Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New Boswell's Best--Saunders, Pidgeon, Chevalier, Askew, Jensen.

The big news this week was George Sanders's new story collection, Tenth of December (Random House). Before we could turn around, all our copies (signed) were sold, with one left on hold for a bookseller. The New York Times article (Joel Lovell called it the best book of 2013) also wiped out the wholesalers. I guess I should have recalled the great enthusiasm for Pastoralia and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, and I guess a long time between books and a higher profile publisher makes all the difference. We should have books back in stock as soon as Jason can source some--it will still be on Boswell's Best when it returns, so you can let us call you when it comes in.

I started reading Sean Pidgeon's Finding Camlann in manuscript last spring, where I supposed to meet him for a dinner put together by W.W.Norton. But I missed my plane, and that left me arriving just as the dinner was ending. The novel, written by a John Wiley exec, is about Donald Gladstone and Julia Llewellyn's search fort he origins of King Arthur. Rebecca Goldstein writes: "Finding Camlann delivers a wallop of pleasure to both the head and hte heart. It is suffused with an irresistible sense of mystery, about the unknowable past and about the inner truth of those we love." I've read a few bloggers who were intrigued by the comparisons to A.S. Byatt's Possession, but didn't have a quotable outcome. We'll see what the reviewers say.

The new Tracy Chevalier, The Last Runaway (Dutton), has a different sort of feel, at least from the jacket. It's a about a young Quaker woman drawn into the clandestine activities of the Underground Railroad. Patty Rhule in USA Today found the story "well told and engrossing." She continued: "Popular culture's current fascination with the corrosive effect of slavery can be seen in the hit movies Lincoln and Django Unchained. With compelling characters and swift pacing, The Last Runaway adds a worthy new chapter to a story that has consumed generations."

When I see a book with quotes from Adriana Trigiani and Ben Fountain, I'm not sure what to expect. But Rilla Askew's new novel, Kind of Kin (Ecco), has that and Luis Alberto Urrea, and four of my favorite booksellers--Paul Ingram from Prairie Lights, Sheryl Cotleur from Copperfield's, Emily Russo from Greenlight, and Roberta Rubin from The Book Stall. Rubin said "I cried, and laughed, and then cried again...Its moral conscience tapped the core of my being." The story revolves around a man sent to prison for harboring undocumented migrant workers in Oklahoma. This would be a nice jump from Hector Tobar's The Barbarian Nurseries, and I'm tempted to drop everything and start reading now, only I'm in the middle of Nancy Kricorian's new novel (All the Light There Was, due in March) and I am one of those one-at-a-time kind of readers.  But it can certainly go on the pile. Who am I kidding? It was already on the pile.

And finally, Liz Jensen's new novel, The Uninvited (Bloomsbury) follows Hesketh Lock, trying to figure out how a bizarre scandal in the Taiwanese timber industry ties into a series of gruesome murders, not of children, but by children. It's sort of a dystopian psychological thriller. Oh, and did I mention Lock is on the Spectrum? All the London papers are raving, from the Guardian to the Sunday Times. And here's a quote from the Independent: As difficult to read as it is to put down, The Uninvited is a masterclass in creepiness – as unsettling as Margaret Atwood or Kazuo Ishiguro but with modern detail such as Skype calls, industrial espionage and Twitter."

Have Jason or Greg or Mel read Jensen's newest? I think they'd love it. Later note: it turns out that Stacie read it. I asked her if I could recommend to folks who like The Ring, the Japanese horror novel. Yes, and it also has a global warming angle.

All the books are Boswell's Best, at least through the 14th.

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