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No Space for Further Burials

by Feryal Ali Gauhar

"In No Space for Further Burials, Feryal Ali Gauhar has crafted a novel of unrelenting truth held in transcendent prose and an exquisite grace. There is no easy redemption here, but there is light and more light."-Chris Abani, author of GraceLand and Song for Night"In writing through the eyes of an American captive in Afghanistan, Feryal Ali Gauhar has fashioned a fascinating two-way mirror in which we see the author creating an Other confronting Otherness. As in Richard Powers' hostage novel Ploughing in the Dark, the mask of character reveals as much as it conceals."-Stewart O'Nan, author of Songs for the Missing"An unbearably beautiful book, one you will not soon forget. . . . What Gauhar shows us is that in a war there are only those who die and those who survive, and sometimes even those lines get blurred. And that's what keeps you hungrily turning the pages."-Radhika Jha, author of SmellSet in Afghanistan in late 2002, No Space for Further Burials is a chilling indictment of the madness of war and our collective complicity in the perpetuation of violence. The novel's narrator, a US Army medical technician in Afghanistan helping to "liberate" the country from the Taliban, has been captured by rebels and thrown into an asylum. The other inmates are a besieged gathering of society's forgotten and unwanted refugees and derelicts, disabled and different, resilient and maddened, struggling to survive the lunacy raging outside the asylum compound. The novel becomes a powerful evocation of the country's desolate history of plunder and war, waged by insiders and outsiders, all fueled by ideology, desperation, and greed.This astonishingly powerful story unfolds the tragedy of Afghanistan, as told by the captive narrator in hauntingly beautiful prose. While the characters try to cope with their individual destinies, the terrible madness of war is counterpointed with the poignancy of their lives and the narrator's own peculiar predicament-the "victor" now a victim, his ambivalence a metaphor for everything Afghanistan symbolizes.Feryal Ali Gauhar studied political economy at McGill University in Montreal, and has worked as a filmmaker and broadcaster in Europe and the United States. She has been imprisoned by two military regimes in Pakistan for her pro-democracy activism. In 1999 she was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund. She lives in Lahore, Pakistan, with fourteen cats, three dogs, a turtle, and four donkeys.

Demons in the Spring

by Joe Meno

"An inspired collection of 20 stories, brilliant in its command of tone and narrative perspective...Creativity and empathy mark the collection . . . Illustrations enhance the already vivid storytelling."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)"Spanning worlds, generations, cultures and environments, each of Meno's short stories in this stellar collection explores depression, loneliness and insanity in the world . . ."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)"Eclectic, funny, constantly surprising-these are the things a short story collection should be allowed to be, and Joe Meno's Demons in the Spring absolutely is . . . a rich, unforgettable stew of a book."--Dave EggersThe limited-edition hardcover of Demons in the Spring was a finalist for the 2009 Story Prize, a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2008, a Time Out Chicago Best Book of 2008, and it drew starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. It is a collection of twenty short stories with illustrations by twenty artists from the fine art, graphic art, and comic book worlds.Joe Meno is the best-selling author of five novels, including the smash hits Hairstyles of the Damned and The Boy Detective Fails (both published by Akashic Books), and two story collections. He was the winner of the 2003 Nelson Algren Award for short fiction and is a professor of creative writing at Columbia College in Chicago.

So Much Things to Say

by Colin Channer Kwame Dawes

Contributors include: Robert Pinsky, Derek Walcott, Elizabeth Alexander, Amiri Baraka, Martin Espada, Terrance Hayes, Valzyna Mort, Sonia Sanchez, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Patricia Smith, Saul Williams, Staceyann Chin, and 88 others.Imagine a night of a hundred poets reading their work to an audience of intensely engaged, responsive, and lively people. Imagine the reading taking place under a tent pitched on a grassy lawn that overlooks the Caribbean Sea. Imagine the sun setting, imagine the scent of curried goat and fried fish wafting through the air, imagine the heat, imagine the cool tongue of wind off the sea, imagine a stage like an ancient shrine with a podium artfully pieced together with bamboo, strips of still green wood, leaves, twine, and shells. Imagine one hundred poets, some whose names you know and some you have never heard of, stepping onto the stage, opening their mouths and hearts, and singing out poems of such variety, complexity, beauty, and passion.This is what a poetry reading at the Calabash International Literary Festival is like, and this new anthology provides readers a taste of what this festival offers year after year.Edited by Kwame Dawes and Colin Channer, two of the founders of the festival, this is an exciting example of Calabash's commitment to create a festival that is diverse, inspirational, earthy, and daring each May. This anthology is at once a celebration of ten years of a remarkable literary event as it is a gesture of love to seek ways to continue to fund and support this festival for the future. All profits from this publication will go toward the running of the festival, which remains free and open to the public.

Mesopotamia

by Arthur Nersesian

"The immortal shadow of Elvis Presley gyrates wildly through this satiric exploration of America's fascination with tabloid journalism." --Publishers Weekly"Thoroughly entertaining . . . A quirky, hard-edged, slightly absurdist thriller from a writer who definitely bears watching." --Booklist"In his paean to the perplexities of dislocation and discovery-both in bohemian life and in life at large-Nersesian makes us eager to see what happens when the curtain finally rises."-The New York Times Book Review, on UnlubricatedThings have not been going well for journalist Sandy Bloomgarten. Her job went down the drain and her marriage quickly followed. After a lengthy bender, she awakens one morning to the stark realization that she is flat broke. Nonetheless, she's still a crack reporter and when a tabloid offers her a freelance assignment in Memphis-just a stone's throw from her childhood home in Mesopotamia, Tennessee-she takes it.Though sent there for one story, she winds up tracking down another: someone is killing Elvis impersonators who perform at the annual Sing-the-King festival. The few clues lead her to several unlikely characters: a cheating local minister constantly on the make, a strange band of misfits who only cover Elvis tunes, and a small-town private eye who blew himself up along with his crystal meth lab. As Sandy's investigation closes, she realizes that she is sitting on what could be the story of the century. The only problem is she can never reveal what she has found.Arthur Nersesian's latest novel is a satiric thriller that takes an amusing view of America's predilection with the superficial over the relevant, and celebrity excitement over real news.Arthur Nersesian is the author of nine novels, including the cult-classic The Fuck-Up (more than 100,000 copies sold), dogrun, and Suicide Casanova. He lives in New York City.

Indian Country Noir

by Sarah Cortez Liz Martínez

Step into Indian Country. Enter the dark welter of troubled history throughout the Americas, where the heritage of violence meets the ferocity of intent.Features brand-new stories by: Mistina Bates, Jean Rae Baxter, Lawrence Block, Joseph Bruchac, David Cole, Reed Farrel Coleman, O'Neil De Noux, A.A. Hedge Coke, Gerard Houarner, Liz Martínez, R. Narvaez, Kimberly Roppolo, Leonard Schonberg, and Melissa Yi.Sarah Cortez, a law enforcement officer, is the award-winning author of the poetry collection How to Undress a Cop. She brings her heritage as a Tejana with Mexican, French, Comanche, and Spanish blood to the written page.Liz Martínez's stories have appeared in Manhattan Noir, Queens Noir, and Cop Tales 2000. She is a member of Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers, and she lives in New York.

Moscow Noir

by Natalia Smirnova Julia Goumen

The more you watch Moscow, the more it looks like a huge chameleon that keeps changing its face--and it isn't always pretty. Following Akashic Books' international success with London Noir, Delhi Noir, Paris Noir, and others, the Noir series explores this fabled and troubled city's darkest recesses.Features brand-new stories by: Alexander Anuchkin, Igor Zotov, Gleb Shulpyakov, Vladimir Tuchkov, Anna Starobinets, Vyacheslav Kuritsyn, Sergei Samsonov, Alexei Evdokimov, Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, Maxim Maximov, Irina Denezhkina, Dmitry Kosyrev, Andrei Khusnutdinov, and Sergei Kuznetsov.Natalia Smirnova was born in 1978 in Moscow. In 2006, together with Julia Goumen, she founded Goumen&Smirnova Literary Agency, representing Russian authors worldwide.Julia Goumen was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1977. She holds a PhD in English and has worked in publishing since 2001.

Glorious

by Bernice L. Mcfadden

"The seeming inevitability of cruel fate juxtaposes the triumph of the spirit in this remarkably rich and powerful novel, Glorious. Bernice McFadden's fully realized characters are complicated, imperfect beings, but if ever a character were worthy of love and honor, it is her Easter Bartlett. This very American story is fascinating; it is also heartbreaking, thought-provoking, and beautifully written."--Binnie Kirshenbaum, author of The Scenic Route"Riveting. . . . I am as impressed by its structural strength as by the searing and expertly imagined scenes."--Toni Morrison, on The Warmest DecemberGlorious is set against the backdrops of the Jim Crow South, the Harlem Renaissance, and the civil rights era. Blending the truth of American history with the fruits of Bernice L. McFadden's rich imagination, this is the story of Easter Venetta Bartlett, a fictional Harlem Renaissance writer whose tumultuous path to success, ruin, and revival offers a candid portrait of the American experience in all its beauty and cruelty.Glorious is ultimately an audacious exploration into the nature of self-hatred, love, possession, ego, betrayal, and, finally, redemption.Bernice L. McFadden is the author of six critically acclaimed novels, including the classic Sugar and Nowhere Is a Place, which was a Washington Post best fiction title for 2006. She is a two-time Hurston/Wright Legacy Award finalist, as well as the recipient of two fiction honors from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA). McFadden lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she is working on her next novel.

Richmond Noir

by Tom De Haven Brian Castleberry Andrew Blossom

The River City emerges as a hot spot for unseemly noir.Brand-new stories by: Dean King, Laura Browder, Howard Owen, Yazmina Beverly, Tom De Haven, X.C. Atkins, Meagan J. Saunders, Anne Thomas Soffee, Clint McCown, Conrad Ashley Persons, Clay McLeod Chapman, Pir Rothenberg, David L. Robbins, Hermine Pinson, and Dennis Danvers.FROM THE INTRODUCTION TO RICHMOND NOIR:"In The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, Henry Miller tosses off a hard-bitten assessment of the City on the James: 'I would rather die in Richmond somehow,' he writes, 'though God knows Richmond has little enough to offer.' As editors, we like the dying part, and might point out that in its long history, Richmond, Virginia has offered up many of the disparate elements crucial to meaty noir. The city was born amid deception, conspiracy, and violence . . ."These days, Richmond is a city of winter balls and garden parties on soft summer evenings, a city of private clubs where white-haired old gentlemen, with their martinis or mint juleps in hand, still genuflect in front of portraits of Robert E. Lee. It's also a city of brutal crime scenes and drug corners and okay-everybody-go-on-home-there's-nothing-more-to-see. It's a city of world-class ad agencies and law firms, a city of the FFV (First Families of Virginia) and a city of immigrants--from India, Vietnam, and Africa to Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. It's a city of finicky manners (you mustn't ever sneeze publicly in Richmond) and old-time neighborliness, and it's a city where you think twice about giving somebody the finger if they cut you off on the Powhite Parkway (that's pronounced Pow-hite, not Po-white, thank you very much) because you might get your head blown off by the shotgun on the rack . . ."

The Failure

by James Greer

The Failure is a picaresque novel set in Los Angeles about two guys who conceive and badly execute a plan to rob a Korean check-cashing store in order to finance the prototype for an impossibly ridiculous Internet application."James Greer, one of the nimblest and most multilayered American fiction writers, has, with his latest novel The Failure, pulled off a sublime and shivery-smooth literary hat-trick-cum-emotional-gotcha. I defy anyone to come up with an equation to explain how this book's first impression as a ridiculously clever, funny crime story can gradually disclose a metanovel built from far more encyclopedic scratch only to reveal upon its conclusion a central, overriding thought so heartfelt literally it trembles your lower lip. This is one stunning piece of work." --Dennis Cooper, author of Ugly Man"James Greer's The Failure is such an unqualified success, both in conception and execution, that I have grave doubts he actually wrote it." --Steven SoderberghJames Greer is the author of the novel Artificial Light (Akashic Books), which won a California Book Award for Best Debut Novel, and the nonfiction book Guided By Voices: A Brief History (Grove Press), a biography of the band for which he once played bass guitar. He is currently working with director Steven Soderbergh on a rock musical about Cleopatra starring Catherine Zeta-Jones. He lives in Los Angeles.

The Uncomfortable Dead

by Paco Ignacio Taibo II Subcomandante Marcos

"Great writers by definition are outriders, raiders of a sort, sweeping down from wilderness territories to disturb the peace, overrun the status quo and throw into question everything we know to be true. . . . On its face, the novel is a murder mystery, and at the book's heart, always, is a deep love of Mexico and its people." --Los Angeles TimesSubcomandante Marcos is a spokesperson and strategist for the Zapatistas, an indigenous insurgency movement based in Mexico.Paco Ignacio Taibo II is the author of numerous works of award-winning fiction and nonfiction, which have been published in many languages around the world. He lives in Mexico City.

Mexico City Noir

by Paco Ignacio Taibo II

Brand-new stories by: Paco Ignacio Taibo II, Eugenio Aguirre, Eduardo Antonia Parra, Bernardo Fernández Bef, Óscar de la Borbolla, Rolo Díez, Victor Luiz González, F.G. Haghenbeck, Juan Hernández Luna, Myriam Laurini, Eduardo Monteverde, and Julia Rodríguez.Paco Ignacio Taibo II was born in Gijón, Spain, and has lived in Mexico since 1958. He is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, which have been published in many languages around the world, including a mystery series starring Mexican Private Investigator Héctor Belascoarán Shayne. He is a professor of history at the Metropolitan University of Mexico City.

The Late Work of Margaret Kroftis

by Dennis Cooper Mark Gluth

A phenomenal debut novella to further establish the literary excellence of Dennis Cooper's Little House on the Bowery series."In The Late Work of Margaret Kroftis, Mark Gluth does something I've never seen another author do: he captures perfectly the feel of daydreams. Though everybody in the book daydreams, Gluth doesn't simply describe their thoughts; instead, he does something better and more brilliant--he infuses his words with the deceptive simplicity and surrealism of the fantasies we dream up for ourselves. Like daydreams, his book is brief but powerful; like daydreams, it is both heartbreakingly hopeful and heart-stoppingly honest. It's a reverie that's a revelation. It is great."--Derek McCormack, author of The Show that SmellsThe Late Work of Margaret Kroftis begins during the later days of Margaret Kroftis's life. She is a writer, living alone. As she experiences a personal tragedy the narrative moves forward in an emotionally coherent manner that exists separately from linear time. Themes of loss and grief cycle and repeat and build upon each other. They affect the text and create a complex structure of crosshatched narratives within narratives. These mirror each other while also telling unique stories of loss that are both separate from Margaret's as well as deeply intertwined.This groundbreaking debut demonstrates an affinity with the work of such contemporary European writers as Agota Kristof and Marie Redonnet, while existing in a place and time that is uniquely American. Composed in brief paragraphs and structured as a series of vignettes, pieces of fiction, and autobiography, The Late Work of Margaret Kroftis creates a world in which a woman's life is refracted through dreamlike logic. Coupled with the spare language in which it is written, this logic distorts and heightens the emotional truths the characters come to terms with, while elevating them beyond the simply literal.Mark Gluth's writing has previously appeared in the anthology Userlands (Akashic, 2007) and Ellipsis magazine. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio and now lives in Bellingham, Washington with his wife and their two dogs.Dennis Cooper's (series editor) novels have been translated into eighteen foreign languages. He has guest-edited sections of fiction and nonfiction for BookForum, Nerve, the L.A. Weekly Literary Supplement, and the Village Voice Literary Supplement. He is a contributing editor of ArtForum magazine and lives in Los Angeles.

Black Music

by Leroi Jones

"Jones has learned-and this has been very rare in jazz criticism-to write about music as an artist."-Nat Hentoff ksBlack Music is a book about the brilliant young jazz musicians of the early 1960s: John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp, Sun Ra, and others. It is composed of essays, reviews, interviews, liner notes, musical analyses, and personal impressions from 1959-1967. Also includes Amiri Baraka's reflections in a 2009 interview with Calvin Reid of Publishers Weekly.LeRoi Jones (now known as Amiri Baraka) is the author of numerous books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. He was named Poet Laureate of New Jersey from 2002 to 2004 by the New Jersey Commission on Humanities. His most recent book, Tales of the Out & the Gone (Akashic Books, 2007), was a New York Times Editors' Choice and winner of a PEN/Beyond Margins Award. He lives in Newark, New Jersey.

Jesus Boy

by Preston L. Allen

"Allen has created a consummate tragicomedy of African Americanfamily secrets and sorrows, and of faith under duress and wide open to interpretation. Perfect timing andcrackling dialogue, as well as heartrending pain balanced by uproarious predicaments, make for a shout-hallelujah tale of transgression and grace, a gospel of lusty and everlasting love."--Booklist"Like Dostoyevsky, Allen colorfully evokes the gambling milieu-the chained (mis)fortunes of the players, their vanities and grotesqueries, their quasi-philosophical ruminations on chance. Like Burroughs, he is a dispassionate chronicler of the addict's daily ritual, neither glorifying nor vilifying the matter at hand."--The New York Times Book Review, on All or NothingInto an austere community of Christian believers at the Church of Our Blessed Redeemer Who Walked Upon the Waters come the star-crossed African American Romeo and Juliet. In the world of Jesus Boy, Romeo is sixteen-year-old Elwyn Parker, a devout and sincere piano prodigy who learns too late that the saintly girl he has had a crush on all his life is inexplicably pregnant and soon to be wed. Juliet is the beautiful widow, Sister Morrisohn, age forty-two, who, in the pain and confused emotions of her grieving, ends up in Elwyn's arms.Despite the problems posed by their age difference and the strict prohibitions of their strong religious beliefs, Elwyn and Sister Morrisohn's love is true, and as it grows among the ascetics, abstainers, and holy ghost rollers of their church, it exposes with wit, poignancy, and insight the dark secrets and ancient crimes of the pious. In Jesus Boy, Elwyn learns through tragedy and epiphany that the holy are no different from the rest of us.

Orange County Noir

by T. Jefferson Parker Gary Phillips

Orange County, California, brings to mind the endless summer of sand and surf, McMansion housing tracts, a conservative stronghold, and tony shopping centers. It's a place where pilates classes are run like boot camps, real estate values are discussed at your weekly colonic, and ice cream parlors on Main Street, USA, exist side-by-side with pho shops and taquerias. Orange County Noir pulls back the veil to reveal what lurks behind the curtain.Features brand-new stories by: Susan Straight, Robert S. Levinson, Rob Roberge, Nathan Walpow, Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, Dan Duling, Mary Castillo, Lawrence Maddox, Dick Lochte, Robert Ward, Gary Phillips, Gordon McAlpine, Martin J. Smith, and Patricia McFall.Editor Gary Phillips is the author of many novels and short stories. He lives in Southern California.

Wall Street Noir

by Peter Spiegelman

Brand-new stories by: John Burdett, Peter Blauner, Charles Ardai, Henry Blodget, Twist Phelan, Larry Light, James Hime, Jason Starr, Lauren Sanders, Tim Broderick, Reed Farrel Coleman, Jim Fusilli, Mark Haskell Smith, and more. Peter Spiegelman is the Shamus Award-winning author of Black Maps (Knopf, 2003), Death's Little Helpers (Knopf, 2005), and Red Cat (Knopf, 2007), which feature private detective and Wall Street refugee John March. Spiegelman is a twenty-year veteran of the financial services and software industries, and has worked with banks, brokerage houses, and central banks in major markets around the world. He lives in Connecticut.

Twin Cities Noir

by Steven Horwitz Julie Schaper

"Local editors Schaper and Horwitz have assembled a noteworthy collection of noir-infused stories mixed with laughter...The Akashic noir short-story anthologies are avidly sought and make ideal samplers for regional mystery collecting."--Library Journal"The best pieces in the collection turn the clichés of the genre on their head . . . and despite the unseemly subject matter, the stories are often surprisingly funny."-City Pages (Minneapolis)Brand-new stories from John Jodzio, Tom Kaczynski, and Peter Schilling, Jr., in addition to the original volume's stories by David Housewright, Steve Thayer, Judith Guest, Mary Logue, Bruce Rubenstein, K.J. Erickson, William Kent Krueger, Ellen Hart, Brad Zellar, Mary Sharratt, Pete Hautman, Larry Millett, Quinton Skinner, Gary Bush, and Chris Everheart."St. Paul was originally called Pig's Eye's Landing and was named after Pig's Eye Parrant--trapper, moonshiner, and proprietor of the most popular drinking establishment on the Mississippi. Traders, river rats, missionaries, soldiers, land speculators, fur trappers, and Indian agents congregated in his establishment and made their deals. When Minnesota became a territory in 1849, the town leaders, realizing that a place called Pig's Eye might not inspire civic confidence, changed the name to St. Paul, after the largest church in the city . . . Across the river, Minneapolis has its own sordid story. By the turn of the twentieth century it was considered one of the most crooked cities in the nation. Mayor Albert Alonzo Ames, with the assistance of the chief of police, his brother Fred, ran a city so corrupt that according to Lincoln Steffans its 'deliberateness, invention, and avarice has never been equaled.' As recently as the mid-'90s, Minneapolis was called 'Murderopolis' due to a rash of killings that occurred over a long hot summer . . . Every city has its share of crime, but what makes the Twin Cities unique may be that we have more than our share of good writers to chronicle it. They are homegrown and they know the territory--how the cities look from the inside, out . . ."

The Swing Voter of Staten Island

by Arthur Nersesian

"Nersesian's extravagantly imagined dystopia relies--as did those in Philip Roth's Plot Against America and Michael Chabon's Yiddish Policemen's Union--on an alternate, counterfactual history."--The New York Times Book Review"Combining sci-fi space/time-warping, Unabomber-style political ranting and an overall air of goose-bump paranoia, this is one turbo-charged trip. . . . A sharp, strange read: Imagine William Burroughs and Philip K. Dick sharing a needle."--Kirkus Reviews"Brilliant."--Time Out New YorkArthur Nersesian's six previous novels (including The Fuck-Up, MTV/Pocket Books, which has sold over 100,000 copies) have focused on the tragicomedy of fin de siècle New York City. Here, in his boldest novel to date, Nersesian has broken through into a new landscape that at once fuses the real with the surreal, the psychological with the psychedelic. He lives in New York City.

The Sacrificial Circumcision of the Bronx

by Arthur Nersesian

"Nersesian is this generation's Mark Twain and the East River is his Mississippi."--Jennifer Belle, author of High Maintenance"Nersesian is a first-rate observer of his native New York."--Publishers Weekly"The unquestioned authority of Moses is difficult to fully grasp today -- this unimaginable, outsized character whose outrageous deeds seem the stuff of novels. And that is how Nersesian is tackling him, by blending fact with fiction. Historical events and persons are interwoven with a fascinating apocalyptic story and literary license, at last revealing the tumultuous life and legacy of Robert Moses. Faced with such a daunting subject matter and multi-volume work, Nersesian's narrative is masterful."--Brooklyn EagleThe Sacrificial Circumcision of the Bronx is the highly anticipated follow-up to The Swing Voter of Staten Island--the first two installments in Arthur Nersesian's series of novels offering an alternate history of New York: The Five Books of Moses.Robert Moses was responsible for creating contemporary New York's infrastructure, but he did so at the cost of destroying neighborhoods. In this novel, Robert has looted his brother Paul's share of the Moses family fortune, repeatedly blocked his attempts at gaining public office, thwarted his career in the private sector, and set in motion events that decimate Paul's home life.Paul Moses' deep-seated rage metamorphoses into an act of terrorism committed against his brother and against a city that he once cherished. Although it can be read as a stand-alone novel about Robert and Paul Moses, The Sacrificial Circumcision of the Bronx is also a memory play that follows Uli Sarkisian--the hero of The Swing Voter of Staten Island--en route to solving a massive historical crime, while desperately struggling to escape from becoming another one of its victims.Arthur Nersesian is the author of eight novels, including the smash hit The Fuck-Up (more than 100,000 copies sold), dogrun, Suicide Casanova (Akashic Books), and, most recently, The Swing Voter of Staten Island, the first volume in The Five Books of Moses series. He lives in New York City.

The Boy Detective Fails

by Joe Meno

In the twilight of a mysterious childhood full of wonder, Billy Argo, boy detective, is brokenhearted to find that his younger sister and crime-solving partner, Caroline, has committed suicide. Ten years later, Billy, age thirty, returns from an extended stay at St. Vitus' Hospital for the Mentally Ill to discover the world full of unimagi-nable strangeness: office buildings vanish without reason, small animals turn up without their heads, and cruel villains ride city buses to complete their evil schemes.Lost within this unwelcoming place, Billy finds the companionship of two lonely, extraordinary children, Effie and Gus Mumford--one a science fair genius, the other a charming, silent bully. With a nearly forgotten bravery, Billy treads from the unendurable boredom of a telemarketing job, stumbles into the awkward beauty of a desperate pickpocket named Penny Maple, and confronts the nearly impossible solution to the mystery of his sister's death. Along a path laden with hidden clues and codes that dare the reader to help Billy decipher the mysteries he encounters, the boy detective may learn the greatest secret of all: the necessity of the unknown. Kirkus Reviews,June 15, 2006 *STARRED REVIEW* "What happens when a Hardy Boy grows up? Mood is everything here, and Meno tunes it like a master, even though such a task initially appears impossible. Billy Argo, resident boy detective of his small New Jersey burg, seems to have inherited the aura of brains, fearlessness and rigid moral compass that always served the likes of Encyclopedia Brown in such good stead. Billy solves crimes and foils villains without breaking a sweat, aided by younger sister Caroline and heavyset friend Fenton. Their successes are trumpeted in newspaper headlines straight out of kids' adventure books ('Boy Detective Solves Fatal Orphanage Arson'), prompting suspicions that what the author has in mind is a long and ironic riff on children's fiction. But the book takes a dark turn as the years pass. Billy continues solving crimes and generally being a prodigy ('College Now For Boy Detective'), but Caroline slips into depression and ultimately commits suicide. Her brother winds up in an asylum as a result, not re-entering the world until he's 30. This is the point at which Meno, a tricky postmodernist who likes to embed separate story capsules on blank pages and leave nonsense words in the margins, might be expected to throw the curtain back, showing that our hero was crazy all along, no crimes were solved and his whole life was a lie. Instead, the author gives Billy a gallery of rogues to combat and even sends him to investigate the Convocation of Evil at a local hotel ('Featured Panel: To Wear a Mask?'). Meno sets himself a complicated task, marooning his straight-arrow, pulp-fiction protagonist in a world uglier than the Bobbsey Twins ever faced but refusing to go for satire. Instead, the author takes his compulsive investigator at face value. A full-tilt collision of wish-fulfillment and unrequited desires that's thrilling, yet almost unbearably sad." BOOKLIST, July 2006 *STARRED REVIEW* Comedic, imaginative, empathic, and romantic, Meno, whose diverse works of fiction include Hairstyles of the Damned (2004) and Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir (2005), is particularly attuned to the intensity of childhood and its lifelong resonance. In this cartoony and dreamlike novel, Billy Argo of Gotham, New Jersey, receives a True-Life Junior Detective Kit for his tenth birthday, and in no time, the gifted boy detective becomes front-page news as he thwarts comic-book villains with the help of his younger sister, Caroline. But Caroline commits suicide, and Billy's grief is so profound he is institutionalized. Emerging from a mythic sleep at age 30, Billy--smart, kind, and wistful--ends up living in a bizarre halfway house and working a spooky job. It's always raining, buildings vanish into thin air, evildoers brazenly conspire, and Billy befriends precocious sister and brother misfits and falls in love with a pickpocket. Wizardly Meno entwines make-believe...

Southland

by Nina Revoyr

"[A]n absolutely compelling story of family and racial tragedy. Revoyr's novel is honest in detailing southern California's brutal history, and honorable in showing how families survived with love and tenacity and dignity."--Susan Straight, author of Highwire MoonSouthland brings us a fascinating story of race, love, murder and history, against the backdrop of an ever-changing Los Angeles. A young Japanese-American woman, Jackie Ishida, is in her last semester of law school when her grandfather, Frank Sakai, dies unexpectedly. While trying to fulfill a request from his will, Jackie discovers that four African-American boys were killed in the store Frank owned during the Watts Riots of 1965. Along with James Lanier, a cousin of one of the victims, Jackie tries to piece together the story of the boys' deaths. In the process, she unearths the long-held secrets of her family's history.Southland depicts a young woman in the process of learning that her own history has bestowed upon her a deep obligation to be engaged in the larger world. And in Frank Sakai and his African-American friends, it presents characters who find significant common ground in their struggles, but who also engage each other across grounds--historical and cultural--that are still very much in dispute.Moving in and out of the past--from the internment camps of World War II, to the barley fields of the Crenshaw District in the 1930s, to the streets of Watts in the 1960s, to the night spots and garment factories of the 1990s--Southland weaves a tale of Los Angeles in all of its faces and forms.Nina Revoyr is the author of The Necessary Hunger ("Irresistible."--Time Magazine). She was born in Japan, raised in Tokyo and Los Angeles, and is of Japanese and Polish-American descent. She lives and works in Los -Angeles.

South of the Pumphouse

by Les Claypool

A dark, clever tale of two brothers, a fishing trip, drugs, and murder, this novel skillfully combines classic motifs of epic struggle and intelligent layers of imagery, reminiscent of The Old Man and the Sea, and the raw, tweaked perspective of a Hunter S. Thompson novel.Les Claypool established himself as the most original rock bassist in the 1990s, as front man for the hit band Primus. They toured the world with groups like Jane's Addiction, Public Enemy, and U2. Claypool penned the theme song to TV's South Park, and has guested on albums by many other artists, including Jerry Cantrell and Tom Waits.

Song for Night

by Chris Abani

"Not since Jerzy Kosinski's The Painted Bird or Agota Kristof's Notebook Trilogy has there been such a harrowing novel about what it's like to be a young person in a war. That Chris Abani is able to find humanity, mercy, and even, yes, forgiveness, amid such devastation is something of a miracle. "-Rebecca Brown, author of The End of Youth. "The moment you enter these pages, you step into a beautiful and terrifying dream. You are in the hands of a master, a literary shaman. Abani casts his spell so completely--so devastatingly--you emerge cleansed, redeemed, and utterly haunted."-Brad Kessler, author of Birds in Fall. Part Inferno, part Paradise Lost, and part Sunjiata epic, Song for Night is the story of a West African boy soldier's lyrical, terrifying, yet beautiful journey through the nightmare landscape of a brutal war in search of his lost platoon. The reader is led by the voiceless protagonist who, as part of a land mine-clearing platoon, had his vocal chords cut, a move to keep these children from screaming when blown up, and thereby distracting the other minesweepers. The book is written in a ghostly voice, with each chapter headed by a line of the unique sign language these children invented. This book is unlike anything else ever written about an African war. Chris Abani is a Nigerian poet and novelist and the author of The Virgin of Flames, Becoming Abigail (a New York Times Editor's Choice), and GraceLand (a selection of the Today Show Book Club and winner of the 2005 PEN/Hemingway Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award). His other prizes include a PEN Freedom to Write Award, a Prince Claus Award, and a Lannan Literary Fellowship. He lives and teaches in California.

Seattle Noir

by Curt Colbert

Brand new stories by: G. M. Ford, Skye Moody, R. Barri Flowers, Thomas P. Hopp, Patricia Harrington, Bharti Kirchner, Kathleen Alcalá, Simon Wood, Brian Thornton, Lou Kemp, Curt Colbert, Robert Lopresti, Paul S. Piper, and Stephan Magcosta.Early Seattle was a hardscrabble seaport filled with merchant sailors, longshoremen, lumberjacks, rowdy saloons, and a rough-and-tumble police force not immune to corruption and graft. By the mid-50s, the town had added Boeing to its claim to fame, but was still a mostly blue-collar burg that was infamously described as "a cultural dustbin" by the Seattle Symphony's first conductor. Present-day Seattle has become a pricey, cosmopolitan center, home to Microsoft and Starbucks. The city is famous as the birthplace of grunge music, and possesses a flourishing art, theatre, and club scene that many would have thought improbable just a few decades ago. But some things never change--crime being one of them. Seattle's evolution to high-finance and high-tech has simply provided even greater opportunity and reward to those who might be ethically, morally, or economically challenged (crooks, in other words). But most crooks are just ordinary people, not professional thieves or crime bosses--they might be your pleasant neighbor, your wife or lover, your grocer or hairdresser, your minister or banker or lifelong friend--yet even the most upright and honest of them sometimes fall to temptation.Within the stories of Seattle Noir, you will find: a wealthy couple whose marriage is filled with not-so-quiet desperation; a credit card scam that goes over-limit; femmes fatales and hommes fatales; a delicatessen owner whose case is less than kosher; a famous midget actor whose movie roles begin to shrink when he starts growing taller; an ex-cop who learns too much; a group of mystery writers whose fiction causes friction; a Native American shaman caught in a web of secrets and tribal allegiances; sex, lies, and slippery slopes . . . and a cast of characters that always want more, not less . . . unless . . .Curt Colbert is the author of the Jake Rossiter & Miss Jenkins mysteries, a series of hard-boiled, private detective novels set in 1940s Seattle. The first book, Rat City, was nominated for a Shamus Award in 2001. A Seattle native, Colbert still resides in his hometown.

San Francisco Noir 2

by Peter Maravelis

Classic reprints from: Ambrose Bierce, Frank Norris, Mark Twain, Jack London, Fletcher Flora, Bill Pronzini, Joe Gores, Janet Dawson, Oscar Penaranda, Seth Morgan, Craig Clevenger, and others.Peter Maravelis is a native San Franciscan with a life-long involvement in the art and literary scenes. He programs the events calendar at City Lights Bookstore and is editor of the first volume of San Francisco Noir. He's been known to occasionally moonlight with private investigators.

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