As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.
We are not quite novels.
We are not quite short stories.
In the end, we are collected works.
A. J. Fikry's life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died; his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history; and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Islandfrom Chief Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who's always felt kindly toward him; from Ismay, his sister-in-law, who is hell-bent on saving A.J. from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who persists in taking the ferry to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.'s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, he can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.
And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It's a small package, though large in weightan unexpected arrival that gives A.J. the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn't take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J., for the determined sales rep Amelia to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light, for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.'s world. Or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn't see coming.
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
Two Fridays before Christmas, two minutes before close, A.J. makes the rounds of kicking out and ringing up the last customers. A man in a puffy coat is hemming and hawing over the latest Alex Cross. "Twenty-six dollars seems like a lot. You know I can get it cheaper online, right?" A.J. says that he does know as he shows the man the door. "You should really lower your prices if you want to be competitive," the man says.
"Lower my prices? Lower. My. Prices. I hadn't considered that before," A.J. says mildly.
"Are you being cheeky, young man?"
"No, I'm thankful. And at the next Island Books shareholders' meeting, I'll definitely raise this innovative suggestion of yours. I know we want to remain competitive. Between you and me, for a time in the early oughties, we'd given up on competition. I thought it was a mistake, but my board decided that competition was best left to Olympic athletes, kids in spelling ...
Some of the recent comments posted about The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry. Join the discussion! You can see the full discussion here.
I'm not sure how this book would do as a movie. The literary references are part of what gives it its "panache." - LeahLovesBooks
Do you think The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry was written - as an homage to her father - by Maya? Or, if not, who might have written it?
Do you think The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry was written - as an homage to her father - by Maya? Or, if not, who might have written it? - donnac
Have you read and enjoyed any of the books AJ discusses in the letters to Maya that introduce each new chapter?
There are some good ones there. You should enjoy them. - donnac
How do you think becoming a reader changes Lambiase?
Lambiase is a man open to growth. - LeahLovesBooks
How do you think Daniel Parrish might have changed if he had lived? Do you think some people never change?
Daniel is an archetype. He goes through life with a whistle and a cynical word or two and is smugly sure that he is an upstanding person. Being self absorbed, he is ambivalent to any other person's situation. Being charming is a necessary ... - bettek
Zevin has written a near-perfect novel. Punctuated by explicit references to classic short stories, implicit literary references, self-deprecating swipes at literary snobs (Is a twist less satisfying if you know it’s coming? Is a twist that you can’t predict symptomatic of bad construction?) and book club discussions, with humor and flawless characterization, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry fills all the bills in straightforward, no-frills prose.
(Reviewed by Donna Chavez).
Full Review (698 words).
We heard it when Borders Books began to appear. The Independent Bookstore is going to die. And then when Barnes and Noble Bookstores began popping up in many cities and suburbs. And when Amazon hit the scene. And then ebooks. The Independent Bookstore is all but dead. But is this true?
Headline, November 28, 2012, The Atlantic: The Bookstore Strikes Back. This story, by novelist Ann Patchett is about what this author is doing to fill a void in her hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. After the last of that city's booksellers went out of business in 2011, Patchett was devastated. But she turned that devastation into resolve when she decided to partner with two veterans in the book business, Karen Hayes, a former sales rep for Random House,...
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