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New at the library

August 6, 2011
The Mining Journal

The Peter White Public offers these new fiction books.

Giovanni's Room. A novel by James Baldwin

Although this novel was first published in 1956, it is a recent addition to the Peter White Public Library's collection. The book follows a young American man while he grapples with the complexities of his youth and his sexual identity while living abroad in 1950s Paris. The young man is caught between the hetero-normative lifestyle to which he is accustomed and the same-sex love affair he begins with an Italian bartender he meets whilst living in Paris without his fiancee. Baldwin writes with such passion and intensity in this novel that the reader almost instantly becomes emotionally involved with the few characters present. Baldwin handles his subject matter frankly yet delicately enough to allow the reader time to process the overwhelming sense of loneliness and alienation sensed throughout. This was the second book published by Baldwin and it is still considered controversial by some today while many others consider it a masterpiece of American fiction.

Love/Imperfect. A book of short stories by Christopher T. Leland

In this book, Leland binds 18 wonderfully constructed short stories together that all seem to present another facet of human relationships. The stories in this collection range from the safe to the highly uncomfortable; the nostalgic to the depressing; the sensual to the brutal; the beautiful to the disfigured. In this first collection of short stories, Leland demonstrates his artful manipulation of language while trying to appeal to the emotional needs of his audience. Although each story ends so swiftly, Leland is able to carry the reader through a minefield of emotions in less than twenty pages yet leaves them entirely satisfied.

The Color of Night. A novel by Madison Smartt Bell.

This hauntingly beautiful book follows the tragic life of Mae, a female Las Vegas blackjack dealer who seems unable to cope with the life she and others have made for her. At times the book is uneasy to read due to Mae's violent and abuse family life as well as her self-destructive tendencies but it is also for these same reasons that book gains significance. With his novel, Bell is able to weave historical events into the foreground to create focal points from which we are to observe Mae's troubled behavior.

The Night Train. A novel by Clyde Edgerton.

Clyde Edgerton is an author known for his wit and ability to draw the reader close to his characters and in writing The Night Train he has accomplished both yet again. This novel follows the friendship between two young men growing up in the south in the early 1960s. One boy is white and the other black. Although most people around them think their friendship shouldn't exist, these boys dream of being great musicians one day and leaving the south and this is what bonds them. Edgerton shows great sensitivity towards race relationships during the '60s while remaining light-hearted throughout. This is a book that relies on the honest nature of the boys' relationship to carry the reader to the end, not the strange shenanigans the boys find themselves in.

Someday This Will be Funny. A collection of short stories by Lynne Tillman.

This recently added collection of wonderful stories concerns itself in dealing with individual human experience. Each story has a feeling of reality to it because Tillman's characters are carefully designed to be as complex as real people rather than as shallow as the paper their thoughts appear on. Because many of the stories take place in the narrators' mind and read like thought-bubbles instead of short stories, Tillman's characters lack perfection and their insecurities are always at the surface. What is so commendable about this collection is that Tillman is able to make the reader feel the words she is writing, and that is the very point of this collection of her work.

- Dominic Davis



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