Paperbacks to Look Out for in March 2017: Part One

Cover imageA plethora of paperbacks to look out for this March – enough to justify two posts – beginning with John Wray’s ambitious sounding The Lost Time Accidents. Waldemar Tolliver wakes up one day to find himself out of time – the world is still turning but he’s not turning with it. Wray’s novel ‘takes us from turn-of-the-century Viennese salons buzzing with rumours about Einstein’s radical new theory to the death camps of the Second World War, from the golden age of post-war pulp science fiction to a startling discovery in a modern-day Manhattan apartment packed to the ceiling with artefacts of contemporary life’ says the publisher which sounds intriguing, although that time slippage may take a bit of swallowing.

Megan Bradbury’s Everyone is Watching also wanders around the twentieth century. A New York setting is usually enough to guarantee any novel a place on my list but this one sounds particularly attractive, apparently featuring the city itself as the main protagonist. From Walt Whitman in 1891 to Robert Mapplethorpe in 1967, from Robert Moses in 1922 to Edmund White in 2013, Bradbury’s novel is about the artists and writers who have made New York a city that captures the imagination. ‘Through the lives and perspectives of these great creators, artists and thinkers, and through other iconic works of art that capture its essence, New York itself solidifies. Complex, rich, sordid, tantalizing, it is constantly changing and evolving. Both intimate and epic in its sweep, Everyone is Watching is a love letter to New York and its people – past, present and future’ according to the publisher which suggests it Cover imagecould either be a great sprawling mess of a novel or a resounding success. We’ll see.

New York is the setting for Molly Prentiss’ Tuesday Nights in 1980 which begins on New Year’s Eve in 1979 when parties are being held all over the city. Connections will be set up at two of these which play out through the rest of this entertaining and absorbing novel: one thrown by the doyenne of the New York art world; the other much more uproarious, held at an artists’ squat. Prentiss tosses a few well-aimed barbs at the art market and its ever-increasing prices – even the most raggle taggle squatters succumb to the lure of money once it’s on offer, no matter how hard they justify their excesses.

Prentiss’ New York art scene is a world away from Harriette Arnow’s The Dollmaker but they do share the theme of creativity. A sculptor of exquisite wooden dolls and the mother of five children, Gertie has a modest ambition to own a small farm in the Kentucky hills but the family is forced to move to Detroit. Freedom and art are sacrificed to a grinding need for money in what the New York Times described as “A masterwork…A superb book of unforgettable strength and glowing richness”. Billed by the publishers that brought you Stoner and The Power of the Dog as a rediscovered American classic, Arnow’s novel sounds well worth investigating.

Cover imageMy last choice shares a rural setting with The Dollmaker – this time the Appalachians from where Ron Rash hails and the backdrop against which he sets his award-winning novels. Above the Waterfall is about Les Clary, the local sheriff approaching retirement who is faced with a final case which will see him repaying a childhood debt in a most unorthodox fashion. Beautifully executed, compassionate yet unflinching in its portrayal of human frailties, Rash’s novel is utterly convincing.

That’s it for March’s first batch of paperbacks. A click on a title will either take you to my review or to a more detailed synopsis should you be interested. If you’d like to catch up with March’s new titles they’re here and here. Part two shortly…

10 thoughts on “Paperbacks to Look Out for in March 2017: Part One

  1. BookerTalk

    Fortunately there is nothing on this list that is screaming ‘buy me’. Some of them look interesting but since I am being very minimal with my acquisitions right now, I think I can hold off from purchasing these right away

    Reply
  2. Elena

    I have just fell in love with Molly Prentiss’ Tuesday Nights in 1980 because of the cover. It sounds like a great book, a summer read for me though!

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Funnily enough, I prefer the hardback jacket! I thought I’d like this because of its setting but enjoyed it very much more than I was expecting.

      Reply
  3. bookbii

    Lots of New York based reading for you this month Susan 🙂 And the Ron Rash in paperback which I remember you writing so beautifully about last year. Of the ones listed, that remains the most tempting to me but I’ll have to drag myself away from the poles before getting around to some of these new reads. Interesting list, as always.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      I do find the lure of a New York backdrop very seductive, that’s for sure. Thanks, Belinda. Ron Rash’s writing is superb, very much in that ‘less is more’ school I so admire. I hope you’ll read his work.

      Reply
  4. naomifrisby

    I snaffled a copy of the Megan Bradbury yesterday. There’s a quote from Eimear McBride on the front which was enough to sell me (not that I’m a hard sell on NYC based novels, mind). I had a read of the first few pages and I like the look of it.

    I read Tuesday Nights in 1980 and enjoyed it but not enough to review it. I do like the new jacket though.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      That’s good to hear re the Bradbury. It seemed like a good that could very well fall on its face. I seem to be in the minority over that paperback jacket!

      Reply

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