"Gryphon: New and Selected Stories" by Charles Baxter
Many of these 23 stories will already be familiar to his fans, all having appeared previously, but the effect of reading (or rereading) them in concert is a powerful one. They would appear to have been selected not only for their shimmering prose, but for the way they combine to suggest an entire lonely and somewhat ill-managed universe - the kind where an alcoholic trying to get sober has "put his faith in the Almighty to get him through this episode and through the rest of his life," but where "God had declined the honor so far and was keeping up a chilly silence."
"The Memory Palace" by Mira Bartok
"The Memory Palace" is a creative act that required pure courage and the transformative powers of an artist. Bartok brings a painterly eye to her memories; colorful birds, paintings that mother and daughter both loved, objects in her grandmother's house that were invested with hope or despair.
"The Mother Who Stayed: Stories" by Laura Furman
Again, Furman demonstrates novelistic reach, but not novelistic pretensions. In these stories, as in the others, she remains content to work with, challenge, reshape and reform the story template, charging each sequence with intense power and suggestive psychology and action.
"Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth" by Curt Stager
Deep Future is not the most engaging book in the world (and as such, will probably take you a while to read), but it is certainly informative and the facts contained within are worth learning.
"Then Everything Changed" by Jeff Greenfield
In his shrewdly written, often riveting new book, "Then Everything Changed," the veteran political journalist Jeff Greenfield ponders some smaller-scale and more plausible what-ifs: three events, he says, "that came within a whisker of actually happening."
"The Paris Wife" by Paula McLain
Get ready for abundant debate on issues raised by "The Paris Wife," because what it lacks in style is made up for in staying power. This is a work of literary tourism that expertly flatters its reader. It invokes an artist-packed Paris where "nearly anyone might feel like a painter."
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