Tell Me How This Ends Well by David Samuel Levinson
I am currently reading David Samuel Levinson’s new book Tell Me How This Ends Well, which reads like the home-for-Passover novel I’ve always wanted but always assumed a Christmas-dominated holiday retail market would never provide for me. I’m mid-way through this darkly funny romp through a dysfunctional future America as a man brings his hunky German boyfriend home for Passover, ready to convince his siblings to murder their father. He plans to manipulate a spike in hate crimes in the Los Angeles area as a cover-up for his planned revenge for years of belittling, yet his siblings, and his boyfriend, may find his plans difficult to embrace. Can’t wait to read the Seder scenes! You can find copies of Tell Me How This Ends Well on our shelves and via bookpeople.com and see Levinson here Sunday, April 9 at 2pm.
Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy by Anne Lamott
If you’ve read anything by Anne Lamott, such as Bird by Bird or Small Victories, you know how brilliant a writer she is. Hallelujah Anyway is quintessential Lamott—writing of faith with intense vulnerability. In this book, she writes of mercy, taking as her beginning point the Old Testament prophet Micah, to whose words she turns when feeling anxiety about the state of the world: “Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly.” Not only does she turn mercy outward to the world, but inward to the self. Lamott guides readers to greater self-forgiveness without letting us off the hook. Her writing, as always, is smooth, poetic, and evocative—uplifting, and yet reading this book left me raw in a killing-me-softly-with-her-song way. She shifts so easily and provocatively from her own vulnerability into our shared vulnerability as humans in a complicated and sometimes ugly world. Hallelujah Anyway is a beautiful, soul-wrenching book that will leave you ready to live a more merciful and forgiving life, ready to be true to yourself and to others. You can find copies of Hallelujah Anyway on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.
The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan
The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan is a horror story of childhood isolation and an unraveling classical family complete with a decaying body, a crumbling castle, and red mustang. Jack is the middle child who suffers abuse from his father, disconnection from his mother, and an obsession with his older sister. When the children are abandoned they construct a perverted family structure atop a body that refuses to be silenced until the novel’s final moments. McEwan asks his reader to reconcile Jack’s role as a broken son with the perverted man he quickly becomes. You can find copies of The Cement Garden on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.
Give a Girl a Knife: A Memoir by Amy Thielen
Give a Girl a Knife by Amy Thielen is a food-based memoir. Amy made her bones (and many other things) working in some of New York City’s finest restaurants, working for the likes of David Bouley and Daniel Bouloud. She pairs those tales with that of making a life in the woods of Minnesota in a house hand-built by her husband. This book is a literary romp through a Midwestern and NYC line cook adventure. It made me really hungry for hash browns… This one is out in mid May. You can soon find copies of Give a Girl a Knife on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.
Speedboat by Renata Adler
Renata Adler’s Speedboat was her first fiction novel – if you can call it that. The book’s form is made up of disjointed paragraphs – sometimes seemingly unrelated ideas – which, in sum, create a haunting, funny portrait of New York City of the 1970s. The novel’s narrator is, ostensibly, Jen Fain, a young woman moving through a series of jobs and social circles without any real sense of time. Fain’s observations are, in turn, timeless. The narrator bears more than passing resemblance to the author herself – Adler was a reporter for the New Yorker, and a movie critic for the New York Times. Adler was known for saying and writing what she felt, and she brings her sharp observations without any holds barred in her seminal novel. After being out of print for so long, I’m incredibly grateful the NYRB press is reprinting her works. Up next for me is her second novel, Pitch Dark. You can find copies of Speedboat on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.