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Books & Authors

Fiction with Footnotes

Footnotes are usually found in nonfiction texts, but fiction authors often use these additions to expand details, add bits of wit, or to build worlds. Footnotes, endnotes, pieces of found ephemera, notes scrawled in the margins and other effects can confound and delight readers. Here are a few books and authors - some sprawling, some humorous, some concise - that use this creative narrative device to enhance their works.

Things we found when the water went down : a novel / Tegan Nia Swanson.

When brutish miner Hugo Mitchum is found murdered on the frozen shore of a North Country lake, the local officials and town gossips of Beau Caelais are quick to blame Marietta Abernathy, outspoken environmental activist and angry, witchy recluse. But Marietta herself has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Living on an isolated island with her father, Marietta's sixteen-year-old daughter, Lena, begins sifting through her mother's journals and collected oddities in an attempt to find her. While her father's grief threatens to consume him and her adoptive aunt Bea reckons with guilt and acceptance, it is the haunting town outcast Ellis Olsen who might have the most to lose if Lena fails to find her mother. 

Mark Z. Danielewski's House of leaves / by Zampano ; with introduction and notes by Johnny Truant.

A young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility--until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story: one of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams.

The brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao / Junot Díaz.

Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. From his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his old-world mother and rebellious sister, Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fuké--the curse that has haunted the Oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim.

Infinite jest : a novel / David Foster Wallace.

A spoof on our culture featuring a drug-and-alcohol rehabilitation house near Boston. The center becomes a hotbed of revolutionary activity by Quebec separatists in revolt against the Organization of North American Nations which now rules the continent.

 

 

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell / Susanna Clarke ; illustrations by Portia Rosenberg.

In nineteenth-century England, all is going well for rich, reclusive Mr. Norell, who has regained some of the power of England's magicians from the past, until a rival magician, Jonathan Strange, appears and becomes Mr.Norrell's pupil.

 

Babel, or the necessity of violence : an arcane history of the Oxford Translators' Revolution / R.F. Kuang.

From award-winning author R. F. Kuang comes Babel, a thematic response to The Secret History and a tonal retort to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell that grapples with student revolutions, colonial resistance, and the use of language and translation as the dominating tool of the British empire. Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal.

 An abundance of Katherines / John Green.

Having been recently dumped for the nineteenth time by a girl named Katherine, recent high school graduate and former child prodigy Colin sets off on a road trip with his best friend to try to find some new direction in life while also trying to create a mathematical formula to explain his relationships.

 

S. / conceived by J.J. Abrams ; written by Doug Dorst.

A young woman picks up a book left behind by a stranger. Inside it are his margin notes, which reveal a reader entranced by the story and by its mysterious author. She responds with notes of her own, leaving the book for the stranger, and so begins an unlikely conversation that plunges them both into the unknown.

 

A tale for the time being / Ruth Ozeki.

In Tokyo,16-year-old Nao has decided there's only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates' bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who's lived more than a century.

 

 

Pale fire / Vladimir Nabokov ; with an introduction by Richard Rorty.

An ingeniously constructed parody of detective fiction and learned commentary, 'Pale Fire' offers a cornucopia of deceptive pleasures, at the center of which is a 999-line poem written by the literary genius John Shade just before his death. Surrounding the poem is a foreword and commentary by the demented scholar Charles Kinbote, who interweaves adoring literary analysis with the fantastical tale of an assassin from the land of Zembla in pursuit of a deposed king. Brilliantly constructed and wildly inventive, this darkly witty novel of suspense, literary one-upmanship, and political intrigue achieves that rarest of things in literature -- perfect tragicomic balance.

A visit from the Goon Squad / Jennifer Egan.

Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs confront their pasts in this powerful story about how rebellion ages, influence corrupts, habits turn to addictions, lifelong friendships fluctuate and turn, and how art and music have the power to redeem.

Ambergris / Jeff VanderMeer.

More than twenty years ago, Jeff VanderMeer first introduced the world to the fictional city of Ambergris, a beautiful and sinister sprawling metropolis populated by artists and thieves, composers and murderers, geniuses and madmen. Ambergris bristles with intellectual fervor and religious rivalries; it thrives on cultural upheaval, and its politics are never short on intrigue, conspiracy, and even terror. There are stories within stories, mystery, mayhem, and a dark history that threatens to consume the city itself as the gray caps, the mysterious and deadly mushroom people who once ruled Ambergris and have since been driven underground, now threaten to rise again.

Don Quixote / Miguel de Cervantes ; a new translation by Edith Grossman ; introduction by Harold Bloom.

The adventures of Don Quixote, a common man from La Mancha, who has convinced himself that he is a knight. With his portly peasant squire, Sancho Panza, who recognizes his master's madness but is nonetheless captivated by promises of kingdoms and riches, Don Quixote mistakes windmills for giants and flocks of sheep for armies.

Good omens : the nice and accurate prophecies of Agnes Nutter, witch / Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett.

The world is preparing to come to an end according to the Divine Plan recorded in the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (recorded 1655). Meanwhile, a fussy angel and a fast-living demon have grown fond of living among the earth's mortals for many millennia and are not looking forward to the apocalypse. If Crowley and Aziraphale are going to stop it from happening, they must find and kill the Antichrist.

Crazy rich Asians / Kevin Kwan.

Envisioning a summer vacation in the humble Singapore home of a boy she hopes to marry, Chinese American Rachel Chu is unexpectedly introduced to a rich and scheming clan that strongly opposes their son's relationship with an American girl.

 

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