A treat for fans of Cortázar, Bolaño, and other adepts of the literary enigma.

NATURAL HISTORY

An odd assemblage of characters moves across time and space in Costa Rican novelist Fonseca’s latest intellectual puzzler.

As in Colonel Lágrimas (2016), Fonseca populates his latest novel with smart people who don’t always behave as intelligently as they might. The narrator is a museum curator (whence the title) obsessed with the five-pointed shape called the quincunx, which figures in the wing patterns of certain tropical butterflies. An article he has written for a British natural history journal catches the attention of a beguiling, beautiful fashion designer who works against type: If some think fashion is meant to call attention to oneself, she is a believer in “the art of anonymity in the jungle.” In various aspects of her orbit stands an odd constellation of characters: a woman who seeds the press with learned, utterly false stories that, to her delight, cause people to freak out and markets to plunge; an Israeli traveler who shelters a secret; a photographer who is drawn into the darkest recesses of the Earth to find his subjects. Throughout, as with that earlier novel, Fonseca takes the occasion to venture odd connections and prolegomena for future projects; one of his characters, for instance, insists that the novel has been stagnant since the time of Cervantes and needs to be reimagined so that it becomes geological, “novels of multiple layers, novels that could be read the way you read the passage of time on the surface of rocks.” Everything is contingent in Fonseca’s story, and nothing is quite to be trusted; as it draws to a close, Fonseca begins to play with stories within the story, marvelous concoctions of, for instance, “an odyssey that gradually stretches out, from motel to motel, train station to train station, that grows in leaps and bounds, like the man’s conviction.” The novel is an elegant meditation on art, inconstancy, and hiding, with a deftly woven subtext of camouflage that emerges as the narrative progresses.

A treat for fans of Cortázar, Bolaño, and other adepts of the literary enigma.

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-21630-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

THE SUMMER PLACE

When a family convenes at their Cape Cod summer home for a wedding, old secrets threaten to ruin everything.

Sarah Danhauser is shocked when her beloved stepdaughter announces her engagement to her boyfriend, Gabe. After all, Ruby’s only 22, and Sarah suspects that their relationship was fast-tracked because of the time they spent together in quarantine during the early days of the pandemic. Sarah’s mother, Veronica, is thrilled, mostly because she longs to have the entire family together for one last celebration before she puts their Cape Cod summer house on the market. But getting to Ruby and Gabe’s wedding might prove more difficult than anyone thought. Sarah can’t figure out why her husband, Eli, has been so distant and distracted ever since Ruby moved home to Park Slope (bringing Gabe with her), and she's afraid he may be having an affair. Veronica is afraid that a long-ago dalliance might come back to bite her. Ruby isn’t sure how to process the conflicting feelings she’s having about her upcoming nuptials. And Sam, Sarah’s twin brother, is a recent widower who’s dealing with some pretty big romantic confusion. As the entire extended family, along with Gabe’s relatives, converges on the summer house, secrets become impossible to keep, and it quickly becomes clear that this might not be the perfect gathering Veronica was envisioning. If they make it to the wedding, will their family survive the aftermath? Weiner creates a story with all the misunderstandings and miscommunications of a screwball comedy or a Shakespeare play (think A Midsummer Night’s Dream). But the surprising, over-the-top actions of the characters are grounded by a realistic and moving look at grief and ambition (particularly for Sarah and Veronica, both of whom give up demanding creative careers early on). At times the flashbacks can slow down the story, but even when the characters are lying, cheating, and hiding from each other, they still seem like a real and loving family.

An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3357-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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