Category Archives: New Books Network Podcasts

McDonough, C.K. Stoking Hope

“The nest was empty. Frederic said it would be but Martha had to see for herself. She hooked her arm around the oak’s thick trunk and peered down through the few remaining leaves, finally spotting Frederic’s blond head several branches below. Commotion on the ground caught her attention and she scanned the crowd of roaming classmates, narrowing her eyes at her older sister, Klara. Too bad the acorns have all dropped, Martha thought with a smile, as tossing one at her sister would be great fun. She raised her head and looked towards the mine. The tipple, twice the height of the towering oak, was easy to spot. She couldn’t see the gangway but she could hear the buggy’s wheels grinding on the iron rails and the mules’ sharp brays as they made their way in and out of the mine.”

Van Booy, Simon Night Came With Many Stars

“A small clearing in the forest was Carol’s favorite place. She could lie on her back beneath the blank canvas of sky. When her mother was alive, they would spread a yellow cloth, then sit and eat apples. Carol cannot remember anything her mother said, only the sound of her voice, and that she sometimes took off her shoes and unfastened her hair so that it tumbled like ribbon upon her shoulders and neck.”

Holloway, Karla FC Gone Missing in Harlem

“She heard the crowd before she saw them good. She noticed the grocer with his frail wife weeping into his shoulder. She saw the police and she even saw the white man across the street, his arms folded across his chest and a brown fedora pulled low over his brow. The rest of the crowd was made up of neighbors, street folks, ordinary residents of the corner and the block. But that man made her shudder. She recognized him from before, from those years around the time Percy left. Back then, he took up residence on her corner and block for too many weeks after Percy was safely away from the city. It made her grateful that she sent her son away, and it made her distraught that she had been right to do so. This wasn’t the first time during the month she saw him taking up his vigil outside her building. And here he was again, still on the lookout.”

Greenberg, Dina Nermina’s Chance

“Nermina’s mind floats. She thinks of nothing. Tears continue to slide down her cheeks. She warms her hands-dirt packed under jagged nails-inside her slicker. She doesn’t want to remember. She doesn’t want to think or feel. But she feels the warmth of the injured man next to her and realizes that the bandage wrapped around his thigh is soaked with blood and that this is the source of the warmth. The man-a boy really, she thinks, has begun to whimper. “Thank you,” she says quietly, bowing her head as though in prayer.”

Fraser, Sara B Just River

“The Otis River, upstate, was once a cradle of industry. Its rusty water and yellow tinted foam lips are partly a legacy of that past, and partly the simple fact of iron content in the earth. In the small-and getting smaller-city of Wattsville, which straddles both sides of the Otis, all the manufacturing plants were closed by the 1970s, but the red brick buildings that line the river’s banks make visitors-if there ever are any- hearken back to a time when machinery screamed under giant wooden beams, trains pulling into the station were regularly delayed by slow-moving freights, and leaded shop windows rippled the fedoras, furs, and crocodile purses of wealthy shoppers downtown. Now, like every other small city in the area, Wattsville struggles. Wages are stagnant. Industry is gone.”

Calkins, Susanna Cry of the Hangman

The stone face of the churchyard sundial, though aged and worn, proclaimed its timeless warning. Life passes like the shadow.
With one finger, Lucy Campion traced each finely etched letter, ignoring the cheerful din of churchgoers released from St Dunstan’s long Sunday-morning service. The minister’s sermon had been particularly grim, emphasizing the wages of sin, even with yuletide nearly upon them. Life passes like the shadow. Where fall temptation then, she wondered.
‘That’s a magicked piece,’ a voice hissed in her ear. ‘Why lay your hands upon it?’ Lucy turned to face the old woman, taking in the dark costume of the long-bereaved. The earnestness to her demeanor gave her pause. ‘Why do you say that?’
‘Can you not see the dead spiders upon the dial’s surface? Something ill is coming.’

Cohen, Phil M. Nick Bones Underground

“It was the middle of February, and I was biking my daily five laps around what remained of Prospect Park in Brooklyn. The park, like the world around it, teetered on the brink of the abyss. Economic collapse had devastated New York City, causing a shutdown of most city services, including the subway system, all but paralyzing the city. Much the same level of disruption rippled throughout the rest of the country. Recovery from what had been coined “The Great Debacle” because all the more difficult because of the nefarious behavior of our computers. It was not quite an artificial intelligence revolt as much as machines running amok, unleashing chaos among the people who birthed them into this world. They no longer could be trusted to do what they were built for, a trait that felt eerily human.”

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.”