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 Weekly Words about New Books in
Independent Bookstores

July 15, 2018

New Novel From Pulitzer Winner Tyler Reveals Familiar Family Themes and Engaging Characters
 
Clock Dance by Anne Tyler. After a light, contemporary retelling of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew in her last book, Vinegar Girl, Tyler returns to tried-and-true family themes in this emotionally complex new novel. Her protagonist is Willa Drake, who we first meet in 1967 - a schoolgirl coping with her mother's sudden disappearance. Tyler also gives us looks at Willa's life in 1977, when she is a college coed considering a marriage proposal, and again in 1997 as a young widow trying to piece her life back together. The second half of the book moves to 2017, where Willa - yearning to be a grandmother - receives a phone call from a stranger, telling her that her son's ex-girlfriend has been shot. She promptly drops everything and flies across the country to Baltimore. There, an impulsive decision to look after this woman and her 9-year-old daughter will lead Willa into new and uncharted territory - surrounded by eccentric neighbors, plunged into the rituals that make a community a family, and forced to find solace in unexpected places.  
 
Tyler's warm and compassionate touch is very much in evidence as Willa builds a new life, and it spurred this review in the Wall Street Journal:  "One of Ms. Tyler's most appealing talents is difficult to illustrate in brief, as it's typically the happy outcome of page after page of careful accretion: a gift for evoking the moment when the heart goes out, when a mute call for sympathy sparks a responsive note in another's breast."
Independent Booksellers' Favorite New Novel is a Real Sleeper   
 
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh. The first novel from this young New England writer was Eileen, a dark, suspenseful tale of a lonely young woman working in a boys prison in the early 1960s who is pulled an obsessive relationship that leads to a very strange c rime. The book won the PEN/ Hemingway Award for debut fiction and was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Man Booker Prize. Now comes My Year of Rest and Relaxation, which was voted by independent booksellers the # 1 pick for the July Indie Next list. Clearly Moshfegh is an author to pay attention to; here's a brief description of her latest effort:

Our narrator should be happy, shouldn't she? It's 2000, she's young, thin, and pretty - a recent Columbia graduate who works an easy job at a hip art gallery, lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like the rest of her needs, by her inheritance. But there is a dark and vacuous hole in her heart, and it isn't just the loss of her parents, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her best friend, Reva.  
 
To escape her psychic pain, Moshfegh's protagonist resolves to sleep for one whole year, aided by an extremely irresponsible psychiatrist prescribing an frightening array of pills. Her objective is to wake up refreshed, rested, and cured of her alienation from everyone and everything. But as one might guess, things don't play out as planned. By story's end, this talented young novelist has made a case for how reasonable, even necessary, alienation can be. This is a dark, often funny tale that is sure to provoke discussion.   
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WHY THE COLUMN?
Hi, I'm Hut Landon, and I work as a bookseller in an independent bookstore in BerkeIey, California.

My goal with this newsletter is to keep readers up to date about new books hitting the shelves, share what indie booksellers are recommending in their stores, and pass on occasional news about the book world.

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