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The TNB Book Club

31aYhx22AJL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Available from Graywolf

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“Max Porter has written one of the only accurate representations of grief I have ever found in literature. He combines verse, narrative, essay, myth, drama, jokes, bad dreams, and the language of therapy in a way that seems magical, permanent, utterly integrated, as impossible to distill to its components as it would be impossible to remove or isolate grief from love, or from life itself. Says Crow of grief, ‘It is everything. It is the fabric of selfhood.’” —Sarah Manguso, author of The Guardians and Ongoingness

Here he is, husband and father, scruffy romantic, a shambolic scholar—a man adrift in the wake of his wife’s sudden, accidental death. And there are his two sons, who, like him, struggle in their London flat to face the unbearable sadness that has engulfed them. The father imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness while the boys wander, savage and unsupervised.

In this moment of violent despair they are visited by Crow—antagonist, trickster, goad, protector, therapist, and babysitter. This self-described “sentimental bird,” at once wild and tender, who “finds humans dull except in grief,” threatens to stay with the wounded family until they no longer need him. As weeks turn to months and the pain of loss lessens with the balm of memories, Crow’s efforts are rewarded and the little unit of three begins to recover: Dad resumes his book about the poet Ted Hughes; the boys get on with it, grow up.

Part novella, part polyphonic fable, part essay on grief, Max Porter’s extraordinary debut combines compassion and bravura style to dazzling effect. Full of angular wit and profound truths, Grief Is the Thing with Feathers is a startlingly original and haunting debut by a significant new talent.

cover-innocentsAvailable from Scribner

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“Dana Spiotta is one of my favorite living writers and in this wondrous and mysterious novel, a spectacular and subtle meditation onsight and sound, she seems almost to channel Jean-Luc Godard: Innocents and Others, like classic JLG,is brilliant, and erotic, and pop.” —Rachel Kushner, author of The Flamethrowers

From “a major, unnervingly intelligent writer” (Joy Williams)…“rich, funny, learned, and tonally fresh” (Jeffrey Eugenides), comes a novel about aspiration, film, work, and love.

Dana Spiotta’s new novel is about two women, best friends, who grow up in LA in the 80s and become filmmakers. Meadow and Carrie have everything in common—except their views on sex, power, movie-making, and morality. Their lives collide with Jelly, a loner whose most intimate experience is on the phone. Jelly is older, erotic, and mysterious. She cold calls powerful men and seduces them not through sex but through listening. She invites them to reveal themselves, and they do.

Spiotta is “a wonderfully gifted writer with an uncanny feel for the absurdities and sadnesses of contemporary life, and an unerring ear for how people talk and try to cope today” (The New York Times). Innocents and Others is her greatest novel—wise, artful, and beautiful.

Final Cover Electric PeakAvailable from Artistically Declined Press

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I’m From Electric Peak is a schizophrenic valentine from the broken heart of America. Bud Smith writes with his foot on the gas, driving his damaged characters across the mystic beauty of a country intent on destroying them.” —Kevin Maloney, author of Cult of Loretta

Kody loves Teal Carticelli. He has broken out of the Mayweather, a home for wayward youth, following his threat to blow up his high school with a fertilizer bomb. Kody is on his way to see Teal’s parents, because they forced her to get an abortion. They are about to put Teal on an airplane to Italy, and he might never see her again. But Kody has a gun in his pocket and he is climbing down the water tower to go and pay the Carticelli’s a visit. True love / true wreckage.

51w0uIUWPML._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Available now in paperback from Algonquin Books

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“In The Daylight Marriage, there are two mysteries–the whereabouts of a missing woman and the vagaries of the human heart. Heidi Pitlor explores both of these enigmas with equal mastery, merging a shocking crime story with an incisive portrait of a failed marriage. The result is a novel that is fast-moving, emotionally complex, and ultimately heartbreaking.” —Tom Perrotta, bestselling author of The Leftovers and Nine Inches

Hannah was tall and graceful, naturally pretty, spirited and impulsive, the upper-class young woman who picked, of all men, Lovell—the introverted climate scientist who thought he could change the world if he could just get everyone to listen to reason. After a magical honeymoon, they settled in the suburbs to raise their two children.

But over the years, Lovell and Hannah’s conversations have become charged with resentments and unspoken desires. She has become withdrawn. His work affords him a convenient distraction. And then, after one explosive argument, Hannah vanishes.

For the first time, Lovell is forced to examine the trajectory of his marriage through the lens of memory. As he tries to piece together what happened to his wife–and to their life together–readers follow Hannah on that single day when a hasty decision proves irrevocable.

With haunting intensity, a seamless balance of wit and heartbreak, and the emotional acuity that author Heidi Pitlor brings to every page, The Daylight Marriage mines the dark and delicate nature of a marriage.

51cKAyKbWyL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Available from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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The Queen of the Night is an astonishing universe into which its lucky readers can dissolve completely, metamorphosing alongside its shapeshifting protagonist. Lilliet Berne steals her name from a gravestone and launches into a life of full-throated song; her voice is an intoxicant, and this book is a glorious performance. Chee’s enveloping, seductive prose is perfectly matched to the circus world of the opera.” —Karen Russell, bestselling author of Swamplandia

From a ferociously talented writer, praised as “the fire, in my opinion. And the light,” by Junot Diaz, comes a blazing portrait of one woman’s rise from courtesan to world-renowned diva.

Lilliet Berne is a sensation of the Paris Opera, a legendary soprano with every accolade except an original role, every singer’s chance at immortality. When one is finally offered to her, she realizes with alarm that the libretto is based on a hidden piece of her past. Only four could have betrayed her: one is dead, one loves her, one wants to own her. And one, she hopes, never thinks of her at all.

As she mines her memories for clues, she recalls her life as an orphan who left the American frontier for Europe and was swept up into the glitzy, gritty world of Second Empire Paris. In order to survive, she transformed herself from hippodrome rider to courtesan, from empress’s maid to debut singer, all the while weaving a complicated web of romance, obligation, and political intrigue.

Featuring a cast of characters drawn from history, The Queen of the Night follows Lilliet as she moves ever closer to the truth behind the mysterious opera and the role that could secure her reputation — or destroy her with the secrets it reveals.

51mXhwIQX5L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Available from Flatiron Books

“This well-written book is hard to put down and hard to forget.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Ruth Wariner was the thirty-ninth of her father’s forty-two children. Growing up on a farm in rural Mexico, where authorities turn a blind eye to the practices of her community, Ruth lives in a ramshackle house
without indoor plumbing or electricity. At church, preachers teach that God will punish the wicked by destroying the world and that women can only ascend to Heaven by entering into polygamous marriages and giving birth to as many children as possible. After Ruth’s father―the man who had been the founding prophet of the colony―is brutally murdered by his brother in a bid for church power, her mother remarries, becoming the second wife of another faithful congregant.

In need of government assistance and supplemental income, Ruth and her siblings are carted back and forth between Mexico and the United States, where Ruth’s mother collects welfare and her stepfather works a variety of odd jobs. Ruth comes to love the time she spends in the States, realizing that perhaps the community into which she was born is not the right one for her. As she begins to doubt her family’s beliefs and question her mother’s choices, she struggles to balance her fierce love for her siblings with her determination to forge a better life for herself.

Recounted from the innocent and hopeful perspective of a child, The Sound of Gravel is the remarkable memoir of one girl’s fight for peace and love. This is an intimate, gripping tale of triumph, courage, and resilience.

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Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 9.21.04 AMAvailable from Unknown Press

“Rift made me laugh my face off, cry my guts out, and remember why writing matters: stories save us from our idiotic but lovable selves.” —Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Small Backs of Children

A stunning collaboration from Robert Vaughan and Kathy Fish, two masters of flash fiction, who’ve blended their work together in a vibrant explosion that is all of these things: evocative, heart wrenching, rare in the wild. The stories in Rift explore the gamut of human connection and conflict, where emotions run deep beneath the surface. Divided into four sections: Fault, Breach, Tremor, and Cataclysm, writers Fish and Vaughan thread together their tales of strange encounters, mishaps, accidents, and disrepair. The world of Rift is riven, tumultuous, and haunting. In here, danger lurks and the fallible human heart lay exposed and vulnerable. Fish and Vaughan leave their readers spellbound, mystified, and eager for the next story.

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41FeK9ggXXL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_Available from Tyrant Books

“Money, sex and deception is an irresistible combination, and Bad Sex is un-put-downable. Brett is a lovable heroine–a lusty, wrongheaded writer, flawed and rueful, yet charging ahead. She wants everything she knows is bad for her–alcohol, drugs, and to have violent, lurid sex with her husband’s rapscallion banker–and we root for her all the way.” —Rebecca Curtis

“I drink, I hurt myself and the people around me, and then I write.” Brett is in Central America, away from her husband, when she begins a love affair with his friend, Eduard. Tragedy and comedy are properly joined at the hip in this loosely autobiographical book about infidelity, drinking, and the postponing of repercussions under the sun. Though coming undone is something we all try to avoid, Martin reminds us that going off the rails is sometimes a part of the ride.

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9781616955212Available from Soho Press

“A fearless and harrowing meditation on the ruination and transformation of cities and of people; but amid loss and destruction, Bell finds a strain of piercing hope. This is an extraordinary book.” —Emily St. John Mandel, New York Times bestselling author of Station Eleven

Detroit has descended into ruin. Kelly scavenges for scrap metal from the hundred thousand abandoned buildings in a part of the city known as “the zone,” an increasingly wild landscape where one day he finds something far more valuable than the copper he’s come to steal: a kidnapped boy, crying out for rescue. Briefly celebrated as a hero, Kelly secretly avenges the boy’s unsolved kidnapping, a task that will take him deeper into the zone and into a confrontation with his own past and long-buried traumas.

The second novel from the acclaimed author of In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods, Scrapper is a devastating reimagining of one of America’s greatest cities, its beautiful architecture, its lost houses, shuttered factories, boxing gyms, and storefront churches. With precise, powerful prose, it asks: What do we owe for our crimes, even those we’ve committed to protect the people we love?

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51vUEnCumKL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Available from Dzanc Books

“Daring, precise, and linguistically acrobatic, this novel brings a history of America alive, from the war protests in the sixties to turn-of-the-21st-century art theft. A fearless portrayal of madness and its consequences, Carmiel Banaksy’s debut novel tracks the life of a suicidal housewife and her unlikely, schizophrenic counterpart. This is a new writer to savor, reminiscent of Nicole Krauss, Michael Chabon and Andy Sean Greer.” —Colum McCann, National Book Award-winning author of Let the Great World Spin

Greenwich Village, 1959. Claire Bishop sits for a portrait—a gift from her husband—only to discover that what the artist has actually depicted is Claire’s suicide. Haunted by the painting, Claire is forced to redefine herself within a failing marriage and a family history of madness. Shifting ahead to 2004, we meet West, a young man with schizophrenia obsessed with a painting he encounters in a gallery: a mysterious image of a woman’s suicide. Convinced it was painted by his ex-girlfriend, West constructs an elaborate delusion involving time-travel, Hasidism, art-theft, and the terrifying power of representation. When the two characters finally meet, in the present, delusions are shattered and lives are forever changed.

The Suicide of Claire Bishop is a dazzling debut, evocative of Michael Cunningham’s The Hours (and Virginia Woolf’s classic Mrs. Dalloway), as well as Donna Tartt’s bestseller The Goldfinch. With high stakes that reach across American history, Carmiel Banasky effortlessly juggles balls of madness, art theft, and Time itself, holding the reader in a thrall of language and personal consequences. Daring, sexy, emotional, The Suicide of Claire Bishop heralds Banasky as an important new talent.

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51cM2Rbd1ZL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Available from Algonquin Books

This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! has all the wonderful snap and sizzle we’ve come to expect from Jonathan Evison’s work, and as much heart as any novel I’ve read in recent years. Jonathan packs an entire life–many lives–into this fine book, and does so with the empathy and insight of a writer at the top of his game.” —Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

With her husband Bernard two years in the grave, seventy-eight-year-old Harriet Chance sets sail on an ill-conceived Alaskan cruise only to discover that she’s been living the past sixty years of her life under entirely false pretenses. There, amid the buffets and lounge singers, between the imagined appearance of her late husband and the very real arrival of her estranged daughter, Harriet is forced to take a long look back, confronting the truth about pivotal events that changed the course of her life.

Jonathan Evison has crafted a bighearted novel with an endearing heroine at its center. Through Harriet, he paints a bittersweet portrait of a postmodern everywoman with great warmth, humanity, and humor. Part dysfunctional love story, part poignant exploration of the mother/daughter relationship, nothing is what it seems in this tale of acceptance, reexamination, forgiveness, and, ultimately, healing. It is sure to appeal to admirers of Evison’s previous work, as well as fans of such writers as Meg Wolitzer, Junot Díaz, and Karen Joy Fowler.

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23462654Available from Harper

“You can make the case that Lidia Yuknavitch is the most compelling writer alive. The Small Backs of Children has moments of séance with writers like Jean Rhys and Clarice Lispector. I felt bewitched, possessed, destroyed, and yet I’d do it again.” —Porochista Khakpour, author of The Last Illusion

 
A masterful literary talent explores the treacherous, often violent borders between war and sex, love and art.

With the flash of a camera, one girl’s life is shattered, and a host of others altered forever…

In a war-torn village in Eastern Europe, an American photographer captures a heart-stopping image: a young girl flying toward the lens, fleeing a fiery explosion that has engulfed her home and family. The image wins acclaim and prizes, becoming an icon for millions—and a subject of obsession for one writer, the photographer’s best friend, who has suffered a devastating tragedy of her own.

As the writer plunges into a suicidal depression, her filmmaker husband enlists several friends, including a fearless bisexual poet and an ingenuous performance artist, to save her by rescuing the unknown girl and bringing her to the United States. And yet, as their plot unfolds, everything we know about the story comes into question: What does the writer really want? Who is controlling the action? And what will happen when these two worlds—east and west, real and virtual—collide?

A fierce, provocative, and deeply affecting novel of both ideas and action that blends the tight construction of Julian Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending with the emotional power of Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Small Backs of Children is a major step forward from one of our most avidly watched writers.

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61K8tqcbIWL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Available from Grand Central Publishing

“A raw, boisterous, generous novel with a heroine to match and New York in its soul, Saint Mazie offers proof again that Jami Attenberg is a brilliant, lion-hearted storyteller.” —Maggie Shipstead, author of Astonish Me

 
 
Meet Mazie Phillips: big-hearted and bawdy, she’s the truth-telling proprietress of The Venice, the famed New York City movie theater. It’s the Jazz Age, with romance and booze aplenty–even when Prohibition kicks in–and Mazie never turns down a night on the town. But her high spirits mask a childhood rooted in poverty, and her diary, always close at hand, holds her dearest secrets.

When the Great Depression hits, Mazie’s life is on the brink of transformation. Addicts and bums roam the Bowery; homelessness is rampant. If Mazie won’t help them, then who? When she opens the doors of The Venice to those in need, this ticket taking, fun-time girl becomes the beating heart of the Lower East Side, and in defining one neighborhood helps define the city.

Then, more than ninety years after Mazie began her diary, it’s discovered by a documentarian in search of a good story. Who was Mazie Phillips, really? A chorus of voices from the past and present fill in some of the mysterious blanks of her adventurous life.

Inspired by the life of a woman who was profiled in Joseph Mitchell’s classic Up in the Old Hotel, Saint Mazie is infused with Jami Attenberg’s signature wit, bravery, and heart. Mazie’s rise to “sainthood”–and her irrepressible spirit–is unforgettable.

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816fUC5kMcLAvailable from FSG Originals

“[Gray’s stories] register as leaps of faith, brave excursions into the realms of the unreal–and convince me that Gray may yet prove an important voice in experimental writing.” —The New York Times Book Review

 
 
A searing new collection from the inimitable Amelia Gray.

A woman creeps through the ductwork of a quiet home. A medical procedure reveals an object of worship. A carnivorous reptile divides and cauterizes a town. Amelia Gray’s curio cabinet expands in Gutshot, where isolation and coupling are pushed to their dark and outrageous edges. These singular stories live and breathe on their own, pulsating with energy and humanness and a glorious sense of humor. Hers are stories that you will read and reread–raw gems that burrow into your brain, reminders of just how strange and beautiful our world is. These collected stories come to us like a vivisected body, the whole that is all the more elegant and breathtaking for exploring its most grotesque and intimate lightless viscera.

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-1Available from A Barnacle Book

“In Contenders Erika Krouse has written a novel as hard-paced and surprising as her heroine, the inimitable Nina Black, who can beat almost any man in an unfair fight. But Contenders isn’t only about street fighting. It’s also about the spiritual life and the life of the affections, within and beyond family. Can Nina come back from the edge of darkness? I couldn’t stop turning these brilliant pages to find the answer.” —Margot Livesey

“Nina was a thief, technically, although she never defined herself that way. Stealing was sponsorship. Fighting was the passion.”

Street-fighter Nina Black lives by her fists in Denver, stealing wallets and taking advantage of men who try to take advantage of her. This symbiosis is upended when one of her marks, a cop and MMA comeback contender, wants his wallet—and his dignity—back.

Avoiding retribution is difficult enough alone, but it becomes impossible once Nina gets unexpected custody of an orphaned eight-year- old niece she didn’t know existed, accompanied by her long-lost (and ever-vigilant) childhood flame, Isaac. When the situation implodes, only one person can help Nina earn back her life, and prepare her for the fight that might end it.

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