Happy summer! This month brings a local author’s newest novel, the newest installment in the Temeraire fantasy series, a humorous business book by a columnist for Fortune magazine and the most recent essay collection by a best-selling humorist.
David Sedaris’s newest book, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, debuted at the top of the Indie Bestseller list the week it was released. As in his six previous books, Sedaris mines his past and present life for anecdotes with morals he somehow makes universal. Although some of the essays mention his parents and siblings, most of them are about his adulthood and his life in France with his boyfriend, Hugh. This shift in focus makes this a darker book than his previous works; mortality and decay are evident everywhere, as is Sedaris’s ability to find humor in the bleakest of situations. The cover features a skeleton smoking a cigarette; the longest essay in the book chronicles the author’s efforts to stop smoking, which involved a long stay in Tokyo. If you are a David Sedaris fan, you will love this book. If you haven’t read him yet, I don’t suggest starting with this one; choose one of his earlier, lighter books. But do read him—his combination of humor, poignancy and appreciation for the absurd is a potent mix.
Victory of Eagles, Naomi Novik’s newest book, is the fifth in the Temeraire fantasy series and the first to be published in hardcover. (That is a major step for a fantasy writer; it means that your publisher believes your fan base is so solid that they won’t quail at the prospect of paying $25 for their next fix.) Readers of the series thus far know that Temeraire is a dragon in His Majesty’s Aerial Corps during the Napoleonic era. His captain, Will Laurence, is a patriot and a man of honor, sworn to defend England against its enemies. Their relationship is what makes this series so remarkable—Laurence and Temeraire are devoted comrades and loyal brothers-in-arms who work for justice while adhering to a rigid military code. At the beginning of Victory of Eagles, Laurence is in disgrace for committing an act of compassion worthy of Mother Theresa, but viewed as treason by his military superiors. When Napoleon does the unthinkable and actually invades England, it is all hands on deck to drive out the enemy, and Laurence is given a chance to expiate his crime. This is swashbuckling historical fantasy at its finest! If you haven’t started the series, read the first one, His Majesty’s Dragon, and see what you think. This series is also great for older (13 and up) fans of Eragon who are looking for more books about dragons.
Stanley Bing is a columnist for Fortune magazine and author of many books, including two novels. Executricks: Or How to Retire While Still Working is ostensibly a business book, but it would fit just as well in the humor section. If you are an aging executive who is not willing to retire, but who doesn’t want to work 24/7, this is the book for you! Bing has dozens of tips for those who prefer to work less while still receiving full financial remuneration from their employer. Telecommuting, delegating and the importance of a comfortable, ergonomically correct office chair as an aid to productivity are fully covered, as are the rules for imbibing alcohol correctly while socializing with co-workers. It is clear that Bing has worked as an executive in a corporate venue; it is also clear that he has discovered the unpublicized benefits of being a head honcho. Despite being a business book, this is a fun read that has appeal even if you are an aspiring executive.
Elizabeth Brundage, author of The Doctor’s Wife, has a new novel out this month. Somebody Else’s Daughter is set in western Massachusetts, in a beautiful town that is populated by well-off people who are hiding some unsavory secrets. Willa Golding is the cherished adopted daughter of Joe and Candace. Born to drug addicted parents, she now lives a privileged life, riding horses, attending private school and fulfilling her parents’ expectations. But during her senior year in high school, things begin to go awry. While doing community service, she meets a young prostitute who introduces her to drugs and Willa succumbs to their allure. Meanwhile, her parents have their own secrets and the headmaster of her school is showing more personal interest in Willa than is strictly appropriate. Add to the mix Claire, a sculptor, Teddy, her under-achieving teenage son and Nate Gallagher, an English teacher with a past he wants to keep hidden, and you’re in for an entertaining and suspenseful read.
Susan Taylor has been in the book business, in one aspect or another, since 1982. She currently works at the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza. Stop by the store if you are looking for a good book—she’s read a lot more than she can talk about here!