A Tiny Upward Shove by Melissa Chadburn (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). What a first novel! Chadburn is an established essayist, but has made no fiction that I know of before this novel. It’s …
A Tiny Upward Shove by Melissa Chadburn (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). What a first novel! Chadburn is an established essayist, but has made no fiction that I know of before this novel. It’s about, and written in the point of view of, a dead girl—or rather, the vengeful spirit that takes over the girl’s body as she’s dying horribly, and sets about avenging that crime—and much else, while she (or it) is at it. It’s a harsh and even appalling story and life, but the voice of this novel, that of the dark spirit inhabiting the body and life of a person who resembles the author—the author and her character and the spirit are Filipinx—that voice demands and rewards our attention. The author’s own, real life, we know to have been dark, too, in its early stages, but is now aglow with accomplishment. She’s closing in on a PhD from USC, and is clearly in command of literary brilliance as the creator of this novel and its irresistible style, the line-by-line flowing and clarity and music. Which is, I might have said just a few days ago, impossibly propulsive and beautiful at the same time.
The Investigator: A Letty Davenport Novel by John Sandford (Putnam). We’ve met Lucas Davenport’s adopted daughter before. But believe the subtitle: she’s central, here. She’s clearly a new favorite of Sandford, and she will be for you, too. But she isn’t the only reason to get into this new one—she seems (to me, anyway) to evoke a new level of action and energy, even on the pages (not many) that she doesn’t dominate. (Will suddenly appear at #1 on bestseller lists this coming Sunday.)
Left on Tenth by Delia Ephron (Little, Brown). Another bestseller next Sunday. Something between a humorist and a comedian, always, even more than her (slightly) more famous, late sister, Nora—but here, not so much. This lovely memoir begins sad and then gets sadder, and then comes gloriously to life as a love story—and still there’s more: the couple are in their 70s, after all, and other, tougher stuff is to be faced. No joke, and hardly any jokes. We discover in still more ways that falling madly in love in your seventies doesn’t need jokes. Even when it’s with a person you dated for a while when you were in your twenties (Nora fixed them up, then), and then entirely forgot.
The Sacred Bridge: A Leaphorn, Chee and Manuelito Novel by Anne Hillerman (Harper). And still another to be found on the bestseller list (already), the seventh of this soulful, beautifully written successor series by the daughter of the creator of Leaphorn and Chee, and set in and around the Navajo nation of the Southwest. And, with these books just as well as those by her late father, the style—one might almost call it the diction—calls to mind that of its people, and with no hint of patronizing.
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