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 has some suggestions.
By T.C. Boyle
From the publisher: Denied a dog, a baby, and even a faithful fiancé, Cat suddenly craves a snake: a glistening, writhing creature that can be worn like “jewelry, living jewelry” to match her black jeans. But when the budding social media star promptly loses the young “Burmie” she buys from a local pet store, she inadvertently sets in motion a chain of increasingly dire and outrageous events that come to threaten her very survival.
From Jason Jefferies, General Manager: T.C. Boyle is one of our greatest living writers, and “Blue Skies”is one of his greatest books. It is a climate fiction novel, but Boyle doesn’t beat you over the head with idealistic philosophies. Instead, he weaves the catastrophic details into the narrative (for example, oceanside property owners have to park their cars on ramps so the tides won’t carry them away).
Like the television series “Succession,” there are no redeeming characters in “Blue Skies,” but the narrative is one that you will not be able to turn away from. And because T.C. Boyle has been blessed with a comedian’s pen, you can’t help but laugh at his characters’ misfortunes.
Our Share of Night
By Mariana Enriquez
From the publisher: A young father and son set out on a road trip, devastated by the death of the wife and mother they both loved. United in grief, the pair travel to her ancestral home, where they must confront the terrifying legacy she has bequeathed: a family called the Order that commits unspeakable acts in search of immortality.
From Emma Murray, Marketing Specialist: After reading Mariana Enriquez’s two short story collections (“The Dangers of Smoking in Bed” and “Things We Lost in the Fire”), I jumped when her first novel to be translated into English hit our shelves. “Our Share of Night,” a sprawling and circular novel, builds upon this Argentinian writer’s gift for horror — like her best short stories, the saga draws upon the supernatural and the occult as it traverses multiple generations of a family embroiled in paranormal obsessions.
Unlike her short stories, the narrative alternates between decades and continents, covering a post-dictatorship Argentina and 1960s London, expanding Enriquez’s storytelling prowess into 588 pages. The characters are vivid, and the story changes multiple points of view as everyone involved spirals around the question: What must we leave behind in order to move forward?
For Whom the Bell Tolls
By Ernest Hemingway
From the publisher: “For Whom the Bell Tolls”tells of loyalty and courage, love and defeat, and the tragic death of an ideal. Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades, is attached to an antifascist guerilla unit in the mountains of Spain. In his portrayal of Jordan’s love for the beautiful Maria and his superb account of a guerilla leader’s last stand, Hemingway creates a work at once rare and beautiful, strong and brutal, compassionate, moving, and wise. Greater in power, broader in scope, and more intensely emotional than any of the author’s previous works, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” stands as one of the best war novels ever written.
From Tony Alcantara, Inventory Manager: I have never sought out Hemingway’s novels. The whole machismo schtick kept me away. But when a friend who had just finished reading “For Whom the Bell Tolls” told me that when she finally closed the book she wept, I figured I would give it a try.
Hemingway’s writing does not exhibit the syntactic pyrotechnics of Melville, nor the psychological perspicacity of Woolf or Tolstoy, but what makes this book very much worth reading is Hemingway’s ability to tell a story. And what a story: a half-dozen or so guerrillas, living in the mountains, fighting against Franco’s fascist takeover of Spain. All the action takes place over three days (interspersed with a few short flashbacks) among a ragged half-dozen or so Spaniards, men and women, and one Hemingwayesque character, an American demolitions expert and would-be author.
Hemingway covered the Spanish revolution as a reporter and it shows through his third-person narrator. The characters are never explained but only presented, so that the reader feels that they are embedded in the group, on that rocky hillside, discovering the complicated truths about each other as they slowly unravel. The plot is simple: blow up a bridge, try not to get killed. Good luck.