A list of newly released paperbacks.
by Doris Lessing (Perennial, $13.95). Lessing is in fine, rare form in this collection of novellas, one of which, “A Love Child” — about a young soldier on a grueling, wartime, troop-ship voyage halfway around the world — is as masterful as anything she’s ever done.
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“My Life as a Fake”
by Peter Carey (Vintage, $13.95). Based on a 1940s Australian literary hoax, this novel by the Booker Prize-winner is an “original, audacious, ironic and entertaining” tale of “grandiose illusions, come to grief,” Mary Ann Gwinn wrote.
by Toni Morrison (Vintage, $13). The latest novel by the Nobel laureate concerns a dispute over the estate left by a hotelier to the many women in his life. Barbara Lloyd McMichael found this “a wrenching exploration of the dark side of human nature.”
by Thomas Mallon (Harvest, $13). Mallon’s latest historical fiction is a Manhattan-set, Prohibition-era romp concerning two men’s magazines vying viciously and frenetically for more readers. The result: a hooch-swigging, cigar-chomping rat-a-tat-tap-dance of a novel.
by Tom Perrotta (St. Martin’s Griffin, $13.95). The satirist of high-school life (“Election”) turns his skeptical eye to young parenthood in the suburbs, in a novel that Mark Lindquist said “manages to satirize and sympathize at the same time.”
“The Last Crossing”
by Guy Vanderhaeghe (Grove, $14). The Canadian writer strikes a nice balance between epic sweep and personal drama in this novel, set in 1870s Montana, about a vanished English missionary and the tension-riddled search party that tries to track him down.
“Anything You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You”
by Laurie Lynn Drummond (Perennial, $12.95). Raw, revealing short stories by a former policewoman about the thoughts that go through cops’ minds while they’re on the job and the baggage/tensions they take home with them when their shifts are over.
“The Full Cupboard of Life”
by Alexander McCall Smith (Anchor, $11.95). Smith’s latest Mma Ramotswe adventure “dispenses completely with the pretext that these books are mysteries,” Adam Woog wrote. “The author’s deceptively simple prose, meanwhile, is as supple as ever.”
by Kate Walbert (Scribner, $12). National Book Award-nominated “novel in stories,” in which 1950s-era housewives recount their lives in a collective voice. Mary Brennan said the book read like “a fascinating handful of fragments.”
by Stephanie Cowell (Penguin, $14). A novel portraying the legendary composer as he tries to choose a wife from among four sisters. Misha Berson called the book “a grand little mini-opera, filled with twists of affection, musical politics, love, loss and chocolate.”
“The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla”
by Stephen King (Scribner, $18.95). Volume 5 of King’s gargantuan fantasy saga.
“The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History”
by John M. Barry (Penguin, $16). This history of the 1918-1919 flu epidemic was described by Mary Ann Gwinn as “magisterial … a multistranded narrative account of the deadliest pandemic the world has ever known, as well as a history of early-20th-century science and medicine, an analysis of that era’s social institutions and an explanation of why flu was, and remains, so dangerous.”
“Backstory: Inside the Business of News”
by Ken Auletta (Penguin, $15). The noted journalist shines an investigative light on the news business, in a book that Marc Ramirez said “has the power to translate corporate politics into fast-paced drama.” With two new chapters.
“The Radioactive Boy Scout: The Frightening True Story of a Whiz Kid and His Homemade Nuclear Reactor”
by Ken Silverstein (Villard, $13.95). The true story of a “nuclear incident” in suburban Michigan. Rebecca Taylor felt the book sometimes grew “bogged down with overly technical jargon,” but offered “an astonishing look at how a teenager built a nuclear reactor in his back yard.”
“The Working Poor: Invisible in America”
by David K. Shipler (Vintage, $14). The Pulitzer Prize-winning author tells some of the stories of the 35 million Americans who live below the poverty line, in a book that J. Patrick Coolican called “a welcome and important piece of journalism.” Includes new epilogue.
“Leonardo da Vinci”
by Sherwin B. Nuland (Penguin, $13). A brief life of the Italian Renaissance artist-scientist, by the author of “How We Die.” David B. Williams praised Nuland’s “enthusiasm and knowledge” of his subject.
“The Beast in the Garden: A Modern Parable of Man and Nature”
by David Baron (Norton, $14.95). An NPR reporter examines the comeback of mountain lions and other wild predators in heavily populated communities. Christopher Schwarzen found this “an interesting, educational read.”
“Confessions of a Tax Collector: One Man’s Tour of Duty Inside the IRS”
by Richard Yancey (Perennial, $13.95). With W2 forms on their way, now might be a good time to learn what tax misery looks like from the other end of the spectrum.
“Tilt: A Skewed History of the Tower of Pisa”
by Nicholas Shrady (Penguin, $14). The scoop on the tower that can’t stand up straight. Robin Updike called Shrady “an engaging writer” who packs “every piece of remotely interesting history and engineering trivia … into this concise narrative.”
“One Giant Leap: Neil Armstrong’s Stellar American Journey”
by Leon Wagener (Forge, $14.95). The astronaut’s boyhood, military career and lunar landing are examined in a book that “starkly renders the sweat and risk involved with space missions,” Andrew Hamlin wrote.
“Mutants: On Genetic Variety and the Human Body”
by Armand Marie Leroi (Penguin, $16). Covering everything from conjoined twins to hermaphroditism, this study offers “an excellent view of a subject at times disturbing, even horrifying; at other times oddly entrancing,” Nisi Shawl noted.
“Call of the Mall”
by Paco Underhill (Simon & Schuster, $14) and
“The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less”
by Barry Schwartz (Ecco, $13.95). Two books on the “geography of shopping” and the frustration of too much choice. Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett called Underhill’s book “downright entertaining.” Schwartz, she said, offers “a more sober view” of consumerist excess.
Compiled by Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times book critic, with contributions cited from staff or freelance critics for The Seattle Times.