It seems to be time for newspapers to run fall booklists. I’ve come across a couple recently, and thought I’d offer my take.
It’s a little depressing for me to say this, but frankly the fiction side of things is looking a lot more promising than the nonfiction. All of the 9/11 books, Iraq books, CIA books, and examinations of the Bush administration are valuable and important and all that, but I just don’t want to read that kind of thing before I go to sleep at night. I have enough trouble sleeping as it is. I don’t know if newspapers are promo-ing an unusually high number of these books or if that’s all that the publishing industry is going for right now in terms of nonfiction…I hope it’s the former. There are a few notable exceptions:
• Joan Didion has a collection of her nonfiction writing coming out this fall (seven of her books in one!), titled We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live. Can’t wait for that.
• As I mentioned before, Jonathan Franzen’s memoir is out this month.
• A book called The Lost, by Daniel Mendelsohn, seems to be getting a lot of advance hoopla. It’s the story of the author searching for what happened to some of his relatives under the Nazis.
A couple of others that are already out that I am eager to read (where are you sweet, almost-affordable paperbacks?!):
• A Sense of the World, by Jason Roberts. A Bay Area author’s bio of a 19th-century blind traveler.
• Uncommon Carriers, by John McPhee. A look at transportation, by the master of literary nonfiction.
The Houston Chronicle offered their big fall nonfiction lineup a few weeks ago, but I found it pretty humdrum and heavily weighted toward the aforementioned investigative reports on the government, 9/11, etc.
Today I came across Newsday’s great fall booklist, a mix of fiction and nonfiction. The ones that grabbed me:
• The Echo Maker, by Richard Powers
• The Lay of the Land, by Richard Ford (there was what I suspect was an excerpt in the New Yorker a week or two ago)
• The Dissident, by Nell Freudenberger
• Moral Disorder, a collection of linked stories by Margaret Atwood
But definitely read Newsday’s list for yourself…