Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
THE POWERS, by Valerie Sayers

I'm delighted to be able to report that Valerie Sayers' long-awaited and much-anticipated new novel is out: THE POWERS!


 

Set in a completely entrancing and fully realized early-forties New York, just before America's entry into WWII, it tells the story of Joltin' Joe Dimaggio's historic hitting streak for the Yankees – as a background to two love stories, a family drama, and (most of all) a coming-of-age tale. It encompasses pacifism, spectacle, duty, hero worship, ways of seeing, death – particularly the early death of parents and the abiding ache their absence leaves behind, sex (and its enchantments and terrors) before 1963, and the power of mystical thinking – and maybe even of real magic.

The very best writers can make any arcane topic interesting – even sports (and even for the non-sports fan!)! I personally didn't give a damn about tennis until David Foster Wallace started writing about it; subsequently I couldn't get enough – it became thrilling, hilarious, weird, and dramatic all at once in his telling. Similarly, I've always had little time for baseball. But I'll now happily read Valerie Sayers on the subject all day.

One of the best things about this novel is its completely convincing and beguiling voices, which fully inhabit the inner lives of her rich and totally distinctive characters. Complementing this is the story's wonderful sense of place (and time!) – heightened by the book's charming inline period photos of 1940s-era New Yorkers doing things and affecting poses that now seem to us straight out of some fairy-tale. New York in 1941 blooms richly back to life, all of it hovered over by the lowering storm clouds of the Holocaust, as news of the deportation of European Jews began to cast shadows the full extent of which only we, here in their future, can see.

Enough from me. Here are some selections of lavish praised heaped upon this book by people you can trust:

Book review: ‘The Powers,’ by Valerie Sayers

Valerie Sayers’s idiosyncratic and brilliantly realized new novel, “The Powers,” opens in the summer of 1941, when Europe is swept up in war and the United States is swept up in baseball mania fuelled by the hitting streak of the Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio… historical figures Sayers brings wonderfully to life. [Babe is] a powerhouse character, unashamedly imperfect and instantly memorable… The prose has a distinctive, brutal elegance. The many vivid characters breathe with authenticity, and the emotions at stake are grippingly real. The whole thing is so assuredly done that even Red Sox fans will be won over.


The Powers

Sayers’s stylish baseball novel goes behind the scenes and follows Joltin’ Joe’s personally tortuous season, exacerbated by his shrill, pregnant wife and the specter of the military draft on the eve of WWII. Against this historic backdrop, Sayers traces the tight relationship of 18-year-old friends Agnes O’Leary, Joe D’Ambrosio, and Bernie Keller. Sayers captures the momentous 1941 baseball season with enough nuanced acumen and sophistication to lift her novel close to those of Malamud and Kinsella.


The Powers: A Novel

Sayers's hyperactive mind is a complete joy to experience. This book is a humorous, historical romp with sections so rich and dense, so inhabited by the book's central concerns, that to sit for a few minutes in front of its pages is similar to entering a portal to a 1940s New York so thoroughly drawn that its sights, sounds, smells, streets and people will leave you wheeling and giddy.

The characters come onto the page fully wrought. The lives chronicled here are made interesting by the author's big heart, by her love for fiction's ability to create real people with real dreams and desires. Here is simply great storytelling, intriguing characters, and masterful language. Sayers is a true pro.

Coinciding with the publication of THE POWERS, Sayers' entire back catalog has been reissued. That's huge news, and just fabulous. Here are her earlier books.

And, once again, so you don't have to trust me, here are some comments on these previous titles by little organs like the New York Times Book Review, Kirkus, and the Times of London:

“Immensely rich, readable… Large ambition, compassion and psychological depth, not to mention the pleasures of Valerie Sayers’s graceful prose.”
        – New York Times Book Review

“A writer for whom life is not an abstract notion but a quirkily real, always exactly rendered place where ordinary people can be touched by unexpected grace as they struggle to survive.”
        – Kirkus

“A splendid storyteller… Both expansive and intimate.”
        – Boston Globe

“Brash and supple…. Graced by a tenacious and generous vision.”
        – Washington Post

“A first-rate writer, her prose rich with memorable descriptions that bring her landscapes into sharp focus.”
        – New York Times Book Review

“To say that Valerie Sayers is a natural-born writer wildly underestimates the facts…”
        – Chicago Tribune

“Her gritty candor and unflinching gaze at her characters’ foibles make the narrative ring with authenticity.”
        – Publishers Weekly

“She’s smart and irreverent but she’s also kind and compassionate; she gives us imperfect people and makes us like and care about them, an essential task for any novelist but one accomplished by surprisingly few.”
        – Washington Post

“Begs to be read aloud and shared. Sayers has a voice, and it’s one the reader wants to keep hearing from.”
        – Publishers Weekly

“Valerie Sayers is a powerfully gifted writer.”
        – Atlanta Constitution

“One of those beautifully realized novels that takes over the reader’s life.”
        – Chicago Tribune

“Marks the arrival of a true writer.”
        – Publishers Weekly

“Funny, touching without being in the least sentimental, and pleasingly written.”
        – The Times of London

Finally, here's this great interview with the author in the Chicago Tribune.


  book reviews     books     nyc     writing  
about
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

You can reach him on .

THE MANUSCRIPT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
PANDORA'S SISTERS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
DON'T SHOOT ME IN THE ASS, AND OTHER STORIES by Michael Stephen Fuchs
D-BOYS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
COUNTER-ASSAULT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book One - Fortress Britain, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Two - Mogadishu of the Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Genesis, by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Three - Three Parts Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Four - Maximum Violence, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Five - EXODUS, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Six - The Horizon, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs

ARISEN, Book Seven - Death of Empires, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eight - Empire of the Dead by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : NEMESIS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Nine - Cataclysm by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Ten - The Flood by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eleven - Deathmatch by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Twelve - Carnage by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Thirteen - The Siege by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Fourteen - Endgame by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Fickisms
ARISEN : Odyssey
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