2011 Is Exciting, Books Edition
In this edition of exciting things that are happening in the coming year, there are books! These are actual-factual books with few to no pictures in them, because here at First Second, we believe in reading and supporting prose as well as prose's more graphic cousins. Even if we don't publish it ourselves.
(This list is somewhat more stunted than the graphic novel one was, because I am worse at knowing that books are coming out than that comics are. Usually I just rely on Shelf Awareness to fill me in. But it sadly does not work as well a whole year in advance!)
So without further ado, books!
The Monkey's Wedding and Other Stories, by Joan Aiken. It's published by Small Beer Press, who continually amaze me with the excellence of the things they put out. Their first Joan Aiken book was illustrated by Andi Watson, and adorable! And this one will clearly be just as good. Ever since I read The Wolves of Willoughby Chase at age eleven, I've had a crush on Joan's work -- secret passages and orphans and evil usurping guardians are heady at any age!
Genevieve Valentine's Mechanique -- I heard Genevieve read Seeing at a NYRSF event at some point this year, and clearly she is awesome. Also this book seems to be about steampunk circuses, so it is difficult to imagine it not being worth checking out.
Fair Play, by Tove Jansson -- I started reading Tove's fiction after D&Q started publishing her Moomin comics, and her prose is really very wonderful. It reminds me of the way that Sarah, Plain and Tall does lovely, contemplative, place-based writing, except set in Finland. Credit goes to John DiBello for pointing me at this one, which NYRB is publishing in the coming year.
Gabrielle Zevin's All These Things I've Done -- no cover for this one yet, but it is nonetheless fantastic. I have read this book already, as one of the privileges of working in publishing is that you get to read super-neat books way before they are available to the Common Man and it is actually your job to do exactly that! It's about a future where there is basically Prohibition #2, and caffeine (and therefore chocolate) are forbidden. Then there is a thing like a Chocolate Mafia! I can't wait for this book to exist for real so I can give it to all sorts of people.
The Pale King, by David Foster Wallace -- I have extremely mixed feelings about this book. I loved Infinite Jest, but it was a story about tennis and drug addiction, so subjectivally, there was no conceivable reason for me to love it at all. So I would read it and be like, 'tennis: clearly the best thing ever!' except my rational mind was reminding me all the time that I actually think that tennis is extremely uninteresting. And that is the power of The Writing of David Foster Wallace. I am sure that this book will suck me in equally as much. The question is: do I really want to be passionately sucked into a story that appears to be about the IRS eliminating peoples' humanity?
This one's a two-fer -- Deathless and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Cat Valente. New books! By Cat Valente! Deathless is based on Russian fairytales and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making has witches and velvet coats and wyverns who are half dragon and half library and they are both awesome.
One of Our Thursdays is Missing, by Jasper Fforde. I love Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series! It is like a cross between literary criticism and Robert Heinlein! Jasper Fforde manages to somehow be agreeably meta, and this book appears to be a meta version of a story that is already meta. We shall see how he pulls it off. I have high hopes of being amused!
Patricia Wrede's Across the Great Barrier -- the cover above is the cover of a book that's already come out, Thirteenth Child. In it there was lots of magic and adventure and dragons made out of steam on the western prarie frontier! Also people figured out the solutions to problems by thinking about them logically; I approve of that. Now there'll be a sequel, which promises to be just as good. Yay!
Embassytown, by China Mieville -- China does strange and new and curious things every time he writes a book, and this one is apparently about language and truth, two of the things I think are most interesting of all of the things there are. This actually sounds like it could be something on par with Ursula K. LeGuin's Hainish cycle of books. I am fascinated.
Jo Walton's Among Others comes last, because it has the best cover. If you haven't read Walton's other fiction, you are clearly missing out on a wonderful lifetime experience. I've been hearing about this book from Patrick Nielsen Hayden (its editor) for a few years now; it'll clearly live up to the excellence of Walton's previous book about dragons in the Victorian Novel's construction of England and the alternate post-WWII England detective fiction where England made a peace with honor with Germany instead of defeating them.
In conclusion: 2011! It will be so good. I just don't understand why all these books aren't out now! Doesn't the universe understand how difficult having patience is? It is definitely not my best virtue.