Richard Ford writes impressively introspective novels. His Pulitzer prize-winning Frank Bascombe trilogy featured a sportswriter (who later becomes a realtor), ruminating on his life. Each novel in the trilogy takes place over the course of a holiday, and nothing much happens in the sense of plot beats—the narrative is almost entirely interior monologue. That seems simple and boring, but Ford makes even Bascombe’s most mundane thoughts riveting. So it’ll be interesting, then, to see what he does with this new storyline, which features murder, bank robbing, and a teenager trying to fix his criminal family.
Alison Bechdel’s first graphic novel/memoir Fun Home—about her father, who committed suicide shortly after he came out of the closet—won several awards, became a bestseller, garnered a slew of critical raves, and even caused a bit of controversy. Bechdel’s new illustrated memoir looks to raise the bar even further. Are You My Mother? focuses on, predictably enough, Bechdel’s relationship with her acerbic mother, and it’s been getting nothing but rave reviews. Even the joyless controversy-dowser Katie Roiphe loved it. It comes out today, so I’m probably reading it right now.
Niromi de Soyza grew up in an educated, middle-class family in Sri Lanka, but she joined the Tamil Tigers’ first female contingent at the tender age of 17. This book is the story of why she joined the Tigers, how she survived, and how she transitioned from that life to a relatively normal one with a husband and children. If you’re one of those people who say that only people who’ve lived interesting lives should write memoirs… yeah, this is for you.
Peter Carey has won the Booker prize twice, and he’s been shortlisted three other times. Dude can write. In this one, a museum curator mourns the loss of her married lover by rebuilding an automaton. Reactions have been mixed, but Carey’s resume makes it worth a long look.
Paul Theroux’s new novel follows Ellis Hock, a white American man who spent four years in Malawi in the Peace Corps. When his wife leaves him, he returns to Africa to find the work he did in tatters, and to find himself unsure of whether his new journey is “an escape or a trap.” Going by two-sentence synopses, this is my favorite premise from this month’s slate of Maybe novels.
Expanding from an idea of America as a collection of obsessed amateurs inventors (cf. Ben Franklin and his kite), Hitt interviews eccentric amateurs across the country, from a woman splicing genes in her kitchen to a man building a next-generation telescope in his trailer. Hitt, a frequent This American Life contributor, has a nose for interesting stories, and it sounds like these fall into that category.
In addition to recently publishing a massive new novel, Harkaway has also been working on this nonfiction book about “the relationship between culture and individuals and technology and science” and a whole lot more. I’m a bit stalled with his novel, but even so, this piques my interest. Here’s more about it.
As former Senator and ragecomic bobblehead Ted Stevens taught us, the Internet is a series of tubes. Andrew Blum follows those tubes underground and across oceans in an effort to explain and enumerate the physical infrastructure of the modern digital world.
Freudenberger, one of the vaunted New Yorker 20 under 40, turns in a much-hyped new novel about a Bangladeshi woman who finds love online and moves to New York to marry. It’s billed as an arranged-marriage story for the 21st century. Not exactly my cup of tea, but Freudenberger’s pedigree makes it an interesting book to keep in mind.