Off the Shelf : Autumn 2013

There’s a chill in the air, daylight is getting shorter, and perhaps you just want to spend the weekend curled up in bed with a glass of red wine and a good book. Here are eleven new releases to add to your book list this season and make for an au courant dinner conversation. Comic nerds rejoice, number 11 is for you!

Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon
I’ve recovered enough from the trauma of po-mo lit classes run by a shirtless Nirvana and Pynchon lovin’ prof to embrace Pynchon once again. This multi-genre kinda-techno-thriller takes place in New York in 2001, in the lull between the collapse of the dot-com boom and the terrible events of September 11. The story follows a single mum and fraud investigator as she delves into the finances of a computer security firm. Things get messy. People turn up dead. Fans of Pynchon will be in familiar territory with postmodern jokes and a heady 500 pages loaded with pop culture references.

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Namesake comes the 2013 Man Booker Prize-nominated family saga steeped in politics, tragedy, generational history and geography. Set in the 1960s across two countries, India and America, The Lowland is the tale of two brothers separated by ideology and a family united by grief.

The Goldfinch by Dona Tartt
From the author who brought you the gripping The Secret History and The Little Friend, 11 years later comes another much anticipated hefty page turner. A young boy loses his mother in a bomb blast that he survives, but gains a small 17th century painting that reminds him of her. Obsession with the painting soon draws him into the art underworld. I couldn’t put The Secret History down, so I’m getting ready for some long nights of reading with this one.

The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler by Ben Urwand
Ben Urwand delves into Hollywood’s murky and secret past. To continue doing business in Germany in the 1930s, Hollywood studios agreed not to make films attacking Nazis or condemning persecution of Jews. The author reveals this collaboration and the cast of characters it drew in, ranging from Goebbels to Louis B Mayer.

The Circle by Dave Eggers
The Guardian calls it “a deft modern synthesis of Swiftian wit with Orwellian prognostication…a work so germane to our times that it may well come to be considered as the most on-the-money satirical commentary on the early internet age.” A dystopian tale that looks at how entrusting our private moments and personal identities to online social media threatens our privacy, freedom and democracy.

We Are Water by Wally Lamb
Set in New England and New York during the first years of the Obama presidency, We Are Water is a portrait of modern America, exploring issues of class, changing social and sexual mores, the legacy of racial violence, and the nature of creativity and art.

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks
I still use Faulks’ Birdsong as a soporific for those interminably long nights of insomnia, so I’m not entirely sure about this, but I’m a huge fan of the adventures of Bertie Wooster and his unfailingly loyal butler, Jeeves. I’m curious to see what Faulks makes out of this homage to the brilliantly funny and witty PJ Wodehouse, forty years after the last Wooster and Jeeves.

The Most of Nora Ephron by Nora Ephron
A great big jolly celebration of the life and work of the late American funny woman, Nora Ephron. Ephron tackles feminism, being a woman, her screenplay for the movie ‘When Harry Met Sally’, divorce and death with equal humour and honesty.

Breakfast With Lucian
A compilation of on-the-record breakfasts with Geordie Greig, the editor of The Mail on Sunday, and interviews with friends, sitters, children and lovers, this is as close as one gets to an authorized biography of the guarded late great painter, Lucien Freud. Over tea and toast the artist shares his stories on everything from love to gambling to Velazquez. This is a revealing and deeply personal memoir of one of the greatest painters of our time.

Peter Beard by by Owen Edwards (Author), Steven M.L. Aronson (Author), Nejma Beard (Editor)
Seven years after it became an instant sell-out and sought-after collector’s item, Taschen has rereleased the defining book on the oevre of photographer, collector, and diarist, Peter Beard. Painted by Francis Bacon and painted on by Salvador Dalí, he made diaries with Andy Warhol and toured with Truman Capote and the Rolling Stones. As a fashion photographer, he took Vogue stars like Veruschka to Africa and brought new ones— like Iman—back to the U.S. with him. One for art and fashion fans alike.

Sandman: Overture #1 by Neil Gaiman
What’s that I hear? Graphic novels aren’t really proper grown-up fiction reading? Well, we can leave that for another post. I for one have been waiting in giddy mad anticipation for the first of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman prequels, Sandman: Overture #1, to be released by DC Comics imprint Vertigo on October 30. Find out what happened just before Preludes and Nocturnes began.

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