WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. Summer brings thrillers, summer brings beach reading, summer brings James Patterson as does winter, spring, and fall.
But this summer also brings us writers who, generally speaking, don t write very much but are nevertheless publishing books in 2009, which is almost certainly a good thing for everybody.
Like everything else this year, the publishing business is down the figures range from 3 percent to 10 percent. The betting is that some of these books will help reverse that trend. Or maybe not big books still sell, but those without brand-name authors or topics are still suffering.
Either way, here s what s on tap for the lazy, hazy days of summer.
Top five for summer
1. Inherent Vice, by Thomas Pynchon. A riff on the private-eye genre, with added psychedelics, by the legendary author. No, he s not to everybody s taste, but he seems to be striking a lighter note than in Mason & Dixon, let alone Gravity s Rainbow. Even people who don t like him have to admit that Pynchon is one of the most influential writers of his time. Unlike David Foster Wallace, he s still alive; unlike J.D. Salinger, he s still writing. (Due in August)
2. In the Kitchen, by Monica Ali. The turbulent life in the kitchen of London s Imperial Hotel, overseen by a culinary version of Heathcliff. A great, long overdue idea for a novel that may just have perfect timing. Nothing says cocooning like cooking, and every restaurant kitchen is chock full of combustible personality types. Mix well and stir. (Out now)
3. Hound Dog, The Leiber & Stoller Autobiography, by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Great music and stories featuring Elvis and that flamboyant crook Colonel Tom Parker from the famous songwriting team. What s not to like? (Out now)
4. The Book of William, by Paul Collins. The story of Shakespeare s First Folio, from its publication to the remaining copies in our mercantile modern era, and how its value has spiraled upward. Discursive cultural history the way it should be written: with scholarship and a sense of humor and style. And great information. For instance: Only 750 copies of Shakespeare s First Folio were printed, and it took seven or eight years to sell those. On the other hand: a great long-term investment. (Due in July)
5. Lies My Mother Never Told Me, by Kaylie Jones. A brutally honest account of life with a famous novelist father (James Jones) and an out-of-control alcoholic mother. Not for the faint of heart, or those with sublimated mother issues. (Due in August)
South of Broad, by Pat Conroy. Twenty years in the life of a family in Charleston encompassing teenage suicide, AIDS and a lot of pages, by the author of The Prince of Tides. (Due in August)
Trouble, by Kate Christensen. The highly regarded author of The Great Man and Jeremy Thrane returns with a novel about two women friends, both facing crises, albeit of different kinds. (Out now)
The Anthologist, by Nicholson Baker. An unknown poet struggles to put an anthology together while sustaining an increasingly desperate stream-of-consciousness monologue. (Due in July)
Get Real, by Donald E. Westlake. The last novel by the esteemed author who died in 2008 features John Dortmunder rigging another heist, this one done right under the nose of a reality TV show. (Due in July)
That Old Cape Magic, by Richard Russo. The expert novelist of lower-middle class America returns with a book about his primary subjects marriage and family this time on the Atlantic coast. (Due in July)
The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters. The drafty corridors and ruined rooms of Hundreds Hall in dreary Warwickshire, England, are the perfect breeding ground for a good-old-fashioned haunting, and that s precisely what Waters provides in her atmospheric fifth novel. The Little Stranger is a satisfyingly retro ghost story with an extraordinarily sharp dose of psychological terror. (Out now)
Singing Was the Easy Part, by Vic Damone and David Chanoff. The autobiography of the singer and Palm Beach resident. (Out now)
American Radical: The Life and Times of I.F. Stone, by D.D. Guttenplan. A biography of the American journalist. (Out now)
The Venus Fixers, by Ilaria Dagnini Brey. The story of the Allied soldiers who did so much to save Italy s art treasures after World War II. (Due in August)
The Bolter, by Frances Osborne. The story of Idina Sackville, a member of one of England s finest families who went native in Kenya as a member of the infamous Happy Valley Set. (Due in July)
Kissinger: 1973, the Crucial Year, by Alistair Horne. Written with Kissinger s cooperation, the story of Vietnam s winding down and Cambodia s heating up. (Out now)
The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, by J. Randy Taraborrelli. A biography that spends little time on the actress movies, the better to focus on her shattered personality. (Due in August)