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Stephanie Smith’s WARPAINT (available for pre-order) is a haunting tale of the friendship, mortality and artistic frustrations. Three American women, painters, Liz Moore, C.C. Davis and Quiola McDougal, friends but also rivals, are severely tested when C.C. is diagnosed with breast cancer. All three have doubts about art in the electronic age, and about themselves; C. C. is facing breast cancer and feeling a failure, while Quiola struggles a lost Native American heritage; only Moore, re-discovered in her 90s, enjoys a bitter-sweet fame that came too late but that both C.C. and Quiola envy. As they try to cope with jealousy and fear, C.C. suddenly makes a choice that sends Quiola out to Minnesota, to confront both her Ojibwe heritage, and unfinished emotional business with the famous Liz Moore.
The latest novel from Robin Blake–who interviewed here on the Fiction Reboot recently–is called DARK WATERS. It is the second Cragg & Fidelis historical mystery: Preston, 1741. The drowning of drunken publican Antony Egan is no surprise – even if it comes as an unpleasant shock to coroner Titus Cragg, whose wife was the old man’s niece. But he does his duty to the letter, and the inquest’s verdict is accidental death. Meanwhile the town is agog with rumour and faction, as the General Election is only a week away and the two local seats are to be contested by four rival candidates. But Cragg’s close friend, Dr Luke Fidelis, finds evidence to cast doubt on the events leading to Egan’s demise. Soon suspicions are further roused when a well-to-do farmer collapses and it appears he was in town on political business. Is there a conspiracy afoot? The Mayor and Council have their own way of imposing order, but Cragg is determined not to be swayed by their pressure. With the help of Fidelis’s scientific ingenuity the true criminals are brought to light . . .
And today, I thought we would feature a different kind of new release–a book of poems from Thames River Press. By Bruce Kawin, LOVE IF WE CAN STAND IT is an eclectic compilation weaving a tale of love and contemplation. The breadth of voice and form conveys an array of experience, as he explores various manifestations of love, whether they be spiritual, romantic or metaphysical. The collection includes a sestina of a harried woman, a sonnet sequence reimagined as a slide show, and odes to horror movies of old, all offering a quirky rendition of love. With his unique tone and subject matter, Kawin revives the genre of the love poem, touching on the subjects of dreams, death, language and nature, while blending styles from antiquity to modern times.
Also today, I thought I would feature a few new works from Akashic Books. Next week, I will be dedicating a Tuesday post to the small press–tune in for more!
A new release from Akashic Books, Joe Meno’s OFFICE GIRL takes a look at the last century (and the fleeting fin de siecle that no one seemed to notice was passing).
No one dies in Office Girl. Nobody talks about the international political situation. There is no mention of any economic collapse. Nothing takes place during a World War.
Instead, this novel is about young people doing interesting things in the final moments of the last century. Odile is a lovely twenty-three-year-old art-school dropout, a minor vandal, and a hopeless dreamer. Jack is a twenty-five-year-old shirker who’s most happy capturing the endless noises of the city on his out-of-date tape recorder. Together they decide to start their own art movement in defiance of a contemporary culture made dull by both the tedious and the obvious. Set in February 1999—just before the end of one world and the beginning of another—Office Girl is the story of two people caught between the uncertainty of their futures and the all-too-brief moments of modern life.
Officially releasing this September, Jaime Manrique’s CERVANTES STREET takes the “bones” of Cervante’s life and creates a tale of rivalry and revenge. Already garnering comparisons to Amadeus, this historical fiction begins with two bright youths in Madrid… and a rivalry over a beautiful woman will shape the course of their lives. Listed under Akashic’s Gay and Lesbian Interest books, Cervantes Street is a compelling drama that promises interest and complexity.
Miguel de Cervantes is the passionate one, handsome, gifted, reckless, and ambitious, but from a family fallen on hard times and suspected of being “tainted” with Jewish blood. His classmate Luis de Lara, a wealthy but awkward aristocrat, as well as mediocre poet, from one of the most powerful families in Spain, is engaged to his beautiful cousin Mercedes. When twenty-two-year-old Miguel nearly kills someone in a tavern brawl, he is forced to flee to Seville, joining a troupe of traveling actors to escape a decree ordering that his right hand be cut off. As Luis endeavors to save his friend, he has occasion to introduce Miguel to his beloved Mercedes. To Luis’s horror, he soon discovers that the two have fallen in love. Luis becomes consumed with hatred for his former friend and swears eternal revenge. From that moment on, the two go their separate ways, but their lives remain fatefully intertwined. The adventurous Miguel continues to visit Mercedes before going into exile; and although Mercedes eventually marries Luis, she never stops loving Miguel. The tormented Luis searches in vain to prove his superiority to his wife, and then to his son, and always with respect to his hated rival–as a poet and scholar; as a man of impeccable taste, character, and sensibilities. Completely unaware of Luis’s masked hatred of him, Miguel continues throughout his life to seek assistance from his erstwhile friend, with disastrous results. Luis watches with festering envy Miguel’s exploits as a soldier, as a servant of the crown, and above all as a writer; and he only finds pleasure in sporadic reports of his rival’s darkest hours.