Moody and bittersweet: Save it for a literal rainy day and read in one sitting.

WE IMAGINED IT WAS RAIN

STORIES

A slender collection of 16 interconnected stories set in and around a rain-soaked mountain town in Tennessee.

In this tender and pensive debut, the legends of sylvan, hard-luck (and fictional) Cleecey's Ferry connect its residents across time, age, and station of life: a girl who roamed the woods, blinded by eyelashes so long they hung in waist-length braids; a doomed circus elephant that still haunts the collective memory more than a century later; a drowned town hastily abandoned that sleeps under the waters of the reservoir lake; and the Rainpainter's colored sheets that hang between trees in the frequent downpours. In "Whittled Bone," a father collects curios to re-create scenes from his runaway daughter's dream journal. In "Satellites," a son gathers prescriptions using an invented back injury so he and his sister can assist their terminally ill father with his suicide on the night a satellite will fall back to Earth. After the death of his young son, the father in "Heirloom" flees in secret to a lonesome cabin, where he befriends the local crows and builds a mysterious box based on plans outlined on a series of left-behind postcards he finds in a drawer. In "Elephants," two boys visit the grave of Mary the Elephant, who was executed when a long-ago circus came to town, with Mary's demise then portrayed in minute detail in "How To Hang a Circus Elephant." (A warning to the curious that, yes, Mary's tale is based on true events.) Transformative loss and fragile hope permeate these stories, which are filled with gentle, stoic, and fractured masculinities, eroding memories, dead-enders and last-chancers, widowed fathers, lost children, and dead, dying, and otherwise departed mothers. Though all proceed at a fairly homogenous drift-down-the-river pace and are suffused with an alluring but rarely variable eccentric Appalachian melancholy, author Siegrist's atmospheric, fluid, and merciful prose proves irresistible.

Moody and bittersweet: Save it for a literal rainy day and read in one sitting.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-938235-88-7

Page Count: 196

Publisher: Hub City Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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As the pieces of this magical literary puzzle snap together, a flicker of hope is sparked for our benighted world.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

  • National Book Award Finalist

CLOUD CUCKOO LAND

An ancient Greek manuscript connects humanity's past, present, and future.

Stranger, whoever you are, open this to learn what will amaze you” wrote Antonius Diogenes at the end of the first century C.E.—and millennia later, Pulitzer Prize winner Doerr is his fitting heir. Around Diogenes' manuscript, "Cloud Cuckoo Land"—the author did exist, but the text is invented—Doerr builds a community of readers and nature lovers that transcends the boundaries of time and space. The protagonist of the original story is Aethon, a shepherd whose dream of escaping to a paradise in the sky leads to a wild series of adventures in the bodies of beast, fish, and fowl. Aethon's story is first found by Anna in 15th-century Constantinople; though a failure as an apprentice seamstress, she's learned ancient Greek from an elderly scholar. Omeir, a country boy of the same period, is rejected by the world for his cleft lip—but forms the deepest of connections with his beautiful oxen, Moonlight and Tree. In the 1950s, Zeno Ninis, a troubled ex–GI in Lakeport, Idaho, finds peace in working on a translation of Diogenes' recently recovered manuscript. In 2020, 86-year-old Zeno helps a group of youngsters put the story on as a play at the Lakeport Public Library—unaware that an eco-terrorist is planting a bomb in the building during dress rehearsal. (This happens in the first pages of the book and continues ticking away throughout.) On a spaceship called the Argos bound for Beta Oph2 in Mission Year 65, a teenage girl named Konstance is sequestered in a sealed room with a computer named Sybil. How could she possibly encounter Zeno's translation? This is just one of the many narrative miracles worked by the author as he brings a first-century story to its conclusion in 2146.

As the pieces of this magical literary puzzle snap together, a flicker of hope is sparked for our benighted world.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982168-43-8

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

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THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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