August 28, 2021
This week’s recommendations encompass several genres: historical fiction, thriller, short stories, horror, and a memoir I couldn’t resist. They are books that highlight revenge, and setting the record straight historically and personally; books that evoke films, and books that feel like films. A good mix to mark the end of summer.
Buyer, The Center for Fiction Bookstore
Moon and the Mars
By KIA CORTHRON
Published by SEVEN STORIES PRESS
Corthron’s debut fiction, The Castle Cross the Magnet Carta, won The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize in 2016. Set in the 1940s and sweeping through to the civil rights movement, she demonstrated her skill at capturing epic historical moments and developing memorable characters. (She is a playwright and TV writer as well.) Now she tackles an earlier period—the 1800s—through the story of a biracial (Black and Irish) orphan girl in the notoriously violent but cohesive community of the Five Points area of Manhattan. Her coming of age narrative also documents the historical events she lives through (pre-Civil War slavery), with uncanny realism.
By JAIME CORTEZ
Published by BLACK CAT
This debut collection shines a light on a segment of society seldom written about—migrants in the California camps—with a modern day twist on Steinbeck. Set in the 1970s, Cortez’s stories are written from the perspective of young laborers and he creates an ensemble of workers like a still photographer—these Latinx characters leap off the page. Like Anthony Veasna So’s Afterparties (published earlier this month), Gordo contains an indelible story about donuts, this time featured in a kids’ game pretending the donut is the Body of Christ. Cortez’s voice is infectious, funny and instantly recognizable as someone whose talent is unmistakably original and meant to last..
A Slow Fire Burning
By PAULA HAWKINS
Published by RIVERHEAD
Hawkins is a trickster by trade. Her gift is the ability to keep the reader guessing and surprised. This new novel centers around the brutal murder of a handsome young man on an English houseboat, and the three women who are suspects. All of them have a plausible motive of revenge: a slightly deranged ex-lover, a nosy neighbor in the marina, and a family member. It’s great to have Hawkins back to seize our attention like she did her first time out with The Girl on the Train.
My Heart Is a Chainsaw
By STEPHEN GRAHAM JONES
Published by SAGA PRESS
A new Jones is always good news, especially as his last book The Only Good Indians was a huge success. (Watch his terrific launch event with Victor LaValle here.) Combining horror with American Indian characters places his work in a unique category in contemporary fiction. His forthcoming book is fashioned as a spoof on slasher films. Our damsel in distress is a Blackfeet (like the author) teen in the Pacific Northwest who loves horror movies. You can even experience the author’s personal playlist—from Frankie Valli to Tom Waits—to get you in the mood..
By BILLIE JEAN KING
Published by KNOPF
King, now 77, was an indisputable game-changer in the world of female sports and the first woman athlete to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her new book is a fascinating look back at her life and the things, in addition to her tennis career, that are most important to her: activism in civil and LBGTQ+ rights. It is also a personal exploration of the challenges she faced as a queer woman in a world dominated by men. One does not have to be a sports enthusiast to devour her inspiring memoir.