Word’s pick: “Mr. Gwyn” by Alessandro Baricco
“Mr. Gwyn,” from Italian writer Alessandro Baricco, comprises two related novellas — the titular “Mr. Gwyn” and “Three Times at Dawn.” Each portrays, in part, the experience of art as one of both rupture and rapture — for its creators (here, the writer-turned-conceptual artist Mr. Gwyn), its subjects (his models), and the audience (us). Baricco’s prose is precise, his dialogue is sharp, and his vision enviable — as exemplified by the way these two stories ultimately connect. This is a strange, satisfying summer read. Fast and light, though not without a little intellectual rigor.
— Chad Felix, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbrooklyn.com].
The BookMark Shoppe’s pick: “The King’s Curse” by Philippa Gregory
Fans of historical fiction will rejoice in Philippa Gregory’s newest Tudor novel. “The Kings Curse” tells the story of lady-in-waiting Margaret Pole and her perspective on King Henry VIII’s rise to power in England. Margaret, cousin to Elizabeth of York, is married off to Richard Pole, a loyal Lancaster supporter. For his loyalty, Sir Richard is entrusted with the governorship of Wales, but Margaret’s contented daily life is changed forever with the arrival of Arthur, the young Prince of Wales, and his beautiful bride Katherine of Aragon. Margaret soon becomes a trusted advisor and friend to the couple while hiding who she really is.
— Bina Valenzano, co-owner, The BookMark Shoppe [8415 Third Ave. between 84th and 85th streets in Bay Ridge, (718) 833–5115, www.bookmarkshoppe.com].
Greenlight Bookstore’s pick: “The Invention of Exile” by Vanessa Manko
Brooklyn-based author Vanessa Manko’s debut novel “The Invention of Exile” is a lovely exploration of nationality, borders, and what we consider to be home. Forced to leave the U.S. after being branded a communist by the American government, our narrator — a Russian immigrant — spends the next few decades struggling to find his way home to his adoring wife and children all while being haunted (maybe even hunted?) by his past.
— Emily Russo Murtagh, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.greenlightbookstore.com].