Maeve Binchy, Lydia Davis, Julia Glass, Mo Hayder, Laura Kasischke | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Apr. 2014, Pt. 3

Binchy, Maeve. Chestnut Street. Knopf. Apr. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780385351850. $26.95. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. POP FICTION
Following Binchy’s untimely death in July 2012, this set of previously unpublished linked short stories will warm the hearts of fans everywhere. Binchy wrote these pieces intermittently while producing her big novels and Irish Times columns, hoping someday to put together a book based on the comings and goings on a single street. That street is Chestnut Street, around the corner from St. Jarlath’s Crescent (seen in Minding Frankie). Published posthumously, Binchy’s A Week in Winter debuted in the top spot on the New York Times best sellers list and stayed there for 12 weeks, reflecting Binchy’s undiminished popularity.

Davis, Lydia. Can’t and Won’t: Stories. Farrar. Apr. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780374118587. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780374711436. SHORT STORIES
Davis is a real writer’s writer, winner of the 2013 Man Booker International Prize, 2007 National Book Award finalist for the acute and delectable Varieties of Disturbance: Stories, and winner of two French American Foundation Translation prizes for her renderings of Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way (2003) and Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (2010). The stories in her fifth collection are terse and observant; one is a mere sentence long—“Now that I have been here for a little while, I can say with confidence that I have never been here before”—while another features a professor flummoxed by the various scenarios offered by a box of varied chocolates. (I’d just eat them all at once; how unoriginal.) Smart readers everywhere will love.

Glass, Julia. And the Dark Sacred Night. Pantheon. Apr. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9780307377937. $26.95. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. LITERARY
Glass harks back to Three Junes, winner of the 2002 National Book Award, in a new novel that again features family secrets in need of unfolding. Unemployed, mortgage-trapped Kit Noonan has children to support and a restless wife who wants him to uncover his father’s identity. That leads Kit to Lucinda Burns, wife of a famed senator and mother of the journalist who died of AIDs in Three Junes. Lucinda knows something about an accident involving Kit’s father, but introducing her to Jasper, Kit’s former stepfather, has led to further complications. Then there’s Fenno McLeod, the protagonist of Three Junes, who’s now in his sixties. A shifting kaleidoscope of relationships; with a nine-city tour.

Hayder, Mo. Wolf. Atlantic Monthly. Apr. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780802122506. $24. THRILLER
Edgar Award winner Hayder has achieved international bestseller-dom with premises that make your nerves positively ache. Here, a vagrant named the Walking Man rescues a dog wandering about with the desperate note “HELP US” attached to its collar. Detective Inspector Jack Caffery isn’t interested in tracking down the dog’s owners until the Walking Man indicates that he knows something significant about the childhood abduction of Jack’s brother. Meanwhile, there’s a family being held hostage under increasingly stressed circumstances who really need Jack’s help.

Kasischke, Laura. Mind in Winter. Harper. Apr. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780062284396. $24.99. LITERARY/PSYCHOLOGICAL
The extraordinary Kasischke, author of both poetry (she won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2011) and fiction (she’s currently up for the Prix Médicis étranger for this work) here offers a tale of crushing psychological suspense. When Holly Judge awakens one snowy Christmas morn, she’s convinced that something evil has followed her home from Russia, where she and her husband had gone to adopt a child. It’s something inside them, and it’s leading to the housekeeper’s fall, the growth on her husband’s hand, the scratched CDs….


Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.