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 Weekly Words about New Books in
Independent Bookstores

May 24, 2020

Magical Realism in the Wild West and Four Orphans on a Quest for Home on the Mississippi
 
Inland by Tea Obreht. Arriving in paperback this week from the acclaimed author of The Tiger's Wife is a mythic frontier tale that the Washington Post's Ron Charles called "a voyage of hilarious and harrowing adventures, told in the  irresistible voice of a restless, superstitious man determined to live right but tormented by his past." Obreht invokes magical realism and an infectious imagination to tell the story of two lives colliding in the lawless, drought-ridden lands of the Arizona Territory in 1893. Nora is a frontierswoman, alone in a house
aband oned by the men in her life - her husband, who has gone in search of water, and her t wo older sons, who have left to find their father after his return is delayed. Nora is biding her time with her youngest son, a boy with a bad eye who is convinced that a mysterious beast is stalking the land around their home. Then the re's Lurie, a former outlaw and a man haunted by ghosts - he sees lost souls who want something from him - who is on the run from a murder warrant, which inspires an epic journey across the West.  
 
The literary novel has received a slew of critical raves and was an Indie Next pick last August. Here's that review: "Man, I could live my whole life inside this novel and be perfectly happy. Téa Obreht is the real thing. Inland has the stern gorgeousness of Blood Meridian, the cinematic perfection of Station Eleven, the fantasia-like atmosphere of Cloud Atlas, and the deep-heartedness of The Winter Soldier. This is the sort of novel that makes people want to get up and soldier on. I really loved this book."
- Erica Eisdorfer, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC
 
 
This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger. Best known for his detective series set in Minnesota and featuring former Chicago cop Cork O'Connor, Krueger won the 2014 Edgar for his mystery novel, Ordinary Grace. With his newest work, now in paperback, he switches to coming-of-age fiction in a story that follows four orphans on a life-changing odyssey during the Great Depression. It's 1932 in Minnesota, home to the Lincoln School - a dismal, horrific place where hundreds of Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to an orphan namedOdie O'Banion, a lively boy whose exploits earn him the superintendent's wrath. Forced to flee, he and his brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own. Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphans will fly into the unknown and cross paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds.  
 
Perhaps the highest praise for This Tender Land is comparisons to one of the most loved novels of the past two years. Entertainment Weekly is among several reviewers that made the connection: "If you're among of the millions who raced through Where the Crawdads Sing and are looking for another expansive, atmospheric American saga, look to the latest from Kreuger." 
 David Brooks Reflects On Redefining a Life of Meaning     
 
The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life by David Brooks. In this just-released paperback, the well-known commentator and regular contributor to the PBS NewsHour explores what it takes to lead a meaningful life in a self-centered world.
We live in a society, Brooks argues, that celebrates freedom and individualism and that tells u s to be true to ourselves. But Brooks posits that climbing what he calls the 'first mountain' of success and personal achievement turns out not to be as rewarding as it might seem - and he points to his own life as an example . Instead, he believes that there is a second mountain to climb - one focused on being other-centered, committing to a cause, rooting oneself in a neighborhood, and binding ourselves to others with social solidarity and love.  
 
The book contains some of Brooks' own self-discovery lessons, which may seem fairly obvious to some, but there are plenty of good messages and thoughtful observations about how - and why - to live a life based on commitment and grounded in community.
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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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