Monday, February 22, 2010
I received a few in the mail last week from Paperbackswap.com:
Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich;
"Here is the most telling fact: you wish to possess me. Here is another fact: I loved you and let you think you could."
When Irene America discovers that her husband, Gil, has been reading her diary, she begins a secret Blue Notebook, as much the truth about her life and her marriage as the Red Diary - hidden where he can find it - is a manipulative farce. Alternating between these two records, complemented by unflinching third-person narration, "Shadow Tag" is an eerily gripping read. When the novel opens, Irene is resuming work on her doctoral thesis about George Catlin, the nineteenth century painter whose Native American subjects often regarded his portraits with suspicious wonder. Gil, who gained notoriety as an artist through his emotionally revealing portraits of his wife - work that is adoring, sensual, and humiliating, even shocking - realises that his fear of losing Irene may force him to create the defining work of his career. Meanwhile, Irene and Gil fight to keep up appearances for their three children: fourteen-year-old genius Florian, who escapes his family's unravelling with joints and a stolen bottle of wine; Riel, their only daughter, an eleven-year-old feverishly planning to preserve her family, no matter what disaster strikes; and, sweet kindergartener Stoney, who was born, his parents come to realise, at the beginning of the end. As her home increasingly becomes a place of violence and secrets, and she drifts into alcoholism, Irene moves to end her marriage. But her attachment to Gil is filled with shadowy need and delicious ironies. In brilliantly controlled prose, "Shadow Tag" fearlessly explores the complex nature of love, the fluid boundaries of identity, and one family's struggle for survival and redemption.
Dances With Luigi: A Grandson's Search for his Italian Roots by Paul Paolicelli
In this spirited memoir, veteran TV journalist Paul Paolicelli does what many of us can only dream of--he picks up and moves to a foreign country in an attempt to trace his ancestral roots. With the help of Luigi, his guide and companion, he travels through Italy--Rome, Gamberale, Matera, Miglionico, Alessandria, even Mussolini's hometown of Predappio--and discovers the tragic legacy of the Second World War that is still affecting the Old Country. He visits ancient castles and village churches, samples superb Italian cuisine, haggles at the open air market at Porta Portese, enjoys and Alessandria siesta, and frequents "coffee bars", where beggars discuss politics with affluent Italian locals. He finds lost-lost cousins during the day and performs with an amateur jazz group during the night. Along the way, he discovers deeply moving stories about his family's past and learns answers to question that have plagued him since childhood.
More that just a spiritual account of one man's ancestral search, Dances With Luigi is also a stunning portrait of la bella Italia--both old and new--that is painted beautifully in all of its glamour, history, and contradiction.
The Melting Season by Jami Attenberg
A tender, provocative story about the power of friendship, the thrill of self-discovery, and the strength it takes to escape the past.
Catherine Madison is headed West with a suitcase full of cash that isn't hers. She's just left the only home she's ever known, a small town in Nebraska, after the only man she had ever known, her husband, Thomas, deserted her. She's also left behind her deepest, most shameful secrets-among them a dysfunctional family she's never quite been able to escape and a marriage whose most intimate moments have plagued her with self-doubt. On the road, she was going to become a new person. Or so she thought.
But running away from the past isn't as easy as she had hoped. When Catherine reaches Las Vegas, she forms surprising new friendships that compel her to reveal what she had sworn she'd keep hidden, and teach her what human connection really means. Armed with this new knowledge, she is finally emboldened to uncover the truth about her family, come to understand what destroyed her marriage, and prevent her troubled sister from repeating her mistakes.
Deeply compassionate and unflinchingly bold, The Melting Season is the story of an indelible character's journey from isolation to belonging, as well as an honest look at the things we feel we deserve from our lives- and how far we will go to find them.
What was in YOUR mailbox today?