Home / The Early Word – Fiction: New Books For The Week Of October 28, 2007

The Early Word – Fiction: New Books For The Week Of October 28, 2007

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Quiz time! Five authors on this week's list go by three names — their first, middle, and last! Can you tell which ones?  

Gentlemen of the Road: A Tale of Adventure by Michael Chabon, Gary Gianni (Illustrator)

The fact that the novel Gentlemen of the Road also gives second billing to an illustrator might be a tip-off to the fun and escapism at the core of Michael Chabon’s latest, a return perhaps to the comic-strip diversion of 2001’s bestseller The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. Indeed, this exotic, picaresque tale of yore — okay, circa the yore 950 A.D. — along the legendary Silk Road traveled by merchants and adventurers through various regions of the Asian continent, has all the ingredients from derring-do to Dumas-approved. Expect cliff-hanging, swashbuckling, usurping, absconding, bamboozling, comeuppance-ing, all larger-than-lifelike.

A Family Christmas, Selected and Edited by Caroline Kennedy

"Mind if I bore a hole in [it] and let the sap run out?" Groucho Marx

Perhaps I misjudged. When I gave A Family Christmas a cursed… I mean cursory glance first time around, I admit I was dismissive of it as most likely just another anthology of overly-familiar holiday schmaltz. Then I saw Caroline Kennedy was involved, and remembered she’s always had good editorial instincts, and indeed she expresses a balanced and wide-ranging perspective about the current subject that includes an irreverence along with a seriousness of purpose. "When I began assembling [this] collection, I was skeptical that I would learn anything new about Christmas," she says, "but reading and reflecting on the history and spirit of Christmas brought back many memories, and taught me a great deal. The literature of Christmas ranges from the miraculous to the tragic, the profound to the ridiculous, but always represents the connection to something larger than ourselves."

A personal connection for Caroline included amid the poetry, prose, scriptural readings, and lyrics of A Family Christmas is her childhood Christmas list to Santa Claus and a letter from her father as President to a young girl concerned about Santa's well-being. Other entries — familiar and refreshingly lesser-known gems — include those from David Sedaris, Harper Lee, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Kurt Vonnegut, Ogden Nash, Vladimir Nabokov, Gabriela Mistral, Sandra Cisneros, Calvin Trillin, Marianne Moore, E. B. White, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Martin Luther King Jr., Pearl S. Buck, and the gouge-mad Groucho Marx.

A Free Life by Ha Jin

A Free Life author Ha Jin emigrated from China in the aftermath of Tiananmen Square, and had only been writing in English for 12 years when he won the National Book Award for Waiting in 1999. With his promising and latest novel about a family's struggle for the American Dream, Ha Jin writes about the Wu family — father Nan, mother Pingping, and son Taotao as they emigrate from China in the aftermath of the 1989 massacre at Tiananmen Square, and begin a new life of freedom in the United States. At first, things go well, but it’s not too long before Nan encounters disillusionment that sets him in a personal, financial and career tailspin. In addition, Pingping and Taotao find themselves problematically adjusting to American life in fits and starts. Just like real Americans.


Mister B. Gone by Clive Barker

The Heir by Barbara Taylor Bradford

Mr. Monk in Outer Space by Lee Goldberg, Created by Andy Breckman

All Through the Night: A Troubleshooter Christmas by Suzanne Brockmann

A War of Gifts: An Ender Story by Orson Scott Card

Protect and Defend by Vince Flynn

Patrimony: A Pip & Flinx Adventure by Alan Dean Foster

The Quiet Girl by Peter Hoeg, Nadia Christensen (Translator)

Home to Holly Springs: The First of the Father Tim Novels by Jan Karon

Cat Deck the Halls: A Joe Grey Mystery by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

The Race by Richard North Patterson

A Christmas Beginning by Anne Perry

Amazing Grace by Danielle Steel

Murder on K Street: A Capital Crimes Novel by Margaret Truman

Everlasting by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss

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