Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Monday, April 10, 2017
Come in and check out "Lincoln in the Bardo" by George Sanders or "Royce Rolls" by Margaret Stohl.
Lincoln in the BardoEven though Saunders (Tenth of December, 2013), the much-heralded author of distinctively inventive short stories, anchors his first novel to a historical moment—the death of President Abraham Lincoln’s young son, Willie, in February 1862—this is most emphatically not a conventional work of historical fiction. The surreal action takes place in a cemetery, and most of the expressive, hectic characters are dead, caught in the bardo, the mysterious transitional state following death and preceding rebirth, heaven, or hell. Their vivid narration resembles a play, or a prose variation on Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology (1915), as they tell their stories, which range from the gleefully ribald to the tragic in tales embodying the dire conflicts underlying the then-raging Civil War. On pages laddered with brilliantly “curated” quotes from books and historical documents (most actual, some concocted), Saunders cannily sets the stage for Lincoln’s true-life, late-night visits to the crypt, where he cradles his son’s body—scenes of epic sorrow turned grotesque by the morphing spirits’ frantic reactions. Saunders creates a provocative dissonance between his exceptionally compassionate insights into the human condition and Lincoln’s personal and presidential crises and this macabre carnival of the dead, a wild and wily improvisation on the bardo that mirrors, by turns, the ambience of Hieronymus Bosch and Tim Burton. A boldly imagined, exquisitely sensitive, sharply funny, and utterly unnerving historical and metaphysical drama.
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The buzz is loud and will continue to be so when literary star Saunders goes on a national author tour supported by an all-platform media blitz.
— Donna Seaman via Booklist
Royce RollsImagine Keeping Up with the Kardashians as a satirical novel. Reality TV show Rolling with the Royces stars media-obsessed mother Mercedes; egotistical older sister Porsche, who has her own product line; gay, gambling-obsessed younger brother Bach; and troubled middle child Bentley, almost 17. With the show on the verge of cancellation, Porsche stuns the family by announcing she’ll secure renewal by marrying Whitey, son of a record label producer. Following a mysterious man’s advice to “Play the game you want to play. Use the cards you have,” Bentley devises her own scheme to get the series renewed. Cleverly written as if Bentley’s notebook is the basis for the novel, this is complete with snarky production notes at the bottom of the pages. The plot isn’t overly subtle—readers will figure out what’s happening before the show’s “audience” does—but it’s still fun, full of jabs at Hollywood stardom (and at Stohl’s other books). Anyone who ridicules celebrity TV shows while secretly watching them will get a kick out of this.
— Sharon Rawlins via Booklist