Silent Reflections
Photo by Steve V. used under a Creative Commons license.

Tom Drury, The Black Brook (Mariner Books, 2000).
A crowded, offbeat, dark novel. Offbeat and mundane characters appear and sometimes reappear, but the story is that of Paul Nash, a native son of Rhode Island and former mob accountant, now known as Paul Emmons through the graces of the Witness Protection Service.  Stays in Spokane and Belgium do not last, and Nash, a sort of anti-hero, finds himself working for a newspaper in Ashland, Connecticut, a fictional manufacturing town (The Former Match Capital of the World) perhaps not unlike Danbury, where Drury once worked for a newspaper.  The plot has too many threads — a disappearing stream, an affair, a ghost, forged paintings, and more — to summarize nicely, and yet the novel is propelled less by its plot(s) than by Drury’s voice.

Google BookSearch offers a preview and more. Here is the first chapter. Wikipedia has this bio of Drury. Luc Sante (The New York Times) calls it a novel of deadpan whimsy. Daniel Handler (a/k/a Lemony Snicket) says it’s one of his favorite novels on Earth. Here is an interview with Drury, after the release of his third novel (Hunts in Dreams).

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Stewart O’Nan, Last Night at the Lobster (Viking, 2007).
Last Night at the Lobster is a short little novel – one could even call it a novella, if American authors wrote those – about a Red Lobster restaurant in New Britain, Connecticut, on the last day before it will close down. The story is told with sympathy for the view of Manny DeLeon, the manager of a restaurant hard by a mall, near the interstate.

Motoko Rich profiled O’Nan in The New York Times upon the release of the book. The publisher posted this reading guide. Maureen Corrigan reviewed the book for NPR’s Fresh Air. Speaking of radio, O’Nan appeared on the Bat Segundo Show #161. O’Nan’s website links to many other reviews, as does And ohdave liked it a lot.

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