The Algonquin Reader by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill - Read Online

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Dear Reader

An Essay by Jonathan Evison

An Excerpt from This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison

An Essay by B. A. Shapiro

An Excerpt from The Muralist by B. A. Shapiro

An Essay by Nina de Gramont

An Excerpt from The Last September by Nina de Gramont

An Essay by Ron Childress

An Excerpt from And West Is West by Ron Childress

An Essay by Ed Tarkington

An Excerpt from Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Ed Tarkington

An Essay by Robert Goolrick

An Excerpt from The Fall of Princes by Robert Goolrick

Dear Reader,

Our Fall 2015 fiction list is nothing short of extraordinary. Along with three New York Times bestselling authors—Jonathan Evison, B. A. Shapiro, and Robert Goolrick, who are all back with new novels—we welcome the latest winner of the PEN/Bellwether Prize and two more writers whose gripping tales of love, murder, and madness complete this exceptional list. These novels are so moving, so realistically wrought, that you can’t help but wonder about their origins, so in this issue of the Algonquin Reader, you’ll find an essay by each novelist about the inspiration behind his or her work, as well as a short excerpt from the forthcoming book.

In Jonathan Evison’s This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! the titular character, a recently widowed near-octogenarian, embarks on an Alaskan cruise only to discover she’s been living the past sixty years of her life under entirely false pretenses. Part dysfunctional love story, part exploration of the mother-daughter relationship, nothing is what it seems in this poignant tale that Maria Semple calls sweet as it is inventive, profound as it is hilarious, unflinching as it is bighearted.

B. A. Shapiro returns with a thrilling novel of art, history, love, and politics that traces the life and mysterious disappearance of a brilliant young artist on the eve of World War II. Entwining the lives of both fictional and historical characters (including Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, and Eleanor Roosevelt) and moving between the past and the present, The Muralist captures both the inner workings of today’s New York art scene and the beginnings of the vibrant and quintessentially American school of Abstract Expressionism. To quote Lisa Genova, "If you liked The Art Forger, you’re going to love The Muralist!"

The Last September by Nina de Gramont is a riveting puzzle you’ll want to devour in one sitting. Set against the lush yet desolate autumn beauty of Cape Cod, the novel follows Brett Mercier as she tries to make sense of her handsome, charismatic husband’s murder. Could his schizophrenic brother, who was once Brett’s closest friend, have committed such a heinous crime?

Winner of the prestigious PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, Ron Childress’s And West Is West is a vivid debut about corruption and human culpability. The main characters—an Air Force drone pilot and a Wall Street programmer—are bound together by forces beyond their control. As Childress discusses in his essay, the consequences of their actions lead them into crises of conscience that radically transform their lives.

In Ed Tarkington’s debut, Only Love Can Break Your Heart, six-year-old Rocky worships his older brother Paul, a teenage rebel, until the day Paul picks Rocky up from school and nearly leaves him for dead in the woods. Eight years later, Rocky is a teenager himself. He’s never forgotten the abandonment of his boyhood hero, but he’s now getting over it, with the help of his twenty-six-year-old girlfriend. Their affair sets off a sequence of events that could bring ruin to their families. In the spirit of Willie Morris, Tom Franklin, and Wiley Cash, this spellbinding novel draws you into a story of family fealty, scandal, and murder.

In The Fall of Princes, an intoxicating new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Robert Goolrick, 1980s Manhattan shimmers like the mirage it was, as money, power, and invincibility seduce a group of young Wall Street turks. Together they achieve the kind of wealth that grants them access to anything—and anyone—they want. Until, one by one, they fall. Goolrick paints an authentic portrait of an era, mixing adrenaline and melancholy in this provocative tour de force.

As always, we delight in bringing you quality fiction by your favorite authors and introducing you to exciting new voices. Thank you for turning our pages.

The Algonquin Staff

Never Too Late



For sixty-one years my grandmother was Mrs. Harry C. Hank. She ate what her husband ate, voted how her husband voted, and ultimately learned to want out of life what my grandfather wanted. In that respect, Nanny was very much a woman of her generation.

My grandfather wasn’t always an easy guy to get along with. A Lutheran minister and a pillar of the community, his guidance and leadership were often called upon by friends and strangers. To the public eye, he was gregarious and reliable. But privately, Pop was unyielding in his convictions, ironclad in his routines, stubborn in his negotiations, and generous and dependable on