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Chronogram's Choice 

Chronogram has run reviews and Short Takes of over 100 new books since last November’s Literary Supplement. Books Editor Nina Shengold offers a second look at some outstanding titles by regional authors.

FICTION

THE FUTURIST
James P. Othmer (Anchor Books, 2007, $13.95)
“A wickedly deft satire that is by turns hilarious, touching, foreboding, frightening—and consistently brilliant. The novel cuts a swath through political culture, national governments, corporate hegemony, religious fundamentalism, mass media, advertising, activism, fashion, Faith B. Popcorn, Bill Gates, and assorted other major players....Othmer has done a marvelous dissection of early 21st-century culture, tossed the pieces into a blender, and poured out a first-rate satirical novel in which tomorrow is to die for.”
—Kim Wozencraft, 6/07


RUSSIAN LOVER
Jana Martin (Yeti, 2007, $15.95)
“A well-done short story feels miraculous, the selection of just the right moments and details to create an entire reality in a bite-sized handful of pages. Woodstock author Jana Martin gets it right. The reader knows everything he or she needs to know; the characters breathe and sweat and could go on with their lives for a novel’s worth of time, and we’d not be bored.... Martin’s rich imagery brings to vivid life the exotic side of the mundane, and reveals the mundane within the exotic worlds of a dominatrix or a topless dancer.”
—Anne Pyburn, 9/07

THE SECOND COMING OF MAVALA SHIKONGO
Peter Orner (Back Bay Books, 2007, $13.99)
“In chapters ranging from three pages to a single, muscular sentence, Goas, a school for farm boys in the middle of the drought-ridden South African veldt, shimmers and materializes before the eyes like a mirage. Bard Fiction Prize winner Orner possesses the rare ability to craft irreverent, pithy last sentences that make The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo impossible to put down.”
—Bri Johnson, 5/07


Alison Gaylin (Obsidian, 2007, $21.95)
“A delightful romp though the sordid and deliciously sleazy world of the Hollywood tabloid media machine and the seriously neurotic, occasionally psychotic stars who feed it, Trashed is funny, suspenseful, and oddly touching. It is both a thriller and a send-up of the genre, a giddy frolic through La-La Land with a cast of characters that leaves the reader smiling at human folly, and guessing at whodunit until the very end.”
—Kim Wozencraft, 9/07

TRESPASS
Valerie Martin (Nan A. Talese Books/Doubleday, 2007, $25)
“Keenly insightful, masterfully written...Trespass employs a broad canvas, but it isn’t just a political story. Valerie Martin peels back big issues to reveal the bigger ones beneath, like the difference between the frightening and the truly dangerous, the possibility that our worst enemy lies within, and the absurdity of professing a liberal mind without also having a liberal heart.”
—Susan Krawitz, 10/07

MEMOIR

A MEMOIR OF A CHILDHOOD IN INDIA
Madhur Jaffrey (Alfred A. Knopf, 2006, $25)
“An enchanting and heady mix of childhood stories and recipes from pre-Partition Northern India....Each person and place encountered by Jaffrey is connected with a food described so explicitly, gracefully, and lovingly that reading this book literally makes the mouth water.”
—Susan Piperato, 12/06


LAND OF STONE: BREAKING SILENCE THOUGH POETRY
Karen Chase (Wayne State University, 2007, $15.95)
“Chase begins her preface by calling Land of Stone ‘a story of silence and kinship.’ It is also a story about love, healing, and the redemptive power of poetry, and it is unlike anything you’ll ever read. In a time when hope is as hard to come by as affordable housing or a teenager without a cell phone, Land of Stone is singular in its power to inspire.…The narrative bravely explores the subtlely in relationships—between silence and word, patient and therapist, teacher and student.”
—Caitlin McDonnell, 9/07


THE LAST DEAD SOLDIER LEFT ALIVE
Richard Boes (iUniverse Inc., 2007, $12.95)
“A ripped-from-the-heart memoir of the years of struggle, substance abuse, and failed relationships that followed [Boes’] combat experience. It’s painful, yet richly rewarding. Imagine sitting down in a pub next to a slightly scary-looking fellow who buys you a round and then begins to talk, his words spilling out in a heated rush, things bottled within him flooding to the surface. And although some of what he is saying is hard to hear, it’s made compelling by his wry, ironic perspective and stream-of-consciousness style, which is akin to that of Henry Miller or Jack Kerouac.”
—Anne Pyburn, 6/07

  • The best of the best of the past year. Already behind? Start turning the page.

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