A funny, caustic tale of a slacker’s dejected resistance to mainstream success.

CROUCHING SCHUYLER, HIDDEN DRAGON

A feckless young man struggles with precarious jobs and a general failure to connect in this bleakly comic novel of alienation.

McGrouchpants’ narrative follows his antihero Chris Schuyler’s progress through the 1990s as he moves from his home in Rochester, New York, to college as an English major at the University of Chicago and into a series of dead-end jobs that are the tale’s focus. They include a high school summer job as a lawn mower; a five-and-a-half-year accounting stint that Chris loses when the slot is upgraded to require an MBA; a copy-editing position that ends when he takes too many sick days; a desperate, farcical stab at selling vacuum cleaners; and a gig as a fundraising canvasser in Portland, Oregon, after which he slides toward homelessness. Chris’ story is a bildungsroman in reverse about a peculiarly ’90s brand of eternal adolescence. He’s obsessed with indie rock bands, zines, and avant-garde movies—the title refers to Ang Lee’s art house action flick—as part of his rebellion against the “stultifying suburban” lifestyle his domineering father urges on him. Yet Chris’ lot is eternally stultifying work, infrequently relieved by awkward lurches at romance, with the longed for life of urban hipster intellectualism forever just beyond his reach. Chris’ closed-in, second-person ruminations could have been claustrophobic, but McGrouchpants expands them into a keenly subversive portrait of workplace social psychology, unfolding in long convolutions threaded with scabrous attitude. The result feels a bit like The Office might if David Foster Wallace and William S. Burroughs rewrote the scripts: “Tina, who’s training you, hardly notices that you’re five minutes late (you fell asleep for 40 min. in the front seat, drooling on your steering wheel—you got back from your ‘approved’ dentist appointment early, and put that time to good—if hardly anticipated, or, even, hardly avoidable (as soon as you pulled into the place, you beelined to a spot, and fell down like a ton of bricks) use)—and, instead of remarking on your slight tardiness, with a wave of her hand (‘Ahhh!’) and a practiced, commiserative co-worker grin, buckles down to the task of your 3-hr. block of training.”

A funny, caustic tale of a slacker’s dejected resistance to mainstream success.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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

  • National Book Award Finalist

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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Funny, sad, astute, occasionally creepy, and slyly irresistible.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

APPLES NEVER FALL

Australian novelist Moriarty combines domestic realism and noirish mystery in this story about the events surrounding a 69-year-old Sydney woman’s disappearance.

Joy and Stan Delaney met as champion tennis players more than 50 years ago and ran a well-regarded tennis academy until their recent retirement. Their long, complicated marriage has been filled with perhaps as much passion for the game of tennis as for each other or their children. When Joy disappears on Feb. 14, 2020 (note the date), the last text she sends to her now-grown kids—bohemian Amy, passive Logan, flashy Troy, and migraine-suffering Brooke—is too garbled by autocorrect to decipher and stubborn Stan refuses to accept that there might be a problem. But days pass and Joy remains missing and uncharacteristically silent. As worrisome details come to light, the police become involved. The structure follows the pattern of Big Little Lies (2014) by setting up a mystery and then jumping months into the past to unravel it. Here, Moriarty returns to the day a stranger named Savannah turned up bleeding on the Delaneys’ doorstep and Joy welcomed her to stay for an extended visit. Who is Savannah? Whether she’s innocent, scamming, or something else remains unclear on many levels. Moriarty is a master of ambiguity and also of the small, telling detail like a tossed tennis racket or the repeated appearance of apple crumble. Starting with the abandoned bike that's found by a passing motorist on the first page, the evidence that accumulates around what happened to Joy constantly challenges the reader both to notice which minor details (and characters) matter and to distinguish between red herrings and buried clues. The ultimate reveal is satisfying, if troubling. But Moriarty’s main focus, which she approaches from countless familiar and unexpected angles, is the mystery of family and what it means to be a parent, child, or sibling in the Delaney family—or in any family, for that matter.

Funny, sad, astute, occasionally creepy, and slyly irresistible.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-22025-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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