Category Archives: New Books Network Podcasts

Stilling, Jessica The Weary God of Ancient Travelers

“I remember how it tasted. It was pasta that reminded me of past lives, where I wore a different face, slipped into another skin. It was the taste of white wine and garlic, the slight hint of salt coming off the Aegean. It’s the sea itself, how blue it is. Then again wasn’t it Proust who said that taste and smell are directly connected to memory? He ate a cookie once that he hadn’t had since his childhood, the story goes, and memories of being a little boy came flooding back.”

Pooley, Clare The Authenticity Project

“The Authenticity Project didn’t land in your bag by chance. I’ve spent the last four weeks looking for the right person to take it on. You’re carrying Julian’s book back to the same part of the world I took it away from. I wonder whether you might be the right sort of person to be a friend to Julian, or a lover for Monica. Or both. Will you go and find the café? Will you change someone’s life? Will you write your story? I hope one day I’ll find out what happened next, because I’ll miss this notebook. At a time when I was floating aimlessly in space, it kept me tethered to the space station.”

Hall, Meredith Beneficence

“Every morning, early, when Tup and I get up to start our chores, the whole house still quiet and the children asleep, I turn and pull the bed together, tugging at the sheets to make them tight and smooth. They are warm with our heat. I slide my hand across the place my husband slept, drawing the blankets up and closing in the warmth, like a memory of us, until night comes when we will lie down together again. Our room has big windows on the back of the house, looking out on the near pasture and the creek running through it. It is very nice to stand first thing every morning looking out over the land.”

Alvarado, Beth Jillian in the Borderlands

“Angie O’Malley stood on her porch with her daughter and watched as Wiley drove up. This was in the desert, a thorny landscape of hallucinatory heat where the prickly pear drill their spines into the caliche and hope for rain, where immigrants from regions south seek refuge and snowbirds sunshine, where bureaucrats ban books and brown skin and birth control, where companies design sleek missiles and pour solvents into the soil, where on streets lined with small stucco houses cowboys shoot their guns in noisy celebration on the Fourth of July, and where the bodies of dead girls are sometimes abandoned in alleys. Once only the arms were found; once a seve-year-old was knocked off her bicycle and abducted; once a two-year-old was stolen through the window of her bedroom. Such was the climate and the atmosphere.”

Frankel, Laurie One, Two, Three

“My first memory is of the three of us, still inside, impatient to be born. We were waiting, like at the top of the water slides you see at amusement parks on TV, slippery wet and sliding all over one another to see who got to go first, shivering, hysterical, mostly with laughing but a little with fear. The winner-me!—streamed away from the other two, excited to slide and smug because I got to be first but also a little scared to leave them and a little left out because of the time they’d get to spend alone together until it was their turn too. Not that I’ve ever been on a water slide.”

Hugg, Karen Harvesting the Sky

“For months, Andre had imagined what the apple would look like and now as he crested the mountain ridge, he was about to find out. He doubted it would be truly white, the “pearl” Nes had described. He guessed yellow with hints of cream. That would be more realistic. Then again, what was realistic about a white apple that healed people in a matter of hours? He dragged his aching body through the rain, his heart beating with an excited tic as he followed Samal, the team guide. She seemed unaffected by her tall bulging backpack and heavy wool coat, ambling up the slope like a dragonfly zooming over grass. In Kazakh, she said, “This way, soon, I think.”

Thomas, Trisha, What Passes as Love

“The cabin is dark, way past resting hour. I stand in my bed gown listening to the heavy wagon roll against the gravel outside and come to a stop. I’m supposed to be asleep, resting for daybreak when I’ll feed the chickens, grab the eggs, and run like crazy before those pink thorny feet chase me out the coup. I always sneak a few extra for Oleen, carefully tucking the eggs under the hay for later. The rest of the basket goes ot the Holt house. I feed the hogs too while Papa Sap stands close by, watching with a keen eye, his good eye. He lost the other when he was a boy.”

Yarrow, Joyce Sandstorm

“What I never told him was that after Mom died, Frank tried parenting me on his own and failed miserably. One scorching August afternoon I came home from school to find a note on the kitchen table. Stella will pick you up tomorrow morning. I promise I’ll send for you. Love, Dad. I knew where he’d gone. Lately that was all he’d talked about. Moving out west and starting a new life in Arizona on his friend Devan’s ranch. In between the deep sobs shaking my pillow that night, I had tried to listen to the voice in my head saying he was thinking of me when he made his decision to go it alone. That it would have been selfish to pull me out of school just a year short of graduating junior high and drag me into the unknown. That he’d never desert me.”

Hagerty, Gervais, In Polite Company

“Here’s the thing about Charleston women- the true-bluebloods: They are not dramatic. They do not scream or sob or faint. They do not cry tears of joy when their children marry, and they don’t squawk like chickens over gossip about a friend’s divorce. They don’t fall to pieces in public at a funeral. They act with decorum. They respond politely. They do not draw attention to themselves. Instead, they focus on the moment- the marriage, or maybe news of an accident. And members of the tribe, these women read themselves as support troops, to celebrate the wins and to collect the fragments of loss to help put a member’s life back together.”