A modern epic full of charm and intrigue, “The Vine That Ate the South” is a wild romp that showcases the imaginative and linguistic quirks of the deep South. Set in a version of Kentucky that blurs reality with folk tales and rural lore, the novel’s unlikely hero, accompanied by the indomitable and unforgettable Carver Canute, searches for an infamous house swallowed whole by kudzu — with its occupants still inside. The two encounter a haunted forest filled with the stuff of nightmares, forcing them to confront their fears and their own pasts.
— Alison Gore, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbr
Community Bookstore’s pick: “Man in the Holocene” by Max Frisch
Max Frisch’s masterpiece is a marvel of quiet description and fierce erudition. The elderly Geiser sits alone in his home at the end of his life, contemplating the rain and man’s place in the natural world. To keep himself from forgetting the stray odd fact, he covers his walls in cut-outs from encyclopedia, with information on the weather, the speed of light, and mass extinctions — until a mysterious compulsion leads him out the door and into the wider world. Frisch has a knack for escalating the quotidian into the apocalyptic. Spoiler alert: none of this ends well.
— Hal Hlavinka, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.commun
Would you prefer your Calvin and Hobbes with a side of melancholy? With delicate and gracious illustrations, this picture book about a young boy and his best friend, a tree named Bertolt, is a gauzy meditation on childhood, individuality, grief, and loneliness — as well as on the worlds and friends we construct for ourselves, which can be their own kind of loneliness.
— Stephanie Bartolome, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.greenl
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