Saturday, July 10, 2010

New To Our Shelves: Short Story Collections

The Thing Around Your Neck
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie burst onto the literary scene with her remarkable debut novel, Purple Hibiscus, which critics hailed as “one of the best novels to come out of Africa in years” (Baltimore Sun), with “prose as lush as the Nigerian landscape that it powerfully evokes” (The Boston Globe); The Washington Post called her “the twenty-first-century daughter of Chinua Achebe.” Her award-winning Half of a Yellow Sun became an instant classic upon its publication three years later, once again putting her tremendous gifts—graceful storytelling, knowing compassion, and fierce insight into her characters’ hearts—on display. Now, in her most intimate and seamlessly crafted work to date, Adichie turns her penetrating eye on not only Nigeria but America, in twelve dazzling stories that explore the ties that bind men and women, parents and children, Africa and the United States.

In “A Private Experience,” a medical student hides from a violent riot with a poor Muslim woman whose dignity and faith force her to confront the realities and fears she’s been pushing away. In “Tomorrow is Too Far,” a woman unlocks the devastating secret that surrounds her brother’s death. The young mother at the center of “Imitation” finds her comfortable life in Philadelphia threatened when she learns that her husband has moved his mistress into their Lagos home. And the title story depicts the choking loneliness of a Nigerian girl who moves to an America that turns out to be nothing like the country she expected; though falling in love brings her desires nearly within reach, a death in her homeland forces her to reexamine them.

Searing and profound, suffused with beauty, sorrow, and longing, these stories map, with Adichie’s signature emotional wisdom, the collision of two cultures and the deeply human struggle to reconcile them. The Thing Around Your Neck is a resounding confirmation of the prodigious literary powers of one of our most essential writers.


Legend of a Suicide

In semiautobiographical stories set largely in David Vann's native Alaska, Legend of a Suicide follows Roy Fenn from his birth on an island at the edge of the Bering Sea to his return thirty years later to confront the turbulent emotions and complex legacy of his father's suicide.


“The stories in Legend of a Suicide approach a private mythos, revisiting, reinvestigating, and reinventing one family’s broken past. They also transport us to wild, uncharted places on the Alaskan coast and in the American soul. Throughout, David Vann is a generous, sure-handed guide in some very dangerous territory.”
-Stewart O'Nan, author of Songs for the Missing

“His legend is at once the truest memoir and the purest fiction. . . . Nothing quite like this book has been written before.”
-Alexander Linklater, London Observer

“A reckoning. . . . A message of profound sympathy and sadness, anger and regret, Legend of a Suicide is the melting away of one man’s past and the reshaping of tragedy into art. . . . [It] journeys unflinchingly into darkness.”
-Greg Schutz, Fiction Writers Review

If I Loved You I Would Tell You This
Heralding the arrival of a stunning new voice in American fiction, Robin Black’s If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This takes readers into the minds and hearts of people navigating the unsettling transitions that life presents to us all.


Written with maturity and insight, and in beautiful, clear-eyed prose, these stories plumb the depths of love, loss, and hope. A father struggles to forge an independent identity as his blind daughter prepares for college. A mother comes to terms with her adult daughter’s infidelity, even as she keeps a disturbing secret of her own. An artist mourns the end of a romance while painting a dying man’s portrait. An accident on a trip to Italy and an unexpected connection with a stranger cause a woman to question her lifelong assumptions about herself.

Brilliant, hopeful, and fearlessly honest, If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This illuminates the truths of human relationships, truths we come to recognize in these characters and in ourselves.

Day Out of Days

From one of our most admired writers: a collection of stories set mainly in the fertile imaginative landscape of the American West, written with the terse lyricism, cinematic detail, and wry humor that have become Sam Shepard’s trademarks.

A man traveling down Highway 90 West gets trapped alone overnight inside a Cracker Barrel restaurant, where he is tormented by an endless loop of Shania Twain songs on the overhead sound system. A wandering actor returns to his hometown against his better instincts and runs into an old friend, who recounts their teenage days of stealing cars, scoring Benzedrine, and sleeping with whores in Tijuana. A Minnesota family travels south for a winter vacation but, caught up in the ordinary tyrannies of family life, remains oblivious to the beauty of the Yucat√°n Peninsula. A solitary horse rancher muses on Sitting Bull and Beckett amid the jumble of stuff in his big country kitchen—from rusted spurs and Lakota dream-catchers to yellowing pictures of hawks and galloping horses to “snapshots of different sons in different shirts doing different things like fishing, riding mules and tractors; leaning up against their different mothers at radical angles.”

Made up of short narratives, lyrics, and dialogues, Day out of Days sets conversation against tale, song against memory, in a cubistic counterpoint that finally links each piece together. The result is a stunning work of vision and clarity imbued with the vivid reverberations of myth—Shepard at his flinty-eyed, unwavering best.

No comments: