Michael's October 2021 pick
Chris Offutt delivers a crime story filled with vivid characters and unforgettable story lines, in a mix of humor and danger that will be familiar not only to his readers but also to fans of the TV show Justified.
Mick Hardin, a combat veteran who now works as a CID agent, is on the verge of being AWOL as he helps his sister, the sheriff, try to solve a murder in the kills of Kentucky.
And he seriously needs to have a word with his wife.
Michael's June 2021 pick
A vivid and unsettling novel by a real writer with a natural gift. Too many trigger warnings to mention, so just be aware. Full of sex and murder and witty apercus.
For centuries, authors have mined Greek mythology for their subjects. The success of these attempts has always depended on the author's ability to make emotional connections with these remote characters. Ariadne is a very successful effort--highly readable and engaging. The story of two sisters with well-known tragic outcomes becomes real and contemporary in this novel. The men--whether mortal or god or beast--don't come off too well, but they know what they did.
By turns grim and hilarious and always intense, this brief novel captures in a radically new way the crises and anxieties of new motherhood. I found myself both wanting to share it with my adult children and warning myself not to, because the mirror it holds up to 2021 can be so disturbing. --Michael
A memoir that grabs you from the beginning, and immediately has you rooting hard for a scrappy young genius chef-to-be as she overcomes some pretty serious challenges along the way to owning one of the most sought-out restaurants in New England.
Chris Bohjalian's historical fiction is sometimes overlooked in favor of his more modern dramas, but I've always thought it was some of his best work (Skeletons at the Feast, Sandcastle Girls). Hour of the Witch is a strong read and sure to be a bestseller. At first glance it seems a very New England story, but the author's sympathetic exploration of the plight of women in repressive societies makes it universal. Vividly imagined and intricately plotted.
This is a very fine literary thriller with vivid and memorable characters and a plot that is satisfyingly complex.
The best literary novel of 2020 (so far!)
The new novel from the author of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell-- painting on a smaller canvas but excellent just the same--a fantasy novel that becomes a police procedural by degrees--coming in Sept.!
Michael's November 2019 pick
This is the best meditation on history that I’ve encountered in years. If you’ve read and pondered Hitler’s Willing Executioners, Confederates in the Attic (and Tony Horwitz’s last work, Spying on the South), In the Shadow of Statues, and other popular works, this is a deeper and more detailed dive into the true nature of racism, nationalism, and the culture of defeat, and it’s a way of applying the dark lessons of German history to our own still-divided nation. At the same time, it’s a powerful memoir. From the first sentence, you’re completely drawn in: ‘I began life as a white girl in the segregated South, and I’m likely to end it as a Jewish woman in Berlin.’ Don’t miss it.
Michael's April 2019 pick, 1 of 2
Mary Laura Philpott is a fellow bookseller at the excellent Parnassus Books in Nashville. Her memoir (in the form of a book of essays) is deeply personal, deeply moving, and at the same time very funny. It’s one of those books that introduces you to someone who could be a best friend to your ideal self. Many readers will find these essays of work, home, and the creative life to be that very welcome introduction. “I've spent my adult life prowling bookshelves for the modern-day reincarnation of my favorite authors—Nora Ephron, Erma Bombeck, Jean Kerr, and Laurie Colwin—all rolled into one...Good news: I have finally found their successor.” —Elisabeth Egan, The Washington Post
Michael's April 2019 pick, 2 of 2
One of the best science fiction novels to come out in the past 10 years--- also one of the best novels of time travel, detective work, and horror. Just out in paperback. … There are many possible versions of our future, and one of them holds the key to solving the murder of a Navy SEAL’s family--but all of them suddenly contain the Terminus--the cataclysmic end of humanity itself, looming ever closer. “Inception meets True Detective,” says the New Yorker.
Michael's June 2017 pick, 2 of 2
The Long Haul: A Trucker's Tales of Life on the Road, by Finn Murphy
This first book is an entertaining look at the life of a trucker—specifically, a long-haul mover who preferred life on the road to finishing a liberal arts degree. This is one of those books on a little-known sub-culture that you had no idea you’d find so interesting. “It seems strange that American letters has not produced a trucker-writer--until now. If you ever wonder about these American nomads, their lore, their lives crisscrossing this land, pick up this book.”--Ted Conover, author of Newjack
Michael's February 2015 pick
You know a novel is great when you discover something new and amazing every time you read it. Still has the power to shock after 55 years — one of the immortal literary achievements of the 20th century.
Cormac McCarthy, like Melville before him, investigates evil, human frailty, and fate, here in a story of death and destruction in the old west. Based (believe it or not) on a true story.
Hard to imagine a more timely book!