THE PAGE TURNERS
A Long Way Down
Nick Hornby (Riverhead)
Thank god Hornby never had serious aspirations to join the literary elite. Where would we be without his engaging, hilarious, disarmingly smart takes on the human condition? This one involves four would-be suicides who meet on a rooftop and share their stories (Breakfast Club anyone?)
The Dog Runs of New York City
Frances R. Sheridan
If you don’t think dogs are cute you probably won’t turn the pages that much. But if you don’t think New York dogs are cute, the very magazine you currently hold in your hands will probably burst into flames. Woof.
Zorro: A Novel
Isabel Allende (HarperCollins)
We were going to put this one in the Literary section because Allende is just such a damn good writer… How can you go wrong with wonderful, lush, smart writing about a swashbuckling hero of the people? (We challenge you not to think of Antonio Banderas while you’re reading this.)
John Twelve Hawks (Double Day)
Basically, we just liked the author’s name. But as it turns out, this first novel, about mystical time travelers and their adventures has a lot of publishing types salivating on their wingtips. Cool name though.
Homewrecker: An Adultery Reader
Daphne Gottlieb (Soft Skull)
The title kind of says it all on this one. Because nothing is more satisfying than other people’s tales of woe (especially when there’s sex involved). With writing from Neal Pollack, Lori Selke, Gina Frangello and more.
The Whores on the Hill
This first-time novelist takes us on a journey to an all-girls high school in the early 1990s for a heavy dose of suburban ennui, manifested in drugs, casual sex, and violence (self-inflicted and otherwise). You need more reasons to read it?! It’ll make you nostalgic for high school and incredibly thankful that you never have to go back.
The Italian Secretary
Caleb Carr (Caroll and Graff)
We think Carr’s kind of a goofball, but like other millionaire-writer goofballs, he knows how to keep the ol’ plot chuggin’ along. In this particular joint, Carr has decided to write a Sherlock Holmes mystery… nothing too frilly or meta. We guess he just wanted to read more Holmes stories, so he wrote one himself.
Bret Easton Ellis (Knopf, August 16)
The so-called enfant terrible of American letters plays himself in this disturbing, dread-filled tale of murder, paranoia and evil dolls. (Imagine if Ellis just started turning out pleasant fables from the life of a country gentlemen? Now that would be disturbing.)
As Serious As A Heartattack
By Louisa Luna (Washington Square Press)
Louisa Luna wears pulp fiction like a hipster chick in a vintage dress and looks pretty good doing it. The story is as much a whodunit as an old-fashioned big city diary. It’s replete with empathetically drawn New York City details, and a loneliness familiar to anyone who’s waited on a piss stained subway platform
THE CONVERSATION STARTERS
SHAM: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless
Steve Salerno (Crown, June 28)
Dr. Phil a southern-fried fraud? Dr. Laura a hypocritical scold? Exult in your own private neurosis and learn how the self-helpers help themselves — to hefty profits!
Inside the Cage: A Season at West 4th Street’s Legendary Tournament
Wight Martindale, Jr. (Simon Spotlight)
Really big men on an itty-bitty court, the Pro-Classic Tournament’s 25th season just began at the Cage, a New York City institution and “the best playground court in America.”
Expletive Deleted: A Good Look at Foul Language
Ruth Wajnryb (Free Press, July 13)
Motherfucker! “Cunt” is easily the most insulting word in English — did you know that? Find out more, and see lots of naughty words in print.
The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel
Rachael Antony and Joel Henry
Get off the goddamn tour bus you pallid git and find out 40 ways to experience the place you’re visiting.
Truth: A Guide for the Perplexed
Simon Blackburn (Oxford Univ. Press)
What is truth? Is it worth seeking? What about truth or dare? Is it a good game to play? Why is Derrida such a punk? Find out, with this beach read from the world’s most readable philosopher.
Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner (William Morrow)
The early line on Freakonomics — from young ivy-tenured economists Levitt and Dubner (who probably refer to themselves as the “two Steves.” Awesome!) — is that it’s Gladwellian without the training wheels. Sounds fun, if only to replenish the dinner party arsenal.
Jack Welch (HarperBusiness)
You should steal retired General Electric CEO Jack Welch’s new memoir, co-written with recently acquired wife Suzy, for the sole purpose of urinating on it, dousing it with lighter fluid and setting the thing aflame while yelling, “Straight from the gut, Jacko!” Yes, that’s anger you’re detecting.
The Complete New Yorker: Eighty Years of the Nation’s Greatest Magazine
David Remnick (October)
Ok, this doesn’t come out till October, but we’re flipping our respective lids here in The L offices. Comprehensive, searchable New Yorker archives on a CD ROM? Worth picking up for keyword “Parker” alone (or “Liebling” if your tastes go that way). You can place a pre-order now for $64. After the release the price gets bumped up to a cool c-note ($100)
Like A Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads
Greil Marcus (PublicAffairs)
Like with The Wall, legend has it that it’s impossible to read all 283 pages of this book aloud in a Dylan voice without killing yourself afterwards.
The Rock Snob’s Dictionary: An Essential Lexicon of Rockological Knowledge
David Kamp, Steven Daly (Broadway)
Pffft, like you, faithful L reader, need this book. You probably even know the textbook definition of “rockological.”
Big Bosoms and Square Jaws: The Biography of Russ Meyer, King of the Sex Film
Jimmy McDonough (Crown, June 28)
A new biography on the legendary filmmaker whose late 1950s work with enormous-breasted women helped launch the sexual revolution.
Out of the Inkwell: Max Fleischer and the Animation Revolution
Richard Fleischer (University Press of Kentucky, June 30)
Richard Fleischer celebrates the life of his father, the revolutionary cartoonist behind Popeye, Betty Boop, and the bouncing ball of “follow the bouncing ball!” fame.
CBGB and OMFUG: Thirty Years from the Home of Underground Rock
Various Authors (Harry N. Abrams, July 1)
David Byrne takes a break from PowerPoint presentations to pen the afterword for this anthology of commentaries and photos about the legendary club — though probably not about its legendary bathrooms.
Bruce Lee: Fighting Words
Bruce Thomas (Frog Ltd., July 10)
A collection of short anecdotes and essays on the late, great martial artist. This book will probably not kick your ass (unless you taunt it).
King Kong Cometh
Paul A. Woods (ed.) (Plexus Press, July 10)
Trace the evolution of the giant gorilla from the 1920s versions all the way up to Peter Jackson’s forthcoming mega-blockbuster starring Jack Black, miscast as someone other than the ape.
Serge Gainsbourg: A View From The Exterio r
Alan Clayson (Sanctuary Press, July 10)
You can read all the books about Serge Gainsbourg you want, but you will never, never get laid like he did.
Def Jam, Inc.: Russell Simmons, Rick Rubin, and the Extraordinary Story of the World’s Most Influential Hip-Hop Label
Stacy Gueraseva (One World/Ballantine, July 26)
A comprehensive look at one of hip-hop’s most important (and most revolutionary) labels. You crazy for this one, Stacy Gueraseva!
KRS-One (Sensei Publications, July 31)
One of the earliest socially conscious rappers, the outspoken Kris Parker offers up his first collection of writings, which stand in remarkable contrast to the thugged-out, bling-crazy state of mind of mainstream, contemporary hip-hop.
Modernity and Progress: Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Orwell
Ronald Berman (U. of Alabama Press, August)
We’re not actually sure who would win in a bar fight — but if we had the choice, we’d read Orwell’s account of the fight in question. (Though it’s quite possible that the two Americans would gang up on the Englishman, and Fitzgerald would totally grab a chair and just start swinging it over his head, crying like a three-year-old the whole time.)
Belle and Sebastian: Just A Modern Rock Story
Paul Whitelaw (St. Martin’s Griffin, August 1)
This book is probably more than just anecdotes about the numerous times when people realized Belle and Sebastian weren’t just two guys named Belle and Sebastian. But we can’t make any guarantees.
Franz Kafka Encyclopedia
Richard T. Gray (Greenwood, August)
Because what else would you rather do on a sweltering summer day at the beach than get in touch with your inner feelings of paralytic claustrophobia? (See the fools at play and oblivious in the monotonous surf!
Towelhead: A Novel
Alicia Erian (Simon and Schuster)
This powerful coming-of-age story (set on the eve of the first Gulf War) finds a 13-year-old living with her traditionalist Lebanese father in Houston, dealing with the crises of puberty on her own.
William T. Vollman (Viking)
At a lean 832 pages this represents one of Vollman’s lighter romps through topics of world-historical import. Somehow he’s managed a provocative, fictional look at the mess that was the first half of the 20th century.
The Hungry Tide: A Novel
Amitav Ghosh (Houghton Mifflin)
Set in a remote archipelago off the coast of India , Ghosh’s latest novel (her fifth) is part anthropology, part romance and part elegy — and as an added thrill-bonus, Bengal tigers might attack any character at any moment.
Never Let Me Go
Kazuo Ishiguro (Knopf)
Everybody’s talking about Ishiguro’s artful investigation into the near-future ramifications of cloning for human gain (in this case, using friendly clones as organ-generating machines). You should be too.
The Diary of Andrés Fava
Julio Cortázar (translated by Anne McLean, Archipelago Press)
Cortazar is an ever-so slightly unsung 20th century master of the short story (he can’t officially be unsung… after all, his story Blow Up was made into the famous Antonioni film). Amazingly though, this is the first English translation of The Diary.
Specimen Days: A Novel
Michael Cunningham (Farrar, Strauss, Giroux)
Did you see the movie where Nicole Kidman wore a fake nose? Well, that was The Hours, and it was based on Cunningham’s beautiful meditation on life, death, loss and Virginia Woolf. This new novel takes its title from the Walt Whitman book and is a meditation on life, death, loss and not Virginia Woolf.
The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
Umberto Eco (Harcourt)
The smarty pants Italian master of the goofily esoteric is back at it with the story of an antiquarian bookseller named Yambo who loses his “biographical” memory. But because this is an Eco book, he can remember everything he’s ever read.
A Slight Trick of the Mind
Mitch Cullin (Nan A. Talese)
The imagined life of Sherlock Holmes is an endlessly fascinating topic for enthusiasts and mystery nerds alike, but Cullin’s novelized look at the end of the great detective’s life transcends the genre and will definitely appeal to all tastes.
Freddy and Fredericka
Mark Helprin (Penguin, July)
Helprin has a modest but very devoted following among those who’ve discovered his combination of impeccable style and vibrant imagination. This, his first book in just about a decade, is a picaresque look at a pair of English monarchs (loosely based on Charles and Diana) trying to navigate the byways of a near-future America.
No Country for Old Men
Cormac McCarthy (Knopf, July 19)
What says super summer fun more than serial killing and necrophilia!? The dark Faulkner of the 21st century (seriously, he can actually make Faulkner look like Candace Bushnell on a good hair day) returns with a tale of backwoods depravity, set closer to the present day than anything he’s yet written.
Here Is Where We Meet
by John Berger (Pantheon, August 9)
One of the great prose stylists of the last 30 years, Berger aims his considerable talents at the tragedies of the first half of the 20th century. This far-reaching novel-cum-memoir-cum essay could be his best yet.
Mao: The Unknown Story
Jung Chang, Jon Halliday (Jonathan Cape)
Chairman Mao was one horrible human being. Chang and Halliday’s laboriously researched book exposes arguably the 20th century’s biggest sociopath.
Irresistible Empire: America’s Advance through 20th-Century Europe
Victoria de Grazia (Belknap Press)
Maybe this is the one book you should read for the summer — it’s only 600 pages on America’s consumerist victory over old European cultural conservatism and the subsequent birth of a transnational paradigm! Don’t get any cotton candy on it!
It’s a Free Country: Personal Freedom in America After September 11
Edited By Robert Greenwald, Danny Goldberg, and Victor Goldberg (Nation Books)
Ok, so this collection of responses to the Patriot Act and its consequences for personal liberty has been out for a while now… but in case you haven’t noticed, it’s still an issue. Arm yourselves. (Featuring work by Michael Moore, Maxine Waters and Matt Groening)
Thomas Jefferson: Author of America
Christopher Hitchens (HarperCollins)
In addition to Hitchens’s heroic journalistic output (he writes regular columns for Slate, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic Monthly, The Mirror) he also produces around a book per year. This latest, written for the Eminent Lives biography series, is sure to be stylishly written, forcefully argued, and worth a look — regardless of whether or not you agree with his thesis.
Squandered Victory : The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq
Larry Diamond (Times Books)
Well somebody had to start writing books about it... And Diamond happens to be an old colleague of Condi Rice, sent over to Iraq to serve as a special adviser. Note the words “Squandered” and “Bungled” in the title.
Rogue Regime: Kim Jong Il and the Looming Threat of North Korea
Jasper Becker (Oxford Univ. Press)
Sure, all that stuff about nuclear weapons and peninsular instability is pretty scary, but have you seen Kim Jong Il lately? Girlfriend is losing it!! Platform shoes and pompadours and hissy fits Marie Antoinette would respect. The cruelest evolutionary joke of all would be if this was the human who took out the species.
Secrets of the Kingdom: The Inside Story of the Saudi-U.S. Connection
Gerald L. Posner (Random House)
Apparently they do more than just hold hands on long walks through the park. It’s not really that complicated: the Saudis have a shit load of money and power.
How the Left Lost Teen Spirit
Danny Goldberg (Akashic Books)
A look at the disconnect between progressive politics and younger voters: Basically it’s all Tipper Gore’s fault for raggin’ on rock lyrics.
Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and the Myth of Converging Values
Michael Adams (Penguin)
Sure, we have some Canadians on staff. Look! There they go! So cute… so quiet. This one’s for you lil’ Canucks… This is your pathetic moment in the sun! (Will one of you marry us?)