Headlights on September

Available August 4, 2009
Available August 4, 2009

Around the time I was 10 or 11 years old, I walked into my neighborhood public library on a summer afternoon and had a panic attack. It occurred to me that I might get all the books I saw on the shelves read, and then what?

By the end of that summer, when I’d barely made a dent in the available volumes, I realized new books were published all the time. (Someone likely pointed out the “new books” shelf, and I discovered Santa, indeed, does exist.)

Publisher’s Weekly issued “The Road to Fall Books” this week, reminding me there’s no need for panic attacks once summer reading is completed. Come Labor Day, from the looks of the lists within this PW issue, we’ll be bombarded with a slew of new choices, from the intriguing to the inane.

For the inane category, I’ll offer First Love: Celebrities’ Tales of Virginity Lost, edited by Dana Cook (Firefly Books). According to the PW blurb, Cook “collects more than 100 personal accounts of boldfaced names.” Oh boy. Mark your calendar. It’s out in September.

Of the intriguing category, here are a few coming in September that I’m looking forward to:

Available September 1, 2009
Available September 1, 2009

Homer and Langley by E. L. Doctorow
Homer is blind. Langley is mad from being gassed fighting the Great War. These brothers live together in a crumbling Manhattan mansion, reclusives struggling to survive.  A novel that’s based on a true story. Right up Doctorow’s alley. (Random House)

The Cry of the Sloth by Sam Savage, illustrated by Michael Mikolowski
Savage’s novel Firmin published by Coffee House Press first quietly entered American bookstores in 2006 and then had huge success in Europe. That prompted Bantam to republish it December 2008 – a quirky book about a reading rat living in a bookstore. Savage’s new novel focuses on an editor of a struggling literary journal. If it’s anything like Firmin, it will be wonderfully entertaining. (Coffee House Press)

Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Life in Joyce’s Masterpiece
by Declan Kiberd

Thirty-five years ago I read major sections of Ulysses in a lit class and ever since have wanted to tackle it again but in full. Now’s my chance with Kiberd opening this enduring, complicated classic to ordinary readers with chapter discussions and explanations. Yes, the opportunity is here to embrace Molly Bloom’s final  “…yes I said yes I will Yes.” (W. W. Norton)

Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro
A promising choice for a short story collection. According to the publisher’s website, Ishiguro has put together a cycle of stories that explore themes of music, love and the passage of time. (Alfred A. Knopf)

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett
Here’s a true account of a man whose passion for books drove him to steal rare, valuable books from libraries, book fairs and stores. From the publisher’s catalogue: “In the tradition of The Orchid Thief, a compelling narrative set within the strange and genteel world of rare-book collecting: the true story of an infamous book thief, his victims, and the man determined to catch him.” (Riverhead Books)

Available September 8, 2009
Available September 8, 2009

Stitches: A Memoir by David Small
David Small is a Caldecott Award-winning book illustrator now telling his shocking 1950s childhood story in a graphic memoir. Small’s website describes the book as “a silent movie masquerading as a book.” The son of a Detroit radiologist, Small suffered under his father’s experiments with radiation. This memoir likely will get huge attention.  It’s Small’s first book for adults. (W. W. Norton)

Finally, getting back to that subject of summer panic attacks, Minotaur is publishing Jason Starr’s novel Panic Attack in August. It’s billed as a page-turner and from what I’m reading, it could be just the thing for those dog day afternoons.