by Paul Corey
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A captivating story that is the first volume in what has become known as the “Mantz trilogy,” Three Miles Square garnered glowing reviews from some of the nation’s luminary mid-twentieth century intellectuals when it was first published in 1939. Lewis Mumford, for instance, proclaimed the novel to be “one of the best novels of agricultural America that anyone has produced in our generation . . . I recommend it to all those who wish to read more intimately the living face of America.” Louis Bromfield urged Americans to “Read it: aside from the pleasure you will have, you will learn much and it will do a great deal toward helping you to understand this vast curious country of yours.”
Author Paul Corey was born and raised on a 160 acre farm in western Iowa. He was the youngest of seven children. His father died when Paul was not yet two years old, leaving older brothers and sisters to carry on with the farm work until the place was sold in 1917, at which point the Corey’s moved to Atlantic. This family history would become the autobiographical basis for the Mantz trilogy, the chronicle of one family and their neighbors on a journey through the nation’s tumultuous agricultural history.
by John Leggett
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John Leggett’s newest novel features 30-ish painter Quentin Shaw, who quits his satisfactory job at a prestigious Boston firm to prove his artistic gift. He packs his wife and their infant son off with him to arty Cape Ann where, after months of discouragement, Quent is discovered by Miles Proctor, the flamboyant impresario of Crow Island, a seaside gallery of contemporary art. While Quent rejoices in the parties and the opportunity, Joyce dislikes Miles and feels he is leading her husband into new, and even more dangerous, self-deception.
Meanwhile, the spirited women in Miles’s life join Bruce Gregory—a self-pronounced champion of tomorrow’s outrages in painterly abstraction—and other familiars of Crow Island in a perilous storm funnel of ambition, scorn, love, lust, and death. Crow Island is a beautifully crafted story about the risk of doing one’s thing and the fear in every artist’s heart that his is a selfish, egotistical path… one that is doubtlessly doomed. “Mr. Leggett’s ability to create flesh-and-blood characters is impressive.” —The Reporter
by John Leggett
“Enthralling. It ought to be read by all editors, publishers, writers, and critics and by the general reading public, for it is the best case-history account of the writing profession in America I have ever read.” —James A. Michener
This is the story of Ross Lockridge, author of Raintree County, and Thomas Heggen, creator of Mr. Roberts, each catapulted into sudden fame and money, each thrust young and unprepared into the center of the American Dream, and each, in his own way, playing out a tragedy of self-destruction.
John Leggett has re-created their growing up in a Midwest of deep American traditions and has explored their loves and friendships to discover why their lives ultimately failed them.
Ross Lockridge was dedicated to celebrating the American Spirit, its history and its heritage, and his work, reflecting it, was hailed as the most ambitious since that of Thomas Wolfe. But Puritan pride and tradition would not let him live easily with the complexities and contradictions of acclaim.
Thomas Heggen had all the glamour of theatrical success. His days were spent with such men as Henry Fonda, Joshua Logan, Budd Schulberg, and Ernest Hemingway. It seemed a charmed life. But he had already gone through one marriage and was addicted to drink and pills, and his dark and brooding spirit seemed to take no pleasure in its rewards.
Ross and Tom is a deep and hauntingly detailed portrait of two gifted writers, the worlds in which they moved, and their final descent into the Fitzgeraldian crack-up where “in the real dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning.”
“Fascinating and timely.” —Tracy Kidder
“A fine example of literary and psychological investigation… It wrenches the heart. Yet it is neither maudlin nor excessive. It is affectionate but dispassionate, and it reaches its conclusions calmly.” —Jonathan Yardley, New York Times Book Review (front page)
“A deeply compassionate double portrait of the artist in creation and in crisis. An extraordinary achievement.” —Mel Gussow, Newsday
“Leggett has told us more about the tragedy of American Success than a dozen novelists could.” —Frederick Exley
“A riveting, utterly engrossing psychological probe.” —Publishers Weekly
“If, as Jimmy Walker once said, no woman was ever ruined by a book, men have nonetheless been killed by them….In these two case histories of obsession and ruin, Leggett reveals much about ambition, vanity, and the self-destructiveness that often accompany literary success in America. This is a compelling book.” —Peter S. Prescott, Newsweek
“John Leggett has written the literary biography of Ross Lockridge and Tom Heggen, and of our age as well.” —Jerome Klinkowitz, Chicago Tribune
“A powerful and engrossing picture.” —Francis Steegmuller
“A distinguished literary event.” —Robert Downing, Denver Post
“For writers and aspiring writers (and how many of us are not in the latter category?), this book is indispensable reading… No one who has had anything to do with the literary life in America—or, for that matter, with the pursuit of achievement in America—can fail to hear the relevant echoes. The book, quite apart from its fascinating narrative, its Rashomon quality of detection, has as much to say about the nature and quality of ourselves as about the two protagonists.” —Robert Kirsch, Los Angeles Times
BUMP, a novel
by Diana Wagman
“Set in L.A., Diana Wagman’s Bump begins (appropriately enough, in that car-carpeted town) with a fender bender. Gradually, the story metamorphoses (more appropriately still, in that city of dreams become film) into a fairy tale. This remarkable journey from a commuter’s daily life to a zone of romantic enchantment is marked by keen sociological observations and flashing moments of humor.” —Brad Leithauser, author of A Few Corrections: A Novel
From an award-winning writer, this is a darkly funny, cinematic page-turner that explores the line between obsession and love. Bump is the story of a trio of motorists and one policeman linked together by a tangled, life-altering web of coincidence in the immediate aftermath of a three-car pileup in Los Angeles. Dorothy is to be married in less than 24 hours but can’t shake the memory of her ex-boyfriend. Madelyn is a married mother of two who falls in love with a double-amputee she met through a suicide hotline. Leo is a golden-eyed Latino who speaks no Spanish and has come to L.A. to reclaim his girlfriend. Ray is a suicide-obsessed Beverly Hills cop whose wife has just left him. Diana Wagman’s fast-paced and vividly cinematic narrative presents an engrossing tableau of synchronicity steered by obsession and alienation. Beautifully written and deeply affecting, Bump is hard to put down, and hard to forget. “Diana Wagman is wicked fun, and…Bump shows off her talents to a T. Witty, perceptive and compulsively readable.” —Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander
“Wagman’s crisp and lively prose makes for a thoroughly enjoyable read: the pages flew by.” —Aimee Bender, author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake and The Color Master: Stories
“Darkly funny and compelling…Bump belts the reader in for a trippy Carveresque adventure.” —East Bay Express
“[Diana Wagman's] minidramas recall Ann Beattie’s or Lorrie Moore’s clarity.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“…[D]espite the relentlessly dark subject matter, Wagman’s writing has a hypnotic, rhythmic quality that keeps the reader interested till the end.” —Kathleen Hughes, Booklist
Phantom Limb is a wise and courageous memoir that moves between past and present, chronicling an adult daughter’s journey through the final years of her parents’ lives. A story of discovering love through adversity as well as an inquiry into contemporary neurology and spiritual life, Phantom Limb is a moving meditation on the struggle to make peace with physical and emotional ghosts of the past. Janet Sternburg write with such warmth and honesty that loss itself becomes luminous: “This is the grace of the last years, the children coming to understand the contradictions in their parents, not to reconcile them but encompass them in a larger love.”
Janet Sternburg is a writer of memoir, essays, poetry and plays, as well as a fine-art photographer. Her books include Phantom Limb, the classic two volumes of The Writer on Her Work, described as “groundbreaking…a landmark,” and Optic Nerve: Photopoems.
by Duff Brenna
“You’re killing me, Duffy,” the mom always said. In his memoir, Murdering the Mom, award-winning novelist Duff Brenna elevates the obscene to the sublime. He takes all the materials of hardship and abuse during an unhappy childhood and sculpts it into art, into something transcendent. This is a heart-rending memoir that exceeds the expectations one normally has of a memoir, that is, it reads like a captivating novel.
“Perhaps the most remarkable achievement of this remarkable memoir by award-winning novelist Duff Brenna is its humanity. The characters in this book–hell, its nonfiction, they’re not characters, they’re people!–do hateful, hurtful things to one another. They are lost in their needs, their aberrations, their dreams, their longing–too lost to take stock of the effect of their own behavior upon the people with whom they share their lives and who depend upon them, not least the children who are hostages to a kind of madness…He is not settling old scores–and god knows there were scores he might well have wanted to settle if he’d had a mind to. But no, he is exploring–unsparingly, unflinchingly, but above all fairly, with balance and breathtaking honesty–the humanity of a group of people born into and continually creating a kind of hell in which they thras around without a clue as to how to get out.” –Thomas E. Kennedy, author of In the Company of Angels and Falling Sideways.
Duff Brennna is the author of six novels, including The Book of Mamie, which won the AWP Award for Best Novel; The Holy Book of the Beard, named “an underground classic” by The New York Times; Too Cool, a New York Times Noteworthy Book; The Altar of the Body, given the Editors Prize Favorite Book of the Year Award, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and also received a San Diego Writers Association Award for Best Novel in 2002.
A NOVEL by Meredith Sue Willis
“A Space Apart is so deftly and subtly written, I hardly noticed how involved I’d become until I’d read the last page and turned it, wanting more. The Scarlin family is going to be with me for a very long time.” –Anne Tyler
“Willis fleshes out with warmth and tenderness the complexities of family love, which not only defines commitment but deepens the need. An important new talent.” –The Kirkus Reviews
“The narrative carries warmth and strength. The people are as real as your next door neighbors.” — Houston Chronicle
“Willis views the Scarlin family ties and loyalties, limits and tensions, with realism, sensitivity and precision. A noteworthy first novel.” –Publisher’s Weekly
“This is the story of a broken family trying to mend itself through three generations. It is a painful but essential process, and like all such repair jobs, it is only partly successful. Before it is over we come to know John and Vera and Mary Kay, as well as Vera’s daughters, Lee and Tonie–to understand the wars they must declare and the peaces that they are able to proclaim within the state of being Scarlins. –The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Willis shapes her story with exquisite care, detailing the lives of a West Virginia preacher’s family: John Scarlin, minister and son of ‘the Preacher,’ a wild old born-again Baptist; John’s sturdy sister Mary Katherine; his capricious wife Vera, a strong character who commands attention in one fine scene after another; and his daughter Lee and Tonie who grow up to reject and embrace the meaning of Galatia, their hometown… Finally what is revealed by a family, inextricably bound together while struggling with each other’s need to find ‘a place apart.’ Narratively skilled and disciplined, this is an impressive debut. –Library Journal
Meredith Sue Willis grew up in West Virginia where her parents were both teachers. She has degrees from Barnard College and Columbia University, and her fiction has been published by Scribners’, HarperCollins, West Virginia University Press, Mercury House, Ohio University Press, and others. Her book of literary short stories, In the Mountains of America, was praised in the New York Times Book Review as “a[n]…important lesson on the nature and function of literature itself.” Her novels for children are Billie of Fish House Lane, The Secret Super Powers of Marco and Marco’s Monster.
TWO GREAT NOVELS FROM WILLIAM LUVAAS
Cover Art and Design by Lucinda Luvaas
National Book Award and Pen/Faulkner Award nominee
“Natalie, like the bellwether of a generation she claimed to repudiate, made leaps that made me dizzy, caught up in the catharsis of cool despair, imminent apocalypse, and sexual divination. So much the seeker, lop-eyed celebrant, impressionable tabula rasa upon which the moment could etch its havoc.
“One day she appeared at my apartment in plaster-spattered jeans, hair splashed out in a great nimbus. Her eyes glowed; she was perhaps high. Beside her was a blond beautiful creature, real pretty boy, with refined, nearly feminine features and transparent blue eyes. She had come to show us off to each other.
“‘This is Claude,’ she smiled, innocent as a spring flower, wholly incognizant of the sun’s infidelity. And he offered a smile that was all sex and narcissism.’” —from The Seductions of Natalie Bach
National Book Critics Circle Award nominee
The haunting story of a woman’s journey to Bedlam, and the ramifications for her children when she fails to make it back. Portraying a family in crisis—and told from the children’s point of view—this dark and moving tale depicts drinking, mental instability, adultery, and a mother’s ultimate sacrifice as her children struggle to deal with their tormented childhood.
“…a striking family melodrama…” —Library Journal
“A surreal and frightening air prevails as guilt, aggression and madness escalate in this powerful evocation of family members coming to grips with their crimes against one another.” —Publisher’s Weekly
OUR FIRST MIDDLE-GRADE NOVEL
Ashley Templeton is RUINING My Life
Cover Art and Design by BK Loren
It’s clear that this is not the seventh grade that Kyle Reedy had planned. He can deal with the yeti-sized Ross Wilkie, who harasses Kyle like it’s his job. Kyle can accept the fact that he made a mistake in filling out the form for his school’s required community service. (Yes, he’d planned to be stocking shelves in the food pantry, which sounded pretty easy, and instead he discovered he’d be on scooper duty at the local greyhound rescue.) But the part that he can’t handle, the part that is absolutely wrong, is what happens in band.
Kyle, who loves making music more than anything else, learns on the first day that the coveted seat in his band’s first clarinet section, a seat that should be his, a seat that was destined to be his, has been given to someone else. Her.
Ashley Templeton. And he’s pretty sure that every single problem he’s having is all her fault.
[Middle Grade: Ages 8-12]
“Ashley Templeton is Ruining My Life is one of the funniest books I have ever read. Kate Aspengren nails the voice of a likeable middle-school boy and his friends as she tells a story that is charming, delightful, hilarious, moving, and deeply satisfying. I loved it!” —Kelly Dwyer, author of two novels and two children’s books, including Self-Portrait with Ghosts and The Dream Tree
“Kate Aspengren is a gifted writer who clearly hasn’t forgotten a thing about either the joy or the turmoil of adolescence. Ashley Templeton Is Ruining My Life is a funny, sweet story, with great characters and a lot of heart.” —Bart Yates, author of Leave Myself Behind
“Kate Aspengren’s writing is crisp, clear, and flavored with a dry wit.” —Maggie Conroy, author of Maria Mitchell’s Discovery
“This novel is filled with laughs and irresistible characters. I loved them all—even Ashley Templeton.” —Mary Vermillion, author of Seminal Murder
Cover Art and Design by Lana Gloschat
“A novel of considerable nuance and power.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Douglas Bauer is a consummate storyteller, his prose is hypnotic, charged with beauty and pain, his characters drawn with intelligent and pristine detail… This is a novel possessing tremendous heart, and that much less affable quality—soul.” —Melissa Pritchard, Chicago Tribune
“A distinctive story because of the emotion that drives it… Poignant and sensitively portrayed.” —Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times
“A gem of a novel… It is the art that makes this book a prize.” —Kurt Jensen, The Philadelphia Enquirer
When Will Vaughn’s mother falls in love with the star pitcher of the town baseball club, she scandalizes not only her husband, son, and eccentric mother-in-law but also the God-fearing inhabitants of New Holland, Iowa. Looking back with an adult’s perspective and still wounded by his mother’s abrupt departure, Will recounts the story of his parents’ courtship and marriage during World War II, his life on the family farm, the erosion of his parents’ affection, and their memorable final break. And looming above them all is the extraordinary figure of Will’s grandmother, who from her upstairs apartment presides over the fulminations beneath as she compiles her “Book of Famous Iowans” in an attempt to fathom the Janus-like faces of fame and infamy.
OUR FIRST FOREVERLAND FIRST
by Kathryn Dow
“Dow’s ambitiously imaginative debut novel questions the very nature of reality… [a] diverting exploration of metaphysical concepts. Winsome and smartly playful.” —Kirkus Reviews
Cover Art and Design by Lana Gloschat
“Suspenseful, poignant and irresistibly entertaining… Bauer makes some wonderful observations about life in America during the 1900s, and about humanity’s eternal need for illusion, and his characterization is sharp and funny.” —Publishers Weekly “[An] engaging and episodic romp through the first half of the 20th-century… A classic tragedy of hubris… An imaginative lark in the Doctorow vein… rough-and-tumble fiction that exults in its inventiveness…” —Kirkus Reviews “Chillingly eloquent and very much in the American grain.” —Newsday, Dan Cryer “. . . the rise and fall of that quintessential American hero, the salesman; the ending of Hollywood’s golden age; the birth of broadcasting. It is material in which Mr. Bauer justifiably delights and, when he is at his best, is more than a match for…. a very funny book.” —The New York Times Book Review, Robert Houston
Cover Art and Design by Lana Gloschat
“An altogether stunning debut. Bauer’s prose is rich, startlingly resonant, stylistically powerful.” – The Detroit News “Brilliant-one of those relatively rare novels, first or otherwise, that just keep getting better as they unfold.” – The Washington Post Book World