Fall for me is a time of spectacular sunsets – when the days get a little darker and the evenings have a little more bite to them. I like my fall reading to take that darkness and run with it. The contrast between what I’m reading and my cozy surroundings, well, that’s what fall reading is all about. Here’s are the new releases I’m drawn to this fall:
You can’t get much darker than an epic new novel by the master of horror (and his son). “In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep: they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent.”* Yes, please.
Ng’s debut novel, Everything I Never Told You, was a quietly thrilling look at the ways in which we fail to understand each other. Her follow up, Little Fires Everywhere, deals in family secrets and centres around a custody battle that divides a town. “It explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.”*
I often imagine what it would feel like to write something utterly fresh and technically masterful – like Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway. And while such innovation is not in all of us, it certainly seems to have found a home in Mike McCormack. In Solar Bones McCormack writes “a three-part harmony of experiment, comedy and metaphysics” within a single novel-length sentence.
Kathleen Winter wrote Annabel one of those rare books whose writing made my stomach ache it was so good. And it wasn’t just the writing — the characters, the story line, the evocation of place — Annabel had it all. And thus I eagerly await Lost in September, a story about a damaged war veteran transplanted in time.
King Lear is recast with Henry Dunbar, “the once all-powerful head of a global media corporation” in the lead. “Imprisoned in a care home in the Lake District with only a demented alcoholic comedian as company, Dunbar starts planning his escape. As he flees into the hills, his family is hot on his heels. But who will find him first, his beloved youngest daughter, Florence, or the tigresses Abby and Megan, so keen to divest him of his estate?”*
I couldn’t wait for this Bailey’s Prize winner to be released in Canada, so bought a copy online from the UK. Alderman’s novel explores the metaphor of power by making it literal. Women are capable of electrocuting others and therefore have power over men. How do an abused foster child, an rising politician, and a crime boss’ daughter choose to wield what they’ve been given? It’s rare to find a novel this dark that’s got a sense of humour too. Easily one of the year’s best.
Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad is one of those books that makes me excited about the future of fiction. It was so playful and connected and experimental that almost the only way you could follow something like that up is to do exactly what Egan has done and revisit traditional storytelling. “With the atmosphere of a noir thriller, Egan’s first historical novel follows Anna and Styles into a world populated by gangsters, sailors, divers, bankers, and union men. Manhattan Beach is a deft, dazzling, propulsive exploration of a transformative moment in the lives and identities of women and men, of America and the world.”*
“Hiddensee imagines the backstory of the Nutcracker, revealing how this entrancing creature came to be carved and how he guided an ailing girl named Klara through a dreamy paradise on a Christmas Eve. At the heart of Hoffmann’s mysterious tale hovers Godfather Drosselmeier– the ominous, canny, one-eyed toy maker made immortal by Petipa and Tchaikovsky’s fairy tale ballet– who presents the once and future Nutcracker to Klara, his goddaughter.”*
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Okay. Okay. This one might not qualify as dark. But to be fair, I’ll read anything Green writes. Until recently, the plot of his latest had been a closely guarded secret. We now know it’s about a 16-year old girl named Aza, her BFF, and their quest to solve the mystery of a “fugitive billionaire” and claim “a hundred-thousand-dollar reward. […] In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.”*
This Thanksgiving let’s all be thankful for the time we get to read. (To my children, yes, that IS a hint.) Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Reading!
*Descriptions provided by the publisher