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 a riveting novella, a tale of devastating secrets and a celebrated release from Adrienne Brodeur.
The Road to the City
By Natalia Ginzburg
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: Like Natalia Ginzburg’s other works, “The Road to the City” contains the ethical complexity of a great 20th-century novel without a bicep-burning page count. In 89 pages, a poor young village woman is impregnated and alienated from all she knows, forced to weather her conditions alone. The novella—spare and rhythmic—is mesmerizing despite its depressive plot and indignant cast. No character is likable, but they don’t have to be. Stylish and sharp, Ginzburg’s sentences stun you like the woman’s father slaps faces, bruising and satisfying only in the sense that the discoloration signals, yes, that happened. There is a record. This is reality: Keep your eyes open and read.
For readers of Elena Ferrante, Sally Rooney, and Lisa Taddeo, this new translation (published July 4) from one of Italy’s greatest writers is not to be missed.
By Deborah Levy
From the publisher: Selected for the 2012 Man Booker Prize short list. As he arrives with his family at the villa in the hills above Nice, Joe sees a body in the swimming pool. But the girl is very much alive. She is Kitty Finch: a self-proclaimed botanist with green-painted fingernails, walking naked out of the water and into the heart of their holiday. Why is she there? What does she want from them all? And why does Joe’s enigmatic wife allow her to remain?
A subversively brilliant study of love, “Swimming Home” reveals how the most devastating secrets are the ones we keep from ourselves.
From Tony Alcantara, Inventory Manager: If you have never read a Deborah Levy novel, what an adventure awaits you. I just finished my first ever Levy book, her 2011 “Swimming Home,” and I can’t wait to read her other works.
“Swimming Home,” set in the south of France over a period of a few days, chronicles the love/hate shenanigans of an assemblage of odd characters: two married couples on vacation, a teenage daughter, a crazy, naked woman, and a few of the colorful locals. But it’s not for the plot or the characters, compelling as they are, that you should read this book, but for the writing.
On every page, Levy creates, between what seem disparate elements, such unexpected yet convincing connections. What at times appears absurd is anything but. Somehow, Levy writes with both complete authorial control and sparkling freshness.
And my, what an ending.
By Adrienne Brodeur
Avid Reader Press
From the publisher: Set in the fraught summer of 2016, and drawing on the biblical tale of Cain and Abel, “Little Monsters” is an absorbing, sharply observed family story by a writer who knows Cape Cod inside and out—its Edenic lushness and its snakes.
From Jason Jefferies, General Manager: As the host of a literary podcast (Bookin’), I read at least one book a week, oftentimes more. It is rare that I read a book that makes me gasp out loud, as Adrienne Brodeur’s masterwork “Little Monsters”did towards the end of the novel (no spoilers). It’s a powerfully wrought novel about art, secrets, and family dynamics for fans of HBO’s “Succession,” Jonathan Franzen’s “The Corrections,” and Therese Anne Fowler’s “A Good Neighborhood.” “Little Monsters”will be one of the best books of the year, if not the best. And as an aside, most of the other books in contention (in my mind) are also published by Simon & Schuster, a testament to the quality work that the publishing house is doing in the 2020s.