Barbara’s Picks, Oct. 2013, Pt. 4: Helen Fielding Returns, Franklin and Fennelly Team Up, and Lennon Offers a Norman Mailer Biography

Bryson, Bill. One Summer: America, 1927. Doubleday. Oct. 2013. 448p. ISBN 9780767919401. $27.95. CD: Random Audio. HISTORY
The Iowa-born, England-based Bryson, whose works range broadly from language to science to genial travelog, here returns home to America and a truly focused treatment of a single important year (and season, if we are to believe the title). In 1927, argues Bryson, America made a crucial leap to the world stage, with players ranging from Charles Lindbergh to Al Capone—so it’s not all heroics. One can only anticipate engaging reading. Note that October will also see publication of a special illustrated edition of Bryson’s popular At Home: A Short History of Private Life (ISBN 9780385537285. $39.95), with 400 color photographs.

Dubus, Andre, III. Dirty Love. Norton. Oct. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780393064650. $25.95. LITERARY FICTION
The author of House of Sand and Fog, a National Book Award finalist that Oprah also pushed, has a way of nailing how our needs lead us astray, and in this collection he does it over and over again. A bartender who’d rather be writing poetry cheats on his pregnant wife, a wife whose manager husband whips around everyone else cheats on him, and, in the title novella, a teenaged girl shamed by a dirty picture of her that’s been posted online seeks confirmation of her worth from a great-uncle and an Iraq vet. With a seven-city tour to Boston, New York, Washington, DC, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

Fielding, Helen. Untitled Bridget Jones Novels. Knopf. Oct. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9780385350860. $26. CD: Random Audio. POP FICTION
If you don’t know that Fielding is bringing back her beloved Bridget Jones, the character that sold 15 million copies worldwide and launched a movie franchise, then you’ve been hiding under a rock for months, unplugged from the media. The setting is contemporary London, and like all of us Bridget has moved on in life. More I cannot tell you, though the title should be settled by the time of BookExpo America, when Fielding appears at the Adult Book & Author Breakfast on Saturday, June 1. With a reading group guide, a library marketing campaign, and even a bookseller “Welcome Back Bridge Jones” party kit. Yes, it includes cocktail recipes.

Franklin, Tom & Beth Ann Fennelly. The Tilted World. Morrow. Oct. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9780062069184. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062069207. LITERARY FICTION
Franklin’s New York Times best-selling Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter was nominated for nine awards and raked in two: the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Crime Writers’ Association’s Gold Dagger Award. His wife, poet Fennelly, is a Pushcart Prize winner. Together, they should make your world tilt. In 1927, when federal revenue agent Ted Ingersoll arrives in Hobnob, MS, with his partner to track down two fellow agents who vanished while pursuing a local bootlegger, he finds an abandoned child he gives to Dixie Clay Holliver, whose only child has died. Of course, he doesn’t know that Dixie is a bootlegger who might know what happened to those agents. Meanwhile, the Mississippi is rising dangerously. With a 100,000-copy first printing and a reading group guide.

Lennon, J. Michael. Norman Mailer. S. & S. Oct. 2013. 928p. ISBN 9781439150191. $40; ebk. ISBN 9781439156209. BIOGRAPHY
Emeritus Vice President for Academic Affairs and Emeritus Professor of English at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania, Lennon knew Norman Mailer and chairs the editorial board of the Mailer Review. So he is nicely primed to write this authorized biography, which draws on numerous interviews and unpublished letters. Given the richness of Mailer’s life as author and activist, public intellectual and philanderer, who consciously worked to shape his own identity, it’s hardly surprising that this work is nearly 1,000 pages long. Read with a new collection of Mailer’s essays, previewed below.

Mailer, Norman. Mind of an Outlaw: Selected Essays. Random. Oct. 2013. 608p. ed. by Phillip Sipiora. ISBN 9780812993479. $40; ebk. ISBN 9780679645658. ESSAYS
Famed for provocative fiction published over many decades, Pulitzer Prize winner Mailer was just as adept at the short nonfiction form; in a recent list of ten best essays published since 1950, Mailer’s “The White Negro” ranked second after James Baldwin’s “Notes on a Native Son.” This first posthumous publication offers Mailer’s most telling essays on favorite subjects from gender, politics, and power to art, sex, and literature. Editor Sipiora has even discovered a previously unpublished piece on Freud. With Michael Lennon’s biography, previewed above, October will undeniably bring out Mailer fans—and likely old foes, so get ready for some heat.


Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.