A sad but sweet song about the uncertainty of middle age and how funny it is when time slips away.

JACKET WEATHER

What does love look like when you're not cool anymore? A little older, a little wiser, and just as bewildering and overwhelming.

This slice of contemporary life in New York City could have ended poorly, à la movies like (500) Days of Summer or Blue Valentine, but DeCapite clearly has the acumen to make this brittle, sweet fable both romantic and realistic at the same time. The narrator, Mike, is a bit of a nonentity beyond the way we experience the world through his eyes. The big earthquake that begins the book is his meeting with an old acquaintance named June, a survivor of the bygone punk years who still keeps a scrapbook with, for example, a cigarette she bummed from Iggy Pop. Mike becomes consumed by the soon-to-be-divorced June, still a bit gun-shy despite her adventurous nature. “I’ve always had a thing for you­—twenty years ago I had a thing for you,” she tells him. “I was nervous to be around you because you’re a writer, I just thought you’re so smart, you were the coolest thing but you were married. Now I’m getting divorced, I need to be there for my divorce. I need to feel it and go through it, and I need to take my heart back and have my own life again.” Honest? Kind of. Heartbreaking? Absolutely. But DeCapite doesn’t dwell on the maudlin, instead constructing a narrative composed of equal parts Mike's angst and self-doubt, June’s enigmatic behavior, and Mike's exchanges with the old fellas at the 14th Street Y, who share stories of gangsters, God, and other memories. In the meantime, Mike and June hold on for dear life. “Step by step, you go from the inside to the outside,” he explains. “Life is a process of being gently shown the door.” It’s a completely confounding relationship, which makes it feel so very real.

A sad but sweet song about the uncertainty of middle age and how funny it is when time slips away.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-59376-693-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Soft Skull Press

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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

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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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