If you've ever wondered whether modern art is trash disguised by critical theory or whether critical theory is trashy modern art, Will Chancellor's debut novel, A Brave Man Seven Stories Tall, may settle the wager. It is a spirited sendup of the frauds found in art, academia and their "liminal" intersections.
Erika Johansen’s new novel, The Queen of the Tearling, uses a familiar fantasy premise: a special child—a chosen one, if you will—is born, and then hidden from those with murderous intent. As the book opens, it is 19 years later, and the time has come for Kelsea Glynn, the rightful queen of a benighted land, to leave hiding and assume her throne.
Whether they feel watching eyes or hear the sound of quickening footsteps behind them, the potential victims in these unnerving stories sense a predator’s approach, and so can we. As these characters hurry to the relative safety of their homes and rush to lock the doors behind them, readers of these smart and suspenseful books will be turning pages faster and faster in hopes of catching the criminal before it’s too late.
There are many reasons to love a good misery memoir: In my case, reading about other people’s dysfunctional childhoods offers a sense of community, a sisterhood of resilient Gen Xers who survived a 1970s childhood. Cea Sunrise Person’s engaging new memoir, North of Normal, evokes both the miserable excesses and occasional beauty of growing up in a counterculture family in the wilderness of the Me Decade.
Slava Gelman has it made in Boris Fishman’s debut, The Replacement Life. With a junior staff position at a prestigious literary magazine, a Manhattan apartment and an assimilated American girlfriend, he’s more than just miles away from his childhood in Minsk or the Russian enclave in Brooklyn where the rest of his family lives. But when Slava is woken by an early morning phone call from his mother, his carefully constructed life threatens to come crashing down around him.
Literature is replete with unreliable narrators, but you’ve never encountered an unreliable narrator like the one in Emma Healey’s mournful and luminous debut novel, Elizabeth Is Missing. Maud Horsham isn’t remotely evil. She’s not pathologically dishonest, nor does she have some deep, dark secret to hide. Her unreliability comes simply from the fact that she’s elderly and her memory is failing fast. On top of this, she’s absolutely sure that her friend Elizabeth is missing.
British author Emma Healey may be only 29 years old, but she has created a poignant portrait of a woman with dementia in her luminous debut novel, which contains a double mystery.
Was there a specific inspiration for the character of Maud?
Although my father’s mother, Nancy, has dementia and her experiences gave me ideas for some of the scenes in the book, it was my mother’s mother, Vera, who most influenced the character of Maud.
Rafe Solmes is a Bath, England, literature professor who has just finished a book on fairy tales, but his interest in gruesome stories like “Bluebeard” and “The True Bride” is far from academic. When Clarissa, a university assistant, lets him walk her home one night, she discovers a sinister side to this seemingly harmless scholar. An obsessive master manipulator who won’t take no for an answer, Rafe is soon everywhere she is—lurking outside her apartment at all hours, sending increasingly threatening gifts and even turning her friends against her.
John Quincy Adams was devoted to literature, and had he been able to pursue his ideal career, he wrote in 1817, “I should have made myself a great poet.” He did write poetry throughout his extraordinary life, but, from a very young age, his parents strongly encouraged him toward life as a leader in the new republic. His literary skills, however, were not wasted.
From the Duke boys’ car named the General Lee on the “Dukes of Hazzard” TV show to his appearance on a U.S. postage stamp, Robert E. Lee has come to “embody and glorify a defeated cause,” Michael Korda asserts in a monumental new biography, Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee.