Girls in Trucks

Sarah Walters was born into the prim and proper debutante class of South Carolina, but that's as close as she ever comes to white-gloved gentility. The heroine of Katie Crouch's debut novel, Girls in Trucks, is a salty-tongued rebel who slips the bonds of a girlhood of dance lessons to find freedom in the cold and baffling North. There, Sarah loses her accent, her values, and, in sometimes sad and often spectacular fashion, her way in life. She had planned on greatness and instead has to settle for survival. Here's Sarah, halfway through the book, self-aware and still defiant: "I have made many mistakes in my life so far, the biggest of which, according to my mother, was leaving the South. Never mind the fact that I managed to spend three good years pining after a cruel man, that I have let a once promising career in journalism go, that I drink too much and have come to like my pot. I wouldn't say that I'm an addict, but try and take it away, and swear to God, I'll bite you like a snake." The story caroms from man to man and job to job, as Sarah struggles to make sense of her life. Just as it seems Crouch has written herself into a corner, she'll switch scenes, push forward or backward in time, and give herself a clean slate. It's a tricky little dance, and unlike our heroine, Crouch is up to it. From start to finish, she makes smart choices that keep the chick from derailing this often lovely bit of lit.

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.