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Powell's Q&A | September 3, 2014

Emily St. John Mandel: IMG Powell’s Q&A: Emily St. John Mandel



Describe your latest book. My new novel is called Station Eleven. It's about a traveling Shakespearean theatre company in a post-apocalyptic North... Continue »
  1. $17.47 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    Station Eleven

    Emily St. John Mandel 9780385353304

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Customer Comments

Helen M Mendoza has commented on (3) products.

The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen
The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers

Helen M Mendoza, January 2, 2012

This book reflects the genre gangster movies of the '30s as much as the contemporary social angst. Its use of magical realism combined with naturalism and a deep structural use of symbolism provides at the end a profound aesthetic sensation usually obtained from a beautifully structured poem. Mullen is a novelist in the tradition of Dickens, Hardy, Conrad, and Hemingway. He's also a darn good read!
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The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen
The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers

Helen M Mendoza, December 17, 2011

I think that this novel is even better than his first, The Last Town on Earth. The setting is 1931 and the Firefly Brothers are one of many Depression gangs that rob banks but Mullen's presentation of the setting is superb, his use of magical realism absolutely poetic. The ending is a fantastic underscoring of the human capacity for hope in the direst of circumstances. I got a very rare aesthetic thrill out of this book, the type of feeling one gets more often from a perfect sonnet than a historical novel. His characterization is superb and he uses it realistically as well as symbolically. His presentation of the early days of the FBI and the ubiquitous J. Edgar is also fascinating in light of DiCaprio's and Eastwood's new film which I expect to enjoy greatly even though I personally hate J. Edgar's guts. If you don't read this book you are missing something very special about the Depression, American history and the strange tendency we seem to have now to be repeating the Gilded Age and the Great Depression simultaneously. You are also missing a great new literary talent who knows how to tell a good story, just like Dickens and Thomas Hardy.
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The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen
The Last Town on Earth

Helen M Mendoza, December 17, 2011

Although this is a first novel it is surprisingly well researched and polished. It has won more than one prize including the Fennimore prize for historical fiction. The book is set in the state of Washington during the last year of WWI and the flu epidemic. It celebrates the American genius for eccentricity, moral courage, and the march to a different drummer. The setting is a town founded in capitalist cash and idealism that follows the American tendency "to go it alone" until fate or human nature contrive to show that we all live interdependently and to try to ignore that is to choose a hard row to hoe. I hesitate to say too much about the plot because it is rather riveting but one character I personally found fascinating was the town's doctor. He is a man who was taught medicine in an apprentice system rife with theories of the aether and miasma of sickness yet exposed through one of his own mentees to the latest in germ theory of the time. The tension, the doubts he endures in the face of the flu epidemic are so moving and profoundly humbling. There is also an interesting and moving presentation of the Everett Washington "massacre" in a flashback of one of the main characters. The presentation of the so-called average working class American in this book is so truthful. It is an interesting contrast to Camus' The Plague but of equal moral worth.
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