Tipping Point: Our picks and pans
Sea of Tranquility
Emily St. John Mandel
Emily St. John Mandel’s latest novel is slighter in length than her previous ones but overflows with characters and ideas. Her intertwining stories span centuries. The ne’er-do-well from a wealthy British family is exiled to Canada in the early 1900s, where he has an odd, almost supernatural experience. An author in the 23rd century has to leave her family in their moon colony home to do a publicity tour on Earth, as a pandemic explodes. A man in the 25th century becomes a member of the Time Institute and is trained to time travel. It’s a wild ride, but Mandel beautifully weaves together elements of sci fi and a dystopian future, along with characters and situations from her last novel, the exquisite “The Glass Hotel.” It’s ultimately about family, loss, and time.
– Kristina Dorsey
Along with Robert B. Parker’s Spenser, Tony Hillerman’s Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee were characters and stories that made me relish the idea of successive series – when as a young man I could anticipate seeing a new novel each year. Now, Chee and Leaphorn, members of the Navajo Tribal Police on the large reservation in New Mexico’s monument valley, have been amazingly brought to television in this new series. Two intertwining crimes are at the heart of the shows: a bank robbery in nearby Gallup and two murders of tribal members with overtones of witchcraft. Viewers will become instantly captivated by life on the reservation in tense times, by Hillerman’s powerful storytelling, and the strong, largely indigenous ensemble cast that instantly provides strong empathy.
– Rick Koster
Good for James Bay for trying something different on his 2018 CD, “Electric Light,” which leaned in an edgier direction (lots of feverish electric guitar included) than his early folk-blues-pop material. His 2019 EP felt like an interim step back toward his original sound. And now fans of Bay’s classic 2015 release “The Chaos and the Calm” will be happy to hear that his new “Leap” album feels like a worthy successor. (Adding a sartorial exclamation point, Bay has returned to wear his fedora.) The songs are about love and and yearning, and his gorgeous voice is full of emotion and longing. It’s a wonderful work.
– Kristina Dorsey