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John's favorites

John's recommendations..

The Old Devils Cover Image
By Kingsley Amis, John Banville (Introduction by)
$14.95
ISBN: 9781590175767
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: New York Review of Books - October 2nd, 2012

Unexpectedly Alun Weaver, television personality and man-of-letters,
and his beguiling wife Rhiannon decide to leave England and return home to
Wales. Once there they reunite with their old friends, a hard-drinking group
of Welsh married couples, reawakening old friendships and romances.

Winner
of the Booker Prize in 1986, The
Old Devils
is Kingsley
Amis at his sardonic best, only this time he mixes in a lot of tenderness and
compassion with witty dialogue and humor. Also enjoyable are his colorful and
poignant descriptions of Wales.

~John

PS Check out Kingsley's earlier novels: the hilarious and wonderful
Lucky Jim; and
the very clever ghost
story The
Green Man.


Staff Pick Logo
The Heart Broke in Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781250037770
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Picador USA - October 1st, 2013

One of my three favorite novels published in 2012, this is the story
of scientist Bec (Rebecca) Shepherd and her aging, rock-n-roller brother Ritchie.
Both carry secrets concerning their father, a British solider who was killed
when they were kids. The story follows Bec as she travels back and forth from
London to Africa searching for a malaria cure. Along the way she meets Alex another scientist,
Dickensian and delightful.

James Meeks writes short, beautifully composed chapters in elegant
prose. He also creates realistic interactions with his characters. His plot is
intricate and satisfying with clever twists, surprises, and betrayals. There are also a lot of
laughs, especially involving the wonderful Alex and his pursuit of Bec.

~John


The Northern Clemency Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781400095872
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Anchor Books - February 9th, 2010

Short-listed for The Man Booker Prize, this engrossing novel concerns two working-class families, the Sellers and Glovers, neighbors in Sheffield, England in the 1970's. The author follows both families and their interaction over three decades, focusing in particular on Tim Glover and how two seemingly inconsequential acts of cruelty impact each family.

Expansive and deeply moving, "The Northern Clemency" is storytelling at its best, filled with Dickensian minor characters and subplots, the action moving seamlessly back and forth between Sheffield and London and eventually Sydney, Australia.

~John


Prime Green: Remembering the Sixties Cover Image
$13.95
ISBN: 9780060957773
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ecco Press - January 8th, 2008

From the New York art world of De Kooning to the jazz cafes of New Orleans, to the breathtaking beaches of Mexico, and on to Ken Kesey's psychedelic California, award-winning novelist Robert Stone revisits the turbulent and fascinating 1960s.

This moving, adventurous memoir is not only an entertaining chronicle of American history, but an intimate look at a young writer's beginnings told by a master storyteller.

~John


Heyday Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780812978469
Availability: Special Order
Published: Random House Trade - December 26th, 2007

The year is 1848. It is a time of America's raucous coming of age. War with Mexico has just ended; gold has been discovered in California; revolutions sweep across Europe. Charles Darwin, Walt Whitman, Alexis De Tocqueville, and Matthew Brady are out and about.

Amid this excitement and commotion aristocratic Benjamin Knowles leaves the Old World to "find" himself in New York. There he befriends three restless Americans: Timothy Scaggs, a journalist and daguerreotypist; Duff Lucking, a fireman, and damaged veteran of the Mexican War; and Duff's freethinking and ravishing sister Polly, an aspiring actress. Together they set out on a transcontinental trip west, followed by a cold-blooded killer seeking revenge.

This is historical fiction at it's best, and also an affecting story of four people chasing their American dreams.

~John


The Sea Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780307263117
Availability: Special Order
Published: Knopf - November 1st, 2005

This is a haunting, poignant story about memory and loss. It concerns a middle-aged Irishman, Max Morden, who returns to a seaside town where he spent his summers as a child, and recalls the relationship he had with the Grace family, in particular the mysterious twins Chloe and Myles.

Winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2005 The Sea is storytelling at it's best: unusual, well-developed characters; unexpected plot twists; lyrical, elegant prose. In some ways it is reminiscent of Michael Cunningham's "The Hours," especially how both novels address the past. A gem.

--John


The Ha-Ha Cover Image
$13.99
ISBN: 9780316010719
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Back Bay Books - March 6th, 2006

Howard Kapostash hasn't spoken in thirty years due to a severe head injury he suffered in Vietnam. His high school sweetheart, Sylvia, with problems of her own, asks Howard to look after her nine-year-old son, Ryan. The presence of this resourceful boy in Howard's life transforms him. Forced out of his isolation, he finds unexpected joy in work, in baseball, and in meals with his quirky roommates. He reconnects.

Part Quasimodo, part Boo Radley (to Ryan's Jem), part Holden Caulfield, Howard is an everyman, and a protagonist that stays with you. This is a graceful, funny, moving first novel about the cost of war and the human need to connect. If you enjoy Harper Lee and Richard Russo, give Dave King a try.

~John


Last Night Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9781400078417
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage Books USA - March 14th, 2006

Here are ten gem-like, spellbinding stories told in elegant, spare prose. Once you start reading you won' be able to put this collection down. The pieces fit together like a jigsaw puzzle: intimate, passionate stories of men and women together and apart. And the title story, the last, is a masterpiece!

James Salter was a runner-up for the 2006 Pen-Faulkner Award.

~John


Veronica Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780375727856
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage Books USA - July 18th, 2006

Set mostly in Paris and Manhattan in the 1980's, Mary Gaitskill's new novel is about a former fashion model, Alison (the narrator) and her friend, the eccentric Veronica. With gritty ("a pulled-back noisy face") and musical ("traffic knotted jewelry") prose Gaitskill creates a modern-day fairy tale: a story of friendship, family, illness, and love.

If you haven't read Mary Gaitskill before, this is a good place to start. One of the NYTBR's eleven best books of the year in 2005. Also, a National Book Award and National Book Critics' Circle Award Finalist. Dazzling and unforgettable!

~John