I still have high hopes for this new Ron Rash novel, despite the fact that I didn’t much like his recent short story collection, Burning Bright, and the fact that Ursula K. Le Guin didn’t much likeThe Cove. That’s how good Serena was. The Cove has earned a few comparisons to Serena, at least in setting and tone, and that already recommends it more highly than Burning Bright. Still, I can’t quite muster a whole-hearted anticipatory fever.
I liked Baldwin’s recent novel, You Lost Me There, even though it wasn’t my usual kind of book—instead it was a wrenching, heart-breaking character study about a widower who realizes that he’d been a bad husband, but too late to do anything about it. Baldwin’s latest is a memoir, it seems, about moving to Paris and finding that the city doesn’t live up to his imagination. I’m not sure it’ll have the same power and pathos as the novel, but Baldwin brings enough talent that this should be worth checking out.
Is it weird that I thought, from the title, that this book might be a parody of The House of Sand and Fog, involving Mel Torme and a bomb that fuses sadness into matter? Probably not weird. I’m probably fine. Anyway, in reality, this is a new historical mystery/romance by the author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. Mediums, opium dens, 1915 Boston, etc.
Franzen’s new book is a collection of recent essays and speeches. Should be interesting, considering that every time this guy opens his mouth these days, he sounds like a bitter old man. So hopefully topics like the global and personal effects of modernizing China will have a little more heft to them.
Built below sea level, battered by hurricanes and storms since its founding, fought over and traded several times before Louisiana became a state, New Orleans ”shouldn’t exist,” according to City’s flap copy. The Big Easy makes a good subject for a city biography and if Powell does his characters well (the copy also promises “enough rogues, smugglers, and self-fashioners to fill a picaresque novel”), this could be riveting.
Hipolito Acosta is a “government agent” who has evidently been involved in some bold U.S./Mexico-border-related stings (the subtitle of this book is “A U.S. Agent Infiltrates Mexico’s Deadly Crime Cartels.” From the flap copy and the only Goodreads review yet up, Acosta sounds like a bombastic narcissist, who might be rabidly annoying or might be entertainingly braggadocious.
Strayed is the recently unmasked writer behind the wildly popular (see what I did there?) advice column Ask Sugar. She has a rabid following and a charming, intimate style. Wild is Strayed’s account of hiking the 1100-mile Pacific Crest Trail by herself as a young woman.
A supposedly funny (I’ll believe it when I see it) novel about a young film school dropout and his quirky family. It caught my eye because it has a good title, which is all too rare these days (cf. the three books listed below).