Books to Look Out for in February 2018: Part Two

Cover image The second batch of February’s new titles is something of a mixed bag. I’ll begin with Tyler Keevil’s No Good Brother which sounds like a slice of adventure. Two brothers – one honest, the other not – set off on a journey to settle a debt with a notorious gang which will take them across land and sea dogged by customs officials, freak storms and a distinct sense of luck running out. ‘Quick-witted and beautifully observed, No Good Brother is an exquisite portrait of brotherly love and loyalty, examining the loss of innocence and the ties that bind us’ say the publishers. An uncharacteristic choice for me but the blurb’s put me in mind of Patrick deWitt’s wonderful The Sisters Brothers.

Joseph Cassara’s The House of Impossible Beauties sounds altogether different. Set in New York City from the late ‘70s to the early ‘90s with AIDS on the horizon, the novel was inspired by the House of Xtravaganza and follows a group of gay and transgender young adults around the drag ball scene. Apparently, it was inspired by the documentary ‘Paris is Burning’ which I haven’t seen but the book sounds right up my alley.

I’m not so sure about Jessie Greengrass’ Sight but her short story collection, An Account of the Cover image Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It, was so highly rated that it seems worth investigating. It follows a woman through her preparations for motherhood as she remembers the death of her own mother and the time she spent with her psychoanalyst grandmother. Significant medical discoveries are woven through her memories, apparently. ‘Wonderfully intelligent, brilliantly written and deeply moving, Sight is a novel about how we see others, and how we might know ourselves’ say the publishers.

This next one comes garlanded with praise from Margaret Atwood, no less. Katherena Vermette’s The Break tackles the tricky subject of female violence. A young mother living close by the eponymous strip of land on the edge of a Canadian town spots a girl in trouble and calls the police but when they turn up, they can find nothing. Their investigation reveals a string of wrenching stories about the people surrounding the girl. ‘Through the prism of one extended, intergenerational family, Vermette’s urgent story shines a light on the power, violence and love shared between women of all cultures, creeds and age’ say the publishers Cover image which sounds very ambitious but Naomi over at Consumed by Ink, whose opinion I trust, was hugely impressed as you can see from this review.

I’m ending February’s new titles on a gentler note with an author whose previous work I’ve enjoyed very much. Judith Hermann’s Letti Park is a collection which explore the way in which random encounters with strangers can change our lives profoundly. Both Hermann’s novel Where Love Begins and Alice, her set of interlinked short stories, are fine examples of subtle, quietly effective writing so hopes are high.

That’s it for February. A click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis, and if you’d like to catch up with the first part of the preview it’s here. Paperbacks to follow soon…

27 thoughts on “Books to Look Out for in February 2018: Part Two”

  1. I’ve had my eyes set on The Break for some time now and I can’t wait to read it. I did some Canadian studies while I was at uni and I miss the unique tone and pace of Canadian literature. Can’t wait to read your review!

  2. I have read several early reviews of The House of Impossible Beauties all of which are very positive. It’s not my usual fare but I think this is going on the library list.

  3. I’m intrigued by Sight – like you, not 100% sure it’s my thing but willing to give it a go on the basis of originality.

    I’ll probably bypass The Break – I feel like I’ve read so much about violence against females lately. Do you ever seem to get on reading themes that aren’t necessarily conscious choices? I did that with grief-lit last year and currently every second book I pick up is about mental illness.

  4. Finished The House of Impossible Beauties at two o’clock this morning, having started it the day before. It’s absolutely wonderful. I’ve never seen Paris Is Burning (though now I really want to) and it was still so emotionally engaging and so heartbreaking and so gorgeous. I’m writing a little bit about it in next week’s Reading Diary, but can highly recommend.

  5. I’d love to know what you liked about The Sisters Brothers. I didn’t get on with it at all and it put me off the Booker shortlist for some years. I know it was supposed to be funny, but I found it full of mindless violence.

    I’m starting Reservoir 13 today. I’ve just finished Doctor Zhivago, so it’s got a lot to live up to.

    1. It was very violent which is not my usual cup of tea but I’ve a soft spot for picaresque novels and the humur appealed.

      I read Doctor Zhivago when I was in my early teens expecting the same lush romanticism as I’d wallowed in with David Lean’s film but finding something very different. It made a great impression on me. Am now feeling nervous feeling about Reservoir 13…

  6. I’m really looking forward to the Tyler Keevil, as I’ve enjoyed his previous books (published by Parthian here in Wales). And having read and loved Jessie Greengrass’ short stories, I can’t wait to see what she does with a novel-length work. I think they’re both exciting writers to read.

  7. It’s true that The Break is grim, but it’s also very powerful, and gets readers to think about things in a way they might not have before. I hope it hasn’t gotten too bleak for you!

    1. I’ve finished it now, and it hasn’t. The story is rivetting, and there is hope both at the end and in the characters of Jake and Sunny. Hard to believe that it’s her debut!

  8. How do you manage to find out about these new titles? Either you have insiders implanted in the publishers offices or you’re constantly checking their websites for news???? We demand to know the truth 🙂

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