The November 2009 Indie Next List

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Here's a preview of the November Indie Next List, now on its way to ABA member stores in the IndieBound movement, and a reminder that October Notable titles are now featured in a flier and shelf-talkers downloadable here and from

The November Indie Next Great Reads

Chronic City: A Novel by Jonathan Lethem
(Doubleday, $27.95, 9780385518635)
"A story of Manhattan as a city of falsehoods plays out in the friendship of a former child star and a polemicist with a mishmash of psychological problems. The characters are brilliantly developed, the plot is intricate but engaging, and Lethem pulls no punches. His best since Motherless Brooklyn -- excellent, excellent, excellent." --Conrad Silverberg, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home by Rhoda Janzen
(Holt, $22, 9780805089257)
"Poet Rhoda Janzen has an intriguingly honest and witty way with language, and a personality and unique story to match. This insightful memoir is simultaneously humorous and touching -- a rare combination you certainly don't want to miss." --Kerry Hartwick, The Velveteen Rabbit Bookshop, Fort Atkinson, WI

The Financial Lives of the Poets: A Novel by Jess Walter
(Harper, $25.99, 9780061916045)
"In Jess Walter's best yet, feckless financial reporter Matt Prior has lost his job, is six days away from losing his house, and suspects his wife is courting an affair. Walter's own obvious empathy for the human condition will have you pulling for Prior and his screwy, shady, last-chance scheme for solvency. A laugh-out-loud serio-comic masterpiece!" --Ranae Burdette, Eagle Harbor Book Company, Bainbridge Island, WA

Lit: A Memoir by Mary Karr
(Harper, $25.99, 9780060596989)
"Once you've read Mary Karr's The Liar's Club, how can you not read her latest to find out how it turns out? This fine American writer continues her journey through college, marriage, and young motherhood, offering her hard-won experience in recovery from depression and alcoholism." --Andy Lillich, University of Oregon Bookstore, Eugene, OR

Invisible by Paul Auster
(Holt, $25, 9780805090802)
"Paul Auster proves again that as artist-as-storyteller he is a master. Invisible, set in New York, Paris, and the Caribbean from 1967 to 2007, is narrated by three different voices, and Auster -- like a fine painter -- uses each paragraph to create color, shadow, and, finally, a vibrant texture that will stay firmly in the mind of the reader." --Peter Marsh, Briggs Carriage Bookstore, Brandon, VT

A Friend of the Family: A Novel by Lauren Grodstein
(Algonquin, $23.95, 9781565129160)
"The story of Pete Dizinoff, a successful suburban doctor, and his son, Alec, whom Pete dotes on, takes a decidedly Shakespearean turn in a story about the lengths to which a father will go to protect his child. This brilliant literary thriller will leave readers emotionally rent, as the protagonist's life collapses while he reaches out for what matters most to him." --Mary Cotton, Newtonville Books, Newton, MA

Beloved on the Earth: 150 Poems of Grief and Gratitude by Jim Perlman, Deborah Cooper, Mara Hart, and Pamela Mittlefehldt (eds.)
(Holy Cow! Press, $16.95 paper, 9780977945894)
"Beloved on the Earth is the best book on the subject that I've come across. Beautiful pieces from May Sarton, Rilke, Mary Jo Bang, and Jane Kenyon are included, but you will make many other discoveries, too. Full of warming and wise poems, this is a collection that will help readers find comfort and solace." --Linda Grana, Lafayette Book Store, Lafayette, CA

Americans in Space: A Novel by Mary E. Mitchell
(Thomas Dunne Books, $24.99, 9780312372453)
"Suddenly widowed, high school counselor Kate Cavanaugh struggles to pull herself, her children, and the unwieldy and immensely likable kids she counsels together. The 'space' in this engaging, poignant novel is the one in which each character is adrift: grief, adolescent angst, bewilderment, and loneliness. Americans in Space will speak to all readers, especially to parents of teens." --Banna Rubinow, The River's End Bookstore, Oswego, NY

Last Night in Twisted River: A Novel by John Irving
(Random House, $28, 9781400063840)
"Daniel's life takes some wicked-bad twists starting at the tender age of 12, when, mistaking his father's lover for a bear, he accidentally kills the woman with a cast iron skillet. His unfortunate mistake lands him and his father on the lam from the woman's boyfriend, who has a taste for revenge. John Irving creates marvelously quirky, memorable characters, and, like all his books, Last Night in Twisted River is full of razor-sharp wit and beautiful writing." --Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books, Sunriver, OR

The Evolution of Shadows: A Novel by Jason Quinn Malott
(Unbridled Books, $14.95 paper, 9781932961843)
"Five years after Gray Banick, a news photographer, disappeared from war-torn Sarajevo, three friends meet to try and discover what happened to him. This is a story of love strong enough to endure the ravages of war and time. Malott writes with sensitivity and compassion." --Sue Richardson, Maine Coast Book Shop, Damariscotta, ME

The Lacuna: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver
(Harper, $26.99, 9780060852573)
"Moving from a setting in Mexico (in the company of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Trotsky) to the 1950s America of Red Scares and McCarthyism, The Lacuna tells the very personal and human story of young novelist Harrison Shepherd. Kingsolver does a masterful job creating a story with both scope and intimacy while also raising potent questions about freedom of expression and belief. Bravo!" --Sheryl Cotleur, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA

Hardball: A V.I. Warshawski Novel by Sara Paretsky
(Putnam, $26.95, 9780399155932)
"In Hardball, V.I. Warshawski is asked to locate a man who went missing in 1967, and it comes as no surprise that people desperately want V.I. to leave this case alone. But when her young cousin disappears, even V.I. is astonished to discover the depths of corruption in Chicago politics and how far it taints. This multi-layered story -- part mystery, part social criticism, part glimpse into Chicago history -- will leave you amazed." --Angela Mann, Kepler's Books & Magazine, Menlo Park, CA

The Fourth Part of the World: The Race to the Ends of the Earth, and the Epic Story of the Map That Gave America Its Name by Toby Lester
(Free Press, $30, 9781416535317)
"The Fourth Part of the World is not a history book you can pigeonhole: map making, printing, transportation, exploration, and imperialism all influence this great story. Perhaps most enjoyable is learning about the evolving mythology associated with the edges of the map, and how it persists through discoveries great and small." --Justin Fetterman, The Alabama Booksmith, Birmingham, AL

The Gray Man by Mark Greaney
(Jove, $9.99 paper, 9780515147018)
"Former CIA operative Court Gentry is not your typical sympathetic figure -- he kills people for a living, after all, but you can't but feel for the 'Gray Man' as a nonstop storyline keeps you turning the pages to figure out what tragic event will befall him next. Will grab you from the first chapter, and an interesting twist at the end of the novel leaves readers wanting the next installment!" --Chris Burcky, Cover to Cover Bookstore, Arlington, TN

The Man in the Wooden Hat by Jane Gardam
(Europa Editions, $15 paper, 9781933372891)
"A classy tale of the marriage of an English couple in the Far East. Idealistic and romantic, Betty and her husband find their ways through life, carrying secrets from their pasts back and forth between Hong Kong and England. It's a slim novel that covers a lot of ground, and Gardam's stylish prose gets to the heart of this fascinating relationship." --Valerie Koehler, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX

The Vows of Silence: A Simon Serrailler Mystery by Susan Hill
(Overlook, $24.95, 9781590202456)
"Fans of character-driven suspense writers like Elizabeth George, Reginald Hill, and Ruth Rendell will love Susan Hill's Simon Serrailler series. While Serrailler and his team attempt to solve a series of apparently random shootings, his sister and her husband -- both doctors -- struggle with a diagnosis that will change all their lives. A great read!" --Carol Schneck, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women From 1960 to the Present by Gail Collins
(Little, Brown, $27.99, 9780316059541)
"Gail Collins, a New York Times columnist, interviewed hundreds of people from not only the women's movement but, also, the civil rights movement, and her history encompasses the major events from the 1950s to the present, putting society's changes into context. This amazing book is necessary reading for everyone." --Barbara Hoagland, The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT

The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville
(Soho Crime, $25, 9781569476000)
"Former IRA killer Gerry Fegan is haunted by his past. Literally. He drinks in an attempt to block out the visions of his innocent victims, but when they demand vengeance he realizes they cannot be ignored. This gripping, well-written thriller is my favorite hard-boiled debut of the year -- hands down!" --McKenna Jordan, Murder By The Book, Houston, TX

A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon by Neil Sheehan
(Random House, $32, 9780679422846)
"The brilliant Neil Sheehan gives us a fascinating history of the Cold War years, wrapped in a narrative of Bennie Schriever, the father of the ICBM program. Just as he did with the war in Vietnam, Sheehan illuminates a period rife with suspicion, misinformation, and paranoia that profoundly changed the world and resonates today." --Bill Cusumano, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI

Soul of Wood by Jakov Lind, Ralph Manheim (trans.)
(NYRB Classics, $14.95 paper, 9781590173305)
"Soul of Wood is a careening, delirious, madcap tour through the rattled soul of mid-20th century Europe. The book's greatest achievement is the titular novella in which a disabled veteran fights for survival in the absurdist inferno of Austria under the Third Reich, where, finally, a handful of megalomaniacs compete to take possession of a sort of miraculous young Jew." --Adam Walter, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA

The November Indie Next List Notables


Hummingbirds: A Novel by Joshua Gaylord (Harper, $25.99, 9780061769016)
The Interrogative Mood: A Novel? by Padgett Powell (Ecco, $21.99, 9780061859410)
Makers by Cory Doctorow (Tor, $24.99, 9780765312792)
Matchless: A Christmas Story by Gregory Maguire (Morrow, $19.99, 9780061913013)
A Separate Country: A Novel by Robert Hicks (Grand Central Publishing, $25.99, 9780446581646)
Soulless: An Alexia Tarabotti Novel by Gail Carriger (Orbit, $7.99 paper, 9780316056632)
Twisted Tree: A Novel by Kent Meyers (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24, 9780151013890)


The Boy From Baby House 10: From the Nightmare of a Russian Orphanage to a New Life in America by Alan Philps and John Lahutsky (St. Martin's, $24.99, 9780312576974)
Eating: A Memoir by Jason Epstein (Knopf, $25, 9781400042968)
The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother's Memoir by Katrina Kenison (Springboard Press, $23.99, 9780446409483)
The Hidden Life of Deer: Lessons From the Natural World by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas (Harper, $24.99, 9780061792106)
The Lady Queen: The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, and Sicily by Nancy Goldstone (Walker & Company, $27, 9780802716705)
Master of Shadows: The Secret Diplomatic Career of the Painter Peter Paul Rubens
by Mark Lamster (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, $29.95, 9780385523790)
The Mom & Pop Store: How the Unsung Heroes of the American Economy Are Surviving and Thriving by Robert Spector (Walker and Company, $26, 9780802716057)


A Drunkard's Path: A Someday Quilts Mystery by Clare O'Donohue (Plume, $13 paper, 9780452295582)
The Fury by Jason Pinter (Mira, $7.99 paper, 9780778326274)
Rough Country: A Virgil Flowers Novel by John Sandford (Putnam, $26.95, 9780399155987)