Books we can’t wait to read: The back half of 2016 edition | Bleader

Monday, June 6, 2016

Books we can’t wait to read: The back half of 2016 edition

Posted By and on 06.06.16 at 12:30 PM

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click to enlarge Members of Steve Dahl's Insane Coho Lips Anti-Disco Army; Curbside Splendor will release Disco Demolition: The Night Disco Died on July 12. - DIANE ALEXANDER WHITE
  • DIANE ALEXANDER WHITE
  • Members of Steve Dahl's Insane Coho Lips Anti-Disco Army; Curbside Splendor will release Disco Demolition: The Night Disco Died on July 12.

We're not quite halfway through 2016, but our previous list of books we were looking forward to peters out just around now. Plus, Book Expo America blew through town a few weeks ago, leaving heaps of publisher catalogs and free galleys in its wake. Winter—or, rather The Winds of Winter—may not be coming anytime soon, but summer is definitely here. And you're going to want something to read besides that new Harry Potter book.

But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking About the Present as if It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman (6/7, Blue Rider) I have often wondered how the times I live in will be remembered once they turn into History. It never occurred to me to figure out how to write a book about it, though, which is one of the reasons why Chuck Klosterman is smarter than I am. —AL

End of Watch by Stephen King (6/7, Scribner) It's time for this year's new Stephen King. This one's the final volume in the Bill Hodges trilogy that began two years ago with Mr. Mercedes—AL

Exoneree Diaries: The Fight for Innocence, Independence, and Identity by Alison Flowers (6/7, Haymarket) Flowers, a Chicago journalist and member of the Invisible Institute, has developed her WBEZ series, about four wrongfully convicted prisoners who've had to rebuild their lives after their releases, into a book. —AL

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Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach (6/7, Norton) A few weeks ago, a group of Reader staffers chatted in the lunchroom and began to wonder, for some reason, if Roach was still writing entertaining books about popular science with punchy one-word titles (eg, Stiffed, Bonk, Gulp). The answer, emphatically, is yes. —AL

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (6/7, Knopf) Gyasi's first novel traces the paths of two half sisters in 18th-century Ghana—one married to an Englishman, one sold into slavery and shipped to America—and many, many generations of their descendants. —AL
 
Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti (6/7, Dey Street) Last month an extensive study by the staff of the Guardian discovered that Valenti, a feminist columnist, had the dubious honor of being its most-trolled writer. In her new memoir, she wonders, "Who would I be if I lived in a world that didn't hate women?"  —AL

Charcoal Joe by Walter Mosley (6/14, Doubleday) It's a book by Walter Mosley with a color in the title, so you know it's got to be an Easy Rawlins mystery. —AL

I'm Just a Person by Tig Notaro (6/14, Ecco) The comedian looks back on 2012, when in the span of a few months her mother died, she broke up with a girlfriend, she learned she had cancer, and she channeled all that pain into a new bit that made her a star. —AL

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Being a Beast: Adventures Across the Species Divide by Charles Foster (6/21, Metropolitan) Foster decided the best way to learn about animals was to live as an animal himself. In Being a Beast, he recounts his adventures as a badger, a fox, an otter, a deer, and a swift, all during which he slept in a den carved out of a hillside, arranged to be hunted by bloodhounds, and learned to distinguish between the various varieties of earthworm. —AL

Brighton by Michael Harvey (6/21, Ecco) Harvey, who usually writes Chicago-based thrillers (such as The Chicago Way) ventures further afield to Boston, where a journalist returns to the rough neighborhood where he grew up to save an old friend from murder charges. —AL

How to Set a Fire and Why by Jesse Ball (7/5, Pantheon) SAIC faculty member Ball's latest novel concerns a teenage girl who stumbles into her new school's arson club. —AL

Underground Airlines by Ben Winters (7/5, Mulholland) In this thriller, Winters imagines an America where slavery is still legal in four states and a bounty hunter has been ordered by the government to infiltrate a cell of abolitionists. —AL

Disco Demolition: The Night Disco Died by Dave Hoekstra and Paul Natkin (7/12, Curbside Splendor) They came, they saw, they set disco LPs on fire. Steve Dahl provides an introduction. —TR

Ninety-Nine Stories of God by Joy Williams (7/12, Tin House) This is exactly what it sounds like, although since Williams is one of the greatest short-story writers working today, it's also much, much more. —AL
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The Voyeur's Motel
by Gay Talese (7/12, Grove)
Before he was famous for being a geriatric misogynist, Talese was best known for his writing. Judging by a sample in the New Yorker, his next book should reaffirm the latter (not sure there's any going back on the former). 
—TR

The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close (7/19, Knopf) Close's third, and so far best, novel is a sharp and snappy look at a particular class of ambitious Washingtonian: not the policymakers or the power brokers themselves, but the junior staffers who yearn to play golf with them and absorb some of that glory by osmosis. —AL

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (7/26, Crown) Here's this year's smart summer sci-fi thriller. A Chicago physics professor gets knocked out by a masked abductor and wakes up in a parallel universe and, as is usual in these cases, has no idea how to get himself home. —AL

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott (7/26, Little, Brown) With Dare Me and The Fever, Abbott firmly established herself as present-day fiction's most terrifying chronicler of the inner lives of teenage girls. Her next work ventures into the world of elite gymnastics. —AL

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne, based on a story by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne (7/31, Scholastic) If you're a real Potterphile, you've not only known for months and months that Cursed Child is a play opening in London in July and that it's about a grown-up Harry and his son, Albus, you also already have tickets. This published script is for lesser mortals. —AL

American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin (8/2, Doubleday) The tale of Patty Hearst, the heiress who was kidnapped by a band of left-wing terrorists and then joined them in robbing banks and other crimes, captivated America during the 1970s. New Yorker writer and CNN legal analyst Toobin retells the story in all its weirdness. —AL

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race edited by Jesmyn Ward (8/2, Scribner) Ward, the National Book Award-winning author of Salvage the Bones, brings together 18 writers "to dissent, to call for account, to witness, to reckon," among them Claudia Rankine, Isabel Wilkerson, Natasha Trethewey, and Kiese Laymon. —AL

Flyboy 2: The Greg Tate Reader by Greg Tate (8/2, Duke) A longtime writer for the Village Voice (he wrote for the paper from 1987 until 2005), Tate is widely known for his writing on music: his 1992 book Flyboy in the Buttermilk is required reading for music-criticism fans. But he could write about virtually anything and make it interesting, and from the sound of it, he will cover plenty: according to the press release, "visual artist Kara Walker . . . writer Clarence Major . . . the ties between Afro-futurism, Black feminism, and social movements," and more. —TR

The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer (8/16, Gallery) Publishing a book has become a rite of passage for female comedians, a bat mitzvah if you will, without the awkward pubescent slow dancing. Mazel tov, Amy! If you can't wait that long, Jessi Klein, the head writer of Inside Amy Schumer, will publish her own book of essays, You'll Grow Out of It, on July 12 (Grand Central). —AL

Troubled Refuge: Struggling for Freedom in the Civil War by Chandra Manning (8/16, Knopf) During the Civil War, nearly half a million former slaves—12 to 15 percent of the Confederacy's slave population—escaped to "contraband camps" just behind Union lines and formed complicated alliances with Union soldiers that lasted beyond the war's end. —AL

Terminated for Reasons of Taste: Other Ways to Hear Essential and Inessential Music by Chuck Eddy (9/2, Duke) The title of the book references the reason Eddy, another former Village Voice writer, was given for being fired from the New York alt-weekly. Their loss—his taste is unpredictable and unparalleled (his favorite album of last year was Nena's Old School; number of other music writers who listed it at number one: zero), and without being condescending or snobbish, his fun, discursive, conversational writing will make you reexamine what you like and why you like it . —AL

Out of the Wreck I Rise: A Literary Companion to Recovery by Neil Steinberg and Sara Bader (9/5, Chicago) Sun-Times columnist Steinberg and researcher Bader have collaborated on this collection of quotes, advice, and commentary structured to provide support for each step toward sobriety, from "The Good Times Sour" to "Life Anew." —AL

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A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (9/6, Viking) I adored Amor Towles's charming and surprising first novel, The Rules of Civility (2011). This is a worthy follow-up. It concerns Count Alexander Rostov, the epitome of a pre-Revolution Russian gentleman, who in 1922 is sentenced by a Bolshevik tribunal to house arrest in Moscow's Metropol Hotel, where he watches decades of Soviet history pass him by. —AL

Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer (9/6, FSG) I'm not a member of the Foer cult myself, but its numbers are large, if the signing line at Book Expo America is any indication, and those who are were very excited to see his first novel in 11 years, which juxtaposes an American domestic crisis with the larger crisis in the Middle East. —AL

The Last Wolf by László Krasznahorkai (9/6, New Directions) The literary stunt of the year, an 80-page novel told in a single sentence. Top that. Or try to diagram it. —AL

Swimming in the Sink: An Episode of the Heart by Lynne Cox (9/6, Knopf) Cox is a badass swimmer who has set speed records for crossing the English Channel, traversed the Bering Strait when Russia was still the Soviet Union, survived 25 minutes in freezing antarctic waters, befriended a baby whale, and had an asteroid named after her. In this latest memoir, she recounts a literal broken heart—a diagnosis of arterial fibrillation after the deaths of both her parents and her dog in quick succession—and her recovery. —AL

Television: A Biography by David Thomson (9/13, Thames & Hudson) The great film critic takes on the history of the small screen as it progressed from a finite collection of scheduled programs supported by networks and corporate sponsors to our present-day Internet-enabled free-for-all. —AL

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (9/13, Doubleday) In Whitehead's new novel, the Underground Railroad is an actual subway train, with rails, cars, and engineers, rolling beneath the American south, carrying former slaves to freedom. —AL

Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America by Patrick Phillips (9/20, Norton) In 1912, in order to "avenge" a murder of a young woman, the white citizens of Fulton County, Georgia, declared the county "white only." They drove out 1,100 blacks and claimed their property, and well into the 90s, their descendants fought to maintain the status quo. Phillips, who grew up in Fulton, investigates the whole appalling history. —AL
 
The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable by Amitav Ghosh (9/22, Chicago) Ghosh, best known as the author of the Ibis trilogy, argues that future generations will believe we were deranged when they look back on our failure to address climate change. —AL

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The Art of the Blues: A Visual Treasure of Black Music's Golden Age by Bill Dahl (9/23, Chicago) The art of the blues here is visual: gig posters, album covers, promotional materials, record labels, and other artifacts that have represented the blues throughout its history. —AL

Time Travel: A History by James Gleick (9/27, Pantheon) Gleick explores how the notion of time travel has evolved, from H.G. Wells's time machine through Doctor Who's TARDIS and beyond, and examines the intersection of pop culture and physics. —AL

The Great Movies IV by Roger Ebert and Chaz Ebert (9/28, Chicago) The final volume of the late, great Ebert's collection of critical essays about movies that he either never reviewed when they first came out or wanted to reconsider. —AL

Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives by Gary Younge (10/4, Nation Books) Journalist Younge tells the stories of the lives of ten children who were shot to death on one random day, November 23, 2013. —AL

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Mary Astor's Purple Diary: The Great American Sex Scandal of 1936 by Edward Sorel (October 4, Liveright) In the 1960s, Sorel, then a young illustrator, was pulling up the linoleum on his kitchen floor when he discovered, beneath the tile, a layer of old newspapers filled with front-page accounts of the sordid trials of Hollywood actress Mary Astor, whose husband had sued for divorce and custody of their daughter after learning about an adulterous affair by reading her "purple diary." (The purple refers not to the diary's cover, but the prose within.) Thus began Sorel's 50-year-long obsession, culminating in this book. —AL

Nicotine by Nell Zink (10/4, Ecco) Zink published her first novel in 2014, when she was 50. Last year she released her second, her first with a mainstream press. This was an important enough occasion to warrant a New Yorker profile that celebrated Zink for her prodigious talent and originality—and her unapologetic weirdness. This new novel is about a young business-school graduate who inherits her father's childhood home, now occupied by a group of anarchist squatters devoted to the cause of smokers' rights. Conflict ensues. Identities are discovered. Lives are changed. —AL

Shock and Awe: Glam Rock and Its Legacy, From the Seventies to the Twenty-First Century by Simon Reynolds (10/11, Dey Street) A new Reynolds book is always a big event in music-writing circles—his last book, Retromania, was a widely discussed treatise on how present-day pop culture endlessly rehashes the recent past. After indispensable overviews of electronic music (Energy Flash) and postpunk (Rip It Up and Start Again), his latest is a survey of glam, coincidentally arriving in the same year as David Bowie's death. —TR

The Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking by Brooke Borel (Chicago, 10/21) The University of Chicago Press is famous for its style manual; presumably, its guide to fact-checking is just as essential. —TR

Dirty Waters: Confessions of Chicago's Last Harbor Boss by R.J. Nelson (10/24, Chicago)
That's R.J. Nelson, not J.R. Nelson, who in the 1980s became the director of Chicago's Harbors and Marine Services, a position that gave him a perfect vantage point into the different ways of doing business in the Washington, Sawyer, and Daley administrations. —AL

The Boat Rocker by Ha Jin (10/25, Pantheon) A Chinese expat journalist living in New York begins investigating his ex-wife, a novelist embroiled in Chinese government corruption. —AL

Capone: His Life, Legacy and Legend by Deirdre Bair (10/25, Nan A. Talese) In this new biography, Bair sets out to uncover the real man behind Public Enemy Number One. —AL

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Carry This Book by Abbi Jacobson (10/25, Viking) Here at last is a book of drawings by Abbi from Broad City (well, her alter ego, Abbi Jacobson) in which she imagines the contents of the pockets and pencil cases of famous people, both real and imaginary. It also promises to answer the most important question of the presidential campaign, just days before the election: How many self-tanning lotions are in Donald Trump’s weekender? —AL

Drink Like a Woman: Shake. Stir. Conquer. Repeat. by Jeanette Hurt (10/25, Seal) Because there are few things the female members of the Reader staff enjoy more than drinking and thinking up ways to smash the patriarchy. —AL
 
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Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh (10/25, Touchstone) The further adventures of Hyperbole and a Half's Brosh and her loyal companions the Simple Dog and the Helper Dog. —AL

Anatomy of a Song: The Oral History of 45 Iconic Hits That Changed Rock, R&B and Pop by Marc Myers (11/1, Grove) Based on Myers's ongoing Wall Street Journal column, this survey ranges from Lloyd Price on his 1952 hit "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" to R.E.M. on 1991's "Losing My Religion." —AL

Thus Bad Begins by Javier Marías (11/1, Knopf) Marías is considered one of Spain's greatest novelists and a contender for the Nobel; European critics claim this is one of his most accessible novels. It tells the story of a film director and his mysterious wife, who have the misfortune of living in 1980, when divorce was still illegal in Spain. —AL

Frantumaglia: An Author's Journey Told Through Letters, Interviews and Occasional Writings by Elena Ferrante (11/1, Europa Editions) If you've devoured the Neapolitan quartet and every other Elena Ferrante novel that's been translated into English and are desperate for more, here's something to tide you over while you study Italian. (Warning: this is not entirely new work. While Ferrante and her editors included new material for the book, roughly 40 percent of what's included is a translation of a collection originally published in Italian in 2003.) —AL

The Old Time Saloon: Not Wet, Not Dry—Just History by George Ade, edited by Bill Savage (11/4, Chicago) In the early 20th century, George Ade was one of the funniest newspapermen in Chicago. In The Old Time Saloon, originally published in the depths of Prohibition, he looks back with great nostalgia on the glory days of the 19th-century saloon. —AL

The Last Shift and My Lost Poets: A Life in Poetry by Philip Levine (11/8, Knopf) Levine, who died last year, wrote, in his own words, about "the small heroics of getting through the day when the day doesn't give a shit." Here are two last collections of his work: a book of poems and a book of essays about other people's poems. —AL

Inter/Nationalism: Decolonizing Native America and Palestine by Steven Salaita (11/15, Minnesota) Yes, that's the Steven Salaita who was controversially fired from his U. of I. professorship. His next book is a look at the similarities between the scholarship and activism of Native Americans and Palestinians. —TR

Swing Time by Zadie Smith (11/15, Penguin Press) Smith's novel, her first in four years, is set in London and in West Africa and concerns two brown girls, childhood friends, who both want to be dancers, and what happens when they discover that only one of them has talent. —AL

Designing Modernism: New Directions at 80 edited by Barbara Epler and J.C. Gabel (Hat & Beard) Onetime Stop Smiling and Chicagoan editor Gabel's new publishing imprint will be putting out a retrospective of 70s LA punk magazine Slash in July, but the title that sounds the most promising is this look at the book-jacket designs of the venerable publishing imprint. —TR

Neoliberal Chicago edited by Larry Bennett, Roberta Garner, and Euan Hague (12/1, Illinois) Neoliberalism, what is it good for? A series of essays wonders the same thing, specifically with regard to Chicago. —TR

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