The following are some new and about-to-be-released books from a number of different genres that are all on my reading hit list for Summer 2004. Since I have not yet read any of these titles, there is no review to offer on any of them yet (look to future editions of Express for that), only an explanation of what I know about them and why they intrigue me. Hopefully, they‘ll catch your interest, as well.
Summer 2004‘s Runaway Bestseller
Is there any question that it will be “My Life“ by Bill Clinton? There is certainly no doubt that this tome, slated for release at the end of the month, will be one of the most debated, discussed and probably dissed books not just of the summer, but for the year. Advance sales on Amazon.com have been impressive, and it is predicted that this will outsell wife Hillary Rodham Clinton‘s memoir, “Living History,“ the best-selling non-fiction book of last summer. Clinton‘s rags-to-riches story, punctuated with political highs and lows and a walloping dose of scandal, may make this the first time that a presidential memoir can actually serve as a beach read. The question now, and later, is “Did he tell the truth?“ I, for one, can‘t wait to reach my own opinion on that.
Biographies and autobiographies constitute my hands-down personal favorite book genre, and there are two in addition to Clinton‘s that I very much look forward to reading as quickly as possible. The first is “Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier,“ Alexandra Fuller‘s follow-up to her remarkable autobiography, “Don‘t Let‘s Go to the Dogs Tonight.“ Fuller‘s latest is her saga of falling in love with K., a much older mercenary with whom she treks across Africa. The other is “Truth & Beauty: A Friendship“ from “Bel Canto“ author Ann Patchett. Reviews have been positively glowing for this story (Patchett‘s first foray into nonfiction) of her friendship with the late author Lucy Grealy, a disfigured wild woman and literary talent who died of an accidental drug overdose.
Must Read Horror, Fantasy & Chillers
“The Song of Susannah“ by Stephen King has already been hailed as the gem of his popular “Dark Tower“ series and will pave the way for its grand finale, “The Dark Tower“ in September 2004. This is another hot prospect at Amazon.com, as is “A Feast for Crows,“ George R.R. Martin‘s highly anticipated fantasy epic that is the fourth installment of his “A Song of Fire and Ice“ series. “The Ghost Writer,“ a first effort from John Harwood has been receiving great advance buzz for the way it weaves together ghost stories and family secrets into a gripping narrative. “A Carnivore‘s Inquiry,“ which focuses on an intelligent young globetrotting woman who is obsessed with cannibalism, is a modern gothic work from Sabrina Murray that is also gotten early attention. Lastly, “The Coma“ is the creepy new novel from Alex Garland, who authored “The Beach“ and wrote the screenplay for “28 Days Later.“
There have been so many promising and appealing works already this year from first-time authors, but some of the more recent belong to Paul Jaskunas, Jeff Lindsay and Adam Langer. Jakunas‘s novel is “Hidden,“ the story of a young battered spouse who is nearly beaten to death in her secluded Indiana home and must determine what really happened to her after her husband has been jailed for the crime but another man steps forward and confesses. Lindsay‘s “Darkly Dreaming Dexter“ introduces readers to Dexter Morgan, a charming “blood splatter analyst“ for the Miami Police Department who just happens to be a serial killer. Critics are waxing rhapsodic over Langer‘s “Crossing California,“ an epic multi-generational tale about three Chicago families. Let me quote Brad Thomas Parsons of Amazon.com who called it his favorite book of the year and praised the way “Langer breathes life into his characters with a warmth and generosity that‘s practically unheard of in contemporary fiction.“
When You Need to Laugh
I can‘t wait to get into the latest from the brilliant and hilarious David Sedaris, and I won‘t hesitate to laugh out loud for a minute (no matter where I am) while reading “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.“ For other Sedaris-philes, there is also an audiobook out now of his “Live at Carnegie Hall,“ something that would take the pain out sitting in a car with no air conditioning in a traffic jam during National Cherry Festival week.
Three other books, besides the compelling memoirs already identified here, look like they may be as educational and informative as they are engaging and entertaining. Journalist Robert Kurson has written “Shadow Divers: The True Adventures of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II,“ about two deep sea divers who discover the wreck of a Nazi U-boat off the coast of New Jersey. The story apparently channels “The Perfect Storm,“ “Into Thin Air“ and “The Greatest Generation“ all into one page-turner. Another is “Heft on Wheels: A Field Guide to Doing a 180,“ Mike Magnuson‘s story of giving up his life as an overweight, chain-smoking couch potato to become a cycling addict. And even though I‘ve already read and reviewed it, perhaps you haven‘t picked it up yet, so I want to give another plug to Steve Almond‘s fabulous “Candyfreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America.“ This is a book that appeals on so many levels that it‘s one of those rare tomes that you know will be loved by anyone who reads it.
Stuff for the Nightstand
“The Master,“ Colm Toibin‘s tale of the novelist Henry James; “Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination“ from “Bridget Jones‘ Diary author Helen Fielding; Kent Haruf‘s “Eventide,“ a sequel to “Plainsong,“ his beautiful and heartbreaking National Book Award finalist; and Chuck Hogan‘s “Prince of Thrives,“ a thriller about a plot to rob Fenway Park.