Books to Look Out for in May 2018: Part One

Cover image There are several juicy looking short story collections on offer in May, three of which I’m including in the first part of this preview kicking off with the excellent Curtis Sittenfeld’s You Think It, I’ll Say It which explores both the ineptitude some people display in reading others and our ability to deceive ourselves, apparently. ‘Sharp and tender, funny and wise, this collection shows Sittenfeld’s knack for creating real, believable characters that spring off the page, while also skewering contemporary mores with brilliant dry wit’ say the publishers whetting my appetite further.

Sittenfeld fans will remember her brilliant depiction of a First Lady, based on Laura Bush, in American Wife which leads me neatly to Amy Bloom’s White Houses, set in 1933 when President Franklin Roosevelt and his wife move into the presidential residence. Bloom’s novel explores the relationship between Lorena Hickock, the celebrated journalist who accompanied them, and Eleanor Roosevelt. ‘Filled with fascinating back-room politics, the secrets and scandals of the era, and exploring the potency of enduring love, it is an imaginative tour-de-force from a writer of extraordinary and exuberant talent’ say the publishers. That alone would pique my interest but I’m a huge fan of Bloom’s writing, from her short stories to novels like Lucky Us, so I have high hopes for this one.

Geir Gulliksen’s Story of a Marriage also puts a relationship under the microscope as a husband whose wife has fallen in love with another man after twenty years together tries to understand the disintegration of their marriage from her point-of-view. ‘Intense, erotic, dramatic, raw – Story of a Marriage examines two people’s inner lives with devastating and fearless honesty. It is a gripping but slippery narrative of obsession and deceit, of a couple striving for happiness and freedom and intimacy, but ultimately falling apart’ according to the publishers which sounds very ambitious to me but definitely worth a look.

Back to short stories for Christine Schutt’s Pure Hollywood. ‘Schutt’s sharply suspenseful and masterfully dark interior portraits of ordinary lives are shot through with surprise and, as Ottessa Moshfegh has it, “exquisitely weird writing”’ say AndOtherStories who are publishing this collection as part of their response to Kamila Shamsie’s provocation exhorting publishers to release only books by women. ‘Exquisitely weird’ could go either way for me. Cover image

I’m bookending this post with the third short story collection of the month from the late master of the craft. William Trevor’s Last Stories comprises ten pieces described by the publishers as ‘exquisite, perceptive and profound’ and for once I won’t be arguing with their superlatives. This will undoubtedly be a treat to savour for all who treasure quietly understated, elegantly lyrical prose.

That’s it for the first instalment of May’s new novels. A click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis should you wish to know more. Part two to follow at the end of the week with not a short story collection in sight.

19 thoughts on “Books to Look Out for in May 2018: Part One”

    1. I certainly hope not! I’ve only recently dicovered the joy of short stories. Still, they’ve been saying that about the novel for years. Step forward Will Self as the latest nay-sayer.

  1. I have a proof of You Think It, I’ll Say It and I’m giddy with excitement to read it. American Wife is one of my all-time favourites and I’ve read everything Sittenfeld has published.

  2. Great bunch of books this month. I’ve just finished the Sittenfeld (review to come) – I flew through it. Beautifully written, engrossing stories and a very even collection.

    I’m also nearly finished White Houses. Historical fiction is not an immediate choice for me but this book is great historical fiction – interesting characters, believable dialogue (that’s always a sticking point for me) and a very interesting structure.

    Story of a Marriage sounds great – I’ll look out for it.

  3. I’ve just started reading White Houses and have high hopes for it. Thanks for your round-up, always useful to have one eye on what’s coming up….as if my TBR pile isn’t big enough already.

  4. I’ve already heard good things about Curtis Sittenfeld’s short stories. But it’s that book about marriage that I’m drawn to!

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