Stella Maris: And Other Key West Stories by Michael Carroll

When Cuban fisherman first spotted the Key West lighthouse floating in Florida waters, they called her Stella Maris, Star of the Sea. It’s a beacon that draws people from everywhere seeking the end-of-the-line bohemian oasis that can still be found amidst the condo share towers, chain stores, and Redneck Riviera clientele. And it’s a mecca for gay men and the women who love them. Sue Kaufman Prize- winning author Michael Carroll knows the territory intimately. His stories wind in and out of the bars and guesthouses and lives of this singular paradise: a memorial for a drag queen held at the vicar’s Victorian leads to uneasy encounters; two southern sisters on a cruise ship holiday are up against the ravages of alcohol, estrangement, and deadly weather. Newly divorced gay men (already a phenomenon) lick their wounds and bask in the island’s lasting social twilight. At the all-male, clothing-optional resort, guys of all ages fall into one another’s paths, enjoy themselves as they please, and surprise one another on their views and preconceptions. Stella Maris is about the verities of illness and death. The past and its prisoners, AIDS, the young and not so young man’s realization of his own mortality. It’s about the unpredictable nature of life, and of survival. It’s about new beginnings and final recognitions.

Blue Label by Eduardo Sánchez Rugeles

Eugenia Blanc, a young Caraqueñan and quintessential teenager at war with the world around her, has one aim: after graduating from high school, to abandon Venezuela definitively. She embarks on a spontaneous road trip in a banged-up Fiat with her rebellious classmate Luis Tévez, in search of her grandfather, the one person who can provide her with the documents that would allow her to leave the country. While Eugenia and Luis’s tentative, troubled romance unfolds during the Chávez era, the story also looks back at Venezuela’s “lost decade” of the 1990s, a time of intractable violence, inequality, corruption, and instability that led to Chávez’s election. With an unvarnished fluidity that brings to mind Jack Kerouac and a crazy-ass playlist that ranges from REM to Bob Dylan to El Canto del Loco to Shakira, Blue Label is an audacious, dark novel with a gut-punch of an ending; the prize-winning first book by a writer who has cemented his reputation as a major young Latin American voice.

Follow the Sun by Edward J. Delaney

Quinn Boyle is a lobsterman afloat in a shambled vessel, haunted by his battles with lobsters and with heroin, and ever behind on his child support. Since Quinn lost a man off his boat and served time for possession, only naïve beginners will work with him. On his final lobster run, Quinn’s down to his last options. He hires on an old nemesis, Freddy Santoro, who’s facing prison time of his own. Three days later, they’re both gone, lost without a trace.

Robbie Boyle, a small-time local sportswriter, looked after his younger brother as best he could. Now that Quinn has disappeared, Robbie reaches out to Quinn’s estranged daughter, Christine, and assumes the fatherly role his brother never shouldered. A year later, as they admit they might be better off without Quinn’s complicated presence in their lives, Robbie gets a strange tip: Santoro is apparently living in the Pacific Northwest. Telling no one and risking everything, Robbie sets out to find Santoro and determine what happened to Quinn. What he discovers will remap the course of their lives.

That Crazy Perfect Someday by Michael Mazza

The year is 2024. Climate change has altered the world’s wave patterns. Drones crisscross the sky, cars drive themselves, and surfing is a new Olympic sport. Mafuri Long, a gutsy female surf pro, pushes against wild odds for what she wants, with deep surprises about who she is.. Authentic, brutal, and at times funny, Mafuri lays it all out in a sprightly, hot-wired voice. From San Diego to Sydney, Key West, and Manila, That Crazy Perfect Someday goes beyond the sports/surf cliché to explore the depths of sorrow and hope, yearning and family bonds, and the bootstrap power of a bold young woman climbing back into the light.

Madame de by Louise de Vilmorin

Introduction by Susan Minot

This ingenious story was made into the award-winning film, directed by Max Ophüls and starring Danielle Darrieux and Charles Boyer.

The Magician’s Study by Tobias Seamon

Detailing the life of Jazz Age magician Robert “The Great” Rouncival, The Magician’s Study is an extended tour of the conjurer’s study and the wondrous possessions therein. The Magician’s Study is a personal odyssey through a distinct period of American myth.