Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

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I always worried someone would notice me, and then when no one did, I felt lonely

It’s been nearly ten years since Prep was published, but that doesn’t mean it’s lost any relevance.  While Prep is a coming-of-age tale at heart, it’s also a deeply affecting story that may remind readers (especially female readers) of the personal triumphs and tragedies of adolescence.

The novel follows teen girl Lee Fiora, who attends the elite Ault School – a fictional Ivy League prep school in Massachusetts.  While Ault is known for producing some of the brightest and most promising students in the nation, the school is also known for its insulated and elite reputation, as well as astronomical tuition fees.

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A Conversation with Zachary Karabashliev

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Published by Open Letter Books, Bulgarian author Zachary Karabashliev’s debut novel 18% Gray was our Critical Era book club selection back in April.  We loved this at times horrific, yet often quite hilarious tale of one man’s journey across the United States, stating in our review that “[...] the beauty of this particular tale lies in the author’s supreme skill at weaving together autobiographical nuggets with invented exaggerations and half-truths in order to create a spellbinding, slightly skewed, meta-fictional version of reality where every experience, no matter how minor, carries heightened significance, and the absurd becomes the expected norm.”

We finally had a chance to catch up with Mr. Karabashliev and what follows below is a mostly spoiler-free discussion about photography, translation, and adaptation.

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Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal

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Whenever there’s a loss, there’s bound to be a gain somewhere else

A debut novel by Laura Lane McNeal, Dollbaby introduces readers to some of the most sparkling, eccentric, and entertaining literary voices that contemporary southern fiction has to offer.  The story takes place in New Orleans in the 1960s and follows Liberty “Ibby” Bell as she begins a new life in the South with her grandmother, Miss Fannie Bell.  Before her father died, 12 year-old Ibby had barely heard of her southern grandmother, but just a few days after his funeral, Ibby’s neglectful mother leaves her young daughter in Fannie’s care indefinitely.

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