It’s a new month! May I suggest some new fiction? Here’s a few of this month’s new releases that have caught my eye.
Lobster Kings by Alexi Zentner (May 6): There was a lot of buzz in 2011 over the release of Alexi Zentner’s first novel Touch.
Well deserved buzz it would seem: the book went on to be shortlisted Governor General’s award and was included on several other long and short lists for other writing prizes. That book, set in Canada’s north was praised, among other things, for its vivid setting and descriptions of a harsh climate. In his latest, Lobster Kings, Zentner turns that descriptive power to the East Coast for a story that will certainly interest our local readers. Set “on fictional Loosewood Island, somewhere off Maine and the Maritimes, and a ruggedly pastoral outpost claimed by both the United States and Canada. For generations it has been unofficially ruled by a family called the Kings, since the legendary Brumfitt Kings came over from Ireland with the bountiful lobsters “making a road with their backs.” But modern times bring modern problems, and the waters off Loosewood Island are starting to be poached by James Harbor, a rival community. With the health of current patriarch Woody Kings fading, it’s up to his daughter Cordelia to pick up the mantle. Her name is no casual reference to King Lear: Zentner has crafted a truly Shakespearean plot filled with sibling rivalry, love lost and won, art history, and the sometimes deadly adventure that is lobster fishing off the windswept Atlantic coast.”
Magnificent Vibration by Rick Springfield (May 6): I don’t really know what to expect of a novel from Australian musician Rick Springfield: he can pen a pop gem but will that talent translate to books? I’m gonna admit, this book doesn’t actually sound like my kind of thing, but I have a soft spot for Springfield because of his rock anthem whose title bears my name, so I’m at least passingly curious. What about you? “Why are we here? What is love? Is there a lochness monster? Does God send text messages? These are the kinds of questions Horatio Cotton, aka Bobby, asks in New York Times bestseller Rick Springfield’s debut novel, Magnificent Vibration. After stealing a mysterious self-help book called Magnificent Vibration: Discover Your True Purpose from a bookstore, Bobby calls the 1-800 number scrawled inside the front cover, only to discover that he has a direct line to God. This launches Bobby on an unlikely quest, serendipitously accompanied by a breathtakingly sexy and exceedingly sharp travel companion named Alice. Together the pair sets out to find some combination of spiritual and carnal salvation—and possibly save the planet.”
Crimes Against my Brother by David Adams Richards (May 13). Alexi Zentner’s book isn’t the only buzzy CanLit titles with Atlantic Canadian ties coming out this month, New Brunswick’s favourite son David Adams Richards is a back with a book that was first announced last year and is now finally hitting shelves. A book from Richards needs little introduction, and it’s being called “A brilliant, heartbreaking novel from a Canadian icon that tackles the theme of debt, and what we owe each other, through three unforgettable characters. This is Richards’ best and most complex work since his Giller-winning Mercy Among the Children, and a fitting companion to that novel.”
Closed Doors by Lisa O’Donnell (May 20). I loved Lisa O’Donnell’s 2013 debut novel The Death of Bees which told the story of two young girls struggling to live on their own following the death of their drug abusing parents. I wasn’t alone, it achieved both critical (winning The Commonwealth Prize) and popular acclaim. O’Donnell has quickly returned with another novel that explores violence and secrets through the eyes of a child: there should be much here for fans of her first book to love. “Eleven-year-old Michael Murray is the best at two things: keepy-uppies and keeping secrets. His family thinks he’s too young to hear grown-up stuff, but he listens at doors; it’s the only way to find out anything. And Michael’s heard a secret, one that might explain the bruises on his mother’s face. When the whispers at home and on the street become too loud to ignore, Michael begins to wonder if there is an even bigger secret waiting to be discovered. Scared of what might happen if anyone finds out, and desperate for life to be normal again, Michael sets out to piece together the truth. But he also has to prepare for the upcoming talent show, keep an eye out for Dirty Alice, his arch-nemesis, and avoid eating Granny’s watery stew. Closed Doors is a vivid evocation of the fears and freedoms of childhood and a powerful tale of love, the loss of innocence, and the importance of family in difficult times.”
The Three by Sarah Lotz (May 20) The note I made to myself when I jotted this title down for potential inclusion in the post a few months ago was “this one sounds creepy!” and looking at it again with fresh eyes, I haven’t changed my mind. The Three sounds like a satisfying mix of horror and thriller and the things that we really fear that is sure to capture readers’ attentions: “Four simultaneous plane crashes. Three child survivors. A religious fanatic who insists the three are harbingers of the apocalypse. What if he’s right? The world is stunned when four commuter planes crash within hours of each other on different continents. Facing global panic, officials are under pressure to find the causes. With terrorist attacks and environmental factors ruled out, there doesn’t appear to be a correlation between the crashes, except that in three of the four air disasters a child survivor is found in the wreckage. Dubbed ‘The Three’ by the international press, the children all exhibit disturbing behavioural problems, presumably caused by the horror they lived through and the unrelenting press attention. This attention becomes more than just intrusive when a rapture cult led by a charismatic evangelical minister insists that the survivors are three of the four harbingers of the apocalypse. The Three are forced to go into hiding, but as the children’s behaviour becomes increasingly disturbing, even their guardians begin to question their miraculous survival…”