Aspen Times Weekly book review: The Fall Reading List

by Jodi Peterson for High Country News

Summer is the time for outdoor pursuits — hiking, camping, biking, gardening, tubing, traveling. The long days and warm sunshine don’t encourage much reading beyond your standard beachside thrillers. For months now, serious novels, nonfiction, even magazines have been piling up in teetering stacks around my house, and there’s a fearsome backlog on my Kindle.

Now that the nights are getting cooler and longer, I’m finally thinking about settling down to read. I have to slim down my piles before they collapse in a massive book-a-lanche and bury the dog.

A few of the new titles I’m excited about include “Gold Fame Citrus” by award-winning Nevada author Claire Vaye Watkins: “Set in an increasingly plausible-seeming future in which drought has transformed Southern California into a howling wasteland … two refugees of the water wars (are) holed up in a starlet’s abandoned mansion in L.A.’s Laurel Canyon. Seeking lusher landscapes, the pair head east, risking attack by patrolling authorities, roving desperadoes, and the unrelenting sun.” As a contrast to that all-too-imaginable apocalypse, I’m also eager to check out William Finnegan’s memoir, “Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life.” It’s an adventure story, an intellectual autobiography and a social history — “The kind of book that makes you squirm in your seat on the subway, gaze out the window at work, and Google Map the quickest route to the beach,” says the Paris Review Daily. And several High Country News contributors have produced terrific new works, including Mary Emerick, Kurt Caswell, Samuel Western, Todd Wilkinson and Laura Pritchett.

Below is a list of some of the most interesting fiction titles published between June and next winter, organized by author’s last name. If a book is already available, no publication month is noted.

The Japanese Lover, Isabel Allende, Atria, November

Vintage, David Baker, Simon & Schuster

Vagabond Song: Neo-Haibun from the Peregrine Journals, by Marc Beaudin,

Elk River Books

Studies in the Hereafter, Sean Bernard, Red Hen Press

How Winter Began, Joy Castro, University of Nebraska Press, October

And West is West, Ron Childress, Algonquin Press, October

Did You Ever Have a Family, Bill Clegg, Gallery/Scout Press

The Last September, Nina de Gramont, Algonquin

Undermajordomo Minor, Patrick DeWitt, Ecco

Last Bus to Wisdom, Ivan Doig, Riverhead

Geography of Water, Mary Emerick, University of Alaska Press, November

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk, Kelli Estes, Sourcebooks Landmark

A Collapse of Horses: A Collection of Stories, Brian Evenson, Coffee House Press, February

The Girl from the Garden, Parnaz Foroutan, Harper Collins

Half an Inch of Water: Stories, Percival Everett, Graywolf Press

Dark Reservations: A Mystery, John Fortunato, St. Martin’s Press, October

Mountain Rampage, Scott Graham, Torrey House Press

Buffalo Trail: A Novel of the American West, Jeff Guinn, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, October

Not on Fire, but Burning, Greg Hrbek, Melville House

Dryland, Sara Jaffe, Tin House Press

Love in the Anthropocene, Dale Jamieson and Bonnie Nadzam, OR Books

The Last Pilot, Benjamin Johncock, Picador

The Story of My Teeth, Valeria Luiselli, Coffee House Press

Red Lightning, Laura Pritchett, Counterpoint

Still Life Las Vegas, James Sie, St. Martin’s Press

Western Weird (Manifest West Series), Mark Todd (ed.), Western Press Books

Dragonfish, Vu Tran, W.W. Norton

All the Stars in the Heavens, Adriana Trigiani, Harper Collins, October

Maud’s Line, Margaret Verble, Houghton Mifflin

The Dying Grass: A Novel of the Nez Perce War, William T. Vollmann, Viking

Gold Fame Citrus, Claire Vaye Watkins, Riverhead

Canyons, Samuel Western, Fithian Press

The Longest Night, Andria Williams, Random House, January

Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, Sunil Yapa, Little, Brown/Boudreaux, January

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