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Publisher: Yibom$35.70Lily and the Octopus (Large Print Hardcover)
Publisher: Thorndike Press$36.99Lily and the Octopus (Large Print Paperback)
Publisher: Large Print Press$16.00
Book clubs: Finding comfort in art
Selected as a best book of the year by NPR and Newsweek, Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone is a smart, compassionate work of nonfiction that probes the meaning of connection in the modern world. Laing moves to New York from England to be with her boyfriend. When their relationship ends, she’s left with feelings of displacement and defeat and finds solace in art. Over the course of the book, she considers the lives and creative practices of six masters whose works resonate with her solitary mindset, including Edward Hopper and Andy Warhol. Examining the links between everyday intimacy—or a lack thereof—and acts of creation, she writes with fluency and a sense of poeticism that suit her subject matter. Laing herself grew up in a troubled household with a mother who was secretly gay. She draws upon personal experiences, mixing memoir with art criticism and social history to produce a moving narrative that speaks to the current era.
LOVING AND LETTING GO
By turns humorous and heartbreaking, Steven Rowley’s debut novel, Lily and the Octopus, is a poignant portrayal of the enduring link between man and dog. Ted Flask is a struggling writer who lives in Los Angeles with Lily, a 12-year-old dachshund. Ted, who is single, has turned to the internet to meet other men. Lily is his constant companion, and in a narrative conceit that Rowley pulls off beautifully, the two are able to communicate (they play Monopoly and share pizza). When Lily is diagnosed with a brain tumor (the octopus of the book’s title), Ted is despondent. As Lily yields to her illness, he faces the fact that he will lose her. But he also comes to realize that he has hidden behind her in order to keep life—and other relationships—at a distance. Rowley, who lost his own dog, writes with tenderness and delicacy about the bond between canines and humans. Lily and the Octopus is a moving exploration of love and loss.
TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS
In the powerful novel Mischling, Affinity Konar tells the story of 12-year-old sisters Stasha and Pearl, prisoners at Auschwitz who are subjected to Nazi doctor Josef Mengele’s inhumane experiments on twins. Close companions before their arrival at the camp, the sisters are separated at Auschwitz and suffer hideous punishments. After the war, when the camp is liberated, Pearl is looked after by Miri, a Jewish physician who was made to work as Mengele’s aide. Stasha, meanwhile, journeys through ravaged postwar Poland with a fellow twin named Feliks, driven by a desire to find Mengele and get revenge. Narrated in turns by Stasha and Pearl, this gripping novel is a beautifully rendered yet devastating narrative of survival. Konar’s chronicle of the twins’ experiences draws on factual accounts from the war. This is a bleak yet mesmerizing book that is sure to inspire dialogue among readers.