Over the next few weeks we’re going to be treated to new novels by two giants of American literature: Michael Chabon, whose book “Moonglow” is released in a matter of days, and Paul Auster, whose new work “4 3 2 1” is scheduled for early 2017. I have a somewhat turbulent relationship with these two writers; both have penned novels that I would unhesitatingly include in my all-time favourite book list and both have, on occasion, produced novels that have left me quite disappointed. I first read Chabon’s “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” when I started working as a bookseller back in the early noughties; it’s one of those novels that almost everyone in the book trade loves, and it was pressed upon me by my new colleagues as if reading it was some kind of bookselling rite of passage. Fortunately I loved it, thus saving myself from becoming a social pariah within the workplace, and although my job has moved on I genuinely love it still. I also really enjoyed his other novels (even if “Kavalier and Clay” remained my firm favourite) up until his most recent offering, “Telegraph Avenue”. It’s a terrible feeling when an author you adore produces a book you don’t, and I was heartbroken to find I couldn’t even finish “Telegraph Avenue”, completely unengaged as I was with the characters or the setting. Still, a new Michael Chabon book is a source of anticipation for me and only slightly tinged with trepidation, as that one book has been the only miss among a succession of hits, and I do love the sound of “Moonglow”.
Paul Auster is a slightly different kettle of fish. I read a large number of his novels some years back, starting with his earliest works, and found in them some of the most remarkable writing I’ve ever come across. I’d pick out “Leviathan” and “Moon Palace” as favourites if I had to, but it seemed this man could produce one work of genius after another. Then at a certain point I felt the magic start to dim. Was it simply because I had read so many? I’m not sure, but I couldn’t shake the sensation that the flair and wonder was missing from his most recent novels. So I took a break, and to be honest I haven’t revisited any of his books for a very long time. Maybe it was as a result of this hiatus that I found I was incredibly excited when I saw “4 3 2 1” mentioned on Twitter a few days ago. Let’s face it, my least favourite Auster novels are still a class act compared with many others I’ve read, and I can’t wait to see if this time round I feel the magic again.
Hopefully I’ll be getting my hands on both books as soon as I can, and you can be sure I’ll share my thoughts with you. See you back on Girl, Reading soon!
I’ve not got through nearly as many books in April as I would have liked, but I’m resolved to do much better next month. This shouldn’t be hard, to be fair, as there are some cracking books coming out that I can’t wait to get my hands on. Just out in paperback, and one that I plan on purchasing over the next couple of days, is Cathy Rentzenbrink’s “The Last Act of Love”; this isn’t the kind of book I’d usually go for but the media reviews and word of mouth buzz have been so overwhelmingly positive I’ve been persuaded to give it a go. On a lighter note, I’m also looking forward to the second book in the Baby Ganesh Detective Agency series by Vaseem Khan. Regular visitors to my blog will know how much I enjoyed the first one, and I’m hoping that “The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown” will live up to expectations. “Conspiracy” by the wonderful S J Parris provides my historical fiction fix this month, as Giordano Bruno embarks on another case. Anticipation of “This Must be the Place” by Maggie O’Farrell has been lighting up the twittersphere for several weeks now, and I’m one of the thousands who are counting the days until it’s released. She’s an immensely talented writer and one you just know isn’t going to disappoint; I read an extract from the book online recently and was bowled over by the atmosphere that she manages to create in just a couple of paragraphs. Last on my May pending pile is a new novel by one of my all-time favourite writers, Rose Tremain; the premise of “The Gustav Sonata” sounds right up my street and I’m hoping it hits the heights of masterpieces such as “Music and Silence” or “Restoration”.
So that’s what I’m looking forward to in May, although I’m sure as ever I’ll get side-tracked by the myriad of enticing books that are going to appear under my nose before the month is out. Happy reading!
Unbelievably it won’t be long now until the autumn publishing schedule kicks off and the biggest names in books bring out their latest offerings ready for (whisper it) Christmas. Just before we get there though, I thought I’d share with you a few gems – or rather potential gems – that have caught my eye and will be making their way onto my TBR pile over the coming weeks.
- “The Marriage of Opposites” by Alice Hoffman
The first book of hers I tried was her latest, “The Museum of Extraordinary Things”. Having fallen head over heels in love with it I went straight back for more and was astonished to discover just how many novels she’s written over the years. As a new fan arriving incredibly late to the party, I’m extremely excited to try this next book; I imagine her many well-established fans will feel the same.
So this looks like it’s right up my street! It’s a debut novel and, according to my internet noseyings, is a multigenerational story that flits back and forth between England and India and ranges from the nineteenth century to just after the First World War. The cultural impact of British Imperialism is a fascinating and occasionally disquieting subject, and it looks as if this book might explore what it meant to be part of a family that spans continents during that period of history. There’s nothing like discovering a new author via their debut novel so I hope this lives up to expectations. Also, the cover is gorgeous!
- “Season of the Rainbirds” by Nadeem Aslam
I’ve been a fan of his ever since I read “Maps for Lost Lovers”, but the one novel I haven’t yet read is this one. It’s not a new book but rather a reissue of his first novel, originally published in the early 1990s and due for rerelease in September. I expect many of you out there will have come across it already seeing as it’s been around a long time, but I’m still very excited to catch up on this book that I’ve somehow missed. If you’ve never tried this author before perhaps now is the time to give him a go!
I thought “The Marlowe Papers” was one of the cleverest things I’ve read in a long time, not least because of its insanely ambitious construction. A 400 page novel written entirely in verse? How many authors would attempt a feat like that?! And once you’ve got over being mesmerised by the pitch-perfect poetry, you realise it’s also as gripping as any thriller you can name. So I was super-excited when I heard she had another novel pending; vastly different from the previous one in almost every respect from what I can gather, but I have no doubt it will be equally amazing.