Tuesday, January 21, 2014

New Releases from Armistead Maupin, Joyce Carol Oates, Nancy Horan, Rabih Alameddine, and Ian Rankin.

Jannis and I have learned that we are both fans of the Tales of the City series, and it was my thought that one or the other of us should put it on our staff rec shelf and get it to start selling again. The newest novel by Armistead Maupin follows one of his most beloved characters, Anna Madrigal, as she sets off on a road trip at the age of 92. The Days of Anna Madrigal (Harper) is billed as the ninth and last novel in the series, and the starred review from Booklist notes that "Maupin's last novel in the series is as compulsively readable and endearing as all previous novels have been."

 Anne asked me last week whether Melanie Benjamin's last novel, The Aviator's Wife, was actually originally called The Ambassador's Daughter. We checked around, and it was. I guess you could call Nancy Horan's newest, The Guy Who Wrote Treasure Island's Wife, but I'm glad they went with Under the Wide and Starry Sky (Ballantine). The novel has gotten enthusiastic blurbs from Paula McLain (another husband-and-wife) novelist, as well as Sarah Blake, Pete Dexter, Lauren Belfer and Ayelet Waldman, herself a famous wife who perhaps someday will be the subject of a novel. Booklist, which coincidentally also starred this novel, called this "exhilarating epic about a free-spirited couple who traveled the world yet found home only in one another."

Jason was a fan of Joyce Carol Oates' last novel, but I haven't heard yet whether he also read and loved of Carthage (Ecco Press), the story of a young girl who goes missing in the Adirondacks. Publishers Weekly wrote that Oates' latest "ratchets up the unsettling to her signature feverish pitch." While Charles Finch in USA Today has reservations, he still writes that "it's easy to see why Oates has been so important for so long. She has the immeasurable gift of vitality, and Carthage is yet another formidable novel."

It's not completely confirmed, but it's been strongly hinted that Rabih Alameddine is coming to UWM on April 3 for his newest novel An Unnecessary Woman (Grove). Focusing on a 70-something woman, a translator who has seen Beirut's ups and downs, the book received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, which noted  that "Alameddine’s most glorious passages are those that simply relate Aalyia’s thoughts, which read like tiny, wonderful essays." We read his last book, The Hakawati, for our in-store lit group.

Speaking of events, can it really have been a year since Ian Rankin visited Milwaukee? It must be, as his newest is out, a Rebus installment called Saints of the Shadow Bible (Little, Brown).This time Ian Rankin goes up against his old nemesis, Malcolm Fox, and they find themselves aligned, a move which Marilyn Stasio in The New York Times Book Review calls "surprisingly bold." In the Independent, James Moore wonders about Rebus being brought in at a lower rank at the ripe age of 66. Hey, it's a novel.

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