2018 is already shaping up to be an excellent year for nonfiction releases. I put together a two-part list (more coming on Friday) looking ahead to some books that I’m anticipating, including a few good ones I’ve already read advances of, so consider it an early heads up to be on the lookout for them!
Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House (Michael Wolff, January 9, Henry Holt & Co) Do I dare read this, or will it be total trash? The description, a list of scandalous-sounding questions, the answers to which are promised within, like What President Trump’s staff really thinks of him, makes me wonder. But I’m unable to resist this topic. Also because it asks What the Trump administration has in common with the movie The Producers and I need to know the answer to that question. Beyond the obvious, that is (Nazis, fakery).
A False Report: A True Story of Rape in America (T. Christian Miller & Ken Armstrong, February 6, Crown) I read an advance of this in a day, I couldn’t stop reading. Fascinating narrative true crime writing about a serial rapist and the women targeted. Some were initially not believed by police, leading to serious consequences, including legal ones for one woman. And of course, allowing for further victims. This thorough joint journalistic effort reveals alarming elements of the justice system, and how horrifying it is that women have to fight for their right to be believed. Especially powerful considering #metoo.
The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border
(Francisco Cantú, February 6, Riverhead Books, Penguin) I read an advance of this memoir of a US-Mexico border guard and it couldn’t be more topical. Cantú writes revealingly of his work experience and the individuals who played roles and affected him, both during his stint patrolling the border and after, including coworkers, illegal crossers, and undocumented immigrants. He shows them all for what they are – people with complicated motivations – instead of faceless figures. His own family history of immigration and how it’s shaped him and his mother is also a topic. Overall very compelling.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer (Michelle McNamara, February 27, Harper) I can’t wait for this one. The writer behind True Crime Diary, McNamara died unexpectedly in April 2016. She’d been working extensively on a book about the serial killer she’d dubbed the Golden State Killer (formerly the East Area Rapist), and it’s finally been posthumously finished. The case had haunted her since childhood, and apparently she’d made significant progress in uncovering an identity. She’s a great writer and her work on her blog was meticulously researched, especially on this case, so I’m really excited to read her account.
Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump (Michael Isikoff and David Corn, March 6, Twelve) I don’t know how different this can be from Collusion, also a fascinating(ly horrifying) read about the many links between Trump and co. with various Russian businesspeople and government figures. But I guess with such bizarre circumstances, like for instance Deutsche Bank extending Trump huge lines of credit despite his bad repayment status, something that would never be done for another client – there’s always something more to say.
I’m also eagerly anticipating Jeffrey Toobin’s book about the Mueller probe into Russia. It’s been announced, but I have no idea if it’ll appear in 2018. I don’t think so, but we can dream! I read his account of the Clinton sex scandals, A Vast Conspiracy, in 2017, and while the book itself was so-so for me, I appreciated his intense investigation and excellent narrative nonfiction writing style. I can only imagine what this story will be like in his hands.
Apocalypse Child: A Life in End Times (Flor Edwards, March 13, Turner) Edwards lived with her parents, twin sister and many other siblings in the disturbing Children of God cult, known as ‘The Family’. They bounced from place to place around the world within the cult, before finally settling back in the US. I read an advance and it’s excellent – Flor writes beautifully, recounting her childhood in the Family and the beginnings of her integration into life in America post-cult. It’s powerful and surprisingly lovely, thanks to her strong narrative voice and subtle but powerful writing.
The Bridesmaid’s Daughter: From Grace Kelly’s Wedding to a Women’s Shelter – Searching for the Truth About My Mother (Nyna Giles, March 27, St. Martin’s) Carolyn Scott was one of the first Ford models and a bridesmaid to Princess Grace, but she spent her later years in a homeless shelter. Her daughter, Nyna, was shocked to see the story of her mother living in the shelter blared from the cover of a supermarket tabloid. This memoir is about her childhood with her mother, confronting all that she didn’t actually know about her and attempting to address what went wrong in her mother’s life. It has a bit of a Grey Gardens sound to it.
See What Can Be Done: Essays, Criticism, and Commentary (Lorrie Moore, April 3, Knopf) I read and loved Lorrie Moore’s short story collection, Birds of America, a long time ago. She’s a beautiful, powerful writer with a sensitive understanding and analysis of American culture that I appreciate. This is her collection of essays, articles, reviews, commentary – all that good nonfiction stuff – collected together for the first time. Apparently she also wrote a bunch of TV reviews. I can’t wait. I read and loved an advance of Zadie Smith’s Feel Free (February 6, Penguin) another incredible fiction writer’s collected, assorted nonfiction writings over the years, so I’m really in the mood to read Moore’s as well.
The Apprentice Of Split Crow Lane: The Story of the Carr’s Hill Murder (Jane Housham, April 3, Quercus) A true crime (child murder, tread carefully) from the Victorian era, featuring the menace of a “Victorian madman”, and promising to explore the era’s psychiatry, its justice system, and the role of the media. Sounds a bit like Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane. I like the combination of a historic crime with good analysis of the era and its particularities, this sounds like it has potential.
Miss Ex-Yugoslavia: A Memoir (Sofija Stefanovic, April 17, Atria) I laughed and cried at this coming-of-age memoir of a perpetual fish-out-of-water, as Stefanovic immigrates to an Australian suburb with her family from her native Belgrade, Serbia, under the looming shadow of the Balkan war. They do some shuttling back and forth, further confusing her sense of place and belonging, and she enters adolescence while struggling to fit in either culture. I loved the writing and felt so connected to the story, despite not really having similar experiences. It’s a touching and endlessly amusing read.
Little Panic: Dispatches from an Anxious Life (Amanda Stern, May 15, Grand Central) I’ve loved certain memoirs addressing living with mental illness, like Andrew Solomon’s Noonday Demon and especially Sarah Hepola’s Blackout, both of which the publisher compares to this one. And I read a decent memoir on living with anxiety in 2016, but I don’t know how many more I want to read. Even reading others’ troubling experiences can be stressful. But this, from the publisher’s description, changed my mind about this one: “Growing up in the 1970s and 80s in New York, Amanda experiences the magic and madness of life through the filter of unrelenting panic…And when Etan Patz disappears down the block from their MacDougal Street home, she can’t help but believe that all her worst fears are about to come true.” They had me at Etan Patz. His story shadowed a certain generation and changed the way America dealt with missing children. I’m fascinated to read someone’s perception of it while being so close to its center, especially if it influenced her significantly.
So much good stuff, I’m excited just writing about these! What new releases are you looking forward to this year? Have you already heard of any of these titles, or interested in any of them? I’m curious about what others are anticipating!