Friday, May 8, 2009

New England Fiction

April showers bring May flowers . . and book displays on New England fiction.

Stern Men by Elizabeth Gilbert is "a kind of delicious ethnography of lobster-fishing culture, if such a thing is possible, as well as a love story and a bildungsroman. . . This writer gives us a tough, lovable heroine against an iconoclastic, rural backdrop." The book is set "on Fort Niles Island, off the coast of Maine, among lobstermen" (from the Review).

Old School by Tobias Wolff
"Set in a New England prep school in the early 1960s . . . The unnamed narrator is one of several boys whose life revolves around the school's English teachers, those polymaths who seemed to know 'exactly what was most worth knowing'. For the boys, literature is the center of life, and their obsession culminates in a series of literary competitions during their final year. The prize in each is a private audience with a visiting writer who serves as judge for the entries" (from the Review)

An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England by Brock Clarke is "the chronicle of a man who, as a teenager, accidentally burned down the Emily Dickinson House in Amherst, Massachusetts, killing two people. ('It's probably enough to say that in the Massachusetts Mt. Rushmore of big gruesome tragedy, there are the Kennedys, and Lizzie Borden and her ax, and the burning witches at Salem, and then there's me.') After serving ten years in prison for the crime, Sam Pulsifer moves on with his life, but the emergence of a copycat who's turning New England's literary landmarks to ash puts Sam back in the spotlight and on a quest for the truth" (from the Review)

Addled by JoeAnn Hart is a social comedy centered on the Eden Rock Country Club. After her husband accidentally kills a goose while playing golf and sequesters himself in their garage, and her daughter starts a protest to force the club to go vegan, Madeline is in for a tough summer.

Twice-Told Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne includes ghost story set in a pre-Revolutionary Boston and other stories about Puritan New England.

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