Lions and lambs

Pynchon isn’t all you’ll be reading this fall  
By JOHN FREEMAN  |  September 13, 2006


SAINT JOAN: Didion’s collected non-fiction comes out in one volume next month.
The season is notable for the return to bookstores of canonical names like Atwood, Ginsberg, Kinnell, le Carré, Munro, Pynchon, and Vidal plus a fair share of younger lions like Eggers, Julavits, and Muldoon. And if you just want to have fun, there’s always Carl Hiaasen. What’s not to like?

Fiction
THOMAS PYNCHON
  delivers Against the Day (Penguin Press, November 21), his first novel since 1997’s Mason & Dixon. In an unusual twist, the notoriously reclusive Pynchon himself wrote the editorial description for Amazon about this novel spanning the period from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair to the years just after World War I: “With a worldwide disaster looming just a few years ahead it is a time of unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and evil intent in high places.” He adds: “No reference to the present day is intended or should be inferred.”

The rest of the fall’s fiction has a similarly dour cast.  CORMAC MCCARTHY ’s The Road (Knopf, October 2) unfolds on a blasted, futuristic landscape where a man and a child try to walk to safety.  CHRIS ADRIAN ’s The Floating Hospital (McSweeney’s, October 1) takes place after the earth has been subsumed by seven miles of water.

Things quiet down with  CHARLES FRAZIER ’s long-awaited follow-up to Cold Mountain, Thirteen Moons (Random House, October 3), the tale of a man sent out into Indian country to run a trading post.  EDNA O’BRIEN  also takes a trip down memory lane with The Light of Evening (Houghton Mifflin, October 1), a lyrical fiction about a woman awaiting her famous novelist daughter’s return to Ireland.

DAVE EGGERS  has gone a bit out of his way — to Sudan, in fact — for his new non-fiction novel, What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng (McSweeney’s, October 1), in which a Sudanese refugee escapes to Kenya and resettles in the United States. Fellow Believer editor  HEIDI JULAVITS  also returns to the fiction form with The Uses of Enchantment (Doubleday, October 17), in which a girl goes missing from a private school.

The drought of short stories turns into a flood this fall with  ALICE MUNRO ’s The View from Castle Rock (Knopf, November 7). If you need a refresher course in Munro worship, pick up her Carried Away (Everyman, September 26), which is introduced by fellow Canadian  MARGARET ATWOOD, who herself has a collection out this month, Moral Disorder (Nan A. Talese, September 19). Also keep an eye out for  SUSANNA CLARKE ’s darkly magical collection, The Ladies of Grace Adieu (Bloomsbury, October 17), and the surprisingly hefty  THE STORIES OF MARY GORDON  (Pantheon, October 3).

Readers who want to travel with their fiction will have plenty to choose from. Sudanese-born  LEILA ABOULELA  is issuing The Translator (Black Cat, October 1), the tale of a woman who falls in love with a Scottish Islam scholar. In  JOHN LE CARRÉ ’s The Mission Song (Little, Brown, September 19), a Catholic missionary finds himself pressed into service as an interpreter for British intelligence.  LYDIE SALVAYRE ’s Everyday Life (Dalkey Archive, November 14) brings an office-life tale from France to these shores. Editor  DENYS JOHNSON-DAVIES  reveals the width and depth of Arab fiction with The Anchor Book of Modern Arabic Fiction (Anchor, October 10).

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Related: The Paris Review Interview, Vol. 1 introduction by Philip Gourevitch, Joan Didion on stage, Spalding Gray on the page, All about Allen, More more >
  Topics: Books , Charles Pierce, Entertainment, Nan A. Talese,  More more >
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