Staff Pick

In his new novel The Only Story Julian Barnes maintains that most of us have just one story that matters, only one worth telling. What is yours? Have you experienced it yet, and if so, were you aware at the time. Do you remember it from time to time, after years have passed? Do you smile, or does it fill you with overwhelming sadness? And if you remember it, can you really trust memory? You don’t choose, Barnes also says, who you love and how much you love them, because, then, it isn’t really love, is it? Paul, at least, wasn’t given that choice. One summer when he is a boy on the cusp of adulthood he falls in love with Susan, a married woman twice his age. His only story and memory of it marks his whole life. He wants to protect Susan from an abusive husband, take care of her and make her happy. But what if that is not enough? Can he save her from herself when things start to fall apart? And at what cost should he keep trying. How will he justify where he draws the line? Paul tells us his story as an adult, not sure at times if memory serves him right as he tries to answer these questions. I think I liked this book even before I read it and when I did, I loved it. The ease of the writing and the heaviness of what is written, immerses you, you don’t want to stop reading, but you do so, because you can’t help thinking of your own only story. 

The Only Story Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780525521211
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - April 17th, 2018

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Staff Pick

In Happiness, Atilla, a Ghanian psychiatrist and Jean, an American wildlife researcher, meet by chance on the ever- evolving streets of London and the chain of events that is set in motion changes both of their lives. It’s a novel of ideas that doesn’t talk at you; instead the characters confront and metabolize entangled issues like changing environments, urbanization, trauma and attachment, in very personal, idiosyncatic ways. Forna’s creation of the wonder and performance of modern street life is a textural triumph: citizens of all countries and experiences sweat, breath and connect just underneath the skyrocketing urban skyline. Happiness is a novel that knows itself well: it accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do, and leaves you both intellectually and emotionally full.

Happiness Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780802127556
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Atlantic Monthly Press - March 6th, 2018

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Staff Pick

Using the trees that figure so prominently in this tremendous novel as models for its structure, Powers follows nine characters in rotation, building a strong, complex narrative from their stories the way a tree grows from one growth ring to the next. Focusing on the many kinds of relationships people can have with trees, the novel dramatizes our casual appreciation of nature and our ignorance of it, our increasing exploitation of it, and our shock and regret at what we’ve done to it. But while some characters want the clearcutting to stop, and break human laws in favor of higher ones, others see only the economic reasons why logging should continue. Force doesn’t work for either side, Powers shows, so what is the answer? Meanwhile, another character builds video worlds of stunning verisimilitude. Would we need the simulation if we hadn’t destroyed the real thing? Or is this technological accomplishment a human complement to nature’s prodigious feats? Yet another character collects seeds for a world seed bank, acutely aware of her inability to preserve the ecosystems that nurture these seeds. She’s also done pioneering research, discovering that trees communicate with each other, warn each other, heal each other, and live in societies as complex as any human metropolis. This is perhaps the true “understory” we’ve lost, so absorbed by the deafening “overstory” of our own kind that we can’t recognize anything else. Yet some people seem receptive to both, and that’s Powers’s vision. Like his forester he may regret his book’s high “cost in pines,” but he also channels their voices as truly as any human being could.

The Overstory Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9780393635522
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - April 3rd, 2018

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