The titles and links below will direct you to print copies when available. Click on the title to see all available formats, including recorded versions and eBooks.
I was ready to dismiss this SF book but it drew me in despite the apparent absurdity of the plot. Ben sets out, loses his bearings, and starts to panic. Where the hell is he? Well, somehow in the interstices of his interior life as played out in very surrealistic ways. (Though he doesn’t recognize that set up until the very end.) Befriended by a tough-talking blue crab, threatened by all manner of monsters, given impossible quest after quest. He must stay on The Path or face further peril. The Producer is running the show; he learns along the way. At the end he has a choice to embrace what seems like utopia or resume his ordinary life. Read it to find out what happens.
Matt runs obsessively and reads a lot, especially when things get difficult. She teaches college English, has what seems like a good marriage (even though she often seems checked out) and worries with good reason about her daughter Ellie who’s deep into drugs. In desperation she sends Ellie off to Florida where a friend, Anny, needs an au pair. Anny runs a restaurant. Her 6-year-old son Jack is very smart but has special needs. A predictable tragedy ensues. Superheated, complex relationships and needs play out for all the characters. Yes, it’s sad, but I seem to have a bottomless appetite for such material.
Subtitled Dating, Sex, and Marriage in America’s Prisons. Ever wonder why anyone would enter such an alliance? Greenwood follows 6 couples and sheds lots of light on the subject. Have you ever wished for utmost devotion? In prison, your spouse or lover or potential lover (conjugal visits aren’t the norm) has lots of time to concentrate on the best thing in his/her life: you. Two of the inmates actually finish their sentences and join their partners, but life on the outside has its own considerable challenges. Greenwood doesn’t maintain strict journalist distance which adds even more intensity to the dramatic stories. Fascinating stuff.
Subtitled A Family, 2029-2047, In God We Trusted. That phrase (currently printed on our money in the present tense) pretty much sums it up. In the not-so-distant future, the US dollar becomes so devalued that we rapidly become a third-world nation. The very rich Mandibles can’t believe their cushion has vanished. Only Willing, 16, who has studied economic theory, knows how to cope. He takes practical action while the others fulminate, dither, and moan. All 14 family members end up crammed into a 3-bedroom ranch house until it gets hijacked. Then they are forced to join the homeless in the park across the street in Brooklyn. I found the book incredibly funny (as a crutch) and eerily prescient (though I certainly hope not). Listened to it on CD, got so engaged that it was hard to get out of the car, but only wish the narrator hadn’t pronounced some words wrong. (That’s the editor in me.)
In Willy’s World (as it were) the title reflects this author’s dark yet spirited outlook, as reflected in Lynette, who’s really trying hard to keep her family’s leaking ship afloat. Their rented house is crumbling but will be foreclosed unless she can buy it. With her three low-paying jobs, not much hope there. Her mother chain-smokes and grouses. Her brain damaged brother watches a lot of TV; he’s a love but also a handful. So she ventures forth to collect old debts from her previous messed up life and enters dangerous territory. Portland setting, lots of action, and let’s hear it for the underdog!
Back next week.