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Author Archive: "Dianah"

Summer House with Swimming Pool

Creepy and disturbing, Koch's Summer House with Swimming Pool is the story of one family and their unraveling one summer. Staying with an insufferable actor at his summer home, Dr. Marc Schlosser's vacation choice for his family is a dire one. As things begin to degrade and then worsen to disaster, Dr. Schlosser begins to think of revenge. Told in Koch's typical straightforward, deadpan style, Summer House with Swimming Pool is a nerve-wracking, tense read, full of twists and turns. It is completely riveting.

Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac

Underneath this unlikely story of Sasquatch hunters, unicorns, ape-mothers, sea monsters, ghosts, and lifelong curses is a commentary on the important things in life: love, family, and forgiveness. Regret, childhood trauma, and obsession come into Shields's focus, and her resulting tale is amusing, with a chunk of bittersweet poignancy thrown in the mix.

Girl at the Lion D’Or

A complex and moving account of an anguished extramarital affair, The Girl at the Lion d'Or is impeccably written. The main characters have real depth, and it's easy to see their pain, confusion, and conflicting emotions. Excellent.

Small Backs of Children

Lidia Yuknavitch revisits the aching wound of her stillborn child in The Small Backs of Children. While fiction, this moving novel reads like nonfiction — it is so personal. Yuknavitch has the rare and almost magical ability to write beautifully about things that are horrific. Gathering together the stories of several characters, each playing a part in an elaborate plot to save their friend, Yuknavitch delivers a gorgeous, heartbreaking tale of friendship, guilt, redemption, and healing.


A scorching character study, along with an examination of infidelity and modern-day ennui, Hausfrau exposes the ease of deceit, the disregard for compassion, and the stifling boredom that can so easily consume. Anna, an American living in Switzerland with her husband and three children, is utterly disengaged from her colorless life. Capricious and erratic, Anna moves from one sticky situation to another and cannot seem to manage her moods or her life. Like a contemporary Madame Bovary or Anna Karenina, Hausfrau follows the internal angst and unease of a woman on the brink of disaster. Impeccably written, Jill Alexander Essbaum's novel is a brilliant victory of literary skill.

Our Souls at Night

Elderly and widowed, small-town residents Louis and Addie begin a timid, slow affair in order to stave off their solitude. They've both reached the point in their lives when gossip and rumor pale in comparison to the almost desperate need of filling in this aching hole of loneliness. However, as their love cautiously blooms, they begin to feel pressure from outside sources, particularly Addie's son. Just at the point when they realize their relationship is vital to their happiness, it becomes clear that there may be consequences and casualties — things they are not at all ready to face.

Told in quiet, calm prose, Haruf's posthumous novel is a small but powerful study on human connection, companionship, and love. Just lovely.


This blistering excavation of the mind of a pedophile is absolutely riveting. Celeste Price becomes a teacher and carefully arranges her life in order to continuously have a fresh supply of young boys on hand. Her entire life revolves around her anticipatory, and then eventual, conquests, and her introspection never once goes beyond her insatiable libido.

Her stunning physical beauty seems to deflect the accusations that are eventually directed her way, and Tampa morphs into a damning commentary on the worth of females based solely on their appearance. She can't possibly be that beautiful and be "bad," can she? Nutting somehow manages to make sure that her readers are both attracted to, and repulsed by, Celeste, and provides one hell of a wild ride. Excellent!

Long Man

Amy Greene writes a suspenseful eco-terrorism tale here. When the local electric company installs a dam on the Long Man River, they plan to flood the town of Yuneetah in the Tennessee Valley. As the flooding nears, most of the town folk have been begrudgingly bought out of their property, except for Annie Clyde Dodson. She has a historical and familial connection with her land, and her plan is to never leave willingly. Three days before the scheduled flooding, as a disgruntled former resident returns to town, Annie's three-year-old daughter disappears into the Tennessee wilderness during a raging storm. Addressing such issues as poverty, government, personal rights, home, marriage, and parenting, Long Man is an edge-of-your-seat tension-filled read.

Martin Marten

Martin Marten does for Mt. Hood what Mink River did for the Oregon coast; that is, it somehow shows just how whimsical and quaint a small town can be, and to such a degree that you fall in love with Doyle's version of this place and secretly want to live there. Martin Marten follows the lives of two inhabitants of "the Zag" near Rhododendron on Mt. Hood: an adolescent boy named Dave and a marten named Martin (just go with it!). Told with Doyle's distinctive attention to minute details and things often unseen, Martin Marten is bursting with the adventures of not only Dave and Martin, but all the millions of inhabitants (animal, vegetable, AND mineral) on this small patch of land on the side of a mountain. Doyle's fervent affection for both humans and nonhumans is the foundation of this story of survival, home, family, coming of age, love, and grace.

Doyle has a sharp eye for breathtaking beauty and a sharp ear for dialogue, and his staggering language will wrap you up in its enormous embrace and take you on a trip so unusual and so entertaining, you will love every minute of it. His style is so remarkable, it doesn't go too ...

A Little Life

In an alternate universe, A Little Life would be the love-child of Hanya Yanagihara and Donna Tartt, and this is a beautiful thing. The story setup is reminiscent of The Secret History, but the language and themes are all Yanagihara. Spanning five decades, this is a hefty novel at 700 pages, but one that you will wish would never end.

Focusing on a quartet of friends who move to New York together after college, A Little Life explores themes of love, coming of age, rewarding work, passion, family, and, of course, friendship: the good, the bad, and the ugly. The tortured Jude is the main character, who has lived through hell and back, in the way that only Yanagihara can depict hell.

This book conveys such deep sorrow, pain, and hopelessness, but Yanagihara somehow makes you love those things. I am begging everyone to read this book. It broke my heart into a million tiny jagged pieces, but I loved every excruciating minute of it.

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