Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

Staff Pick

Olive, Again (Random House, $27) reprises the irrepressible protagonist of Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge, but no prior experience is necessary to savor this delightful
and moving novel. Described as “difficult,” even “formidable,” Olive, a retired seventh-grade math teacher, is blunt to a fault—she’s a woman who “thinks everything is crap.” Well, yes and no. “Anything could be true with Olive,” someone notes, and as Strout shows in thirteen interlocking stories, Olive is also needy, regretful, and always surprising. Nor, despite her considerable reputation, does she always steal the show. Strout gives her a strong supporting cast, and we meet a first-time mother who goes into labor at a friend’s baby shower; an eighth-grader whose difficult adolescence fits eerily into the drama playing out in the home of the elderly couple she cleans for; a mediocre student who becomes the U.S. Poet Laureate; and two brothers from Strout’s 2013 The Burgess Boys, still coming to grips with the childhood accident that killed their father. Presented with deep compassion, each of these characters is fully realized, as is Crosby, Maine, where, through its neighborhoods, shops, and old age home, Strout shows the limits of the adage that everyone knows each other in a small town. Rather, “there are always secrets.” Ranging from unfaithfulness to abuse, these boil down to “the essential loneliness of people,” which not even Olive is immune to.

Olive, Again: A Novel By Elizabeth Strout Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812996548
Availability: Backordered
Published: Random House - October 15th, 2019

Quichotte by Salman Rushdie

Staff Pick

Quichotte (Random House, $28), the Booker short-listed new novel by Salman Rushdie, is a retelling of the 400-year-old tale of Don Quixote adapted to today’s digital era. Ismail Smile is a pharmaceutical salesman who loses his job and sets off across America, accompanied by his imaginary son Sancho, to win the heart of Salma R, a TV star he’s fallen in love with. Then, however,
we learn that this is just a story within a larger story and that Quichotte, as Ismail signs himself in his love letters to Salma, is a character in a draft of a novel written by a mediocre crime novelist
named Sam DuChamp. Mind boggling in a true Rushdie way, full of pop culture references, strange characters, and even stranger occurrences, the novel is a mirror of the times we live in, reflecting
back to us how estranged we’ve become, as we perpetually look for love via our phone, computer, or TV screens, all the while living in the fantasy world rather than the real one. But as Rushdie’s wise protagonist tells us, this is “the Age of Anything-Can-Happen”, hey?

Quichotte: A Novel By Salman Rushdie Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593132982
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Random House - September 3rd, 2019

Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson

Staff Pick

“The world is at the start of something new. We are the shaping spirits of our destiny. And though I am not an inventor of machines I am an inventor of dreams. Yet I wish I had a cat.” Frankissstein,(Grove, $27), by Jeanette Winterson, is deft and lean, weaving together several stories in a meditation on the nature of life and intelligence. We start in 1818 during a rainy Swiss summer, following Mary Shelley as she begins to write the masterpiece that invented an entirely new genre of fiction. Then we move to today, where Dr. Ry Shelley, a trans man, is falling in love with Victor Stein, a pioneer in AI technology. The two stories parallel each other, Ry being both the analog for Mary Shelley and the monster from the story, and introduce us to a cast of loveable, hilarious, and occasionally infuriating characters. From body horror to sexbots, musings on eternal life to transhumanism, Winterson's witty and sexy book (which was long-listed for the Booker Prize) is a love story in every sense of the word: a love between people, between a creator and their work, and for the nature of life itself.

Frankissstein By Jeanette Winterson Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802129499
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Grove Press - October 1st, 2019