Quickie Divorces, Interspecies Encounters, and a Folk-Pop Singer/Songwriter
New work by Sofia Grant, Henry Hitz, and Monica Pasqual.
Lies in White Dresses, A Novel by Sofia Grant (William Morrow, 2019, $16.99, 355 pp.)
As someone who eloped to Reno as a 40-year-old without an inkling of the city’s onetime quickie divorce history, this reader felt drawn to Lies in White Dresses. It’s the dated tale of two divorce-seeking women — a 50ish San Francisco society maven and her best friend — and others they meet on their six-week residency at upscale Holiday Ranch, a “divorce ranch.” In the ’50s, women hightailed it to Reno for “the Reno cure.” Follow Violet Carothers, gal pal Francie Meeker, their husbands, a mistress, and a mom with a precocious kiddo on their adventure through divorce, friendship, and re-invention in what’s couched as “historical fiction” by an author who works from “an urban aerie in Oakland.” —Judith M. Gallman
Squirrels in the Wall, A Novel in Stories, by Henry Hitz (SparkPress, 2019, $16.95, 305 pp.)
Animal and human interaction set on a Wisconsin lake — what’s not to like? Squirrels, toads, birds, bees, turtles, dogs, mice, cats, raccoons, skunks, monkeys, and rabbits make appearances alongside humans Barney Blatz, Father, and Barney’s mother, sister, and brother. Dastardly behavior ensues among all. Sometimes its species-on-species clashes; often, its interspecies meddlings. The connecting arc follows Barney from childhood to adulthood in short chapters. The theme centers on death and abuse with most characters expressing a point of view, some laughably naive. The author lives in Oakland and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. He blogs at HenryHitz.com. —JMG
You Can’t Kill Light, by Monica Pasqual. Planet Dog Records. MonicaPasqual.com
Known for two decades as a member of Blame Sally, Bay Area folk-pop singer-songwriter Monica Pasqual eclipses much of her previous recorded work with this, her sixth solo album. She jump-started it by issuing a single and video of “You Can’t Kill Light” on the morning of the 2017 presidential inauguration. In subsequent weekly sessions with co-producer and multi-instrumentalist BZ Lewis, she added 10 songs that speak from painful experience and optimistic resistance. The driving, dreamy folk-rock and electro-pop settings are conjured from Pasqual’s piano, keyboards, and percussion, Lewis’ guitars, bass, drum programming, and percussion, and, on three tracks, Joshua McClain’s cello, plus a reading by Rosario Sammartino. In lyrical acuteness, Pasqual has outdone herself. —Derk Richardson