Category Archives: New Books Network Podcasts

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.”

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.”