It's always exciting when a favorite author has a new book out. When I realized that two of my favorite authors were releasing books in July, I could hardly contain my bookish delight. And I'm even more pleased to report that both novels are wonderful and delivered everything I've come to expect from these writers.
→ LANDLINE is Rainbow Rowell's fourth novel. (I've previously reviewed all the others.) Though she's better known for her YA hits, this book (like her first) features adult characters and is aimed at a grown-up readership. The story focuses on the realities of a faltering marriage and adds an element of unreality to create a clever, emotional, and funny tale.
Georgie is a TV comedy writer who finally has a chance at running the show of her dreams. But the timing couldn't be worse, because she's supposed to leave for Christmas vacation with her husband, Neal, and their kids, and instead she has to stay behind in Los Angeles to churn out scripts with her writing partner. Georgie and Neal's relationship hasn't been great recently, and the way he acts as he heads to the airport makes her afraid for the future of their marriage. When he seems to be avoiding her calls to his cell phone, she worries even more. Finally Georgie reaches Neal on his mother's landline -- except the Neal answering the phone isn't quite the same version of Neal as the one who left.
I loved the premise and the way it plays out, and as always, Rowell's characters are the perfect combination of eccentric and relatable. This novel does a great job of portraying the hard parts of staying in love and staying together, but it doesn't mind making you laugh at the same time.
LANDLINE was the first pick in Book Riot's new Riot Read program, so the site has a variety of dedicated content for the book. There's also a podcast episode with a book club-style discussion, for those who have already finished reading.
→ HOW TO TELL TOLEDO FROM THE NIGHT SKY by Lydia Netzer is a weird, lovable story about people falling in love under weird circumstances.
Irene is an astrophysicist who discovers a way to create black holes inside a particle collider. Outside the lab, she's terrified of losing control. George is a cosmologist searching for an equation that explains the arrangement of the universe. He's helped in his project by gods and goddesses that appear to him during migraines. "George and Irene were born to be together," the story tells us. It's not because they have so much in common, and it's not because opposites attract. The reason is that their relationship was planned out before they were born.
Dreams play a prominent role in this novel, and I think "dreamy" is a good word to describe Netzer's writing style. As in her debut novel, which I adored, the narrative often takes odd and fanciful turns. I enjoy the way this style contrasts with Netzer's recurring, and more grounded, themes of geeky love, science and technology, and family (also favorite themes of mine). And I'm especially impressed by how much humor Netzer manages to mix into all of this. (Check out her recent novella for an especially funny take on these themes.)
I have a huge amount of admiration for Rainbow Rowell and Lydia Netzer, and they both inspire me as a writer. I hope you'll check out their work!
Good Stuff Out There:
→ In the New York Times Opinionator blog, Aimee Bender analyzes What Writers Can Learn From "Goodnight Moon": "Yes, move around in a structure. But also float out of that structure. "Goodnight nobody" is an author's inspired moment that is inexplicable and moving and creates an unknown that lingers."