New Release Roundup: Recommendations for June 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 in June. 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:
'Soul of a Whore and Purvis: Two Plays in Verse' by Denis Johnson
Fans of Johnson's best-known work, Jesus' Son, might remember it as an unflinching look at the desperate lives of desperate people, with a structure as unpredictable and chaotic as its subject matter. These two plays, from a man who does seedy like no other, seem to follow in that same vein. The former finds faith healers, pimps, and demons coming together as a woman awaits execution for the murder of her infant daughter. Did I mention it's a comedy? The latter is a brief re-telling of the life of Melvin Purivs, the federal agent who tracked John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd, told in reverse chronological order. If anything, these plays promise stories that resonate with ferocious originality in the way only Johnson's stories can.
'The Bourne Imperative' by Eric Van Lustbader
In this, the 10th Jason Bourne novel (seventh written by Van Lustbader, who picked up the series after the death of creator Robert Ludlum), it's all business as usual, but that's just the way a devotee of the revitalized series will like it. Espionage, betrayal, and international jet-setting abound as our titular hero chases a near-mythical assassin across the globe, aided by an ex-Mossad agent and a series of clues that lead us to that wonderful cliche: NOTHING IS WHAT IT SEEMS.
'Beautiful Ruins' by Jess Walter
This time-jumping novel shuttles back and forth between present day and the Hollywood of 1962, after a struggling Italian businessman runs afoul of a dying actress who entangles him in a sea of problems he never bargained for. Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor both feature prominently in this story, and little else is to be gleaned from the publisher's notes, but who doesn't love a good romp through the golden age of decadence?
'Not Taco Bell Material' by Adam Carolla
Much like a previously recommended work by comedian Michael Ian Black, this book, Carolla's second, is less a collection of comedic rants and more a sketch of a life that includes a rough-and-tumble childhood, an unexpected foray into show business, and the career that followed. Presumably, the title refers to a life the man could have embraced, and happily ran far, far away from. Love him or hate him, it's hard to argue that Carolla, as flamboyant a personality as they come, has not had an interesting life worthy of inspection. Anybody interested in memoirs of comedians (they are always some of the best, aren't they?) should check it out.
'Swimming to Elba' by Silvia Avallone
Anna and Francesca are two teenage girls on the cusp of adolescence who are growing tired of their quiet little seaside town on the Italian coast. As summer beats on and the friends grow more and more restless, they venture out into the nearby resort island of Elba, a trip they have never dared to make even though it's only a ferry ride away. Once there, the girls friendship is threatened, and they part ways, exploring their budding sexuality to the fullest and finding that it may land them in hotter water than they bargained for.
'A Hologram for the King' by Dave Eggers
Dave Eggers is one of the few young contemporary authors known in households across America. After his outstanding A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius put him on the map and nearly won the Pulitzer, the author went on to publish a number of highly ambitious and original projects, including You Shall Know Our Velocity, What is the What, and Zeitoun. In Eggers' latest offering, the author takes on the voice of a struggling Saudi businessman, and chronicles his efforts to keep his financial ventures and family afloat in the harsh waters of global recession.
'Cosmopolis' by Don Delillo
June 26th (paperback re-issue)
In light of the forthcoming film adaptation from David Cronenberg, readers might be interested to revisit or pick up Don Dellio's novel for the first time. Cosmopolis follows a day in the life of young Wall Street billionaire Eric Parker, as he travels across midtown Manhattan by limousine to get a haircut. As the day progresses, what should have been a quick errand becomes a pilgrimage of Odyssean proportions, as challenges, both concrete and existential, block his path. Written in 2003, five years before the great Wall Street collapse cast everybody's eyes towards the financial district, this novel couldn't speak more loudly today.
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!
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