Library Book Club Pick for October 2012
The Thirteenth Tale
Publication Date: 2007-10-09
Sometimes, when you open the door to thepast, what you confront is your destiny. Reclusive author Vida Winter, famous for her collection of twelve enchantingstories, has spent the past six decades penning a series of alternate livesfor herself. Now old and ailing, she is ready to reveal the truth about herextraordinary existence and the violent and tragic past she has kept secret forso long. Calling on Margaret Lea, a young biographer troubled by her ownpainful history, Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good. Margaret ismesmerized by the author's tale of gothic strangeness -- featuring the beautifuland willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, agoverness,a topiary garden and a devastating fire. Together, Margaret and Vidaconfront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.
Jam Session Reads
Recommendations from Jam members
Publication Date: 2011-11-08
ON NOVEMBER 22, 1963, THREE SHOTS RANG OUT IN DALLAS, PRESIDENT KENNEDY DIED, AND THE WORLD CHANGED. WHAT IF YOU COULD CHANGE IT BACK? In this brilliantly conceived tour de force, Stephen King-who has absorbed the social, political, and popular culture of his generation more imaginatively and thoroughly than any other writer-takes readers on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it. It begins with Jake Epping, a thirty-five-year-old English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching GED classes. He asks his students to write about an event that changed their lives, and one essay blows him away-a gruesome, harrowing story about the night more than fifty years ago when Harry Dunning's father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a sledgehammer. Reading the essay is a watershed moment for Jake, his life-like Harry's, like America's in 1963-turning on a dime. Not much later his friend Al, who owns the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to the past, a particular day in 1958. And Al enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession-to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake's new life as George Amberson, in a different world of Ike and JFK and Elvis, of big American cars and sock hops and cigarette smoke everywhere. From the dank little city of Derry, Maine (where there's Dunning business to conduct), to the warmhearted small town of Jodie, Texas, where Jake falls dangerously in love, every turn is leading eventually, of course, to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and to Dallas, where the past becomes heart-stoppingly suspenseful, and where history might not be history anymore. Time-travel has never been so believable. Or so terrifying.
The Yellow Birds
Publication Date: 2012-09-11
A novel written by a veteran of the war in Iraq, The Yellow Birds is the harrowing story of two young soldiers trying to stay alive. "The war tried to kill us in the spring." So begins this powerful account of friendship and loss. In Al Tafar, Iraq, twenty-one-year old Private Bartle and eighteen-year-old Private Murphy cling to life as their platoon launches a bloody battle for the city. Bound together since basic training when Bartle makes a promise to bring Murphy safely home, the two have been dropped into a war neither is prepared for. In the endless days that follow, the two young soldiers do everything to protect each other from the forces that press in on every side: the insurgents, physical fatigue, and the mental stress that comes from constant danger. As reality begins to blur into a hazy nightmare, Murphy becomes increasingly unmoored from the world around him and Bartle takes actions he could never have imagined. With profound emotional insight, especially into the effects of a hidden war on mothers and families at home, The Yellow Birds is a groundbreaking novel that is destined to become a classic.
Publication Date: 2012-02-28
The award-winning writer returns with a major, absorbing, atmospheric novel that takes on the most dramatic and profoundly personal subject matter. The award-winning writer returns with a major, absorbing, atmospheric novel that takes on the most dramatic and profoundly personal subject matter San Francisco in the 1970s. Free love has given way to radical feminism, psychedelic ecstasy to hard-edged gloom. The Zodiac Killer stalks the streets. A disgraced professor takes an office in a downtown tower to plot his return. But the walls are thin and he's distracted by voices from next door - his neighbor is a psychologist, and one of her patients dislikes the hum of the white-noise machine. And so he begins to hear about the patient's troubles with her female lover,her conflicts with her adoptive, avowedly WASP family, and her quest to track down her birth mother. The professor is not just absorbed but enraptured. And the further he is pulled into the patient's recounting of her dramas - and the most profound questions of her own identity - the more he needs the story to move forward. The patient's questions about her birth family have led her to a Catholic charity that trafficked freshly baptized orphans out of Germany after World WarII. But confronted with this new self - "I have no idea what it means to say 'I'm a Jew'" - the patient finds her search stalled. Armed with the few details he's gleaned, the professor takes up the quest and quickly finds the patient's mother in records from a German displaced-persons camp. But he can't let on that he's been eavesdropping, so he mocks up a reply from an adoption agency the patient has contacted and drops it in the mail. Through the wall, he hears how his dear patient is energized by the news, and so is he. He unearths more clues and invests more and more in this secret, fraught, triangular relationship: himself, the patient, and her therapist, who is herself German. His research leads them deep into the history of displaced-persons camps, of postwar Zionism, and - most troubling of all - of the Nazi Lebensborn program.With ferocious intelligence and an enthralling, magnetic prose, Ellen Ullman weaves a dark and brilliant, intensely personal novel that feels as big and timeless as it is sharp and timely. It is an ambitious work that establishes her as a major writer.