Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Eight novels about the drama of living in a neighborhood

Chris Cander is the USA Today bestselling author of The Weight of a Piano, which was named an Indie Next Great Read in both hardcover and paperback and which the New York Times called, “immense, intense and imaginative,” Whisper Hollow, also named an Indie Next Great Read, and 11 Stories, named by Kirkus as one of the best books of 2013 and winner of the Independent Publisher Book Awards for fiction. She also wrote the children’s picture book The Word Burglar, and the Audible Originals “Eddies” and “Grieving Conversations.” Her new novel is A Gracious Neighbor.

[My Book, The Movie: The Weight of a Piano.]

At Electric Lit Cander tagged eight novels about dealing with difficult neighbors, including:
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

I devoured this gorgeous book the week it was released, and had such a desperate hangover when it ended that I couldn’t read anything else for a fortnight afterward. Along with their new wives, Brian Stanhope and Francis Gleeson, two rookie Bronx cops, move into neighboring homes in a nearby town. Two of their children, Kate Gleeson and Peter Stanhope, born the same year, become best friends, and then more than that. But on the cusp of teenagerhood, a tragic event forces the Stanhopes out of their home, and Kate and Peter out of each other’s lives. The narrative follows the two as they reunite, struggling to put the traumatic past behind them as they lean into the headwinds of the future.

Not only is Keane’s writing sublime, but she never succumbs to sentimentality. Her characters are flawed, nuanced, and relatable even at their worst. She invites us to look carefully around the low-lit corners of these families’ homes and hearts, never passing judgment, but allowing us to decide for ourselves who to root for. In the end, I rooted for them all.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue