Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Releases from Lorrie Moore, Joshua Marx Feldman, Alice LaPlante, Anna Hope, Amy Greene, and Peter Swanson, Plus a Few More Details About Michio Kaku's Event Tomorrow (Which is Not Fiction but is Definitely Appealing to the Speculative Folk).

As Jason noted to me, the two biggest books coming out today are both events at Boswell. We'll be hosting Michio Kaku tomorrow, Wednesday, February 26, 7 pm, for The Future of the Mind (Doubleday) and Lorrie Moore for her new story collection, Bark (Knopf), on Monday, March 3, 7 pm.

Both events are free and likely to be quite crowded. In particular, I should note that Michio Kaku's profile has gone up quite a bit since his last release, Physics of the Future, and we are also his first event after his whirlwind 48-hours in New York, where he is doing just about every program you can possibly imagine. I was speaking to K.P. at Wisconsin Public Radio and he said the interview with Dr. Kaku was mindblowing. You can listen to it here.

Here are a few more recently-published fiction titles. The Book of Jonah, by Joshua Max Feldman (Henry Holt) went on sale earlier this month. It's said to be a modern retelling of the Biblical story, featuring a successful lawyer who starts seeing visions. What starts as a New York light satire a la Claire Messud's Emperor's Children (thanks, Ron Charles) takes on gravitas when that vision is of New York being destroyed. So while Jonah sees God's might, a parallel character, Judith Bulbrook, sees absence. Charles particularly liked the first half of the story; read more in The Washington Post. I'm not sure who the whale is, though.

We hosted Alice LaPlante for Turn of Mind, where she created a psychological thriller with a unique perspective. In A Circle of Wives (Atlantic Monthly), the victim is a renowned surgeon who leaves behind a secret, or rather several, in that he has three wives in three cities. Because Grove/Atlantic uses the pub date system instead of on-sale, the trade reviews are not out there yet. Kirkus Reviews knows that like the last, she uses the mystery to frame the story, which itself is a character study. Here's an interview with LaPlante on the press Tumblr page.

This debut from Anna Hope called Wake (Random House) is perfect for our World War I table, after it has its run on Boswell's Best. It's gotten some nice write ups from Chris Cleave ("a tender and timely novel") and Rachel Joyce ("I loved it.") It's been out for a few weeks but most of the trade reviews are still from the UK press. Kasia Boddy in The Guardian reports: "Wake takes place over the five days between the exhumation and burial of the British Unknown Warrior. Each of the five sections of Anna Hope's thoroughly researched novel interweaves details of the body's ritualised journey toward London with the emotional journeys of three city women--each carefully created for her representative qualities."

Jumping a generation-ish ahead in history, we have Long Man,(Knopf) from Amy Greene, her followup to Bloodroot, just out today. It's the story of three days in the summer of 1936, as a government dam is about to flood an Appalachian town, and a little girl whose gone missing. Maria Browning in the Knoxville News Sentinel writes "The story is genuinely thrilling, full of tension and unexpected turns, but the true power of Long Man lies in Greene’s striking depictions of people and place," also noting that "the novel grapples with real questions about our relationship to nature and the price of progress, even as it delivers a story as touching and timeless as a folk tale."

Back to thrills with Peter Swanson's The Girl with a Clock for a Heart (William Morrow), a book whose title reminds me of Boy George, but Dennis Lehane calls it "a twisty sexy, electric thrill ride." A forty-something guy at a Boston literary magazine runs into his lost college love, an enigmatic woman who might have been in some shady business. She gets pulled into her troubled whirlpool of lies, betrayal, and murder, as per the publisher. Patrick Anderson quibbles with the ending in his Washington Post review, but for the most part, enjoys its delights, enjoying how "each story has its own suspense, and each carries us deeper into George’s obsession with Liana and her bottomless deceit."

Hope something tickled your fancy here, and if so, let me know if you liked it.