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The Juneau Public Library (downtown branch only) has a collection of fiction that is shelved separately from the main fiction collection. This is our Mail Services collection, purchased to mail out to our patrons in the Bush, but available to all library users to read and check out. If you prefer the lighter weight of paperbacks, this is the collection to browse for all genres, including mysteries, sci-fi, fantasy, romance, suspense, westerns, contemporary, and historical fiction. You'll see some of the titles highlighted at the circulation desk through October, and you can also find them listed like any other book in our catalog. Here are a few of the hidden gems from the Mail Services shelves.
"Other Voices, Other Vistas," edited by Barbara Solomon: This collection of short stories features writers from Africa, India, Latin America, China, and Japan. Each region or country is represented by five stories, each written by a major author such as Chinua Achebe, Wang Anyi, Anita Desai, Isabel Allende, and others. One of the criteria for selecting the writers is that they have other works translated into English, so if you find a new author to fall in love with, you can read more!
"The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint," by Brady Udall: This Oliver-Twist-like story follows young Edgar Mint from his conception through adulthood, abandoned, abused, but still hanging onto life with both hands. The formative event in his life was when he was seven and run over by the mailman, and things only get harder from there. Sent to a boarding school for Native American orphans, then into foster care with a dysfunctional Mormon family, he perseveres in his quest: to find the man who ran him over all those years ago.
"Slammerkin," by Emma Donoghue: There are three things Mary Saunders has learned from her life on the London streets: never give up your liberty; clothes make the woman; and clothes are the greatest lie ever told. Born to a poor family in the 1700s, Mary yearns for something not grey or brown to wear, and, in exchange for her virginity, gets a red ribbon from a peddler. Shamed and pregnant, she ends up on the streets as a prostitute, enduring that for a year before leaving London for a small town and trying to go straight. But her newly gained habits have too strong a hold. ... Based on the true story of a servant girl who ultimately murdered her mistress in 1763.
"Field Guide," by Gwendolen Gross: With a difficult roommate, a crush on her professor, and a passion for her work, Annabel has plenty on her plate, and that's not including all the leech-picking and machete-wielding. Her graduate research on the spectacled fruit bat in the Australian rain forest is going well until her professor, John, disappears. She squelches her concerns for him until his son makes the trip from America to consult her about his father. Plenty here for naturalists, with enough to keep romance readers happy, too.
"The River Below," by Francois Cheng: Presented as the memoir of a Chinese artist living during the Cultural Revolution, this novel is deceptively quiet and contemplative. Tianyi is a painter, steeped in the traditional Chinese life, but the modern world is fast encroaching. At 23, Tianyi goes to Paris to study on an art scholarship and remains in Europe for nine years. Brought home by a letter from his former lover, he returns to a nightmarish land controlled by Mao that bears no resemblance to his birthplace.
The Mail Services collection isn't just fiction: their non-fiction is shelved with the main collection of non-fiction and is also mostly paperback. Their children's collection is on the catalog and available for checkout, too, but shelved in the staff area - just ask at the circulation or reference desk.
If you or someone you know lives in the Bush and would like to be part of Mail Services, take a look at the Mail Services link off the Libraries' homepage at: www.juneau.org/library . You can read about the service and fill out an application online. If you don't have internet access, you can call 586-5379 to talk with Mail Services staff directly.