Memoirs, short stories, and a much-anticipated new novel to illuminate those dark fall nights.
- M Train by Patti Smith. Iconic rocker Smith follows up Just Kids with a stream-of-consciousness look at the performer turned author’s inner writing life, and the spare surroundings she has treasured for decades. It occurred to me, as the heavy curtains were opened and the morning light flooded the small dining area, that without a doubt we sometimes eclipse our own dreams with reality.
- Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann. The acclaimed writer of Let the Great World Spin fortifies his spot among the finest writers of our time with this slim collection of a novella and three short stories. They work in much the same way as poets: the search for a random word, at the right instance, making the poem itself so much more precise.
- Refund by Karen E. Bender. Bender’s short stories were shortlisted for the National Book Award and brilliantly weave money, economics, education, emotion, and fear into each distinct tale. My fellow crew members were the ones I knew. They had staggered into the airport terminal from their own disasters: bad marriages, drug-addled kids, tumors, depressions, embezzling relatives, early deaths, the rest. We all said “I’m sorry” to each other, everyone had an individual mountain to scale. That was it. We were here to guard others.
- Daydreams of Angels by Heather O’Neill. O’Neill fashions Jesus into a classmate and Russian ballerinas into clones. And gypsies and fables take on new dimensions in this debut collection. “Which one of you silly children wished for this bit of nonsense?” yelled an angel through a bullhorn as he watched the snow accumulate on the tracks. “You must wait until heaven before you start making your wishes. All that you’re doing now is making a big mess and delaying the schedule.”
- City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg. Clocking in at over 900 pages, it’s the most buzzed about book of the year. In it, New York City is alive, pulsing with crime, corruption, and punk rock, all set against the famous blackout of 1977. Nicky’s smile then was a thing of beauty — an artful rip in the denim of time. “Oh sure. Oh, most definitely. We expect you back, Prophet. Once you’re in, you’re in.”
- Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. There are two sides to every story, and Groff employs a mythic “he said, she said” in this story of Lotto (Fates) and Mathilde’s (Furies) marriage. In bed, when Mathilde wept and wept, in gratitude and guilt and horror for all that she had escaped, Lotto thought it was because his sister was so rich with children and they were so terribly, unfairly poor.