Each week as part of SunLit — The Sun’s literature section — we feature staff recommendations from book stores across Colorado. This week, the staff from Explore Booksellers in Aspen recommends novels revolving around saving the planet, personal rebellion and intellectual breakthroughs about nothing.
By Stephen Markley
Simon & Schuster
From the publisher: In the first decades of the 21st century, the world is convulsing, its governments mired in gridlock while a patient but unrelenting ecological crisis looms. America is in upheaval, battered by violent weather and extreme politics. In California in 2013, Tony Pietrus, a scientist studying deposits of undersea methane, receives a death threat. His fate will become bound to a stunning cast of characters—a broken drug addict, a star advertising strategist, a neurodivergent mathematician, a cunning eco-terrorist, an actor turned religious zealot, and a brazen young activist named Kate Morris, who, in the mountains of Wyoming, begins a project that will alter the course of the decades to come.
From Jason Jefferies, General Manager: All of us voracious readers have touchstone reading experiences; books that we measure our whole reading experiences and love of literature by. Maybe that experience is “Ulysses” or “Infinite Jest.” Maybe it is “Mrs. Dalloway”or “Beloved.” This book, “The Deluge,” mammoth both in page count and intellectual heft, provides one of those experiences. From brilliant sentence level writing to a page-turning plot and ambitious formatting, Stephen Markley has provided readers with everything we could possibly want. Not to mention that the book deals with one of the most important questions of our time: Can we save our planet? (Spoiler alert: yes we can).
By Alba de Céspedes
From the publisher: Valeria Cossati never suspected how unhappy she had become with the shabby gentility of her bourgeois life—until she begins to jot down her thoughts and feelings in a little black book she keeps hidden in a closet. This new secret activity leads her to scrutinize herself and her life more closely, and she soon realizes that her individuality is being stifled by her devotion and sense of duty toward her husband, daughter, and son. As the conflicts between parents and children, husband and wife, and friends and lovers intensify, what goes on behind the Cossatis’ facade of middle-class respectability gradually comes to light, tearing the family’s fragile fabric apart.
From Emma Murray, Marketing Specialist: Framed as a series of diary entries that span a topsy-turvy six months in 1950s Rome, this novel transports readers into the life and evolving mind of a working woman. Of course Valeria, our protagonist, is not merely a working woman—she’s also a devoted but exhausted wife, a mother of two demanding university-aged children, and a 40-year-old tasked with processing her aging desires. Likewise, her diary is no mere diary: As she writes and contemplates herself anew, this “forbidden notebook” becomes key to her personal and secret rebellions, unlocking new ideas about her life and her potential in the world.
For lovers of Elena Ferrante, this new translation of the revolutionary Italian-Cuban writer Alba de Céspedes—who was jailed multiple times in the 1930s and ’40s for anti-fascist activities and operating an Italian resistance radio program—brings fresh and provoking light to the inner workings of humanity.
By Percival Everett
From the publisher: Dr. No is a caper with teeth, a wildly mischievous novel from one of our most inventive, provocative, and productive writers. That it is about nothing isn’t to say that it’s not about anything. In fact, it’s about villains. Bond villains. And that’s not nothing.
From Tony Alcantara, Inventory Manager: If you’re looking to laugh, meet Wala Kitu, fictional professor of mathematics at Brown University, and the hero of Percival Everett’s novel. Professor Kitu is a genius who specializes in the study of nothing, which, he would be the first to tell you, is different from the study of zero. Most of Wala’s intellectual breakthroughs occur in hilarious and deeply philosophical conversations with Trigo, his one-legged dog. Happily for us, the two of them get caught up with a criminal mastermind in an ill-advised plot to break into Fort Knox. For you intellectual nerds out there, this one’s for us.