I am way behind in the “Newly Published” postings and perhaps it is due to being totally overwhelmed by the number of books that have been published this summer – many of them sound fantastic and worthy of note; too many, in fact, for those of us with teetering stacks of books to be read. Sigh…
Several books in June have already reached the “much talked about level” starting with Gone Girl by Jillian Flynn. I have looked at the reviews of this book and glanced at it in the store and I don’t think I will add it to the list. It has received mixed reviews (either you love it or hate it). Basically it is a psychological thriller with a missing wife, a suspected husband, multiple agendas and not-so-nice people. Not for me. Another book I don’t think I will be reading (although the reviews have been favorable) is The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty. Cora, a thirty-six year old woman is chosen to chaperone teenage Louise Brooks to New York and of course Cora has her own reasons for going to the city. If this becomes a book group read, I will pick it up but for now I am saying no.
One book I know I am reading is the Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, a coming of age story in a world where the earth is slowing down. A friend has read it an highly recommends it. Robert Goolrick (author of A Reliable Wife) has published his second novel, Heading Out to Wonderful. I liked his first book with its strange atmosphere and descriptive writing. His second has received some mixed reviews but I felt highly enough of his first to take a chance on the second. Like the first, it is a story of obsession and love set in a small town in Virgina after WWII except this time the mysterious stranger is a young man with two suitcases – one with a beautiful set of butcher knives and the other full of money.
Before I go into a more detailed list, There are a few other books that need a brief mention. Dave Eggers has published another novel – A Hologram for the King about a middle-aged failing business man trying to make one last go of it in the Middle East. Thrity Umrigar, Indian American author, has published her sixth book, The World We Found, about four Indian women looking back on their lives and their friendship when one of them becomes gravely ill. While this sounds very formulaic, Umrigar’s writing is well done and the books I have read of hers have a depth to them that take them beyond a simple beach read. Finally Claire McMillan has written a modern adaptation of Edith Warton’s The House of Mirth. The Gilded Age is set in modern day Cleveland Ohio telling the story of the not so conventional Ellie Hart’s return from New York (and a stint in rehab) to the higher echelons of the city.
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt: This debut novel takes us back to the late 80′s and the AIDS epidemic. Fourteen year-old June has lost her beloved Uncle Finn to the disease. Uncle Finn is the only person who understood her and she thought she was the center of his life. Until she discovers Toby, her uncle’s lover and the person her family blames for death of Finn. Together, June and Toby try to make sense of a world in the midst of their deep grief. During this journey June has to deal with her rivalry with her older sister as well as her mother’s rivalry with Finn. The Wall Street Journal says the books is “a tremendously moving debut novel” with many layers and it “resolves its storylines in a wonderfully graceful conclusion—though, be prepared, a very sad one, too.” Bibliophile by the Sea writes:
A touching and sometimes emotional story, this amazing debut novel will tug at your heartstrings, but it will also make you happy that you had the chance to meet June, Uncle Finn and Toby. It is through these amazing characters that we revisit the pains of growing up, what it feels like to lose a loved one, and how to heal a broken heart.
The Life of an Unknown Man by Russian-born French author Andreï Makine: If you like novels about being out of place, this one is for you. Emigre Shutov is a disenchanted writer living the past twenty years in Paris. After a failed love affair he feels the need to return to his homeland traveling to a very different St. Petersberg than the Leningrad he knew from his youth. Once there he meets an elderly man, a survivor of the siege of Leningrad and Stalin’s purges and hears his story. The Observer writes, “Like all his work, this novel has a wonderful flavor of a contemporary Chekhov with a splash of Proust. . . . What starts out an intimate account bursts out into something more ambitious and universal. Ultimately it’s a haunting story, beautifully told.” and His Futile Preoccupations says it will go on his best of 2012 list an calls the book a “superb, elegiac novel “
The Bird Saviors by William J. Cobb: Post-apocalyptic books are in favor at the moment and the ones I find the most successful are those set in the near future with very believable premises – in this case the Avian flu has impacted both the human and bird populations. Set in Pueblo Colorado, Ruby is a young girl with a baby, a father who wishes to marry her off to an elderly polygamist, and a new job helping a widowed ornithologist count the decimated birds. The novel is described as a little chaotic mirroring the times in which it is set. Book Chatter writes, “There are shades of the future in this story in that there is a bird flu and people are falling ill with fever, but the book itself is really about broken and damaged people. Small town, small town life. Wretched people and good folks”. And the Seattle PI writes:
Indeed, actions–couched in Cobbs’ expressive and gracefully-worded style and craftsmanship–bespeak volumes in an episodic and vividly-delivered narrative characterized by multiple plotlines and shifting perspectives…Importantly, however, though a few concrete incidents and thematic underpinnings become smothered or truncated in dystopian pessimism and deathly gravitas, we glean–from The Bird Saviors‘ minor clutter of subplots and secondary characters-a lingering reassurance, and a complementary and affirming sense of hope rooted in regeneration, new birth, and a life-affirming aspiration “That perches in the soul.”
Finally for those of you who like books about reading, The Woman Reader by Belinda Jack: This non-fiction book bills itself as “the complete history of women’s reading and the ceaseless controversies it has inspired.” While focusing mainly on western readers, the author does briefly mentions readers in both Asia and the Islamic world. Jack writes about exceptional female readers and the lengths women go to in order to continue to read. The Guardian writes, “her book repeatedly tells, of the way that the woman reader has persisted and thrived under all kinds of conditions. Ambitions, strategies, arguments, bold moves, curiosity and desire have kept her going, for 40 centuries.” Things Mean a Lot writes, “Still, the historical aspect alone was more than enough to keep me interested in The Woman Reader. The tone and style reminded me a little of A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel (whose influence Jack readily acknowledges). Fans of his work are likely to find much of interest here.”