The Arrival

Stories can be presented in the form of words, but they can also be presented in the form of pictures.... Whatever stories are made of, words aren't fundamental to it. Something else is. And what I think is fundamental to the narrative process is events -- stories are made of events. So said Philip Pullman to me in his recent Barnes & Noble Review interview. As if to illustrate Pullman's point, Shaun Tan's The Arrival came across my desk a few days after our conversation. Tan's stunning volume chronicles -- in a wordless, wondrous pictorial narrative -- an immigrant's parting from his family and journey toward the future in a new land that is simultaneously ominous and hopeful. Told in drawings of varying sizes -- sometimes there are 12 panels to a page, sometimes four; there are many full-page images -- Tan's tale juxtaposes the realistic with the phantasmagoric, giving shape to both the mundane material needs and the psychologically charged emotions of immigrant experience. Isolation, fear, want, sympathy, amity, joy: all are rendered palpable by the author's fecund visual invention. He has composed an imaginative landscape in which the uncertain bravery of an immigrant's journey is seen in its true grandeur; best of all, Tan has created a mesmerizing and mysterious "bookscape" in which readers young and old can wander again and again, poring over details, elaborating events, fashioning narrative destinies, discovering new worlds. Ages 12 and up. -

July 28: Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin eloped on this day in 1814.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.

Pastoral

When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).