Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tuesday (No, It's Wednesday!) New Fiction--Dave Eggers, Dennis McFarland, Andre Dubus, Jonathan Grimwood, but Not Quite Donna Tartt.

I am sort of confused by how The New York Times schedules its daily reviews, aren't you? While there were two over-the-top lovefests this week, Monday's review of Alice McDermott's Someone, from Janet Maslin, was a month past pub date, while Tuesday's review of The Goldfinch from Donna Tartt was two weeks before on sale.  I've noticed that the Sunday Book Review has also scheduled Donna Tartt for a full 9 days before on sale, as opposed to their usual model of two days ahead. I double checked to see if Tartt's novel had been moved up a week, but at least according to Ingram, it hasn't.

If you haven't read the reviews, Maslin writes that "Someone is such a modest title for such a finely tuned, beautiful book filled with so much universal experience, such haunting imagery, and such urgent matters of life and death." Regarding The Goldfinch, Kakutani exclaims that "Ms. Tartt has made Fabritius’s bird the MacGuffin at the center of her glorious, Dickensian novel, a novel that pulls together all her remarkable storytelling talents into a rapturous, symphonic whole and reminds the reader of the immersive, stay-up-all-night pleasures of reading." We'd love to hold a copy for you--just stop by or drop us a line.

Between September 10 and October 22, however, comes a whole slew of new releases that call for your attention, like The Circle, the new novel from Dave Eggers. This one is coming from Knopf, not McSweeneys, and I'm not sure of the backstory there.

Here's our rec from buyer Jason Kennedy: "Mae Holland lands a job at the Circle--think of them as a cross between Google, Facebook, and Twitter--thanks to her college friend Annie, who has risen to the corporation’s upper echelons. She starts off in customer service, quickly increasing her presence online after being called out about her non-responsiveness to customer queries. Mae could be anyone with a new job, wanting to show her talent and desire to look good to her peers, and she swallows the medicine whole. As The Circle begins to throw its weight around, it seeps into every aspect its users’ lives. At the end of the day, do we really want anyone controlling so much of our daily information, whether to share it or to use it? Mae’s got a tough choice ahead. Dave Eggers has delivered this generation’s 1984 or Brave New World, or more likely, a hybrid of the two, in this thought-provoking read."

A big trend with publishers is to send out signed copies as part of the initial distribution. Some folks sign the books in the warehouse, but lots of them are tip ins, where they sign a sheet which is bound into the book. Either one is a nice bonus. Norton tried this with Dirty Love (Norton), the new book, alternately novellas or loosely connected fictions,  much in the vein of Marie NDiaye's Three Strong Women, which I wrote about yesterday. Kirkus Reviews called this "first-rate fiction by a dazzling talent" while Ron Charles in the Washington Post observes "The title of this new book by Andre Dubus III, Dirty Love, is a bit of a tease. But whatever it takes to get you into his fantastic collection of novellas is fair game."

When I am booking or following up on authors, I always like to hear what else the publicists are working on that they are excited about. Is that sentence structure clumsy or what? It was months ago that Michiko at Pantheon called to my attention Nostalgia, the new novel from Dennis McFarland. His new book is a Civil War novel, about which Publishers Weekly says "McFarland manages to find something new to say about a war that could have had everything said about it already. In the end, this is a moving account of one soldier’s journey to hell and back, and his struggle to make his own individual peace with the world afterward."

And finally here's some info about a new hardcover from Europa, best known for their trade paperback originals. The Last Banquet, by Jonathan Grimwood, is the tale of an orphan sent to a school for destitute nobles in revolutionary France. As a UK import, it already has nice writeups in the Guardian and Independent. It was through these reviews that I learned that the author writes science fiction under the name Jon Courtenay Grimwood, much like Iain Banks used his middle initial M. for work that he thought was more straight-up genre.

David Barnett in The Independent writes: The Last Banquet is an astonishing, sensual feast which will appeal to those who enjoyed Patrick Susskind’s Perfume. And as comparisons are odious, so are categorisations. Is Grimwood an SF or a literary author? It doesn’t matter. He’s a damned fine writer, and with The Last Banquet, it feels like Grimwood has cut loose and written the book he was always meant to, with equal parts lush, sumptuous prose, convincing historical seasoning, and a cast of believable, human characters which will leave you sated and satisfied. Tastes like awesome."

The taste comment is a play on little Jean-Marie's career as a gastronome and taster, which is why a lot of folks are comparing this to Perfume.

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