Anonymous. Elimination Night. New Harvest: Houghton Harcourt. Jan. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780547942070. $25. POP FICTION
Released by New Harvest, a Houghton Harcourt imprint distributed by Amazon Publishing’s East Coast Group, this is a roman √† clef by someone working behind the scenes at a top TV talent show. In the novel, the show is called Project Icon, and our heroine, Sasha, must suffer big egos and instructions like Crew to be forbidden to make eye contact with Artist AT ALL TIMES. With a 100,000-copy first printing; how hard can we wink?
Bauermeister, Erica. The Lost Art of Mixing. Putnam. Jan. 2013. 28pp. ISBN 9780399162114. $25.95. POP FICTION
In this sequel to The School of Essential Ingredients, Lillian is back, cooking on all four burners at her own restaurant. The characters swirling around her include upcoming chef Chloe, an accountant named Al and his hot-under-the-collar wife, tall and steady Finnegan, and Isabelle, whose memory is fading. Best seller Bauermeister’s book will benefit from both book club promotions and a reading group guide; with cooking such a hot topic, can fiction about cooking be far behind?
Dahlie, Michael. The Best of Youth. Norton. Jan. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9780393081855. $25.95. LITERARY
Winner of both a PEN/Hemingway and a Whiting Writer’s Award, Dahlie returns with a story that I trust is not autobiographical. Clueless Harvard grad Henry Lang inherits a bundle when his parents die in a sailing accident, so he moves to Brooklyn, truly an epicenter of youth culture, to try to be cool. Instead, he gets taken advantage of a lot and agrees to ghostwrite a young adult novel for a dangerously mesmerizing and drug-addicted actor. For true urban energy, read with Adam Mansbach’s Rage Is Back (previewed in Picks).
Maltman, Thomas. Little Wolves. Soho. Jan. 2013. NAp. ISBN 9781616951900. $25. LITERARY/MYSTERY
Maltman’s first novel, The Night Birds, won an Alex Award, a Spur Award, and the Friends of American Writers Literary Award and got a nod from ALA as an “Outstanding Book for the College Bound.” I thought it was terrific. So I’m pleased to recommend his second novel, set in 1987 Minnesota during a terrible drought (how painfully relevant), as a father anguishes over his son’s having committed murder and a pastor’s wife returns to town. Smart thrills; look for a reading group guide, book club outreach, and giveaways on Goodreads.
Roby, Kimberla Lawson. The Perfect Marriage. Grand Central. Jan. 2013. 192p. ISBN 9780446572507. $19.99. POP FICTION
Once again, Roby takes on a serious social issue within the context of glossy popular fiction. Denise and Derek Shaw have it all: a happy marriage, successful careers, a beautiful house, a beautiful daughter‚ and a serious addiction to drugs. As their lives start coming apart, their daughter intervenes to save them. A much-loved author.
Schrank, Ben. Love Is a Canoe. Sarah Crichton: Farrar. Jan. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780374192495. $26. POP FICTION
The recently widowed Peter Herman is beginning to doubt the advice he doled out in his classic marriage manual, Marriage Is a Canoe, when a hard-driving young editor at his publishing company decides to celebrate the book’s 50th anniversary with a contest for troubled couples. The winning couple gets to spend an afternoon with Peter, who gets to save their marriage. President and publisher of Razorbill, a children’s/YA imprint at Penguin, Schrank should offer considerable insight into the writer’s life and the politics of publishing. With a reading group guide.
Zambra, Alejandro. Ways of Going Home. Farrar. Jan. 2013. 160p. ISBN 9780374286644. $24. LITERARY
Latin American literature has been in the forefront for decades, and Zambra is on its cutting edge; he was named one of Granta‘s Best Young Spanish-Language Novelists in 2010 and also to the prestigious Bogotá-39 list. Set in Chile, the book is initially narrated by a nine-year-old earthquake survivor who’s asked by a girl named Claudia to spy on her uncle; the second section is narrated by the novelist writing the opening story and whose father seems to have supported the Pinochet regime. Energized, politicized metafiction.