Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, August 26, 2013

Loading up your book bag with some September/October new reads

With Labor Day weekend not far off in the distance, the time to go over what's going to be hitting the book shelves this fall season is as right as Goldilocks' porridge.

Much like the movies due out in autumn, there will be the usual set of expected bestsellers,surprise hits and controversial titles that will set the pace until the holiday gift giving rush commences.

However,even the usual suspects have something to offer the most jaded of readers and here's hoping that this fresh crop will have plenty to yield at the literary farmer's market:


Let's start off with one of the biggest books ready to leave the gate; Doctor Sleep,the Stephen King sequel to his now classic 1977 scare fest The Shining.

The story brings us to a now adult Danny Torrence,who has become a hospice worker and uses his gifts to comfort the dying as well as recover from the horrors of his past. A young patient named Abra Stone possesses a even higher level of power than Danny does and like him,has attracted the unwanted attentions of a deadly supernatural force.

This book has a lot to live up,given the recent interest in The Shining revived by the documentary Room 237(which focuses on the cult nature of the Stanley Kubrick adaptation), but I think King can pull this one off nicely(Sept):

Another highly anticipated title is Wally Lamb's We Are Water,which touches on many current themes, including marriage equality. Artist Annie Oh has decided to end her nearly thirty year marriage,due to falling in love with Viveca her Manhattan art dealer.

The ladies chose to have their wedding in Annie's Connecticut hometown and while the regular amount of tension ensues between old and new members of the family, a host of hidden secrets threatens to bubble up and make this emotional stew more turbulent tasting. I did read an excerpt of the prologue for this book and it was as in depth as a full fledged novel, so expect a banquet of a read here,folks(Oct).


With this being the bicentennial of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, it appears that we have more P&P themed work ahead of us. Jo Baker takes an interesting turn with the tried and true tale in Longbourn, going downstairs to the servant's quarters to see how the staff serving the Bennet family feels about the need for the five daughters of the house to get married.

Romantic troubles are not just above stairs,however,as young housemaid Sarah finds herself torn between two suitors; James Smith,a rather broody footman and Ptolemy,who works for a certain Mr. Bingley. Will her quest to find true love be as difficult as it for Miss Elizabeth or as disastrous as one set upon by the foolish Miss Lydia? Either way, this behind the scenes viewpoint of Austen's most cherished novel should be quite the conversation starter at many an Austenite tea(Oct):

Earlier Austen is not to be ignored,however,as Joanna Trollope comes out with her modernized version of Sense and Sensibility as part of The Austen Project.

 While the basic premise is the same(Elinor and Marianne Dashwood must adjust to reduced circumstances after the death of their father,plus find their proper path to love),Trollope adds her own set of skills as a social satirist along with the trappings of a 21st century world.

While I haven't read Joanna Trollope before, seeing S&S thru her eyes does sound promising. The next installment in this series will be in 2014(Val McDermid tackles Northanger Abbey) and with any luck,this will be a good start off to this Austen experiment(Oct):


The subtitle of Carla Kaplan's nonfiction study,Miss Anne in Harlem, is
"the white women of the black Renaissance" which covers a number of both well known and unsung ladies who did their best to mainstream the African culture present in the 1920s and 30s.

Amongst their group was the English socialite Nancy Cunard and popular novelist Fanny Hurst but also included in the mix was Texas heiress Josephine Cogdell who kept her interracial marriage to journalist George Schuyler a secret from her family and Annie Nathan Meyer,who later founded Barnard College.

Making strides in both feminism and racial equality, these independently minded women deserved to be recognized for their efforts as well as remembered(Sept).


In this age of 50 Shades of Grey,you might think it would be hard to shock anyone with pop culture depictions of sexuality(then again,Miley Cyrus shot that idea to hell last night on the VMAs), yet there are still some who find Erica Jong's Fear of Flying rather daring even now.

The fortieth anniversary edition of this 1973 novel(with an introduction by Jennifer Weiner) that introduced Isadora Wing to the ranks of thoroughly modern heroines is due out this fall and I intend to read it for Banned Books Week.

Why? Well, I did win a copy from Library Thing and along with the review I plan to do there, I would like to share my first impressions of this controversial book with all of you. Will it stand up to the test of time or be an amusing portrait of a former feminist age? Nothing ventured,nothing gained as they say(Oct):

The untimely passing of writer/director Nora Ephron brought about great interest in exploring her witty and insightful takes on life,love and recipes but alas, a good number of them were out of print.

That situation has been remedied with a collection entitled The Most of Nora Ephron ,which includes screenplays from her films like When Harry Met Sally and her last stage play,The Lucky Guy.

Essays from previous works such as Crazy Salad and Scribble Scrabble are amongst the gems,along with the complete edition of Heartburn,the fictional take on Nora's marriage to Carl Bernstein.

 Whether you've only seen the movies or read her essays a long time ago, most Ephron fans will have this book on their must read lists this season.  I did manage to score an out of print paperback of Heartburn last year(still waiting for the Meryl Streep movie adaptation to be re-released) and can definitely vouch for the delights of that bittersweet ode to infidelity(Oct):


 Ben Dolnick explores the depths of male bonding in his latest novel At The Bottom of Everything, as his 20 something protagonist Adam feels as if he's going thru the motions of a rather dull life.

His tutoring,a recent break-up with a girlfriend and casual affair with the mother of one of his students,nothing seems to inspire Adam to make any serious moves until news of  the disappearance of Thomas,his best childhood buddy,arrives at his door.

Giving into the pleas of Thomas' parents, Adam sets out for India where Thomas was last seen. The search opens up a few old wounds as painful memories of an incident that torn their friendship apart resurface for Adam and help him decide what to do with the rest of his life. This novel sounds like the darker side of Nick Hornby and could be an engaging change of pace to pick up(Sept).

Speaking of Nick Hornby, EW writer Benjamin Svetkey walks down that better known road in Leading Man,where a would be journalist hopes to reconnect with the girl that left him for a major Hollywood player.

Max Lerner dives into the waters of celebrity reporting mainly to keep tabs on Samantha Kotter,his former love who now graces the arm of action film star Johnny Mars. While monitoring the ups and downs of Samantha's troubled marriage, Max hones his skills as an interviewer to the stars but will he ever find real happiness as he still pines for the one who got away?

Svetkey certainly knows his way around the Hollywood media sphere and this book has the potential to become a future fun night at the movies for the rom-com fan who likes to check out the male point of view every now and then(Sept):

More great books will be coming your way this season and even if you're not involved in the back to school rush, taking the time to embrace the joys of literature is always worth while. Light fare may be set aside for next summer but that doesn't mean you have to be bogged down with overly serious stuff or even Shakespeare(unless you want to,of course). Reading and learning needs to keep the fun in fundamental there:

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