Saturday, July 09, 2016

Incoming Books: July 7

Since I was on vacation this last week, I had time to pack up some unwanted books and trade them at my local indy bookstore -- something I don't do nearly as much now as I used to. (I get fewer physical review copies, have less time to read and review, and end up posting fewer reviews. Also, there's the whole "blogs are so 2006" thing.)

Still, an excuse to visit a book store and a bunch of new books for me is pretty awesome. Here's what I got:

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, the third novel from Joshua Ferris. His first was the sublime mass-third-person workplace seriocomedy Then We Came to the End, and his second was the (to my mind, not quite as successful) The Unnamed. This one was shortlisted for a few major awards (the Man Booker, for example), and seems to be more of a standard literary novel -- middle-aged man has a crisis when someone else starts to take over his live. Ferris is clearly one of the new stars of the serious novel, and he's writing slowly enough that I can keep up with him.

Trigger Warning was Neil Gaiman's new short-story collection last year. There was a time when I'd read things like this in bound galley -- my preference, since it means I can do it early, do it in a nice portable edition, and not worry about damage -- and then get a hardcover as soon as that came out. That was when I was working in the biz, though, so I've found a system that works for me now -- mostly waiting for trade paperbacks, since I prefer to read them over hardcovers.

But I did buy the even newer Gaiman book, the nonfiction collection The View from the Cheap Seats, in hardcover. Why? Maybe because I have a often-remarked fondness for the occasional nonfiction of novelists. Maybe because I really like Gaiman. Or maybe because I'm no more consistent than anyone else in the world.

Rick Geary has been making graphic novels out of historical murder cases for about twenty years now, roughly one a year. I had all of them to date before my flood in 2011, and I've been re-buying them since. So this time I found The Saga of the Bloody Benders, about a "family" of nasty sorts on the Kansas frontier in 1870.

Ruins is a new graphic novel from Peter Kuper, an interesting maker-of-comics who I haven't always kept up with. (He had a long-running alt-weekly strip, I think, and various other works here and there.) This one is a big book, about marriage and migratory butterflies and Mexico.

City of Truth is a great novella by James Morrow, part of one of the periodic efflorescence of novellas-as-books. (This particular efflorescence was in the early '90s, and was about as successful as any of the ones before or since.) I haven't read it in twenty years, but I remember it as a wickedly smart and funny book, so I'm happy to have an excuse to read it again.

The Shelf is the story of a quixotic reading project, by writer and academic Phyllis Rose. She decided to read all of the books on one particular shelf of the New York Society Library, just to see what she would find. I love that idea -- it's the kind of thing I'd do. And Rose is also the author of Parallel Lives, a good book about five Victorian marriages that I read way back in my Vassar days and thought was very insightful then. (One of the stupider aspects of my personality is that I keep getting surprised that sometimes the authors of books I read many years ago are still around -- not so much genre writers, since I've been in that world, but academics and literary types and other folks like that under the radar.)

And last is the most recent -- that being twenty years old, but he's been dead longer than that -- edition of Eric Partridge's Usage and Abusage, a book about the right and wrong words to use. It's in a dictionary format, which means it will be easy to read bits and pieces of as I have time; I like having books like that to place various points around the house, where I might be wasting time.

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