Readers Place: Good for a Laugh
A peacekeeping mission in Haiti, a job loss on top of several upheavals, fraught relationships between fathers and sons, unrequited love and a road trip with a rock star: only the last situation seems ripe for comic treatment, but these titles will surprise you.
We’re all damaged by Matthew Norman 2016.
We’re All Damaged begins after Andy has lost his job, ruined his best friend’s wedding, and moved to New York City, where he lives in a tiny apartment with an angry cat named Jeter that isn’t technically his. But before long he needs to go back to Omaha, where he is confronted with his past, which includes his ex, his ex’s new boyfriend, his right-wing talk-radio-host mother, his parents’ crumbling marriage, and his still-angry best friend, and an entirely new complication: Daisy. She has fifteen tattoos, no job, and her own difficult past. But she claims she is the only person who can help Andy be happy again, if only she weren’t hiding a huge secret that will mess things up even more.
Willful disregard: a novel about love by Lena Andersson 2016.
Ester Nilsson is a sensible person in a sensible relationship. Until the day she is asked to give a lecture on famous artist Hugo Rask. The man himself is in the audience, intrigued and clearly delighted by her fascination with him. When the two meet afterward, she is spellbound. Ester leaves her boyfriend and throws herself into an imaginary relationship with Hugo. She falls deeply in love, and he consumes her thoughts; in her own mind she’s sure that she and Hugo are a couple. Slowly and painfully Ester comes to realize that her perception of the relationship is different from his.
Peacekeeping by Mischa Berlinski 2016.
In Haiti, intrigues surround the meteoric political career of Johel Celestin, a reform-minded judge with U.S. legal training and a soft but tough demeanor. With the encouragement and security detail of Terry White, a gruff-but-earnest Florida cop-turned-U.N. official, Celestin wages a populist senate campaign against a powerful incumbent, and for a time it looks like the impoverished coastal town of Jérémie may get the road its people need to sell their goods in the capital. But White falls hard for Celestin’s beautiful wife, Nadia, whose singing career in the States was cut short by domestic abuse and deportation, and Celestin’s rise to power is complicated by jealousy, corruption, and natural disaster. In Haiti there are always multiple versions of the truth, some we can bear to tell ourselves, and others we cannot.
Inherited disorders: stories, parables & problems by Adam Ehrlich Sachs 2016.
In a hundred and seventeen shrewd, surreal vignettes, Sachs lays bare the petty rivalries, thwarted affection, and mutual bafflement that have characterized the filial bond since the days of Davidic kings. A father bequeaths to his son his jacket, deodorant, and political beliefs. England’s most famous medium becomes possessed by the spirit of his skeptical father–who questions, in front of the nation, his son’s choice of career. In West Hollywood, an aspiring screenwriter must contend with the judgmental visage of his father, a respected public intellectual whose frozen head, clearly disappointed in him, he keeps in his freezer. Keenly inventive, but painfully familiar, these surprisingly tender stories signal the arrival of a brilliant new comic voice–and fresh hope for fathers and sons the world over.
Vexation lullaby by Justin Tussing 2016
When Peter Silver—his ex-girlfriend called him a “mama’s boy” and his best friend considers him a “homebody”- receives an unexpected request for a house call, he obliges, only to discover that his new patient is aging, chameleonic rock star Jimmy Cross. Soon Peter is compelled to join the mysteriously ailing celebrity, his band, and his entourage, on the road. The so-called “first physician embedded in a rock tour,” Peter is thrust into a way of life that embraces disorder and risk rather than order and discipline.
Compiled by Ina Rimpau