| 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?
Here are the October books that captured our fancies. 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
O C T O B E R _ F I C T I O N :
Anderson, Scott: "Triage" (Scribner). First novel, about war
photographer's recovery from severe head injury -- film rights sold to
Baer, Will Christopher: "Kiss Me, Judas" (Viking). First novel, noir
thriller about ex-cop just released from psych hospital.
Berry, Wendell: "The Selected Poems" (Counterpoint).
Boyd, William: "Armadillo" (Knopf). Dark comedy about British
insurance adjuster whose life unravels, spectacularly.
Brown, Charles Brockden: "Three Gothic Novels" (Library of
Chang, Lan Samantha: "Hunger" (Norton). A novella and short stories,
from heralded young writer, about Chinese immigrants in U.S.
Gilchrist, Ellen: "Flights of Angels" (Little, Brown). 18 eccentric
stories, set mostly in the South.
Gunesekera, Romesh: "The Sandglass" (New Press). Feuding families in
Sri Lanka, acclaimed in U.K.
Harrison, Jim: "The Road Home" (Atlantic Monthly). Continues story
of "Dalva," spans three generations.
Heaney, Seamus: "Opened Ground: Poems 1966-1996" (FSG). From the
Haley, Alex: "Mama Flora's Family" (Scribner). Haley's last book,
completed by a screenwriter. Will be CBS miniseries epic set in Tennessee.
Hawley, Ellen: "Trip Sheets" (Milkweed). Strong first novel about
young female cab driver and her decision to stop sleeping with men.
Havazelet, Ehud: "Like Never Before" (FSG). Linked stories, three
generations of Jews (some Orthodox); great advance word.
Hill, Mars: "The Moaner's Bench" (HarperFlamingo). African-American
boy's coming of age in Depression-era South.
Houston, Pam: "Waltzing the Cat" (Norton). Author of "Cowboys Are My
Weakness," on a woman who's prone to disaster.
Isaacs, Susan: "Red, White and Blue" (HarperCollins). "Strangers
drawn together by ugly crime."
Kihn, Greg: "Big Rock Beat" (Forge). The former rocker's new novel
is about a B-movie director who makes a rock film.
Kincaid, Nanci: "Balls" (Algonquin). Inside the mind of a college
Krysl, Marilyn: "How to Accommodate Men" (Coffee House). Stories.
Lehrer, Jim: "Purple Dots" (Random House). Political novel about CIA
nominee, from PBS news reader.
Mantel, Hilary: "The Giant, O'Brien" (Holt). Giant in 18th century
Merwin, W.S.: "The Folding Cliffs: A Narrative in Verse" (Knopf).
Epic about leprosy in 19th century Hawaii.
Minot, Susan: "Evening" (Knopf). Dying woman relives life and love
affairs, from author of "Monkeys" and "Folly."
Modern Library: First installment of the "Best 100 Novels of the 20th
Century" paperback series: Samuel Butler, "The Way of All Flesh"; Jack
London, "The Call of the Wild"; Booth Tarkington, "The Magnificent
Ambersons"; Joseph Conrad, "The Secret Agent"; Max Beerbohm, "Zuleka
Mosely, Walter: "Blue Light" (Little, Brown). In a departure for
Mosely, this is a sci-fi-ish novel about characters in 1960s San Francisco
whose DNA "quickens."
O'Brien, Patrick: "The Hundred Days" (Norton). Nautical adventure;
the title refers to Napoleon's escape from Elba and brief return to power.
Packer, George: "Central Square" (Graywolf). African man in Boston.
Parks, Tim: "Europa" (Arcade). Shortlisted for '97 Booker Prize,
about a middle-aged academic and his grim romantic life.
Pietryzk, Leslie: "Pears on a Willow Tree" (Bard). Tangled
relationships in Polish-American family.
Restrepo, Laura: "The Angel of Galilea" (Crown). Reporter delves
into religious hallucinations; praise from Gárcia-Márquez.
Rettenmund, Matthew: "Blind Items" (St. Martin's). Travails of a gay
magazine editor in NYC.
Rice, Anne: "The Vampire Armand" (Knopf). Revives character who died
in "Memnoch the Devil."
Roth, Philip: "I Married a Communist" (Houghton Mifflin). Radio
actor brought down during McCarthy era, with echoes of writer's
relationship with actress Claire Bloom.
Robotham, Rosemarie: "Zacharey's Wings" (Scribner). From Essence
Salter, James: "The Arm of Flesh" (Counterpoint). Reissue of long
Schine, Cathleen: "The Evolution of Jane" (Houghton Mifflin). Lost
friendship between two women, rekindled on trip to Galapagos.
Slim, Iceberg: "Doom Fox" (Grove). Ghetto farce from late author.
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr: "November 1916: The Second Knot of the Red
Wheel" (FSG). First U.S. publication.
Stark, Marisa Kantor: "Bring Us the Old People" (Coffee House). From
turn-of-century Poland to NYC nursing home; praise from Russell Banks.
Thompson, Hunter S.: "The Rum Diary" (Simon & Schuster). His
long-buried novel, about a journalist in the tropics.
Tyree, Omar: "Single Mom" (Simon & Schuster). A self-made black
businesswoman raises kids solo, meets new man.
Updike, John: "Bech at Bay" (Knopf). Return of Updike's Jewish
alter-ego; includes funny sniping at critics.
Walker, Alice: "By the Light of My Father's Smile" (Random House).
Weldon, Fay: "Big Girls Don't Cry" (Atlantic Monthly). Early days of
feminism, seen through lives of four Londoners in 1970s.
Welty, Eudora: "Stories, Essays, and Memoir" (Library of
America/Viking). For people who don't know how the e-mail program got
Welty, Eudora: "Complete Novels" (Library of America/Viking).
O C T O B E R _ N O N F I C T I O N :
Adams, Scott: "The Joy of Work: How to Find Happiness at the Expense of
Your Co-Workers" (HarperBusiness). Dilbert guy -- on pranks, etc.
Avedon, Richard: "Versace: The Naked and the Dressed" (Random
Bagemihl, Bruce: "Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and
Natural Diversity" (St. Martin's). Yep, animals are often gay.
Baldwin, Neil: "Legends of the Plumed Serpent: Biography of a Mexican
God" (Public Affairs). On myth of Quetzalcoatl.
Barry, Dave: "Dave Barry Turns 50" (Crown).
Bazell, Robert: "Her-2: The Making of a Revolutionary Treatment for
Breast Cancer" (Random House).
de Beauvoir, Simone: "A Transatlantic Love Affair: Simone de Beauvoir's
Letters to Nelson Algren" (New Press).
Bergner, Daniel: "God of the Rodeo: The Search for Hope, Faith, and a
Six-Second Ride in Louisiana's Angola Prison" (Crown).
Berlin, Ira (editor): "Remembering Slavery" (New Press). Based on
only known taped interviews with former slaves.
Bird, Kai: "The Color of Truth: McGeorge and William Bundy: Brothers in
Arms" (Simon & Schuster).
Bly, Robert with Marion Woodman: "The Maiden King: The Triumph of the
Feminine" (Holt). "Reuniting masculine and feminine."
Bloom, Harold: "Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human"
(Riverhead). Sweeping and oddly moving -- maybe Bloom's best.
Bono, Chastity: "Family Outing" (Little, Brown). Sonny & Cher's spawn.
Bradley, Bill: "Values of the Game" (Artisan). Essays on basketball.
Branson, Richard: "Losing My Virginity: How I've Had Fun and Made a
Fortune Doing Business My Way" (Times).
Brown, Lyn Mikel: "Raising Their Voices: The Politics of Girl's Anger"
Burleigh, Nina: "A Very Private Woman: The Life and Unresolved Murder of
Presidential Mistress Mary Meyer" (Bantam). From writer who played
"footsies" with Clinton on Air Force One, account of JFK mistress.
Burns, Bobby: "Shelter: One Man's Journey from Homelessness to Hope"
(Univ. of Arizona).
Burrows, William E.: "This New Ocean: A History of the First Space Age"
Carson, Rachel: "Lost Woods: The Discovered Writings of Rachel Carson"
Chase, John: "Glitter, Stucco & Dumpster Diving: Reflections on Building
Production in the Vernacular City" (Verso). On California architecture.
Colbert, David (editor): "Eyewitness to the American West: From the
First Explorers to the New Age Seekers" (Viking).
Collins, Judy: "Singing Lessons" (Pocket). Memoir of "healing," with CD!
Conterio, Karen: "Bodily Harm: A Healing Program for Self-Injurers"
(Hyperion). One of several new books on this topic.
Cox, Meg: "The Heart of a Family: Searching America for New Traditions
that Fulfill Us" (Random House).
Curott, Phyllis: "Book of Shadows" (Broadway). "True story" of Ivy
League woman's discovery of Wiccan spirituality.
Davenport, Guy: "Objects on a Table: Harmonious Display in Art and
David, Elizabeth: "South Wind Through the Kitchen: The Best of Elizabeth
David" (North Point). Famed British food writer.
Davis, Erik: "Techgnosis: Myth, Magic and Religion in the Information
Age" (Harmony). Technopaganism.
Dominick, Andie: "Needles: A Memoir" (Scribner). Sister with diabetes.
Donoghue, Denis: "The Practice of Reading" (Yale). Literary essays.
Dornenburg, Andrew and Karen Page: "Dining Out: Secrets from America's
Leading Critics, Chefs and Restauranteurs" (Wiley). Great gossip about
the restaurant biz; authors won James Beard award for previous book.
Drew, Bettina: "Crossing the Expendable Landscape" (Graywolf). On
America's rootless places -- Stamford, Hilton Head, etc. Praise from Robert
Editor unknown: "Going Down: Great Writing on Oral Sex" (Chronicle).
Selections from Updike, Nin, Jong, Zappa, etc.
Ellis, Richard: "The Search for the Giant Squid" (Lyons).
Evans, Harold: "The American Century" (Knopf). In words and pix,
from former Random House head.
Fadiman, Anne: "Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader" (FSG).
Author of last year's great "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down."
Feinberg, Leslie: "Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue" (Beacon).
Foner, Eric: "The Story of American Freedom" (Norton). History of U.S.
Fradkin, Philip: "Magnitude 8: Life Along San Andreas Fault" (Holt).
French, Marilyn: "A Season in Hell: A Memoir" (Knopf). An angry rant
about surviving esophageal cancer.
Gay, Peter: "My German Question: Growing Up in Nazi Berlin" (Yale).
Gehr, Richard: "The Phish Book" (Villard). Trippy band bio, from
Geller, Judith: "Titanic: Women and Children First" (Norton). Billed
as first book to "commemorate women & children on board the ship."
George, Nelson: "Hip-Hop America" (Viking). Our debt to the black Gen X.
Goody, Jack: "Food and Love: A Cultural History of East and West"
Gould, Stephen Jay: "Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms"
Hamill, Pete: "Why Sinatra Matters" (Little, Brown). Hamill knew
Sinatra; book described as "not fawning."
Hickam, Homer: "Rocket Boys" (Delacourt). Memoir of W.Va. youth, from
retired NASA engineer; movie rights to Universal.
Hillis, Daniel: "The Pattern on the Stone: The Simple Ideas That Make
Computers Work" (Basic). From head of Disney's Imagineering Works.
Hoffman, Donald D.: "Visual Intelligence: How We Create What We See"
(Norton). From UC-Irvine prof.
Humphrey, Derek: "Freedom to Die: People, Politics and the Right to Die
Movement" (St. Martin's). "Final Exit" author, with co-writer.
Johnstone, Bob: "We Were Burning: Japanese Entrepreneurs and the
Electronic Revolution" (Basic). Wired writer.
Jordan, Michael: "For the Love of the Game: My Story" (Crown).
Autobiography of basketball hero.
Kaufman, Margo: "Clara, The Early Years: The Story of the Pug Who Ruled
My Life" (Villard). Author is "Hollywood correspondent" for Pug Talk
Klein, Edward: "Just Jackie: Her Private Years" (Ballantine).
Klemperer, Victor: "I Will Bear Witness: The Diaries of Victor
Klemperer, 1934-1941" (Random House). WWII journals.
Lambert, Craig: "Mind Over Water: Lessons of Life from the Art of
Rowing" (Houghton Mifflin). Author is staff writer for Harvard
Landro, Laura: "Survivor: My Fight Against Leukemia" (Simon &
Schuster). Wall Street Journal editor.
Leaming, Barbara: "Marilyn Monroe: A Biography" (Crown).
Lehman, David: "The Last Avant-Guard: The Making of the New York School
of Poets" (Doubleday).
Levy, Naomi: "To Begin Again" (Knopf). Memoir by that rarity, a
Lewis, Charles: "The Buying of the Congress" (Avon). How special
interests have screwed democracy, by former "60 Minutes" producer.
Library of America: "Reporting Vietnam: American Journalism,
1959-1975" (Viking). Two-volume anthology.
Loewenstien, Dora (editor): "The Rolling Stones: A Life on the Road"
Lopate, Phillip (editor): "Writing New York: A Literary Anthology"
(Library of America/Viking).
Lorenz, Lee: "The World of William Steig" (Artisan). New Yorker artist.
Madigan, Carol (editor): "When They Were Kids" (Times).
Childhood stories of 400 or so famous people.
Marsh, Robert C.: "Dialogues and Discoveries: James Levine: His Life and
Massing, Michael: "The Fix: Solving the Nation's Drug Problem" (Simon &
Schuster). Author is contributor to the New York Review of Books and a
MacArthur fellow. Argument in a nutshell: Nixon had great drug policy.
Masumoto, David Mas: "Harvest Son: Planting Roots in American Soil"
(Norton). Japanese-American farmer's meditation on land, family.
Mawson, Douglas: "The Home of the Blizzard" (St. Martin's). True
story of Antarctic derring-do, originally published in 1915.
Mayer, Henry: "All on Fire: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition of
American Slavery" (St. Martin's).
McBrien, William: "Cole Porter: A Biography" (Knopf). Good advance word.
McClanahan, Ed: "My Vita, If You Will" (Counterpoint). Stories and
journalism from Southern writer, former Merry Prankster.
McElheny, Victor: "Insisting on the Impossible: The Life of Edward Land"
(Perseus). Founder of Polaroid.
McGrath, Chip (editor): "Books of the Century" (Times). Collection
of important reviews from New York Times Book Review editors.
Michaelis, David: "N.C. Wyeth: A Biography" (Knopf). Andrew's
larger-than-life father, who died in a mysterious car accident.
Miller, Alice: "Paths of Life: Seven Scenarios" (Pantheon). How we
become who we are.
Morris, Edmund: "Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan" (Random House).
Unusual-looking book by Reagan's official biographer.
O'Brien, Timothy: "Bad Bet: The Inside Story of the Glamour, Glitz and
Danger of America's Gambling Industry" (Times Business).
O'Toole, Fintan: "A Traitor's Kiss: The Life of Richard Brinsley
Sheridan, 1751-1816" (FSG). Bio of dramatist and politician, by smart
Page, Tim: "Dawn Powell: A Biography" (Holt). Bio of recently
rediscovered NYC novelist, by Washington Post classical music critic.
Panek, Richard: "Seeing and Believing" (Viking). History of the
Pantaeva, Irina: "Siberian Dream" (Bard). Memoir, from childhood in
remote Siberian town to success as Asian supermodel!
Phillips, Anita: "In Defense of Masochism" (St. Martin's). Writer
is editor of literary journal called "Interstice."
Pritchard, David: "The Beatles: An Oral History" (Hyperion).
Puttnam, David: "Movies and Money" (Knopf). From former head of
Columbia Pictures; about history of Hollywood and commerce.
Ragas, Meg Cohen: "Read My Lips: A Cultural History of Lipstick"
Ramsland, Katherine: "Piercing the Darkness: Undercover with Vampires in
America Today" (HarperPrism). Borderline gonzo journalist and Anne Rice
biographer on the U.S. vampire cult.
Renquist, William H.: "All the Laws But One: Civil Liberties in Wartime"
(Knopf). Supreme Court justice autobiography.
Rich, Frank: "Hot Seat: Theater Criticism for the New York Times,
1980-93" (Random House). Curtain call for the Butcher of Broadway.
Ridgeway, Rick: "The Shadow of Kilimanjaro: On Foot Across East Africa"
Rohm, Wendy: "The Microsoft File: The Secret Case Against Bill Gates"
Rolling Stone (editors): "The Seventies" (Little, Brown).
History of decade.
Roszak, Theodore: "America the Wise: Longetivity and the Culture of
Compassion" (Houghton Mifflin). On the unsung resources of the aging.
Roth, Michael (editor): "Freud: Conflict and Culture" (Knopf).
Essays on occasion of Library of Congress exhibition.
Siegel, Bernie: "Prescription for Living" (HarperCollins).
Inspiration for "joyful life."
Sgubin, Marta: "Cooking for Madam" (Scribner). Jackie O's chef, recipes.
Smith, Lissa (editor): "Nike is a Goddess: The History of Women in
Sports" (Atlantic Monthly). Essay collection.
Smith, Patricia and Charles Johnson: "Africans in America: America's
Journey Through Slavery" (Harcourt Brace). Companion to PBS series;
this is the same Patricia Smith who was recently fired from Boston Globe.
Solotaroff, Ted: "Truth Comes in Blows" (Norton). Memoir about
writer and his overbearing writer father.
Soyinka, Wole: "The Burden of Memory, the Muse of Forgiveness"
(Oxford). On contemporary Africa.
Spoto, Donald: "The Hidden Jesus" (St. Martin's). Bio.
Steele, Shelby: "A Dream Deferred: A Second Betrayal of Black Freedom in
America" (HarperCollins). How 1960s activism wanted to assuage liberal
guilt, not cure genuine racial divides.
Steinhardt, Arnold: "Indivisible By Four: A String Quartet in Search of
Harmony" (FSG). On Guarneri Quartet.
Strong, Marilee: "A Bright Red Scream: Self-Mutilation and the Language
of Pain" (Viking). Why people cut themselves up.
Strumpf, Bill: "The Ice Palace That Melted Away: Restoring Civility and
Other Lost Virtues" (Pantheon). On evils of techno-culture.
Stuart, Sarah Payne: "My First Cousin Once Removed: Money, Madness, and
the Family of Robert Lowell" (HarperCollins). On poet's crack-up,
billed as somewhat humorous.
Sullivan, Andrew: "Love Undetectable: Notes on Friendship, Sex and
Survival" (Knopf). After AIDS, from former New Republic editor.
Theroux, Paul: "Sir Vidia's Shadow: A Friendship Across Five Continents"
(Houghton Mifflin). How to end a friendship with V.S. Naipaul.
Wasler, Robert: "Keeping Time: Readings in Jazz History" (Oxford).
Waterfield, Robin: "Prophet: The Life and Times of Kahlil Gibran" (St.
Watkins, Elizabeth: "On the Pill: A Social History of Oral
Contraceptives, 1950-1970" (Johns Hopkins).
Williams, Juan: "Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary" (Times).
Wills, Christopher: "Children of Prometheus: The Accelerating Pace of
Human Evolution" (Perseus).
Yau, John (editor): "Fetish" (Four Walls, Eight Windows). Essays,
Bukowski to Lethem
Zimmerman, Robert: "Genesis: The Story of Apollo 8, the First Manned
Flight to Another World" (Four Walls, Eight Windows).