The Morning Call (Sunday)

Fresh paperbacks perfect to leaf through on autumn day

- By Moira Macdonald The Seattle Times

Here are a handful of brand-new paperbacks for the fall reading season.

‘Burning Questions: Essays and Occasional Pieces 2004-2022’ by Margaret Atwood (Vintage, $19):

This is the third essay collection from the Booker Prize-winning author of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” In it, she reflects on the Obama and Trump eras, the #MeToo movement, the pandemic, the death of her longtime companion (author Graeme Gibson), “Anne of Green Gables” and more. Throughout, wrote a Guardian reviewer, “Atwood remains frank, honest and good company.”

‘The Hacienda’ by Isabel Cañas (Berkley, $17):

Irresistib­ly described by its publisher as “‘Mexican Gothic’ meets ‘Rebecca,’ ” this supernatur­al tale follows a young bride arriving at her new family’s estate in Mexico — only to find it filled with the voices of the dead. “Cañas’ talent elevates Beatriz’s struggle to a thing of uncanny, chilling beauty,” wrote a New York Times reviewer. “Hauntings, exorcisms, incantatio­ns, forbidden love — ‘The Hacienda’ transports one to a world where love triumphs over demons.”

‘The Passenger’ and ‘Stella Maris’ by Cormac McCarthy (Vintage, $18 and $17 respective­ly):

McCarthy’s first two books in over a decade are a paired set; standing alone yet compliment­ing each other. “The Passenger,” set in early 1980s Louisiana, has at its center a troubled man haunted by the loss of his sister and the ghost of his father; “Stella Maris” gives voice to that sister, capturing

her conversati­ons with a therapist at a psychiatri­c institutio­n in the 1970s. An NPR reviewer describes the former as “dark and mysterious like a night out on the bayou,” and the latter as “wild, profoundly sinister, and more a philosophi­cal exploratio­n and celebratio­n of math-mysticism and the possibilit­ies — and perhaps unknowabil­ity? — of quantum mechanics than a novel.” Taken together, they are “great additions to McCarthy’s already outstandin­g oeuvre and proof that the mind of one of our greatest living writers is as sharp as it has ever been.”

‘Bliss Montage’ by Ling Ma (Picador, $17):

Ma, the author of “Severance,” here presents her first collection of short fiction: eight stories of women making their way through a not always welcoming world. “Despite their nagging loose ends, Ma’s stories stay with you — evidence of a gifted writer curious about the limits of theoretica­l possibilit­y,” wrote a New York Times reviewer. “They twist and turn in unpredicta­ble ways and although the ride wasn’t always smooth, I never regretted getting on.”

‘On the Rooftop’ by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton (Ecco, $18.99):

The author of “The Revisioner­s” returns with a family saga: one in which a Black mother and three daughters dream of musical stardom in a gentrifyin­g 1950s

San Francisco. “Sexton does a wonderful job of capturing the complicate­d love that binds Vivian and her daughters (and) also beautifull­y depicts the jealousies and rivalries that can tear once-close sisters apart,” wrote a Kirkus reviewer.

‘American Demon: Eliot Ness and the Hunt for America’s Jack the Ripper’ by Daniel Stashower (Minotaur Books, $20):

Should you be in need of a historical true-crime fix, this one examines a mysterious series of murders in 1930s Cleveland, investigat­ed by the man who had just brought down Al Capone in Chicago. A starred Kirkus Review calls the book “a riveting and illuminati­ng account of an iconic figure’s involvemen­t in a notorious murder investigat­ion.”

‘Lucy by the Sea’ by Elizabeth Strout (Random House Trade Paperbacks, $18):

Strout’s latest novel follows the heroine of her previous novels “My Name Is Lucy Barton” and “Oh, William!” through the early days of the pandemic, enduring lockdown with her ex-husband. The Guardian wrote, “Catching in the very rhythm of narration the pressures of 2020, letting us listen as Lucy tries to make sense of relationsh­ips in lockdown and political tensions deepening across the country, Strout has written another wondrously living book, as fine a pandemic novel as one could hope for.”

By Margaret Atwood; Vintage, 512 pages, $19.
‘BURNING QUESTIONS’ By Margaret Atwood; Vintage, 512 pages, $19.

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