Exploring the art of prose


New books: Week of March 12!

Here’s a quick look at some of the great books out this week. Happy pub day to all!


Alan Hollinghurst, The Sparsholt Affair

From The Guardian: “Alan Hollinghurst’s sixth novel, The Sparsholt Affair, opens in Oxford during the second world war and ends in London in 2012. As with its predecessor, The Stranger’s Child (2011), much of the action takes place offstage, in the interstices between chapters. The chapters themselves are spent watching as these events make their repercussions felt in the lives of Hollinghurst’s rich cast of characters. This is a book about gay life, about art, about family, but most of all it’s about the remorseless passage of time…  It’s funnier, more warm-hearted, less waspish than any of his books so far, but still undoubtedly the work of a master.”

Read an interview with Hollinghurst.


Christine Schutt, Pure Hollywood

From Publishers Weekly: “Nobody writes like Schutt, the National Book Award–finalist author of Florida, and her latest collection is the perfect entry point for readers new to her work… In each of the collection’s 11 stories, Schutt gives readers dissipated women staggering to the brink of sanity, desperate men with foggy intentions, and an eerie atmosphere that radiates menace, sexuality, and murder. But Schutt’s prose is the main attraction: an aged father is “masseused and smooth as a skinned almond,” the pleasures of gardening are described in terms of routine (“they watered the deep beds; they flourished arcs; they beaded hooded plants and frangible rues”), and an ominous stranger is said to have a “seer voice, the old, pocked, vacant voice, prophesying horrors they could not imagine.”

Read an interview with Schutt.


Nafkote Tamirat, The Parking Lot Attendant
Henry Holt and Co.

From Publishers Weekly: “Tamirat’s wonderful debut novel weaves growing pains, immigrant troubles, and moments of biting humor. When the story opens, the unnamed 15-year-old narrator and her father are living on an island run by a shadowy collective. She then flashes back to her life in Boston with her father, an Ethiopian immigrant, and the story of how they ended up on the island… One of the debut’s highlights is the narrator: she is both able to hold her own against Ayale in intellectual debates and desperate to gain his acceptance and love; like many teenagers, she is at once world-weary, naive, outspoken, and vulnerable. The unsettling conclusion serves as a perfect ending for this riveting coming-of-age story full of murky motives, deep emotion, and memorable characters.”


Lynne Tillman, Men and Apparitions
Soft Skull Press

From Publishers Weekly: “The latest from Tillman (American Genius, A Comedy) is a timely, if messy, exploration of modern masculinity, told from the perspective of Ezekiel Hooper Stark, a 30-something ethnographer and assistant professor who sifts through photographs to construct the narratives of family and strangers. Told in fragmented mini chapters, Zeke chronicles his own early life—absent, alcoholic father; rude older brother; semimute little sister—before pivoting to his turbulent, brief marriage to Maggie, a college sweetheart… As always, Tillman is inventive in her approach to storytelling, inserting photos and allowing Zeke’s mind to wander.”

Read an interview with Tillman.