New fiction and memoir:
Augusten Burroughs: A Wolf at the Table
Burroughs returns to the memoir form, this time addressing his relationship with the father from Hell. Some reviewers compare it unfavorably to his Running with Scissors, 2002. Janet Maslin writes in the New York Times “Determinedly unfunny, awkwardly histrionic and sometimes anything but credible, it repudiates everything that put Mr. Burroughs on the map,” but if you compulsively rubberneck while driving by car wrecks, you may want to check it out. Click here to watch the Barnes & Noble video of Burroughs discussing the audiobook version, which he narrated.
Peter Carey: His Illegal Self
Another dysfunctional childhood, this time fictional. Carey tells the story of Che, son of absent radical activists, whose grandmother his raising him. But soon, due to the one of the Booker Prize-winning author’s plot twists, he begins his life as an outlaw. Ron Charles of the Washington Post calls it a “tender portrayal of the desperate love between this accidental mother and a little boy who she knows deserves better.” Here’s a brief video synopsis on Barnes & Noble Studio.
Tan Twan Eng: The Gift of Rain
Historical fiction, set mostly in 40s Malay. A half-English, half-Chinese narrator in his 70s tells his story, focusing on the years before World War II on the Malaysian island of Penang. He studies aikido with an older Japanese man, which leads to complications when the Japanese invade Malaya. David A. Berona, writing for Library Journal, says that the book has “strong characters and page-turning action.”
Andrew Sean Greer: The Story of a Marriage
Another historical novel, set in 1950s San Francisco. Greer, known mainly for his 2004 novel Confessions of Max Tivoli, writes about an African American woman, Pearlie, who leaves the small Kentucky town she was born in, to lives in the Sunset district of San Francisco.
Catherine Ryan Hyde: Chasing Windmills
Local (Cambria) bestselling author (Pay it Forward) reframes West Side Story, using a meeting on a NYC subway as the beginning of a love story that travels to the Mojave Desert.
David Sheff: Beautiful Boy: a Father’s Journey through his Son’s Addiction
If this cover looks familiar, you’ve probably seen it while you were waiting in line for a latte at Starbuck’s — it’s their current selection. New York Times journalist Sheff writes about his son’s life before, during and (he hopes) after his years as a meth user. For equal time, we’re also ordering his son’s account, Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines.