Thursday, May 21, 2009

Valeria's Last Stand

Now here's someone you gotta love! Marc Fitten, author of the newly published Valeria's Last Stand, is not only a good writer but also a good guy! As he tours to do readings for his novel (which I'll tell you about in a minute), he has committed to visiting 100 independent bookstores along the way! Some he's reading at, some he's just visiting. And then he's blogging about what makes them special. Well, we think Marc is special for his support of independent bookstores!

His debut novel tells the story of Valeria, a spinster living in a backwater Hungarian village and harrumphing her way through life with equal disdain for the new, the old, the foreign, and the familiar. You get a sense of Valeria from the opening lines: "Valeria never whistled. Nor did she approve of people who did. In sixty-eight years,what Valeria had learned to be a truth about character was that people who whistled were crass. Whistlers were untrustworthy and irresponsible. They were shiftless. They were common. Butchers whistled. Peasants also. When they were supposed to be tending to their fields or completing any number of tasks peasants are meant to complete, Valeria was certain she could find them instead with their chins wet from a half liter of beer, sitting in the village's tavern, whistling at the slutty proprietress, and telling off-color jokes." You get the picture.

But then something happens that changes Valeria's outlook, which in turns unravels the fabric of the entire village: she falls for the village potter. This celebration of late-flowering love set against a background of burgeoning capitalism is sure to warm the hearts of even the most committed curmudgeon.

Reviewers have called this book "a beautiful debut" and full of "wisdom, warmth, and humor." Gary Shteyngart, author of Absurdistan and The Russian Debutante's Handbook, had this to say: "Subtle and brilliant....A thoughtful, skillfully drawn portrait of one woman, one village, and one country. Marc Fitten is a writer to watch." And to read. Come see for yourself!

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