Saturday, March 07, 2009

Books I'm suddenly excited about

I'm sitting here, thinking about writing, thinking about reading, thinking about blogging, thinking about making and freezing some crêpes for when the girl gets home. But mostly I'm just sitting here, having a beer and a cigarette and not scrubbing the toilets.

I haven't been very excited about new book releases in a while. Nothing grabs me. Maybe I'm just caught up in working my way through some of the not-yet-read eclectic treasures I've amassed.

But I am unreasonably delighted to learn of the forthcoming publication of the following:

May 5, 2009: Sunnyside, by Glen David Gold. For years I've been pining that he write a new book for me to read. I'd heard rumours of one such book, but the publication dates were vague and postponed. But at last it seems imminent:

From the author of the acclaimed best seller Carter Beats the Devil comes a grand entertainment with the brilliantly realized figure of Charlie Chaplin at its center: a novel at once cinematic and intimate, thrilling and darkly comic, that dramatizes the moment when American capitalism, a world at war, and the emerging mecca of Hollywood intersect to spawn an enduring culture of celebrity.

Sunnyside opens on a winter day in 1916 during which Chaplin is spotted in more than eight hundred places simultaneously, an extraordinary mass delusion. From there, the novel follows the overlapping fortunes of three men: Leland Wheeler, son of the world’s last (and worst) Wild West star, as he heads to the battlefields of France; snobbish Hugo Black, drafted to fight under the towering General Edmund Ironside in America’s doomed engagement with Russia; and Chaplin himself, as he faces a tightening vice of complications — studio moguls, questions about his patriotism, his unchecked heart, and, most menacing of all, his mother — to finally make a movie "as good as he was."

May 26, 2009: The City & the City, by China Miéville. Not a Bas-Lag novel, but still! An existential thriller!:

When the body of a murdered woman is found in the extraordinary, decaying city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks like a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he probes, the evidence begins to point to conspiracies far stranger, and more deadly, than anything he could have imagined. Soon his work puts him and those he cares for in danger.

Borlú must travel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own, across a border like no other. It is a journey as psychic as it is physical, a shift in perception, a seeing of the unseen, a journey to Beszel's equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the rich and vibrant city of Ul Qoma.

May will be a merry month.

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