The tiniest handful of paperbacks for September, perhaps the smallest selection I’ve ever posted, and none of them making me reach urgently for my credit card. I’ll begin with Peter Cameron’s What Happens at Night, set in the depths of winter as a couple travel to a European city to adopt a baby, beset by worry that the wife’s illness will hamper the process. When they check into their strangely empty hotel, they encounter an odd cast of characters including a bartender who dishes out an addictive, lichen-flavoured schnapps. ‘Nothing is as it seems in this baffling, frozen world, and the longer the couple endure the punishing cold the less they seem to know about their marriage, themselves, and even life itself’ says the blurb intriguingly. Not entirely sure about this one but I’ve enjoyed previous novels by Cameron.
I also have doubts about Sean Thor Conroe’s Fuccboi which sounds like a look back over the shoulder at Trump’s presidency as, one year in, its main protagonist (also called Sean) tries to find a place in a world that seems not to need him. Sean knows he must sort himself out but is still indulging in the same misbehaviour that lost him his ex. ‘Written in a riotous, utterly original idiom, and slyly undercutting both the hypocrisy of our era and that of Sean himself, Fuccboi is an unvarnished, playful, and searching examination of what it means to be a man’ say the publishers.
Gary Shteyngart’s Our Country Friends sounds like a Covid-19 take on The Decameron as a disparate group of friends and acquaintances gather in a country house in March 2020 to wait out the pandemic. The next six months will challenge them all, changing world views and relationships as grudges are revisited, romances blossom and new friendships are made. ‘Both elegiac and very, very funny, Our Country Friends is the most ambitious book yet by the author of the beloved bestseller Super Sad True Love Story’ says the blurb. I’m a sucker for that Decameron structure although I failed to get on with Super Sad True Love Story. We’ll see
That’s it for September’s paperbacks. As ever, a click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis should you want to know more, and if you’d like to catch up with the month’s new fiction it’s here and here.