Books to Look Out for in June 2018: Part One

Cover imageIt’s often tricky to decide which title should lead these previews but not this time. Written when she knew her death was imminent, Helen Dunmore’s gorgeously jacketed short story collection Girl Balancing, and Other Stories explores family ties, motherhood friendship and grief. ‘Capturing the passion, joy, loss, longing and loneliness we encounter as we navigate our way through life, each story sets out on a journey, of adventure, new beginnings, reflection and contemplation. With her extraordinary imagination and masterful storytelling, Girl, Balancing & Other Stories offers us a deep insight into the human condition and our place in history’ say the publishers and I’ve no doubt they’re right. Dunmore’s characteristic empathy and perception shone through her quietly graceful writing.

Hard to follow that but I’ve chosen a writer whose work I think Dunmore may have enjoyed, although it’s very different from her own. In Meg Wolitzer’s The Female Persuasion a young student is taken up by a prominent feminist and finds herself treading a very different path from the one she’d expected to be on. ‘Expansive and wise, compassionate and witty, The Female Persuasion is about the spark we all believe is flickering inside us, waiting to be seen and fanned by the right person at the right time, and the desire within all of us to be pulled into the light’ say the publishers, promisingly. I’ve long been a fan of Wolitzer’s novels, reviewing The Interestings here way back in 2013. Cover image

Kenji Tanabe, the protagonist of Thomas Bourke’s The Consolation of Maps, also finds himself on a surprising path by the sound of it. Tenabe sells antique maps in a prestigious Tokyo gallery but is presented with an unexpected offer of a job in America working for a woman who has never recovered from the death of her lover. ‘Moving across countries and cultures, The Consolation of Maps charts an attempt to understand the tide of history, the geography of people and the boundless territory of loss’ say the publishers which sounds interesting if a little woolly.

Quite a brave move to make your first novel a fictionalised account of Truman Capote’s career, focussing on the ‘literary grenade’ he threw into the circle of  socialite confidantes who had entrusted him with their gossip and secrets but that’s what Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott has done in Swan Song. ‘A dazzling debut about the line between gossip and slander, self-creation and self-preservation, SWAN SONG is the tragic story of the literary icon of his age and the beautiful, wealthy, vulnerable women he called his Swans’ say the publishers confidently although Paula at BookJotter begs to differ.

I’m bookending this first batch of June titles with a second collection of short stories, also with a splendid cover. This one comes from Joseph O’Neill, author of the much-lauded Neverland. Good Trouble’s characters are brought face to face with both who they are and who they will never be, apparently. ‘Packed with O’Neill’s trademark acerbic humour, Good Trouble explores the maddening and secretly political space between thoughts and deeds’ say the publishers, whetting my appetite.

That’s it for the first batch of June goodies. As ever, a click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis should you be interested. Second selection soon…

 

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

  1. Rebecca Foster

    I’m currently reading The Female Persuasion, my first from Wolitzer. I very much enjoy her writing. The campus setting of the early chapters reminds me of The Marriage Plot by Eugenides or The Art of Fielding by Harbach.

    Another June short story collection I would commend to you (I’m 2/3 through) is Florida by Lauren Groff.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Pleased to hear you’re enjoying the Wolitzer. I have a copy of Florida and will certainly give it a try but was a bit disappointed by her last novel.

      Reply
      1. Rebecca Foster

        I’d say it’s very different to Fates and Furies. The stories are gritty and unusual — some expansive whole-life stories in 20 pages and others more limited, but all with a very strong sense of place and a slight air of threat.

        Reply
  2. heavenali

    There are lots of Helen Dunmore I still have to read, but as I love short stories that collection, will have to be added to my wish list.

    Reply
  3. Paula Bardell-Hedley

    Thank you for the mention, Susan. I was only today discussing the wonderful Helen Dunmore on another book blog where the subject of her (very short) short story collection, ‘Rose, 1944’ came up in conversation. Apparently it’s excellent but possibly out of print (must check). It was released as part of the Pocket Penguin series to coincide with the publisher’s 70th birthday celebrations. It may be worth hunting down. I definitely want to read ‘Girl Balancing, and Other Stories’. Great post!

    Reply
  4. hopewellslibraryoflife

    Good list–I just added Consolation of Maps–thanks. I loved Swans of Fifth Avenue so don’t know that I want to read another Truman/Swans novel right now, but I will be anxious to read your review.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Thanks. Consolation of Maps looks intriguing, doesn’t it. I’ve a feeling I won’t be reviewing Swansong: Paula’s review has put me off somewhat.

      Reply

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