Alarcón, Boyle, Eugenides, Hill | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Oct. 2017

Alarcón, Daniel. The King Is Always Above the People: Stories. Riverhead. Oct. 2017. 256p. ISBN 9781594631726. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781101623077. Downloadable: Penguin Audio. SHORT STORIES
Alarcón’s novels include the multi-best-booked, multi-award-nominated Lost City Radio alarconand the PEN Faulkner finalist At Night We Walk in Circles, but his reputation was already flaring owing to his first book, the story collection War by Candlelight. So it’s good news that he’s returning to the short form with these stories of failed love, family sorrow, and tricky leave-takings, as in “The Auroras,” whose protagonist abandons his old life for a new city but can’t abandon old habits.

Boyle, T.C. The Relive Box and Other Stories. Ecco. Oct. 2017. 272p. ISBN 9780062673398. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062673404. SHORT STORIES
The author of a string of well-regarded novels, including the Pen Faulkner Award winner World’s End, Boyle has written more than 100 stories and for his efforts won the 2014 Rea Award for the Short Story. He was also editor of The Best American Short Stories 2015. The 12 stories in this welcome new collection exhibit Boyle’s entertainingly off-kilter view of the world, ranging from the tale of a man aiming to assemble the town’s biggest burrito to the title story’s “relive box,” which allows users to experience past moments anew. With a 50,000-copy first printing.

Eugenides, Jeffrey. Fresh Complaint: Stories. Farrar. Oct. 2017. 304p. ISBN 9780374203061. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780374717384. CD/Macmillan Audio. SHORT STORIES
Pulitzer Prize winner Eugenides, whose novels have also been runners-up for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and France’s Prix Médicis, now comes up with a first collection of stories. Not surprisingly, the stories deal with identity crisis, sexual confusion, and adolescent angst, as when a poet who feels left out of the financial boom becomes an embezzler, a musician loses his dreams to the responsibilities of family, and a college freshman has an encounter on a train that redirects his future.

Hill, Joe. Strange Weather: Four Short Novels. Morrow. Oct. 2017. 432p. ISBN 9780062663115. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062663139. lrg. prnt. CD/HarperAudio. NOVELLAS/HORROR
What’s better than getting scared to death by a fresh, new story from No. 1 New York Times master of horror Hill? Getting scared four times over with this new collection of longish short fiction. “Snapshot” features a tattooed bad guy who can wipe out bits of your memory with a simple click of his Polaroid Instant Camera. In “Aloft,” a young man ends up stuck on a too-solid, surreally conceived cloud after his first parachute attempt. In “Rain,” Boulder, CO, is inundated by a cloudburst of nails. And in “Loaded,” a security guard who waylaid a mass shooting slowly loses his sanity under the pressure of fame. With a 200,000-copy first printing.


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.

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