Neshama’s Choices for May 1st

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City Under One Roof by Iris Yamashita  


A tiny town in Alaska in which all the inhabitants live in one high-rise. It’s severely economically depressed except for fair-weather tourists who come to see the glaciers, but mostly bleak and grim.  Body parts wash up on shore and a detective from Anchorage comes to investigate. Actually, she’s on leave from active duty—a personal trauma, which has echoes of these current happenings. Except for boats, the only access to town is through a tunnel that is shut down by a blizzard, so she’s stuck there with plenty of time to investigate. Native gangs nearby complicate matters. A peculiar, haunting story.  


The Last Party by Claire Macintosh  


In Wales, right on the border of England, a fancy development has gone up. Rhys, a singer, and investor, has invited neighbors and villagers to bask in his good fortune and show off his digs.  Later that night he disappears and when his body is found floating in the lake, it becomes clear that a number of folks wanted him gone. Tensions between him and his business partner, marital troubles, and resentment of the English interlopers by locals provide a number of potential suspects. A ripping good story.  


It Won't Always Be Like This by Malaka Gharib  


A graphic memoir that tracks the author’s fraught relationship with her father who moved from America back to Egypt and remarried. Every summer she visits him and it’s painful, what with the cultural and language divide. Her stepmother Hala is an enigma, her step-siblings are so different, and of course, she arrives with her own insecurities. Boredom and squabbling suffuse each long visit. The book tracks family history through two decades but as Gharib matures, she starts to gain perspective on interpersonal tangles and forgives all parties at last.  The drawings are colorful and expressive, and the graphic form projects emotions very directly.  


The Violence by Delilah S. Dawson  


A new pandemic in which sufferers are overcome with rage and do great damage until the “storm” passes. They are in a trance and when they emerge, have no memory of what they did (except for the grisly evidence). This condition plays holy hell with a “perfect” family; they’re actually entitled and miserable but have been putting on a good face for years. As their infrastructure crumbles, it strips away the facade and each becomes more down-to-earth and empathetic, except for the repellent Pater familias (though he gets his well-deserved comeuppance). Sometimes a little obvious, but I gobbled it up anyway.