The Exchange-Rate Between Love and Money

The worldly young people of Thomas Leveritt's novel have all the information they need. They know that religion doesn't work; ideology doesn't work; movements and philanthropy and even basic goodness are broken irredeemably. Ah, but there's always graft, corruption, and commerce; the profit motive, the predatory principle. Leveritt's protagonist Bannerman joins his buddy Frito in a venture exporting Bosnian beer from a Sarajevo transformed into by war, ethnic cleansing, and international aid into a bazaar of gnashing teeth. The beer, Frito is convinced, was the secret to the Sarajevans' uncanny survival during the siege; this makes it not only an enticing enigma but -- more important to Frito -- a saleable brand. But Bannerman and Frito's designs go awry; they find the almighty dollar is broken, too -- broken by design, and no warranty. What's left? Love, of course: Bannerman falls into it with Frito's girlfriend, Clare, a placid, freckled prosecutor for The Hague. Love is broken, too, but we already knew that; everything that falls converges also. As love and the export business break them, Bannerman and Frito turn to bounty hunting, helping to seize the war criminals who are as abundant as beer in the once-besieged city. In the end they're left with violence -- which always works, only never as intended. Leveritt's novel is knowing, sometimes cloyingly so. But he catches the frustrated hopes of a generation for whom cosmopolitan idealism and world-weary ennui are unresolved. And he does it through a living idiom that fizzes, crackles, and tingles but never breaks.

July 24: On this day in 1725 John Newton, the slave trader-preacher who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace," was born.

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

advertisement
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).