Tomes To Go To – Our round-up of the lat­est book re­leases

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Michael Chabon

4th Es­tate

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.

John Wal­she


Karl Geary

Harvill Secker

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.

Olaf Tyaransen


Paul Auster

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.

Roisin Dwyer

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