University of Wisconsin Press

Library of American Fiction

John Smith, Will Wordsworth

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

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Library of American Fiction

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Alligators May Be Present

A Novel

Andrew Furman

While many Jews have picked Florida as the perfect place to retire, Matt Glassman has chosen it as the place to begin his adulthood. Perhaps that's because the pressures of life have always reminded him about his grandfather who mysteriously disappeared from the family twenty years ago. Now, while he tries to begin a family of his own, he also builds a relationship with the one person who might know the truth about his grandfather?s disappearance: his grandmother. She's remained stubbornly reticent on the topic all these years, but when a familiar old man shows up at Glassman's office he thinks he may finally get some answers.

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Giovanna's 86 Circles

And Other Stories

Paola Corso

    These ten magical stories are primarily set in Pittsburgh-area river towns, where Italian American women and girls draw from their culture and folklore to bring life and a sense of wonder to a seemingly barren region of the Rust Belt. Each story catapults the ordinary into something original and unpredictable.
    A skeptical journalist scopes out the bar where the town mayor, in seemingly perfect health, is drinking with his buddies and celebrating what he claims is the last day of his life. A woman donates her dead mother’s clothes to a thrift shop but learns that their destiny is not what she expected. A ten-year-old girl wrestles with the facts of life as she watches her neighbor struggle to get pregnant while her teenage sister finds it all too easy. A high school girl hallucinates in a steamy hospital laundry room and discovers she can see her coworkers’ futures. A developer’s wrecking ball is no match for the legend of Giovanna’s green thumb in the title story “Giovanna’s 86 Circles.”
    Quirky and profound, Corso’s magical leaps uncover the everyday poetry of these women’s lives.

 

 

Finalist for the John Gardner Fiction Book Award


Selected for “Best Short Stories of 2005” in Montserrat Review

Best Books for Regional Special Interests, selected by the American Association of School Librarians, and Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the Public Library Association

Sons of Italy National Book Club Selection
 

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A Letter to Harvey Milk

Short Stories

Lesléa Newman

This poignant and humorous collection of stories offers a fresh perspective on current issues such as homosexuality and anti-Semitism and lends a unique voice to those experiencing growing pains and self-discovery. Newman’s readers accompany her quirky Jewish characters through all types of experiences from an initial lesbian sexual encounter to being sequestered in a college apartment after paranoid Holocaust flashbacks. In these stories characters anxiously discover their lesbian identities while beginning to understand, and finally to embrace, their Jewish heritage. The title story, "A Letter to Harvey Milk," was the second place finalist in the Raymond Carver Short Story Competition.

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The Letters of Mina Harker

In Dodie Bellamy's imagined "sequel" to Bram Stoker's fin de siècle masterpiece Dracula, Van Helsing's plain Jane secretarial adjunct, Mina Harker, is recast as a sexual, independent woman living in San Francisco in the 1980s. The vampire Mina Harker, who possesses the body of author Dodie Bellamy, confesses the most intimate details of her relationships with four vastly different men through past letters. Simultaneously, a plague is let loose in San Francisco-the plague of AIDS.Bigger-than-life, half goddess, half Bette Davis, Mina sends letter after letter to friends and co-conspirators, holding her reader captive through a display of illusion and longing. Juggling quivering vulnerability on one hand and gossip on the other, Mina spoofs and consumes and spews back up demented reembodiments of trash media and high theory alike. It's all fodder for her ravenous libido and "a messy ambiguous place where pathology meets pleasure." Sensuous and captivating, The Letters of Mina Harker describes one woman's struggles finding the right words to explain her desires and fears without confining herself to one identity.

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Level 7

Mordecai Roshwald; Edited and with a new foreword by David Seed

Level 7 is the diary of Officer X-127, who is assigned to stand guard at the "Push Buttons," a machine devised to activate the atomic destruction of the enemy, in the country’s deepest bomb shelter. Four thousand feet underground, Level 7 has been built to withstand the most devastating attack and to be self-sufficient for five hundred years. Selected according to a psychological profile that assures their willingness to destroy all life on Earth, those who are sent down may never return.
    Originally published in 1959, and with over 400,000 copies sold, this powerful dystopian novel remains a horrific vision of where the nuclear arms race may lead, and is an affirmation of human life and love. Level 7 merits comparison to Huxley’s A Brave New World and Orwell’s 1984 and should be considered a must-read by all science fiction fans.

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Oy Pioneer!

A Novel

Marleen S. Barr

What would happen if a feminist Jewish wit and scholar invaded David Lodge’s territory? Marleen S. Barr, herself a pioneer in the feminist criticism of science fiction, provides a giddily entertaining answer in this feisty novel. Oy Pioneer! follows professor Sondra Lear as she makes her inimitable way through a world of learning—at times fantastic, at times all too familiar, often hilarious, and always compulsively interesting.
    As if Mel Brooks and Erica Jong had joined forces to recreate Sex and the City for the intellectual set, the story is a heady mix of Jewish humor, feminist insight, and academic satire. Lear is a tenured radical and a wildly ambitious intellectual, but is subject nonetheless to the husband-hunting imperatives of her Jewish mother. Her adventures expand narrative parameters according to Barr’s term "genre fission."
    Mixing elements of science fiction, fantasy, ethnic comedy, satire, and authentic experience of academic life, Oy Pioneer! is uncommonly fun—a Jewish feminist scholar’s imaginative text boldly going where no academic satire has gone before—and bringing readers along for an exhilarating ride.

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Plum Wine

A Novel

Angela Davis-Gardner

    Barbara Jefferson, a young American teaching in Tokyo in the 1960s, is set on a life-changing quest when her Japanese surrogate mother, Michi, dies, leaving her a tansu of homemade plum wines wrapped in rice paper. Within the papers Barbara discovers writings in Japanese calligraphy that comprise a startling personal narrative. With the help of her translator, Seiji Okada, Barbara begins to unravel the mysteries of Michi's life, a story that begins in the early twentieth century and continues through World War II and its aftermath.
     As Barbara and Seiji translate the plum wine papers they form an intimate bond, with Michi a ghostly third in what becomes an increasingly uneasy triangle. Barbara is deeply affected by the revelation that Michi and Seiji are hibakusha, survivors of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima, and even harder for her to understand are the devastating psychological effects wrought by war. Plum Wine examines human relationships, cultural differences, and the irreparable consequences of war in a story that is both original and timeless.

 

2007 A Notable Fiction Book of 2007, selected by the Kiriyama Prize Committee
 
Winner, Fiction Award, Southern Independent Bookstore Alliance
 
Notable Fiction, Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize

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Star Lake Saloon and Housekeeping Cottages

A Novel

Sara Rath

    In this first novel from award-winning writer Sara Rath, the forests and lakes of northern Wisconsin pose a daunting threat to outsider Hannah Swann, who is content with her quiet life in Madison, Wisconsin, where she teaches and writes screenplays about obscure nineteenth-century poets. Her relationship with her college-aged daughter is strained yet candid, and a long-standing affair with a married professor has its own peculiar ups and downs.
    When Hannah unexpectedly inherits her uncle's rundown resort, she must head to the northwoods to close up and sell the business. But the only interested buyer is Ingold, an international mining company, and Hannah finds herself reluctantly operating the resort while trapped in the midst of a treacherous dispute between Ingold and Uncle Hal's activist friends.
    From safeguarding the wilderness to pursuing elusive new love interests, Hannah has plenty to engage her imagination at Star Lake. A new aspect of her personality emerges, one that is surprisingly courageous and compassionate. Throughout this humorous, elegantly plotted adventure with its appealing characters and lyrical depictions of nature, Hannah encounters the inevitability of change—in herself and in the nostalgic landscape of the deep North.

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This Is Not the Tropics

Stories

The stories collected in This Is Not the Tropics come from the geographic center of a divided nation, and its protagonists evoke a split personality—one half submerged in America’s own diehard mythology, the other half searching to escape tradition. Together they form a portrait of the Plains that is both quirky and poignant. While the themes in this collection are familiar—love and betrayal, loneliness and regret, the needs of the individual versus the needs of the community—the tales themselves are startling and new. Whether it is the story of an eccentric out-of-work accordion player; a woman ending a long marriage against the backdrop of a visit from her failing mother; a young girl who wishes to solve a mystery until real mystery enters her life; or all of the men in a small Nebraska town who annually compete in a hilariously earnest beauty pageant, these are tales that speak of the lives lived in the small towns, the prairie cities, and on the dirt roads off blue highways in the middle of nowhere and everywhere.

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