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Hot New Reads – May 2016

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01_modern_loversModern Lovers by Emma Straub

Friends and former college bandmates Elizabeth and Andrew and Zoe have watched one another marry, buy real estate, and start businesses and families, all while trying to hold on to the identities of their youth. But nothing ages them like having to suddenly pass the torch (of sexuality, independence, and the ineffable alchemy of cool) to their own offspring.

Back in the band’s heyday, Elizabeth put on a snarl over her Midwestern smile, Andrew let his unwashed hair grow past his chin, and Zoe was the lesbian all the straight women wanted to sleep with. Now nearing fifty, they all live within shouting distance in the same neighborhood deep in gentrified Brooklyn, and the trappings of the adult world seem to have arrived with ease. But the summer that their children reach maturity (and start sleeping together), the fabric of the adult lives suddenly begins to unravel, and the secrets and revelations that are finally let loose—about themselves, and about the famous fourth band member who soared and fell without them—can never be reclaimed.

Straub packs wisdom and insight and humor together in a satisfying book about neighbors and nosiness, ambition and pleasure, the excitement of youth, the shock of middle age, and the fact that our passions—be they food, or friendship, or music—never go away, they just evolve and grow along with us.

 

02sweet_lambSweet Lamb of Heaven by Lydia Millet

Lydia Millet’s chilling new novel is the first-person account of a young mother, Anna, escaping her cold and unfaithful husband, a businessman who’s just launched his first campaign for political office. When Ned chases Anna and their six-year-old daughter from Alaska to Maine, the two go into hiding in a run-down motel on the coast. But the longer they stay, the less the guests in the dingy motel look like typical tourists—and the less Ned resembles a typical candidate. As his pursuit of Anna and their child moves from threatening to criminal, Ned begins to alter his wife’s world in ways she never could have imagined. A double-edged and satisfying story with a strong female protagonist, a thrilling plot, and a creeping sense of the apocalyptic, Sweet Lamb of Heaven builds to a shattering ending with profound implications for its characters—and for all of us.

 

 

 

 

Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett03_imagine

When Margaret’s fiancé, John, is hospitalized for depression, she faces a choice: carry on with their plans, or back away from the suffering it may bring her. She decides to marry him. Imagine Me Gone is the unforgettable story of what unfolds from this act of love and faith. At the heart of it is their eldest son, Michael, a brilliant, anxious music fanatic, and the story of how, over the span of decades, his younger siblings-the responsible Celia and the tightly controlled Alec-struggle along with their mother to care for Michael’s increasingly troubled existence. Adam Haslett has given us something rare: a novel with the power to change how you see the most important people in your life.

 

 

 

 

04_afterpartyThe After Party by Anton DiSclafani

Joan Fortier is the epitome of Texas glamour and the center of the 1957 Houston social scene. Tall, blonde, beautiful, strong, she has a talent for dominating the room and the gossip columns. Every man who sees her wants her, and every woman wants to be her. She may be the only one of her enviable social circle not yet married and settled down, but that’s okay: Joan enjoys a good scandal.

Best friends with Joan since pre-school, Cece Buchanan is either Joan’s chaperone or her partner in crime, depending on the night and whom you ask. With her solid husband and sweet toddler son, some say Cece shouldn’t be concerned with Joan’s single-girl exploits. But the two have grown up almost like sisters, to the point that it isn’t always easy for Cece to tell where she ends and Joan begins. When Joan starts to drift out of reach and beyond the borders of their confined world the summer they are twenty-five, Cece considers it her responsibility to bring her back to the fold, for better or for worse. But as Cece’s investment and involvement in Joan’s life evolves, her judgment also clouds – ultimately allowing one questionable choice to appear to be the only one there is.

Immersing readers in the big, sun-drenched world of 1950s Texas oil money and social clubs, DiSclafani’s captivating new novel unfurls a story of female friendship as obsessive, euphoric, and consuming as any romance.

 

05sir_paulPaul McCartney: The Life by Philip Norman

Since the age of twenty-one, Paul McCartney has lived one of the ultimate rock-n-roll lives played out on the most public of stages. Now, Paul’s story is told by rock music’s foremost biographer, with McCartney’s consent and access to family members and close friends who have never spoken on the record before.  Paul McCartney reveals the complex character behind the façade and sheds new light on his childhood–blighted by his mother’s death but redeemed by the father who introduced him to music.

This is the first definitive account of Paul’s often troubled partnership with John Lennon, his personal trauma after the Beatles’ breakup, and his subsequent struggle to get back to the top with Wings–which nearly got him murdered in Africa and brought him nine days in a Tokyo jail. Readers will learn about his marriage to Linda, including their much-criticized musical collaboration, and a moving account of her death. Packed with new information and critical insights, Paul McCartney will be the definitive biography of a musical legend.

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