books you may have missed

Books You May Have Missed Last Summer

In Books, Magazine by Shoshana AkabasLeave a Comment

A Hologram for the King

by Dave Eggers

328 pages. McSweeney’s.

You may have missed Eggers’ dazzling new book, which hit shelves June 19th, since almost everything about this book was kept under wraps until the release date. This National Book Award nominee is Eggers at his best, filled with outrageous situations and quirky characters. One such character is the lonely, paranoid, optimistic protagonist, Alan Clay, a struggling working-class American who travels to Saudi Arabia to make a business pitch to the elusive King Abdullah. Clay hopes for a payout that will get him out of debt and cover his daughter’s college tuition. Beneath the witty dialogue and amusing mishaps lurk deeper themes of cross-cultural understanding, redemption, and desperation that keep this otherwise unbelievable story grounded in reality. Hologram, much like Eggers’ second book, You Shall Know Our Velocity, embarks on an adventurous (if not haphazard) trip around the world and invites the reader along.

 

The Age of Miracles

by Karen Thompson Walker

288 pages. Random House.

The earth’s rotation is slowing, but the life of Julia, an eleven-year-old living in suburban California, rages on. As the light hours begin to drag on for impossibly long periods of time, followed by ever-lengthening nights, Julia watches her parents and the rest of the world deal with the consequences: food shortages, illnesses related to the gravity shift, dead birds falling from the sky, and the persecuted group of people who have chosen to go off the 24-hour clock system and live on “real time,” even when that means staying awake for 42 hours of daylight. Once Thompson Walker gets rolling, the clarity of the writing and images is masterful, but the most remarkable feat of this book is how the personal issues Julia faces as a middle-school student feel just as pressing to the reader as the global catastrophe.

 

One Last Thing Before I Go

by Jonathan Tropper

336 pages. Dutton.

Every bit as hilarious as his claim-to-fame, the tragicomedy This is Where I Leave You, Tropper’s latest novel tells the story of Drew Silver, a former drummer in a one-hit-wonder band. Silver’s ex-wife is getting remarried, and to make matters worse, his estranged eighteen-year-old-daughter has just confided in him, before her first year at Princeton University, that she’s pregnant. Overcome with despair (or apathy) Silver refuses the necessary surgery for a heart condition that will kill him if left untreated. Tropper’s other novels have been about men attempting to fix the mess they have made of their lives. For Silver, however, it is too late to make things right – he can’t save his marriage, and he can’t get back all the years of his daughter’s childhood that he missed. But does this mean he is beyond saving? Prepare to laugh/cry your way through this story of an unconventional redemption.

 

The Dog Stars

by Peter Heller

336 pages. Knopf.

The premise of Heller’s debut novel may appear to be a hackneyed plot, but from the first page, The Dog Stars establishes itself as no ordinary post-apocalyptic novel. Set in the near future, nine years after a disease has wiped out most life on Earth, this story has relatively few characters, which proves not to be a problem—the protagonist’s stream-of-consciousness narration is enough to fuel the book. Hig lives by an old airport with his dog, Jasper, and a man named Bangley who will shoot any intruders on sight. The Dog Stars is gritty but filled with unbelievable love and heartache. Hig’s internal monologue feels so true, it’s scary how much this post-apocalyptic novel reads like a memoir.

 

Shoshana AkabasBooks You May Have Missed Last Summer

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