Posts Tagged ‘The Sense of an Ending’

11 Books to Save You from Being Judged While Drinking Your PSL

October 24th, 2017

The air is crisp, leaves are falling, and bulk candy is on sale everywhere. You’re zipping up your hoodie and boots and planning to go apple picking. That’s right—it’s fall! Even if the temperature hasn’t quite gotten the memo yet, the date on the calendar means your craving is in full force: You’re jonesing for pumpkin spice. Pumpkin spice everything, but especially the latte. There’s only one problem: you don’t want to feel labeled. You might not own leggings or UGGs, and maybe you don’t even know what an Instagram filter is (btw, we own these things and our favorite is Clarendon, so either way, we still love you, obvi) but that doesn’t mean you don’t worry about being judged for your beverage choice. Well, have no fear! Page through one of these while you sip, and nobody will even think of stereotyping you. You’ll look literary, intelligent, and anything but mainstream. Even better, you might just find your new favorite read!


M TrainM Train by Patti Smith

“Engaging . . . poetic and unconventional.” —Details

From the National Book Award–winning author of Just Kids: an unforgettable odyssey of a legendary artist, told through the prism of the cafés and haunts she has worked in around the world. It is a book Patti Smith has described as “a roadmap to my life.”

M Train begins in the tiny Greenwich Village café where Smith goes every morning for black coffee, ruminates on the world as it is and the world as it was, and writes in her notebook. Through prose that shifts fluidly between dreams and reality, past and present, and across a landscape of creative aspirations and inspirations, we travel to Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul in Mexico; to a meeting of an Arctic explorer’s society in Berlin; to a ramshackle seaside bungalow in New York’s Far Rockaway that Smith acquires just before Hurricane Sandy hits; and to the graves of Genet, Plath, Rimbaud, and Mishima.

Woven throughout are reflections on the writer’s craft and on artistic creation. Here, too, are singular memories of Smith’s life in Michigan and the irremediable loss of her husband, Fred Sonic Smith.

Braiding despair with hope and consolation, illustrated with her signature Polaroids, M Train is a meditation on travel, detective shows, literature, and coffee. It is a powerful, deeply moving book by one of the most remarkable multiplatform artists at work today.

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LowlandThe Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

“Poignant. . . . There is an important truth here—that life often denies us understanding, and sometimes all there is to hold on to is our ability to endure.” —NPR

The Lowland is an engrossing family saga steeped in history: the story of two very different brothers bound by tragedy, a fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past, a country torn apart by revolution, and a love that endures long past death. Moving from the 1960s to the present, and from India to America and across generations, this dazzling novel is Jhumpa Lahiri at the height of her considerable powers.

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SimsThe Tragedy of Brady Sims by Ernest J. Gaines

“A taut and searing tale about race and small-town justice. . . .  Gaines tells a hell of a story.”  —Booklist

Ernest J. Gaines’s new novella revolves around a courthouse shooting that leads a young reporter to explore the long story of race and power in his small town and the relationship between the white sheriff and the black man who “whipped children” to keep order.

After Brady Sims pulls out a gun in a courtroom and shoots his own son, who has just been convicted of robbery and murder, he asks only to be allowed two hours before he’ll give himself up to the sheriff. When the editor of the local newspaper asks his cub reporter to dig up a human interest story about Brady, he heads for the town’s barbershop. It is the barbers and the regulars who hang out there who narrate with empathy, sadness, humor, and a profound understanding the story of Brady Sims—an honorable, just, and unsparing man who with his tough love had been handed the task of keeping the black children of Bayonne, Louisiana, in line to protect them from the unjust world in which they lived. And when his own son makes a fateful mistake, it is up to Brady to carry out the necessary reckoning. In the telling, we learn the story of a small Southern town, divided by race, and the black community struggling to survive even as many of its inhabitants head north during the Great Migration.

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SenseThe Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

“Elegant, playful, and remarkable.” —The New Yorker

A novel so compelling that it begs to be read in a single setting, The Sense of an Ending has the psychological and emotional depth and sophistication of Henry James at his best, and is a stunning achievement in Julian Barnes’s oeuvre.

This intense novel follows Tony Webster, a middle-aged man, as he contends with a past he never thought much about—until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance: one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present. Tony thought he left this all behind as he built a life for himself, and his career has provided him with a secure retirement and an amicable relationship with his ex-wife and daughter, who now has a family of her own. But when he is presented with a mysterious legacy, he is forced to revise his estimation of his own nature and place in the world.

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BlueBlue Nights by Joan Didion

“Incantatory. . . . A beautiful condolence note to humanity about some of the painful realities of the human condition.” —The Washington Post

From one of our most powerful writers, a work of stunning frankness about losing a daughter.

Richly textured with memories from her own childhood and married life with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, and daughter, Quintana Roo, this new book by Joan Didion is an intensely personal and moving account of her thoughts, fears, and doubts regarding having children, illness, and growing old.

As she reflects on her daughter’s life and on her role as a parent, Didion grapples with the candid questions that all parents face, and contemplates her age, something she finds hard to acknowledge, much less accept. Blue Nights—the long, light evening hours that signal the summer solstice, “the opposite of the dying of the brightness, but also its warning”—like The Year of Magical Thinking before it, is an iconic book of incisive and electric honesty, haunting and profound.

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NarrowThe Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

“A symphony of tenderness and love, a moving and powerful story that captures the weight and breadth of a life. . . . A masterpiece.” —The Guardian

In The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan displays the gifts that have made him one of the most acclaimed writers of contemporary fiction. Moving deftly from a Japanese POW camp to present-day Australia, from the experiences of Dorrigo Evans and his fellow prisoners to that of the Japanese guards, this savagely beautiful novel tells a story of the many forms of love and death, of war and truth, as one man comes of age and prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.

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NegroI Am Not Your Negro by James Baldwin

“Thrilling. . . . A portrait of one man’s confrontation with a country that, murder by murder, as he once put it, ‘devastated my universe.’” —The New York Times

To compose his stunning documentary film I Am Not Your Negro, acclaimed filmmaker Raoul Peck mined James Baldwin’s published and unpublished oeuvre, selecting passages from his books, essays, letters, notes, and interviews that are every bit as incisive and pertinent now as they have ever been. Weaving these texts together, Peck brilliantly imagines the book that Baldwin never wrote. In his final years, Baldwin had envisioned a book about his three assassinated friends, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King. His deeply personal notes for the project have never been published before. Peck’s film uses them to jump through time, juxtaposing Baldwin’s private words with his public statements, in a blazing examination of the tragic history of race in America.

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WildThe Wild Things by Dave Eggers

“[A] terrific new novel. . . . A fresh way to tell us a story we already know so well, about the monstrous forces of love and hate that mark every childhood—and pursue us howling into adulthood.” —The Boston Globe

Max is a rambunctious eight-year-old whose world is changing around him: His father is absent, his mother is increasingly distracted, and his teenage sister has outgrown him. Sad and angry, Max dons his wolf suit and makes terrible, ruinous mischief, flooding his sister’s room and driving his mother half-crazy. Convinced his family doesn’t want him anymore, Max flees home, finds a boat and sails away. Arriving on an island, he meets strange and giant creatures who rage and break things, who trample and scream. These beasts do everything Max feels inside, and so Max appoints himself their king. Here, on a magnificent adventure with these funny and complex monsters, Max can be the wildest thing of all.

In this visionary adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s classic work, Dave Eggers brings an imaginary world vividly to life, telling the story of a lonely boy navigating the emotional journey away from boyhood.

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AtticAttic by Katherine Dunn

“Katherine Dunn [is] a practitioner of the highest form of writing there is: literature of the imagination.” —Chicago Sun-Times

Here is the slim, stunning debut novel from the acclaimed author of Geek LoveAttic follows a young woman named Kay who has joined a cultlike organization that sells magazine subscriptions in small towns. When Kay tries to cash a customer’s bad check, she lands in jail, and Dunn’s visceral prose gives us a vivid, stream-of-consciousness depiction of the space in which she’s held. As Kay comes to know the other inmates, alliances and rivalries are formed, memories are recounted, and lives are changed. Based on Katherine Dunn’s own formative coming-of-age experiences, Attic was critically lauded when it was first published in 1970. Now it stands as an extraordinary, indelible work from one of our most celebrated writers.

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FlameThe Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus

“Laden with metaphor. . . . It reads like a dream, complete with all the associative richness that comparison might suggest.” —The New York Times Book Review

In The Flame Alphabet, the most maniacally gifted writer of our generation delivers a novel about how far we will go in order to protect our loved ones.

The sound of children’s speech has become lethal. In the park, adults wither beneath the powerful screams of their offspring. For young parents Sam and Claire, it seems their only means of survival is to flee from their daughter, Esther. But they find it isn’t so easy to leave someone you love, even as they waste away from her malevolent speech. On the eve of their departure, Claire mysteriously disappears, and Sam, determined to find a cure for this new toxic language, presses on alone into a foreign world to try to save his family.

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OrphansWhen We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro

“You seldom read a novel that so convinces you it is extending the possibilities of fiction.”
The Sunday Times (London)

From the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature and author of the Booker Prize–winning novel The Remains of the Day comes this stunning work of soaring imagination. 

Born in early-twentieth-century Shanghai, Banks was orphaned at the age of nine after the separate disappearances of his parents. Now, more than twenty years later, he is a celebrated figure in London society; yet the investigative expertise that has garnered him fame has done little to illuminate the circumstances of his parents’ alleged kidnappings. Banks travels to the seething, labyrinthine city of his memory in hopes of solving the mystery of his own painful past, only to find that war is ravaging Shanghai beyond recognition—and that his own recollections are proving as difficult to trust as the people around him.

Masterful, suspenseful, and psychologically acute, When We Were Orphans offers a profound meditation on the shifting quality of memory and the possibility of avenging one’s past.

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