The Plain Language of Love and Loss: A Quaker Memoir

Taylor, a college professor, builds up to the story of her teenage brother's suicide, and from there unfolds language so subtle and precise as to create a heart-wrenching, incisive story. Probing family dynamics and the burden of Quaker expectations alongside a generational hatred of conformity and unnecessary deaths, Taylor applies an academic's rigor to her quest for clarity. She's interviewed friends and family and explored psychological texts to help elucidate her family's central tragedy and its spinoff sorrows. Impressively, the commentary on Taylor's 12-year-old self seems just as believable as the analysis she offers from her present perspective as mother, wife, teacher and writer. Though unafraid to investigate depression, breakups and alcoholism, none of Taylor's writing whiffs of a tell-all for the sake of it. On the contrary, the author is humble and analytical in her reflections on what has been endured. Most striking of all is the way acceptance is treated in Taylor's memoir. Far from a trite "this is how things are" approach to acceptance, the author investigates the way in which her brother's death has permeated her life with a very beautiful mixture of anger, confusion and understanding. And from there, she accepts enough to be able to produce a poignant story out of what has been lived during a turbulent time in American history.

July 26: On this day in 1602 "A booke called the Revenge of Hamlett Prince Denmarke" was entered in the Stationers' Register by printer James Robertes.

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).