198

Weekly Book News

January 12, 2016

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

A new book by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout is cause for celebration. Her bestselling novels, including Olive Kitteridge and The Burgess Boys, have illuminated our most tender relationships. Now, in My Name Is Lucy Barton, this extraordinary writer shows how a simple hospital visit becomes a portal to the most tender relationship of all—the one between mother and daughter.

Despite its slim length, Elizabeth Strout's tender and moving novel should be read slowly, to savor the depths beneath what at first seems a simple story of a mother-daughter reconciliation. Lucy Barton is shocked when her mother, from whom she's been estranged for years, flies from tiny Amgash, Illinois, to be at Lucy's hospital bedside in New York. Convalescing from a postsurgery infection, Lucy is tentative about making conversation, gently inquiring about people back home while avoiding the real reason why there's been no contact with her parents. Strout develops the story in short chapters in which the reader intuits the emotional complexity of Lucy's life as she reveals long-buried memories of an isolated, profoundly impoverished childhood and the sexual secrets, "the knowledge of darkness," that shrouded her life. Though her mother calls her Wizzle, an endearing childhood name that implies warmth and closeness, she is unable to tell Lucy that she loves her. Running counter to the memories of her harsh, stoic upbringing is Lucy's anguish at missing her own two daughters, waiting for her at home. Lucy also reflects on other cruelties of life in New York City, specifically the scourge of AIDS (the setting is the 1980s) and the underlying troubles of her marriage. Her narrative voice is restrained yet expressive. This masterly novel's message, made clear in the moving denouement, is that sometimes in order to express love, one has to forgive. Buy Now


Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of Your Fist by Sunil Yapa

The Flamethrowers meets Let the Great World Spin in this debut novel set amid the heated conflict of Seattle's 1999 WTO protests.

On a rainy, cold day in November, young Victor--a boyish, scrappy world traveler who's run away from home--sets out to sell marijuana to the 50,000 anti-globalization protestors gathered in the streets. It quickly becomes clear that the throng determined to shut the city down--from environmentalists to teamsters to anarchists--are testing the patience of the police, and what started as a peaceful protest is threatening to erupt into violence.

Over the course of one life-altering afternoon, the lives of seven people will change forever: foremost among them police chief Bishop, the estranged father Victor hasn't seen in three years, two protestors struggling to stay true to their non-violent principles as the day descends into chaos, two police officers in the street, and the coolly elegant financial minister from Sri Lanka whose life, as well as his country's fate, hinges on getting through the angry crowd, out of jail, and to his meeting with the president of the United States.

In this raw and breathtaking novel, Yapa marries a deep rage with a deep humanity, and in doing so casts an unflinching eye on the nature and limits of compassion. Buy Now


the Expatriates by Janice Y. Lee

From the author of the New York Times bestseller The Piano Teacher, a beautiful, transporting novel about motherhood, marriage, and friendship.

Janice Y. K. Lee’s blockbuster hit debut, The Piano Teacher, was called “immensely satisfying” by People, “intensely readable” by O, The Oprah Magazine, and “a rare and exquisite story” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Now, in her long-awaited new novel, Lee explores with devastating poignancy the emotions, identities, and relationships of three very different American women living in the same small expat community in Hong Kong.

Mercy, a young Korean American and recent Columbia graduate, is adrift, undone by a terrible incident in her recent past. Hilary, a wealthy housewife, is haunted by her struggle to have a child, something she believes could save her foundering marriage. Meanwhile, Margaret, once a happily married mother of three, questions her maternal identity in the wake of a shattering loss. As each woman struggles with her own demons, their lives collide in ways that have irreversible consequences for them all. Atmospheric, moving, and utterly compelling, The Expatriates confirms Lee as an exceptional talent and one of our keenest observers of women’s inner lives. Buy Now


Now in paperback!

Meet Gail Pool at the Sanibel Library this Thursday!



In the late sixties, Gail Pool and her husband set off for an adventure in New Guinea. He was a graduate student in anthropology; she was an aspiring writer. They prepared, as academics do, by reading, practicing with language tapes, consulting with the nearest thing to experts, and then, excited and optimistic, off they went. But all their research could not prepare them for the reality of life in the jungle. As they warded off gargantuan insects, slogged through seemingly endless mud, and turned on each other in fatigue and frustration, they struggled to somehow connect with their enigmatic hosts, the Baining—a people who showed no desire to be studied.

Sixteen months later they returned home. Despite months of trying, they had not been able to make sense of the Baining’s culture. Worse yet, their lives no longer seemed to make sense. Pool put her journals away. Her husband abandoned the study of anthropology.

Decades later, Pool returned to her journals and found in her jumbled notes the understanding that had eluded her twenty-three–year-old self. Finally, she and her husband returned to New Guinea for a shorter visit and a warm reunion with the tribe that challenged them on so many levels and, Pool now realized, made their journey and lives deeper and richer.


Gail will be speaking at the Sanibel Public Library Thursday, January 14th at 2:00 p.m. Join us for her talk and book signing.

MacIntosh Books & Paper

Your full-service indie book and stationery store since 1960!
You can also find us on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest. If you happen to be in beautiful downtown Fort Myers, look for us in The Franklin Shops on First Street.



Comments