The Secret Chord, by Geraldine Brooks. Brooks is a favorite of mine, so I always perk up when the award-winning (March won a Pulitzer for Fiction back in 2005) Australian native has a new book on the horizon. This time, she peels away the myth surrounding King David, tracing the arc of his journey from obscurity to fame, from shepherd to soldier, from hero to traitor, from beloved king to murderous despot and into his remorseful and diminished dotage. This should be a must, both for fans of Brooks and for fans of historical fiction like The Red Tent.
The Clasp, by Sloane Crosley. There's a lot of buzz about Crosley's novel, The Clasp, garnering praise from the likes of David Sedaris (Me Talk Pretty One Day), J. Courtney Sullivan (Maine, The Engagements), and Michael Chabon (Telegraph Avenue). Her 2008 collection of essays, I Was Told There'd Be Cake, was a Thurber Prize finalist, but this is her first novel. When three twenty-something friends reconnect during a college friend's splashy wedding, and learn of a valuable necklace that disappeared during the Nazi occupation of France, setting them on a madcap adventure that ultimately leads them to the estate of Guy de Maupassant, famed author of the short story, "The Necklace." A mix of humor and treasure-hunt, this has made itself a spot on my to-read list this fall.
City on Fire, by Garth Risk Hallberg. New York City, 1976. Meet Regan and William Hamilton-Sweeney, estranged heirs to one of the city’s great fortunes; Keith and Mercer, the men who, for better or worse, love them; Charlie and Samantha, two suburban teenagers seduced by downtown’s punk scene; an obsessive magazine reporter and his idealistic neighbor—and the detective trying to figure out what any of them have to do with a shooting in Central Park on New Year’s Eve. The mystery, as it reverberates through families, friendships, and the corridors of power, will open up even the loneliest-seeming corners of the crowded city. And when the blackout of July 13, 1977, plunges this world into darkness, each of these lives will be changed forever.Why should you be interested in this particular debut novel? Well, Knopf paid big bucks for the novel ($2 million is significant for a debut, even with film options and Hallberg's credit as a respected book critic), and Scott Rudin has optioned the film rights. This is one of this fall's biggest books, and I'd have been remiss if I'd left it out of my Picks.
The Early Stories of Truman Capote, by Truman Capote. Recently rediscovered in the archives of the New York Public Library, these short stories provide an unparalleled look at Truman Capote writing in his teens and early twenties, before he penned such classics as Other Voices, Other Rooms, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and In Cold Blood. This collection of more than a dozen pieces showcases the young Capote developing the unique voice and sensibility that would make him one of the twentieth century’s most original writers.