October 15, 2016 Booklist 17 www.booklistonline.com
are almost irrelevant in Moshfegh’s unhesitating illumination of dark places. She is fearless
in her probing of her characters’ emotional
wounds, proceeding with such a sure touch
that readers are compelled, not repelled. The
directness of her style demands that we register the life “stuffed between the mattress and
the wall.” While it is not always an easy read,
this collection will leave readers with a sharper, more compassionate sense of the human
condition. —Shoba Viswanathan
I’ll Take You There.
By Wally Lamb.
Nov. 2016. 272p. Harper, $25.99 (9780062656285).
Lamb reprises film professor Felix Funicello
from Wishin’ and Hopin’ (2009) for this novel that is part trip down memory lane, part
ghost story, and part nod to “feminists everywhere, of every era,” as the dedication reads.
Felix runs a Monday-evening film club at the
Garde, a classic movie palace that has been
recently restored. There, he is visited by the
ghosts of two historical figures: Lois Weber,
an early Hollywood screenwriter and director, and Billie Dove, a star of the silent screen.
They bring reels of film containing the movie
of his life, and these allow him to revisit scenes
from his childhood in the fifties and sixties,
sometimes as a watcher, sometimes as an
actual participant. Meanwhile, Felix’s daughter, Aliza, who works at New York magazine,
writes an article about the Miss Rheingold
contest, a pop-culture phenomenon that
many older readers will remember and that is
threaded throughout the book. The novel is
a bit of a hodgepodge and tends to veer into
exposition, but with two Oprah’s Book Club
selections under his belt, Lamb has a following. —Mary Ellen Quinn
By Charlie Quimby.
Oct. 2016. 365p. Torrey, paper, $16.95
(9781937226671); e-book (9781937226688).
Quimby continues the Colorado tale he
began in Monument Road (2013) by bringing secondary characters to center stage.
Meg Mogrin is a successful realtor in her
hometown of Grand Junction, a once-pros-perous city stuck in a prolonged economic
downturn; Isaac Samson is a native of Grand
Junction who now lives on its fringes. Their
worlds collide when a proposed real-estate
development plan disrupts the fragile equilibrium between the city’s leaders and its
growing and increasingly organized homeless population. Quimby’s experiences as
a Colorado native and an advocate for the
homeless provide the novel’s backbone, but
its real strength is in its cast of vivid, relatable
individuals. There are neither heroes nor villains in Quimby’s Grand Junction; instead,
people on both sides of the development divide discover surprising commonalities when
it comes to their ideas of family and home.
Recommend to readers attuned to Kent
Haruf, Annie Proulx, Laura Pritchett, and
Bonnie Nadzam. —Lindsay Harmon
By Zoe Fishman.
Nov. 2016. 304p. Morrow, paper, $15.99
Maggie Sheets hasn’t had an easy life. She’s
raising her daughter on a housecleaner’s salary, putting her own dreams aside while
cleaning up after her wealthy clients in
Manhattan. When an old client-turned-friend passes away, Maggie is shocked to learn
that Liza has left her a gorgeous Sag Harbor
beach house in her will. But there’s a catch,
and her name is Edith. Liza’s elderly mother
doesn’t want to leave the beach house (and
all the memories), so Maggie agrees to keep
an eye on her new roommate. As Maggie, her
daughter, Lucy, and Edith all learn to live together, they end up learning even more about
themselves. Fishman has created a multigenerational tale of long-buried secrets, the appeal of
new beginnings, and the power of friendship
that will appeal to fans of Jamie Brenner and
J. Courtney Sullivan. Fishman treats Edith’s
struggles with Alzheimer’s with tact and respect, grounding Maggie’s rags-to-riches
story. By infusing her novel with touches of
romance, the challenges of single parenting,
and the heart-wrenching reach of dementia,
Fishman has created a warm, witty, and relatable novel. —Stephanie Turza
By Barbara Davis.
Dec. 2016. 432p. Berkley, paper, $16 (9780451474810).
Dovie Larkin knows it’s not normal to
spend her lunch breaks at the cemetery,
but her current situation is anything but
normal. Her fiancé, William, killed himself
two weeks before their wedding, and being
near his grave is the only thing that makes
her feel calm. Her boss is running out of
patience, and her job is in jeopardy, but
Dovie has one last chance to prove herself
worthy of her museum-curator position—a
huge fund-raiser with the Tates, one of the
wealthiest families in Charleston. When
Dovie uncovers evidence at the cemetery
that links the Tates to an old local mystery,
she’s forced to decide if she’s finally ready
to move on. Davis has crafted a warm and
witty novel of self-discovery, splicing in old
letters written by a young woman who finds
herself in equally trying circumstances. Fans
of Liane Moriarty and Annie England Nob-lin will adore the stubbornness of Davis’
heroine and the contrast between the sordid
mystery and Charleston’s refined high society in this perfectly paced tale of betrayal,
acceptance, and the power of forgiveness.
By Shanthi Sekaran.
Jan. 2017. 480p. Putnam, $27 (9781101982242).
Contrary to what the title suggests, this
remarkably empathetic story is about two
women, mothers separated by ethnicity and
class, whose orbits of longing
intersect around one “lucky
boy,” Ignacio. Solimar Castro
Valdez might be determined
to find her way north from
small-town Mexico, but her
pursuit of the Great American Dream is complicated
by pregnancy. Unfortunately,
Soli can’t escape the long arm of the law and
is forced to give up custody of her toddler to
Kavya Reddy, a woman who couldn’t be more
ready and willing to be a mother to Iggy. Kavya, a rising chef, and her husband, Rishi, a
Silicon Valley techie, have been struggling with
infertility, and Iggy is delivered as a balm, a
child they take in as foster parents but hope
to eventually adopt. What follows is an occasionally overlong yet deeply compassionate
exploration of the emotional toll of infertility,
the insidious ways in which class divides us,
the weight of social judgment, and the explosive touch-point of today’s headlines regarding
illegal immigration. Sekaran (The Prayer Room,
2009) easily navigates emotionally charged
minefields without slipping into melodrama
and while delivering penetrating insights into
the intangibles of motherhood and, indeed, all
humanity. —Poornima Apte
The Moravian Night.
By Peter Handke. Tr. by Krishna Winston.
Dec. 2016. 320p. Farrar, $26 (9780374212551).
“The real voyage of discovery consists not
in seeking new landscapes, but in having new
eyes.” This gem from Marcel Proust could not
be more relevant to acclaimed Austrian writer
Handke’s meandering, semiautobiographical,
fictional travelogue, which is more an account
of self-discovery and a continent’s gradual
evolution than a strict accounting of sights
seen. Sure, the writer-narrator describes tables
groaning with food and plenty of quaint villages studding the landscape, but the shell of
the story consists of recounting his travels
across Europe, noticing the tiniest of fissures
in the notion of a united Europe. As his protagonist travels from the “gloomy” Balkans
to Spain and beyond, Handke (Don Juan:
His Own Version, 2010) describes not just a
continent in flux, where once rancid-tasting
Montenegrin olive oil is now good enough to
compete with the best that Tuscany pours, but
also crafts a journey of growth, in which the
Sekaran easily navigates emotionally charged minefields without
slipping into melodrama and while delivering penetrating insights
into the intangibles of motherhood and, indeed, all humanity.
—Poornima Apte, on Lucky Boy