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War, peace, and Robert Pinsky

The season's fiction, non-fiction, and poetry
By JOHN FREEMAN  |  September 12, 2007
Tom Perrotta

Every few years, a fall publishing season emerges that should remind us that Boston — and New England at large — could be the literary epicenter of America.

This is one of those seasons. Heading the charge is National Book Award–winning Boston University professor HA JIN. In A Free Life (Pantheon, October 30), Jin, who emigrated here in the ’80s, tells the tale of a Chinese writer trying to make his way in the USA. Also from these parts, you’ll find Like You’d Understand, Anyway (Knopf, September 25): stories by hilarious Williams College professor JIM SHEPARD, as well as The River of Sighs (Knopf, September 25), RICHARD RUSSO’s first novel since winning the Pulitzer for 2001’s Empire Falls.

ANN PATCHETT mucks around Boston with Run (HarperCollins, October 1), the story of a former mayor whose life is turned inside out. PHILIP ROTH has emerged from the woods of northwest Connecticut with Exit Ghost (Houghton Mifflin, October 1), which brings the Zuckerman series to a close. Also from Connecticut is STEWART O’NAN, whose new novel, Last Night at the Lobster (Viking, November 1), might be his most devastating yet.

Speaking of which: ALICE SEBOLD is back with The Almost Moon (Little, Brown, October 16), her first novel since 2003’s The Lovely Bones sold a gazillion copies. In The Air We Breathe (Norton, October 1), National Book Award winner ANDREA BARRETT brings to life an upstate New York asylum in 1916. TOM PERROTTA (Election, Little Children) takes another swipe at suburbia with The Abstinence Teacher (St. Martin’s, October 16) in which a sex ed teacher is forced to comply with Christian evangelists. And NICK HORNBY, who has long pondered the fate of boyhood, delivers his first novel actually aimed at the YA audience, Slam (Putnam, October 16), about a high schooler who knocks up his girlfriend and looks for guidance in the autobiography of skateboard star Tony Hawk.

Fall preview 2007
“Happy endings: Bad news begets good tunes.” By Matt Ashare. 
 “Busy busy: Something for everyone this fall.” By Debra Cash. 
“Stage worthies: Fall on the Boston boards.” By Carolyn Clay. 
“Basstown nights: The new scene emerges; Halloween preparations.” By David Day. 
“Bounty: The best of the season’s roots, world, folk, and blues.” By Ted Drozdowski.
“Trane, Joyce Dee Dee, Sco, and more: A jam-packed season of jazz.” By Jon Garelick. 
“Turn on the bright lights: Art, women, politics, and food.” By Randi Hopkins. 
“War zones: Fall films face terror at home and abroad.” By Peter Keough. 
“Locked and loaded: The fall promises a double-barreled blast of gaming greatness.” By Mitch Krpata.
“BBC? America!: The networks put some English on the fall TV season.” By Joyce Millman. 
“World music: The BSO goes traveling, and Berlin comes to Boston.” By Lloyd Schwartz.
“Singles scene: Local bands dig in with digital.” By Will Spitz. 
A number of imports seem poised to stand out. MEIR SHALEV’s A Pigeon and a Boy (Schocken, October 16) has received rapturous reviews in Israel. And uncovered novels by Holocaust victim IRÈNE NÉMIROVSKY (Fire in the Blood; Knopf, September 25) and the late Argentine writer JULIO CORTÁZAR (Autonauts of the Cosmoroute: A Timeless Voyage from Paris to Marseilles; Archipelago Books, November 1) should delight.

Story collections include expected and unexpected pleasures. WILLIAM TREVOR has been Cheating at Canasta (Viking, October 18). ALEXANDER KLUGE’s Comea Stories (New Directions, September 27) are factual-fictional tales about cinema and moviemaking. Value-pack hunters can track down 145 Stories in a Cardboard Box (McSweeney’s, September 20), a slipcased collection of stories by DAVE EGGERS, SARAH MANGUSO, and DEB OLIN UNFERTH. Or ZADIE SMITH’s anthology of character studies by different authors, The Book of Other People (Penguin, October 30).

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Related: Tall tales, Reading roundup, Elegy, More more >
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  •   DENIS JOHNSON’S WAR  |  November 06, 2007
    Denis Johnson has given us so many maimed and suffering souls in the past 25 years, he could fill a trauma ward.
  •   AMERICAN DREAMER  |  October 15, 2007
    It’s difficult to think of an American writer with a story more inspiring than Ha Jin’s.
  •   CLASS ACTS  |  September 26, 2007
    The cast of Bridge of Sighs — Russo’s first novel since his 2001 Pulitzer winner, Empire Falls — may have benefitted from a refresher course with Emerson.
  •   WAR, PEACE, AND ROBERT PINSKY  |  September 12, 2007
    Every few years, a fall publishing season emerges that should remind us that Boston could be the literary epicenter of America.
  •   HEAT WAVES  |  June 28, 2007
    “Summer joys are spoilt by use,” wrote John Keats, meaning the less you do between June and August, the better.

 See all articles by: JOHN FREEMAN

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