Powerfully unsettling stories in which men nearing the end of their lives wonder, befuddled, if that's all there is.

SORRY FOR YOUR TROUBLE

A collection of stories about lives shattered by divorce or death, with protagonists discovering that the pieces they are trying to put together no longer fit, and perhaps never did.

Though Ford remains most widely heralded for his novels, with Independence Day winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1996, his story collections have often been almost as cohesive and ambitious. The latest finds the author in his mid-70s writing about men who are also in life’s later stages and who are lost and bewildered by just about everything but the certainty and imminence of death. "Life—and it seemed very suddenly—was this now. And little more,” he writes in “Happy.” And “this” is where these white, privileged men of a certain age find themselves, in a time and place where the rules and truths by which they’d lived no longer seem to apply, where nothing seems to mean much or explain anything, where words themselves were incapable of conveying significance. One of them wonders whether “the entire passage of life, years and years, is only actually lived in the last seconds before death slams the door. All life’s experience just a faulty perception. A lie, if you like.” Many of them have roots in the South, residences in the Northeast, and some connection with Ireland, yet they don’t feel at home anywhere. Amid the darkness that permeates these stories, the longest two offer glimmers of something closer to hope, if not quite redemption. In “The Run of Yourself,” the collection’s 57-page centerpiece, a man who needs to “re-invent himself” following his wife’s suicide finds the possibility of some sort of direction through a chance connection with a directionless and much younger woman. And in the closing “Second Language,” two former spouses in what had been a brief second marriage for each sustain a relationship after their divorce. They know each other better, but how well can anyone really know anyone, or even themselves?

Powerfully unsettling stories in which men nearing the end of their lives wonder, befuddled, if that's all there is.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296980-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 12

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

more