Pssssst! Have I got a reading group tip for you: at least an hour of animated give-and-take practically guaranteed, and it's less than thirty pages long.
Leading a discussion for Ryunosuke Akutagawa's short story "Hell Screen" is a dream job. That text was June's topic for the Baca Center Great Conversations group on Tuesday. The selection is so rich with intriguing themes that I didn't agonize over my choice of questions, figuring that the group's commentary and participation would be high-quality no matter what--and they were. Whether you focus on the question of great art requiring sacrifice or one of the other eye-opening facets (which I'll refrain from divulging here), rest assured you won't lack for conversation.
Try a less-than-book-length choice with your reading group sometime. As with poetry, short stories derive power from conciseness. And, during an activity-laden summer, who doesn't appreciate brevity for its own sake?
With convenience in mind, I scanned reviews for new and forthcoming fiction, mining for choice bits (thank you, clever reviewers!) that encapsulate the appeal of these promising--and full-length--titles.
Please do follow up and consult full reviews online, or come to the library and let us find some for you. In the meantime...
- Jen Lancaster, If You Were Here: "snappy"
- Steve Earle, I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive: "heartfelt"
- Kate Christensen, The Astral: "satisfying redoing of a man undone"
- Daniel Wilson, Robopocalypse: "frenetic"
- Josh Ritter, Bright's Passage: "hard to forget"
- Erica Bauermeister, Joy for Beginners: "resonating"
- Gabrielle Donnelly, The Little Women Letters: "beautifully crafted"
- Elin Hilderbrand, Silver Girl: "sensitive"
- Karin Slaughter, Fallen: "unrelentingly suspenseful"
- Steve Martini, Trader of Secrets: "high-octane"
- Helen Grant, The Glass Demon: "cerebral blend of horror and mystery"
- Sarah Bird, The Gap Year: "memorably realistic"
- Amanda Eyre Ward, Close Your Eyes: "elegant" "incisive"
- Monica Ali, Untold Story: "daring and engrossing"
- Amor Towles, Rules of Civility: "quotable"
- Jim Knipfel, The Blow-Off: "morbidly playful"
- William Dietrich, Blood of the Reich: "diverting"
- Paul Lawrence, A Plague of Sinners: Being the Second Chronicle of Harry Lytle: "outstanding"
- Gwendolen Gross, The Orphan Sister: "emotionally charged"
- Robert Browne, The Paradise Prophecy: "cinematic"
- Elizabeth Kane Buzzeli, Dead Dogs and Englishmen: "gripping"
- Diana Rowland, My Life as a White Trash Zombie: "hilarious"
- Patricia Rice, The Devilish Montague: "endearing"
- Emily Arsenault, In Search of the Rose Notes: "deeply satisfying"
- Ernest Cline, Ready Player One: "dazzling"
- Amy Waldman, The Submission: "frighteningly plausible"
- Vanessa Diffenbaugh, The Language of Flowers: "enchanting"
- Jennifer Close, Girls in White Dresses: "artfully spare"
- Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus: "vibrant"
- Hector Tobar, The Barbarian Nurseries: "panoramic"
- Rebecca Coleman, The Kingdom of Childhood: "nicely creepy"