Fall is the perfect time to check out new fiction at the Juneau library

In the stacks

Posted: Sunday, September 26, 2004

New fiction for rainy days at the Juneau Public Libraries.

"Vamped," by David Sosnowski: Even the undead have choices to make: whether to go for the real thing or settle for a juice box, for instance. Marty Kowalski has spent a lot of time with the real thing - not just feasting, but also creating new vampires. And now, thanks to his love of creation, the world is populated by the undead (mortals are restricted to hunting preserves) and Marty is bored and tired of life. Determined to end it all, he heads out into a field to wait for day but instead finds himself adopting a six-year-old mortal named Isuzu Trooper Cassidy. A funny (yes!), bloody, light read.

"Leave Myself Behind," by Bart Yates: High school senior Noah York has been yanked out of Chicago and dropped into small town New England by his mom after Noah's father's unexpected death. Together, they renovate the Victorian house they've moved into, coming across little time capsules sealed in the walls and hidden in corners. As Noah settles into his new home, he has to come to terms with many things he'd rather not: his mother's mental illness, his father's death, his homosexuality, and the meaning of all those mason jars. But he's got people on his side in this town, not least his neighbor, J.D., who's got problems of his own but still comes through as a good friend.

"Ursula, Under, " by Ingrid Hill: Every one of us carries untold stories within us, unique legacies from the ancestors in our genes. When Ursula, nearly three, falls down a mineshaft in Michigan near where her great-great grandfather, a Finnish miner, died, the entire nation is riveted to the story of her rescue. Hill constructs Ursula for us by telling the stories of her ancestors, blending them into a seamless and ode to humanity.

"The Circus in Winter," by Cathy Day: This collection of short stories has a theme: Lima, Indiana, where the Great Porter Circus winters over. From the devastating flood of 1913, when hippos swam free in the Midwest but most of the other circus animals died, to the story of the Boss Man of the KOA and the King of the Gypsies, this is a magical and heartwarming collection touching on birth, death, and most things in between. Day is herself from a circus family, and drew on family stories for this debut collection.

"Pure Fiction," by Julie Highmore: Ed, working on his thesis and being the at-home-dad in the family, can feel his brain rotting away with every diaper he changes, so when his local library starts up a book group, he's the first to sign up. But not the last by a long shot: soon, he, Kate, Zoe, Bob, Donna, and Gideon are forming the first tentative ties as a community, not of readers so much as of people in need of distractions and new connections. Though the group never really gets around to the books, this light romantic comedy is still a fun read.

"Ophelia's Fan," by Christine Balint: Famed Irish actress Harriet Smithson's life with composer Hector Berlioz is recreated in this work of historical fiction. Left with an elderly priest in Ireland to gain an education and "better herself"while her parents continue their acting careers, Harriet nevertheless is drawn to the stage, and by the age of 18, she has arrived in London and is on her way to making a name for herself. Having caught the eye of Berlioz, she marries him, and part of the novel is told in letters to their son, Louis. Well researched and beautifully written, this is a gem!

"The Lives of Shadows," by Barbara Hodgson: In 1914, a young Englishman wandering the world finds himself in love ... with a house. Called Bait Katib, it is one of the oldest houses in Damascus. When Julian buys it, his life is complete and he intends to live out the rest of his days there, forsaking the 20th century entirely. Two wars, several war wounds, and an all-but-destroyed Damascus later, Julian returns to his home to find it miraculously standing. But is he alone in it? This unusual novel is illustrated with old photographs, pencil sketches, and bits of correspondence that give readers a sense of illicit intimacy.

"Move Under Ground," by Nick Mamatas: What would happen if Jack Kerouac met Chthulu? In this book, set in the sixties, readers are given the chance to find out. Kerouac is the first to see Old R'lyeh as it rises out of the Pacific, and he's soon on his way to battle a Lovecraftian cult with William S. Burroughs and Neal Cassady at his side. When you think about it, what better partners than Lovecraft's dark secrets and the Beat Generation's hallucinations? For those who like their Kerouac just a little bit more whacked out than he already is.

Coming up on 8 pm on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 1 and 2, is a tribute to Isaac Bashevis Singer titled "Dreamers and Demons." This readers' theater production based on Singer's life will be held at the Backroom at the Silverbow and is sponsored by local and national groups, including the Juneau Public Libraries, in honor of the centennial anniversary of his birth. Admission is free.

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