February 18, 2011

New to the Reading List: 18 February 2011

(Every week I add new titles to CCLaP's ever-growing "to-read" list, mostly through the free library monitoring service Wowbrary.com; and now thanks to a reader's suggestion, I share that list of new additions each week here at the blog as well, including brief descriptions of why I added them to my list. For the entire reading list including its hundreds and hundreds of titles, visit either CCLaP's Goodreads.com profile or its Amazon wish list.)

Swamplandia

Swamplandia, by Karen Russell

The debut novel of an acclaimed short-story writer (her collection St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves is also in my reading list), this is supposedly a magic-realism tale about competing crocodile amusement parks in rural Florida, and the strange twelve-year-old girl who's forced to save the day. It's getting ratings all over the board right now, from brilliant to terrible, which always makes me curious about a book. (UPDATE: Oriana Leckert will be reviewing this here at CCLaP next month!)

West of Here

West of Here, by Jonathan Evison

I was a fan of his All About Lulu a few years ago, and now Evison has a big new epic out, contrasting the events of a small town in the Pacific Northwest both in 1889 (when a major new dam was built during the height of Manifest Destiny), and a century later when the dam is slated for demolition. I'm really looking forward to this one.

A Palace in the Old Village

A Palace in the Old Village, by Tahar Ben Jelloun

Called "Morocco's greatest living writer" by the UK's Guardian, his latest is the story of a North African who was a French immigrant for forty years, and who in retirement has moved back home and built the largest building in his rural village, expecting his far-flung family to eventually join him there even as the family largely has other plans. An examination of the profound generation gap in the Middle East these days, at least according to the dust-jacket copy.

Charles Jessold, Considered As a Murderer

Charles Jessold, Considered As a Murderer, by Wesley Stace

His last mindjob of a novel, the British vaudeville saga by George, is one of my favorite books to ever get reviewed at CCLaP, so needless to say that I'm looking forward to tackling his new one, which looks to be a metastory about the endless layers of reality and meaning that good authors pile up in their books. Or, um, something like that. And did I mention that Stace is also known as indie-rocker John Wesley Harding?

Invisible River

Invisible River, by Helena McEwen

Sounds like a lively character-based dramedy, about a young woman's wide-eyed experiences attending art school in London after her mother's untimely death, only to have to deal with her sobbing alcoholic father at her door one day. There's a fair-sized amount of criticism at Goodreads.com about how this book describes the city much better than any of the other characters; but some of the reviewers there are in teenage-crush love with the novel, which always makes me more curious about a title.

Mr. Chartwell

Mr. Chartwell, by Rebecca Hunt

A wildly experimental literary debut, it's about an old-age Winston Churchill in the 1960s being hunted by a literal personification of his mental depression, manifested as a shaggy seven-foot-tall dog-man. This has been getting rave reviews online, and it doesn't even hit bookstores until next week.

The Adults

The Adults, by Alison Espach

Sounds like "Judy Blume meets Tina Fey" to me, the story of a geeky smartass girl in an upper-class suburb of Connecticut, as we watch her grow from fourteen to adulthood in the 1990s in the midst of a group of adorable misfits. A literary debut already in Amazon's top 20,000 on its first week of release, I bet this is one of the books people will be talking about a lot this spring.

Filed by Jason Pettus at 8:23 AM, February 18, 2011. Filed under: Arts news | CCLaP news | Literature |