BIOGRAPHY and MEMOIR
Point to Point Navigation
by Gore Vidal (Doubleday)
In a sort of sequel to his excellent 1995 memoir, Palimpsest, Vidal chronicles the past forty years of his life among various clutches of literati, glitterati, and royalty. Mortality haunts this volume (the most affecting passages cover the recent death of Vidal’s partner of fifty years), but what’s perhaps most poignant is the book’s unevenness—a fierce literary wit having grown somewhat weaker with age.
Things I Didn’t Know
by Robert Hughes (Knopf)
The noted art critic recounts his Australian boyhood, his deepening romance with the art world, and the heady atmosphere of 1960s London, as well as the horrific 1999 traffic accident that almost took his life and made him a pariah in his homeland.
FICTION, POETRY, LITERARY STUDIES
by William Boyd (Bloomsbury)
In this espionage thriller and domestic drama by one of the very best prose stylists and storytellers in the English language, an eccentric English grandmother and garden enthusiast reveals to her daughter that she was a Russian émigré and a spy for Great Britain during the Second World War. Now she fears someone is trying to kill her.
One Good Turn
by Kate Atkinson (Little, Brown)
Atkinson’s energetic Whitbread-winning first novel was satisfying in every way; her subsequent three books, while sophisticated stylistically and intellectually, were too far removed from reality to be emotionally compelling. With book number 5, Case Histories, she hit the jackpot again, putting her skill with complex plots to excellent use, in a literary mystery infused with her characteristic quirk and verve. Now, clear-eyed Jackson Brodie reappears to become entangled in this new multilayered mystery set in Edinburgh.
by Cormac McCarthy (Knopf)
A man and his son struggle across a postapocalyptic landscape. A terrifying and moving story of mankind’s baseness and nobility, rendered in the self- conscious, affected prose that has consistently wowed the critics.
by Charles Frazier (Random House)
Ten years after the mega-hit Cold Mountain, Frazier has produced another epic historical novel, this one a first-person account spanning the nineteenth century and set on the southern frontier. The protagonist tries on a variety of colorful careers—twelve-year-old trading-post operator, white chief of the Cherokees, Confederate colonel, U.S. senator—and pines for a lost love. It’s chockablock with vivid period detail, but annoying in its anachronistic, smug, predictably progressive attitudes.
translated by Robert Fagles (Viking)
Fagles, who has rendered the best contemporary translations of Homer, now interprets the cooler, more stately, and in many ways less accessible Virgil. The result: a triumph, and the Aeneid for our age, if not necessarily for the ages.