Culture » Literature

Short stories



Dan Wells

HarperCollins, $17.99/hardcover; release date: Feb. 28

Post-apocalyptic and dystopian young adult novels certainly aren't new, but they've enjoyed quite a revival for teens and adults thanks to the runaway success of Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy. And Partials fits right in. Medic-in-training Kira Walker is surrounded on Page 1 by pregnant women and dying babies. At 16, Kira is just two years away from having to meet the government's "Hope Act" mandate — becoming pregnant in order to help find a cure for the virus that killed most everyone on Earth. But Kira doesn't want to watch another death, and sets off on a journey to find a different answer. With a strong female protagonist and a cast of intriguing characters, Partials is a suspenseful page-turner, slightly less cruel than Hunger Games but still melding common themes of friendship, loss, betrayal and love — and setting the end up quite nicely for another in the series. — Kirsten Akens


Companion to Spanish Colonial Art at the Denver Art Museum

Donna Pierce

University of Oklahoma Press, $19.95/paperback

You have to love Spanish Colonial art. It's punchy, colorful and oh-so-dramatic. But it'd be far too simple to consider it the telenovela of art history. It is the sprawling, epic product of the continental Spanish Conquest: turquoise-green quetzal feathers mingling with the Baroque austerity of Spain, New World silver molded into Old World religions. For a primer on this colossus, pick up the Denver Art Museum's Companion to Spanish Colonial Art, a recently published guide to the DAM's distinguished collection, housed on the north building's fourth floor. Aficionados will likely get less out of the Companion, although I was pleased to find a great article at the end about Garden Party folding screens, products of cultural pollination from China and Japan. Best of all, you can see the real things just one hour from here. — Edie Adelstein



Louis Hyman

Vintage, $15/paperback

The opening story of this history of American borrowing has a "ripped from the headlines" feel: A young working couple take out an interest-only mortgage on a house in a decent neighborhood — but outside what they can afford — then fill the place on credit. But when the economy goes south and they lose their jobs, they also lose the house and everything in it. Just like last month, except, as economic historian Louis Hyman makes clear in Borrow: The American Way of Debt, this particular case happened in 1932. Hyman's comprehensive, yet extremely readable, history of American attitudes toward credit and debt is fascinating, especially as it stresses how our attitudes toward borrowing have always been undercut by our economy's relentless need to grow. This is a must-read primer on the American way of buying for anyone who resists economic texts. — Kel Munger

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