Staff Pick

Equal parts family memoir and natural history, Renkl’s collection of lyrical vignettes is a true hybrid; as much a product of “piney woods and…birdsong and running creeks” as she is of several Alabama-bred generations, Renkl gracefully and often tellingly alternates stories of great grand--, grand- and parents with accounts of the bluebirds, cedar waxwings, monarch caterpillars, and orb weaver spiders in her Nashville yard. Recounted with vivid details and deep affection, these stories celebrate Renkl’s connections to people and nature but also acknowledge that “the cycle of life might as well be called the cycle of death.” Loss is a constant presence here—loss by illness, accident, age, depression, miscarriage, pesticide, and rat snake. But Renkl’s grief is so intimately tied to love that her fine observations—of her mother’s sudden, startling end, her father’s long last breaths, the shocking disappearance of nestlings—make the pain bearable. And as Renkl admits early in this beautiful book, “I am no scientist, but the flipside of ignorance is astonishment, and I am good at astonishment.” She sure is.

 

Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss Cover Image
$24.00
ISBN: 9781571313782
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Milkweed Editions - July 9th, 2019

Staff Pick

In the third volume of her Seasonal Quartet Smith takes on the world’s divisiveness with everything she’s got: the narrative is angry, satirical, and ironic, as well as allusive, playful, and lyrical. Smith shows the cruelty of detention centers and traces their dehumanizing effect on inmates and staff, but she also reminds us that spring is the season of hope. Her agent for change is twelve-year-old Florence who, by not recognizing the legitimacy of power, undermines it. Around her, people are kinder and happier; they see that borders can unite as easily as divide. Advocating that we “revolve,” Smith points out that history is as cyclical as seasons; we’ve survived hard times before—we can get through this, too.

 


 

 

Spring: A Novel (Seasonal Quartet) Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9781101870778
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Pantheon - April 30th, 2019

Staff Pick

The brilliance of Russell’s fiction starts in her sentences and carries through her mind-bending plots. As the title suggests, these stories are colorful and wide-ranging: “the revelatory pain called wonder” is “a purple welt rising” in the mind. The boldest move of this constantly surprising writer is to create characters that are neither quite dead nor exactly alive. Miners buried in an avalanche mesmerize two women with their liquor, dancing, and gold eyes. A fifteen-year old learns the complexities of love by falling for a woman preserved in a bog for two millennia. These pieces expand notions of connection and isolation, putting existence itself in a new perspective—much as climate change is doing. “The Bad Graft” dramatizes the shared plight of all earthly creatures, following the intertwined fates of a woman and the spirit of the Joshua tree that embeds itself in her psyche. In “The Gondoliers” four sisters who live in the toxic waters of New Florida navigate by listening to the echoes of the drowned Old Florida, responding to the “vibrations” that link past to future and sustain the present. “The Tornado Auction” follows the sorry fate of an old-school tornado rancher who can’t transition to farming wind, though his compulsion harms his children. And in the multi-layered “Black Corfu,” Russell chronicles the life of a “posthumous surgeon” who renders the recently dead unfit to walk again. Though set in 1620, this story is very much of the 21st century as it traces a wildfire of unfounded rumor that ruins a man’s life. In addition to everything else—her language, compassion, and storytelling brio—Russell is a superb allegorist, and these eight tales don’t just entertain, they illuminate again and again.

Orange World and Other Stories Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780525656135
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Knopf - May 14th, 2019

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