Must-read essay collections, novels, apocalyptic tales and more
Time Out staff
From sharply written tomes riddled with fast food, role playing games and ferocious verses to a new Margaret Atwood story collection, dive into our top picks of autumn’s best new books.
The Emerald Light in the Air Donald Antrim The terse, surreal works of Antrim bring to mind the lyrics of American singer-songwriter Beck. His past works have centered around a pancake dinner and a bitter family reunion of 100 brothers. This story collection of the recent MacArthur Fellow prize could give him a George Saunders-like career leap. BD5.9, available at www.amazon.com.
10:04 Ben Lerner Lerner’s debut novel, Leaving the Atocha Station, the hilarious and elegiac story about an American abroad in Spain, was one of our favourite books of 2011. His new book, 10:04, about a writer facing a potentially fatal diagnosis and the possibility of becoming a father, promises to be another intelligent read. BD5.9, available at www.amazon.com.
Prelude to Bruise Saeed Jones Perhaps the poet and Buzzfeed editor’s writing is best summed up by his Twitter handle @TheFerocity. His debut collection is, indeed, ferocious and charged with physicality, deftly weaving themes of identity and race into electric lines of verse. BD5.5, available at www.amazon.com.
Station Eleven Emily St. John Mandel After three excellent but underappreciated novels, Mandel’s latest promises to be her breakout gem. Station Eleven is a magnificently-woven portrait of the world after a new strain of flu eradicates 99 percent of the population. The story will both rattle your soul and absolutely inspire you. BD5.5, available at www.amazon.com.
Stone Mattress Margaret Atwood On the heels of her dazzling if awkwardly ending MaddAddam trilogy, currently being developed as an HBO series by Darren Aronofsky, the Canadian icon drops this story anthology. The nine shorts will undoubtedly continue her blend of black humour, mild fantasy and deep human emotion. BD6, available at www.amazon.com.
Wolf in the White Van John Darnielle The frontman of wordy, folky indie band the Mountain Goat drops the singing and goes all in with prose for his debut novel. The plot centres around suspended adolescence, trauma and a role-playing game called Trace Italian. BD5.3, available at www.amazon.com.
Lila Marilynne Robinson One of the most skilled living American authors, Robinson continues her series of novels set in Gilead, Iowa, which began with the Pulitzer Prize-winning Gilead and 2008’s Home. The author’s work quietly but powerfully plumbs the depths of spirituality, family and survival. BD7.3, available at www.amazon.com.
300,000,000 Blake Butler This writer’s work is singular: Dense, disturbed and certainly not for everyone. But everyone should give Butler a chance, and his new novel may be the place to start. A portrait of a psychopath killer (think Charles Manson), 300,000,000 explores the intensity of American violence. BD4.7, available at www.amazon.com.