So I was wandering around the store today and noticed that there were a whole bunch of paperbacks up front that I didn't really recognize. I hadn't really remembered seeing them in hardcover, and that's because, as I confirmed with Jason, they are all paperback originals. This was yesterday's future of publishing, before ebooks were tomorrow's future of publishing. But of course yesterday's tomorrow is today, which is as good a reason as any to call these books to your attention.
Nancy Huston has a new novel? Who knew? I really enjoyed Fault Lines several years ago. The new novel, Infrared (Black Cat/Grove Press) which came out in France in 2010, is about Rena Greenblatt, a successful photographer who has overcome both a troubled childhood and twice as many failed marriages, who takes a holiday in Florence with her father and stepmother. The banal family holiday is juxtaposed, both with accounts from her lover covering race riots in Paris, and her own first-person intimate confessions. Did I get those details write? Starred review from Publishers Weekly and France Soir called it “an intense and sensual novel.”
Jason, on the other hand, read the last Nathan Larson novel, The Dewey Decimal System, and seemed quite excited by The Nervous System (Akashic), which Ken Bruen praised as “sheer magic and delirious joy” on the book jacket. Our hero, the eponymous Dewey Decimal, is living in post-apocalyptic New York City, where he attempts to make order of the New York Public Library. He’s also a vet, has OCD, and he freelances as muscle for corrupt politicians and various underworlders The new novel finds Dewey attempting to clean up the loose ends of the first book (including a killing, which I probably shouldn’t give away if you are still planning to read it). Laura Lippman pines over the perfect prose, “as tweaked and jumpy and memorable as the man known as Dewey Decimal.” To her taste, she’s more of a Library of Congress girl.
Misfit, by Adam Braver (Tin House) shows Marilyn Monroe’s iconic dress on its jacket and that might be a clue that this novel is about the last weekend of her life, spent at the Cal Neva lodge, Frank Sinatra’s resort. Braver’s fascinated with this line of inspiration, having previously penned November 22, 1963 (Kennedy) and Divine Sarah (Bernhardt), more last moments of the stars--I see a boxed set someday. Dan Chaon notes “Adam Braver has a wonderfully rich imagination and his grasp of historical characters and settings is both deep and natural. I would gladly read anything he writes.” while Ann Beattie offers that this “amazing” novel is about “identity, privacy, and intimacy that both exposes and conceals its subject.” From my short browsing of the Misfit, it called to mind Lily Tuck, but I have no idea if that bears out.
Children in Reindeer Woods (Open Letter) is translated from the Icelandic by Lytton Smith. I am very excited to try to get all the accents correct. The author is Kristín Ómarsdóttir (perhaps best known in Iceland as a playwright, where she won the prestigious Griman award) has written a story about young Billie, whose temporary home turns out to be in a war zone. Paratroopers kill everyone in the home and then turn on each other, and Billie is forced to live with Rafael, a solider turned farmer. Shane, where are you? I think this author is channeling Jesse Ball. From Kirkus: “This is the first of Icelandic author Ómarsdottir's novels to appear in English, and it shouldn't be the last. Somewhere in the reader's mind, Catch-22 echoes faintly.”