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Calendar of Regrets is a wildly inventive and visually rich collage of twelve interconnected narratives, one for each month of the year, all pertaining to notions of travel—through time, space, narrative, and death.
On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 authorizing the secretary of war to prescribe military zones “from which any or all persons may be excluded.” Eventually this order was applied to one-third of the land area in the United States, mostly in the West, clearing the way for the relocation of 120,000 people with “Foreign Enemy Ancestry,” in other words, those of Japanese descent. This time of fear and prejudice (the U.S. government formally apologized for the relocations in 1982 after determining they were not a military necessity) and the Arkansas Delta are the setting for Camp Nine. The novel’s narrator, Chess Morton, lives in Rook, a place that is rural Arkansas in the extreme, a town too tiny to have a bank, a library, a restaurant, or even a church. Chess’s days are quiet and secluded until the appearance of a relocation center built for what was in effect the imprisonment of thousands of Japanese Americans. Chess’s life becomes intertwined with those of two young internees, Henry and David Matsui, and that of an American soldier mysteriously connected to her mother’s past. As Chess watches the struggles and triumphs of these strangers and sees her mother seek justice for these people who came briefly and involuntarily to call the Arkansas Delta their home, she discovers surprising and disturbing truths about her family’s painful past.
In an uncomplicated plot, The Campaign Trail takes its readers through the independence of a state in fiction, the introduction of a multiparty system, to its demise owing to poor governance and power struggle; this novel has a universal appeal to the political scientist, the literary critic, the sociologist, the anthropologist and just anyone who needs entertainment. The author blends the comic and the tragic to good effect.
Set during the Lebanese civil war, this novel chronicles the splintering of the Al-Mukhtars, a Lebanese family whose love and trust for one another is strained by the increasing economic, social, and psychological tensions that surround them. Huda, feeling helpless as a housewife, pursues a career as a university professor and immerses herself in her work and students. Sharif, trapped in a static bureaucratic position, begins to resent his wife’s success and slowly withdraws from his family. When their marriage dissolves, the couple fight over the custody of their adolescent daughter. In a patriarchal society that favors the rights of the father, Huda is powerless as her daughter is taken from her. Through the author’s use of flashbacks, the reader witnesses the stark contrast between the young, idealistic couple and the older husband and wife, who have become increasingly isolated and disillusioned.
Cannibal is Africa from the insideinside the head of a woman who fears that the man she loves is CIA, that the film the're supposed to make is his cover, that she might be pregnant. A haunting story of survival, Cannibal lays bare a woman's greatest hungers. Known as Good-for-Nothing by the Africans unfit for the climate, the work, or frienship, she struggles for recognition, and for her life. What she finds, wandering the savannah for months, are the "blue people", those with AIDS who have been left to die in an abandoned British outpost. But this is only counterpoint to her own predicament. "Trust hasn't enough syllables," she says, regarding her lover walking ahead of her. "He doesn't look at it. I can't not look, but he won't look." In Cannibal, nobody wants to lookthe differences are too frightening, the truth too stark, the love too little. A step beyond Heart of Darkness, Cannibal is the virtual reality of exotic paranoia where, when the images break apart, Death grins out.
Inhabiting a world that offers no guarantee of any veracity, the characters in these peculiar stories are driven to and goaded by compulsive and perhaps pointless reflection. They are haunted by unrelenting consciousness and knowledge of failure, yet are, at best, ambivalent toward any conventional equation of success. Theirs is a world of broken relationships, futile memory, constant appetite, and the certain knowledge that they are winding down in a culture in which it is impossible to do—or know—the right thing. Frustrated and obsessed, they cannot articulate their lives and are entranced by the strangeness of the everyday. Written with keen intelligence and biting humor, Carbine is a book about the ridiculousness of contemporary life—a book about what cannot be said.
The publication of Nikolay Leskov's masterpiece, The Cathedral Clergy, in 1872 marked the beginning of the author’s lasting popularity among his countrymen, who were captivated by its superb storytelling, its living, breathing characters from all classes of society, its wit and humor, its fresh style, and its treatment of spiritual themes. Leskov’s fictitious Old Town is a microcosm of rural Russia; his chief protagonists, Father Savely and Deacon Achilles, two of the most famous characters in Russian literature, are unforgettable. As beloved by Russians as the works of Leskov’s better known fellow writers, The Cathedral Clergy offers, in its unusual subject matter and unconventional structure, a unique approach to the Russian Realist novel. This “chronicle,” as the author called it, is difficult to categorize. Largely realistic, even naturalistic in places, it also waxes lyrical, particularly in its gripping descriptions of nature. It is the tale of a town, an adventure story, a love story (of a happy marriage), a life of a modern martyr, a comedy as well as a tragedy. Given its vivid style, rife with archaisms, colloquialisms, mispronunciations, dialect words, folklore, songs, intentionally bad poetry, and puns, The Cathedral Clergy has proven nearly impossible to translate. This expert annotated translation, however, now affords English speakers the pleasure of discovering a nineteenth-century Russian novel that Russian readers have long since considered a classic.
A Novel in Stories
Catina’s Haircut: A Novel in Stories spans four generations of a peasant family in the brutal poverty of post-Unification southern Italy and in an immigrant’s United States. The women in these tales dare to cross boundaries by discovering magical leaps inherent in the landscape, in themselves, and in the stories they tell and retell of family tragedy at a time of political unrest. Through an oral tradition embedded in the stone of memory and the flow of its reinvention, their passionate tale of resistance and transformation courses forward into new generations in a new world.
A woman threatens to join the land reform struggle in her Calabrian hill town, against her husband’s will, during a call for revolution in 1919. A brother and sister turn to the village sorceress in Fascist Italy to bring rain to their father’s drought-stricken farm. In Pittsburgh, new immigrants witness a miraculous rescue during the Great Flood of 1936. A young girl courageously dives into the Allegheny River to save her grandfather’s only memento of the old country. With only broken English to guide her, a widow hops a bus in search of live chickens to cook for Easter dinner in her husband’s memory. An aging woman in the title story is on a quest to cut the ankle-length hair as hard as the rocky soil of Calabria in a drought. A lonely woman who survived World War II bombings in her close-knit village, struggles to find community as a recent immigrant. A daughter visits her mother’s hill town to try and fulfill a wish for her to see the Fata Morgana. These haunting images permeate Corso’s linked stories of loss, hope, struggle, and freedom.
An official selection of The Sons of Italy® Book Club
The nine stories of CAUTION Men in Trees capture the pressure, need, and frequent helplessness of people confronted with intractable reality. As suggested by the collection's epigraph from Superman—"Did you say kryptonite?"—the characters in these stories have reached a point where they realize that parts of their lives are coming undone, and that their own thoughts and actions—or, frequently, the failure to act soon enough—are the cause. Though settings and situations vary, the same sense of overwhelming urgency recurs throughout the collection. The stories reflect a world distressed by conflict and settings fraught with the occurrences of personal violence.
Against the background of the O. J. Simpson trial, a man refuses to assist in a friend's suicide and realizes that he has been avoiding many unpleasant truths about himself and his life. A son faced with his father's debilitating stroke sees that he must ultimately confront the mortality and feelings of grief that he has been concealing. In the title story, the film Bugsy and talk about the disappointing reality of pop-culture heroes set the scene for a husband's frightening confrontation with his own limitations. The shock of stark revelation combines with tightly wound chains of suggestive events to create a collection of gripping, edgy stories about characters who, however battered, survive.