As though I had any room at all on my TBR list, I went through Amazon’s Summer Books Preview 2010 list this morning (full disclosure: I am not affiliated with Amazon). I must confess: I have already pre-ordered Tana French’s Faithful Place, which will not even be released until July 13. I was so impressed with In the Woods and The Likeness, I wanted to be sure I got to the party early this time.
Here are a few that look intriguing to me. If I am lucky, I’ll get to one or two of them by 2013!
The Lonely Polygamist, by Brady Udall (Releases May 3). This looks like some Big Love style fun, while I wait for season four of that show to be released on DVD. From Publisher’s Weekly:
“Starred Review. A family drama with stinging turns of dark comedy, the latest from Udall (The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint) is a superb performance and as comic as it is sublimely catastrophic. Golden Richards is a polygamist Mormon with four wives, 28 children, a struggling construction business, and a few secrets. He tells his wives that the brothel he’s building in Nevada is actually a senior center, and, more importantly, keeps hidden his burning infatuation with a woman he sees near the job site. Golden, perpetually on edge, has become increasingly isolated from his massive family—given the size of his brood, his solitude is heartbreaking—since the death of one of his children. Meanwhile, his newest and youngest wife, Trish, is wondering if there is more to life than the polygamist lifestyle, and one of his sons, Rusty, after getting the shaft on his birthday, hatches a revenge plot that will have dire consequences.”
Private Life, by Jane Smiley (Available now). I read A Thousand Acres and Moo and enjoyed them both a great deal. I haven’t read anything by her in well over a decade, but I think this looks good. From Booklist:
“By the time she reaches the age of 27, Margaret Mayfield has known a lot of tragedy in her life. She has lost two brothers, one to an accident, the other to illness, as well as her father, who committed suicide. Her strong-minded mother, Lavinia, knows that her daughter’s prospects for marriage are dim and takes every opportunity to encourage Margaret’s friendship with eccentric scientist Andrew Early. When the two marry and move to a naval base in San Francisco, Margaret becomes more than Andrew’s helpmeet—she is also his cook, driver, and typist as well as the captive audience for his rants against Einstein and his own quirky theories about the universe. As Smiley covers in absorbing detail both private and world events—a lovely Missouri wedding, the chaos of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the wrenching death of a baby—she keeps at the center of the narrative Margaret’s growing realization that she has married a madman and her subsequent attempts to deal with her marriage by becoming adept at “the neutral smile, the moment of patient silence,” before giving in to bitterness.”
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, by David Mitchell (Releases June 29). I haven’t even read Cloud Atlas yet, but I have heard such wonderful things about it that I assume this will be good too. Let’s hope that’s a correct assumption, because from the product description this looks like a great read:
“The year is 1799, the place Dejima in Nagasaki Harbor, the “high-walled, fan-shaped artificial island” that is the Japanese Empire’s single port and sole window onto the world, designed to keep the West at bay; the farthest outpost of the war-ravaged Dutch East Indies Company; and a de facto prison for the dozen foreigners permitted to live and work there. To this place of devious merchants, deceitful interpreters, costly courtesans, earthquakes, and typhoons comes Jacob de Zoet, a devout and resourceful young clerk who has five years in the East to earn a fortune of sufficient size to win the hand of his wealthy fiancée back in Holland.
But Jacob’s original intentions are eclipsed after a chance encounter with Orito Aibagawa, the disfigured daughter of a samurai doctor and midwife to the city’s powerful magistrate. The borders between propriety, profit, and pleasure blur until Jacob finds his vision clouded, one rash promise made and then fatefully broken. The consequences will extend beyond Jacob’s worst imaginings. As one cynical colleague asks, ‘Who ain’t a gambler in the glorious Orient, with his very life?'”
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, by Aimee Bender (Releases June 1). Aimee Bender is an acquired taste, but I loved both her short story collection, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt and her last (only) novel, An Invisible Sign of My Own. She makes magic practical, makes eccentricity normal in the best possible way. From the product description:
“On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother—her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother—tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose. The curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden—her mother’s life outside the home, her father’s detachment, her brother’s clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.”
The list has even more, including books from China Mieville, Neil Gaiman, Jennifer Egan, Julie Orringer, Bret Easton Ellis, Jonathan Franzen, Andrea Levy, and Rick Moody. Looks like quite the summer. What new books are you looking forward to?