Briefing Books: First-rate 'Last Call in the City of Bridges' from Braddock Avenue Books

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This column is a mere three weeks old, but the response from regional writers has been tremendous. We're more than happy to get the word out about your recent work, but, please, no more books dating back to the Ford administration. Books from 2012 on in all genres (except cookbooks and smut) are welcome. Send to: Tony Norman, Book Editor, Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd of the Allies, Pittsburgh, 15222.

"Last Call in the City of Bridges" by Salvatore Pane (Braddock Avenue Books). Novels about feckless youth in the Holden Caulfield mode are a dime a dozen, but novelist Salvatore Pane has managed to put a Pittsburgh-centric spin on the archetype with his debut novel "Last Call in the City of Bridges." Michael Bishop is a wastrel, wannabe comic book writer and overachieving boozer with a romantic streak and too much time logged playing Nintendo. The object of his affection is Ivy Chase, a preacher's daughter. This book establishes Mr. Pane as a fiction writer and ironist of the first order.

"This Creature Fair" by Wayne Wise. Back in the early 1990s, Greene County native Wayne Wise became an award-winning pioneer in the early independent comic book revolution with the publication of "Grey Legacy." So it isn't surprising that Mr. Wise was an early adopter in the independent publishing movement. With four novels under his belt, Mr. Wise is carving out a reputation as something of a literary hybrid of Stephen King and George R.R. Martin. "This Creature Fair" is a surprising tale of unrequited love between a celebrity and a fan, but the usual roles have been reversed.

"North of Supposed to Be" by Marcia Ferguson (Franklin Hancock Press). The bulk of the action in local writer Marcia Ferguson's first novel takes place in Maine, but Pittsburgh has more than a few cameos. This is a well-shaped tale about a photographer finding her place in the world after a profound loss. Bronwyn McCall is aided by a former British spy turned butler and confidant. Although north of 500 pages, Ms. Ferguson attempts to make each page shine like a well-chiseled jewel while readers guess where this well-told tale is taking them.

"Troubling Dreams: Unlocking the Door to Self-Awareness" by Sadie E. Strick (New Horizon Press). Sadie E. Strick wants women to learn from their bad dreams. The Pittsburgh-based psychologist has put together a guide for interpreting and overcoming bad dreams. You don't have to be a Jungian or a veteran of psychotherapy to get something out of Ms. Strick's accessible and engaging case studies about the role nightmares play in the waking lives of women everywhere.

"I Want a New Life" by Michele Poydence. Before Michele Poydence wrote her first novel, she provided content for inspirational television programming and even collected an Angel Award for her trouble. "I Want a New Life" sticks to the path Ms. Poydence has staked out in Christian entertainment over the years. This is a relentlessly positive novel about three women who have a week to get their lives together. and

"Catula" by Melissa Haas. Local writer and children's book illustrator Melissa Haas has a thing for a certain Lord of the Vampires and his undead feline pal Catula. Ms. Haas has written and illustrated a child-friendly tale of what happens to Dracula's cat after it has been captured by vengeful mice. This is a fun book full of the kind of visual puns you expect from a book featuring vampire cats, rats and bats.

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Tony Norman: or 412-263-1631.


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