Autumn

Autumn

Ali Smith

First Sentence:     It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times.

Back of the book:  

A breathtakingly inventive new novel from the Man Booker-shortlisted and Baileys Prize-winning author of How to be both

Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic once-in-a-generation summer.

Love is won, love is lost. Hope is hand in hand with hopelessness. The seasons roll round, as ever . . .

Quotes from the book:

“Here’s an old story so new that it’s still in the middle of happening, writing itself right now with no knowledge of where or how it’ll end.”

That’s what story is.

(Silence.)

It’s the never-ending leaf-fall.

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White Tears

White Tears

Hari Kunzru

First Sentence:     That summer I would ride my bike over the bridge, lock it up in front of one of the bars on Orchard Street and drift through the city on foot, recording.

Back of the book:

Two twenty-something New Yorkers: Seth, awkward and shy, and Carter, the trust fund hipster. They have one thing in common: an obsession with music. Rising fast on the New York producing scene, they stumble across an old blues song long forgotten by history — and everything starts to unravel. Carter is drawn far down a path that allows no return, and Seth has no choice but to follow his friend into the darkness.

Trapped in a game they don’t understand, Hari Kunzru’s characters move unsteadily across the chessboard, caught between black and white, performer and audience, righteous and forsaken. But we have been here before, oh so many times over, and the game always ends the same way . . .

Quotes from the book:

Digital sound had an absolute cutoff, a sonic floor that repelled the listener and set an inhuman limit to the experience […] Whatever happened to soul, to the vibration of an animal-gut string, the resonance of lacquered rosewood?

“As he got in, I caught sight of his expression, an external blankness that wasn’t passivity or peace or even simple tiredness. It was like a lid on a boiling pan, masking some spirit-consuming interior battle.”

By the time I’d finished, it sounded like a worn 78, the kind of recording that only exists in one poor copy, a thread on which time and memory hang.

“I am often accused of lacking emotional response. In fact I think what I lack is emotional spontaneity. It takes me a while to release my reaction, for the feeling to bubble up from below.”

My memory is a mystical conspiracy of connections. Everything has already happened. I am merely a man, sitting in a chair, listening to a recording made long ago. The needle is travelling in a predetermined track. Eventually, sooner or later, it will hit the run-out groove at the end.

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The Mark And The Void

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Paul Murray

First Sentence:     Idea for a novel: we have a banker rob his own bank.

Back of the book:

What links the Investment Bank of Torabundo, http://www.myhotswaitress.com (yes, hots with an s, don’t ask), an art heist, a novel called For the Love of a Clown, a four-year-old boy named after TV detective Remington Steele, a lonely French banker, a tiny Pacific island, and a pest control business run by an ex-KGB man? You guessed it . . .

The Mark and the Void is Paul Murray’s madcap new novel of institutional folly, following the success of his wildly original breakout hit, Skippy Dies. While marooned at his banking job in the bewilderingly damp and insular realm known as Ireland, Claude Martingale is approached by a down-on-his-luck author, Paul, looking for his next great subject. Claude finds that his life gets steadily more exciting under Paul’s fictionalizing influence; he even falls in love with a beautiful waitress. But Paul’s plan is not what it seems-and neither is Claude’s employer, the Bank of Torabundo, which inflates through dodgy takeovers and derivatives-trading until-well, you can probably guess how that shakes out.

The Mark and the Void is a stirring examination of the deceptions carried out in the names of art, love and commerce – and is also probably the funniest novel ever written about a financial crisis.

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Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?

22f790ba39a54b6c888bc520f1ad6f9a_origDave Eggers

First Sentence:      I did it.

Back of the book:

In a barracks on an abandoned military base, miles from the nearest road, Thomas watches as the man he has brought wakes up. Kev, a NASA astronaut, doesn’t recognize his captor, though Thomas remembers him. Kev cries for help. He pulls at the chain. But the ocean is close by, and nobody can hear him over the waves and wind. Thomas apologizes. He didn’t want to have to resort to this. But they really needed to have a conversation, and Kev didn’t answer his messages. And now, if Kev can just stop yelling, Thomas has a few questions.

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The Circle

The Circle

Dave Eggers

First Sentence:    My God, Mae thought.

Back of the book:

Fast, thrilling, compulsively addictive – The Circle is Dave Eggers’ timely novel about our obsession with the internet.

When Mae is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. Run out of a sprawling California campus, the Circle links users’ personal emails, social media, and finances with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of transparency. Mae can’t believe her great fortune to work for them – even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public …

Quote from the book:

He and her parents had been late to get PCs, late to buy a cellphone, late to everything. It was comical and it was sad, and it served no purpose, to put off the undeniable present, the unavoidable future.

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