In a small town in northern Minnesota, Virgil Wander is living his life on autopilot until his car careens off a snowy cliff road and into Lake Superior. Afterward, he struggles with memory and vocabulary issues, while still trying to maintain his fledgling single-screen movie theater and job in City Hall. A likable cast of characters rounds out the story, including a kite-flying older Norwegian trying to find out more about his long-missing son,... (read more)Recommended by Candice B.
This is the Great American Novel that nobody is reading, an oversight I blame on some combination of the clunky title, the abstract cover art, and the 800-page count. The book centers on two white brothers growing up in 1940s Alabama, and two black brothers growing up in Maryland at the same time, all of whose paths will cross. I was amazed at Corthon’s character-building, wit, and insight. Like all great literature, The Castle Cross... (read more)Recommended by Candice B.
I'm a big fan of Peter Heller's book The Dog Stars, so when I heard he had a new novel coming out, I moved it to the top of my must-read list. And wow, it did not disappoint. Evoking beautiful Western scenery with an equally compelling story, it's the tale of a 68-year-old private eye and her husband, who set out to find a photographer who disappeared near Yellowstone National Park years earlier. Heller's descriptions of nature in autumn... (read more)Recommended by Candice B.
When I was a teenager living in a small town in central West Virginia in the mid-1990s, I often felt alone and ostracized. I dared not come out of the closet as a lesbian, for fear of physical violence directed my way. One day in a thrift store, I came across a beat-up paperback copy of Rubyfruit Jungle, a coming-of-age story set partially in the South and partly in New York City, and featuring an openly gay woman. To say that it changed... (read more)Recommended by Candice B.
Hill's debut novel, a sprawling 600-plus page epic, centers around the estranged relationship between a mother and the son she abandoned when he was a boy, and alternates between three distinct time periods — present day, suburbia in the 1980s, and 1968-era Chicago. I was amazed at Hill's insights into the human psyche, since he mined some of my deepest thoughts and fears, even ones I thought might never be unearthed. Hill devotes a few sporadic... (read more)Recommended by Candice B.