Larry Grieco, Librarian

In a tour-de-force novel, Monica Drake tells the story of four women living in the Pacific Northwest—Portland, to be precise—who each deal with the complexities of parenthood along the complete spectrum of experience.
Sarah, who studies animal behavior at the Oregon Zoo, wants desperately to have children, but is having no luck with husband Ben. Her friend Georgie is a new mother, dealing with postpartum blues and a detached husband. Nyla is into recycling and zero-waste in her hip, Portland store, while her teen daughter is enmeshed in a world of drugs and the occult.

And then there’s Dulcet, “defiantly unmarried, childless by choice,” who teaches sex-ed to high school students “while pursuing avant-garde art projects and equally risqué intimate relationships.” The lives of these four women intertwine in unexpected ways and they bond together in the face of a tragic event.
In The Stud Book, Drake makes us, alternately, laugh (a lot)—she’s a very funny writer—and cry, in touching, poignant moments.

Fools is a collection of stories by Joan Silber in which her characters each are confronted with the questions: “When is it wise to be a fool for something? What makes people want to be better than they are?”

In one story, Vera, the “shy, anarchist daughter of missionary parents, leaves her family for love and activism in New York.” In another, the adulterous son of a Florida hotel owner “steals money from his family and departs for Paris, where he takes up with a young woman and finds himself outsmarted in turn.”
Silber creates characters who live and breathe and stick with you long after you’ve finished reading their stories. She has won a PEN/Hemingway Award, as well as being a finalist for the National Book Award. Boston Globe: “No other writer can make a few small decisions ripple across the globe, and across time, with more subtlety and power.”

In a rare “dystopian climate thriller,” Finnish writer Antti Tuomainen has produced a crime novel of epic proportions. In The Healer, a struggling poet searches for his missing wife in a Helsinki that is battling a “ruthless climate catastrophe: subway tunnels are flooded; abandoned vehicles are left burning in the streets.”
When his journalist wife goes missing, Tapani Lehtinen embarks on a frantic hunt for her. She had been working on a story about a politically motivated serial killer known as “The Healer.” Tapani uncovers secrets from his wife’s past that may connect her to the very murders she was investigating.

This is the story of survival, loyalty, and determination, proving “even when the world is coming to an end, love and hope endure.” This book won the Clue Award for “Best Finnish Crime Novel in 2011.” Writer Sofi Oksanen: “The ability to use all the tricks of crime fiction and all the tools of poetry makes Tuomainen’s work unique, and that combination makes the reader fall in love with his style. You cannot but value things around you more after reading The Healer.”

Looking ahead to the beginning of 2014, we’ve got the Let’s Talk About It series coming up which, by the way, still has some openings, but you would need to register soon to begin the reading. The first program is scheduled for Saturday morning, January 18, from 10:00 a.m. to Noon, where we’ll be discussing The Arabian Nights.

Then in the dead of winter, watch for A Midwinter Night’s Poetry Reading, date still to be determined. In the spring there will be a new film series with critic Walter Chaw. Looks like we’re hitting the ground running in the new year.

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