Reading Recommendations · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (April 2013)
Only a few books reach the top of the fiction bestseller charts, but there are many more terrific new titles available at the Library. Here are some recent favorites.
The two title characters share a friendship and passion for writing which is carried out in ten years of correspondence. The epistolary approach gives a very intimate and personal touch to the offstage action as Frances defends her belief that a romantic relationship and marriage would stifle her creative talent, yet not denying the attraction between her and Bernard, a Harvard-educated poet. Inspired by the friendship between Flannery O’Connor and Robert Lowell, this is a glimpse into the New York literary scene of the 1950s and 60s.
“Be warned, then: the collected volumes of this series will contain frozen mountains, foetid swamps, hostile foreigners, hostile fellow countrymen, the occasional hostile family member, bad decisions, misadventures in orienteering, diseases of an unromantic sort, and a plenitude of mud. You continue at your own risk. It is not for the faint of heart – no more so than the study of dragons itself.” Welcome to the memoirs of Isabella, the foremost expert on dragons. Living in a fantasy Victorian-esque society, Isabella defies societal norms and turns a hobby into a true science.
Library Journal says “Without a strong understanding of metafiction, metaphor, or philosophy, reading Gass can be a challenge.” This dense, fragmented novel begs the question of the many selves that we portray and which of them may be authentic. Vocabulary, theme, and structure are of keen interest to Joseph Skizzen, an immigrant to the US at the time of World War II. Remaking himself as an American, he is particularly taken with the piano and the theory of music as well as creating a fantasy life for himself as an academic at a small Ohio college.
Finbar Dolan can spin beautiful stories into promotions, convincing people of their desire for products they don’t even know exist. He is a fairly successful Madison Avenue ad executive, but the façade he’s built around his fictionalized personal life comes crashing down when family duty calls. At nearly 40, Fin is too old for this to be called a coming-of-age story, yet an emergent grown-up Fin is the purpose of the tale. Scenes of work on a diaper campaign, including a push for a Super Bowl commercial, are likely to hit home with local Pampers crowd.
Jason Getty isn’t surprised that a body has been discovered in his backyard. What’s surprising is that it’s not the one he buried there. And when a second turns up…. Well, that really unnerves him. After all, how could he be living there for years not knowing these dead people were just outside his bedroom window? Dark humor stirs up empathy for a murderer whose indignation about the invasion of his personal space overshadows the fear that his crime will be discovered. A wonderful, quirky debut into the crime genre.
“This riveting new mystery series pays loving homage to legendary author John D. MacDonald. Stryker McBride is a former crime reporter who lives on a hugely expensive houseboat, the Travis McGee.” When an old high school crush hires Stryker to investigate her grandfather’s drowning death, it quickly becomes obvious that someone doesn’t want him to look too closely at the taro fields. With characters like Franky Five Fins, lawyer Sue Darling, and Tiny (who’s anything but) Maunakea, plus the terrific Hawaiian scenery, let’s hope McBride is in for a rainbow run of titles like Travis McGee.
Hilton “Hilly” Wise has never recovered from a teenage crush, a forbidden relationship with the caretaker’s niece. Not only is Savannah socially below the newly-wealthy Wise Family, but she is African-American. Nadler explores themes of wealth and racism as Hilly’s values and life choices center around becoming his own person and making reparations for the injustices he perceives. A character study of privilege and conviction, pointing out that racial issues and estranged families are not just limited to Southern literature.
Albert Ryan is an intelligence agent known for discretion so it’s no surprise that he is called to the task of quietly solving a string of murders that could prove to be an embarrassment to the Irish government. The victims are all ex-Nazis, given asylum after World War II. Although Ryan works for the Directorate of Intelligence, Otto Skorzeny, one of Hitler’s commandos now living in Ireland, wants to be Ryan’s boss for the operation. Neville introduces a conflicted action hero who is stuck working with the proverbial strange bedfellows.
Ever since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, everyone is searching for the next hot Scandinavian thriller. Although most of the action takes place in Sweden, Söderberg’s first in a crime trilogy seems more international than Scandinavian with a cast of Swedes, Spaniards, Germans, and Russians. Action moves in short spurts, a multitude of multiple plotlines all progressing at once. While the lack of resolution at the end may be frustrating, it is just the type of thing savvy suspense lovers expect, leaving them eagerly awaiting the next installment.
Returning to his failing farm after the Revolutionary War, General James Richardson adapts the practice of slavery to make it profitable again. When that doesn’t return the yield he needs, Richardson decides to hire out one of his slaves, Washington, as a stud service. The inhumanity and denigration is tempered by Wash’s spiritual beliefs, taught to him by his mojo-filled mother and his new-found love, a healer named Pallas. While the plantation owners see more cash in bodies, Wash and Pallas make peace by counting the offspring as disciples of their heritage.
Need more suggestions? Contact your local branch and our staff will be happy to assist you!