Friday, July 30, 2010

New Books

[publisher blurbs]

The Superman Project
A.E. Roman
Minotaur, August

After a series of low-paying jobs, Chico Santana, PI, is living in his tiny office on 149th Street in the Bronx. He’s in an absolutely foul mood when Pablo Sanchez and his mother drop in, seeking help for one of Chico’s old childhood pals----the handsome and charismatic Joey Ventura. Chico has not seen Joey since Joey disappeared from St. Mary's Home for Boys, headed for Tahiti. He ended up, instead, on the island of TSP---The Superman Project.

The Superman Project peddles German philosophy, Hinduism, and American comic book mythology as a method toward self-improvement, but its members are hiding more than a few secrets. The leader of TSP is a man named Father Ravi. One of his daughters, Gabby, who is also Joey’s wife, is missing. Joey was accused by the TSP leaders of killing Gabby and has fled the police. Pablo and his mother insist he is innocent.

Compelled to believe in his old friend, and by the promised payment of a very valuable Superman comic, Chico investigates the competing interests in the organization, falling for a beautiful suspect and trying to look out for a friend’s troubled niece in the process.

A. E. Roman brings New York City and its eccentric characters to life in this second in the original and energetic Chico Santana series.

[I'm reading this book now and digging it. This is Roman's second novel - when I reviewed his first, Chinatown Angel, here on La Bloga, I said that it had an "authenticity that flows from the pages like the Hudson River pours into the Atlantic." So far there has been no let down in this second book. I will have a review in the next few weeks, maybe even another interview with the lively, and humorous, A.E. Roman. Watch for it.]

The Moses Expedition
Juan Gómez-Jurado
Atria, August

After fifty years in hiding, the war criminal known as the Butcher of Spiegelgrund has finally been tracked to a small town outside Vienna. Father Anthony Fowler, CIA operative and member of the Vatican’s secret service, the Holy Alliance, has been sent to deal with him. But first he wants something – a candle covered in fine filigree gold that was stolen from a Jewish family many years before.

But it isn’t the gold Fowler is after. As Fowler holds a flame to the wax a metallic object is revealed – the missing fragment of an ancient map. Soon Fowler is involved in an expedition to Jordan set up by the enigmatic head of Kayn industries, a reclusive billionaire who has links to the highest levels of the Catholic Church. But there is a traitor in the group who has links to terrorist organizations back in the US, and who is patiently awaiting the moment to strike.

From wartime Vienna to terrorist cells in New York and a lost valley in Jordan, The Moses Expedition is a thrilling read about a quest for power and the secrets of an ancient world.

The Moses Expedition by Juan Gómez-Jurado takes readers on a riveting journey to the deserts of Jordan to recover the Ark of the Covenant, the vessel that houses the Ten Commandment tablets. This intricate quest proves fatal when members of the Moses Expedition are systematically murdered by an infiltrator whose twisted soul is bent on revenge.

Juan Gómez-Jurado is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author. The Moses Expedition and his prize-winning first novel, God’s Spy, have been published in more than forty countries and have become international bestsellers. In 2010, Juan celebrated reaching 3 million readers worldwide. He is a recipient of the prestigious Premio de Novela Ciudad de Torrevieja. Gómez-Jurado lives with his family in Madrid, Spain.

The Wolves of Fairmont Park
Dennis Tafoya
Minotaur, June

In The Wolves of Fairmount Park, Dennis Tafoya’s lyrical, intense, sometimes tragic and sometimes hopeful second novel, the details of a drive-by shooting of two teenagers in a rough Philadelphia neighborhood are filled in from four perspectives: Brendan Donovan, a cop and the father of the boy shot and left comatose; George Parkman Sr., another father, this one of the boy who was killed; Danny Martinez, a cop whose job it is to investigate the killing; and Orlando Donovan, the junkie uncle of the cop’s kid, who happens to live nearby.

No one knows what the two boys were doing in front of a dope house on Roxborough Avenue in the middle of the night, what business they might have had with gangs like Green Lane or the Tres Nortes. Even though they had a thousand dollars with them, they were good boys. Everyone says, “They were good boys.”

Through the fast-paced interweaving of these four distinct voices, Dennis Tafoya, author of the acclaimed Dope Thief, tells the moving story of two kids in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the lengths that the people around them will go to find the truth.

Dennis Tafoya was born in Philadelphia and now lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The Wolves of Fairmount Park is his second novel.

Georges Simenon
Random House, July

Pedigree is Georges Simenon’s longest, most unlikely, and most adventurous novel, the book that is increasingly seen to lie at the heart of his outsize achievement as a chronicler of modern self and society. In the early 1940s, Simenon began work on a memoir of his Belgian childhood. He showed the initial pages to André Gide, who urged him to turn them into a novel. The result was, Simenon later quipped, a book in which everything is true but nothing is accurate. Spanning the years from the beginning of the century, with its political instability and terrorist threats, to the end of the First World War in 1918, Pedigree is an epic of everyday existence in all its messy unfinished intensity and density, a story about the coming-of-age of a precocious and curious boy and the coming to be of the modern world.

[I am amazed by Simenon for the obvious reasons - his prodigious output, his consistent excellence, and the quirky, dark, foreboding and cynical Twentieth Century perspective that he mastered. ]


The Biennial of the Americas ends this coming weekend - overall, a successful effort for first-time Denver. Lydia Gil reviewed the exhibit The Nature of Things for La Bloga here - everyone should have checked out the art just because it was such an intriguing collection. As the program said, "The Nature of Things brings together the artworks and energies of twenty-four contemporary artists from North, South, and Central America. These artists and their works participate in exploring the four themes of the 2010 Biennial of the Americas: innovation, sustainability, community, and the arts. "

Not only did we see the stimulating and contradictory art but we also listened to a few music groups including the extreme Nortec Collective -- Flo and I managed to dance without looking too out of place among the young hipsters and aficionados - at least I think we managed that. The event ends with a slew of speakers, performances, roundtables, and exhibits. This discussion sounds timely:

Between the Lines: Exploration in Borderlands Culture -- This panel seeks to illuminate the cultures past or present that have been born from the US borderlands as well as how the physical boundary and perceptual mind-state of the border play a role in the identity, expressions, and the rich culture of these areas. Panel: Luis León (Moderator), Arturo Aldama (Mexico), René Fajardo (USA), Enrique "Ejival" Jiménez (Mexico), Maruca Salazar (Mexico and Director of the Museo de las Americas). Saturday, July 31 3:00 PM.


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