The Heart Goes Last

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Margaret Atwood

First Sentence:     Sleeping in the car is cramped.

Back of the book:

Stan and Charmaine are a married couple trying to stay afloat in the midst of economic and social collapse. Living in their car, surviving on tips from Charmaine’s job at a dive bar, they’re increasingly vulnerable to roving gangs, and in a rather desperate state. So when they see an advertisement for the Positron Project in the town of Consilience – a ‘social experiment’ offering stable jobs and a home of their own – they sign up immediately. All they have to do in return for this suburban paradise is give up their freedom every second month, swapping their home for a prison cell.

At first, all is well. But slowly, unknown to the other, Stan and Charmaine develop a passionate obsession with their counterparts, the couple that occupy their home when they are in prison. Soon the pressures of conformity, mistrust, guilt and sexual desire take over, and Positron looks less like a prayer answered and more like a chilling prophecy fulfilled.

Quote from the book:

Oblivion is increasingly attractive to the young, and even to the middle-aged, since why retain your brain when no amount of thinking can even begin to solve the problem? It isn’t even a problem. It’s more like a looming collapse. Is their once-beautiful region doomed to be a wasteland or poverty and wreckage?

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Undermajordomo Minor

Undermajordomominor

Patrick DeWitt

First Sentence:     Lucien Minor’s mother had not wept, had not come close to weeping at their parting.

Back of the book:

Lucien (Lucy) Minor is the resident odd duck in the bucolic hamlet of Bury. Friendless and loveless, young and aimless, he is a compulsive liar and a melancholy weakling. When Lucy accepts employment assisting the majordomo of the remote, forbidding castle of the Baron Von Aux he meets thieves, madmen, aristocrats, and a puppy. He also meets Klara, a delicate beauty who is, unfortunately, already involved with an exceptionally handsome partisan soldier. Thus begins a tale of polite theft, bitter heartbreak, domestic mystery and cold-blooded murder in which every aspect of human behaviour is laid bare for our hero to observe. Lucy must stay safe, and protect his puppy, because someone or something is roaming the corridors of the castle late at night.

Undermajordomo Minor is a triumphant ink-black comedy of manners by the Man Booker shortlisted author of The Sisters Brothers. It is an adventure story, and a mystery, and a searing portrayal of rural Alpine bad behaviour with a brandy tart, but above all it is a love story. And Lucy must be careful, for love is a violent thing.

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The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman

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 Denis Thériault

First Sentence:     Swirling like water

                                    against rugged rocks,

                                    time goes around and around

Beech Street, rue des Hêtres, was for the most part lined with maples.

Back of the book:

A beautifully tragic and thought-provoking tale, The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman is a moving book by a talented new voice.

Secretly steaming open envelopes and reading the letters inside,
Bilodo has found an escape from his lonely and routine life as a postman. When one day he comes across a mysterious letter containing only a single haiku, he finds himself avidly caught up in the relationship between a long-distance couple, who write to each other using only beautiful poetry. He feasts on their words, vicariously living a life for which he longs. But it will only be a matter of time before his world comes crashing down around him…

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Flight Behaviour

Flight-Behaviour

Barbara Kingsolver

First Sentence:     A certain feeling comes from throwing your good life away, and it is one part rapture.

Back of the book:

Discontented with her life of poverty on a failing farm in the Eastern United States, Dellarobia, a young mother, impulsively seeks out an affair. Instead, on the Appalachian mountains above her home, she discovers something much more profoundly life-changing – a beautiful and terrible marvel of nature. As the world around her is suddenly transformed by a seeming miracle, can the old certainties they have lived by for centuries remain unchallenged?

Flight Behaviour is a captivating, topical and deeply human story touching on class, poverty and climate change. It is Barbara Kingsolver’s most accessible novel yet, and explores the truths we live by, and the complexities that lie behind them.

Quotes from the book:

She was long acquainted with the broken part of herself that had sent her up this precarious trail, out of control entirely, walking unarmed into the shoot-out of whatever was to be.

‘Her every possession was either unbreakable, or broken.’

Nobody truly decided for themselves, there was too much information. What they actually did was scope around, decide who was looking out for their clan, and sign on for the memos on a wide array of topics.

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A Tale for the Time Being

A Tale for the Time Being

Ruth Ozeki

First Sentence:     Hi!

Back of the book:

Within the pages of this book lies the diary of a girl called Nao. Riding the waves of a tsunami, it is making its way across the ocean. It will change the life of the person who finds it. It might just change yours, too.

Quotes from the book:

‘I believe it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you can find something concrete to keep you busy while you are living your meaningless life.’

I was still thinking about what she said about waves, and it made me sad because I knew that her little wave was not going to last much longer and soon she would join the sea again, and even though I know you can’t hold on to water, still I gripped her little fingers a little more tightly to keep her from leaking away.

‘Sometimes when she told stories about the past her eyes would get teary from all the memories she had, but they weren’t tears. She wasn’t crying. They were just the memories, leaking out.’

She says the mark of new cool is no hits for your name. No hits is the mark of how deeply unfamous you are, because true freedom comes from being unknown.

‘I have to hurry up and write them down before I forget. I have a pretty good memory, but memories are time beings, too, like cherry blossoms or ginkgo leaves; for a while they are beautiful, and then they fade and die.’

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