Fiction

They’re (Paper) Ba-ack: April 23, 2013

Tuesday is New Book Day. We celebrate each week by highlighting titles we’re excited to see arrive in paperback.

The Storytelling Animal Jonathan Gottschall CoverThe Storytelling Animal:  How Stories Make us Human by Jonathan Gottschall (Mariner Books)

Humans live in landscapes of make-believe. We spin fantasies. We devour novels, films, and plays. Even sporting events and criminal trials unfold as narratives. Yet the world of story has long remained an undiscovered and unmapped country. Now Jonathan Gottschall offers the first unified theory of storytelling. He argues that stories help us navigate life’s complex social problems-just as flight simulators prepare pilots for difficult situations. Storytelling has evolved, like other behaviors, to ensure our survival. Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology, Gottschall tells us what it means to be a storytelling animal and explains how stories can change the world for the better. We know we are master shapers of story. The Storytelling Animal finally reveals how stories shape us.

 

 

When I Was a Mortal Javier Marias Coverby Javier Marias (Vintage)

A dozen stories by Javier Marías, “the most subtle and gifted writer in contemporary Spanish literature” (The Boston Globe).

Victims of mistaken identity, sponging relatives, amateur sleuths, eavesdroppers, professional liars, assassins, and failed bodyguards populate the short stories in When I Was Mortal. Plots turn on curious exigencies-a woman about to star in her first porn film; a night doctor who adds new meaning to “specialist”; a ghost whose neglect is greatly resented.

 

 

 

 

The Pink Hotel Anna Stothard CoverThe Pink Hotel by Anna Stothard (Picador)

A raucous, drug-fueled party has taken over a boutique hotel on Venice Beach—it’s a memorial for Lily, the now-deceased wild-child proprietress of the place. Little do the attendees know that Lily’s estranged daughter—the nameless narrator of this striking novel—is among them, and she has just walked off with a suitcase of Lily’s belongings.

Abandoned by Lily many years ago, the daughter has come a long way to learn about her mother, and the stolen suitcase—stuffed with clothes, letters, and photographs—contains not only a history of her mother’s love life but perhaps also the key to her own identity. As the tough, resourceful narrator tracks down her mother’s former husbands, boyfriends, and acquaintances, a risky reenactment of Lily’s life begins to unfold. Lily had a knack for falling in love with the wrong people, and one man, a fashion photographer turned paparazzo, has begun to work his sinuous charms on the young woman.

 

Interworld Gaiman Reaves CoverInterworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves (HarperTeen)

The New York Times bestselling tale of adventure, danger, magic-and the battle to save all the people in every dimension. Joey Harker has never been a hero. But one day, he walks straight out of his world and into another dimension, where he joins an army of other versions of himself from every other dimension to battle evil forces of magic and science that could destroy him…and all the others like him. This national bestseller from master storyteller Neil Gaiman and Emmy Award-winning writer Michael Reaves will make readers question everything they thought they knew about themselves-and their world.

 

 

 

 

Being Friends With Boys Terra Elan McVoy CoverBeing Friends With Boys by Terra Elan McVoy (Simon Pulse)

Charlotte and Oliver have been friends forever. She knows that he, Abe, and Trip consider her to be one of the guys, and she likes it that way. She likes being the friend who keeps them all together. Likes offering a girl’s perspective on their love lives. Likes being the behind-the-scenes wordsmith who writes all the lyrics for the boys’ band. Char has a house full of stepsisters and a past full of backstabbing (female) ex-best friends, so for her, being friends with boys is refreshingly drama-free…until it isn’t anymore.

When a new boy enters the scene and makes Char feel like, well, a total girl…and two of her other friends have a falling out that may or may not be related to one of them deciding he possibly wants to be more than friends with Char…being friends with all these boys suddenly becomes a lot more complicated.

 

Mo Said She Was Quirky James Kelman CoverMo Said She Was Quirky by James Kelman (Other Press)

James Kelman, the Man Booker Prize-winning author of How Late It Was, How Late, tells the story of Helen-a sister, a mother, a daughter-a very ordinary young woman. Her boyfriend said she was quirky but she is much more than that. Trust, love, relationships; parents, children, lovers; death, wealth, home: these are the ordinary parts of the everyday that become extraordinary when you think of them as Helen does, each waking hour. Mo Said She Was Quirky begins on Helen’s way home from work, with the strangest of moments when a skinny, down-at-heel man crosses the road in front of her and appears to be her lost brother. What follows is an inspired and absorbing story of twenty-four hours in the life of a young woman.

 

 

 

The Killing Hour Paul Cleave CoverThe Killing Hour by Paul Cleave (Atria Books)

Imagine waking up covered in blood—but it’s not your blood. There’s a nasty bump on your head and you can’t remember a thing about last night. The morning paper reports that two young women were brutally murdered. You recognize their names. Pieces of the night before come back to you through the haze. And now you’re the suspect in their grisly deaths. Welcome to Charlie’s world.

In this heart-pounding thriller, only the dead know what happened last night. On the run, Charlie suspects a man named Cyris, but no one believes that Cyris exists. Not the police and not Charlie’s ex-wife Jo, though she wants to trust that the man she once loved is innocent. Soon, Charlie has Jo bound and gagged in the trunk of his car, fleeing across the countryside while the killing hour approaches yet again.

 

To My Assistant Lydia Whitlock CoverTo My Assistant by Lydia Whitlock (Three Rivers Press)

To My Assistant is a combination of Lydia’s notes to her future assistant (“Let’s both hope that I don’t change too much between now and whenever it is I have enough wealth and importance to hire you”), practical advice (including glossary definitions of the normal-sounding phrases bosses use to subtly undermine and insult their assistants), and helpful charts and quizzes (“My Meals and What They Mean for You” and “Reading My Facial Expressions for Your Own Good”). Fun, compulsively readable, and laugh-out-loud funny, To My Assistant will resonate with anyone who is currently in the trenches of assistant life-or who has survived to tell the tale!

 

Dirt David Vann CoverDirt by David Vann (Harper Perennial)

The year is 1985, and twenty-two-year-old Galen lives with his emotionally dependent mother in a secluded old house surrounded by a walnut orchard in a suburb of Sacramento. He doesn’t know who his father is, his abusive grandfather is dead, and his grandmother, losing her memory, has been shipped off to a nursing home. Galen and his mother survive on the family’s trust fund-old money that his aunt, Helen, and seventeen-year-old cousin, Jennifer, are determined to get their hands on. Galen yearns for transformation: to free himself from the corporeal, to be as weightless as air, to walk on water. But he’s powerless to stop the manic binges that overtake him, leading him to fixate on forbidden desires. A prisoner of his body, he is obsessed with thoughts of the boldly flirtatious Jennifer and dreams of shedding himself of the clinging mother whose fears and needs weigh him down. When the family takes a trip to an old cabin in the Sierras, near South Lake Tahoe, tensions crescendo. Caught in a compromising position, Galen will discover the shocking truth of just how far he will go to attain the transcendence he craves.

Crashed Timothy Hallinan CoverCrashed (Junior Bender #1) by Timothy Hallinan (Soho Crime)

Junior Bender is a Los Angeles burglar with a magic touch. Since he first started breaking into houses when he was fourteen years old, he’s never once been caught. But now, after twenty-two years of an exemplary career, Junior has been blackmailed by Trey Annunziato, one of the most powerful crime bosses in LA, into acting as a private investigator on the set of Trey’s porn movie venture, which someone keeps sabotaging. The star Trey has lined up to do all that’s unwholesome on camera is Thistle Downing, America’s beloved child star, who now lives alone in a drug-induced stupor, destitute and uninsurable. Her starring role will be the scandalous fall-from-grace gossip of rubber-neckers across the country. No wonder Trey needs help keeping the production on track. Junior knows what that he should do-get Thistle out and find her help-but doing the right thing will land him on the wrong side of LA’s scariest mob boss. With the help of his precocious twelve-year-old daughter, Rina, and his criminal sidekick, Louie the Lost (an ex-getaway driver), Junior has to figure out a miracle solution.

This is How Augusten Burroughs CoverThis is How: Surviving What You Think You Can’t by Augusten Burroughs (Picador)

If you’re fat and fail every diet, if you’re thin but can’t get thin enough, if you lose your job, if your child dies, if you are diagnosed with cancer, if you always end up with exactly the wrong kind of person, if you always end up alone, if you can’t get over the past, if your parents are insane and ruining your life, if you really and truly wish you were dead, if you feel like it’s your destiny to be a star, if you believe life has a grudge against you, if you don’t want to have sex with your spouse and don’t know why, if you feel so ashamed, if you’re lost in your life, if you have ever wondered, How am I supposed to survive this? This is how.

 

 

 

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