Best of the West
(Screen Classics, $40, out November 10)
By Mollie Gregory
The legacy of stuntwomen in the film industry is finally getting a comprehensive telling. Smart, thorough, and well researched, Mollie Gregory’s latest can be taken as a follow-up to 2002’s Women Who Run the Show, her account of the rise of women in Hollywood since the 1970s. Between revealing interviews and poignant insights, Stuntowomen covers the film industry’s most daring ladies and their feats from the silent era up through this summer’s Terminator Genisys.
(Soft Skull Press, $15.95, out November 10)
By Tara Ison
Milking the fundamental tension of strained and broken relationships, Ison’s debut collection of stories exults in the dangers of the darker side of desire. Rife with the threat of betrayal (and occasionally dyslexic Nazi vandals), these gripping stories explore the worlds of love, lust, and turpitude. In “Cactus,” a man standing alone in the desert is crushed by a crashing plane, and his girlfriend struggles to maintain her sanity and relationships in the aftermath. In “Multiple Choice,” a story unfolds along a number of possible trajectories; readers will bump up against actual multiple choice questions that determine the course of the story, but you won’t be able to control the startling conclusion. From Sherman Oaks to Joshua tree, these stories are rooted in a setting we know well, but they deal with passions on the fringe of our day to day lives.
(Flatiron Books, $27.99, out October 20)
By Dan Marshall
Yes, this came out in October, but there was an abundance of excellent books last month, so allow us the overflow. A wildly irreverent but deeply affecting perspective on the ways life can be complicated by disease, this memoir is Marshall’s account of losing his father to ALS. Wry, profane, and crass, Marshall’s tone is startlingly brash; even so, his quick pacing and darkly funny attitude render the story both relatable and oddly enjoyable. As his family, dubbed “Team Terminal,” pushes through hardship, Marshall is quick to note the selfishness and dysfunction that become part of every day life. Unafraid to paint himself in the worst light, he shirks sympathy and details his own mishaps with cringeworthy honesty. The no-holds-barred attitude can be straight up uncomfortable, but it works. Take it from Marshall’s GoodReads review of his own book: “Wow, what an amazing book. The writer is clearly some sort of genius type.”
Best of the Rest
(Sudden Oak Books, $28, out November 3)
By Eli Horowitz
A pioneer of location-based literature, Horowitz (Silent History) is back with another innovative reimagining of the relationship between fiction and format. The Pickle Index is a wacky caper (pun intended) through a world where the rich get richer and the poor dine on fermented vegetables. When the ringmaster of a down-and-out circus troupe is kidnapped, his forlorn friends must track down his captors in an ill-advised rescue attempt. The story unfolds on two fronts: through articles in a bourgeois newspaper and within the pickle recipe database known as the Index (this all makes sense once you’re in it—trust us). The tale can be read either as a paperback, in alternating chapters of a beautifully illustrated two-volume hardcover set, or in an app. The app takes the cake for sheer fun and whimsicality; not only can users read the story through daily updates, they can contribute their own fake fermentation recipes to the Index that other users can view and save (so if you run across a recipe for an especially foul-smelling kombucha—that one’s ours). It’s a novel take on the novel that comes through on its promises of “Thrills, chills, spills, and dills!”
(Little, Brown and Company, $25, out November 10)
By Rick Moody
Speaking of unusual formats, in his newest offering, Rick Moody details the life of protagonist Reginald Edward Morse through a compilation of the character’s online hotel reviews on RateYourLodging.com. As Morse complains about Periplaneta americana (cockroaches), critiques faux Mexican decor, and lauds the service of especially conscientious maids, he lets slip some very personal details, from his career as a motivational speaker to the failure of his marriage to his propensity for drunkenness. Each review provides another glimpse into the life of a man both humorist and philosopher. When Morse vanishes, leaving only his reviews as clues to determine his whereabouts, Moody himself picks up the case in a meta twist reminiscent of City of Glass or last month’s The Mark and the Void.
(Grand Central Publishing, $28.00, out November 3)
By Oscar Hijuelos
Not to be confused with fact, this novel is a brilliant imagining of two towering figures and the personal ties that drew them together. Intrigued by the friendship between renowned author Mark Twain and explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley (“Dr. Livingstone, I presume”), Pulizter Prize-winning author Oscar Hijuelos has crafted a work of historical fiction that imagines the friendship of the two men. He expands on the little information historians have of Twain and Stanley’s interactions to weave a fictional tale that is equal parts believable and rich—which comes as no surprise considering Hijuelos poured into this project for over a decade and was still tinkering with revisions the day before his death in 2013. A blend of memoir, letters, and narration, the novel takes readers from a steamboat trip along the Mississippi river to star-studded literary parties and onward to Cuba in a search for a long lost adoptive father.