As summer comes to a close, the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy continues to dominate best-seller lists. Erotica is red-hot right now, and readers can expect a steady stream of BDSM fiction in 2013 (it takes a while for the publishing machine to react to a trend). In the meantime, J.K. Rowling is publishing her first novel for adult readers, Justin Cronin (The Passage) and Ken Follett (Fall of Giants) deliver two of the biggest sequels of the year, and more than a dozen big-name music biographies will vie for your attention between now and December. Finally, some good news for print purists: Publishers Weekly recently reported that the number of readers who buy e-books exclusively fell from 70 percent to 60 percent in the last nine months. The e-book market continues to grow, but it looks like many readers who hopped on the digital bandwagon are drifting back to print.
You’ll Be Hooked: Legendary cartoonist R. Crumb joins a posse of Nevada’s best writers, artists and illustrators in Lust to Dust (released Nov. 1, $25), a collection of stories and essays that shed light (though not necessarily a red one) on Nevada’s legal brothels. The book is edited by artist/writer Michael Ogilvie (who created the beautiful book Drunk: A Comic About Bar Stories in 2009), and contributors include F. Andrew Taylor, Vic Moya, Sam Reza, Chris Bauder and Vegas Seven’s own Jarret Keene and Pj Perez. LustToDust.com.
TKO Book Launch: Author P Moss releases his second story collection, Vegas Knockout: A Novel in Stories (Stephens Press, $15), in classic style: with a freak show-cum-book launch at his punk rock dive bar, Double Down Saloon (8 p.m. Sept. 6). This book offers an only-in-Vegas cast of characters whose lives intersect in the buildup to a big fight: A young journalist is on the make, a con man falls in love and a clown wants waffles. If sideshows freak you out, you can catch Moss signing at Barnes & Noble (2191 N. Rainbow Blvd., 1-4 p.m. Sept. 8).
Las Vegas, Revised: Geoff Schumacher revisits his 2004 book, Sun, Sin and Suburbia: An Essential History of Modern Las Vegas with his newest book … wait for it … Sun, Sin & Suburbia: The History of Modern Las Vegas Revised and Expanded (Stephens Press, $20). In it, the former Vegas journalist reconsiders yesterday, takes a fresh look at today and anticipates where we’ll be tomorrow. 1 p.m. Oct. 13: The Nevada State Museum for Schumacher’s book launch.
Postcard Perfect: As part of the Vegas Valley Book Festival comes another Las Vegas Writes Project, Wish You Were Here (Stephens Press, $15). This collection of shorts and essays tells the imagined stories behind some of Vegas’ most famous postcards. Vegas Seven’s managing editor Greg Blake Miller joins eight other Vegas writers—Quentin Bufogle, Maile Chapman, Maxwell Drake, Lindsey Leavitt, Corey Levitan, Kristen Peterson, Lissa Townsend Rodgers and Wish You Were Here editor Scott Dickensheets—for some book signing and a pre-festival panel chat about writing this year’s anthology. (Clark County Library Theatre, 7 p.m. Oct. 25, free).
Memoir of Monkeying Around: Remember sea monkeys? Kris Saknussem does. Black Mountain Institute’s recent Gallagher Fellow best known for his modern science fiction cult classic Zanesville, looks back at his own life in his memoir, Sea Monkeys (Soft Skull Press, $16). Saknussemm weaves psychological insight into accounts of his coming of age in California in the ’60s, wildly bizarre youthful escapades and his randy young adult years. Find it on shelves on Nov. 13.
Childhood Friends: Zadie Smith’s NW (The Penguin Press, $27) depicts four contemporary Londoners—Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan—linked by their childhood in Caldwell, the planned community where they were raised.
John Banville’s Ancient Light (Alfred A. Knopf, $26) is the story of actor Alexander Cleave, who—as a 15-year-old boy—fell in love with his best friend’s mother. Almost 50 years later, a new movie role and a younger leading lady give him much to reflect and reminisce about.
Meditations on Love and Loss: Junot Diaz, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007), returns to his literary roots with This Is How You Lose Her (Riverhead, $27), a collection of linked short stories.
In Sunlight and in Shadow by Mark Helprin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28) asks the question, “Can love and honor conquer all?” It’s the story of a World War II veteran who returns to New York and falls in love with Catherine Hale, an heiress. Complicating matters is Catherine’s jilted fiancée, who vows revenge.
How They Got into Smack: Skagboys (W. W. Norton, $27) is Irvine Welsh’s prequel to Trainspotting. The whole Edinburgh gang is here, including Mark Renton, Spud Murphy, Sick Boy and the memorably psychotic Franco Begbie.
Brainy Laughs: Fans of sophisticated humor will appreciate The Cursing Mommy’s Book of Days (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25), the debut novel from veteran New Yorker humorist Ian Frazier. Frazier’s foul-mouthed and perennially tipsy protagonist is laugh-out-loud funny and already familiar to readers of the magazine.
May We Be Forgiven (Viking, $27) is another darkly comic masterwork from A. M. Homes. Harold Silver, an historian, is overshadowed by his younger brother George, a successful television executive with a picture-perfect life. Complications arise when George’s wife makes a pass at Harold and George is involved in an unfortunate accident with far-reaching complications.
Alexie’s Best and Newest: Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories (Grove Press, $27) by Sherman Alexie is a career-spanning collection, plucking jewels from Alexie’s last two decades along with 15 new stories.
A Wizard Writer Matures: Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling turns to adult novels with The Casual Vacancy (Little, Brown and Company, $35). Here, the English town of Pagford is turned upside-down when the sudden death of a council member reveals the town’s dirty secrets.
Vonnegut’s End and Beginning: We Are What We Pretend To Be: The First and Last Works by Kurt Vonnegut (Vanguard Press, $20) is a unique collection featuring “Basic Training,” an autobiographical novella Vonnegut wrote under a pseudonym, a dozen years before the publication of his first novel, Player Piano (1952). The collection also spotlights the last 20,000 words Vonnegut ever wrote, the novella-length “If God Were Alive Today.”
A Resurrected Career: Back to Blood (Little, Brown and Company, $30) is Tom Wolfe’s fourth novel, and his first since I Am Charlotte Simmons (2004), a critical and commercial flop. Back to Blood is a sprawling tale of excess that is rumored to be a return to form (think 1987’s The Bonfire of the Vanities).
New Classic Legal Thriller: The Racketeer (Doubleday, $29) is the latest legal thriller from John Grisham, concerning the murder of federal judges. When somebody knocks off Judge Folgetree, it takes an imprisoned lawyer to set things right.
One Island, Two Times: San Miguel by T.C. Boyle (Viking, $28) is a novel with two major plots (one set in the 1880s and one set in the 1930s), both of which are firmly rooted on the titular island off the coast of Southern California.
Families in Wartime: Ken Follett’s Winter of the World (Dutton, $36) is the second installment in his “Century Trilogy,” following 2010’s best-selling Fall of Giants. Follett continues the tale of five interrelated families (American, German, Russian, English, Welsh) from the rise of Hitler’s Third Reich through World War II.
Cold War Spy Girl: Any new Ian McEwan is reason to rejoice; Sweet Tooth (Nan A. Talese, $26) looks especially appealing. The novel—set in the early ’70s—is an eloquent Cold War thriller featuring a lovely Cambridge graduate recruited by MI5. But that’s not all; McEwan has included a number of autobiographical references, including a character based on McEwan himself.
Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Your Halloween Read: The Fifty Year Sword by Mark Z. Danielewski (Pantheon, $26), is a chilling ghost story—especially for adults—from the best-selling author of House of Leaves (2000). Danielewski mixes Halloween, orphans and a mysterious storyteller with a long, black box containing a special sword that leaves a unique mark on its victims.
Worthy Vamp Story: The Twelve (Ballantine Books, $28) is the sequel to 2010’s The Passage, Justin Cronin’s weighty literary thriller about a failed government experiment resulting in vampires and a fatal virus. Gruesome, gripping stuff.
Sci-Fi’s Golden Age Collected: Fans of retro science fiction will beam over American Science Fiction: Nine Novels of the 1950’s (Library of America, $35 per volume), two collections of golden age prose from masters such as Robert Heinlein, Alfred Bester and Theodore Sturgeon.
For Boardwalk Empire Fans: Dennis Lehane’s Live by Night (William Morrow, $28) is a Prohibition-era suspense novel. Joe Coughin is the son of a Boston police captain, who defies his father and works for mobsters, ascending the ranks of organized crime and moving the novel from Boston to Florida and Cuba.
Super Sleuths: The Forgotten by David Baldacci (Grand Central Publishing, $28) boasts the return of Army special agent John Puller (featured in last year’s Zero Day) and a whopping 700K print run. Count on thrills aplenty as Puller investigates the death of his aunt in a sleepy Florida town where nothing is what it seems to be.
The Bone Bed (Putnam Adult, $29) is Patricia Cornwell’s latest Kay Scarpetta novel; if you’ve been counting, that makes 20 novels in this best-selling series.
The Black Box by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown and Company, $28) is a Harry Bosch novel that delivers. Spanning 20 years, Bosch—a detective for the Los Angeles Police Department—connects a bullet from a current crime back to an unsolved case from 1992.
International Tales: Like your mysteries more exotic? Consider Woes of the True Policeman by Roberto Bolaño; translated by Natasha Wimmer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25). It’s the final, posthumous novel from the acclaimed Chilean writer (1953-2003) who became an international sensation with the publication of The Savage Detectives (2007).
Fans of Jo Nesbø’s The Snowman (2010) and The Leopard (2011), will be kept awake at night reading Phantom, the new Harry Hole mystery, which has ex-cop Hole returning to Oslo from Hong Kong to clear the name of an accused murderer.
Hollywood Treatment: Dashiell Hammett’s Return of the Thin Man (Mysterious Press, $25) showcases two previously unpublished novellas featuring Nick & Nora Charles, commissioned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer after the enormous success of the first Thin Man movie (which was based on Hammett’s original novel).
Books’ Biggest Weekend
Put on your reading glasses, and your party hat! Fall is the time for Vegas to celebrate all things literary. New York Times best-selling author Charlaine Harris and 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Egan headline the 11th annual Vegas Valley Book Festival, Nov. 1–3 at the Historic Fifth Street School, where 100 authors will be featured in 100 book events. Get more info at VegasValleyBookFestival.org.
Ka-pow! This year’s Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival will be the biggest and longest yet. Geek officials expect to draw (pun intended) as many as 2,500 comic fans to the Clark County Library on Nov. 3 to mark the festival’s fifth year. As well as panels, meet-and-greets, free films, musical jams, local comic book merch and a Whack! of other stuff, the popular Artist Alley will return. Some big industry names you just might bump (Thump!) into include Gene Ha (Top 10, Justice League of America, Batman: Fortunate Son), Aaron Alexovich (Serenity Rose), Drew Rausch (Sullengrey, Zombie Tales) and Dan Parsons (Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi). The best part: It’s all still free! Ka-ching!