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: A novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525521211
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Knopf - April 17th, 2018

Staff Pick

One of the most talked about books this autumn, and my favorite, was My Absolute Darling (Riverhead, $27), by Gabriel Tallent. Shocking and unsettling, at times difficult to read, the novel follows fourteen-year-old Turtle Alveston, who feels more at home in nature than she does with her survivalist and damaged father, as she searches for freedom and fights for her soul. Roaming the woods one night, wondering if her father would be able to find her, she meets two lost teenage boys and guides them safely out. And that is the moment she starts questioning her home life. The way Tallent brings you steadily into Turtle’s mind makes you almost feel her pain. He manages to capture her deepest thoughts, her internal struggle, her will to survive. Obviously suffering from Stockholm syndrome, she debates with herself over whether to stay or leave, doubting her worth every step of the way. But she fights and she survives. She is the kind of girl, brave and determined, with whom readers are almost duty-bound to fall in love. Tallent grew up in Mendocino and spent a lot of time outside. His love for the region is evident in Turtle’s view of the place and Mendocino itself is a strong character in the book. This is Tallent’s debut novel. And what a remarkable debut it is!

My Absolute Darling: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735211179
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Riverhead Books - August 29th, 2017

Staff Pick

Two years after the magical Two Years, Eight Months, and Twenty-Eight Nights, set in Fairyland, Salman Rushdie is back with another, much more realistic novel. The Golden House (Random House, $28.99) begins on the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration, when an uncrowned seventy- something king, who calls himself Nero Golden, arrives in New York from a faraway country. With his three motherless sons, Nero takes possession of the palace he would call his home. Having arrived under mysterious circumstances, the family also assumes new identities. They take Roman names, trying to reinvent themselves and keep their past hidden, all the while battling their own demons. The youngest son, D, is conflicted over his sexual identity; Apu longs to go back home; and Petya develops agoraphobia. The Goldens’ story is told by their neighbor, René, who becomes fascinated with the family and the various goings-on surrounding them. He gets pulled into their life of mystery, money, intrigue, drama, and crime. Then it all abruptly ends eight years later with the election of “The Joker” as president. Exploring the nature of good and evil and our capacity to change and adapt, Rushdie has loaded this novel with parallels between our world and the one the Goldens live in. “Clowns become kings, old crowns lie in the gutter. Things change. It’s the way of the world.”

The Golden House: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399592805
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Random House - September 5th, 2017