Reader's Exchange

Triple-digit scores for trio

Oh, good.  The annual Triple Digit Temperature Anticipation is over.  We can proceed to more vital topics, say, air conditioning and novels. 

On weekends when I interrupt yard work at intervals to duck inside for a hat or water, to check on the dogs or whatever (because overtly preventing heat exhaustion sounds wimpy) I appreciate the cool respites.  I also resent adding minutes to the completion timeline.

Only when finished do I allow myself to open one of those tempting ARCs from Book Expo America

Compelling novels and AC are optimizers of sorts.  Climate control sustains us so we accomplish more; great stories broaden our experience so we understand each other better.

And these three just-read forthcoming picks are superior; I recommend them for richly developed characters and distinctive points of view.   They're for grownups, particularly the latter two:

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (October 1), observes its most revelatory scenes not in iconic terrain (it's set in Australia) but in contemporary urban venues--academic conferences, restaurants, apartment balconies, habitats of brilliant thirtysomething genetics professor Don Tillman.   Don (Big Bang Theory fans, think Sheldon), variously termed "almost robotic", "socially inept", and "awkwardly charming", appears capable of greater interpersonal sensitivity, but even he would set that bar low.

Unlike Sheldon, Don has prioritized the acquisition of a life partner.  The obvious approach (if you're Don):  precisely calibrated criteria packaged in a lengthy application--The Wife Project.  Ah, romance.

Don's unvarnished (and oft-mistaken) impressions are relayed in terms meeting his high standards for factuality--and yours for poignancy and comedy.

Amy Tan's The Valley of Amazement (November 5) also views proceedings indoors--at first: the elegant confines of a courtesan establishment.  At BEA, Tan sharedScenic vista in China the story's genesis:  her discovery that the ensemble worn by her grandmother in a favorite photo matched styles in pictures documenting turn-of-the-century Chinese courtesans. 

Tan's latest revisits themes prized in The Joy Luck Club:  legacies of mothers and daughters, resourcefulness and persistence in the face of transplantation, explorations of ethnic identities and boundaries.  Spanning fifty years from San Francisco to Shanghai, Valley fascinates even before it ventures outdoors into truly amazing territory.

Charles Palliser's Rustication (Nov. 4) involves none of the calm, bucolic, self-directed existence you'd expect.  This Gothic with a Capital G tale denotes the more specific (British) term for suspension from school.  In the mid-1860s, 17-year-old Richard Shenstone finds himself "rusticated" from Cambridge (sadly, not his chief worry).  Having learned of his father's death via the newspaper--though mother and sister are alive and well and could have written--he's entertaining apprehensions about what and why he wasn't told more. 

Arriving "home" to his family's recent relocation, a dank, creaking outpost whose closest neighbor is a quagmire (literally), Richard encounters villagers seething with gossip and ill will, a depraved series of threatening letters, and all manner of unwholesome goings-on.

Poor Richard has no idea whom to believe, nor will you.  Your only recourse is to keep reading...

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