Priscille Sibley’s The Promise of Stardust (ISBN 978-0-06-219417-6, 399 pages, $15.99) is a fine first novel by a woman who works as a neonatal intensive care nurse. This fact regarding Sibley is important, as she brings her knowledge of medicine and her experience in life-threatening situations to the pages of her book.
Thirty some years ago, my wife and I announced to my mother that we were expecting our first child. After giving her enthusiastic congratulations, my mother said to me, “Well, having a baby will certainly bring some big changes into your life.”
We Americans like to sidle around the truth nowadays, which we do by labeling ourselves relativists. Like Pontius Pilate, we ask “What is truth?” with the implication being that truth exists only in the eye of the beholder. In the political realm, this preference for opinion rather than facts means that many of us debate our positions by covering our ears, closing our eyes, and shouting at one another.
Reviewers of Philipp Meyer’s new novel, The Son (ISBN 978-0-06-212039-7, 561 pages, $27.99) have compared his epic story of the West to books as varied as One Hundred Years of Solitude, Blood Meridian, and Lonesome Dove. His account of Texas from its founding as a republic to the late twentieth century does have elements of all three books — Marquez’s blend of fantasy and realism, the violence and sometimes stark prose of Cormac MacCarthy, the sweep and spread of Larry McMurtry’s writing — but these comparisons may confuse as much as elucidate the reader. Meyer is very much his own man in this fine book.
In The Bridge (ISBN 978-1-4516-4701-3, $19.99), Karen Kingsbury treats readers to a tale of romance and tribulation centered on a bookstore in Franklin, Tenn. Molly Allen and Ryan Kelly meet at Nashville’s Belmont University, where they become best friends.
Here are the true stories of some young people, all of them still under the age of 35. For the sake of anonymity, we will call the young people Lisa and Mike, Kevin and Laura, Patrick and Emily, and Michael (unmarried).
In The Last Self-Help Book You’ll Ever Need: Repress Your Anger, Think Negatively, Be a Good Blamer, and Throttle Your Inner Child (ISBN 0-465-05486-2), renowned neuropsychologist Paul Pearsall turns a jaundiced eye to the world of self-help books.
Here they are, books yammering for review: a hillock of books on the floor by the desk; more books stacked on the desk itself, squeezed between a basket of spectacles and a coffee cup filled with pens and pencils, the cup itself bearing Jefferson’s remark, “I cannot live without books;” two more books for review keeping company in the trunk of my car; a lone rider of a book on the arm of the sofa by the porch door.
“Bookshops are magic.”
This quotation, buried in the middle of Wendy Welch’s The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book (ISBN 978-1-250-01063-6, $24.99), could serve as the banner for this wonderful account of a used bookstore and the community in which it came to life.
Most booklovers have suffered that “Oh, no” moment when a friend, with nothing but the best of intentions, presses an unfamiliar book into their hands with the words, “Read this — you’ll love it.” We receive the book with a smile on our lips but black foreboding in our hearts. We may love this gift, we may hate it — the odds, from my own experience, favor the latter five to one — but either way we are compelled to read it.