Join us for drinks and readings and a sneak peek at three great new releases.
Thursday, March 12, at KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, 7 – 9 pm
John Renehan’s debut novel, The Valley, is a riveting tour de force that changes our understanding of the soldiers who fight our wars. While the novel centers on an investigation of suspicious goings-on at a remote American military outpost high in the mountains of Afghanistan, it is just as much an exploration of the effect of war and occupation. The novel’s slow-simmering sense of alienation captures the mood of the remote outpost, and just as in Apocalypse Now, the land itself is central to the work’s overall effect. John served in the Army’s Third Infantry Division as a field artillery officer in Iraq. Previously an attorney for the City and State of New York, he now lives in Virginia with his wife and children.
“John Renehan’s The Valley is both a gripping, tightly-wound mystery as well as a sharply observed look at the complex internal politics of the U.S. Army, the deterioration of men tasked with too vague a mission and too little support, and what happens when they trifle with the intricate power structures deep in the mountains of Afghanistan.”
– Phil Klay, author of the 2014 National Book Award for Redeployment
“In this gripping and memorable first novel . . . [Renehan] combines elements of mystery and psychological suspense with an almost sociological delineation of the customs of military life to produce a taut and harrowing tale of soldiers pushed to the brink and beyond by fear, exhaustion, and a powerful sense of the futility of their mission. The parallels to Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now are unmistakable.”
– Library Journal (starred review)
“A must-read if you want a glimpse of the turmoil Americans faced in Afghanistan or if you just want a page-flipping good yarn.” – Kirkus Reviews
Michael Coffey’s superb first collection of stories, The Business of Naming Things, fittingly showcases a poet’s touch of taut narratives and evocative language. Turning on the fraught relationships between men and women and fathers and sons, each tale’s exquisite attention to character underlies the brutally honest perspectives of disenchanted fathers, damaged sons, and orphans left feeling perpetually disconnected. Michael is the author of three books of poetry and 27 Men Out, a book about baseball’s perfect games. He also co-edited The Irish in America, a book about Irish immigration to America, which was a companion volume to a PBS documentary series, Irish in America. The former co-editorial director of Publishers Weekly, he divides his time between Manhattan and Bolton Landing, New York. He has two sons and is married to the artist Rebecca Smith.
“Riveting . . . . Coffey brilliantly examines the efforts of a mother to cope with her son’s death in ‘Moon Over Quabbin’; he uses the J.F.K. assassination as a backdrop to a tale about a sinful priest in ‘Inn of the Nations’; and, in ‘Sons,’ he explores a difficult father-son relationship in the context of a possible Obama assassination attempt . . . . Vibrant and unsparing.”
– Publishers Weekly (starred and boxed review)
“Superb. . . . Startlingly original and at times darkly funny. . . . [Coffey’s] characters are as flawed and complicated as they are recognizable and sympathetic; all fiction readers can enjoy.” – Library Journal (starred review)
“Whether [Coffey is] writing about a sinning priest or a man who’s made a career out of branding or about himself, we can smell Coffey’s protagonists and feel their breath on our cheek. Like Chekhov, he must be a notebook writer; how else to explain the strange quirks and the perfect but unaccountable details that animate these intimate portraits?”
– Edmund White, author of Inside a Pearl and A Boy’s Own Story
Iris Smyles’s debut novel, Iris Has Free Time, is a darkly comic portrait of a twenty-something class-of-2000 NYU grad with literary ambitions who comes-of-age in New York City. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, BOMB, Nerve, McSweenys.net, The Observer, Guernica, New York Press, New York Post, and various anthologies. A former humor columnist for Splice Today, she edited the 2010 humor collection, The Capricious Critic. Her stories and essays have received The Adria Schwarts Fiction Award, The Geraldine Griffin Moore Short Story Award, and The Lippman Prize. Her new book, Dating Tips for the Unemployed, will be published in Spring 2016. She lives in New York and Greece.
“Such a delight, this book: the perfect frenzied bildungsroman for an era when coming-of-age can be postponed practically to middle age, as funny and sharp as can be but unafraid of seriousness and consequence. It’s The House of Mirth minus the no-way-out tragedy, Bright Lights, Big City for the 21st century, Girls for people who love the deep dive into great prose.”
– Kurt Andersen, author of True Believers and host Peabody-winning “Studio 360”
“Smyles, the author not the character, depicts a particular moment in time—that awkward place between being a kid and being an adult—and the results are often hilarious, often tinged with sadness, but always authentic.”
“Iris Smyles has reinvented Sally Bowles and Holly Golightly for the 21st century – with this difference: she inhabits rather than observes her appealing character.”
– Edmund White, author of City Boy and Marcel Proust: A Life