Marjane Satrapi follows her Persepolis volumes with another beautiful chapter of her family’s history.  Chicken With Plums (Pantheon, $12.95) tells the story of Satrapi’s great uncle, the celebrated Iranian musician, Nasser Ali Khan.  When his beloved tar is damaged beyond repair, Khan decides he’d rather die than take up a lesser instrument.  Satrapi’s sparse narration and distinctive black-and-white illustration guide us through his final weeks.  Over those seven days, Khan looks back on a life filled with passion and regret, fixating on lost loves, family legacies, and favorite dishes.  

 

Chicken with Plums (Pantheon Graphic Library) Cover Image
$13.95
ISBN: 9780375714757
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Pantheon - April 14th, 2009

Rafael Yglesias has written a novel based on his wife’s death from bladder cancer. In A Happy Marriage (Scribner, $26) he has fashioned a truthful and touching portrait of their marriage, as he alternates between the awkward courtship of Enrique Saba and Margaret Cohen and her dying twenty-some years later over a period of a few weeks. After three years, Margaret has asked to be allowed to die rather than continue the pain and misery of treatment for incurable and invasive cancer. While Enrique remembers the sweetness of their first few months, he says goodbye and helps Margaret say her goodbyes to her parents Dorothy and Leonard, the Sabas’ sons, and her best friend Lily. There is something endearing and absolutely true here about the relationship of husband and wife and adult children and parents. This is the kind of book that when you finish you want to go back and read it all over again.

In A Happy Marriage (Scribner, $26) Rafael Yglesias contrasts the first few months of Enrique Saba’s courtship of Margaret—clumsy, oafish, naïve—with their last three weeks together. After three years of painful treatment for invasive and incurable bladder cancer, Margaret asks to be allowed to die. As Enrique remembers the sweetness of the first few months of their relationship, he helps Margaret say her goodbyes to her parents, his parents, their beloved sons, and her best friend, Lily. There is something endearing and absolutely true about the relationship between husband and wife, between parents and college-age children, and between the adult children and their parents. Such events really did happen to Ygelsias, but that he is able to organize his experience, understand it, weave it into such a funny, sad, compelling human story for all of us to learn from is a tribute to his art.

A Happy Marriage Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781439102312
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Scribner Book Company - August 10th, 2010

John Pipkin’s well constructed and beautifully articulated Woodsburner (Nan A. Talese, $24.95) builds on the historical incident of a distracted Henry Thoreau who accidentally set fire to the woods near Concord, Massachusetts. Pipkin interweaves the lives of several fictional characters representing a changing America in the early 1850s. Oddmund Hus, who works on a nearby farm, has suffered great losses in his young life since immigrating from Norway. He pines for a sweet young Irish-American, Emma Woburn, who, alas, is married to a much older farmer for whom Oddmund works. Eliot Carter, a young bookseller and would-be playwright, happens to be visiting Concord that day from Boston to look for a new store and is enlisted to fight the fire, and a creepy religious zealot, Caleb Dowdy, sees the fire as vindicating his ministry.

In John Pipkin’s remarkable debut novel, Woodsburner (Nan A. Talese, $24.95), the words leap gorgeously from the pages. A fire is accidentally started in the Concord woods on a very dry spring day. The man who started the fire is a deeply depressed Henry Thoreau, who had wanted to cook his fresh-caught fish. Pipkin has created the rest of the memorable characters who were brought together by the fire: a bookseller, Eliot Calvert, who wants to become a playwright;  Caleb Dowdy, a crazed fundamentalist preacher; Oddmund Hus, a Norwegian immigrant, stunted emotionally by another fire in which his parents and the others on the boat perished just before they docked in America; the Czech women Zaleka and Anezkia who had served long prison sentences for engaging in lewd practices; and Emma Manning, whose late father sent her to America to escape the famine. It’s as though the fire burns through to the essence of each person.

Woodsburner Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9780385528658
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Nan A. Talese - April 28th, 2009

Woodsburner Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780307455321
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Anchor - May 4th, 2010

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