Nicotine by Nell Zink. Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life
Once considered just another horror writer, Jacksons reputation as a novelist in America has been uneven. In a new biography, Franklin traces Jacksons loneliness and marginalization as a woman married to a fierce critic Stanley Edgar Hyman who was as much a hindrance to her work as he was a support.
Its difficult to classify Dermanskys work. The elements of the plot always suggest a thriller, but as in her celebrated last outing Bad Marie Dermansky wants to unsettle rather than horrify you. In The Red Car, a young woman in Queens receives the titular vehicle as her inheritance from an old boss and has to set off on a trip to San Francisco to recover it.
Alameddines follow-up to An Unnecessary Woman follows Jacob, a gay Yemeni American poet who lost a lover and many friends during the Aids crisis and who was brought up in a Cairo brothel. The action is set in a hospital waiting room and theres a purgatorial element at play as Satan and Death appear before him to rake over his life.
Today Will Be Different Maria Semple
Whered You Go, Bernadette, was a breakout hit of 2013: funny, fresh and unpretentious, even though its main character was a very precocious young girl. Today Will Be Different is a bit different. Middle-aged Eleanor is looking to change her life in Amazon-drone-dwelling Seattle, with most of the action taking place over the course of one day, but theres a graphic novel inserted into the book. The Mothers Brit Bennett
Bennetts debut starts with an abortion, then weaves from that premise the fates of three friends in southern California. Narrated in part by a chorus of Mothers, the book is written in arrestingly direct and clean prose. This is Bennetts first novel, though she is also known for her
A Gamblers Anatomy by Jonathan Lethem.
The game in question in Jonathan Lethems 10th novel is backgammon. Bruno Alexander is a world-class player who travels around winning money off marks, but hes also suffering from a brain tumor, oh, and hes telepathic. Alongside Zink, Lethems the best absurdist working in American writing right now and this book promises to be a customary wild ride.
My Own Words Ruth Bader Ginsburg
The memoir of the supreme court justice who became an unlikely meme in the last three years perhaps needs no recommendation. But those curious about how a young woman from Brooklyn made her way past innumerable sexist naysayers are in for a treat. Much recommended as a Christmas gift for smart, ambitious nieces. And nephews, too.