Call me David.  Well, no, don’t.  That would out me as a literary thief, like Oliver Otway Orme, the protagonist of John Banville’s new novel, The Blue Guitar (Knopf, $25.95). A renowned purloiner of literature himself—Banville steals his title from Wallace Stevens’s poem “The Man with the Blue Guitar,” and the opening line, “Call me Autolycus,” at once borrows from Moby-Dick and Greek mythology—the Man-Booker-winning novelist crafts a Joycean story about typical characters doing ordinary things—things like stealing. But when Orme takes works of art, he does it not for resale value but simply to see his act get noticed. He also steals his best friend’s wife, much as if she, too, were a museum piece. Along with Banville, Orme also enjoys the art of alliteration: “The objects, the artefacts, that I purloin—there is a nice word, prim and pursed,” or pounding the drumbeat of repetition:  “The past, the past. It was the past that brought me back here, for here . . . here it is forever the past.” Banville’s Orme is much like Autolycus, whose knack for stealing was put to the test when he made off with the helmet Odysseus uses to make himself invisible.  And, like the blue guitarist, Orme tries desperately to change things as they are.  Alas, he can’t.  Orme remains invisible, a thief unrevealed. For Banville, all this is an opportunity to do what he does best—indulge his love of language, and show off his unparalleled skill as not just a wordsmith, but a word wizard. 

The Blue Guitar Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780385354264
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - September 15th, 2015

The Blue Guitar (Vintage International) Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780804173612
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Vintage - August 9th, 2016

Wind/Pinball (Knopf, $25.95) pairs the first two novels Haruki Murakami wrote; Hear the Wind Sing dates from 1979, Pinball, 1973 from 1980. Early works as they are, these novellas show many of the hallmarks readers have come to associate with this beguiling Japanese writer: the arctic beauty of loneliness, the camaraderie of outcasts, sex and loss, and Murakami’s signature evocation of listlessness and pointed longing, all of which testify to the singular intensity of this artist’s literary imagination. Yet these are unmistakably first novels. Hear the Wind Sing is a cryptic work, but one enhanced by what it reflects of its writer’s unique metaphorical mind in the raw. Pinball, 1973 features a typical Murakami narrator—a character obsessed with an unspecific but sharp yearning—perhaps a yearning to have something to yearn for. In most Murakami novels, such a figure would undertake a spiritual journey to some sort of resolution, but this piece is more nihilistic. Seasoned fans will be fascinated to see Murakami the writer slowly emerge from Murakami the dreamer, right before their eyes. For those who have been reluctant to approach Murakami’s surreal magical realism, this neat little volume is the perfect entrance to an incomparable world.

Wind/Pinball: Two novels Cover Image
By Haruki Murakami, Ted Goossen (Translated by)
$25.95
ISBN: 9780385352123
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf - August 4th, 2015

Wind/Pinball: Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973 (Two Novels) (Vintage International) Cover Image
By Haruki Murakami, Ted Goossen (Translated by)
$16.00
ISBN: 9780804170147
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Vintage - May 3rd, 2016

Adam Johnson follows-up his Pulitzer-winning second novel, The Orphan Master’s Son, with this collection of rich, expansive stories. Winning this year’s National Book Award for fiction, Fortune Smiles (Random House, $27) showcases Johnson’s craft and emotional reach. “Nirvana” portrays a programmer whose wife is suffering from a severe auto-immune disease. The woman finds solace in the unlikely pairing of a digital simulacrum of the President of the United States and a soundtrack of Nirvana music. This sounds like a writing prompt: who can turn these plot elements into a compelling statement about adulthood, suffering, pop culture, and technology? Well, the answer is right here. In “George Orwell Was a Friend of Mine,” a former sswarden of a Stasi prison denies many details about his past, even as irrefutable evidence surfaces; the warden’s ostensibly innocent revisionism makes him the most fascinating character here. And in the title story, Johnson returns to Korea, scene of Orphan Master’s Son, chronicling the efforts of two North Korean defectors to adjust to their new lives in Seoul. From the range of his subjects to the depth of his treatment of complex themes, Johnson’s mastery makes each story distinct and unforgettable.

Fortune Smiles: Stories Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780812997477
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Random House - August 18th, 2015

Fortune Smiles: Stories Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780812987232
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - October 4th, 2016

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