My Own Personal BEA
With Book Expo America right around the corner, I thought I'd get in the spirit and have my own little BEA right here. These are the books that are showcased in my booth, the ones I can't wait to read. Some may be obvious--some less so. But if you love to read do yourself a favor and check these out.
When I was a kid, I grew up on three authors: Terry Brooks, Brian Jacques and Stephen King. While away at summer camp, I would stay up until ungodly hours of the night plowing through 1,000 page epics like "The Stand" and "It." To say these were some of my favorite childhood moments is an understatement. While King has always has a propensity to write long books, it's been some time since we've been granted a thousand page doorstopper of a novel. For some reason, I have the most trouble with King's books that top out around 600 pages. They seem not quite long enough to be stretched up to epic length, but not quite short enough to have the locomotive velocity of "Carrie" and "Cujo." I haven't loved King's recent books ("Cell" was the last one that felt like real, old-school King), but when I heard 'thousand page book about a town in Maine suddenly and inexplicably encased within a dome' my ears perked up. That sounded, well, cool. So I'll happily shell out my $35 and strap on a weightlifting belt to give my back support while I churn through this monstrous bad boy. Hopefully it'll make me feel like a kid again. Plus the book comes out on my birthday. This is a good sign. (November 10th, Scribner)
Guillermo del Toro has firmly established himself as one of the most visionary pop directors of his generation. Somewhere between Steven Spielberg and Sam Raimi, he has created some of the most incredible and enchanting characters and worlds that have come along in some time. Don't believe me? Just watch "Hellboy 2: The Golden Army," which is inhabited by some of the most awesome and colorful monsters and weirdos since the Mos Eisley Cantina scene in "Star Wars." Not to mention del Toro is currently at work on adapting J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" and you get a sense of the guy's vision and clout. So combine this with the strong writing of Chuck Hogan, throw in a vampire virus threatening to wipe out New York (shades of King's "The Stand"), and you should have one of the summer's most fun reads. The advance buzz for this book is quite good, showing that it just may live up to the hype surrounding del Toro's involvement. (June 2nd, Morrow)
Let me be frank. I hate celebrity tell-alls. Especially celebrity tell-alls by washed-up, D-list actors and reality show stars who sell out their friends, their family and their dignity for the chance to stretch their fifteen minutes just a little further. But I'll make an exception for Dustin "Screech" Diamond. Like many people of my generation, "Saved by the Bell" was pretty much the most important show of my lifetime. I spent enough hours watching the exploits of Zach, Slater, Screech, Kelly, Jesse and Lisa to quality for Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hours corollary (I shudder to think how many geniuses were ruined by this show). I don't know what it was, but this show transfixed me. You couldn't relate to the plots (an oil field is discovered under the school's football field, the crew starts a band called, wait for it, "Zack Attack"), everyone in the cast had hair that looked like Vidal Sassoon lived on the set, and only at Bayside High in the 90's could a male character call a female classmate "Mama" without being slapped with a harassment suit. It didn't matter. I loved this show, and plan to analyze Screech's tell-all like it was the freaking Zapruder film. So Diamond, who's been a tabloid prince the last few years with a sex tape and various reality show gigs, promises to spill the dirt on his years at Bayside (Screech does deserve a better cover. This thing looks like a monkey decided to play around with Photoshop). I don't know about you, but I can't wait to find out just what really happened with Screech, Lisa, and that metal detector at Stacy Carosi's summer resort... (September 29th, Gotham Books)
Few sportswriters are more polarizing than Bill Simmons. He wears his Boston heart on his sleeve, isn't afraid to call out anybody at any time, has seriously campaigned not once but twice for NBA GM jobs, and he writes just about the funniest sports columns you've ever read. His first book, NOW I CAN DIE IN PEACE, was an appetizer for Simmon's fans--tasty, but we wanted the main course. That book was a collection of previously published columns (with more footnotes than a David Foster Wallace novel), a love letter to the 2004 Red Sox who reversed 86 years of the franchise's futility which Simmons chronicled in painstaking detail. In addition to his humor and love for pop culture (Simmons never met a 90210 reference he didn't like), he writes some of the most insightful and poignant sports stories that aren't afraid to slaughter sacred cows in search of the truth. Add in a healthy ego that seems to compel him to work his butt off, and this book, clocking in at a whopping 720 pages, will no doubt have NBA fans buzzing by the time the 2009-2010 season begins. Though at 720 pages, this book will require many, um, trips to a certain room--if you're a Simmons fan you know what I mean. (October 27th, ESPN/Ballantine)
I thought OFFICER DOWN was one of the best debut novels I've ever read, and after PROBABLE CAUSE and the brilliant PERSON OF INTEREST (how that was not nominated for an Edgar is beyond me) Schwegel has quickly joined my "day of release purchase" club. Many crime authors write interesting plots. Schwegel writes interesting plots with some of the most human and flawed characters ever to hit the genre. Anyone can hold a gun. Anyone can investigate a crime. Schwegel proves that the best crime novels are the ones where you care about the people involved. Schwegel is a combination of Ed McBain, James Lee Burke and Harlan Coben: tough police procedurals with flawless writing populated by characters who could live right next door to you. I'm still waiting for another Samantha "Smack" Mack book, but in the meantime I'll be happy to devour this offering. And can anyone explain to me why PERSON OF INTEREST didn't rack up every award nomination possible? Anyone? I thought so. (July 7th, St. Martin's Minotaur)