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Blog: Staff Picks

staff picks

The Motion of Puppets by Keith Donohue

DonohuePuppets“Never enter a toyshop after moonlight.” Such is the advice of the main character in The Motion of Puppets. Having read and enjoyed this strange and fascinating book, I will heed that advice from now on!

Main character Kay Harper, a gymnast, has the opportunity of a lifetime – a gig as an acrobat with the Cirque in Quebec for the summer – what fun! Her lovely newlywed husband, Theo, a translator of French to English, is with her, and he often walks Kay safely home after her show gets out late at night. But when Kay walks home alone, she usually stops to gaze into the puppet-filled window of a toy shop. Puppets of all kinds--marionettes, stick puppets, finger puppets, old, new, and remade--fascinate her. One in particular, a little puppet man who’s under a dome of glass, holds particular interest, and she wishes he could come alive and talk to her.

One night, after a circus performance, and a night out with the cast, Kay disappears. She fails to return to the apartment she and Theo share, and she fails to report to work the next day.  Where could this young wife have gone? Theo thinks it has something to do with her fascination with the puppets – but how could that be? When the puppets disappear and the toy shop closes, he is convinced there is cause and effect – but how can he find the puppets, and presumably, his wife Kay.

Be prepared to suspend belief as you read this well-written book, and allow yourself to join Theo as he searches for his lost wife.  There are elements of fantasy in this book, which reminded me very much of fairy tales I read as a child. I don’t normally read anything remotely resembling fantasy, but have to say that I enjoyed this book very much, and am still thinking about it. I’ll never think of puppets the same way again, and nor will you after reading The Motion of Puppets

Nancy Picks  Mystery  Magical Realism  Horror  Fantasy


And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

BackmanWayHomeThis lovely novella is from the author of A Man Called Ove. At just 92 pages, Backman’s latest work is a sweet, read-in-one-sitting meditation on the mixed blessings of getting old. The author said that he wrote it as “a small tale of how I’m dealing with slowly losing the greatest minds I know, about missing someone who is still here, and how I wanted to explain it all to my children.”

Backman said that he wrote it for himself, explaining that writing is how he processes and thinks. He hadn’t originally intended to have the work published, but you will be glad that he did, as he again excels at portraying a slightly grumpy but charming elderly gentleman, not dissimilar to the beloved fictional Ove. The gentleman’s memory may be failing, but his personality is firmly intact as he talks of his sadness about losing his wife, and of his regret about not having spent more time with his son and grandson Noah. The grandfather in the story, when admonished that a stuffed animal in the shape of a dragon is not a suitable baby gift for his grandson replies, “I don’t want a suitable grandson, I want one who would like a dragon.” About his failing faculties, he muses, “I’m constantly reading a book with a missing page, and it is always the most important [page] to me.” It is a multi- generational story, connecting grandfather to father to son, and wherever you are in your life, you will find yourself somewhere in this book.

In a lesser author’s hands this could have been maudlin. In Fredrik Backman’s hands, it is lovely, poignant, and resonant. Small illustrations, including those of his wife’s favorite hyacinths, the bench where they courted, and that dragon stuffed animal add to the charm.

I am giving it to my 86-year-old mother and three adult children for Christmas. It will hit each of them in different place, and each of those places are important.

Short Story  Novella  Nancy Picks  Family Story  Contemporary  Aging