Fall for books

Five literary picks for autumn

If spending most evenings in the grip of a great tome is too much to ask of a person during the summer months, fall is the season tailor-made for such a pastime. Here are a few suggestions worth sidling up to.

1 The Night Birds
by Thomas Maltman

This novel pries traditional horrors from the fingers of Old World—and Old West—tales of superstition. Set primarily during the summer of 1876, the story follows a family of German immigrants through their incommodious passage across the Great Plains. A young narrator describes his family’s entanglements in the abolitionist movement, the Great Sioux War and several quasi-Biblical plagues that persistently harangue farmers attempting to settle in Indian country. Maltman has written a respectable homage to a dark tradition in world literature. After turning the final page of The Night Birds, readers will be primed to revisit the Brothers Grimm, Lewis Carroll and others of that ilk.

2 Shinjuku Shark
by Arimasa Osawa

Although the translation is bumpy at times, Shinjuku Shark is a rich, heavily-styled crime thriller worth the wait for its debut in English. Popular in Japan, this first book in an ongoing detective series follows the ambitions of Detective Samejima as he tracks a cop-killer through the seedy underbelly of Tokyo. Along the way, Samejima bucks against ill-intentioned colleagues, romantic entanglements and ruthless yakuza gangsters. This heated, hardboiled tale maintains its satisfying mystery through the final pages.

3 No One Belongs Here More Than You
by Miranda July

July’s wondrous strange collection will haunt you throughout the winter months. With a singular compassion, radical spontaneity and sometimes just plain weirdness, the book asserts that it is indeed the real article. A frighteningly obvious talent is at work in No One Belongs Here More Than You—all the more frightening because it’s manifested in stories that explore geriatric carpet swimming, the psychological import of dreaming about your buttocks and walls that smell faintly like pee.

4 We Go Liquid
by Christian TeBordo

We Go Liquid is the touching and disturbing story of a boy’s experiences during the summer after his mother dies. The boy observes with clinical detachment as his father sleeps his life away. When the narrator receives an e-mail from “Mom,” offering free movie tickets, he responds to the spam e-mail, increasingly sure that by doing so he is communicating with his dead mother. The boy brings his father into the bizarre correspondence, and the two proceed to purchase and self-medicate with anything and everything that “Mom” has to offer. TeBordo produces an alternately hilarious and unexpectedly touching book about dealing with loss.

5 Consider the Lobster and Other Essays
by David Foster Wallace

Darling of critics and provocateur of pedants, David Foster Wallace has made a name for himself as much for his cerebral ostentation as for his writing. “But don’t hate him because he’s intellectual,” Wallace’s most recent book of essays seems to cry out. “He can be funny, too—look!” There’s an essay about the U.S. porn industry’s annual Adult Video News Awards, (fascinating). Have a look at the title essay for a brief and entertaining social history of the American lobster industry (fascinating and gross). Wallace is not difficult to read—just challenging. Even if his essays don’t literally speak to you, their appeal is irritatingly undeniable.