Tuesday New Release Day: Starring Millet, Cain, Orner, and More

October 11, 2022 | 11 books mentioned 5 min read

Here’s a quick look at some notable books—new titles from Lydia MilletAmina CainPeter Orner, and more—that are publishing this week.

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Dinosaurs by Lydia Millet

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Dinosaurs: “Millet returns with a brilliant story of survival, one subtler and more effective than the NBA-shortlisted A Children’s Bible (2020). Gil, the decent and well-meaning 40-something protagonist, leaves Manhattan for Phoenix, Ariz., where he moves into a ‘castle’ next to a glass house. The neighbors are a family of four, and Gil, still bruised from a breakup three years earlier and ever uncertain how to find his footing after he inherited his family’s fortune at 18, eventually lets his guard down and becomes friendly with the family next door. They are Arlis, a beautiful psychotherapist; her handsome husband, Ted; Clem, 14, sullen and smart; and the sweet and martial arts–obsessed Tom, 10. There are occasional whiskeyed bro-outs with Ted (‘I could ask to borrow a tool,’ Ted says to break the ice on his first social call), and Clem seems to appreciate Gil for keeping Tom out of her hair with baseball and other sports, but Gil also becomes close with Arlis in a way that feels symptomatic of a problem in her marriage. A series of little interventions on Gil’s part ratchets up the tension—there’s a coach at Tom’s dojo with a swastika tattoo; a bully on Tom’s bus; and someone illegally shooting birds, whom Gil tracks with night vision goggles. Millet bakes a sense of foreboding into the atmosphere, making the scenes especially fraught. Her character work—notably of the men—is precise and stunning, as she locates their foibles and virtues, and injects a surprisingly moving dose of optimism into Gil and the married couple as they try to endure. This wonderful and dynamic writer is at the top of her game.”

A Horse at Night by Amina Cain

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about A Horse at Night: “Novelist Cain (Indelicacy) offers a rewarding collection of literary musings, combining personal reflections, criticism, and thoughts on the act of writing. Cain writes that ‘interiority is one of my favorite things to read in fiction—to abide in a narrator’s mind if that narrator, that mind, compels me—and when you read a diary you have that, ten fold.’ Indeed, readers will enjoy abiding in Cain’s mind as she moves gracefully from topics as disparate as solitude (‘it’s hard for us to see our own selves if we’re not ever alone’), darkness (‘maybe we get closer to something in the dark, or maybe it’s the opposite’), pets (‘We are both neurotic,’ she writes of her cat, Trout), and art (‘How strange and sometimes demonic the faces of babies and children in early portrait paintings’). Books, films, and other artworks serve as signposts along the way—reflections on the work of Virginia Woolf, Italo Calvino, and Elena Ferrante appear frequently, plus she considers paintings by Paul Delvaux and Marie NDiaye. Readers will relish following Cain’s winding prose and carefully considered conclusions. Fans of her work—and of literary criticism more generally—won’t want to miss this.”

Before All the World by Moriel Rothman-Zecher

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Before All the World: “Rothman-Zecher (Sadness Is a White Bird) delivers a rich and engrossing narrative of two Jewish immigrants in the U.S. and a Black writer who translates their story from the Yiddish. After a massacre at the fictional Zatelsk shtetl during the anti-Bolshevik pogroms in the early 1920s, survivor Leyb Mireles makes it to the U.S. as a young boy. Over a decade later, 19-year-old Leyb meets Charles Patterson, a 33-year-old communist ghostwriter, at a Philadelphia speakeasy catering to gay men. They strike up a friendship, but after Leyb misconstrues another man’s actions as sexual advances, the stranger beats him. Leyb is then arrested in a police raid and further assaulted. The violence triggers Leyb to remember the attack at Zatelsk, and after his release he tracks down Charles and the two men become close. Meanwhile, Gittl Khayeles, 33, another survivor who rescued Leyb from the massacre and who’s spent the intervening years in various Ukrainian and Belarusian cities, arrives in Philadelphia at the behest of a rich Jewish woman who summons Gittl after reading her poem about the pogrom in a literary journal. Gittl clings to an oft-repeated mantra, “all the world is not darkness,” while searching for Leyb. She eventually writes Leyb’s and her stories in a Yiddish manuscript, which Charles then crudely translates in 1935 (he calls the shtetl a ‘dustvillage’). As Rothman-Zecher gradually unfolds the remarkable stories of how Gittl reconnects with Leyb, and how Charles comes to possess Gittl’s manuscript, Charles offers droll commentary on his creative license as a translator and sustains an inventive blend of languages (‘Leyb inbreathed one breath through his nose, awaytook one glass from Charles’s hand, downdrank half its contents in one zhlyuk’). It’s a powerful story, brilliantly told.”

The Runaway Restaurant by Tessa Yang

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about The Runaway Restaurant: “Yang debuts with a promising speculative collection largely focused on the isolation of young and marginalized women. In the title story, a mother picks up a young hitchhiker while searching for the mythic roadside restaurant she believes houses her own runaway daughter. Along the way, she works through her anger and disappointment at her wife, her child, and herself over their ruptured family. ‘Biohack’ follows a high school student as she explores her need for love and her growing resemblance to her mother in a culture obsessed with aesthetic body modification. In ‘Haunting Grounds,’ a recently deceased Japanese American woman drifts through locations important to her past life while looking for a resting place and eventually wrangling with the ghost of a white man over the house her family lived in after surviving an internment camp. Though the stories tend to be a bit formulaic, Yang thoughtfully explores her characters’ needs and emotions, and she effectively conceives surprising and uncomfortable circumstances—up to and including an apocalyptic pandemic in ‘Your Anger Is a Tiny Bird’—to interrogate the strength of human relationships. Readers will be delighted by Yang’s creative examination of her characters’ psyches.”

Still No Word from You by Peter Orner

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Still No Word from You: “Pushcart Prize–winning fiction writer Orner (Maggie Brown & Others) brings his lyrical, mosaic style to the story of his own life in this gorgeous and contemplative memoir. Blending photographs, family lore, speculation, and literary musings, Orner’s nonlinear narrative weaves through elliptical reflections and faint memories from his 1970s childhood to the sorrows and delights of his adulthood. The poetry of Yusef Komunyakaa, for instance, becomes a salve in the aftermath of his stepfather’s death, loitering in Orner’s mind as he reflects on his mother’s grief: ‘We all go where love takes us, whether closer or farther.’ Elsewhere, seeking solace from some unnamed grievance, Orner spends a day marveling at the crowded prose of Bernadette Mayer’s Midwinter Day: ‘[Her thoughts] connect like they do in our actual brains. Meaning: they don’t.’ A similar stream of consciousness logic pervades his loosely connected vignettes, with certain recurring figures and dreamlike appearances of half-forgotten acquaintances. As Orner observes, ‘There’s no greater fantasy on the face of the earth than the linearity of time. Time only circles.’ Likewise, when his fragmented ruminations loop back to a powerful impression or image or favorite book, the effect is like turning over a prism in one’s hands, catching vivid flashes of light at each angle. Evocative and erudite, this meditation on impermanence and its ephemeral joys is a gem.”

Also out this week: Some of Them Will Carry Me by Giada Scodellaro.

is a staff writer for The Millions. He lives in New York.

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