Census

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Jesse Ball

First Sentence:     As I turned to lean my shovel against the rusted gray of the car, I looked in passing down into the grave I had dug, and saw there, along the face or wall, in trembling roots, the path I had traveled these several months taking the census in the farthest districts.

Back of the book:

A father and son who are census takers journey across a nameless country from the town of A to the town of Z in the wake of the father’s fatal diagnosis. Knowing that his time is menacingly short, the father takes his son, who requires close and constant adult guidance, on this trip of indefinite length. Their feelings for each other are challenged and bolstered as they move in and out of a variety of homes, meeting a variety of different people. Census is about the ways in which people react to the son’s condition, to the son as a person in the world. It is about discrimination and acceptance, kindness and art, education and love.

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The Earlie King and the Kid in Yellow

EKKY

Danny Denton

First Sentence:     Are you recording now?

Back of the book:

Ireland is flooded, derelict. It never stops raining. The Kid in Yellow has stolen the babba from the Earlie King. Why? Something to do with the King’s daughter, and a talking statue, something godawful. And from every wall the King’s Eye watches. And yet the city is full of hearts-defiant-sprayed in yellow, the mark of the Kid. It cannot end well. Can it? Follow the Kid, hear the tale. Roll up! Roll up!

Quotes from the book:

[…]and in those moments—after he closed the door behind him and placed his hat upon his head and pulled the trenchcoat around him—he would think that really none of it mattered a single bit, that these were all just passing beads of water, lost in the rain, and that his whole life could be reduced to a moment’s downpour, noticed by no one, and reduced entirely then, disappeared into nothing in one maddening view of the sea[…]

“Gossip was like that: a puff of smoke to the story’s fire.”

 

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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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Young God

Morris

 

Katherine Faw Morris

First Sentence:     Nikki is all to hell.

Back of the book:

Nikki has been thirteen forever. Nikki drives a stolen truck up the hill to her father’s trailer with a backpack full of pills, determined to make her way into his life: drug deals, pimp wars, chicken shit, ecstasy. But soon Nikki begins to learn what is required of her to survive — to prevail — in this world.

Quotes from the book:

“In her mouth is name is shiny and bitter like a licked coin.”

Heroin is the most secret of them all and needles are the mot secret part and she has always loved secrets ever since she was a little girl.

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The Luminaries

luminariesEleanor Catton

First Sentence:     The twelve men congregated in the smoking room of the Crown Hotel gave the impression of a party accidentally met.

Back of the book:

It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes. A wealthy man has vanished, a whore has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely patterned as the night sky.

Quotes from the book:

One could know a thousand women, Gascoigne thought; one could take a different girl every night for years and years – but sooner or later, the new lovers would do little more than call to mind the old, and one would be forced to wander, lost, in that reflective maze of endless comparison, forever disappointed, forever turning back.

“How strange, Ah Sook thought later, that one’s gestures remain the same, even as the body changes weathers and gives itself over to age – as though the gestures were the real vessel, the vase to the body’s flower.”

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