Recent Work By TNB Book Club

inthehous982u3Available from Soho Press.

This is a fiercely original book—at once intimate and epic, visceral and philosophical—that sent me scurrying for adjectives, for precedents, for cover.   —Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins

In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods tells the story of a newly married couple who take up a lonely existence in the title’s mythical location. In this blank and barren plot far from the world they’ve known, they mean to start the family the unnamed husband wants so obsessively. But their every pregnancy fails, and as their grief swells, the husband─a hot-tempered and impatient fisherman and trapper─attempts to prove his dominion in other ways, emptying both the lake and the woods of their many beasts. As the years pass, the wife changes too, her suddenly powerful voice singing some new series of objects into being, including a threatening moon hung above their house, its doomed weight already slowly falling, bending their now-starless sky.
 
In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods is about marriage, parenthood, and the dreams parents have for their children─as well as what happens to a marriage whose success is measured solely by the children it produces, or else the grief that marks their absence.

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9781455501663Available from Grand Central Publishing.

Red Moon is a serious, politically symbolic novel—a literary novel about lycanthropes. If George Orwell had imagined a future where the werewolf population had grown to the degree that they were colonized and drugged, this terrifying novel might be it.  —John Irving

They live among us.

They are our neighbors, our mothers, our lovers.

They change.

When government agents kick down Claire Forrester’s front door and murder her parents, Claire realizes just how different she is. Patrick Gamble was nothing special until the day he got on a plane and hours later stepped off it, the only passenger left alive, a hero. Chase Williams has sworn to protect the people of the United States from the menace in their midst, but he is becoming the very thing he has promised to destroy. So far, the threat has been controlled by laws and violence and drugs. But the night of the red moon is coming, when an unrecognizable world will emerge…and the battle for humanity will begin.

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9781938604294_p0_v3_s260x420Available from Other Voices Press.

Rob Roberge is a modern master of the down-and-out-that-just-got-worse….Prose this carefully wrought and true puts him in the tradition of Bukowski, Hammett, and Denis Johnson.  —Steve Almond

To the shock of lovers and rivals, indie guitarist Bud Barrett, is finally–if tenuously–married, clean and sober. Now he faces the challenge of staying that way. To avoid repeating the past, Bud needs to confront the ghosts that dwell there. After decades of seeking redemption in the arms of “pervy Florence Nightingales,” Bud finds himself still haunted by his mother’s abandonment, his own array of crimes, and a murder he witnessed as a child. As he revisits his life of grief and reckless excess, all paths lead to his long-estranged father, a man with his own turbulent history and the only one who can connect Bud’s fragments, unlocking the answers that just might save him.

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n409249Available now from Emergency Press.

Stupid Children is a bildungsroman of twisted proportions told with startling clarity through the filter of a smart, psychoanalytic perspective. No character is safe from Zion’s unapologetic examinations. She bestows her protagonist with an open mind, a sharp intellect, and a sweltering imagination—all of the requisite ingredients for a disturbing, fascinating novel.  —Necessary Fiction

Jane lived happily in Miami Beach with her father until his failed suicide attempt and relocation to a mental hospital forced her into the foster care system. By chance, Jane is assigned to foster parents in central Florida who are deeply involved in the Second Day Believers&mdasha cult focused on the “cleansing” of mental impurities in their children, and the sanctity of the internal organs of farm animals. Jane is quickly initiated into the Second Day Believers, but her father’s lingering voice prevents her from becoming entirely indoctrinated. Despite Jane’s resistance, she is revered in the cult as the second coming of the late wife of Sir One, the leader of the Second Day Believers. Poised to rise through the ranks of the insane cult and marry their leader, Jane must make a difficult choice.

Stupid Children is a story inspired by Katherine Dunn’s, Geek Love, and written in a voice similar to Donald Barthelme. Hilarious, offbeat, fast-paced and wildly imaginative, Zion, a doctor of psychology, imbues her characters with bizarre psychological abnormalities to create vivid, memorable eccentrics that leap from the page. With deadpan, wonderful ruminations on tattoos, the nature of coincidence, drug use, father-daughter relationships, mental illness, violence, and deviant sexuality, this novel is destined to become a cult favorite.

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628x471Available now from Soft Skull Press.

An unusual take on a mid-life crisis narrative, Mohr’s novel… offers unexpected—often brilliant—confrontations of modern clichés…Mohr’s elegant writing and colorful milieu is refreshing, an interesting mix of Charles Bukowski and Tom Robbins, with a cinematic heaping of the Coen brothers for good measure.  —Publishers Weekly

When his bicycle is intentionally run off the road by a neighbor’s SUV, something snaps in Bob Coffin. Modern suburban life has been getting him down and this is the last straw. To avoid following in his own father’s missteps, Bob is suddenly desperate to reconnect with his wife and his distant, distracted children. And he’s looking for any guidance he can get.

Bob Coffin soon learns that the wisest words come from the most unexpected places, from characters that are always more than what they appear to be: a magician/marriage counselor, a fast-food drive-thru attendant/phone-sex operator, and a janitor/guitarist of a French KISS cover band. Can these disparate voices inspire Bob to fight for his family? To fight for his place in the world?

A call-to-arms for those who have ever felt beaten down by life, Fight Song is a quest for happiness in a world in which we are increasingly losing control. It is the exciting new novel by one of the most surprising and original writers of his generation.

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Flimsy+Little+Plastic+Miracles+Cover+Hi+resAvailable now from Viking.

So blisteringly funny that I laughed as I hadn’t laughed in years:  we’re talking demonic, unstoppable, don’t sit next to that guy who howls.  —The Washington Post

In this tour de force of imagination, Ron Currie asks why literal veracity means more to us than deeper truths, creating yet again a genre-bending novel that will at once dazzle, move, and provoke.

The protagonist of Ron Currie, Jr.’s new novel has a problem­—or rather, several of them. He’s a writer whose latest book was destroyed in a fire. He’s mourning the death of his father, and has been in love with the same woman since grade school, a woman whose beauty and allure is matched only by her talent for eluding him. Worst of all, he’s not even his own man, but rather an amalgam of fact and fiction from Ron Currie’s own life. When Currie the character exiles himself to a small Caribbean island to write a new book about the woman he loves, he eventually decides to fake his death, which turns out to be the best career move he’s ever made. But fame and fortune come with a price, and Currie learns that in a time of twenty-four-hour news cycles, reality TV, and celebrity Twitter feeds, the one thing the world will not forgive is having been told a deeply satisfying lie.

What kind of distinction could, or should, be drawn between Currie the author and Currie the character?  Or between the book you hold in your hands and the novel embedded in it? Whatever the answers, Currie, an inventive writer always eager to test the boundaries of storytelling in provocative ways, has essential things to impart along the way about heartbreak, reality, grief, deceit, human frailty, and blinding love.

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the-care-and-feeding-of-exotic-pets-682x1024Available now from Ig Publishing.

Wagman has crafted a dark, funny and sensitive thriller that might be the first of its kind: the Oedipal abduction tale. —Book Page

Winnie Parker, mother to an angst-ridden teenage daughter and ex-wife to a successful game show host who left her for a twenty-something contestant, begins a normal day in her hum-drum existence by dropping her car off at the repair shop. After accepting what she believes is a ride to pick up her rental car, Winnie realizes too late that she’s been kidnapped.

What follows is a riveting psychological game of cat and mouse set in the kidnapper’s tropically heated house—kept that way for Cookie, a menacing seven-foot long Iguana headquartered in the kitchen. While desperately seeking to escape—which leads to several violent clashes with her increasingly unstable kidnapper—Winnie also tries to understand why she was taken captive. Is her kidnapper merely seeking a ransom or does he have something more sinister in mind? Does he know that Winnie’s mother is an Oscar-winning actress? Or did he connect her with Jonathan, her famous ex-husband? When the truth reveals itself, Winnie is not only forced to fight for her life, but must also protect the lives of those she loves from the kidnapper’s deranged master plan.

An engrossing, darkly humorous, edge-of-your-seat story, The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets explores the dynamic between kidnapper and kidnapped, bizarre reptile lore, and the absurdity of the celebrity lifestyle.

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Brad Listi (BL): Okay. I figure we should get this show on the road. Shann Ray, thanks for joining us today and congratulations on your success with AMERICAN MASCULINE.

Shann Ray (SR): Thanks, Brad.

BL: How’s it been going so far?

SR: Whirlwind. Like one of those dust devils on the Montana plains, and I’m standing in the middle of it.

 

Brad Listi (BL): Okay, everybody. Time to get rolling. Very happy to welcome Diana Spechler to tonight’s chat.

Diana Spechler: (DS): Thank you!

BL: Diana, thanks so much for being here, and congrats on SKINNY.

DS: Great to be here.

Brad Listi (BL): Three minutes, ladies and gentlemen.

Stewart O’Nan (SO): Gotta warm up my Magic 8-ball.

BL: (He’s not referring to cocaine, ladies and gentlemen.)

SO: I was gonna say — not a Belushi reference.

Due to computer poltergeists, a portion of the conversation was lost.  You’re coming in mid-chat here after Brad has admitted that he’s from Indiana.

 

Jessica Anya Blau (JB): I don’t even know what Indiana is. I can’t imagine it.

 

Brad Listi (BL): It was bleak. A cultural void. Terrible weather. Bad sports teams. (Which have since improved.)

So here’s a question from Art . . . .

Greetings, TNB readers and Book Club members!

This month’s TNB Book Club selection is Jonathan Evison’s West of Here.



 

 

According to the West of Here website, Evison’s book is “set in the fictional town of Port Bonita, on Washington State’s rugged Pacific coast. West of Here is propelled by a story that both re-creates and celebrates the American experience—it is storytelling on the grandest scale. With one segment of the narrative focused on the town’s founders circa 1890, and another showing the lives of their descendants in 2006, the novel develops as a kind of conversation between two epochs, one rushing blindly toward the future and the other struggling to undo the damage of the past.”

*This is a transcript of the conversation we had with Caroline Leavitt, author of The TNB Book Club‘s January selection, Pictures of You.  It happened on Sunday, January 30, 2011.

 

 

BRAD LISTI (BL): Alright, everybody. We’re back. Welcome. Really pleased to have Caroline Leavitt here with us this month. Her latest novel, Pictures of You, is receiving all kinds of praise and good ink. Its story focuses on the aftermath of a car crash that leaves one woman dead — a survivor’s tale that hits on a variety of compelling themes, including grief, guilt, secrets, and the limits of human forgiveness. Please feel free to offer up questions for Caroline throughout. As always, I’ll be moderating as we go.

Welcome, Caroline!

CAROLINE LEAVITT (CL): Thanks for coming everyone, and thank you, Brad.  Remember: no question is too embarrassing to ask me.


This month, the TNB Book Club is proud to feature Half a Life, the beautiful, heartrending, and ultimately life-affirming memoir by Darin Strauss, now available from the fine people at McSweeney’s.

A lot to think about with this one, and certainly much to discuss.  The story Strauss tells is of the heartbreaking/harrowing variety.  You’d pretty much have to be a zombie automaton to read this sucker and not experience some pretty powerful emotions.

Members of the TNB Book Club:  Please feel free to use the comment board below to open up discussion about Darin’s book.

Let’s do some sharing.

Where to begin?

Somebody SAY SOMETHING!

For the love of Jesus….



 

Members of the TNB Book Club received a complimentary copy of the e-book edition of D.R. Haney‘s SUBVERSIA this week.  And the print edition is now on sale online at Powell’s, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. (The e-book and audio book editions are forthcoming and will be available where books are sold online very soon.)

With this in mind, we figured we’d start up a discussion thread about SUBVERSIA here on The Feed.  Please feel free to talk amongst yourselves, to talk about Duke’s sexy sideways head on the book jacket, and to ponder the wonder that is Duke’s majestic prose.

And if you have any questions or comments for Mr. Haney, please feel free to drop them on the comment board below.  He’ll be checking in regularly to chat with readers, respond to inquiries, fend off savage ad hominem attacks on his character, and engage in collegial brouhaha….