Columns > Published on February 1st, 2012

New Release Roundup: Recommendations for February 2012

Every month I'll be toiling in the dank, dark mines of literary obscurity, scouring the catalogues of every major publisher to bring the LitReactor faithful a few choice titles hitting the shelves. The following is a brief look at what's worth checking out for February. Full disclosure: unless otherwise noted, none of the below books have been reviewed by myself or other LitReactor staff. These are just a few recommendations based on publisher's notes and my own opinions. Without further ado:

'In the Absence of Heroes' by Anthony McCarten 

February 3rd

There’s not much available pre-release press for Anthony McCarten’s In the Absence of Heroes. In fact, the book doesn’t even appear on yet, despite a February 3rd release date. Nevertheless, the little information that is available is intriguing: a father, desperate to find his runaway son, becomes a user of the child’s favorite online game, and quickly becomes addicted himself. Within this virtual universe, Jim Delpie finds himself “cast as his son’s cyber-space savior”, while their real-life relationship remains ambiguous.

[amazon 9781869797232 inline]


'Townie' by Andre Dubus III

February 16th (paperback reprint)

Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog digs deep and personal with his memoir, Townie, chronicling his adolescence as one of three children raised by a single mother in a depressed Massachusetts mill town. Dubus’ story of formative years caught between the worlds of his father (a prominent author and professor on a nearby college campus), and the violent and seedy underbelly of the “townies” promises to be entertaining, if not more than a little depressing.

[amazon 0393340678 inline]


'Rub Out the Words: The Letters of William S. Burroughs (1959-1974)'

February 7th

For fans of the beat generation, there will be few things more exciting in February than the release of Rub out the Words: The Letters of William S. Burroughs (1959-1974). Spanning three decades of correspondence between Burroughs and influential figures such as Alan Ginsberg, Timothy Leary, Jack Kerouac, and Burroughs own son Billy Burroughs Jr., Rub out the Words touches on the author’s personal, as well as professional and artistic life.

[amazon 006171142X inline]


 'Tribulations of the Shortcut Man' by P.G. Sturges

February 7th

Tribulations of the Shortcut Man by Preston Sturges is a hardboiled tale of sleaze and debauchery set in the always ripe-for-noir city of Los Angeles. The titular shortcut man and his stripper ex-girlfriend (respectively named—no lies—Dick and Pussy) investigate the disappearance of Pussy’s wealthy boyfriend Art Lewis. The old man turns up dead…at least, that’s what our heroes think until they catch wind of Lewis’ marriage announcement. Murder, cradle-robbing and stolen identities? Sounds like a tasty recipe.

[amazon 1439194211 inline]


 'The Wolf Gift' by Anne Rice

February 14th

Anne Rice is back! And this time, she’s not just writing about Jesus anymore! The author who made vampires cool again (y’know, decades before this Twilight business), tackles a new subject: werewolves! Rice’s The Wolf Gift is set in present-day North Carolina, and deals with one man’s struggle between a life of restraint or unleashing the beast within (etc etc). One thing we want to know: does this mean she’s officially Team Jacob? Keep an eye peeled for a review by Meredith Borders later this month.

[amazon 0307595110 inline]


You're Not Doing it Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death and Other Humiliations

February 28th

Michael Ian Black, otherwise known as one of the best celebrity twitter accounts on the planet (one July 4th celebration found Black spending the entire holiday retweeting customer complaints against Panera Bread), released the excellently titled My Custom Van: And 50 Other Mind-Blowing Essays That Will Blow Your Mind All Over Your Face back in 2008. This year, Black’s memoir, You’re Not Doing it Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death and Other Humiliations hits bookstores, and it looks a little more serious but no less hilarious than his previous outing. Topics of discussion include Black’s childhood (raised by a single lesbian feminist mother), his marriage, and the ramifications of the fall of Kevin Federline’s star.

 [amazon 1439167850 inline]  


'Half Blood Blues' by Esi Edugyan

February 28th

Quick: what do Nazis, jazz, and post-war race relations have in common? They’re all themes of Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan. Beginning in pre-war Germany and continuing on through post-war Paris, the novel tells the story of a hot jazz combo whose star trumpet player, Hieronymous Falk, was arrested in 1939 and never heard from again. Decades later, when Falk’s former bandmates are invited to appear in a documentary film about Falk’s life, questions arise as to their involvement in his disappearance.

[amazon 1250012708 inline]

Happy reading, everybody! As always, leave a few lines: do these sound interesting? Anything been overlooked? Picked up one of these titles and loved/hated it? Let us know!

About the author

John is a copy editor and contributing writer at LitReactor, and also does work for He holds a film degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and is currently hard at work on several as-yet unnamed projects.

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