Funeral for a Dog is a puzzle, a slowly unraveling mystery that my brain kept worrying even after I’d closed the last page. Daniel Mandelkern is an ethnologist working as a journalist for an uncompromising editor—his wife. When she sends him on assignment to profile Dirk Svensson, an elusive children’s author who lives alone but for a three-legged dog, Mandelkern begrudgingly ventures off, suspecting ulterior motives. But when he uncovers Svensson’s manuscript detailing an entangled liaison, Mandelkern can’t help but dive into the mystery. This is a wonderfully paced and plotted novel that will appeal to fans of David Mitchell and Haruki Murakami. –Leighanne
A dying New York writer still grieving over the death of her artist lover prepares for a performance that could be the capstone of her career in Jessica Hagedorn’s novel, Toxicology. Filled with lively details of the gentrification (and many temptations) of her West Village neighborhood, this novel also makes readers think about risk. What is the cost of trying to make art versus giving up a dream? Does the possibility of success make up for the vulnerability of living and working as an undocumented worker? Is marrying and raising a child really the safest route for women? Books like this one leave readers in love with their worlds and thinking about the deeper philosophical questions the author raises. –Karen
BOOKNOTES, the book review of THE ELLIOTT BAY BOOK COMPANY, is written entirely by bookstore staff. It represents a sampling of recently published and forthcoming books that we have enjoyed reading. We appreciate every opportunity to assist in finding books to meet your interests.