Recommended Reading from the Walkover Collection

The Walkover collection is located on the 2nd floor of the library under the staircase.

The Buddha in the Attic (Knopf 2011)
Julia Otsuka
LAW-Walkover Collection (2nd Floor) PS3615.T88B83 2012

“Otsuka, whose first novel (When the Emperor Was Divine, 2003) focused on one specific Japanese-American family’s plight during and after internment, takes the broad view in this novella-length consideration of Japanese mail-order brides making a life for themselves in America in the decades before World War II. There are no central characters. A first-person-plural chorus narrates the women’s experiences from their departure from Japan until they are removed from their homes and shipped to the camps, at which point the narration is taken over by clueless whites. Rather than following an individual story, Otsuka lists experience after experience, piling name upon name. Voyaging across the Pacific to California, the women’s emotions range from fear to excitement, but most, even those leaving behind secret lovers, are hopeful. Reality sets in when they meet their husbands, who are seldom the men they seemed from their letters and photographs. And the men’s reactions to their new wives vary as much as the women’s. Some are loving, some abusive. For all their differences, whether farm workers, laundrymen, gardeners or struggling entrepreneurs, they share a common outsider status. Soon the majority of women who stay married—some die or run off or are abandoned—are working alongside their husbands. They begin to have babies and find themselves raising children who speak English and consider themselves American. And the women have become entrenched; some even have relationships with the whites around them; many are financially comfortable. But with the arrival of the war against Japan come rumors. Japanese and white Americans look at each other differently. Loyalty is questioned. Anti-Japanese laws are passed. And the Japanese themselves no longer know whom to trust as more and more of them disappear each day. Once they are truly gone, off to the camps, the whites feel a mix of guilt and relief, then begin to forget the Japanese who had been their neighbors. A lovely prose poem that gives a bitter history lesson.” Review from Kirkus Reviews

Recommended Reading from the Walkover Collection

The Walkover collection is located on the 2nd floor of the library under the staircase.

I am Radar (Penguin Press 2015)
Reif Larson
LAW-Walkover Collection (2nd Floor)  PS3612.A773I2 2015

“Set aside for the moment the black baby born to white parents, the avant-­garde puppeteers and the quantum physics that swirl around the whole kit and caboodle. The most interesting facet of Reif Larsen’s 600-plus-page novel, “I Am Radar,” is that it reads like something far more compact than its bulk might suggest. There are maps, diagrams and pictures (e.g., an elephant plummeting from a bridge, a Cambodian prisoner of the Khmer Rouge) that remind one of the visual arrangements in W. G. Sebald’s novels. Then there is a deeply patterned narrative that darts easily from small-bore domestic dramas to sweeping historical catastrophes with just the right fillip of silliness and levity to keep the whole text eminently ­approachable.” Review by Christopher Byrd, NYT Sunday Book Review

Sister, Mother, Husband, Dog (Blue Rider Press 2013)
Delia Ephron
LAW-Walkover Collection (2nd Floor) PS3555.P48S57 2013

“When Ephron’s humorous essay “How to Eat like a Child” appeared in the New York Times Magazine, her first “big success,” she knew she had found her calling. In this new collection of essays, she displays that sharply funny and compassionate voice. The author, who co-wrote the screenplay You’ve Got Mail and the play Love, Loss, and What I Wore with her sister Nora, has written novels for adults and teenagers (The Lion Is In, 2012) and essay collections (Funny Sauce, 1986). Here, her keen observations about family, friends, work and life’s small indignities and deep sorrows leave readers laughing out loud one moment and tearing up the next. In her loving essay “Losing Nora,” she grapples with grief, the complexities of sisterly love and sibling rivalry while paying tribute to her brilliant, fun-loving, tough-minded sister, who died in 2012. “Am I Jewish Enough?” describes the Ephron “sect of writers.” Her parents were Hollywood screenwriters, and all three of her sisters became authors. In their religion, “Laughter was the point, not prayer, and the blessing, ‘That’s a great line, write it down.’ ” In “Why I Can’t Write about My Mother,” Ephron reveals her madcap family’s dark side. Her parents took to alcohol like Nick and Nora Charles, and nights were often filled with “drunken brawls and raging fights.” In this alcoholic haze, her emotionally distant mother became even more elusive. Ephron knows a few things about her—e.g., she abhorred conformity and insisted her daughters would have careers—but she can never break through the surface of this accomplished woman who wore one-liners like armor. A witty and often profound look at human behavior and all its absurdities, contradictions, obsessions and phobias.” Review from Kirkus Reviews

Featured Book from the Walkover Collection

The Walkover collection is located on the 2nd floor of the library under the staircase.

booksLouise Erdrich, The Round House  (Harper Collins, 2012) LAW-Walkover Collection (2nd Floor)   PS3555.R42R68 2012   (Winner of the National Book Award 2012)

In her intensely involving fourteenth novel, Erdrich writes with brio in the voice of a man reliving the fateful summer of his thirteenth year. The son of a tribal judge, Bazil, and a tribal enrollment specialist, Geraldine, Joe Coutts is an attentively loved and lucky boy—until his mother is brutally beaten and raped. Erdrich’s profound intimacy with her characters electrifies this stunning and devastating tale of hate crimes and vengeance, her latest immersion in the Ojibwe and white community she has been writing about for more than two decades. As Joe and his father try to help Geraldine heal and figure out who attacked her and why, Erdrich dissects the harsh realities of an imperiled yet vital culture and unjust laws reaching back to a tragedy in her earlier novel The Plague of Doves (2008). But it is Joe’s awakening to the complexities and traumas of adult life that makes this such a beautifully warm and wise novel.Through Joe’s hilarious and unnerving encounters with his ex-stripper aunt, bawdy grandmothers, and a marine turned Catholic priest; Joe’s dangerous escapades with his loyal friends; and the spellbinding stories told by his grandfather, Mooshum, a favorite recurring character, Erdrich covers a vast spectrum of history, cruel loss, and bracing realizations. A preeminent tale in an essential American saga. (Review from Booklist)

Featured Book from the Walkover Collection

The Walkover collection is located on the 2nd floor of the library under the staircase.

Jaimy Gordon, Lord of Misrule  (McPherson & Co, 2010) LAW-Walkover Collection (2nd Floor)   PS3557.O668L67 2010   (Winner of the National Book Award 2010)

9505561Firmly rooted in the smells and sounds of a particular place, the language of the racetrack, like Yiddish, is rich in the ironies and heartbreak of daily living. Gordon knows that language and brings it to vivid life in this moving and lyrical tone poem about the inhabitants of the “backside” at a no-account West Virginia racetrack called Indian Mound Downs. The equilibrium of life for the grooms, trainers, small-time owners, and even the horses that populate the backside’s shed rows is disrupted by the arrival of a frizzy-haired girl and her peculiar boyfriend, who plans to run his aging horse at the track. Nothing odd about that, particularly, but with the girl’s arrival, Medicine Ed, a 73-year-old groom who has spent his entire life as a “racetracker,” has a “funny, goofered feeling about the way things was going.” Ed, who earned his moniker making “goofer juice,” which has startling effects when rubbed on a horse about to run, is rarely wrong about such things. As the inevitable plays itself out over a novel structured around four horses (including the titular Lord of Misrule) running in four races, we come to feel not only the idiosyncratic camaraderie shared by the backside inhabitants but also the special rhythm of life lived near the “fly-loud” barn. This is not the world of Seabiscuit or Secretariat, where the right horse winning the right race makes everything good; this is a goofered world ruled by misrule. But sometimes, as Gordon tells it, the smell of pine tar and horse manure can function like a “devil’s tonic.” Words can do that, too, as this nearly word-perfect novel makes abundantly clear. –Bill Ott (Review from Booklist)

 

Recommended Title from the Walkover Collection

297673Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead Books 2008) [Winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for fiction]

“Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd, a New Jersey romantic who dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the fukú — the ancient curse that has haunted the Oscar’s family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still dreaming of his first kiss, is only its most recent victim – until the fateful summer that he decides to be its last.

With dazzling energy and insight, Junot Díaz immerses us in the uproarious lives of our hero Oscar, his runaway sister Lola, and their ferocious beauty-queen mother Belicia, and in the epic journey from Santo Domingo to Washington Heights to New Jersey’s Bergenline and back again. Rendered with uncommon warmth and humor, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao presents an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and the endless human capacity to persevere – and to risk it all – in the name of love.

“A true literary triumph, this novel confirms Junot Díaz as one of the best and most exciting writers of our time.” Review from goodreads.com.

 

Recommended Title from the Walkover Collection

Jennifer Egan, A Visit From the Goon Squad (Anchor Books 2011) [Winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for fiction]

egan-007“The title of Jennifer Egan’s novel may make it sound more like an episode of Scooby-Doo than an exceptional rendering of contemporary America, but don’t be fooled. Egan has said that the novel was inspired by two sources: Proust’s À la Recherche du Temps Perdu, and HBO’s The Sopranos. That shouldn’t make sense but it does: Goon Squad is a book about memory and kinship, time and narrative, continuity and disconnection, in which relationships shift and recombine kaleidoscopically.  (more…)