[This feature is a brief summary of interesting books coming out each month. Follow it here. Click the title links to find these books at Goodreads.]
This Bright River, by Patrick Somerville (out 6/26)
Somerville’s last book, the story collection The Universe in Miniature in Miniature, was one of my favorite books of 2010, mostly because of its pitch-perfect humor. I’ve read an advance copy of This Bright River, and though its more serious storylines don’t always captivate (it’s about a spoiled, rich 30-year-old having a quarterlife crisis and a woman with a crazy ex-husband), Somerville’s great characters and his superb, witty dialogue make this a winner all the same.
Amped, by Daniel H. Wilson (out 6/5)
I wasn’t nearly as smitten by Daniel H. Wilson’s last book, Robopocalypse. I found it to be a relatively mediocre sci-fi adventure about robots taking over the world. But it had a few moments of undeniable brilliance, moments that showed that Wilson is capable of writing an outstanding novel. So, on the chance that this is that novel, I’ll definitely be reading Amped, Wilson’s new book about the ramifications of cybernetic enhancements, a premise that sounds similar to another favorite book, Machine Man.
Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter (out 6/12)
C4 contributor David Duhr raved about Jess Walter’s last novel, The Financial Lives of the Poets, calling it “damn funny.” Walter’s latest (which the flap copy calls his funniest book yet) follows an elderly Italian innkeeper as he searches Hollywood for the American starlet he met fleetingly nearly fifty years before.
Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn (out 6/5)
Yet another new novel by a favorite writer. Gillian Flynn last wrote Dark Places, my favorite straight-ahead mystery of 2009, and one of the top 5 mysteries I’ve ever read. Gone Girl concerns a husband whose wife disappears—when he becomes the prime suspect, he discovers that his wife kept all kinds of secrets from him, and that’s not nearly all.
The Orphanmaster, by Jean Zimmerman (out 6/19)
Zimmerman’s unfortunately titled (we just saw The Orphan Master’s Son) debut novel is a historical thriller set in 1663 in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam—what would become Manhattan. Orphans are going missing and a young female trader and a British spy take it upon themselves to find out what’s happening to them. This might be my favorite premise of any book in the Maybes this month.
City: A Guidebook for the Urban Age, by P.D. Smith (out 6/19)
I find cities absolutely fascinating, so a collection of illustrated essays on “downtowns, suburbs, shantytowns and favelas, graffiti, skylines, crime, the theater, street food, sport, eco-cities, and sacred sites” runs right up my alley.
Istanbul Passage, by Joseph Kanon (out now)
Kanon’s latest spy novel centers around a “part-time” spy stationed in Istanbul at the end of World War II. His final mission, which is supposed to be simple, goes badly wrong, and the consequences play out against the evocative background of mid-century Istanbul. Reviews have been positive.
Caliban’s War, by James S.A. Corey (out 6/26)
This is the sequel to Corey’s solid debut sci-fi novel Leviathan Wakes. I enjoyed Leviathan, a realistic space opera about the pains and dangers of space travel, even if it was a bit too long and got quite silly at times. It would make a good vacation book for a sci-fi nerd, and I’m guessing this sequel will do the same.
Inukshuk, by Gregory Spatz (out 6/12)
This short novel follows a father and son, abandoned by their wife and mother, who travel to a remote Canadian town to rebuild their lives. The father has an affair, and the son gives himself scurvy as part of an obsessive recreation of sea life.
The Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson Walker (out 6/26)
This month’s official super-hyped debut novel follows an adolescent girl coming of age as the Earth’s rotation suddenly begins to slow. The nights grow longer and longer, her parents might be getting divorced, gravity goes haywire, her grandfather might be going crazy. Sounds like equal parts standard debut novel fodder and Kevin Brockmeier/Ben Marcus literary weirdness.
The 500, by Matthew Quirk (out 6/5)
A con artist gets tapped by an influence-peddling consulting firm that caters to the 500 most powerful people in Washington, D.C. Can’t quite tell if this will be intensely juvenile or genuinely entertaining.
Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, by Chris Hedges (out 6/18)
A terrifying nonfiction book about corporate greed and the horrors of the eradication of the middle class. The flap copy details a case study about Camden, New Jersey, where unemployment is nearly 40% and only 30% of people graduate from high school.
Visit Sunny Chernobyl: And Other Adventures in the World’s Most Polluted Places, by Andrew Blackwell (out now)
Blackwell’s twisted travelogue takes “a jaunt through the most gruesomely polluted places on Earth.” Experience journalism at its grossest.
The Second World War, by Antony Beevor (out 6/5)
A new history of WWII from the favorite historian of Mark, a character on the hilarious British comedy Peep Show.
Living, Thinking, Looking, by Siri Hustvedt (out 6/5)
The author of the essay collection The Summer Without Men (ask your aunt) returns to nonfiction with a new collection of essays about visual art, imagination, emotion, and Hustvedt’s own life. If you’re into this kind of book, you know who you are.
Talulla Rising, by Glen Duncan (out 6/26)
The world’s most pretentious sell-out (possibly second-most pretentious, just below Colson Whitehead) has already cranked out a sequel to his schlocky but hot-selling werewolf novel, The Last Werewolf. Yikes. (For the record, Sean liked Duncan’s werewolf novel.)
Invisible Monsters Remix, by Chuck Palahniuk (out 6/11)
Invisible Monsters is one of my two favorite Chuck Palahniuk novels (along with Survivor). If there’s one thing that makes me love a favorite book even more, it’s an author cashing in with a “director’s cut” and sullying its memory. Wait, no, that’s bad. This is a bad, bad thing.