Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Incoming Books: June 13

Last Thursday, after a more-hectic-than-expected day of working at home (which wasn't a euphemism this time, as it so often is in the corporate world), I finally managed to get over to the Montclair Book Center, my favorite indy bookstore for the past twenty years or so. Since it had been so long, I had to buy a whole lot of stuff:

Insane City, Dave Barry's third solo comic novel, which I think it's fair to call long-awaited, since Tricky Business is more than a decade ago now. (I'm sure his collaborative books are perfectly good in their own right, but I want the pure Barry stuff, and that's hard to find since he stopped writing his column.)

Hit Me, the fifth Keller book by Lawrence Block -- it calls itself a novel, but it's a collection of stories, which even the lack of a table of contents can't hide. (Books of stories are wonderful, excellent things, but they shouldn't pretend to be novels.) I read & reviewed this a couple of months ago, but Block is one of the few authors where I still have a substantial collection in hardcover (since the flood of '11), so I want to keep going.

The Cursing Mommy's Book of Days is Ian Frazier's first novel, though he's written a lot of serious nonfiction (Travels in Siberia, Family) and a lot of funny nonfiction (Dating Your Mom, Coyote V. Acme, Gone to New York) and been a New Yorker staff writer for the past couple of decades. This, in fact, grew out of a series of comic pieces there, in the voice of the Cursing Mommy, who is now free to tell her story at great length.

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carre. Surely you already know what this book is, even if you (like me) haven't read it? Since I read all of the Fleming James Bond novels a couple of years back, I've felt an itch to get into Le Carre, so maybe now I will.

Live by Night by Dennis Lehane, a big fat historical mystery by an excellent writer that won the Edgar for Best Novel a couple of years ago. I loved Lehane's Kenzie/Gennaro mysteries -- they're about as dark and uncompromising as series fiction can ever be, the crime-writing world's equivalent of "Song of Ice & Fire" -- but I haven't kept up with him as he's written one-off novels over the last decade.

Walking Back the Cat by Robert Littell. Another spy novel, though three decades more recent than Spy. I suspect the clubs did it at the time (1996), and I might have had a copy of it, buried deep on a shelf, before the flood. Littell is a highly respected spy novelist, and I always liked this title.

Cool, Calm & Contentious is an essay collection by Merrill Markoe, whose writing I've enjoyed since I was young and she was head writer for the show David Letterman did before he got old, cynical, and tired.

Uncle Boris in the Yukon and Other Shaggy Dog Stories is a Daniel Pinkwater book I haven't read, and that's all I need to say.

Merchants of Culture is a serious look at the publishing business by John B. Thompson -- and that interests me, because it's my business. (Even if I suspect this book will devote very little time to the serious and scholarly and nonfictional and boring.)

Mississippi Writings by Mark Twain, the Library of America volume with Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer and Life on the Mississippi in it. (And Pudd'nhead Wilson, too, but nobody's perfect.) I had a copy of this, pre-flood, and I may want to read any or all of those books at a moment's notice.

Shriek: An Afterword looks to me like Jeff VanderMeer's most complicated and literary novel, so of course that's the one I'd want to read. (I know Jeff slightly, and am embarrassed that I gathered up nearly all of his books -- pre-flood -- but only managed to read Finch so far.)

Two more P.G. Wodehouse books from the excellent Overlook series -- Psmith in the City and Psmith, Journalist-- because that's yet another collection I'm still rebuilding from the flood.

And last was James Wood's How Fiction Works, because I do occasionally feel the urge to get really theoretical.

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