Out of Step with Everything

Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories, and Other Disasters

By Jean Shepherd

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The creator of A Christmas Story shares more of growing up in the Midwest--this time during his teenaged years:
"...a universal (and achingly funny) orchestration of Midwestern puberty rites, from the gut-wrenching playground antics of one Delbert Bumpus, to the supernal glow surrounding unapproachable high school beauty Daphne Bigelow, to the memorable disaster that was Shepherd's (and everyone else's) junior prom."
Stories include:
The grandstand passion play of Delbert and the Bumpus hounds --County fair! -- Scut Farkas and the murderous Mariah -- Ollie Hopnoodle's haven of bliss -- The star-crossed romance of Josephine Cosnowski --Daphne Bigelow and the spine-chilling saga of the snail-encrusted tinfoil noose - - The return of the smiling Wimpy doll -- Wanda Hickey's night of golden memories.

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The Road to Wellville

By T. Coraghessan Boyle

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"Will Lightbody is a man with a stomach ailment whose only sin is loving his wife, Eleanor, too much. Eleanor is a health nut of the first stripe, and when in 1907 she journeys to Dr. John Harvey Kellogg's infamous Battle Creek Spa to live out the vegetarian ethos, poor Will goes, too. So begins T. Coraghessan Boyle's wickedly comic look at turn-of-the-century fanatics in search of the magic pill to prolong their lives--or the profit to be had from manufacturing it."

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The Hotel du Lac

By Anita Brookner

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"...tells the story of Edith Hope, who writes romance novels under a pseudonym. When her life begins to resemble the plots of her own novels, however, Edith flees to Switzerland, where the quiet luxury of the Hotel du Lac promises to resore her to her senses. But instead of peace and rest, Edith finds herself sequestered at the hotel with an assortment of love's casualties and exiles. She also attracts the attention of a worldly man determined to release her unused capacity for mischief and pleasure."

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The Hippopotamus

By Stephen Fry

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"A womanizing, drunken, failed poet and recently fired drama critic, cantankerous Ted Wallace seeks refuge from his problems at the country estate of his old friend Logan, the site of mysterious incidents centering around Logan's enigmatic son, David."

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The Free Fall of Webster Cummings

By Tom Bodett

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Losing his arm in an Alaskan machinery accident, Ed Flannigan moves to Oregon, where he confronts New Age colonists, organic farmers, and a cranky guardian angel who resides in a peach tree.

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Night of the Avenging Blowfish: A Novel of Covert Operations, Love, and Luncheon Meat

By John Welter

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"When a disgruntled chef plots to avenge himself on the President by serving lunch meat at a diplomatic dinner, Secret Service agent Doyle Coldiron is swept up in a tide of crazy events involving terrorists, activists, and a tipsy ambassador."

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Everything Is Illuminated

By Jonathan Safran Foer

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In the summer after his junior year of college, a writer--also named Jonathan Safran Foer--journeys to the farmlands of eastern Europe. Armed with only a yellowing photograph, he sets out to find the woman who, he has been told, saved his grandfather from the Nazis.

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Catch-22

By Joseph Heller

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"At the heart of Catch-22 resides the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero endlessly inventive in his schemes to save his skin from the horrible chances of war. His efforts are perfectly understandable because as he furiously scrambles, thousands of people he hasn't even met are trying to kill him. His problem is Colonel Cathcart, who keeps raising the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service.

"Yet if Yossarian makes any attempts to excuse himself from the perilous missions that he is committed to flying, he is trapped by the Great Loyalty Oath Crusade, the hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule from which the book takes its title: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes the necessary formal request to be relieved of such missions, the very act of making the request proves that he is sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved."

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Breakfast of Champions: Or, Goodbye, Blue Monday!

By Kurt Vonnegut

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"Breakfast Of Champions is vintage Vonnegut. One of his favorite characters, aging writer Kilgore Trout, finds to his horror that a Midwest car dealer is taking his fiction as truth. The result is murderously funny satire as Vonnegut looks at war, sex, racism, success, politics, and pollution in America and reminds us how to see the truth."

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