Staff Pick

“Brood” has many meanings—from the hopeful act of nesting to the melancholy of dwelling on unhappiness—and Polzin’s accomplished first novel partakes of all of them. In short, vivid  sections with the intimacy of journal entries, the unnamed narrator takes us through the events of a Minnesota year in a town cursed by “a failure to reach potential,” where she waits for news about her husband’s academic appointment, cleans houses, copes with weather, and cares for four chickens. The descriptions of the hens’ daily routines, laying habits, pecking order, appearances, and sad demises are meticulously detailed and lovely: feed in a chute rattles “the small cage that is a chicken” and its comb is a bit of “lobed flesh from outer space [in] an ordinary red.” When, a third of the way in, Polzin’s narrator describes her devastating miscarriage, all the references to eggs and motherhood acquire a sharp emotional resonance, one all the more powerful for the few direct references to it. As she struggles to come to terms with what she can’t understand—both in herself and the birds—the protagonist renders her world in unforgettable images; from “the corner shop, which is always changing hands but never changing,” to uprooted trees that “float up from the ground and dance a tarantella,” Polzin’s language shimmers with beauty and wisdom; like the miracle of sun and nutrients that is a hen’s egg, her prose “appears to glow because it glows.”

 

Brood: A Novel Cover Image
$24.00
ISBN: 9780385546751
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Doubleday - March 9th, 2021

Staff Pick

A fable/cautionary tale for the future of our life with technology, Ishiguro’s thought-provoking novel is narrated by Klara, a robot—whose name signals both lucid rationality and, in its spelling, Kafkaesque unreason. An Artificial Friend (AF), Klara and her ilk are designed to save young people from a loneliness that’s become so endemic even the AFs feel it. To fulfill her duties, Klara strives to understand as much as possible about human behavior. But for all her acute observations of her human family and its circle, the “rules” she seeks to learn are elusive—and shifting. Love, hope, commitment, faith—the timeless mysteries that have defined humans—are under increasing pressure from a world where success demands “genetic editing,” regardless of the risks, and, in Ishiguro’s most chilling vision, where robots can “continue” the lives of the deceased. If there’s really no “human heart”—nothing “that makes each of us special and individual”—what does it mean to be human? Ishiguro leaves it for readers to ponder. 

Klara and the Sun: A novel Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780593318171
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Knopf - March 2nd, 2021

Staff Pick

I cannot stop gushing about this short story collection—it’s phenomenal, and I would easily re-read it again tomorrow. These stories explore Blackness, faith, and sexuality in a way that doesn't make it seem like any of these topics is taken lightly or used as a plot device, but rather are urgent matters that the women in the stories are exploring. I want to befriend all these characters.  

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781949199734
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: West Virginia University Press - September 1st, 2020

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