Better Off Read is a book club collaboration between Her Bookshop and The Porch, focusing on books that you'll definitely be better off having read.
A modest house in upstate New York. One in the morning. Three people—a couple and their child—hurry out the door, but it’s too late for them. As the virtuosic and terrifying opening scene of Broken River unfolds, a spectral presence seems to be watching with cold and mysterious interest. Soon the house lies abandoned, and years later a new family moves in.
Karl, Eleanor, and their daughter, Irina, arrive from New York City in the wake of Karl’s infidelity to start anew. Karl tries to stabilize his flailing art career. Eleanor, a successful commercial novelist, eagerly pivots in a new creative direction. Meanwhile, twelve-year-old Irina becomes obsessed with the brutal murders that occurred in the house years earlier. And, secretly, so does her mother. As the ensemble cast grows to include Louis, a hapless salesman in a carpet warehouse who is haunted by his past, and Sam, a young woman newly reunited with her jailbird brother, the seemingly unrelated crime that opened the story becomes ominously relevant.
Hovering over all this activity looms a gradually awakening narrative consciousness that watches these characters lie to themselves and each other, unleashing forces that none of them could have anticipated and that put them in mortal danger. Broken River is a cinematic, darkly comic, and sui generis psychological thriller that could only have been written by J. Robert Lennon.
PRAISE FOR THE BOOK
“J. Robert Lennon is a connoisseur of calamity, qualms, and paradox, all of which are on profuse display in his crafty, seductive eighth novel. . . . Broken River is a remarkable performance, a magic trick that makes you laugh at its audacity. Lennon has written a realistic novel, with vivid characters and flashes of humor and an evocative mood, that is also a playful, sophisticated meditation on storytelling itself. . . . When you close a novel as good as Broken River, something, not quite a ghost, may follow you.”--The New York Times Book Review
“Fizzing with line-by-line propulsion and wickedly plotted with slow-burn complexity, this is a knockout, unmissable performance from a writer at the very top of his game.”--The Guardian
“It’s a tense, surprising thriller, with perverse overtones of the Coen brothers variety, but containing an enigmatic narrative device, a kind of ‘haunting of the point-of-view’--one which proves, as ever, that the novel can do things nothing but the novel can do.”--Jonathan Lethem, The New York Times
“The last 50 pages of Broken River are an absolute marvel. It’s a genuine thriller that’s genuinely literary. And, most importantly, genuinely good.”--Chicago Review of Books
Better Off Read is a book club with an added twist: an optional writing exercise for interested participants to complete before the event. For this book, imagine your house suddenly seems to be haunted, or conspiring against you in some way. Describe the moment you realize, without a doubt, that you are not alone. What’s happening? How do you respond—do you fight back? Again, this part is completely optional, and those who wish may share what they’ve written at the end of the meeting.
When: Sunday, October 22, 2017, 4:00 to 5:30 pm
Where: Her Bookshop (1043 West Eastland Ave. #104)
How Much: $18 + tax. Each participant will receive one paperback copy of Broken River, which will be available for pickup at Her Bookshop when the shop reopens later this month. Wine and light snacks will be served, and participants will also receive 10% off purchases at Her Bookshop the day of the event.
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Previous BETTER OFF READ Books
The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman (August 6, 2017)
Stoner by John Williams (May 21, 2017)
Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller (March 19, 2017)
Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton (January 22, 2017)
My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff (October 30, 2016)
Better Off Read is a collaboration between Her Bookshop and The Porch, Nashville’s independent center for writing.