For your September reading table

Football Friday nights and tailgating Saturday afternoons are on the horizon. So, too, good books from new and established writers. 

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen is getting a lot of attention, including a cover shot of Franzen on Time magazine. Other books also are getting attention, just more quietly. Here are some scheduled for September publication. A note about October books at the end. 

The Gendarme by Mark T. Mustian: A first novel published by Putnam’s Amy Einhorn imprint that brought us Kathryn Stockett’s debut, The Help. This is the story of 92-year-old Emmet Conn who’s suffered memory loss all his life from a war injury in World War I. Now, due to a brain tumor, long-suppressed memories surface in dreams and visions. “What does it mean to forget, and then remember?” asks the author’s website. Set in Turkey in the beginning of the 20th Century and America at the end, the plot portends an intriguing read.

The Widower’s Tale by Julia Glass: This is the fourth novel by 2002 National Book Award-winner Glass (Three Junes). Her new story focuses on a retired man named Percy Darling who gives the barn on his historic farm to a local preschool. Naturally, there are unexpected consequences. From the publisher’s website: “With equal parts affection and satire, Julia Glass spins a captivating tale about the loyalties, rivalries, and secrets of a very particular family. Yet again, she plumbs the human heart brilliantly, dramatically, and movingly.” 

Room by Emma Donoghue.  This 2010 Man Booker longlist candidate is narrated by five-year-old Jack, who lives with his mother in a small room where they’re held captive. Jack’s mother was abducted seven years ago, and Jack is a result of the sexual relationship she’s forced to have with her abductor. From Emma Donoghue’s website:    “…ROOM is no horror story or tearjerker, but a celebration of resilience and the love between parent and child. VOGUE calls it ‘A dark fairy tale… curiously uplifting.’” From Library Journal: “Gripping, riveting, and close to the bone, this story grabs you and doesn’t let go.” 

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray.  Another 2010 Man Booker longlist candidate, this is the story of a boy at an elite boarding school in Dublin, Ireland, and the circumstances surrounding his death. You can purchase either the omnibus version (closing in on 700 pages) or three paperbacks in a set. Definitely a reading commitment but, considering the praise this novel’s received, I’m betting it’s a worthy investment of time. You can read an excerpt from the book on the Guardian website.

Vestments by John Reimringer: A debut novel published by small press Milkweed Editions about a priest torn between his love for the church and love for a woman. On Reimringer’s website, Publisher’s Weekly describes it as “suspenseful, illuminating and highly readable.” You can read an excerpt on the Milkweed Editions website, which says this about the book: “Originally drawn to the priesthood by the mystery, purity, and sensual fabric of the Church, as well as by its promise of a safe harbor from his violent father, James finds himself—just a few years after his ordination—attracted again to his first love, Betty García. Torn between these competing loves, and haunted by his father’s heritage, James finds himself at a crossroads.”

October books:  Looking further ahead, in October we can anticipate books from established authors Bernhard Schlink (author of The Reader), Michael Cunningham (author of Pulitzer Prize-winner The Hours) and, no surprise, the prolific Philip Roth.