An absorbing, restorative tale of community and nature.


An introverted animal lover gets drawn into an anti-development fight in this literary novel.

Lizzy isn’t the biggest fan of people, but she loves animals. An inveterate adopter of strays, she’s amassed a small herd of cats and dogs at her farmhouse. She’s just had to put down her favorite companion, her beloved basset hound, Happy. The death has consumed a lot of her emotional energy, leaving little left over to dedicate to the impending development of nearby Bartons Mill Pond. Russ Henderson, a friend from her activism-centered past, calls her, asking for help blocking the new homes planned for the pond, which abuts Lizzy’s property. “Lizzy, I know you hate the idea of a major subdivision out there,” he says. “Yes,” she responds, “but you also know I’ve given up fighting the world. It doesn’t budge.” Even so, Lizzy finds herself pulled into the cause as well as into the lives of two area boys: Jonas Meyers, a 16-year-old loner who loves to walk through the countryside, and Timmy Donohue, a 10-year-old paperboy struggling with questions of morality. These humans are slightly more complex than the critters Lizzy is used to dealing with, but is there a chance that their presence in her life can draw her closer to the world she’s written off? Silverfine’s prose is earthy and elegant, adept at animating both her characters and the natural world that captivates them. Here, Timmy comes across Jonas on the roadside and asks him what he’s looking at: “Without breaking his skyward gaze, Jonas replied, ‘The moon. And Venus.’ ‘I like when the moon is just a sliver, when you can barely see it but you know the whole moon is there. You can sort of see the dark part of the moon tonight. Venus is really bright.’ ” The story is well paced and the characters are deftly rendered, but it’s the sense of space that the author manages to embody—indoors and outdoors, country and town, and all the areas in between—that imbues the book with its alluring readability. The plot unfolds slowly and without much fanfare, yet readers will immediately be along for the ride—well, less a ride than a solitary stroll down a quiet country lane.

An absorbing, restorative tale of community and nature.

Pub Date: Dec. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68433-821-4

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

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An exhilarating ride through Americana.


Newly released from a work farm in 1950s Kansas, where he served 18 months for involuntary manslaughter, 18-year-old Emmett Watson hits the road with his little brother, Billy, following the death of their father and the foreclosure of their Nebraska farm.

They leave to escape angry townspeople who believe Emmett got off easy, having caused the fatal fall of a taunting local boy by punching him in the nose. The whip-smart Billy, who exhibits OCD–like symptoms, convinces Emmett to drive them to San Francisco to reunite with their mother, who left town eight years ago. He insists she's there, based on postcards she sent before completely disappearing from their lives. But when Emmett's prized red Studebaker is "borrowed" by two rambunctious, New York–bound escapees from the juvie facility he just left, Emmett takes after them via freight train with Billy in tow. Billy befriends a Black veteran named Ulysses who's been riding the rails nonstop since returning home from World War II to find his wife and baby boy gone. A modern picaresque with a host of characters, competing points of view, wandering narratives, and teasing chapter endings, Towles' third novel is even more entertaining than his much-acclaimed A Gentleman in Moscow (2016). You can quibble with one or two plot turns, but there's no resisting moments such as Billy's encounter, high up in the Empire State Building in the middle of the night, with professor Abacus Abernathe, whose Compendium of Heroes, Adventurers, and Other Intrepid Travelers he's read 24 times. A remarkable blend of sweetness and doom, Towles' novel is packed with revelations about the American myth, the art of storytelling, and the unrelenting pull of history.

An exhilarating ride through Americana.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-73-522235-9

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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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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