Fall is the book industry's busiest, craziest season -- the time when publishers come muscling in, sharp elbows at the ready, with their
biggest, most ambitious titles. Thousands of books are released almost
simultaneously; most of them will die quickly without the oxygen that
reviews, press attention and word-of-mouth provide.
Each fall (and spring) for the past three years, as Salon's senior editor in charge of book reviews, I've helped the magazine plan our book coverage by plowing through a
high heap of publishers' catalogs to compile a list of some of the most
interesting forthcoming titles -- a picky, whimsical, wildly subjective
list that I forward to the rest of Salon's editorial staff. This year we thought: Why
not share this raw data with our readers? What better way to provide a
quick, opinionated preview of some of this season's best books?
We begin with books scheduled for publication in September (the Garner Report will be a monthly Salon feature). Before you dig in, keep in mind that publication dates are notoriously
shifty -- a book that's promised in September often doesn't arrive until
December, or sometimes until the following March. Titles, too, often
change in the months prior to publication.
S E P T E M B E R _ F I C T I O N :
Abraham, Pearl: "Giving Up America" (Riverhead). Orthodox Jews confront
U.S. culture, from author of good first novel, "The Romance Reader."
Adair, Gilbert: "Love and Death on Long Island" (Grove). Novel that
inspired the movie; paperback original
Alexie, Sherman: "Smoke Signals: A Screenplay" (Miramax). Talented novelist turned talented screenwriter (and Table Talk habitui).
Alexis, Andre: "Childhood" (Holt). First novel, acclaimed Trinidadian
Andahazi, Federico: "The Anatomist" (Doubleday). Saga of the man who
"discovered" the clitoris; translated from the Spanish.
Barrett, Andrea: "The Voyage of the Narwhal" (Norton). Set in 1855,
naturalist on expedition. Barrett's first book since winning 1996 National Book
Bail, Murray: "Eucalyptus" (FSG). Australian love story, involving "a
museum of trees."
Begley, Louis: "Mistler's Exit" (Knopf). Saga about a dying mogul.
Borges, Jorge Luis: "Collected Fictions" (Viking).
Campion, Jane (with Anna Campion): "Holy Smoke" (Miramax). Novel --
soon to be a film -- by the director of "The Piano" about young woman who travels to India and falls under spell of a cult.
Canin, Ethan: "For Kings and Planets" (Random House). A novel, from the acclaimed San Francisco short-story writer (and, in his spare time, doctor), about two young men,
from different worlds, who become friends at Columbia University.
Carver, Raymond: "All of Us: The Collected Poems" (Knopf).
Chekhov, Anton: "Collected Short Stories" (Modern Library).
Choi, Susan: "The Foreign Student" (HarperFlamingo). Love between
war-scarred Korean man and wealthy Southern woman.
Clark, Robert: "Mr. White's Confession" (Picador USA). High-brow thriller.
Cooley, Nicole: "Judy Garland, Ginger Love" (ReganBooks). Protagonist's
mother is obsessed with Judy Garland.
Coover, Robert: "Ghost Town" (Holt). Postmodern Western.
Cose, Ellis: "The Best Defense" (HarperCollins). Newsweek's racial-issues
correspondent writes legal thriller.
Danticat, Edwidge: "The Farming of Bones" (Soho). Latest from much-hyped young author of "Breath, Eyes, Memory."
Dickey, James: "The Selected Poems" (Wesleyan). Follows on heels of son Christopher's memoir; film version of Dickey's "To the White Sea" is on the way.
Evans, Nicholas: "The Loop" (Delacourt). Wolves attack town in Rockies,
from author of mega-seller "Horse Whisperer." Yikes.
Flagg, Fannie: "Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!" (Random House). "Fried
Green Tomatoes" auteur returns, this time with a tale set largely in NYC media world.
Folsom, Allan: "Day of Confession" (Little, Brown). Commercial thriller.
Friedman, Kinky: "Blast from the Past" (Simon & Schuster). Southern-fried
mystery from the Texas Jew Boy.
Gass, William H.: "Cartesian Sonata: And Other Novellas" (Knopf).
Gilchrist, Ellen: "Flights of Angels" (Little, Brown). Short stories.
Hart, Josephine: "The Stillest Day" (Overlook). "Damage" author.
Hillerman, Tony: "The First Eagle" (HarperCollins). More suspense from the bard of the Southwest.
Hood, Ann: "Ruby" (Picador). Teen and grief-stricken woman, set in NYC.
Jhabvala, Ruth Prawer: "East into Upper East: Plain Tales from New York
and New Dehli" (Counterpoint). Short stories.
King, Stephen: "Bag of Bones" (Scribner). Novelist suffers harrowing writer's block after the death of his wife. See profile of King in this week's New Yorker, which argues he deserves more critical esteem as our greatest living storyteller.
Koepf, Michael: "The Fisherman's Son" (Broadway). The story of a Northern California
fisherman, which has drawn comparisons to Pat Conroy's novels, for good or ill.
Leonard, Elmore: "The Tonto Woman and Other Stories" (Delacourt).
The crime auteur's collected stories from 1950s-80s, many from pulp mags.
Marciano, Francesca: "Rules of the Wild" (Pantheon). Young European
woman in Kenya.
Marks, John: "The Wall" (Riverhead). American spy defects just before
Berlin Wall falls, from U.S. News & World Report's former man in
Matthews, William: "After All" (Houghton Mifflin). Last poems.
McInerney, Jay: "Model Behavior: A Novel and Stories" (Knopf). Guy who
dates model, padded with stories that span McInerney's career.
Mehta, Ved: "A Ved Mehta Reader" (Yale) For Mehta fans wanting more after reading his New Yorker memoir.
Mitchell, Stephen A.: "Meetings with the Archangel" (HarperFlamingo). First
novel from noted translator, on spiritual growth.
Moore, Lorrie: "Birds of America" (Knopf). Stories.
Mootoo, Shani: "Cereus Blooms at Night" (Grove). A prize-winner in Canada,
the tale of a family on a Caribbean island.
O'Brien, Tim: "Tomcat in Love" (Broadway) Erotic novel by one of Vietnam War's best storytellers; desperate man
tries to win back wife, while generally whoring around.
Parks, Tim: "Europa" (Arcade/Little, Brown). Academics in Europe engaged in endless debates. Short-listed for U.K.'s Booker Prize.
Powell, Patricia: "The Pagoda" (Knopf). Tale by young Jamaican novelist about
an immigrant who flees China for Jamaica in 1890s.
Purdy, James: "Gertrude of Stony Island Avenue" (Morrow).
Reardon, Lisa: "Billy Dead" (Viking). First novel by Yale Drama grad, set in Michigan,
about a murdered brother.
Saramago, Jose: "Blindess" (Harcourt Brace). Translated from Portuguese, story of a city hit by epidemic of "white blindness." Author often mentioned as Nobel Prize contender.
Sarris, Greg: "Watermelon Nights" (Hyperion). Multi-generational novel,
from Native American writer.
Schulman, Helen: "The Revisionist" (Crown). Neurologist, son of Holocaust
expert, is drawn into Holocaust revisionism battle.
Schwartz, John Burnham: "Reservation Road" (Knopf). Hit-and-run accident
in small Connecticut town; literary thriller.
Thomson, Rupert: "Soft!" (Knopf). Spiky comedy, about soft-drink biz.
Trevor, William: "Death in Summer" (Viking). Wife dies, leaving man with
Weldon, Fay: "Big Girls Don't Cry" (Atlantic Monthly). Jilted women (again!) start
their own publishing house.
Welsh, Irvine: "Filth" (Norton). From the writer who made "Trainspotting" a global buzzword. Scottish detective runs amok. Bonus: part
of story narrated by tapeworm in his intestines.
Wideman, John Edgar: "Two Cities" (Houghton Mifflin). Violent streets of
two communities -- Philly and Pittsburgh.
Wiggins, Marianne: "Almost Heaven" (Crown). Foreign correspondent
moves back to Virginia -- violent weather as plot element. By Salman Rushdie's ex.
Wilcox, James: "Plain and Normal" (Little, Brown). Middle-aged gay man,
recently out of closet; from author of "Modern Baptists."
Wolf, William: "Whacking Jimmy" (Villard). Comic novel about Jimmy Hoffa's death.
Wozencraft, Kim: "The Catch" (Doubleday). Drug dealer's wife wants to clean
up family life. By author of "Rush."
S E P T E M B E R _ N O N F I C T I O N :
Aczel, Amir: "Probability 1: Why There Must Be Intelligent Life in the
Universe" (Harcourt Brace). Not a nut; author of "Fermat's Last
Aldrich, Marcia: "Girl Rearing: A Memoir of a Girlhood Gone Astray."
(Norton). Catalog boasts, "In the tradition of 'The Liar's Club'"
Alvarez, Julia: "Something to Declare" (Algonquin). Personal essays.
Aronowitz, Stanley: "From the Ashes of the Old: American Labor and
America's Future" (Houghton Mifflin). By unrepentant New Leftist.
Barrett, Nina: "The Girls: A True Story of Lifelong Friendship (Simon &
Schuster). Friends since 1950s, comparing lives.
Bennett, Steve: "The Plugged-In Parents" (Times). Kids and technology.
Berg, A. Scott: "Lindberg" (Putnam). Big bio from acclaimed biographer of Maxwell Perkins.
Block, Herbert: "Herblock: A Cartoonist's Life" (Times). Legendary Washington Post
Boorstin, Daniel: "The Seekers: The Story of Man's Continuing Quest to
Understand His World" (Random House). From Aristotle to Einstein.
Browning, Frank: "Apples" (North Point). A cultural history of the fruit from Kentucky farmer/NPR correspondent.
Bush, George and Brent Scowcroft: "A World Transformed" (Knopf). On the
fall of communism, Bush's legacy, etc.
Calasso, Roberto: "Ka" (Knopf). On birth and mythology of India.
Caron, Anne: "Mothers and Daughters: Searching for New Connections."
(Holt) Enough said.
Chan, Jackie: "I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action" (Ballantine) Memoir by the amazing Hong Kong actor/stunt man.
Cohen, Roger: "Hearts Grown Brutal: Sagas of Sarajevo" (Random House).
Dornenberg, Andrew and Karen Page: "Dining Out" (Wiley). Restaurant
critics spill the beans; interviews with N.Y. Times critic Ruth Reichl et al.
Douglas, Ellen: "Truth: Four Stories I Am Finally Old Enough to Tell"
(Algonquin). White family, slave owners.
Egan, Timothy: "Lasso the Wind: Away to the New West" (Knopf). History
Eliot, Marc: "To the Limit: The Untold Story of the Eagles" (Little,
Brown). Unpromising rockumentary from author of lame book about Springsteen.
Farrell, Amy Erdman: "Yours in Sisterhood: Ms. Magazine and the Promise
of Popular Feminism" (North Carolina University).
Ferguson, Niall: "The House of Rothschild" (Viking). More on the banking dynasty.
Field, Genevieve and Rufus Griscom: "Nerve: Literate Smut" (Broadway).
Paperback original, the best of the erotic Web zine, including arty nude photos and essays by Rick Moody, Sallie Tisdale, John Perry Barlow, Catherine Texier and others.
Finz, Iris and Steve (editors): "Erotic Confessions: Real People Talk
About Putting the Spark Back in Their Sex" (St. Martin's). Maybe they could start by bookmarking Nerve.
Freidlander, Lee: "American Musicians" (DAP). Photos.
Gershenfeld, Neil: "When Things Start to Think" (Holt). Digital
Giddons, Gary: "Visions of Jazz: The First Century" (Oxford). By Village Voice
Glatt, John: "The Royal House of Monaco" (St. Martin's). Scandal, etc.
Goodrich, Chris: "Roadster: How, and Especially Why, a Mechanical Novice
Built a Car from a Kit" (HarperCollins).
Gourevitch, Philip: "We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be
Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda" (FSG). The African holocaust, by a New Yorker correspondent.
Hart, Claudia: "A Child's Machiavelli" (Viking). "A primer on power: A
really naughty back-to-school book for adults."
Healey, Jane M.: "Failure to Connect: How Computers Affect Our Children's
Minds -- for Better and Worse" (Simon & Schuster).
Hirschberg, Lynn: "Art and Commerce: The New Entrepreneurs" (Miramax).
Profiles of young media power brokers!
Hirschman, Linda: "Hard Bargains: The Politics of Sex" (Oxford). "Complete
analysis of power in sexual relationships." But nothing about Bill and Monica.
Hobsbawm, Eric: "Uncommon People: Resistance, Rebellion and Jazz" (New
Hochschild, Adam: "King Leopold's Ghost: The Plunder of the Congo and the
20th Century's First Great International Human Rights Movement"
(Houghton Mifflin). Elegantly written historical muckraking by the co-founder of Mother Jones magazine.
Hoelterhoff, Manuela: "Cinderella & Company: Backstage at the Opera with
Cecilia Bartoli" (Knopf)
Holroyd, Michael: "Bernard Shaw" (Random House). One-volume
abridgment of acclaimed bio.
Jennings, Jean (editor) : "Road Trips, Head Trips, and Other Car-Crazed
Writings" (Atlantic Monthly). From Jack Kerouac to Dave Barry.
Jong, Erica: "What Do Women Want? Bread, Roses, Sex, Power"
(HarperCollins). Essays & musings by the aging randy feminist.
Kaplan, Robert D.: "An Empire Wilderness: Discovering the New America"
(Random House). Depressed Atlantic Monthly foreign correspondent, whose last books cried that the world was going to hell in a handbasket, comes home.
Karabell, Zachary: "What's College For? The Struggle to Define American
Higher Education" (Basic). Stay tuned for Karabell's thunderbolt cover story in Salon's new campus department, Ivory Tower, debuting Sept. 14.
Kevles, Daniel: "The Baltimore Case: A Trial of Politics, Science and
Character" (Norton). Scientist accused of plagiarism tells his side of the story; excerpted in the New Yorker.
Kincaid, Jamaica: "My Favorite Plant: Writers and Gardeners on Plants They
Love" (FSG). Former New Yorker writer -- and Tina Brown hater -- turns to more edenic subject after last year's wrenching family memoir.
Kohn, Howard: "We Had a Dream: A Tale of the Struggles for Integration in
America" (Simon & Schuster). Respected Rolling Stone investigative reporter ("Who Killed Karen Silkwood?") examines the lives of black and white residents of Maryland's Prince George's County, a supposed model for racial integration that falls short of Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream.
Kornbluh, Peter (editor): "Bay of Pigs Declassified: The Secret CIA
Report" (New Press).
Krementz, Jill: "The Jewish Writer" (Holt). Another literary photo book by the wife of Kurt Vonnegut.
Leguizamo, John: "Freak" (Riverhead). From the comedian's Off-Broadway show.
Liman, Arthur L.: "Lawyer: A Life of Cases, Counsel and Controversy"
(Public Affairs). Posthumous memoir by the attorney for the Iran-contra congressional panel.
MacArthur, Brian (editor): "Requiem: Diana, Princess of Wales, 1961-1997"
(Arcade). Essays from Ted Hughes, Maya Angelou and other luminaries.
Martin, Steve: "Pure Drivel" (Hyperion). New Yorker pieces, mostly.
Martinez, Gerald (editor): "What It Is ... What It Was: The Black Film
Explosion of the '70s in Words and Pictures" (Miramax).
Mate, Ferenc: "The Hills of Tuscany" (Norton). Jaded New Yorkers move to Italy to find beauty and harmony.
Maynard, Joyce: "At Home in the World" (Picador USA). Kiss-and-tell memoir about her teenage fling with cradle-robbing recluse J.D. Salinger.
McCrum, Robert: "My Year Off: Recovering Life After a Stroke" (Norton).
Memoir by former Faber publisher.
Medved, Diane and Michael: "Saving Childhood: How To Protect Your
Children Against the National Assault on Innocence" (HarperCollins).
Miniter, Richard: "The Things I Want Most" (Bantam). Parents looking to
provide home for abused children.
Mondavi, Robert: "Harvests of Joy: My Life, My Way" (Harcourt Brace).
California wine mogul's family memoir.
Moynihan, Daniel Patrick: "Secrecy: The American Experience" (Yale).
O'Rourke, P.J.: "Eat the Rich: A Treatise on Economics" (Atlantic Monthly). More crotchety humor from Rolling Stone's house conservative.
Ortega, Bob: "In Sam We Trust: The Untold Story of Sam Walton and How
Wal-Mart Is Devouring America" (Times Books).
Owen, David: "Around the House: Reflections on Life Under a Roof"
Paris Review: "Beat Writers at Work" (Modern Library). Rick Moody intro.
Patten, Christopher: "East and West: China, Power and the Future of Asia"
(Times). Polemic by last British governor of Hong Kong got a PR boost when Rupert Murdoch canceled Patten's HarperCollins contract, kowtowing to Chinese Communists.
Pettinger, Peter: "Bill Evans: How My Heart Sings" (Yale). Study of jazz
Pierce-Baker, Charlotte (editor): "Surviving the Silence: Black Women's
Stories of Rape" (Norton).
Pinsky, Robert: "The Sounds of Poetry" (FSG). By America's poet laureate.
Pyne, Stephen J.: "How the Canyon Became Grand" (Viking).
Quindlen, Anna: "How Reading Changed My Life" (Ballantine/Library of
Contemporary Thought). Former New York Times columnist, on the topic that everyone's
writing about these days.
Reed, Lou: "Pass Through Fire: The Collected Lyrics" (Hyperion). Save your money for the box set.
Renahan, Edward: "The Lion's Pride: Theodore Roosevelt and His Family in
Peace and War" (Oxford).
Reynolds, Simon: "Generation Ecstasy" (Little, Brown). Rock critic on rave
Roberts, Paul William: "The Demonic Comedy: Some Detours in the Bagdad
of Saddam Hussein" (FSG).
Robinson, Marilynne: "The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought"
(Houghton Mifflin). From "Housekeeping" author.
Rothenberg, Daniel: "With These Hands: The Hidden World of Migrant
Farmworkers Today" (Harcourt Brace).
Sanders, Scott Russell: "Hunting for Hope" (Beacon). Author's biking trip
with troubled son.
Santiago, Esmerelda: "Almost a Woman" (Perseus). Memoir, follow-up to "When I Was Puerto Rican."
Shlain, Leonard: "The Alphabet Versus the Goddess" (Viking) A
neurosurgeon on how the development of alphabetic literacy
reinforced the (masculine) left brain at the expense of the
Slater, Lauren: "Prozac Diary" (Random House). Beautifully written and dreamy memoir, little in common with Elizabeth Wurtzel's effort.
Slick, Grace: "Somebody to Love? A Rock and Roll Memoir" (Warner). By one of the great voices of '60s rock 'n' roll, the beautiful, tough-talking front woman for "The Jefferson Airplane."
Spence, Garry: "Give Me Liberty: Freeing Ourselves in the 21st Century"
(St. Martin's). The celebrity cowboy lawyer rides again.
Spence, Jonathan D.: "The Chan's Great Continent: China in Western
Starr, Douglas: "Blood: An Epic History of Medicine and Commerce" (Knopf).
On the history of blood as commerce.
Steel, Danielle: "His Bright Light: The Story of Nick Traina" (Delacourt)
Memoir about her son, a drug-tormented, struggling rock musician.
Stepto, Robert: "Blue as the Lake: A Personal Geography" (Beacon). Memoir
from Yale Afro-American studies prof, on family history, etc.
Sterling, William and Stephen Waite: "Boomernomics: Technology,
Globalization and the Future of Your Money in the Upcoming
Generational Warfare" (Ballantine/Library of Contemporary Thought).
Stevens, Mitchell: "The Rise of the Image, the Fall of the Word" (Oxford).
Professor on why the "triumph of the image" is good for us.
Suberman, Stella: "The Jew Store" (Algonquin). Memoir, family dry goods
store in South, called "the Jew store."
Tobias, Andrew: "The Best Little Boy in the World Grows Up" (Random
House ). Biz writer, author of classic gay memoir (under pseudonym),
Vachon, Christine with David Edelstein: "Shooting to Kill: How an
Independent Producer Blasts Through the Barriers to Make Movies That
Verghese, Abraham: "The Tennis Partner: A Doctor's Story of Friendship
and Loss" (HarperCollins) New Yorker writer's memoir.
Westheimer, Ruth: "Grandparenthood" (Routledge) Dr. Ruth acts her age.
Wieseltier, Leon: "Kaddish" (Knopf) New Republic's aging bad-boy literary editor mourns the death of his father and reflects on the meanings of mourning.
Winchester, Simon: "The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary" (HarperCollins). Fascinating tale of a quirky episode in intellectual history.