Kenneth Loosli

City of Clowns by Daniel Alarcón & Sheila Alvarado

City of Clowns By Daniel Alarcón, Sheila Alvarado Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781594633331
Published: Riverhead Books - November 3rd, 2015

Artist Sheila Alvarado illustrates Daniel Alarcón's moving short story about coming to terms with his philandering father and exploring Lima's vast collection of bizarre street performers. – Kenneth Loosli

Other Books Mentioned in This Piece: 
War by Candlelight: Stories By Daniel Alarcon Cover Image
ISBN: 9780060594800
Availability: Not on our shelves currently | available to order
Published: Harper Perennial - April 11th, 2006

The Blue Guitar by John Banville

The Blue Guitar By John Banville Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780385354264
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - September 15th, 2015

Oliver Orme is both a successful and a failed artist. He's made enough money to return to his hometown with a beautiful young wife and buy the big house on the hill, but he has stopped painting, leaving him a bit listless. Oliver is also an admitted kleptomaniac—he likes to steal things that will certainly be missed, like one half of a set of ceramic figurines or a special book of poetry or, worst of all, his friend's wife. His muse gone and his philandering discovered, Orme becomes the bête noire of his small-town coterie, so he sits down to write his narrative as a way to hold together a life that seems to be unraveling before his eyes. It's a subtle novel, but it's classic Banville; it has a lot to say about art, love, deception, family, class and the shiftiness of human relationships. – Kenneth Loosli

Hotels of North America by Rick Moody

Rick Moody's output has been uneven and controversial—one of the most notorious takedowns in all of literature was Dale Peck's review of Moody's PEN-award-winning memoir, showing how he could be on top and bottom all at once—but his newest novel could be a real crowd-pleaser. It's an always funny and frequently hilarious novel told in the form of brief online reviews of hotels, motels, inns, and even big-box store parking lots—any place a traveler might find himself passing a night away from home. The traveler/reviewer is Reginald Edward Morse, a former financier turned motivational speaker who is not above employing some dirty tricks (such as bringing his own dead cockroaches to stage an infestation) in order to gain a discounted price. One might think of Morse as a twisted version of Anne Tyler's Macon Leary (aka the Accidental Tourist) as written by Richard Brautigan. Unlike his internet-hating contemporary Jonathan Franzen, Moody has moved his fiction comfortably into the twenty-first century with this web-inspired comic novel that sometimes feels like Fawlty Towers in reverse. – Kenneth Loosli

Other Books Mentioned in This Piece: 
The Accidental Tourist: A Novel By Anne Tyler Cover Image
ISBN: 9780345452009
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - April 9th, 2002

Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie

Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights By Salman Rushdie Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780812998917
Published: Random House - September 8th, 2015

It may not be immediately apparent to math-averse book people, but the title of Salman Rushdie's new novel adds up to one thousand and one nights—perhaps the most (in) famous duration of time associated with storytelling. Rushdie's riff on The Arabian Nights tells the story of an exceptional jinna (a female jinn or genie) who leaves the world of her kind and falls in love with a series of human men. Her unlikely offspring live unaware of their supernatural heritage but as the slits that allow jinni to travel between their world and ours begin to open up, she seeks out her progeny to alert them to their powers. Soon "strangenesses" begin to occur with regularity, the fabric of reasonable society comes apart and the War of the Worlds (between the human world and the jinni world) begins. This book gives you everything you want from a Rushdie novel—wild wit and humor, earthy characters, his unique style of magical realism mixed with almost classical romance, Joycean wordplay, and a truly epic storyline that spans millennia. It's perfect for fans of Rushdie's earlier classics Midnight's Children and The Moor's Last Sigh. – Kenneth Loosli

Other Books Mentioned in This Piece: 
Midnight's Children: A Novel (Modern Library 100 Best Novels) By Salman Rushdie Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812976533
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - April 4th, 2006

The Moor's Last Sigh: Costa Novel Award (Vintage International) By Salman Rushdie Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679744665
Availability: Not on our shelves currently | available to order
Published: Vintage - January 14th, 1997

The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights (Modern Library Classics) By Richard Burton (Translated by), A. S. Byatt (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Richard Burton (Translated by), A. S. Byatt (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780375756757
Availability: Not on our shelves currently | available to order
Published: Modern Library - April 10th, 2001

Eyes by William H. Gass

Following last fall's reissue of his seminal In the Heart of the Heart of the Country, William Gass returns with a new collection of short fiction that looks at how we see things and, more provocatively, how things see us. Some of these stories are narrated by objects—in one story, the narrator is a folding chair in a men's barber shop and it shares its impressions of its fellow chairs and the people who sit on them; in another, the narrator is the piano from Casablanca who dishes about the actors' on-set drama and its life as a film prop. Displaying Gass' usual blend of the profound and the profane, Eyes shows he still has one of the best imaginations in the business. – Kenneth Loosli

Other Books Mentioned in This Piece: 
In the Heart of the Heart of the Country: And Other Stories (NYRB Classics) By William H. Gass, Joanna Scott (Introduction by) Cover Image
By William H. Gass, Joanna Scott (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781590177648
Availability: Not on our shelves currently | available to order
Published: NYRB Classics - November 4th, 2014

Scrapper by Matt Bell

Bell's latest novel is set in the urban decay of modern Detroit and tells the story of Kelly, a scavenger who breaks down the city and sells it for parts, working almost exclusively in what's called "the zone"—the part of the city that has been cut off from public services including water, electricity, and police. On one fateful run, he discovers a boy held captive in the basement of an abandoned building and being suddenly thrust into the spotlight as an unlikely hero forces Kelly to confront his own dark history and violent impulses. Conveying its almost allegorical plot in incantatory prose, Bell's novel digs through the rubble of broken people in a broken city to explore the intimate relationship between destruction and atonement. – Kenneth Loosli

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Between the World and Me By Ta-Nehisi Coates Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812993547
Availability: Not on our shelves currently | available to order
Published: One World - July 14th, 2015

This timely and important book is an essay on race and racism in America told in the form of a letter to the author’s teenage son. Coates frames the experience of racism in the most powerful way: it is the attempt by the state, or other powers that would be, to take possession of the black body, to lash it, to rape it, to reduce it to something "sexual and obscene." It is the best, most poignant account of what it means to be black in today's America. Between the World and Me should be required reading in all American high schools and colleges, and any citizen (especially those who consider themselves white) who really cares about this country should read it too. It helps that it's written to a teenager, because when it comes to growing up and facing racism, America is barely in its teens. – Kenneth Loosli

Fat City by Leonard Gardner

Fat City By Leonard Gardner, Denis Johnson (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Leonard Gardner, Denis Johnson (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781590178928
Availability: Not on our shelves currently | available to order
Published: NYRB Classics - September 8th, 2015

Another knockout from NYRB Classics, Fat City tells the tale of two down-and-out boxers in Stockton, California. They box, they fight with their women, they lose, they win, they win nothing. Gardner's prose is lucid and poetic and the plot is minimalistic—yet there's so much to admire in this novel, it's a wonder that it isn't renowned as an American classic. This reissue should expand its audience, especially for fans of social realism with a dash of noir. – Kenneth Loosli

Three Moments of an Explosion: Stories by China Miéville

You'll find this book in science fiction but these stories truly transcend the genre. When extraterrestrials do appear, they do so in unlikely ways, such as remnants to be rediscovered in an archeological dig. More commonly, Miéville's tales traffic in the uncanny—card games disrupted by the appearance of "hidden suits" (cards that don't exist in the standard 52-card deck), a guardian of religious objects who addresses the idols in his care as if they were alive, the sudden appearance and disappearance of what Hogarth called "shapes of horror." One highlight is "Polynia," a story about the arrival of icebergs floating above London and how this bizarre event affects the lives of a group of schoolboys. Each story offers a glimpse into a different kind of world but Miéville's gift is to keep even his strangest stories rooted in the human experience—his characters are as striking as his inventive plots. Call it speculative fiction, call it weird fiction, call it what you will, this is a remarkable book of literary invention that brings to mind the work of Daphne DuMaurier and J.G. Ballard. – Kenneth Loosli

Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson

Fortune Smiles: Stories By Adam Johnson Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780812997477
Published: Random House - August 18th, 2015

Adam Johnson's marvelous yet understated short stories put you in the uncomfortable position of identifying with people you may not want to—a husband with a paralyzed wife who derives pleasure only from a holographic version of Kurt Cobain, a victim of sexual abuse who has grown up into a collector of child pornography, a former East German prison warden who still frequents the museum of the prison he used to oversee, a man searching for the mother of his child in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, North Koreans struggling to make a life for themselves in South Korea. In every instance, Johnson slips you into the skin of these characters so fluidly it's impossible not to identify with them in this remarkable collection that proves Johnson's winning the Pulitzer Prize was not a fluke. This is one of the year's must-reads for fans of literary fiction. – Kenneth Loosli