Summer Book Preview 


Hit and Run
By Lawrence Block

Don’t you hate it when you think you’re done getting paid to kill people and can finally concentrate on your stamp collection and you get sucked back into the game and subsequently stranded in Des Moines? John Keller does. William Morrow, June 24

The Lemur
By Benjamin Black (John Banville)

John Banville’s “literary” work has often been characterized as dense and difficult to read; and while, sure, they aren’t exactly Dashiell Hammett, his novels are really beautiful, and they deserve a larger Stateside audience. We’re thinking he got a little sensitive about all the criticism and decided to flip a big bird with this pseudonymous mystery (originally published as a serial in the New York Times Magazine), a dark crime yarn involving the CIA, family secrets and assorted pot-boily things. Picador, June 24

Palace Council
By Stephen L. Carter

Another massive, decades-spanning, black-identity-probing white-collar thriller from the Emperor of Ocean Park and New England White author, this one climaxing amid Watergate. Knopf, July 8

The Turnaround
By George Pelecanos

Violence and buried secrets in D.C., from the thinking person’s favorite crime novelist and The Wire writer. Oh, wait. Second-favorite, after Richard Price. Sorry, George. Little, Brown, August 1

Forced Out
By Stephen Frey

Marvelously funny English wit Stephen Fry is not as widely known this side of the Atlantic as he should be. Not only did he do a master turn as the titular character in the Oscar Wilde biopic, he has directed several films and starred in his own very funny TV sketch show. Oh. Stephen Frey. Umm, let’s see: “tightly wrought” thriller about baseball and the Mafia, gripping page turner… Oh, and this Mr. Frey is in corporate finance. Meh. We’ll take the poncy Brit, thanks. Simon & Schuster, August 5

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
By Stieg Larsson

The first book in a trilogy  — whose author died of a heart attack before his books became a publishing sensation in his native Sweden — concerns Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist (not unlike Larsson) investigating a 40-year-old murder on a remote island. Knopf, September 16

The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday
By Alexander McCall-Smith

Sleuthy Isabel Dalhousie investigates the death of a patient and a doctor’s alleged malfeasance in the latest offering from the compulsively adored McCall-Smith. Pantheon, September 23


By Roxana Robinson

In Robinson’s latest, an art professor seeks help from her scattered family as her son descends into heroin addiction and her life becomes ridden with crime and fear.  Not a “beach read” really, but it sounds like this one’s worth staying inside for. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, available now

The Other
By David Guterson

Has anyone ever asked you to help them drop out of society and live a life of seclusion in the Northwestern wilderness?  If your answer is no, here’s a way to find out what that might be like. Knopf, available now

More Than It Hurts You
By Darin Strauss

The author of Chang and Eng, about the first Siamese Twins, and The Real McCoy, about a turn-of-the-century rogue, fast-forwards to contemporary American race and family relations, and Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome, which is probably not the subject we’d choose for a book published shortly after our wife gave birth to twins, but at least he’ll have something to talk about in interviews. Dutton, June 19

My Sister, My Love: The Intimate Story of Skyler Rampike
By Joyce Carol Oates

One of 17 Joyce Carol Oates books scheduled for a summer publication, this one concerns the titular teen narrator, whose family was, a decade prior, rent at the seams by the notorious killing of her “six-year-old ice-skating champion sister, Bliss.” HarperCollins (Ecco), June 24

Alfred and Emily
By Doris Lessing

Her catladyship the recent Nobel laureate Lessing twice-tells the story of her parents: in the fictional first half, they never meet and live happily in an imagined 20th century; in the second, drawn from memory, they marry and live, often under duress, as whites in Rhodesia.  Harper, August 5

Man in the Dark
By Paul Auster

A grief-stricken old man tells himself a bedtime story, a jumping-off point for Auster’s usual concentric circles of fictional artifice and growling political conscience. They’ll love it in Europe, but don’t they always. Henry Holt, August 19

Something to Tell You
By Hanif Kureishi

If we were forced to come up with the Woody Allen of Londonstani culture — and we often are — Hanif Kureishi would be at the top of the short list. His stories of immigrant London (he wrote the screenplay for My Beautiful Launderette and the novel The Buddha of Suburbia) are funny and sharp but not without tenderness.  Also, he has a parrot called “Amis,” which is funny no matter how you look at it (homage… derision?). Scribner, August 19

The Good Thief
By Hannah Tinti

Tinti, editrix of the beloved One Story magazine, spins a ripping yarn about a one-handed orphan set on a mysterious quest. Also: “Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love” can’t possibly read all the books she’s blurbing these days, can she? Doesn’t she have kids? The Dial Press, August 28

By Marilynne Robinson

The author of possible Best Contemporary American Novel Nobody We Know Has Read Housekeeping took a quarter-century to follow it up with 2004’s family saga Gilead, and now her third, a companion piece to GileadFarrar, Straus & Giroux, September 2

By Philip Roth

Hey Phil, do you think maybe for your next book, which will be number 30, you could mellow out a bit with a title like, oh, we don’t know, Resignation… or Capitulation… or how about, simply, Senescence? No? Right, no problem. Houghton Mifflin, September 16


Bob, or, Man on Boat
By Peter Markus

Peter Markus has made a bit of a name for himself writing about brothers and rivers and mud. Fishing is definitely his thing — which is all well and good. Hemingway perhaps set the standard, Norman Maclean and David James Duncan “tackled” those subjects more recently. Markus’ new book, though, is summery in its subject matter and slim enough to be read while relaxing on your bass boat or setting a deep sea line over the side of your yacht… or while sitting on your LES windowledge because your studio apartment doesn’t have AC.  Whatever. Dzanc Books, available now

By Paul Fattaruso

Hotel St. George Publisher and author Aaron Petrovich describes the house’s latest release this way: “It’s a 77 page, 77 chapter novella, each chapter composed of a single sentence, and can best be described as a love letter to a bicycle.” Given that gas prices and airline tickets are through the roof right now, one can hardly think of a better time for such a love letter.  Hotel St. George Press, available now

By Gail Jones

Man Booker Prize — and Orange Prize — longlister Gail Jones’ latest promises to be an elegiac and wrenching book. Set in the rural outback of western Australia during WWII, the novel tells the story of Perdita, the lone child of academics, and her only friends, a deaf-mute and an aboriginal girl. When the children witness an incredible act of violence, their world and its insular stability are lost. Europa Editions, available now

High Life
By Matthew Stokoe

Few publishers do noir as well as Akashic, and this revised edition of Matthew Stokoe’s shockingly graphic and intensely sexual Los Angeles mystery is no exception to the rule that great noir has to be risky, riveting and smart. In a land of too much sunshine and too many drugs, where the desire for stardom trumps virtually all else, Stokoe’s protagonist, Jack, finds himself searching for his missing girlfriend (a prostitute who has recently sold a kidney for some cash). How’s that for a hook? Akashic Books, July 1

All About Lulu
By Jonathan Evison

Soft Skull’s earned a reputation for publishing compelling literary fiction, and Jonathan Evison’s debut novel is bound to be no exception to the house’s high standards. In this snarled love story, young William loses his mother only to later fall madly and perhaps dangerously in love with his new stepsister, Lulu. After growing up in a house filled with bodybuilder brothers, the skinny, vegetarian protagonist struggles to find a sense of self. He manages to do just that when Lulu unexpectedly reenters his life. It’s a volatile and stirring mix of elements that’s made this one of our most-anticipated summer releases. Soft Skull, July 21

No One Tells Everything
By Rae Meadows

Rae Meadow’s first novel, Calling Out, saw a disillusioned female protagonist flee New York City and a broken relationship, only to find herself thousands of miles away, working for an escort service in Utah. In No One Tells Everything, a quiet, shut-in of a New York copyeditor finds herself obsessed with the murder of a coed. Meadows is a confident and compelling prose stylist, whose sophomore effort promises to be more charged than even her debut. MacAdam Cage, July 22


Violence (Big Ideas/Small Books)
By Slavoj Žižek

Our favorite Slovenian bear-like schlub of a rock-star philosopher is back at it with a tiny little book about his favorite flavors of ice cream. Just kidding, it’s about violence. And don’t get all antsy about looking like a liberal elite because you’re reading Continental philosophy — Žižek is funny and engaging, and infuriating in a Lou Reed kind of way. Even though Lou Reed is a liberal elite. Oh fuck it, we all are.  Picador, July 22

How Fiction Works
By James Wood

The way Consensus Best Literary Critic Alive James Wood says it does, damn it. We hope this is one of those James Wood things where he makes deep, searching, productive inquiries into fiction in a classical mode, and not of those James Wood things where he engages with literary modes honed within the past 150 years and sounds like a hopelessly old-fashioned crank telling Don DeLillo to pull his pants up and get off his lawn. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, August 1

It Still Moves: Lost Songs, Lost Highways and the Search for the Next American Music
By Amanda Petrusich

In which one of the more consistently sensible points on the Pitchfork Media/Village Voice music crit axis hits the road through the South in search of a working definition, historical and contemporary, of Americana. In her author photo, she’s sporting a Stars and Stripes motorcycle helmet, or should be. Faber & Faber, August 26

21 Nights
By Prince

A “multimedia book” centering around Prince’s 2007 string of 21 consecutive London concerts, and featuring photos, Prince’s poems and a CD. Think of it as a combination of The Wilco Book and, one can only imagine, Madonna’s Sex. Simon & Schuster, September 9


The Big Penis Book
By Dian Hanson, ed.

Let it never be said that the good people at Taschen don’t believe in the equality of the sexes. Perhaps aiming to replicate the success of their 396-page, oversize tome, The Big Book of Breasts, this July you’ll be able to drop another $59.99 on Taschen’s The Big Penis Book. And in case you were worried that this might be little more than a book filled with photos of giant male endowments, rest assured that this volume isn’t short on commentary. Sure, there are hundreds of pictures of big weenies, but there are also interviews and analysis that tell a different story of the hustling and modeling racket that the glossy portraits belie. Would it be uncomfortable to have this lying around on your coffee table when mom and dad come to visit? Probably. Are you going to thumb through it sheepishly in Barnes & Noble anyway? Yeah, yeah you are.  Taschen,  June 25

Jews and American Comics: An Illustrated History of an American Art Form
Paul Buhle, ed.

Author and Brown University lecturer Paul Buhle examines the role of Jews in the creation and evolution of American comic art in this single volume. An important contribution to the history of American comic arts and to the cultural and artistic history of America’s Jews, the book features essays on the art by Buhle, but the real gems here are the comics themselves. Some of these selected works date back 100 years while other, more recent examples — like works by Will Eisner and Art Spiegelman — will be familiar. New Press, August 26

My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down

By David Heatley

Pop (Culture) Quiz!  To what band/song is the name of this autobiographical graphic novel a reference?  Winner gets no free anything. Pantheon, September 30


Mommy Must Be a Fountain of Feathers
By Kim Hyesoon, translated by Don Mee Choi

Kim Hyesoon is an award-winning South Korean poet and creative writing instructor whose work has been translated into English and published by small presses only relatively recently. Her new collection from Action Books promises to be as hard-edged and innovative as her 2005 collection When the Plug Gets Unplugged
(Tinfish Press). Her work is gutsy, her language shot through with an almost electric charge of colloquialism that’s strange, appealing and difficult to forget once it’s been read. Action Books, available now

Keeping Time
By Tim Dooley

You know how you and your family went on that European trip when you were a kid and how, when you got back, ice cream seemed common next to the gelato you’d had in Palermo and your mother’s mashed potatoes were kind of lame when compared to the bangers and mash you’d eaten in Cork? Well, as it turns out, a lot of books get published abroad that don’t really reach our fair shores, and many of them are great. Among those publishers who are better known on the other side of the pond is Salt Publishing, and the contemporary poetry they’re publishing is pretty exciting stuff. Tim Dooley’s latest collection comes out in July, and there’s more than a strong case to be made that Dooley should be read in the colonies. He’s colloquial, he’s smart, his work is intelligent and sometimes difficult. Plus, you could tell people that you’re reading Tim Dooley, and when they say, “Who?” you can roll your eyes, sip your drink and shake your head knowingly.  Salt Publishing, July 15


Everybody Talks About the Weather… We Don’t: The Writings of Ulrike Meinhof
Ulrike Meinhof and Karin Bauer, ed; trans. Luise von Flotow

Think what you will of Ulrike Meinhof, the German journalist turned influential spokesperson for and member of the West German revolutionary leftist organization known as the Red Army Faction. This edition collects Meinhof’s translated writings for the first time, a fact that’s surprising enough given the RAF’s social and political influence in Europe and, later, the United States. This edition also includes an afterword from one of Meinhof’s daughters, journalist and author Bettina Röhl, in which the daughter challenges her mother’s iconic status. Radical politics, urban acts of “revolutionary” violence and serious mommy issues? Yes, please. Seven Stories Press, available now

Me of Little Faith
By Lewis Black

Lewis Black has opinions about God, and they are printed in this book. Riverhead, available now

Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream
By Ross Douthat, Reihan Salam

How the Other Half Thinks, courtesy two young Atlantic Monthly editors. Doubleday, June 24

This Land Is Their Land

By Barbara Ehrenreich

National treasure/thorn-in-the-side-of-assholes Ehrenreich has been angry for a long time about how shitty it is to be poor in America. Sounds like a liberal elite right? Giving a shit about someone other than yourself? Sounds a little bit like hippie Jesus, rather than ass-kicking Jesus? Her latest, an incisive look at the great money divide in 21st-century America, will definitely depress you, but might just make you angry enough to do something. Which is always good.  Metropolitan, June 24

The Challenge: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and the Fight Over Presidential Power
By Jonathan Mahler

The author of Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning (huh) dissects the Supreme Court’s ruling on the unconstitutionality of the Gitmo military commissions, probably while taking fewer cheap shots at Clarence “Long Dong Silver” Thomas than we would have. Ass. (Clarence Thomas, we mean.) Farrar, Straus & Giroux, August 5

The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule

By Thomas Frank

The delightfully vitriolic What’s the Matter with Kansas author takes on the metastasized federal government and lobbyist-lawmaker complex that has increasingly characterized Washington during our Republican century. Metropolitan, August 5

Mike’s Election Guide
By Michael Moore

Michael Moore, we’ve never really liked you. We like your politics but we do not like your style (both sartorially and directorially). However, all things being equal, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. So, hey, hey there friend, keep on trucking, guide us through this crazy election season… Grand Central Publishing, August 19

Voices of the Chicago Eight, a Generation on Trial
By Tom Hayden, Ron Sossi, Frank Condon

Yeah, apparently 1968 was an election year and there was this big, expensive, illegal war going on that was leaving lots and lots of dead bodies overseas while people here at home were going broke. Craaazy. Anywho, The Democratic National Committee’s convention in Chicago that year was a giant mess and there was a big trial where eight young people were charged with rioting and conspiracy. They became known as the Chicago Eight and the transcripts of their wacky, hysterical, unfair trial were used to write this play, The Chicago Conspiracy Trial. That play has been brought together in this new edition from City Lights along with reflections and an introduction from Tom Hayden, one of those original Chicago Eight defendants.  City Lights, September 1

The Forever War
By Dexter Filkins

A work of recent history from the Times war correspondent. Nice title, Dex. Why didn’t you just call it “ha ha I am middle-aged and will not have to fight and die for my country when McCain wins and reinstates the draft unlike the person writing this preview blurb who will.” Ass.   Knopf, September 16


Six Good Innings
By Mark Kreidler

Sports writer Kriedler follows the latest incarnation of the Toms River, NJ, Little League dynasty in their dealings with parents, fans, opposing teams and coach John Puleo, who, per the publisher’s description, “works to strike a balance between healthy competition and bloodless ambition.” Harper-Collins, July 1

Books: A Memoir
By Larry McMurtry

Larry McMurty is grossly underrated as a serious American literary writer. He covers the same painful, dust-strewn ground of Cormac McCarthy without getting so durn baroque and grisly, and reveals with Camus-like economy the solitude and despair of the cowboy. For this, we love him. Simon and Schuster, July 8

Dali & I: The Surreal Story

By Stan Lauryssens

Stan Lauryssens made millions laundering money by selling fraudulent Dali paintings, and Dali was in on it the whole time! Thomas Dunne, July 8

My Life with Che
By Hilda Gadea

Che Guevara’s first wife, Hilda, tells all. Palgrave Macmillan, July 22

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
By Haruki Murakami

Wait, Haruki Murakami is one of those guys who goes on and on about how running changed his life and is a metaphor for life and about all the minutiae of training regimens and split times in a way that can only possibly be of interest to fellow fetishists? We knew he was like that about whiskey and jazz records, but come on. Knopf, July 29

The Thrill of It All: Leopold, Loeb and the Murder That Shocked Chicago

By Simon Baatz

A new book revisits the original “Trial of the Century” — the one in which pampered boy geniuses Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold killed their 14-year-old neighbor for fun.  The murder shocked gangland Chicago, which says a lot. Harper, August 5

Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What It Says About Us)

By Tom Vanderbilt

Why do the most crashes happen on sunny days? Who honks their horn at whom, and why? These and many other traffic-as-it-relates-to-sociology-psychology-and-economics questions are answered here. Knopf, August 5

How Beautiful It Is and How Easily It Can Be Broken
By Daniel Mendelsohn

A collection of short stories from the author of The Lost promises to be beautiful and heartbreaking, and has very cool cover art featuring a woman’s face made out of stone that’s kind of chipped. Harper-Collins, August 12

A Universal History of the Destruction of Books: From Ancient Sumer to Modern-day Iraq
By Fernando Baez

In all the moves we’ve made over the last ten years we’ve left behind dishes, posters, couches, chairs, hockey sticks, shoes and a life-size cutout of Loni Anderson — but we’ve never left a single book. This wide-ranging study of the destruction of the written word, of “anti-creation” as Baez puts it, investigates the dark motivations for some of the worst bibliocides in history. Atlas, August 18

Nothing to Be Frightened Of
By Julian Barnes
“I don’t believe in God, but I miss him” is the key line of Barnes’s memoir, about family, faith and fear of death. Bonus Barnes quote, from a 2006 interview: “I don’t care what happens after I’m dead. I assume it’s even worse than old age.” Knopf, September 5

Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution — and How It Can Renew America
By Thomas L. Friedman

The grand mysterious mustache of the Times op-ed pages has cooked up another no doubt baffling proscriptive polemic based on stage-managed visits to Potemkin factories and made-up conversations with cabdrivers in teeming foreign capitals. At least this one doesn’t seem to suggest we can all drive Lexuses (or as he might write, in one of his short-circuiting koans, Lexi). Farrar, Straus & Giroux, September 8

Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar
By Paul Theroux

Theroux thankfully puts aside his telegraphed, appallingly superior fiction in favor of his true talent, travel writing, retracing the route of his 1975 landmark The Great Railway Bazaar. Houghton Mifflin, August 18


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