An inventive, reflective story about cultural phenomena and personal connections to literature.

THE ARTIST SPOKE

A professor applies to become part of a popular writer’s outlandish literary stunt in this novel.

Literature professor Christopher Krafft is on his way to Chicago for a unique conference organized by bestselling author Elizabeth Winters. The Logos Alive project selected 753 applicants to attend, all of whom had a single word assigned to them that will later be compiled for the prologue for Winters’ next novel. Chris’ journey takes a bizarre turn when news breaks that Winters has died en route in a plane crash. Stunned attendees show up at the conference to hear from her partner, who tells them about the next part of the project. Each participant (all of them literary junkies) will have a microchip implanted that contains 100 words of the forthcoming Winters novel. But the book won’t be published for more than 100 years, when scientists will retrieve the chips and the manuscript will be reassembled. Of course, the Logos participants have to agree to not be cremated. Chris, who is newly single after his girlfriend left him, is enough of a Winters fan to eagerly agree to the chip, and his new conference friend Beth also signs on. But with Chris despairing over his ex and Beth just a temporary companion, he struggles to unlock Winters’ mystery amid a sea of the author’s other admirers. Morrissey’s concise novel is delightfully literary and pulls in enough modern tech and internet realities to keep the genre current. The story revels in a background debate about fame versus talent and whether Winters’ bizarre stunts are her only offering, a view voiced mainly by Chris’ former girlfriend. It’s all approached very warmly, this desire these devotees have for a mystery, breaking news, and to feel a part of something grand. Strongly written with some light moments, the tale delivers an up-in-the-air premise that nicely amplifies its introspective tone.

An inventive, reflective story about cultural phenomena and personal connections to literature.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-7331949-2-1

Page Count: 188

Publisher: Twelve Winters Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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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