Polina has somewhat fecklessly left her devoted, upright husband for Alec, a smooth-talking womanizer now eyeing a teenage girl. Responsible older brother Karl has big dreams but helps the family survive by getting involved in a shady business. Family patriarch Samuil, who still mourns a brother lost in World War II, remains firmly secular even as his wife drifts toward the family's Jewish heritage. Sounds like your typical family problems, but the Krasnanskys are Soviet Jews who have fled to the West (it's 1978), and the miracle of this debut novel is how effectively Bezmozgis (Natasha: And Other Stories) captures both the family's recognizable tensions and the particular difficulties of the Soviet emigre experience. Staunch Communist Samuil, for instance, contravened his convictions to emigrate and remain with his family, while Polina will never see hers again. Having opted not to go to Israel, the Krasnanskys find themselves in Rome, struggling to arrange visas to the United States or Canada. Bezmozgis fills their wait with carefully nuanced anguish and, yes, hope. Verdict Bezmozgis proves why he was recently proclaimed one of The New Yorker's 20 Under 40; this is mellifluous, utterly captivating writing, and you'll live with the Krasnansky family as if it were your own. Highly recommended.-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010.
Due to his size, but against his true nature, Gordon Rankin ("Rank") has always been cast in the role of enforcer. After tragedy strikes, he disappears. Almost twenty years later, he discovers that an old friend has written a novel mirroring his life. The betrayal leads Rank to finally confront the tragedy he's been running from.
When a frontier baron known as the Commodore orders Charlie and Eli Sisters, his hired gunslingers, to track down and kill a prospector named Herman Kermit Warm, the brothers journey from Oregon to San Francisco, and eventually to Warm's claim in the Sierra foothills, running into a witch, a bear, a dead Indian, a parlor of drunken floozies, and a gang of murderous fur trappers.
This is a new part of an old story: 1930s Berlin, the threat of imprisonment and the powerful desire to make something beautiful despite the horror. Ernst told them not to go out. Said don't you boys tempt the devil. But the cheap beer in his gut must have made Hieronymus think a glass of milk would be worth the risk. Of course Ernst was right, and the star player on the Berlin scene of the late 1930s, right before the war began for the second time, was taken away that night by the Boots. An easy target, being a mixed-race German. Not like the others, the Americans, Europeans, black, white and Jewish, who could hide a while longer. Fifty years later and Sidney's going back, to hear for the first time the unfinished recording the band was making, the obsession that kept them there long after it was safe. The thing that stopped them using those visas while they were still good.
Summer of the flesh eater -- Once, we were Swedes -- Floating like a goat -- Investment results may vary -- Adopted Chinese daughters' rebellion -- What are we doing here? -- Someone is killing the great motivational speakers of Amerika -- Mister Kakami -- We come in peace -- Better living through plastic explosives
In the early 1950s, an eleven-year-old boy in Colombo boards a ship bound for England. At mealtimes he is seated at the “Cat’s Table”--as far from the Captain’s Table as can be--with a ragtag group of “insignificant” adults and two other boys, Cassius and Ramadhin. As the ship makes its way across the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal, into the Mediterranean, the boys tumble from one adventure to another, bursting all over the place like freed mercury. But there are other diversions as well: one man talks with them about jazz and women, another opens the door to the world of literature. The narrator’s elusive, beautiful cousin Emily becomes his confidante, allowing him to see himself “with a distant eye” for the first time, and to feel the first stirring of desire. Another Cat’s Table denizen, the shadowy Miss Lasqueti, is perhaps more than what she seems. And very late every night, the boys spy on a shackled prisoner, his crime and his fate a galvanizing mystery that will haunt them forever. As the narrative moves between the decks and holds of the ship and the boy’s adult years, it tells a spellbinding story--by turns poignant and electrifying--about the magical, often forbidden, discoveries of childhood and a lifelong journey that begins unexpectedly with a spectacular sea voyage.