Archive for March, 2019

The River, by Peter Heller

March 25, 2019


Peter Heller is a singular writer. His novels have a sparse quality that contains multitudes. The River is the story of two young men, best friends, and a wilderness river trip. They are skilled and comfortable with this sort of trip and their relationship is easy. As the story unfolds from the beginning, we learn about their background; how they became friends, where they are from, what their plans are for the trip. Observing their natural, experienced actions and knowledge is beautiful. They work together seamlessly – no need for talking – and Heller’s descriptions of their preparations and movements on the river establish a feeling of peace and trust. Even when they start to notice the faint of smell of smoke and Jack determines that there is a forest fire moving towards the river, Jack and Wynn aren’t panicked, they have it under control.

If you’ve read Heller’s The Dog Stars then you know how he can build suspense, anxiety, and threat over a short novel. When the intensity and danger of their situation begins to show cracks in their capable armor, the reader feels it – it has to be bad for these two to lose their equilibrium.

Some of Heller’s talent lies in telling basically simple stories where everything is at stake and telling that story in a slow reveal. My heart was in my throat for nearly the whole book; I was holding my breath in places and just when I thought things couldn’t get more threatening, they did. Unlike traditional thrillers though, the depth of these two characters and nature itself raises the stakes.

Find the books in our catalog:
The River
The Dog Stars
The Painter

Find Peter Heller’s books on Libby/Overdrive.

Hazards of Time Travel, by Joyce Carol Oates

March 20, 2019

[Lesley] So strange! So good! I have read more time travel novels than I can count but never one like this. We can’t be sure (any more than the main character) if time travel is even happening, or if any part of any world is real. The characters are real (meaning they are real people – but not necessarily who they seem to be) – all the rest seems to be real (the character’s past, the society she is from, the reason and method she finds herself in “zone 9”) but the reality gets very fuzzy for us at the same pace that it is for her. I admire Joyce Carol Oates as a writer and have liked every book of hers that I have read. She is different from most prolific authors in that she manages to write in diverse voices and create wildly different stories (see The Falls compared with this book) in more than one genre. Never a dull moment – or story – from Joyce Carol Oates.

Hazards of Time Travel available as an audiobook on Hoopla.

click here to check our catalog for other books by Joyce Carol Oates