Super Sad True Love Story
by Gary Shteyngart
The surprising and brilliant third novel from Russian-American satirist Shteyngart is actually two love stories — and while they're both, as promised, supersad, they're also incredibly (but very darkly) funny. The first love story chronicles the affair between Lenny Abramov, a shlubby but large-hearted salesman, and Eunice Park, 15 years his junior, a confused, shopping-obsessed daughter of Korean immigrants. Adding to the strain is the fact that America has become a financially strapped police state now all but owned by China, and the poor and disenfranchised are threatening to revolt. And that's the second love story. Shteyngart writes with an obvious affection for America — at its most chilling, Super Sad True Love Story comes across as a cri de coeur from an author who underscores his fear for his country with a disarming and absurd sense of humor.
352 pages, $15, Random House Trade Paperbacks
by Bret Easton Ellis
Thanks to his debut novel, Less Than Zero, Bret Easton Ellis became one of the literary brand names of the 1980s. He's just written a quarter-century-later sequel called Imperial Bedrooms, which picks up 25 years later, with the same cast of characters. The drugs are still there, the violence and sex are still there, and some of these characters who were pretty nasty in the first go-round are even worse this time around.
192 pages, $14.95, Vintage Books
by Keith Richards
Rock 'n' roll icon Keith Richards opens his memoir with a drug bust, but ultimately the book isn't about partying like a rock star so much as working like one. The musical obsessions that have compelled him to keep playing for more than 50 years seem to get more ink, in the end, than his dish about lovers, heroin or his complicated relationship with Mick Jagger. Relentless, impassioned and oddly humble, Richards isn't unconscious in the least — though at times, he's awesomely unreflective. His homes and hotel rooms seem to catch fire with alarming frequency. He sleeps with a loaded gun under his pillow and brings his 7-year-old son on tour as his handler: All of this is mentioned without comment. But Richards tells his epic, rock 'n' roll life like it is — with salt and candor, and no apologies.
376 pages, $16.99, Back Bay Books
How Did You Get This Number?
by Sloane Crosley
Humorous personal essays, spiked with sparkling observations and mordant opinions and served up in carefully calibrated cocktails of self-absorption and self-deprecation, require a steady hand. It's the rare writer — David Sedaris, Nora Ephron — who gets the mix just right. Two years after her success with I Was Told There'd Be Cake, Sloane Crosley's nine new essays in How Did You Get This Number prove she's on her way to joining their witty company. In Number, she has crossed the great divide past 30 but finds herself a stranger in various strange lands, groping for her physical bearings in Lisbon, Paris and Alaska, and her emotional bearings in New York, while dealing with a kleptomaniac roommate and a two-timing boyfriend. None of this is uncharted territory, but Crosley refreshes familiar rites of passage with a keen sense of the absurd and indelible images.
288 pages, $15, Riverhead Books
Growing Up Laughing
by Marlo Thomas
A lot of the folks who made people laugh when they were on Ed Sullivan or The Tonight Show — like George Burns, Bob Hope, Sid Caesar, Bob Newhart — all sat around Marlo Thomas' family dining table, telling stories late into the night with her comedian father. Now, Thomas has written a memoir about the sound and spirit that have been so formative in her life and the lives of others. She talks about — and to — some of the biggest names in American comedy, including Tina Fey, Jon Stewart, Chris Rock, Whoopi Goldberg and Don Rickles. "I remember when I was teenager, I'd be out on a date but I'd look at my watch and I'd think, 'I better get home because the comics will be in the living room smoking cigars and drinking brandy and just screaming laughing.' It was just delightful," Thomas tells Scott Simon.