Literary Fiction for the Dog Days of Summer

Pageturners, the Tucson-Pima Public Library's "bookmark for bookworms," is a great online source for summer reading.

Readers should bookmark to find recommended books in categories including Biographies/Memoirs, Audiobooks, Beach Books, Far East, Literary Fiction and Southwestern.

The library has allowed us to share a sample of the "Literary Fiction" that its staffers (reviewers' names are in parentheses) just couldn't put down--that's why they're called page-turners.. Atwood, Margaret, The Blind Assassin, 2000

THIS NOVEL IS A mystery nested within a love story and told through a memoir, a novel, newspaper articles and pulp science fiction. You'll find yourself piecing together clues and guessing at truths throughout the richly layered stories within stories. An excellent choice for book clubs and written by one of our finest contemporary writers. (Julie Tronson) Brown, Carrie, The Hatbox Baby, 2000

IT'S 1933, YEAR OF THE CHICAGO World's Fair. A distressed father brings his premature baby to a doctor at the fair who specializes in preemies and puts them on display to save lives and further his research. The tiny baby of the title touches everyone who sees him. The book reveals a slice of history that is little known and does it using very colorful characters. (Jane Q. Peterson) Cambor, Kathleen, In Sunlight, in a Beautiful Garden, 2000

A DETAILED HISTORICAL NOVEL revolving around the Johnstown flood, with focus on those residents who are not of the privileged class. This group will be the ones to pay when the dam, conceived by the wealthy to create a pleasure spot, bursts and floods. (Jane Q. Peterson) Chevalier, Tracy, Girl with a Pearl Earring, 1999

ASPECULATIVE piece of historical fiction about the girl who was Vermeer's model and servant. It is popular with book clubs as much for its touching story as for its insight into the artistic mind and process. (Jane Q. Peterson) Cunningham, Michael, The Hours, 1998

A BRILLIANT TALE DETAILING THE lives of three women: Virginia Woolf, in 1923 London, Laura Brown, unhappy and pregnant in the 1950s, and Clarissa Vaughn, a contemporary woman planning a party for her long term lover who is dying of AIDS. The parallel nature of the stories brilliantly links the three characters through time and space and will sweep you away. (Rona Rosenberg) Dubus III, Andre, The House of Sand and Fog, 1999

A BAY AREA HOUSE BECOMES THE most important piece of property in the world in this breathtaking thriller filled with moral ambiguity and riveting characters. A young woman down on her luck and an ambitious Iranian immigrant must settle a dispute over the small bungalow, with tragic consequences. (Julie Tronson) Ebershoff, David, The Danish Girl, 2000

LOOSELY BASED on the life of Danish painter Einar Wegener who, in 1931, became the first man to undergo a sex-change operation, The Danish Girl borrows the bare bones of his story as a jumping-off point for an exploration of how Wegener's decisions affected the people around him. A fascinating and humane book. (Laura Sullivan) Hamilton, Jane, Disobedience, 2000

SNOOPING IN HIS MOTHER'S E-MAIL account gives Henry a new, and not always flattering, vision of his mother. That and his own awakening sexuality change the family dynamics in unsettling ways. Told from the point of view of the adult Harry. (Jane Q. Peterson) Harrison, Kathryn, The Binding Chair, 2000

A YOUNG CHINESE woman with bound feet, May, is a beautiful woman either despite or because of her feet. In fact, all of the women in this book are the victims of some type of disfigurement--either physical or emotional. A richly detailed and worded novel full of pain and the human situation. (Jane Q. Peterson) Haruf, Kent, Plainsong, 1999

LARGE QUESTIONS OF LOVE AND life are given small domestic answers that please the reader. It is refreshing to see ordinary people solving not-so-small problems in such original and heart-warming ways. Beautiful dialogue and unique characters make this a delightful and insightful read. (Jane Q. Peterson) Hay, Elizabeth, A Student of Weather, 2001

IN THIS STORY TWO SISTERS FALL in love with the same man. In lesser hands this would be the stuff of pot-boiler fiction. But the author weaves a beautiful tale of life in the Canadian dust bowl in the l930s where life is cruel and getting one's wishes is often at other's expense. (Jane Q. Peterson) Ishiguro, Kazuo, When We Were Orphans, 2000

ISHIGURO WRITES A HEART-wrenching tale of a 9-year-old British boy in Shanghai at the beginning of the century whose father, working for a firm whispered to have something to do with the opium trade, disappears. His mother then vanishes a few days later. The author uses the conventions of crime fiction to create a portrait of a man who cannot escape the dark shadows cast by childhood trauma. (Julie Tronson) Jones, Daniel, After Lucy, 2000

A QUIETLY COMPELLING FIRST novel, with plenty of gentle humor, about a man coming to grips with life after his wife Lucy dies of breast cancer. He trades her Mazda in for an ancient green-and-purple camper, complete with Grateful Dead stickers, and hits the road with kids Kayli and Benny. The decrepit vehicle breaks down in the unlikeliest of places, and the adventure that follows is full of feel-good moments. (Kathleen Dannreuther) Mori, Kyoko, Stone Field, True Arrow, 2001

TORN FROM HER ARTIST FATHER and native Japan as a child, raised by her cold, ambitious mother in Minneapolis, Maya Ishida has finally put together a life in Milwaukee with few disruptions. But when her father dies, Maya begins to examine her rather uninteresting life. This is an exploration of the relationships that bind us, and how people learn to give and receive love. (Kathleen Dannreuther) Morris, Mary McGarry, Fiona Range, 2000

A 30-YEAR-OLD WAITRESS, FIONA was abandoned by her mother--something she never forgets. Involvement with men of bad character reinforces the belief that she is unwanted and no good. Fiona is a good woman whose judgment is often swayed by guilt, and one cannot help but continue reading in hopes that things will work out for her. (Jane Peterson) Naslund, Sena Jeter, Ahab's Wife, or the Star-gazer, 1999

THE AUTHOR LOVINGLY RE- createsthe worlds of 19th-century America and of Melville's seminal work, Moby Dick. It is part adventure, part love story as Una's life intersects with literary luminaries, both "real" and imagined. An inspired homage to one of our greatest writers, this is a sophisticated, brilliantly written book. (Kathleen Dannreuther) Poirier, Mark Jude, Goats, 2001

THIS BOOK IS A TWIST ON THE familiar coming-of-age novel. The young protagonist seems more mature than the adults around him. These adults are strange but believable and the setting is often Tucson! Young Ellis grows up with help from his grown-ups but also with a lot of their baggage to overcome. (Jane Q. Peterson) Prose, Francine, Blue Angel, 2000

ACADEMIA IS SUCH a RIPE TARGET for good writers. And Francine Prose does a great job here skewering such sacred cows as sexual harassment policies, writers' workshops and women's studies. Prose gives her protagonist a heavy dose of caustic wit which we the readers can enjoy and appreciate. (Jane Q. Peterson)

Stevens, Brooke, Tattoo Girl, 2001

THIS SURREAL NOVEL will hook you from the beginning as the reader attempts to solve the mystery of the tattooed girl found wandering at a local mall. When a former circus fat lady makes a serious bid to gain custody of the teen-ager, the plot thickens. Issues of childhood trauma, redemption, and salvation tangle with the basic tale of loyalty among the outcasts of the world. (Jeanne Michie) Tan, Amy, The Bonesetter's Daughter, 2001

TAN LOVES TO examine the relationship between first generation Chinese-Americans and their old world parents. Lu Ling, the protagonist's mother, is suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. She has written down the story of her life to preserve the family history. Her daughter, Ruth, an Americanized career woman, discovers the courage and love which shaped her mother's life thus bridging many of their differences. (Jane Q. Peterson) Tyler, Anne, Back When We Were Grown-ups, 2001

THIS IS A BABY boomer coming-of-age story in which a 53-year-old widow is questioning her life and what to do with the rest of it. A cast of eccentric characters try to help Rebecca decide whether she wants the life that been handed to her. (Kay Mitman) Vea, Alberto, Gods Go Begging, 1999

VEA IS A little-known prose stylist whose novels are filled with unforgettable characters and haunting language. In his third novel, Vea evokes the horrors of the Vietnam War while telling the story of Jesse Pasadoble, a former army sergeant who's now made a name for himself as a criminal defense attorney in San Francisco. Pasadoble must defend a teen-ager accused of a particularly senseless double homicide. (Kathleen Dannreuther)

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