Tomes To Go To – Our round-up of the latest book releases
Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon’s eighth adult novel ostensibly recounts the life story of the author’s unnamed maternal grandfather from his deathbed; a rollicking tale involving attempted murder, stalking rocket scientist Werner Von Braun in the last days of WWII, and snake hunting in the Florida swamps. Yet in his acknowledgements, the writer describes it as both a “pack of lies” and a “monstrous stepchild” of his great-uncle’s memories, blurring the line between fact and fiction.
The book also reveals the heartwrenching story of his grandmother, who escaped pre-war Germany haunted by the “Skinless Horse”, an apt metaphor for the horrific events that scarred her life. Always entertaining, it’s filled with Chabon’s incredible descriptions, wherein his grandfather demolishes a porch “with a ferocity that approximated hope”, and his great-granny’s bosom was “so large it might have housed turbines.” Ironically, its lightness of touch also means that Moonglow fails to engage as compellingly as Chabon is capable of, falling slightly short of his finest work.
What a long, strange trip it’s been. Karl Geary – brother of musician Mark Geary – high-tailed it from Dublin in the 1980s. He got involved in music at the legendary Sin É cafe; was selected to appear in Madonna’s Sex book; and did stints as an actor, screenwriter and New York bar-owner. Montpelier
Parade is his debut novel, set in the recessionary Dublin of the 1980s. It tells the story of an unlikely love affair between a teenager named Sonny and a mysterious older woman, Vera Hatton, whose home is on the titular Montpelier Parade.
Writing in the second person, Geary brilliantly captures both the grimness of the era and also the madness of teenage obsession. Sonny is in love for the first time. Casting off his lonely life for this intoxicating new encounter, he longs to know Vera, even to save her. But what isn’t she telling him?
Unfolding in the sea-bright, rain-soaked Dublin of early spring,
Montpelier Parade is a beautiful cinematic novel about desire, longing, grief, hope and the things that remain unspoken. A hugely impressive debut.
Faber & Faber
4321 is Paul Auster’s first piece of fiction since 2010’s Sunset Park and clocks in at an impressive 866 pages. The protagonist of the novel is New Yorker Archie Ferguson and Auster explores his beloved themes of fate and chance by giving Archie four independent life stories. Archie comes into the world in 1947, so the book explores the world events of the following decades – as well as the hero’s own triumphs and failures. US history is familiar territory for Auster, recurring frequently in his work, as is casting the main character as a writer – in one strand here Archie is a novelist, while in another he is a journalist. As with all his works, this novel is a beautifully crafted and compelling exploration of the human condition and the cryptic nature of existence.