Books might be subtler indicators of the collective subconscious than, say, film or music, but there are undeniable threads that go beyond trend. Take Monique Truong‘s newly-released novel, Bitter in the Mouth in which main character Linda can taste words.
“When my teachers asked, ‘Linda, where did the English first settle in North Carolina?’ the question would come to me as ‘Lindamint where did the Englishmaraschinocherry firstPepto-Bismol settlemustard in Northcheddarcheese Carolinacannedpeas,’” Truong writes in an early chapter.
That sense of taste is also a key factor in The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, published this summer by Aimee Bender, who read at Malaprop’s in June. (Read about that book here.) Bender’s character, Rose, tastes in food the emotions of the person who prepared the dish. Linda, on the other hand, actually tastes words — each has a particular flavor and so she takes up smoking at a young age to deaden the sense and curb the distraction.
But there’s more to Truong’s story than synethesia. Linda, who grows up in the small town of Boiling Springs, N.C., where she doesn’t fit in but finds community among other outcasts — her great-uncle uncle Harper and her best friend Kelly. But there’s much more to Linda’s tory than that of many small-town girls. Linda’s past, a past she can barely recall, reaches to places and people far beyond Boiling Springs, though Truong reveals these secrets slowly over the course of the novel.
Monqiue Truong reads from Bitter in the Mouth on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 7 p.m. at Malaprop’s. Free.
Also coming up:
• New Orleans-based journalist Jordan Flaherty releases Floodlines: Community and Resistance in New Orleans from Katrina to the Jena Six on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. About the book: “Flaherty offers a unique, firsthand account of race, culture, and community in New Orleans and the country at large. From post-Katrina evacuee camps to organizing with the family members of the Jena Six—a group of African-American high school students who faced life in prison for their alleged part in a school fight—the Community and Resistance tour will bring to light the stories from behind the headlines, covering: First-hand accounts of Hurricane Katrina & its aftermath, The fight against privatization in education & for housing rights in the new New Orleans, Criminal justice in ‘post-racial’ America, The legacy of Jim Crow, Immigrants’ Rights, The intersection of arts, culture, & community organizing.”
Flaherty will appear at Firestorm Cafe & Books on Monday, Sept. 27, 8 p.m.
• Charlotte-based writer Rick Rothacker is the author of Banktown: The Rise and Struggles of Charlotte’s Big Banks. Go here to watch an interview with Rothacker. He will be signing copies of his book in Asheville at Barnes & Noble, (33 Town Square Boulevard, Suite 100) on Monday, Oct. 4, 6-8 p.m.
• Myla Goldberg author of best-seller Bee Season, is set to release The False Friend, described as “an astonishingly complex psychological drama with a simple set-up — two 11 year-old girls, best friends and fierce rivals, go into the woods and only one comes out. Deeply resonant and emotionally charged, this novel explores the adults that children become — leading us to question the truths that we accept or reject, and the lies to which we succumb.”
Goldberg reads at Malaprop’s on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 7 p.m.