Under the Radar

Based on the presumption that one cannot read, or even know about everything that is written, here is a selection of fiction that might be of interest to the discerning reader.

  • Jack Hopkins, an ill-fated real-estate agent with an unhappy past, doesn’t like what he does for a living. Luckily, though, he has two new job offers: Darlene Hunt wants to pay him $10 millionВ  to kill her husband, and her husband wants to hire him to kill Darlene Hunt. Before he can figure out who to work for, though, or how a private island off the coast of Mexico fits into it all, the dead bodies have already started piling up. What’s as interesting as the story line for Misadventure is the author himself, Millard Kaufman, who is 93, co-created Mr. Magoo, and wrote the screenplay for the legendary 1956 film Bad Day at Black Rock.

  • Ilustrado begins with a body. On a clear day in winter, the battered corpse of Crispin Salvador is pulled from the Hudson River—taken from the world is the controversial lion of Philippine literature. Gone, too, is the only manuscript of his final book, a work meant to rescue him from obscurity by exposing the crimes of the Filipino ruling families. Miguel, his student and only remaining friend, sets out for Manila to investigate. To understand the death, Miguel scours the life, piecing together Salvador’s story through his poetry, interviews, novels, polemics, and memoirs. The result is Miguel Syjuco’s rich and dramatic family saga of four generations, tracing 150 years of Philippine history forged under the Spanish, the Americans, and the Filipinos themselves.

  • 1941. Loyal Ledford works the swing shift tending furnace at the Mann Glass factory in Huntington, West Virginia. He courts Rachel, the bosss daughter, a company nurse with spike-straight posture and coal-black hair. But when Pearl Harbor is attacked, Ledford, like so many young men of his time, sets his life on a new course. Upon his return from service in the war, Ledford starts a family with Rachel, but he chafes under the authority at Mann Glass. He is a lost man, disconnected from the present and haunted by his violent past, until he meets his cousins, the Bonecutter brothers. Their land, mysterious, elemental Marrowbone Cut, calls to Ledford, and it is there, with help from an unlikely bunch, that The Marrowbone Marble Company is slowly forged in this novel of the same name by Glenn Taylor. Over the next two decades, the factory grounds become a vanguard of the civil rights movement and the war on poverty, a home for those intent on change. Such a home inevitably invites trouble, and Ledford must fight for his family.
*autographed copies in-stock
  • When Odile MГ©vel, a French clothing designer, agrees to smuggle ceremonial May Day banners out of the former Soviet Union, she thinks she’s trading a few days’ inconvenience for a quick thirty thousand francs. Yet when she returns home to Paris to deliver the contraband to Turner, the American art expert behind this scheme, her fellow courier (previously a stranger) has disappeared, her apartment is ransacked for no discernible reason, and she has already set in motion a chain of events that will put those closest to her in jeopardy. Hugely atmospheric, perceptively written, and grippingly suspenseful, The Same River Twice by Ted Mooney is a page-turner that also poses questions of existential importance.

  • Paris, 1937. Andras LГ©vi, a Hungarian-Jewish architecture student, arrives from Budapest with a scholarship, a single suitcase, and a mysterious letter he has promised to deliver to C. Morgenstern on the rue de SГ©vignГ©. As he falls into a complicated relationship with the letter’s recipient, he becomes privy to a secret history that will alter the course of his own life. Meanwhile, as his elder brother takes up medical studies in Modena and their younger brother leaves school for the stage, Europe’s unfolding tragedy sends each of their lives into terrifying uncertainty. At the end of Andras’s second summer in Paris, all of Europe erupts in a cataclysm of war. Expertly crafted, magnificently written, emotionally haunting, and impossible to put down, The Invisible Bridge resoundingly confirms Julie Orringer’s place as one of today’s most vital and commanding young literary talents.

  • When 12-year-old genius cartographer T. S. Spivet receives an unexpected phone call from the Smithsonian announcing he has won the prestigious Baird Award, life as normal-if you consider mapping dinner table conversations normal-is interrupted and a wild cross-country adventure begins, taking T. S. from his family home just north of Divide, Montana, to the museums hallowed halls. There are some answers in The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen, and some new questions, too. How does one map the delicate lessons learned about family, or communicate the ebbs and flows of heartbreak, loneliness, and love?

  • In Venice, at the Biennale,В a jaded, bellini-swigging journalist named Jeff AtmanВ meets a beautiful woman and they embark on a passionate affair. In Varanasi, an unnamed journalist (who may or may not be Jeff) joins thousands of pilgrims on the banks of the holy Ganges. He intends to stay for a few days but ends up remaining for months. Their journey—as only the irrepressibly entertaining Geoff Dyer could conjure, as he does, here, in Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi—makes for an uproarious, fiendishly inventive novel of Italy and India, longing andВ lust, and the prospect of neurotic enlightenment.

  • Jimmy Luntz is an innocent man, more or less. Hes just leaving a barbershop chorus contest in Bakersfield, California, thinking about placing a few bets at the track, when he gets picked up by a thug named Gambol and his life takes a calamitous turn. Turns out Jimmy owes Gambols boss significant money, and Gambols been known to do serious harm to his charges. Soon enough a gun comes out, and Jimmys on the run. While in hiding he meets up with a vengeful, often-drunk bombshell named Anita, and the two of them go on the lam together, attracting every kind of trouble. Nobody Move is the latest from National Book Award-winning author Denis Johnson.

Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey: Book Cover

  • Parrot & Olivier in America by Peter Carey tells the story of Olivier—an improvisation on the life of Alexis de Tocqueville—the traumatized child of aristocratic survivors of the French Revolution, and Parrot,the motherless son of an itinerant English printer. They are born on different sides of history, but their lives will be connected by an enigmatic one-armed marquis. When Olivier sets sail for the nascent United States—ostensibly to make a study of the penal system, but more precisely to save his neck from one more revolution—Parrot will be there, too: as spy for the marquis, and as protector, foe, and foil for Olivier. As the narrative shifts between the perspectives of Parrot and Olivier, between their picaresque adventures apart and together—in love and politics, prisons and finance, homelands and brave new lands—a most unlikely friendship begins to take hold.

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