The Hottest Books of the Summer
The agents at the IRS Regional Examination Center in Peoria, Illinois, appear ordinary enough to newly arrived trainee David Foster Wallace. But as he immerses himself in a routine so tedious and repetitive that new employees receive boredomsurvival training, he discovers the extraordinary variety of personalities drawn to this strange calling. The Pale King remained unfinished at the time of David Foster Wallace's death, but it is a deeply compelling and satisfying novel, hilarious and fearless and as original as anything Wallace ever undertook. It grapples directly with ultimate questions--questions of life's meaning and of the value of work and society--through characters imagined with the interior force and generosity that were Wallace's unique gifts. Along the way it suggests a new idea of heroism and commands infinite respect for one of the most daring writers of our time.
In this fantastically original debut collection, Daniel Orozco leads the reader through the secret lives and moral philosophies of bridge painters, men housebound by obesity, office temps, and warehouse workers. He reveals the secret pleasures of late-night supermarket trips for cookie binges, exceptional data entry, and an exiled dictator’s occasional piss on the U.S. embassy. His stories are formally inventive: a love affair blooms between two officers in the impartially worded pages of a police blotter and a new employee’s first-day office tour includes descriptions of other workers’ most private thoughts and actions. Each story in the collection has a gut-punch impact, softened only by lyricism and black humor. They open cracks in the reassurance of daily routine and expose the alienation, casual cruelty, madness, and unknown that simmers beneath the surface of the world. Orozco is a major new talent and an important addition to the landscape of American fiction.
Crippled by lupus at twenty-five, celebrated author Flannery O'Connor was forced to leave New York City and return home to Andalusia, her family farm in Milledgeville, Georgia. Years later, as Flannery is finishing a novel and tending to her menagerie of peacocks, her mother drags her to the wedding of a family friend, setting in motion a series of reckless relationships that lead to a tragedy that forever alters the town and the author herself. Cookie Himmel is the beautiful Southern bride. Melvin Whiteson is her rich fiancé. Flannery is the vivid, charismatic writer who, despite the limitations of her disease, draws Melvin to her like a moth to a candle flame. Heartbreakingly beautiful and inescapably human, these ordinary and extraordinary people chart their own courses through life. In the aftermath of one tragic afternoon, they are all forced to look at themselves and face up to Flannery's observation that "the truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it."
In the early 1960s, uncertainty and menace gripped New York, crystallizing in a poisonous divide between a deeply corrupt, cynical, and racist police force, and an African American community buffeted by economic distress, brutality, and narcotics. On August 28, 1963 – the day Martin Luther King Jr. declared "I have a dream" on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial – two young white women were murdered in their Manhattan apartment. Dubbed the Career Girls Murders case, the crime sent ripples of fear throughout the city. It also marked the start of a ten-year saga of fear, racial violence, and turmoil. The Savage City emerges as an epic narrative of injustice and defiance, revealing for the first time the gripping story of how a great city, marred by fear and hatred, struggled for its soul in a time of sweeping social, political, and economic change.
Theo and Raquel Motherwell are the only newcomers to the sleepy town of Wick in fifteen-year-old Ginger Pritt's memory. Hampered by a lingering innocence while her best friend, Cherry, grows more and more embroiled with boys, Ginger is instantly attracted to the worldliness and sophistication of this dashing couple. But the Motherwells may be more than they seem. As Ginger's keen imagination takes up the seductive mystery of their past, she also draws closer to her town's darker history, and every new bit of information she thinks she understands leads only to more questions. Who, or what, exactly, are the Motherwells? And what do they want with her? Both a lyrical coming-of-age story and a spine-tingling tale of ghostly menace, The Beginners introduces Rebecca Wolff as an exciting new talent in fiction.
In this sequel to Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller returns to Africa and the story of her unforgettable family. At its heart, this is the story of Fuller's mother, Nicola. Born on the Scottish Isle of Skye and raised in Kenya, Nicola holds dear the kinds of values most likely to get you hurt or killed in Africa: loyalty to blood, passion for land, and a holy belief in the restorative power of all animals. Fuller interviewed her mother at length and Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is as funny, terrifying, exotic, and unselfconscious as Nicola herself. A story of survival and madness, love and war, loyalty and forgiveness, this is an intimate exploration of the author's family. In local custom, the Tree of Forgetfulness is where villagers meet to resolve disputes and it is here that the Fullers at last find an African kind of peace. Following the ghosts and dreams of memory, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is Alexandra Fuller at her very best.
Remembering is sometimes like "juggling a hundred thousand crystal balls all at once," writes Francisco Goldman. This beautifully written book is, at the same time, an elegant, elegiac novel; a brutal, honest memoir; and the longest and most tender love letter in the world. Say Her Name is a gift of love for the author's beautiful young wife, Aura Estrada, who died after an accident in the waves at Mezunte Beach in Mexico. She was only thirty, a talented writer, and a scholar. Aura's absence is deeply felt throughout the whole book, and Francisco's grief, his longing and his survivor's guilt, are visible in his apartment, where Aura's belongings are left untouched. I don't believe in the spirit world, yet when Francisco stops to hug and kiss Aura's favorite tree, a hale silver maple at the end of his block, I, too, felt Aura's presence. And if that's not enough, the last pages will take your breath away. – Aggie Z, Literature Buyer
Meet Jake. A bit on the elderly side (he turns 201 in March), but otherwise in the pink of health. The nonstop sex and exercise he’s getting probably contribute to that, as does the unusual amount of flesh and blood in his diet. Jake, of course, is a werewolf, and with the death of his colleague he has become the only one of his kind. This depresses Jake to the point of contemplating suicide. Yet there are powerful forces who, for very different reasons, want – and have the power – to keep Jake alive. This is one of the most original, audacious, and terrifying novels in years, a powerful new version of the werewolf legend. It is mesmerizing and undeniably sexy, with moments of violence so elegantly wrought they dazzle rather than repel. But its most remarkable achievement is the way it evokes sympathy for a man who can only be described as a monster - and in doing so, reminds us what it means to be human.
More than two thousand wildfires blazed across the state of California in June 2008. When a massive fire surrounded the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, the oldest Zen Buddhist monastery in the United States, firefighters ordered the evacuation of all residents. As they caravanned up the road, five senior monks decided to turn back. Relying on their Zen training, they were able to remain in the moment and do the seemingly impossible, greeting the fire not as an enemy to defeat, but as a friend to guide. Novices in fire, but experts in readiness, the Tassajara monks summoned both intuition and wisdom to face crisis with startling clarity. The result is a profound lesson in the art of living. A gripping narrative as well as a portrait of the Zen path and the ways of wildfire, Fire Monks reveals what it means to meet a crisis with full presence of mind.
The Psychopath Test is a fascinating journey through the minds of madness. Jon Ronson's exploration of a potential hoax being played on the world's top neurologists takes him, unexpectedly, into the heart of the madness industry. An influential psychologist who is convinced that many important CEOs and politicians are, in fact, psychopaths teaches Ronson how to spot these high-flying individuals by looking out for little telltale verbal and nonverbal clues. And so Ronson, armed with his new psychopath-spotting abilities, enters the corridors of power. Ronson not only solves the mystery of the hoax but also discovers, disturbingly, that sometimes the personalities at the helm of the madness industry are, with their drives and obsessions, as mad in their own way as those they study. And that relatively ordinary people are, more and more, defined by their maddest edges.
The highly anticipated sixth book of Jean Auel's Earth's Children series, The Land of Painted Caves is the culmination fans have been waiting for. Continuing the story of Ayla and Jondalar, Auel combines her brilliant narrative skills and appealing characters with a remarkable re-creation of the way life was lived more than 25,000 years ago. The Land of Painted Caves is an exquisite achievement by one of the world's most beloved authors.