A slim, cerebral, and often compelling novel about an offbeat relationship.

THE HOCKENFUR TANGENT

Two New Yorkers dive into a tempestuous love affair in Kingery’s debut novel.

One winter day in 2000, 22-year-old Leah Manis and a man named Jareth crash into each other’s lives—literally—when she collides with him on an icy Manhattan sidewalk and they land in a heap. They quickly strike up an unlikely rapport after Jareth, with a twisted ankle and covered in Leah’s takeout, admits to playfully pocketing her wallet, noting that city folk are “tricksters and opportunists.” They soon agree to meet at a diner for lunch the next day. The discussion is fast and light: Leah loves Jackie Chan movies and sometimes spray-paints graffiti in the shape of a teacup in tribute to the actor (who collects teacups); Jareth reveals that he’s a phone-sex operator and comments that he’s never had a bad gyro. They meet again and again, and after Leah brings Jareth back to her apartment, the two spiral into a fast-moving, logorrheic, and self-referential intimacy. Three of Leah’s secrets come out: She suffers from a mitochondrial disorder that causes her to sleep for 18 hours each day; she’s the wealthy orphaned child of two famous doctors; and she’s a virgin. As the kinetic relationship races along, will the pair save each other from their respective dissatisfactions with life? The book is mostly dialogue, which proves to be a weakness and a strength. Kingery writes urgent, unexpected sentences, and readers will feel swept up in the conversation—almost as much as Leah and Jareth are. However, it’s not without imperfections, as both parties speak in such an odd and oblique manner that the frequent lack of dialogue tags can leave one lost as to who’s speaking: “ ‘What if you had a kajillion hockenfurs?’ ‘A whatity-what now?’ ‘Exactly one kajillion hockenfurs. Hockenfurs are defined as the energy you need to live.’ ” The plot, such as it is, is surprisingly engrossing, as Kingery is happy to push her couple into increasingly strange, unexpected, and existential territory. Readers will likely walk away excited to see what Kingery delivers in the future.

A slim, cerebral, and often compelling novel about an offbeat relationship.

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2021

ISBN: 979-8-59-003566-3

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Capricious Codex Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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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