Love, family, loss, secrets, crime, and Denver bank robbers…

This week at the Gilpin Library

by Larry Grieco, Librarian

Karen Joy Fowler is back for the sixth time with an unforgettable novel about a most unusual family. The story is told by Rosemary Cooke who, as a child never stopped talking, and as an adult has “wrapped herself in silence: the silence of intentional forgetting, of protective cover.” Something in the family went terribly awry, and each member is having to weather the effects. As the story unfolds, Rosemary’s adored older brother, Lowell, is a fugitive, wanted by the FBI for domestic terrorism. Likewise changed is her once lively mother, now “a shell of her former self,” and her “clever and imperious father now a distant, brooding man.” That brings us to Fern, Rosemary’s “beloved sister,” whose fate is “far more terrible than the family, in their innocence, could ever have imagined.” The title is We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, and here is what Kelly Link, an author herself, wrote: “A funny, stingingly smart, and heartbreaking book. Among other things, it’s about love, family, loss, and secrets. And it’s about the acquisition and the loss of language. It’s also about two sisters, Rosemary and Fern, who are unlike any other sisters you’ve ever met before.”

Next up is a “literary” mystery novel by British author and poet, Sophie Hannah. This continues the series featuring married detectives Charlotte “Charlie” Zailer and Simon Waterhouse. In Kind of Cruel, Amber Hewerdine has not been able to sleep since her best friend suffered a tragic death, and is diagnosed with chronic insomnia. She turns to hypnotherapy, and hopes hypnosis will offer her some remedy to her sleepless despair. While under hypnosis, she hears herself saying “kind, cruel, kind of cruel.” Although the words awaken a vague memory, she “dismisses the whole episode as nonsense.” Within two hours after she leaves the hypnotherapist she is arrested for the murder of a woman she has never heard of. And it all ties in to those mystery words she uttered under hypnosis. With Zailer and Waterhouse on the case, we are sure to get a run for our money.  Sunday Express: “Crime novels are often dismissed in literary circles for not being literary enough. This is exactly the intelligent, reflective and stunningly written novel that has ‘literary’ critics swooning…The fact that it has a police investigation at its heart is a plus, not a minus, and makes for one hell of a journey.”

A novel that is set in more familiar territory is Gregory Hill’s East of Denver. Stacey Williams, nicknamed “Shakespeare,” a confirmed Denverite, drives out to his family’s farm on the eastern plains of Colorado. He has his dead cat in the back seat, and has decided to bury her himself. What he finds on the farm is his widowed and senile father, Emmett, living in squalor. There’s no money, and the land is fallow, and the local banker has, underhandedly, repossessed most of the farm equipment. Shakespeare finds himself a caretaker to both his dad and the farm, and reunites with several former high school classmates. Vaughn Atkins is a paraplegic confined to his mother’s basement. Clarissa McPhail is now an overweight bank teller who pitches for the local softball team. And, finally, “longtime bully” D.J. Beckman is now a small-town drug dealer. I’ll bet you didn’t see this coming – Shakespeare and Emmett, along with his fellow misfits, hatch a plan to rob the local bank. Black humor mixed with crisp prose and a zany cast of characters bring this story to life, as an “unflinching novel of rural America.”

Join us for the last movie in our current Fall Film Series, Wonder Boys, starring Michael Douglas, Robert Downey, Jr. and Tobey Maguire, on Saturday, October 19, at 1:00 p.m. College professor Grady Tripp (Douglas) scrambles to gather together a life that has suddenly and hilariously reeled out of control, directed by Curtis Hanson. Film Critic Walter Chaw will be around to introduce the movie and lead discussion afterwards.

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