A muted and unhurried novel that insists on the validity of the imperfect present.

FATE

Award-winning Argentinian poet and novelist Consiglio explores the idea of destiny in the quotidian lives of four characters in Buenos Aires.

A taxidermist named Amer makes guacamole. Marina, a meteorologist, fights an infestation of ants in her kitchen and later takes her young son, Simón, to swimming lessons. Her husband, Karl, a German oboist, walks home from rehearsal, missing his eldest daughter back in Europe. In short chapters full of minute detail, we follow these characters' lives. Attempting to quit smoking, Amer joins a self-help group and falls for a young woman named Clara. Marina turns 40. She does not believe in coincidences and consults an I Ching app on her phone. Her husband struggles with the feeling that living in Buenos Aires has changed him. "Karl was someone else but also himself. This fact—so obscure that he found it hard to put into words—materialised in a blurry and seemingly unfounded sorrow which was hard to shake off." He buys his wife an orange vibrator for a birthday present and hides it, unwrapped, in their son's room. In a different book, the vibrator would be discovered there, occasioning a scene of some kind. But Consiglio is not interested in cause and effect but in the accretion of granular detail. The taxidermist applies the tiniest amount of vegetable oil to the glass eyes of a stuffed otter: "The smallest of details: two strokes to the right, two to the left. That was his secret: it gave a sparkle to the gaze." While this reporting of mundane action can leave the reader longing for a more traditional plot, the novel is interesting in the way it challenges that expectation, gesturing toward a broader truth. On her way home after a liaison, the adulterous Marina, moistening her lips in the mirror, "imagined that thousands of people—people crossing the city in taxis—were doing the same, exactly the same, at that very instant. To a point, she thought the harmony that brought them all together erased the very notion of individuality. Then, with her eyes still shut, she went a bit further still: she said to herself that she, with all her infidelity, neglect, secrets and guilt, was simply performing a cliché that humanity had repeated over and over again since the beginning of time."

A muted and unhurried novel that insists on the validity of the imperfect present.

Pub Date: tomorrow

ISBN: 978-1-9993-6846-3

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Charco Press

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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

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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