Lottery", Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) has been curiously absent from the mainstream American literary canon. A genius of literary suspense and psychological horror, Jackson plumbed the cultural anxiety of post-war American more deeply than anyone. [more inside]
Avenue 5: He's Only There to Stop His Skeleton from Falling Over Season 1, Ep 5
Leaks are closed, heroes are celebrated (and ignored), and a comedian is anxious. It's the halfway home party! Well, it would be, if .... [more inside]
Avenue 5: Wait a Minute, Then Who Was That on the Ladder? Season 1, Ep 4
With Judd worried about his reputation, Iris arranges a meet-and-greet with several passengers in his luxury suite. Ryan and Billie bond with the engineers, before Ryan steps up and to earn the title Mr. Wetsuit. Matt encourages Frank to become the man he always wanted to be. "Fly safe!" "Fly drunk!" [more inside]
Avenue 5: I'm a Hand Model Season 1, Ep 3
With Avenue 5 staff slacking in their customer service, Ryan offers Karen the opportunity to channel her unique talent for speaking the passengers' language. Judd outlines a new plan and tasks Iris with organizing an effort to raise the money to fund it. Rav endures a barrage of messages from the ship and handles an unruly press conference. "Oh, come on. My door's always broken." [more inside]
Book: Interior Chinatown
A deeply personal novel about race, pop culture, and escaping the roles we are forced to play—by the author of the infinitely inventive How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe. Willis Wu doesn’t perceive himself as a protagonist even in his own life: He’s merely Generic Asian man. Sometimes he gets to be Background Oriental Making a Weird Face or even Disgraced Son, but he is always relegated to a prop. Yet every day he leaves his tiny room in a Chinatown SRO and enters the Golden... [more inside]
Avenue 5: And Then He's Gonna Shoot Off... Season 1, Ep 2
As Avenue 5 sails on, there's optimism! And coordination! And a memorial. And advocacy. And marital counseling. [more inside]
Avenue 5: I Was Flying Season 1, Ep 1
Space captain Ryan Clark of the Avenue 5 tries to get along with others in the space tourism industry. (HBO US broadcast premiere) [more inside]
2020 Morning News Tournament of Books
The Morning News announced back in December the list for their 16th annual Tournament of Books. The theme is “The Future Is Getting Here Awfully Fast.” Last year tofu_crouton got this more timely post which resulted in a book club to organize everything. Previously here.
Book: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
A man returns to the site of his childhood home where, years before, he knew a girl named Lettie Hempstock who showed him the most marvelous, dangerous, and outrageous things...
You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can't say yes--it would be too awkward--and you can't say no--it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world. QUESTION: How do you arrange to skip town? ANSWER: You accept them all. [more inside]
Book: Bikes Not Rockets
Bikes Not Rockets: Intersectional Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories (Microcosm Publishing 2018) - As you ride down the intergalactic bike path, you come to a crossroads. Which path will you take? Your choice could determine your future, or the future of all humanity, forever. These twelve stories explore a variety of intersections set in distant, outlandish, or disturbingly realistic futures and dimensions—all involving bicycles and the breaking of gender stereotypes. A bicycle race spans a rift between worlds. A teenager learns a valuable lesson from her prepper mom. A young fruit seller gets closer to her dream of becoming an astronaut. An overwhelmed mom finds unexpected solace at a bicycle collective. [more inside]
Podcast: Passenger List: A new narrative fiction podcast from Radiotopia - full show discussion
Atlantic Flight 702 has disappeared mid-flight between London and New York with 256 passengers on board. Kaitlin Le (Kelly Marie Tran), a college student whose twin brother vanished with the flight, is determined to uncover the truth.
Book: The Wee Free Men
The first in a series of Discworld novels starring the young witch Tiffany Aching. A nightmarish danger threatens from the other side of reality. . . . Armed with only a frying pan and her common sense, young witch-to-be Tiffany Aching must defend her home against the monsters of Fairyland. Luckily she has some very unusual help: the local Nac Mac Feegle—aka the Wee Free Men—a clan of fierce, sheep-stealing, sword-wielding, six-inch-high blue men. Together they must face headless horsemen,...
Book: The Dazzle of Day
Leaving a dilapidated Earth behind, Quakers across the globe pool funds and resources as they select colonists to send to a newly discovered planet to start life anew in this “miraculous fusion of…science fiction with unsparing realism and keen psychology” (Ursula K. Le Guin).
Sometimes I feel like I have walked into the middle of a movie. Maybe I can make my own movie. The film will be the story of my life. No, not my life, but of this experience. I'll call it what the lady who is the prosecutor called me. MONSTER. FADE IN: INTERIOR COURT. A guard sits at a desk behind Steve. Kathy O'Brien, Steve's lawyer, is all business as she talks to Steve. O'BRIEN: Let me make sure you understand what's going on. Both you and this king character are on trial for felony murder.... [more inside]
Catch-22 is like no other novel we have ever read. It has its own style, its own rationale, its own extraordinary character. It moves back and forth from hilarity to horror. It is outrageously funny and strangely affecting. It is totally original. It is set in the closing months of World War II, in an American bomber squadron on a small island off Italy. Its hero is a bombardier named Yossarian, who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he hasn't even met keep trying to kill him.... [more inside]
Book: Want Not
A compulsively readable, deeply human novel that examines our most basic and unquenchable emotion: want. With his critically acclaimed first novel, Jonathan Miles was widely praised as a comic genius “after something bigger” (David Ulin, Los Angeles Times) whose fiction was “not just philosophically but emotionally rewarding” (Richard Russo, New York Times Book Review, front cover). [more inside]
Book: The Mars Room
It’s 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, deep in California’s Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner evokes with great humor and precision.
Book: America Is Not the Heart
How many lives fit in a lifetime? When Hero De Vera arrives in America–haunted by the political upheaval in the Philippines and disowned by her parents–she’s already on her third. Her uncle gives her a fresh start in the Bay Area, and he doesn’t ask about her past. His younger wife knows enough about the might and secrecy of the De Vera family to keep her head down. But their daughter–the first American-born daughter in the family–can’t resist asking Hero about her damaged hands. (Penguin Random House blurb) Elaine Castillo's debut novel, and well-regarded, from Kirkus Reviews to Bustle. [more inside]
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