In Nunez’s seventh novel, the narrator’s mentor dies and leaves her with an unexpected burden: his mourning Great Dane. With this simple premise, she launches into a refreshingly readable exploration of the tenderness and pain inherent in relationships of devotion and (perhaps) imbalance: owner and pet, teacher and student, writer and subject, the dead and those who survive them. Nunez uses a unique style of successive vignettes to guide the reader through the grief of a brilliant woman whose searing thoughts drive the story — a writer who can quote countless great thinkers on the subject of death (or dogs), but who must wait for her own understanding of this loss, and new companion, to become clear. You, too, will learn something about yourself by reading Nunez’s exceptional work.
Word’s pick: “Sea of Strangers,” by Lang Leav
While reading this collection of poems and short prose pieces, all on the subject of love, I found myself aching and empathizing with Lang Leav’s understated, but immensely evocative metaphors. I felt the promise, love’s vitality, her anguish, and her recovery: all in one impactful sitting. There is real power behind her succinct, carefully precise words, and if you wish tho explore the vast gamut of love, take a dive into this gorgeous sea.
— Eileen Ramos, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbo
The 12th novel by Richard Powers unfolds in seemingly unrelated stories: an air-force pilot is shot out of the sky and caught in the boughs of a Banyan tree; an artist inherits a collection of hundreds of photographic portraits of a chestnut tree; a deaf-mute studying forest ecology becomes attuned to plant communication. Powers weaves these stories into something resembling a root system, before winding them together at the trunk of this tree-shaped novel. As erudite and ambitious as his previous works, and masterfully written.
— Samuel Partal, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.commun