Neil Gaiman, Rachel Joyce, Anne Tyler, Irvine Welsh | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Feb. 2015, Pt. 1

Gaiman, Neil. Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Discoveries. Morrow. Feb. 2015. 400p. ISBN 9780062330260. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062330291. CD: HarperAudio. SHORT STORIES
I don’t have to introduce Gaiman as the Hugo, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy Award– and Newbery Medal–winning author of Coraline and other spectacular examples of speculative fiction, do I? He’s back with a third collection of short pieces, including stories and verse that have already been published—among them a Dr. Who story written for the 50th anniversary of the series in 2013 that should ring a lot of chimes—and a brand-new story exclusive to this anthology. With a 150,000-copy first printing and a reading group guide.

Joyce, Rachel. The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy. Random. Feb. 2015. 384p. ISBN 9780812996678. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780812996661. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. LITERARY
A few years back, Joyce, an award-winning playwright and former Royal Shakespeare actress, joycerachelpenned a debut novel that brought out the stars. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry opened with Queenie Hennessy writing a letter to an old friend from the brewery, saying good-bye as she is dying of cancer. Here, Queenie has written another letter, unsent, that details her upbringing and life before she met Harold at the brewery and what working with him meant to her. As such, this book should be a lovely complement to Pilgrimage, but it also works as a standalone. Not that there are too many folks around who haven’t read the first book.

Tyler, Anne. A Spool of Blue Thread.  Knopf. Feb. 2015. 336p. ISBN 9781101874271. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101874288. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. LITERARY
Gathered on the porch with her children, grandchild, and faithful dog, Abby Whitshank once more relates how she fell in love with Red on a glorious “yellow-and-green afternoon” in July 1959, and readers will know that they’re in Tyler territory. Even as the family considers how best to care for Abby and Red and to dispose of the house that Red’s father built, stories and secrets spill out from everyone. Another heart brimmer from Tyler, now in her 50th year as a writer, with promotion ranging from NPR to The New Yorker to Fandango, which surely says a lot about Tyler’s broad appeal.

Welsh, Irvine. The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins. Doubleday. Feb. 2015. 336p. ISBN 9780385539388. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385539395. Downloadable: Random Audio. POP FICTION
Listen up, Trainspotting fans, Welsh is doing something different here—he’s setting his new novel in America. Not surprisingly, he’s not treading the halls of, says, upper-crust Westchester but heading down to Miami’s seen-better-days South Beach. When tough-minded, dirty-mouthed personal trainer Lucy Brennan disarms a gunman chasing two homeless men, she becomes an instant celebrity—and a heroine to the only eyewitness, Lena Sorensen, who’s a mess, body and soul. She instantly signs up for one of Lucy’s classes, which is where the fun—and the stuff about the sex lives of Siamese twins—begins. Great stuff, just not for the genteel.

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.