September 1, 2017 Booklist 47 www.booklistonline.com
may be what will save them all. The spot-on
descriptions of Ireland’s dusty country roads
and expansive sky all but leap off the page and
provide the true joy of Hayes-McCoy’s first
novel. Hanna’s background story fails to paint
her as a librarian to love, but Maeve Binchy
and Patrick Taylor fans will find much to enjoy. — Tracy Babiasz
Like a Dog.
By Tara Jepsen.
Sept. 2017. 170p. City Lights, paper, $15.95
Jepsen’s slender debut follows Paloma,
an aimless, thirtysomething skateboarder,
through a California landscape of darkened
bars, hotels seedy and posh, and empty swimming pools ideal for skating. Paloma doesn’t
have much to anchor her, but she’s intensely
loyal to her troubled brother, Peter, an addict
who’s been in and out of rehab. So when he offers her a job working at a pot farm and selling
the product, she takes him up on it. Paloma
isn’t quite as ambition-free as she first appears.
She has fantasies of doing stand-up comedy,
of stepping up to the mike and making the
crowd roar with laughter. But even as Paloma
excels in her new job of peddling weed to celebrities, Peter falters, once again falling down
the rabbit hole of addiction. Light on plot
and rich in atmosphere, Jepsen’s first outing
is filled with razor-sharp observations about
this generation’s ennui and the myriad ways
people screw up their lives, and she vividly
evokes the vast stretches of California that lie
between the major metropolises of Los Angeles and San Francisco. —Kristine Huntley
London and the South-East.
By David Szalay.
Oct. 2017. 352p. Graywolf, paper, $16 (9781555977931).
Paul Rainey sells advertising for the business journals of Park Lane Publications,
under the “nom de phone” Charles Barclay;
PLP sales staff favor names borrowed from
London banks. Paul is a veteran salesman,
but he’s dispirited. PLP’s journals are “simply
pretexts” for selling ad space, and sometimes
the only copies printed are sent to the firms
that bought the space. His two-hour lunches
at Penderel’s Oak are liquid only, followed by
a spliff, and at the end of the day it’s back to
the Oak to get fortified for the long commute.
He’s offered a job by former coworker Eddy
Jaw, who assures him he’s joining a “better”
company. But the offer is withdrawn, and
Paul enters a new chapter in his life. Szalay’s
All That Man Is (2016) was a finalist for the
Man Booker Prize; this novel, published in
England in 2008, is now appearing in the
U.S. for the first time. It is bleak but insightful and will remind readers of David Mamet’s
Glengarry Glen Ross. — Thomas Gaughan
My House Gathers Desires.
By Adam McOmber.
Sept. 2017. 170p. BOA, paper, $16 (9781942683414);
e-book, $9.99 (9781942683421).
Taboo desire is a dangerous cosmic force
in McOmber’s eerie, unnerving, even ma-
cabre short stories. As in his first collection,
This New & Poisonous Air (2011), and his
novel, The White Forest (2012), his yearn-
ing characters find themselves in menacing,
shape-shifting, time-warping places haunted
by monstrous entities, from the devil to
an alchemist’s homunculus to a laser-eyed
white ape. Pascal, a young, shy Frenchman,
embraces trouble in the form of a confi-
dent American man. A weary Confederate
soldier is lured into a spooky mansion by a
sexually predatory viscount. A young, rebel-
lious woman in medieval times who usually
“does not favor whimsy” follows a handsome
butcher’s apprentice into some form of hell.
In 1901, a headmistress and her assistant and
lover, Eleanor, encounter otherworldly horror
at Versailles, and a lonely woman in our era
allows a strange boy to lead her into a cave.
In the mode of Shirley Jackson, A. S. Byatt,
Kathryn Davis, and Kelly Link, McOmb-
er has fashioned crisply rendered, richly
informed and imagined, sorrowful, malevo-
lently erotic, and archly funny campfire tales
for grown-ups. —Donna Seaman
Never Coming Back.
By Alison McGhee.
Oct. 2017. 256p. HMH, $26 (9781328767561).
Clara Winter didn’t think she’d ever return
to the Adirondacks. Now in her early thirties,
Clara moves homeish, squeezing the bare essentials and her beloved book collection into
a 250-square-foot cabin in Old Forge. Clara’s
mother, a ruggedly independent woman
named Tamar, has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, and Clara knows this is
her last chance to gain any insight into her
mother’s mysterious past. Clara and Tamar’s
relationship has always been fraught, so both
parties are skeptical about any true reconciliation. Even so, Clara and Tamar reach a new
level of understanding about themselves, each
other, and the meaning of family in McGhee’s
quietly powerful novel. Clara’s emotional
journey is buoyed by her close friends and a
potential romantic interest, injecting some
levity into the cathartic story. Fans of Sara
Baume, Holly Chamberlin, and Francesca Se-gal will appreciate McGhee’s magnetic prose
and her ability to pack a richly detailed story
into a slim novel. Atmospheric and introspective, Never Coming Back will resonate with
those who have lost a parent to illness or estrangement but still have questions they’d like
to be answered. —Stephanie Turza
Paris in the Present Tense.
By Mark Helprin.
Oct. 2017. 400p. Overlook, $28.95 (9781468314762).
Jules Lacour, a 74-four-year-old widower
and music professor at Paris-Sorbonne, is
navigating the complexities of the modern
world. Traumatized as a child by witnessing
his parents shooting by the SS and again as
a soldier in Algeria, Jules had carved out a
simple life, devoted to wife and daughter and
finding sublimity in the transcendent waves
emanating from his prized cello, once his
father’s, and those of the Seine, on which it
has been his daily ritual to row for the past
60 years. It is the fluidity of
Helprin’s (In Sunlight and in
Shadow, 2011) prose that
makes this novel of ideas so
utterly captivating and Jules
a lovable if flawed hero.
Helprin’s principal achieve-
ment lies in his subtle, often
profound exploration of
religious intolerance, capitalism, and tech-
nological advances in stark contrast to Jules’
inspiring humanism. These themes are never
didactic but instead build on the metaphor
of the Seine with its treacherous current,
whirlpools, and half-submerged tree trunks
churning just below the surface while Jules
glides skillfully along in his delicate “shell.”
Determined to help his gravely ill grandson
and others he believes he has failed, Jules
occupies “the infinitesimal and perhaps non-
existent space between past and present,” yet
he will be long remembered after the last page
is turned. —Bill Kelly
By Khary Lazarre-White.
Sept. 2017. 192p. Seven Stories, $23.95
Over the course of a few winter days in
New York, 1993, a teenager moves along
his well-worn path between Harlem and
Brooklyn. His parents, a teacher and a musician who are loving but divorced, named
him with an Akan word meaning “warrior
for one’s people,” but everyone just calls him
Warrior. Mature, wise, and strong, Warrior is
close to his family but has been let down by
his schooling, among other things. As he goes
to school, visits his dad, or makes a snowman
with his much younger sister, he’s interrupted
often by his own “internal conversations.” He
thinks of his best friend, who’s in jail after
being brutally beaten by “blue soldiers”; converses with spirits; and voices the injustices
he can’t say out loud. As Warrior experiences
dangers real and imagined, current and ancestral, Lazarre-White, activist and founder of a
Harlem-based youth-education organization,
infuses his vivid journey with thought- and
discussion-provoking symbolism. This is a
unique and haunting portrayal of a young
black man considering his inheritance, and
his destiny. —Annie Bostrom
YA: Aspects of Warrior’s story are
unrelenting and violent, but mature
readers will find inspiration and direction
here, too. AB.
By Jamie Raintree.
Oct. 2017. 304p. Graydon, paper, $15.99
Dr. Dylan Michaels, an OB/GYN, has been
obsessed for her entire career with research
that she hopes will reduce maternal death,
primarily due to the fact that her older sister