If you’re looking for some recent fiction books for the readers on your holiday gift list, you might want to consider the following.
First up is “Night Film” (Random House) by Marisha Pessl. It’s a kind of literary thriller and her follow up to her debut novel, “Special Topics in Calamity Physics,” which was named one of the top 10 books of the year by the New York Times Book Review.
The tale starts of with a series of computer screen shots about the mysterious death of an attractive young woman, the daughter of a cult horror filmmaker who hasn’t been seen in more than 30 years. The shots give us snippets of the life of the filmmaker hinting at elements of the narrative to come.
What has been officially ruled as a suicide, begins to look more and more like a murder as our narrator, a veteran investigative journalist begins to dig into the matter. Pessl successfully weaves an ever more convoluted tale of obsession, fear and what it all might mean which is helped out considerably by the inclusion of the screenshots and other graphics.
“The Maid’s Version” (Little Brown) is the latest novel by Daniel Woodrell, author of “Winter’s Bone.” It’s set in the Ozarks (familiar territory for Woodrell) of Missouri in the late 1920s and offers up the tale of a woman who works as a maid for one of the region’s most prominent citizens.
She tales the tale of the fiery death of her younger sister — full of “sass and vinegar” — in the explosion of a local dance hall to her grandson and, in doing so, creates a vibrant portrait of a time and the small town folk trying to live with the tragedy and the effects of the cover up on their lives. Woodrell’s prose sparkles in this slim novel.
Another slim tale worth checking out is “Death of the Black-Haired Girl” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) by Robert Stone. Here the story is set on the campus of an upscale university in a fraying and decaying New England City (Yale perhaps?), where a literature professor has decided it’s time to break off the affair with one of his students.
When the smart and beautiful, black-haired Maud Stack is killed in a strange hit and run accident, many things begin to hit the fan involving not only the errant professor but Maud’s ill and grieving ex-cop father and her B-movie actress roommate with a deranged supposedly ex-boyfriend. Not merely a tale of the death foretold in the title, but an assaying of our ongoing struggle to make sense of the mess we’ve made of things.
Tickets for the Ana Popovic Band: As there’s been a lot of interest in the Arts Council’s Ana Popovic Band show, Feb. 1, tickets are on sale now at Jeff’s Copy Express, ITT @ NAS Fallon or by calling Churchill Arts at 775-423-1440. The show is expected to sell out, so for best availability get your seats early.
Kirk Robertson covers the arts scene for Churchill County.