A Kibbutz, a Castle, Flâneuse, and a Birthday

Carriage Return, Week of 3/28/2017

Photo Credit: Mairead Small Staid

Carriage Return is The Ribbon’s round-up of recent Literati Bookstore staff favorites, as well as an occasional place for useful links and news from around the literary web regarding upcoming events at the store.


Literati booksellers write many staff reviews, but many — believe it or not — write in their free time. This Friday the store celebrates its 4th anniversary in Ann Arbor with a reading from current and former booksellers. Fiction from forthcoming novelists, poetry from poets with forthcoming collections, essay, errata, and more. The event is at 7pm and is free. Now on to some new book reviews.


Recent Staff Favorites (in Hardcover)

What to Do about the Solomons, by Bethany Ball

Atlantic Monthly Press (4/4/2017)

What makes a family? A friendship? A happy life? Bethany Ball follows the lives of the Solomons from their Israeli Kibbutz, to Los Angeles, to New York and beyond. The Children, raised in a communist household, break away from their father, Yakov, and attempt to eek out their own version of home far from their former concrete dormitories. Little do they know that happiness isn’t always running away from reality, and t isn’t always permanent. Sometimes it ebbs and flows with the passage of time. Ball threads the narratives of the Solomons together through their lovers, children, wives, and husbands; the result is a portrait of humanity reaching for contentment. Ball asks the important question: what are we going to do about it? — Atti

The Women in the Castle, by Jessica Shattuck

William Morrow & Company (3/28/2017)

Shattuck’s The Women in the Castle is not the historical novel it might appear to be. Although it is set during the final months of World War II and the following years, it is not a novel of war but rather the powerful story of three widows of German resisters. Shattuck has created a unique and thought provoking story of how these women's struggled to rebuild their lives after their husband’s deaths. As each woman’s backstory unfolds, the scope of the story deepens — and complex choices and relationships are revealed. Shattuck’s writing is insightful and thoroughly engaging and the characters memorable. I hesitate to say a novel about such a difficult (to say the least!) time is a really good read… but it is! — Sharon

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Halwey, by Hannah Tinti

Dial Press (3/28/2017)

Cross a criminal Hercules with a young Clint Eastwood, give him a steely teenage daughter and a heart of gold, and you’ll come as close as can be to the enigmatic hero of Hannah Tinti’s exquisite novel. Samuel Hawley and his daughter Loo are characters for the ages, alternately awkward and surefooted, lonesome and loving, figures out of legend and yet so fully embodied you can feel their skin and scars against your own. As tightly wound and intricately structured as the watches Hawley steals, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley ticks brilliantly toward a conclusion more thrilling and expansive than any Western or myth. Not a page is wasted, and not a reader will be left unmoved. — Mairead

Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London, by Lauren Elkin

FSG (2/28/2017)

Lauren Elkin’s history of subversive and exclamatory manners by which women walk throughout urban spaces is a necessary read. From the sorrowful Jean Rhys to the mislabeled Martha Gellhorn, this book surgically deconstructs the sexist conceptualizations of the flâneurie and replaces them with something more informed and subtle. I found myself rereading passages over and over again — there is a musicality to these arguments which makes them unshakable. A blurring of memoir, literary theory, and gender studies, Flâneuse is an honest, artful, and analytical read for anyone who wishes to fully comprehend the rhythms of going for a stroll about town — be it one’s home or some other foreign locale. — Bennet