JE: Here’s five titles forthcoming this winter/spring that I’ve read in galley, and am really excited about, and pleased as punch to bang my drum for–so much so, that I’ve asked the publishers for giveaway copies. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for the giveaways, and probably some When We Fell in Love posts from the authors of these excellent novels, three of which are debuts, and couldn’t be more different from one another. As usual, readers will probably be frustrated by my total lack of plot coverage. I’ll tell you what– you come chase my kid around the house, and I’ll write a bunch of exposition for you, deal?
The Sisters Brothers – Patrick deWitt – Ecco, May
We loved DeWitt’s darkly hilarious and unsettling debut, Ablutions, around here, but The Sisters Brothers represents a giant leap forward for DeWitt. I’m not surprised that a handful of publishers bid on this book, and Ecco seems like a great fit to publish (as evidenced by the kickass cover). This is the best western I’ve read in years. Fans of True Grit are gonna love this book. It’s masterfully written and compulsively readable, and strangely redemptive. More coverage, and a giveaway forthcoming.
Fellow northwesterner Vanessa Veselka’s Zazen has the very fortunate distinction of being the first debut from Richard Nash‘s new joint, Red Lemonade. I read this in manuscript, and it was already there. At turns hilarious, unsettling, and improbably sweet, Veselka’s debut is, above all, a highly engaging, and totally unique experience, which will have you re-reading passages and dog-earing pages. But best of all, in the end, Zazen is that rare novel which dares to be hopeful in the face of despair, and succeeds.
Yeah, I know, I never shut up about O’Nan. Once he gets a Time Magazine cover, I’ll shut up. This book is my Nervous Breakdown book club selection for April. The chameleonic O’Nan channels Emily Maxwell, an elderly Pittsburgh widow, as she reinvents herself in her waning days. The book is a follow-up to 2002′s Wish You Were Here, but I can tell you firsthand (as someone who didn’t read Wish You Were Here, Emily Alone stands alone, just fine thank you very much. DH and I (and hopefully JR and JC) will be covering Emily Alone in depth soon, and doing a giveaway.
Stories for the Nighttime, and Some for the Day – Ben Loory – Penguin, June
Ben Loory doesn’t write like anybody else I know. His stories defy expectation the way Native American stories often do–that is, they don’t really adhere to a western logic or architecture, or a classical arc. Sometimes I’m left scratching my head at the end. But I’m always compelled by their weirdness, their whimsy, and their heart. If Mother Goose and Philip K. Dick had a love child, and Richard Brautigan raised him in Watermelon Sugar, he might write stories like Ben Loory.
The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore – Benjamin Hale – Twelve, February
In the spirit of my Loory comparison, if Saul Bellow wrote “Every Which Way But Loose,” it might be something like Hale’s excellent debut, The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore. This novel is deliciously fearless (and I’m not talking about the ape-on-human sex, either). I just mean Hale is the type of writer who throws himself headlong at the story, with a trained eye, a razor wit, and a playful heart. I’m looking forward to more great stuff from this guy, who can walk the walk. If all goes well, zealous Christians south of the Mason Dixon will be burning this book en masse because of the aforementioned ape-on-human action–talk about great publicity!