It’s a Top Ten role-reversal - not once, nor twice, but thrice! – in the New York Times Book Review as famous authors don their critic’s caps.
Jonathan Lethem is something better than talented and brilliant – he’s interesting and surprising. This helps explain his latest project, editing and slightly recasting a novel by a talented yet largely unheralded author, Fridays at Enrico’s by Don Carpenter.
Paris, 1938. As the shadow of war darkens Europe, democratic forces on the Continent struggle against fascism and communism, while in Spain the war has already begun. Spies and secret operatives in Paris and New York, in Warsaw and Odessa prepare for war.
In our seen it all world, you have to break a few conventions to make a hard-boiled detective novel.
Stephen King does just that in his new novel, Mr. Mercedes. It features a retired cop with a cold case as mesmerizing as a hot dame. In ways that resonate that with today’s headlines of serial killers and random massacres, King’s hero, Bill Hodges, is seeking a mystery man who drove a stolen luxury German automobile into a crowd, killing eight strangers for no apparent reason.
We are doubly pleased to welcome Mona Simpson to Top Ten Land, and not just because she was generous enough to provide us with two lists (one that goes up to 11!) of what she considers the greatest books.
Set in Brooklyn in 2004, it focuses on two brothers – two intensely close underachievers – searching for something in mid-life. One is 38-year-old Barrett Meeks, aimless, lovelorn and gay, who turns to religion for meaning; his older brother, Tyler, is a 43-year-old musician and bartender whose fiancée Beth has terminal cancer and who seeks solace in drugs.
Robert Coover’s first novel, The Origin of the Brunists, focused on a doomsday prophet and his millenialist cult that seize control of a small town after a coal mining disaster. It is a brilliant exploration of violence, how high-minded aspirations can lead to gruesome results. Nearly fifty years later, he has delivered a sequel, The Brunist Day of Wrath, which takes place five years later, after the cult has spread across the country.
Ayelet Waldman’s imaginative and clever new novel, Love & Treasure, hinges on a fraught historical event: the Hungarian Gold train which carried a horde of Jewish treasure stolen by the Nazis. It was, Ron Charles writes in his Washington Post Review, “a train of more than 40 boxcars filled with household goods — carpets, linens, cameras, dishes, paintings, vases, radios, watches, purses, teapots, candlesticks and much more.”
It can take a long time to write a short story. Just ask Lorrie Moore, a modern master of the form who has just delivered her first collection of stories in 16-years. The eight stories in Bark once again display her arch insight into contemporary mores and a wit that is often mordantly laugh-out-loud funny.
Top Ten contributor Walter Kirn is receiving strong reviews for his transfixing new work of memoir and reportage, Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade. As he explains in a sensational interview with himself in the New York Times (read it right now, then come back), the book concerns “his bizarre 15-year relationship with the infamous impostor and murderer who went by the alias Clark Rockefeller. He met the masquerading German immigrant (whose real name is Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter and who is serving a sentence of 27 years to life in a California prison) in the summer of 1998, when Mr. Kirn was between books and feeling restless.”