A stunning debut from a new Australian writer -- the story of a treasure hunt through a vast New York bookshop!
Sheridan Hay was born in Tasmania. She worked in bookstores and in publishing for many years, and holds an MFA in writing and literature from Bennington. She has published short stories and teaches writing in the graduate program at Parson's School of Design, at The New School. This is her first novel.
Hay's debut has all the elements of a literary thriller, but they don't quite come together. Ariving in New York from Tasmania with $300, her mother's ashes and a love of reading, 18-year-old Rosemary Savage finds work in the Arcade Bookshop, a huge, labyrinthine place that features everything from overstock to rare books. In its physicality, the store greatly resembles New York's Strand (where Hay worked), and its requisite assortment of intriguing bookish oddballs includes autocratic owner George Pike and his albino assistant, Walter Geist. Rosemary is suspicious and worried when Walter enlists Rosemary's help to respond to an anonymous request to sell a hand-written version of Herman Melville's lost Isle of the Cross (a novel that in fact existed but disappeared after Melville's publisher rejected it). She confides in Oscar (the attractive, emotionally unavailable nonfiction specialist), which only hastens the deal's momentum toward disaster. Hay does a good job with innocent, intelligent Rosemary's attempts to deal with sinister doings, and methodically imagines the evolution and content of Melville's novel (which features a woman abandoned much like Rosemary's mother). Hay also ably captures Rosemary's nostalgic memories of Tasmania. The three narratives-intrigue, Melville, Tasmania-prove so different, however, that recurring themes of loss and abandonment fail to tie them together. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
The staff may be a little nutty, but all's well at the New York City bookstore that employs fresh-from-Tasmania Rosemary until someone approaches the store with a long-lost manuscript by Herman Melville (it's really hinted at in his letters). With a national tour; reading group guide. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.