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Michael says . . . "This page-turning debut is the sort of book that discovered at the right time -- say, on the day your long-anticipated hike is spoiled by a horrible storm -- could save your life. Justin Go weaves together a tale of the quest for self (and a fortune!) with a richly drawn evocation of the Western front of WWI, the slopes of Everest in the Twenties, and illicit love. Great stuff!"
Michael says . . . "Some books almost seem to sit down next to you, clamp a hand around your wrist, and hold you there while you learn the truth of this story. An Unnecessary Woman is such a book. I haven't read a first-person narrative as strong or as compelling as this one in several years. Very highly recommended."
Michael says . . . "It might be the most heart-breaking book I have ever read. Judith Hearne is a devasting mixture of near-pathological loneliness, self-deception, and wild hope. It's almost impossible not to care passionately for her while she falls of the cliff of her life. I read this as a very young man and, in some ways, I have never recovered from it."
Michael says . . . "A collection of 49 essays on San Francisco past and present. Kamiya's interests range from geology to social justice, from literature to political turmoil, and he always has an eye for the perfect telling detail. In it's a kaleidoscopic variety, the book seems as rich and as colorful as life in San Francisco. A Rakestraw Book of the Year 2013."
Michael says . . . "Part memoir, part diary, A Time of Gifts blends the innocence of a very young man discovering the world and with the wisdom of an old man who has seen much. Patrick Leigh Fermor was 17 when he set out to walk to Constantinople. His journey last several years. This is the first third -- hobos, castles, pretty girls, art, and beer. Great fun!"
Michael says . . . "Less a technical tour-de-force than his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Hours, Cunningham's earliest great novel is the story of three people Jonathan, Bobby, and Clare. Jonathan loves Bobby. Jonathan loves Clare. Clare loves Bobby. Clare loves Jonathan. Bobby loves Clare. Bobby loves Jonathan. They love each other. Seeking refuge from the erotic wars of Nineties New York City, they struggle to create a new kind of family."
Michael says . . . "This atmospheric and romantic history is proof that real life can be every bit as much a soap opera as 'Downton Abbey' can be. Dukes, duchesses, WWI, and a legacy as remarkable as any in England. Totally enjoyable."
Michael says . . . "Jane Austen's beloved Pride and Prejudice is almost relentlessly 'upstairs' novel. While the world of the Bennet family and their friends is beautifully rendered, that of the servants whose hard work supports them is all but invisible. Jo Baker richly imagines the below-stairs world of Susan and Hill and the mysterious man at Netherfield who is named Bingley . . . ."
Michael says . . . "The angst-ridden hero of Grossman's The Magicians is back in an adventure which is darker and stranger and more disturbing than that of the first book. I re-read it a few weeks and was freshly struck by just how good it really is."
Michael says . . . "I have been a fan of Ann Patchett's novels for many years, but never have I loved one of her books as well as this one. This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage is her most personally revealing book yet. I think that by the end of it, you will feel as though you have made a friend."
Michael says . . . "When I was a kid, mom tried to get to write a Social Studies research paper on the idea of Manifest Destiny: the idea that the United States was destined to expand from Atlantic to Pacific. Many people in the nineteenth century believed in this idea and used it to justify their actions.
Much historical fiction (and much history as well) is still written with the same mentality. We have tended to gloss over the Anglo-American extermination of the natives, the over-riding of Mexican land titles in California and the Southwest, and much more. Philipp Meyer's epic new novel, The Son, doesn't gloss over these uncomfortable truths. He has written a historical fiction for our times: heroic and messy; dark and bloody. What a great book!" -- NOW IN PAPERBACK!
Michael says . . . "Few us have the pure nerve -- and perhaps the savoir faire -- necessary to live entirely according to our own tastes and appetites. What the neighbors think, what our mothers would say, always colors our choices. Not so for the eccentric and brilliant Jean-Marie d'Aumont, the hero of this equally eccentric and brilliant novel set in France before the Revolution. From the moment we first meet him eating beatles on a dung heap throughout his long and intensely curious life, d'Aumont is never less than totally captivating."
Michael says . . . "The end of the Cold War cast adrift not only many denizens of the secret world of the intelligence services, but also the writers of intrigue thrillers. Trust John le Carre, genre's grand master, to adapt the most readily to the new world order. Our Kind of Traitor finds him at the top his game, deftly negotiating the interstices of power: organized crime and "legitimate" business."
Michael says . . . "From it's compelling opening sentence, "If I could tell you only one thing about my life it would be this: when I was seven years old, the mailman ran over my head," The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint, is hard to put down. As we follow Edgar Presley Mint through the many tribulations of his life, we marvel at his, and our, ability to never quite lose heart. This was a Rakestraw Book of the Year for 2001. It's great to have it back in print."
Michael says . . . "Chad Harbaugh's first novel is that rare breed: the much-buzzed debut that lives up to its advance hype. In the book-lined studies and baseball diamonds of one small liberal arts college, Harbaugh finds the whole of life. And, trust me, you'll love these characters. A Rakestraw Book of the Year 2011 -- now in paperback."
Michael says . . . "Hilary Mantel's Man Booker Prize-winning novel, Wolf Hall, was one of the best books I've read in the past ten years -- rich and gripping and disturbing. She took the familiar tale of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn and made it new and vibrant again. So I came to Bring Up of the Bodies with some pretty heavy expectations. I am glad to say she's done it again. Far more compressed than its predecessor, she presents the fall of Anne Boleyn in a way that makes it live. Even when you know what's coming, you're shocked . . . a great read."
Michael says . . . "No recent novelist had more varied interests than Robertson Davies: art restoration; espionage; the science of human waste; vaudeville; rare books; Canadian history; Jungian psychology; and more. These interests fill his novels with a life that -- coupled with characters who seem nearly three-dimensional -- seems almost better than 'real' life. This hefty volume contains three novels -- The Rebel Angels; What's Bred in the Bone; and The Lyre of Orpheus."