United States: Essays 1952-1992

Gore Vidal’s reputation as America’s finest essayist is an enduring one. This collection, chosen by the author from 40 years of work, contains about two-thirds of what he published in various magazines and journals.

Gore Vidal’s reputation as America’s finest essayist is an enduring one. This collection, chosen by the author from 40 years of work, contains about two-thirds of what he published in various magazines and journals. He has divided the essays into three categories, or states. State of the art covers literature, including novelists and critics, bestsellers, pieces on Henry James, Oscar Wilde, Suetonius, Nabakov and Montaigne (a previosly uncollected essay from 1992). State of the union deals with politics and public life: sex, drugs, money, Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, The Holy Family (his essay on the Kennedys), Nixon, and finally Monotheism and its Discontents , a scathing critique of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. In state of being, we are given personal responses to people and events: recollections of his childhood, E. Nesbit, Tarzan, Tennessee Williams and Anais Nin.

Swimming in the Volcano

Winner of the National Book Award for First Fiction for Easy in the Islands, Bob Shacochis returns to the islands with Swimming in the Volcano, a “splendid first novel” (Library Journal) possessed of the same beauty as the places and people of the Caribbean.

Set on the fictional Caribbean island of St. Catherine, an American expatriate becomes unwittingly embroiled in an internecine war between rival factions of the government. Into this potentially explosive scene enters a woman once loved and lost, but who remains a powerful temptation—one that proves impossible to resist.

At once an enchanting love story and a superbly sophisticated political novel about the fruits of imperialism in the twentieth century,Swimming in the Volcano is as brutally seductive a novel as the world it evokes.

Operation Wandering Soul

Highly imaginative and emotionally powerful, this stunning novel about childhood innocence amid the nightmarish disease and deterioration at the heart of modern Los Angeles was nominated for a National Book Award.

The Pugilist at Rest

Thom Jones made his literary debut in The New Yorker in 1991. Within six months his stories appeared in Harper’s, Esquire, Mirabella, Story, Buzz, and in The New Yorker twice more. “The Pugilist at Rest” – the title story from this stunning collection – took first place in Prize Stories 1993: The O. Henry Awards and was selected for inclusion in Best American Short Stories 1992. He is a writer of astonishing talent. Jones’s stories – whether set in the combat zones of Vietnam or the brittle social and intellectual milieu of an elite New England college, whether recounting the poignant last battles of an alcoholic ex-fighter or the hallucinatory visions of an American wandering lost in Bombay in the aftermath of an epileptic fugue – are fueled by an almost brutal vision of the human condition, in a world without mercy or redemption. Physically battered, soul-sick, and morally exhausted, Jones’s characters are yet unable to concede defeat: his stories are infused with the improbable grace of the spirit that ought to collapse, but cannot. For in these extraordinary pieces of fiction, it is not goodness that finally redeems us, but the heart’s illogical resilience, and the ennobling tenacity with which we cling to each other and to our lives. The publication of The Pugilist at Rest is a major literary event, heralding the arrival of an electrifying new voice in American fiction, and a writer of magnificent depth and range. With these eleven stories, Thom Jones takes his place among the ranks of this country’s most important authors. – See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/thom-jones/pugilist-at-rest-the/9780316473040/#sthash.NdQl9h10.dpuf

Come to Me

This stunning collection of stories – two of them honored by inclusion in Best American Short Stories in consecutive years – takes us into the inner worlds of families, the hidden corners of marriages and affairs and friendships, and introduces us to people whose lives are shaken and changed by love: a grieving mother in need of comfort; a frightened father in need of redemption; wives who become mistresses and regret it, or don’t; a psychiatrist crashing through professional boundaries to provide for her husband and son; a model wife and mother who inexplicably descends to the basement to commune with the seventeenth-century poet Anne Finch; a young woman yielding to her dying husband’s wish to hear about the affairs she’s been having during his illness; a little girl who shyly models Furs by Klein, with Klein looking on in love and sorrow; Rose of the crystal-clear voice and psychotic episodes.

Amy Bloom holds her characters close to us as they encounter the everyday mysteries of need and desire, showing us tenderness and humor in the midst of grief and sorrow, laying bare their loyalties and loves, their fear and their courage, their folly and their faith. She writes the kind of fiction that stays with you long after you’ve turned the last page, the kind that keeps you company and watches you on your way, that celebrates the flawed dignity of the human and reminds us all of the fine venture of living in grace and hope in the worlds we are born to and make.

Shipping News

A vigorous, darkly comic, and at times magical portrait of the contemporary North American family, The Shipping News shows why Annie Proulx is recognized as one of the most gifted and original writers in America today.

Quoyle, a third-rate newspaper hack, with a “head shaped like a crenshaw, no neck, reddish hair…features as bunched as kissed fingertips,” is wrenched violently out of his workaday life when his two-timing wife meets her just desserts. An aunt convinces Quoyle and his two emotionally disturbed daughters to return with her to the starkly beautiful coastal landscape of their ancestral home in Newfoundland. Here, on desolate Quoyle’s Point, in a house empty except for a few mementos of the family’s unsavory past, the battered members of three generations try to cobble up new lives.

Newfoundland is a country of coast and cove where the mercury rarely rises above seventy degrees, the local culinary delicacy is cod cheeks, and it’s easier to travel by boat and snowmobile than on anything with wheels. In this harsh place of cruel storms, a collapsing fishery, and chronic unemployment, the aunt sets up as a yacht upholsterer in nearby Killick-Claw, and Quoyle finds a job reporting the shipping news for the local weekly, the Gammy Bird (a paper that specializes in sexual-abuse stories and grisly photos of car accidents).

As the long winter closes its jaws of ice, each of the Quoyles confronts private demons, reels from catastrophe to minor triumph—in the company of the obsequious Mavis Bangs; Diddy Shovel the strongman; drowned Herald Prowse; cane-twirling Beety; Nutbeem, who steals foreign news from the radio; a demented cousin the aunt refuses to recognize; the much-zippered Alvin Yark; silent Wavey; and old Billy Pretty, with his bag of secrets. By the time of the spring storms Quoyle has learned how to gut cod, to escape from a pickle jar, and to tie a true lover’s knot.