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The year is 1950, and in a small town on Cape Cod twenty-six-year-old librarian Peggy Cort feels like love and life have stood her up. Until the day James Carlson Sweatt-the "over-tall" eleven-year-old boy who's the talk of the town-walks into her library and changes her life forever. Two misfits whose lonely paths cross at the circulation desk, Peggy and James are odd candidates for friendship, but nevertheless they soon find their lives entwined in ways that neither one could have predicted. In James, Peggy discovers the one person who's ever really understood her, and as he grows-six foot five at age twelve, then seven feet, then eight-so does her heart and their most singular romance.
The story and characters in Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre-Dame have resonated with succeeding generations since its publication in 1831. It has tempted filmmakers, and most recently animators, who have exploited its dramatic content to good effect but have inevitably lost some of the grays that make the original text so compelling. From Victor Hugo's flamboyant imagination came Quasimodo, the grotesque bell ringer; La Esmeralda, the sensuous gypsy dancer; and the haunted archdeacon Claude Frollo. Hugo set his epic tale in the Paris of 1482 under Louis XI and meticulously re-created the day-to-day life of its highest and lowest inhabitants. Written at a time of perennial political upheaval in France, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is the product of an emerging democratic sensibility and prefigures the teeming masterpiece Les Misérables, which Hugo would write thirty years later. He made the cathedral the centerpiece of the novel and called it Notre-Dame de Paris. (It received its popular English title at the time of its second translation in 1833.) Hugo wrote that his inspiration came from a carving of the word "fatality" in Greek that he had found in the cathedral. The inscription had been eradicated by the time the book was published, and Hugo feared that Notre-Dame's Gothic splendor might soon be lost to the contemporary fad for tearing down old buildings. Notre-Dame has survived as one of the great monuments of Paris, and Hugo's novel is a fitting celebration of it, a popular classic that is proving to be just as enduring.The Modern Library has played a significant role in American cultural life for the better part of a century. The series was founded in 1917 by the publishers Boni and Liveright and eight years later acquired by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. It provided the foun-dation for their next publishing venture, Random House. The Modern Library has been a staple of the American book trade, providing readers with affordable hard-bound editions of important works of liter-ature and thought. For the Modern Library's seventy-fifth anniversary, Random House redesigned the series, restoring as its emblem the running torchbearer created by Lucian Bernhard in 1925 and refurbishing jackets, bindings, and type, as well as inau-gurating a new program of selecting titles. The Modern Library continues to provide the world's best books, at the best prices.Jacket paintings: (front) detail from Notre Dame by Paul Lecomte, courtesy of David David Gallery/SuperStock; (spine) Victor Hugo, 1833, by Louis Boulanger of Giraudon/Art Resource, N.Y. From the Hardcover edition.
In this "New York Times" Notable Book of the Year, two young men, Carter and Sharp, become the most famous comedy team of their era, conquering vaudeville, the movies, radio and television. Their 30 year partnership prevails--until Carter commits one desperate act of betrayal. 320 p. Copyright © Libri GmbH. All rights reserved.
From the author of the beloved novel The Giant's House--finalist for the National Book Award--comes a beautiful new story collection, her first in twenty years. Laced through with the humor, the empathy, and the rare and magical descriptive powers that have led Elizabeth McCracken's fiction to be hailed as "exquisite" (The New York Times Book Review), "funny and heartbreaking" (The Boston Globe), and "a true marvel" (San Francisco Chronicle), these nine vibrant stories navigate the fragile space between love and loneliness. In "Property," selected by Geraldine Brooks for The Best American Short Stories, a young scholar, grieving the sudden death of his wife, decides to refurbish the Maine rental house they were to share together by removing his landlord's possessions. In "Peter Elroy: A Documentary by Ian Casey," the household of a successful filmmaker is visited years later by his famous first subject, whose trust he betrayed. In "The Lost & Found Department of Greater Boston," the manager of a grocery store becomes fixated on the famous case of a missing local woman, and on the fate of the teenage son she left behind. And in the unforgettable title story, a family makes a quixotic decision to flee to Paris for a summer, only to find their lives altered in an unimaginable way by their teenage daughter's risky behavior. In Elizabeth McCracken's universe, heartache is always interwoven with strange, charmed moments of joy--an unexpected conversation with small children, the gift of a parrot with a bad French accent--that remind us of the wonder and mystery of being alive. Thunderstruck & Other Stories shows this inimitable writer working at the full height of her powers. Advance praise for Thunderstruck & Other Stories "Elizabeth McCracken is one of my favorite writers. Or, to put it another way: I've read everything she's written . . . and there's nothing I haven't liked and admired enormously. . . . She writes with acuity, soul, and a kind of easy grace that probably kills her, about characters she has created to love. . . . 'Thunderstruck' showcases all the things this remarkable writer is so good at: the eccentric but illuminating metaphors, the deft characterization, the heart-lurching narrative development, the tenderness, the fantastic aphorisms. . . . Anything new by her is an excuse for wild, drunken celebration." --Nick Hornby, The Believer "McCracken writes gorgeously sharp and insistent prose; her stories dazzle, uniquely angled and original."--More"[Elizabeth McCracken] writes sentences so beautiful you'll want to stand up and applaud. I underlined so many phrases and details my copy is a mess, but that still didn't keep me from lending it to my best friend. . . . McCracken's revelatory prose style makes it impossible for even the bleakest story lines to feel like anything short of a blessing."--Cosmopolitan"There's a strange magic . . . in Elizabeth McCracken's work."--Reader's Digest"Magnetic . . . Anyone who enjoys short fiction will find pleasure and substance in McCracken's witty, world-wise collection."--Library Journal"[McCracken's] distinctive voice, her slightly askew manner of looking at the world, her mix of mordant humor and tenderness, her sense of life's ironies, and the jolt of electricity at the end of each tale make her work arresting and memorable."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)From the Hardcover edition.
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