Also of interest...in new works from old favorites
John Irving, Anne Tyler, Christopher Buckley, and Augusten Burroughs
In One Personby John Irving (Simon & Schuster, $28) John Irving’s 13th novel is “yet another bildungsroman about a young New Englander surrounded by quirky characters in a small town and prep school setting,” said Todd VanDerWerff in the A.V. Club. Still, there’s much that’s new here, beginning with protagonist Billy Abbott, a bisexual novelist. Despite some annoying tics, In One Person succeeds as a thoughtful meditation on gender identity. “The novel’s last 150 pages are as good as anything Irving’s ever written.”
The Beginner’s Goodbyeby Anne Tyler (Knopf, $25) Anne Tyler continues to write novels “whose most memorable characters inhabit a cosmos all their own,” said Julia Glass in The New York Times. The latest middle-class Baltimore-area homebody she finds of interest is Aaron Woolcott—partially paralyzed, fully geeky, and visited by the ghost of his dead wife. “Once again, Tyler exhibits her genius for the incisive, savory portrayal of marriage.” Yet the story feels too insular. Tyler’s “lovingly constructed cosmos is in danger of becoming a snow globe.”
They Eat Puppies, Don’t They?by Christopher Buckley (Twelve, $26) A “brilliant satirist of the first order,” Christopher Buckley “has his finger on the pulse of the nation’s capital like no other novelist,” said Mike Glenn in the Houston Chronicle. As he did in such novels as Thank You for Smoking, Buckley presents a hilariously amoral cast of Washington characters, this time led by an aerospace lobbyist assigned to stoke anti-China sentiment so that his client can build a lucrative arms system in Asia. This is “a funny, funny book.”
This Is Howby Augusten Burroughs (St. Martin’s $25) The dysfunctional author of Running With Scissors has some “well-earned” life advice to dispense, said Eric Liebetrau in The Boston Globe. Fans of Augusten Burroughs’s popular confessional memoirs will find much to like in this collection of nuggets of self-help wisdom. Burroughs applies his trademark “dark, acidic humor” to a glut of entries on everything from addiction to weight loss. Though he means well, “the onslaught of advice eventually becomes tiresome.” Take it in small doses.