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June 25, 2009 - Image 46

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2009-06-25

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Arts & Entertainmen

Sail Into Summer from page C3

The Scenic Route by Binnie Kirshenbaum
(Ecco/Harper Perennial; paperback,
$13.99), chair of the Writing Program at
Columbia University's Graduate School
of the Arts, features narrator Sylvia
Landsman, a 42-year-old divorced, empa-
thetic and intelligent underachiever who,
finding herself unexpectedly unemployed,
takes off for Italy, where she meets Henry,
a wistful, married, middle-aged expatriate
living the good life at a steep price; as they
journey a circuitous route through Europe,
Sylvia entertains Henry with tales of her
peculiar family and damaged friends — a
tapestry of remembrances and regrets ...
and her secret shame: a small, cowardly
sin of omission that returns to haunt her.

The Late, Lamented Molly Marx by Sally
Koslow (Ballantine; $25), a former editor
for women's magazines, is the witty story
of a young woman — found dead along
the banks of the Hudson River — who
finds herself able to observe her life from
the hereafter, from her plastic surgeon
husband with the wandering eye, to her
beautiful and steadfast best friend, to her
beloved 4-year-old daughter, her competi-
tive twin sister and handsome work col-
league she found irresistible; keeping tabs
on her loved ones as they try to untangle
the events that led to her mysterious end,
she is able to relive her past and learn les-
sons about marriage, fidelity, friendship,
family and mortality.

German for Travelers: A Novel in
95 Lessons by Norah Labiner (Coffee
House Press; paperback; $14.95), about
a Hollywood starlet and her romance-
writer cousin who go to Berlin to unravel
a family mystery that goes back to their
great-grandfather, a Jewish pioneer of
psychoanalysis in the early 20th century,
alternates between the doctor's household,
the mysterious case of his patient Elsa Z.,
the rise of Nazi Germany, 1960s and 1970s
Detroit and modern-day Berlin; this is a
story about a girl whose dreams reveal the
future, a family beset by ghosts and the
place that haunts them all.

Dream House by Valerie Laken
(HarperCollins; $24.99), the recipient of
a master's degree in Slavic literature and
a master of fine arts in creative writing
from the University of Michigan whose
honors include two Hopwood Awards and
a Pushcart Prize, tells the story of a young
couple who, hoping to rekindle their trou-
bled marriage, buy a historic fixer-upper
in Ann Arbor; but when a mysterious man
starts lurking about, a long-ago murder
occurring in the family of one of the
home's previous owners comes to haunt

C6

the couple and connect and
transform the lives of both
families in unforeseen ways.

The Family Man by Eleanor
Lipman (Houghton Mifflin
Harcourt; $25), the author's ninth
novel and her first set in New York,
is a comic and moving tale about
a gay divorced lawyer who recon-
nects with his short-term, long-lost
stepdaughter, now a struggling actress,
and finds his life turned upside-down
when she moves into his Upper West Side
townhouse.

Life Sentences by Laura Lippman
(William Morrow; $24.99), a former
Baltimore Sun reporter like her husband,
David Simon, creator of HBO's The Wire,
once again sets a mystery in her home-
town, where writer Cassandra Fallows,
who grew up as a white girl in a racially
diverse middle-class neighborhood where
all her friends were black, considers pen-
ning a work of nonfiction about a former
grade-school classmate accused of mur-
dering her infant son — only to discover
the gulf that separates her memories from
those of her old friends.

Revenge of the Spellman by Lisa Lutz
(Simon & Schuster; $25), the third comic
adventure in this series whose first install-
ment, The Spellman Files, is in development
with Paramount Pictures, brings back
Isabel Spellman, the offbeat private eye who
once again breaks the rules as she juggles
court-ordered therapy, unemployment, a
rather sparse caseload and the antics of her
charmingly dysfunctional family.

The Shanghai Moon by S. J. Rozan
(Minotaur Books; $24.95) re-unites New
York City private investigators Bill Smith
and Lydia Chin in a mystery reaching from
China to Chinatown and incorporating the
Jewish community that arose in Shanghai
when European Jews were fleeing the Third
Reich; a Chinese cop has fled his country
with a cache of European jewelry dating
back to World Wart II, including a gem
worth millions known as the Shanghai
Moon; a murder ensues and the two sleuths'
pursuit of the killer leads them — via let-
ters, diaries and documents — into the
tragic history of the gem.

Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny
Scheinmann (St. Martin's Press; $24.95),
the debut novel from a London-based
writer, actor and storyteller, is a portrait
of two men, seemingly unconnected but
whose lives intertwine in a complex inter-
section of history, philosophy and physics:

one
man seeks
solace through the
memory of love after his
beloved's death in a 1992 bus acci-
dent in South America, and the other, a
young Jewish Pole taken to a Russian POW
camp in 1917, risks his life to return to his
childhood sweetheart after decades at war.

Tomato Rhapsody by Adam Schell
(Random House; $25), the author's debut
novel full of wordplay and literary refer-
ences, is set in Renaissance Tuscany and
is the almost true tale of how the tomato
came to Italy (an elderly Jew tenderly
cultivates the tomato plant he stole on
his voyages with Columbus); Davido,
his grandson and a tomato farmer, is in
love with Mari, a beautiful Catholic girl,
and they and a village full of eccentrics
embody an inventive story of love, lust
and longing, some speaking in rhyme rife
with the bawdy humor of Shakespeare's
comedies.

The Defector by Daniel Silva (G.P.
Putnam's Sons; $26.95; to be released July
21), the sequel to Moscow Rules, Silva's last
book in his international thriller series
featuring art restorer and Israeli assassin
Gabriel Allon, begins six months after that
book's conclusion as Allon has returned
to Umbria to resume his honeymoon with
his new wife and restore a 17th-century
altarpiece for the Vatican; his idyllic world
is thrown into turmoil with the news that
defector and former Russian intelligence
officer Grigori Bulganov, who saved Allon's
life in Moscow, has vanished without a
trace, and Allon and his team of opera-
tives will find themselves in a deadly duel
of nerve and wits with one of the world's
most ruthless men.

Selfless by David Michael Slater (Absey
& Co.; $16.95), the first adult novel from
the author of children's and teen books,
is set in 1980s Pittsburgh and opens on
the eve of what was to have been Jonathan
Schwartz's bar mitzvah — but his life is
under assault from his dysfunctional fam-
ily, including sisters seemingly intent on

doing him irreparable psychological harm,
Holocaust-surviving grandparents and
a father who is a writer being accused of
stealing the books that made him famous;
naturally, the Schwartz clan implodes
— propelling into action a story of grand
theft, espionage, abandonment, suicide,
sexual high jinks and a quest for true love.

Sima's Undergarments for Women
by Ilana Stanger-Ross (Overlook Press;
$24.95) takes readers to her home turf of
Orthodox Brooklyn, into a secret under-
ground sisterhood that congregates at
one woman's basement bra shop to share
laughter, loves and losses; Sima, in a bitter
marriage of nearly 50 years and harbor-
ing a secret from her past, must try on her
own advice when Timma, a young Israeli
with enviable cleavage, becomes the shop's
seamstress.

Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner
(Atria Books; $26.99; to be released July
14), the best-selling chick-lit author, is a
story about betrayal and loyalty, family
history and small-town secrets — and
the ties that keep best friends together;
15 years after popular girl Valerie Adler
and mousy Addie Downs go their separate
ways, Val is in trouble and only the girl she
once shunned can help.

Finally, if you're interested in reading clas-
sics of Jewish fiction — perhaps as part
of a book club — and need help in figur-
ing out that perfect choice, check out JPS
Guide to American Jewish Fiction by
Josh Lambert (Jewish Publication Society;
paperback; $18), a comprehensive round-
up of 125 classic American Jewish novels
and short story collections written from
1867 to the present by celebrated writers;
each entry includes a review of the book,
with historical context and background
on the author, and suggestions for further
reading that match readers' interests and
favorite writers.

Sail Into Summer on page C8

June 25 2009

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