If you are in any way witchy, or follow the equinoxes, then you will know that the 23rd marks the first official day of fall this year. We decided to jump the gun and present our fall books preview a day early, just because we can’t wait, and because we are in no way astrologically-inclined. The following pages feature seven works of fiction, one encyclopedia, one photo/interview book, a memoir, and (an invisible, but deeply felt) partridge in a pear tree. The best way to cope with the changing of the seasons is to confront them head on, you know, so put on a sweater, brew a hot beverage, and curl up with some of these books.
The Karaoke Singer’s Guide to Self-Defense by Tim Kinsella (September 27)
The singer of Cap’n Jazz and Joan of Arc tries his hand at writing a sad story about striving in the Midwest. You can find an excerpt here, though be warned: some basic origami skills are necessary to read it. We trust your ability to fold things, though. On the Joan of Arc message board, the lovable curmudgeon writes, “I can’t say if I’ve been a bit of a hermit for the last year because I’ve been writing a goddamn novel or if I’ve been writing a goddamn novel because I’ve been a bit of a hermit for the last year.”
Negropedia by Patrice Evans (October 4)
The book is subtitled, “The Assimilated Negro’s Crash Course on the Modern Black Experience,” and is meant for those curious to learn more about what it means to be black in America today. We get a breakdown of Nation of Islam types, Erykah Badu-wannabes, and why it really sucks to be called young, gifted, and black. It’s a group of hilarious vignettes done in a casual, bloggy style, which makes for a great read while you’re commuting.
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides (October 11)
The author of The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex takes on a lot in his third novel. With the following passage taken from Esquire, we find Eugenides still on his game: “He remembered exactly where he’d been standing, and how Madeleine had stooped forward, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, as the sheet slipped and, for a few exhilarating moments, her pale, quiet, Episcopalian breast exposed itself to this sight.”
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (October 25)
Murakami’s long-awaited novel is finally available in English, with an enviable new cover by Chip Kidd. The graphic designer writes about the dual-cover design: “Before the reader even reads a word, he or she is forced to consider the idea of someone going from one plane of existence to another.” Looks like he nailed it. If you can’t wait, The New Yorker recently published an excerpt from the novel here.
Zone One by Colson Whitehead (October 18)
The author of Sag Habor departs from novels about bourgeoisie black youth and enters the zombie apocalypse genre, with both rib-tickling and discomfiting results. Justin Cronin writes, “Part of the novel’s power flows from the reader’s uncomfortable sense that Whitehead’s apocalypse, for all its strangeness, also feels strangely familiar.” Get ready to confront the aftermath of 9/11 through Whitehead’s pop-culture-fueled doomsday scenario; the first section of the book is available for preview here.
Blue Nights by Joan Didion (November 1)
Ms. Didion is at it again with a heartbreaking memoir about losing her only daughter shortly after losing her husband, a subject she explored in her last memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking. Vanessa Redgrave is slated to read the audiobook, by the way, so if you’re in the mood for a husky English accent, then we suggest you try it out and report back to us afterward. If you want more information on Joan Didion or Blue Nights before the book’s publication date, then turn to this site, which features all things Didion.
Lamberto, Lamberto, Lamberto by Gianni Rodari (November 1)
This is a bizarre tale involving an older banker named Mr. Baron Lamberto, who is a man with numerous ailments living on a private island on a lake in northern Italy. He rounds up a number of servants to repeat his name incessantly in order to prolong his life, and the strange thing is…it works. This is all well and good until a group of terrorists comes calling to take the master of the house hostage, and Lamberto must try to reach an agreement with them in order to keep surviving. Rodari uses the real-life kidnapping and murder of the former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro by the Red Brigades in order to instruct us about the dire consequences of terrorism and the importance of hope, even when it seems foolish.
The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco (November 8)
There has been an assassination in Paris at the end of the 19th Century and Captain Simone Simonini, our fateful explorer, is here to prove whodunnit. However, because we’re dealing with Umberto Eco, this is not merely a spy thriller. The novel twists and turns, including real-life anti-Semites, Freemasons, and nefarious Jesuit plotters. When it was released in Italian last year, there was an outcry from religious leaders condemning the novel. Which must mean that it’s worth reading, right?
Mrs. Nixon: A Novelist Imagines Life by Ann Beattie (November 15)
Ann Beattie, a New Yorker favorite, presents a book that is part fiction, part fact, and will indubitably confound those who believe in the purity of the novel. You can read an excerpt in The New Yorker here. In an interview about the book with Deborah Treisman, Beattie says, “I think I became interested in how women shape their identities, how adversity anticipates or conditions the ways in which a person decides to shape her public self, which, ultimately, may be quite different from her private self.”
It Chooses You by Miranda July (November 15)
Miranda July chose people from the pages of the Penny Saver, a catalog that she increasingly turned to for help as she found herself unable to complete her screenplay for her upcoming film titled, The Future. The filmmaker and performance artist interviewed willing participants, paying them $50 to let her and a photographer into their homes so that July could talk to them about their lives and her friend could document the process through photos. In the process, July discovers a way to end her film, but you probably already knew that.