March books


March 1, 2021

Notable new releases

compiled by Sally Brewster

Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro

Nobel laureate Ishiguro takes readers to a vaguely futuristic, technologically advanced setting reminiscent of his Never Let Me Go for a surprising parable about love, humanity and science. Klara is an Artificial Friend (AF), a humanlike robot designed to be a child’s companion. She spends her days watching humans from her perch in the AF store, fascinated by their emotions and hungry to learn enough to help her future owner. Klara, who is solar-powered, reveres the sun for the “nourishment” and upholds “him” as a godlike figure. Klara is eventually bought by teenager Josie and continues to learn about humans through her interactions with Josie’s family and childhood friend. When Josie becomes seriously ill, Klara pleads with the sun to make her well again and confronts the boundary between service and sacrifice. As with Ishiguro’s other works, the rich inner reflections of his protagonists offer big takeaways, and Klara’s quiet but astute observations of human nature land with profound gravity.

The Unreasonable Virtue of Fly Fishing, by Mark Kurlansky

Fly-fishing is a battle of wits — fly fisher vs. fish — and the fly fisher does not always (or often) win. The targets are highly intelligent, wily, strong and athletic animals. The allure is that fly-fishing makes catching a fish as difficult as possible. There is an art, too, in the crafting of flies. Beautiful and intricate, some are made with more than two dozen pieces of feather and fur from a wide range of animals. The cast, as well, is a matter of grace and rhythm. Kurlansky is known for his deep dives into the history of specific subjects, from cod to oysters to salt. But he spent his boyhood days on the shore of a shallow pond. Here, where tiny fish weaved under a rocky waterfall, he first tied string to a branch, dangled a worm into the water, and unleashed his passion for fishing. Since then, a lifelong love of the sport has led him around the world to many countries, coasts and rivers. 

Every Last Fear, by Alex Finlay

In this fantastic debut thriller, a family made infamous by a true-crime documentary is found dead, leaving their surviving son to uncover the truth about their final days. After a late night of partying, NYU student Matt Pine returns to his dorm room to devastating news: Nearly his entire family have been found dead from an apparent gas leak while vacationing in Mexico. The local police claim it was an accident, but the FBI and State Department seem far less certain — and they won’t tell why.

Matt’s older brother is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of his teenage girlfriend, Charlotte, and was the subject of a viral true crime documentary suggesting that Danny was wrongfully convicted. Though the country has rallied behind Danny, Matt holds a secret about his brother that he’s never told anyone: The night Charlotte was killed, Matt saw something that makes him believe his brother is guilty of the crime. When Matt returns to his small hometown to bury his parents and siblings, he’s faced with a hostile community that was villainized by the documentary, a frenzied media and memories he’d hoped to leave behind forever.

The Committed, by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The conflicted spy of Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Sympathizer returns in this fabulous new novel. The unnamed Sympathizer arrives in Paris in the early 1980s with his “blood brother,” Bon. The pair try to overcome their pasts and ensure their futures by engaging in capitalism in one of its purest forms: drug dealing. Traumatized by his reeducation at the hands of his former best friend, Man, and struggling to assimilate into French culture, the Sympathizer finds Paris both seductive and disturbing. As he falls in with a group of left-wing intellectuals whom he meets at dinner parties given by his French-Vietnamese “aunt,” he finds stimulation for his mind but also customers for his narcotics. But the new life he is making has perils he has not foreseen, whether the self-torture of addiction, the authoritarianism of a state locked in a colonial mindset, or the seeming paradox of how to reunite his two closest friends whose worldviews put them in absolute opposition.   SP

Sally Brewster is the proprietor of Park Road Books, located at 4139 Park Road.

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