I have confessed more than once to spending an inordinate amount of time thinking about books that haven’t even been published yet (not to mention books that no one has written yet, so far as I know, but that I would dearly like to see). At any given moment there is a long list of “forthcoming” titles I am particularly looking forward to, and now and then I post a selection.
Two of these are scheduled to be published next week, on April 26: Les Murray’s Continuous Creation: Last Poems (FSG) and Peter Wohlleben’s Forest Walking: Discovering the Trees & Woodlands of North America, translated by Jane Billinghurst (Greystone). The best piece I have ever seen on Murray was by my dear friend Alan Jacobs, in the pages of Books & Culture, and I hope he will be writing about this posthumous volume somewhere or other. Another dear friend, the poet Michael Robbins, wrote a very good piece on Murray a while back. (It appeared in the late lamented Printers Row, the stand-alone book review mag published by the Chicago Tribune—when it was still the Chicago Tribune and not the hollowed-out husk of a once great newspaper.)
As for Forest Walking, I am a sucker for “walking books” (I’m expecting one in the mail today, Ben Shattuck’s Six Walks: In the Footsteps of Henry David Thoreau, from Tin House Books), and this happens to be a time when the genre is flourishing. Long may it thrive.
Just a week after Murray and Wohlleben arrive, I will be looking for my copy of The Orphic Voice, by Elizabeth Sewell (NYRB Classics). I already have an ancient and much-loved hardback, but I wanted this new edition, which features an introduction by Sewell’s literary executor, David Schenk. If you saw my previous column, in which I recommended Sewell’s The Field of Nonsense as reading for the start of the baseball season, you know what a fascinating mind she had. A couple of times I tried to persuade friends who teach literature to devote an upper division course to her, with the reading list to include all of her books, but no luck on that front so far.
If you have been following me for a while, you also know of my fondness for the novelist Rachel Howzell Hall, author of crime novels and thrillers, including an excellent series on a black woman who grew up in Los Angeles and became an LAPD detective. I gave one of Howzell Hall’s stand-alone novels to our daughter Katy as a Christmas present several months ago. Her latest, We Lie Here, is due on July 17 from Thomas & Mercer.
Speaking of crime fiction, which includes more varieties than even a dedicated fan can keep track of (and some of which I don’t want to keep track of), Spencer Quinn’s new Chet & Bernie novel, Bark to the Future, is coming from Forge on August 9. I read an advance copy, and I am happy to say that, although this is the thirteenth entry in the series, it isn’t in the least bit stale; in fact, I think it’s one of the best in the whole caboodle, and I look forward to re-reading it when the finished book arrives.
If you were to make a list of (say) the five best American short story writers of the last 50 years, it would be a crime not to include T. C. Boyle, who is also a gifted and prolific novelist as well. His latest collection, deliciously titled I Walk Between the Raindrops, is scheduled to be published on September 13 by Ecco. Here is my review of his most recent novel, Talk to Me, published last year.
I could keep going, believe me, and going, but in this genre, less is probably more. If in due course you happen to pick up and read any of these titles, I’d love to hear back from you. Happy reading.
John Wilson is a contributing editor for The Englewood Review of Books and senior editor at The Marginalia Review of Books.
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