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Short Takes: January 2014 

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Sliding Past Vertical
Laurie Boris
CreateSpace, 2013, $14.99

One of Chekhov's characters is nicknamed "101 Misfortunes"; Sarah Cohen could give him a run for his money. Long-suffering Emerson has carried the torch for her ever since their college fling, but is he prepared for her move back to Syracuse? Woodstock author Boris writes lived-in, textured characters who feel like old friends. Leading workshop "Relatively Painless Self-Publishing" 1/26 at 1pm, Golden Notebook, Woodstock.

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Wishbone Creek And Other Stories
Tom Nolan
Millbrook Writers, 2013, $14.95

The nine stories in Nolan's collection stretch from a Russian piano mover delivering an electric keyboard to an elderly widow to an ex-Air Force sergeant who wakes up on a beach with a naked woman and no clue who she is. In between are plenty of twists, delivered in a clipped, assured diction that keeps pages turning. Appearing 1/24 at 7pm, Inquiring Minds, New Paltz.

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Picture Me Gone
Meg Rosoff
G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2013, $17.99

A National Book Award finalist, this young-adult novel by the protean author of How I Live Now unfolds in a wintry upstate New York landscape. As hyperintuitive Mila (named after her grandfather's dog) helps her father search for clues to his best friend's disappearance, she discovers far more than she bargained for. Rosoff's crystalline prose glints like moonlit snow.

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Blue Hydrangeas
Marianne Sciucco
Bunky Press, 2013, $9.50

Middletown author and nurse Sciucco spins a heartfelt love story of a couple struggling with Alzheimer's. Blue Hydrangeas is the name of the Cape Cod B&B where Jack has been his wife's devoted caregiver for nine years. Now his own health is failing, and he reluctantly yields to the notion that he can no longer manage her care at home. But there's one last lap on their journey together, and it's full of emotion. 

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Madness & Glory
Albert Rothenberg
Vanguard Press, 2013, $18

As the French Revolution strikes blows for liberty, pioneering psychiatrist Philippe Pinel frees asylum inmates from literal chains. An escaped patient (and former politician) gets wind of a plot against Robespierre, but who will believe a madman? Readers with a historical bent will savor this eventful literary novel by Canaan resident Rothenberg, a Harvard professor of psychiatry.

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The Scar Boys
Len Vlahos
Egmont USA, 2014, $17.99

Struck by lightning when bullies left him tied to a tree at age eight, Harry has carried the scars for a decade. Music becomes his salvation in this moving saga of rock'n'roll, road trips, and redemption. Former punk rocker Vlahos titled each chapter after a different song from the '70s and '80s playbook ... "Thunder Road," "Bad Brain," "Pump It Up," "The Song Is Over." Appearing 2/2 at 4pm, Hudson Valley YA Society at Oblong Books & Music, Rhinebeck.

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  • New Year’s resolution for every age: Read more local fiction.


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