Every month, a deluge of new books comes flooding out from big publishers, indie houses, and self-publishing platforms. So every month, The A.V. Club narrows down the endless options to five of the books we’re most excited about.
The sequel to her breezy, semi-autobiographical How To Build A Girl, Caitlin Moran’s How To Be Famous picks up with protagonist Johanna Morrigan, now 19 and working in London as a magazine columnist. Set during Britpop’s rise in the mid-’90s, the novel follows Johanna as she uses her column to become a “fame doctor,” critiquing her musician ex-boyfriend’s newfound celebrity. The plot thickens when a “two-night stand” with a controversial comedian finds Johanna in the limelight herself. The second entry of a planned trilogy, the latest book from the candid, entertaining Moran deals not only with fame but also female sexual shame.
Ottessa Moshfegh has impressed us before, with her 2014 novella, McGlue, and especially her last offering, the short story collection Homesick For Another World. As darkly funny as her previous works, Moshfegh’s second novel follows the unlikable but pitiable main character as she tries, as the book’s title suggests, to rest and relax. She does this by sleeping as much as she can, aided by a whole pharmacy’s worth of drugs, for an entire year. It’s a fruitful premise that Moshfegh mines for humor and pathos, while holding true to an aspect of her writing that makes her such an unusual and refreshing talent: She never goes for grand effect, morals, or tidy conclusions.
When Michiko Kakutani stepped down from her post as the chief book reviewer for The New York Times last year, having spent almost 40 years with the Grey Lady, sources close to her said the 2016 election left her wanting to branch out and write more about culture and politics. Now the legendary, and legendarily feared, critic publishes The Death Of Truth, an investigation into just how we got to a place where fringe conspiracy theories regularly trump scientific evidence. In her first book in three decades, the Pulitzer Prize winner traces trends in social media, literature, and politics to show the ways in which people, on both sides of the aisle, are favoring subjectivity over facts. While perhaps not the escapist fare one might be looking for this summer, The Death Of Truth is sure to offer an intelligent look at an unfortunately very relevant topic.
Filed under “celebrity memoir you didn’t know you needed,” Parker Posey’s literary debut is a balm to boredom, a delightful, witty read threaded with deep feeling and occasional melancholy. In You’re On An Airplane, the indie actor skips around in time as she chronicles her life in front of the camera, hitting all the notes one would hope—her Dazed And Confused and Party Girl days, her roles in Christopher Guest’s films, and beyond. Portraying herself as kooky and a little flighty (she’s often filling a tub for a bath, only to get distracted and have the water overflow), Parker tap-dances across the page. She frequently veers off-course to tell amusing anecdotes before eventually circling back around to the main thrust and sticking the landing. And she never puts too fine a point on those tales; she’s an entertainer who knows just when to step offstage. Peppered with images of Posey’s often goofy paper collages, the book is less a straight memoir and more an illustration of her way of being in the world, a creative person looking to engage deeply with others.
R.O. Kwon’s debut novel is the rare marriage of sparkling, poetic prose and propulsive narrative. Chapters alternate perspective among Phoebe, Will, and the charismatic religious leader whose story invites the reader to speculate, as Will does, on the veracity of the incredible events that led him to preaching. The marvel of The Incendiaries is with these shifting points of view. Will is the character we know the best, and though he falls in love with Phoebe, he never truly understands her; the same can be said of the reader. Big ideas of God and faith are explored, but it’s all grounded in the story of the relationship between two people, and how loss and vulnerability can be exploited by a persuasive religion.