Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dervishes, A Compulsive New Read!

Dervishes by Beth Helms (Picador Paperback Original, 2008, $14.00)

I have an enormous stack of inviting books, but Sue insisted I put this one at the top of my pile -- and now I know why! What a compulsive read.

Dervishes is a great title, because you can just feel everything spinning out of control in the secretive, off-balance lives of American diplomats stationed in Turkey in the 1970’s. The story is told in turn by a 12 year-old girl named Canada and her unmoored mother Grace, an original “desperate housewife.” It involves sinisterly sensuous houseboys, flirtatious riding instructors, and unreachable husbands who disappear in the middle of the night on unexplained assignments. The tension and jealousy in this novel are palpable; they feel like threatening characters lurking around each corner.

Beth Helms is an author with stunning talent. I will definitely be picking up her earlier story collection, American Wives, the winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Award. Thanks for the recomendation, Sue!

If this book sounds good, just give us a call at (630) 469-2891, and we'll put one aside for you!


Thursday, October 23, 2008

We Can't Stop Thinking About Little Bee

Our advance copy of "Little Bee" by Chris Cleave (Random House) has been passed from one employee to another with the same feverish, drooling excitement of my springer spaniel awaiting a treat. We had to carefully choreograph each hand-off, as we each darted in and out of town. Sue actually left it on her doorstep for Jenny to grab on her way to the airport. Jenny tells me she read it it one sitting, then had to call the bookstore for my cellphone number, because she just had to talk about the ending!

Our only regret is that we have to wait until February, 2009 to sell it, although it's been available in the U.K. since July under the name "The Other Hand." As for me, the title "Little Bee" is much more fitting because it connects the reader with a character that they will not be able to stop thinking about. We loved Little Bee as both a character and a metaphor for the refugees from Nigeria she represents. You can choose to see a bee as a pest, and swat it quickly before it stings, or you can let the bee fly back to the garden, where it will polinate your flowers.