BY NICO VREELAND
[This feature is a brief monthly summary of interesting books coming out this month. Click the pictures or the title links to find these books at Powell’s.]
When this book came out in Japan, more than two years ago, its plot was a closely guarded secret and it sold a million copies in a month. Here and now in the West, details have necessarily leaked out, and they bring a familiar Murakamian bizarreness: a young woman commits several murders in a parallel world, and a struggling writer agrees to rewrite a manuscript by a teenager, only to find out it doesn’t exist. I’m just finishing a 1000-page novel now, and I’m not too eager to start another one, but this looks pretty good (same goes for Parallel Stories).
I spent a formative year of my early 20s working on tall ships in various capacities and locales, and I vividly remember what Dwight Garner, in this review of Rose City, calls a “kind of squirming wanderlust,” the force that sent John Moynihan, the comfortably wealthy son of a senator, on a 4-month trip in the merchant marines. Moynihan never meant this memoir to get published, which could free it from the contrived feeling you get reading about the adventures of journalists who just went looking for material, but that honesty might also rob it of the polish given a work created for public view.
Harbor, by John Ajvide Lindqvist (out 10/11)
The latest by the author of Let the Right One In (adapted into the film of the same name), a critically acclaimed and wildly popular vampire story, is a horror story. A girl walks across a frozen lake with her parents and disappears. Two years later, the girl’s father returns to the place of her disappearance and discovers that the locals have secrets they’ve been hiding…
The Cat’s Table, by Michael Ondaatje (out now)
Ondaatje’s latest is a possibly autobiographical novel about a young boy named Michael, travelling from Ceylon (where Ondaatje himself was born) to London to reunite with his mother. Reports have it that this is a rollicking, fun-filled adventure story.
Ed King, by David Guterson (out 10/18)
Guterson (author of, most famously, Snow Falling on Cedars) turns in a modernization of Oedipus Rex, in which Oedipus is a billionaire Internet mogul, destined to … well, you know.
A Study in Sherlock, edited by Laurie R. King (out 10/25)
A collection of Sherlock Holmes-inspired short stories, by an assortment of people, including heavy hitters like Neil Gaiman, Lee Child, & Laura Lippman. This is more of a Christmas present type book, whether giving or receiving.
When She Woke, by Hillary Jordan (out now)
In this retelling of The Scarlet Letter, criminals in a future dystopia have their skin stained a certain pigment depending on their crime. Hannah Payne gets convicted of abortion, which is considered murder, so her skin gets “chromed” red. Could be interesting if it’s not too preachy.
Rin Tin Tin, by Susan Orlean (out now)
When good journalists write about longtime hobbyhorses, the result is usually a pretty good book. That’s what I’d expect here. And you never know, maybe it’ll inspire another brilliant Charlie Kaufman movie.
Zone One, by Colson Whitehead (out 10/18)
Colson Whitehead’s new book features a dystopian wasteland where the “uninfected” have to defend themselves from the “infected.” In other words, it’s a zombie novel that doesn’t want to admit it’s a zombie novel. Fitting that Justin Cronin is Amazon’s guest reviewer for it, since Cronin wrote a vampire novel that didn’t want to admit it’s a vampire novel. Whitehead’s book will almost certainly be well-written and poorly plotted. I’ll be avoiding it.