Posted by thecompleatbookseller
Recently The Compleat Bookseller took a trip to Atlantic City to attend the 2011 New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association. When there are thousands of books around it is impossible to not have a good time. At the conference we were exposed to books, theirs authors, their publishers and their distributers. I myself came home with more than thirty books to add to my endless to-read-pile and at this risk of lengthening your own to-read-pile I would like to share with you some of the hot books of 2011.
First, lets start with a book about zombies from an author you may have heard of, but did not know that he wrote a book about zombies.
Colson Whitehead is the author of The Colossus of New York, The Intuitionist, and Apex Hides the Hurt which was the book that Washington College assigned as its First Year book in 2008 and actually brought Whitehead to Chestertown. Yes, this is a book about the zombie apocalypse, but from what I am hearing from many reviews and from the author himself, this is not a typical post apocalyptic world. Publishers weekly described it:
As we follow New Yorker and perpetual B-student “Mark Spitz” over three harrowing days, Whitehead dumpster dives genre tropes, using what he wants and leaving the rest to rot, turning what could have been another zombie-pocalypse gore-fest into the kind of smart, funny, pop culture–filled tale that would make George Romero proud.
I plan on reading this very soon since this is the season to be reading such literature and I shall let you know what I think. If you want to learn more visit here, and here, but beware of spoiler alerts.
Next, The Family Fang, by Kevin Wilson.
This book came recommended to me from a very nice employee at the Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington. As she began to describe it to me my head became a little lost with all the different titles of books I discovered during the day, but I quickly caught on board and picked up a copy with ever intention of reading it soon.
Wilson’s bizarre, mirthful debut novel (after his collection, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth) traces the genesis of the Fang family, art world darlings who make “strange and memorable things.” That is, they instigate and record public chaos. In one piece, “The Portrait of a Lady, 1988,” fragile nine-year-old Buster Fang dons a wig and sequined gown to undermine the Little Miss Crimson Clover beauty pageant, though he secretly desires the crown himself. In “A Modest Proposal, July 1988,” Buster and his older sister, Annie, watch their father, Caleb, propose to mother, Camille, over an airliner’s intercom and get turned down (“[A] plane crash would have been welcomed to avoid the embarrassment of what had happened”). Over the years, more projects consume Child A and Child B–what art lovers (and their parents) call the children–but it is not until the parents disappear from an interstate rest stop that the lines separating art and life dissolve.
~ Publishers Weekly
Third, Dead End, by Jack Gantos
One of the highlights of this conference was getting to hear Jack Gantos speak and tell us about his new book, Dead End in Norvelt. Norvelt is the town where Jack grew up and it is named after Eleanor Roosevelt. See what they did there?
A bit of autobiography works its way into all of Gantos’s work, but he one-ups himself in this wildly entertaining meld of truth and fiction by naming the main character… Jackie Gantos. Like the author, Jackie lives for a time in Norvelt, a real Pennsylvania town created during the Great Depression and based on the socialist idea of community farming. Presumably (hopefully?) the truth mostly ends there, because Jackie’s summer of 1962 begins badly: plagued by frequent and explosive nosebleeds, Jackie is assigned to take dictation for the arthritic obituary writer, Miss Volker, and kept alarmingly busy by elderly residents dying in rapid succession. Then the Hells Angels roll in. Gore is a Gantos hallmark but the squeamish are forewarned that Jackie spends much of the book with blood pouring down his face and has a run-in with home cauterization. Gradually, Jackie learns to face death and his fears straight on while absorbing Miss Volker’s theories about the importance of knowing history. “The reason you remind yourself of the stupid stuff you’ve done in the past is so you don’t do it again.” ~ Publisher Weekly
Finally, This Dark Endeavor, by Kenneth Oppel
I confess, I have never before heard of Kenneth Oppel, but now that I do I want to read this book and will read it before the other books mentioned above. I first read Frankenstein about eight years ago and love it. Then I read The Casework of Victor Frankenstein by Peter Ackroyd two years ago and found it to be so powerful and moving I felt that the book could stand on its own. Then I heard Kenneth Oppel talk about his new book, This Dark Endeavor, and I must add it to the rest. Here is why:
In this stylish gothic tale, first in a planned series, teenage Victor Frankenstein makes a desperate attempt to create the forbidden alchemical Elixir of Life, in order to save his beloved twin brother, Konrad, from an untimely death. Aided by his steadfast friend Henry and his adopted sister, Elizabeth, who both twins love to distraction, Victor sets out to acquire the necessary ingredients, scales the tallest tree in the Sturmwald during a lightning storm to acquire a rare and poisonous lichen, later descending into a dangerous Swiss cave in search of the equally rare and even deadlier coelacanth. Victor, already a mad scientist in training, is passionate and easily angered, and Elizabeth makes for a fiery love interest. Written in a readable approximation of early 19th-century style, Oppel’s (Half Brother) tale is melodramatic, exciting, disquieting, and intentionally over the top. ~ Publishers Weekly
If you have read any of these stories or if you have heard someone talk about them please share with us you thoughts and opinions.