A list of newly released paperbacks.
“Bad Dirt: Wyoming Stories 2” by Annie Proulx (Scribner, $14). Proulx follows up her 1999 story collection “Close Range” with 11 new Wyoming-set tales, all guaranteed to leave you pleasurably dusted up.
“The Darling” by Russell Banks (HarperPerennial, $14.95). Banks’ latest novel, set in Liberia and the U.S. between 1975 and 1991, portrays a would-be revolutionary getting out of her depth. John Freeman found Banks’ heroine “as complex and flawed as someone out of Jane Austen.”
“The Love Wife” by Gish Jen (Vintage, $14). Jen’s third novel concerns a Chinese interloper who stirs up a mixed Chinese/white family. Wingate Packard called this “a giant American story with roots and branches in unexpected places.”
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“The Normals” by David Gilbert (Bloomsbury, $14.95) and “Scream Queens of the Dead Sea” by Gilad Elbom (Thunder’s Mouth, $14.95). Two energetic debut novels, featuring anti-heroes who spend quite a bit of time in psychiatric wards — as a pharmaceutical guinea pig in Gilbert’s case, and a troublemaking nurse in Elbom’s.
“A Bit on the Side” by William Trevor (Penguin, $14). A new story collection by the Anglo-Irish writer in which, Ellen Emry Heltzel remarked, “Trevor shows how expertly he can use the short story to contemplate some very big ideas.”
“The Double” by José Saramago, translated by Margaret Jull Costa (Harvest, $14). The Portuguese Nobel laureate spins a tale about a dispirited teacher who spies his double on a video one night — and decides to pursue him. Deloris Tarzan Ament noted, “Saramago’s exploration of mirrored reality is thought provoking.”
“Case Histories” by Kate Atkinson (Back Bay, $13.95). The British writer (“Behind the Scenes at the Art Museum”) links three tales of unsolved crimes in a novel that “reinvigorates the mystery/crime genre with an infusion of tragicomic humanity,” Misha Berson said.
“One-Way” and “Out of My Head” by Didier van Cauwelaert (Other Press, both $12.95). Two novels by the French Prix Goncourt-winner. “One-Way” concerns a Frenchman deported by the authorities to a nonexistent village in Morocco. In “Out of My Head,” the narrator wakes from a coma to find another man has taken his identity. Wingate Packard called van Cauwelaert “outrageously funny.”
“How We Are Hungry” by Dave Eggers (Vintage, $13). Fourteen short stories by the editor of McSweeney’s and the author of “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.”
“Citizen Girl” by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus (Washington Square, $14). The “Nanny Diaries” writing team whips up a tale about a bright young gal named “Girl” trying to make it in New York. Melinda Bargreen called this “a ripping yarn, full of great details.”
“Wonderdog” by Inman Majors (Harvest, $13). A former child-star, now a divorced Southern lawyer with no clients, is the narrator-hero here. Mary Brennan found this a “sometimes wildly funny stream-of-consciousness tale.”
“The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History” by John M. Barry (Penguin, $16). With the bird flu lurking on our horizon, readers may want to refer to this history of how the 1918 flu pandemic played out. Mary Ann Gwinn said this “magisterial” book is “one signal lesson in what happens when science, catastrophic illness and human nature collide.”
“William Clark and the Shaping of the American West” by Landon Y. Jones (Hill & Wang, $15). The author of “The Essential Lewis and Clark” addresses the whole of Clark’s life, including his post-expedition career as a negotiator of treaties that pushed Native American tribes toward extinction. Kevin J. Hamilton called this a thoughtful, yet “unflinching … portrait of a beloved American hero.”
“The Bird Man and the Lap Dancer: Close Encounters with Strangers” by Eric Hansen (Vintage, $13). Nine travel essays — some hilarious, some poignant — by the author of “Orchid Fever” and “Motoring with Mohammed.”
“The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason” by Sam Harris (Norton, $13.95). A book examining “our willingness to suspend reason in favor of religious beliefs — even when those beliefs inspire the worst of human atrocities.” Winner of the 2005 PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Nonfiction. With a new afterword by the author.
“The Stories of English” by David Crystal (Overlook, $15.95). A tour of our language, suggesting that its “richness, creativity, and diversity” stem from “the accents and dialects of nonstandard English users all over the world.”
“Rising Up and Rising Down: Some Thoughts on Violence, Freedom and Urgent Means” by William T. Vollmann (HarperPerennial, $16.95). A condensed version of the author’s seven-volume work of the same name. Nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award.
“My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who’s Been Everywhere” by Susan Orlean (Random House, $14.95). Profiles of people, places, tigers, whales and more, by the author of “The Orchard Thief.” Valerie Ryan called Orlean’s reportage “highly nuanced and idiosyncratic.” With three new essays.
“Poet of the Appetites: The Lives and Loves of M.F.K. Fisher” by Joan Reardon (North Point, $15). Biography of the food writer, known for her exquisite prose style. Winner of IACP Cuisinart Award for Literary Food Writing.
“On the Wing: To the Edge of the Earth with the Peregrine Falcon” by Alan Tennant (Anchor, $14.95). A natural-history writer on his experience tracking bird migrations. Irene Wanner admired “Tennant’s skillful, often lyrical, language.”
“Israel on the Appomattox: A Southern Experiment in Black Freedom from the 1790s Through the Civil War” by Melvin Patrick Ely (Vintage, $18). A portrait of the little-known Israel Hill community, founded in Virginia by Thomas Jefferson’s cousin Richard Randolph, in which whites and free blacks lived together. Winner of the 2005 Bancroft Prize.
“An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain” by Diane Ackerman (Scribner, $15). Ackerman (“A Natural History of the Senses”) muses on what goes on in our noggins. Adam Woog dubbed this “a dense book, in all the best ways — thick with provocative insights, data and ideas.”
Compiled by Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times book critic, with contributions cited from staff or freelance critics for The Seattle Times.