Fresh Complaint, Jeffrey Eugenides’s first short-fiction collection, reads like a career retrospective. Comprised of stories that ran in The New Yorker and elsewhere over the last 29 years (only two stories appear to have been written for the collection), the book showcases the obsessions and hallmarks that have come to define Eugenides as a writer. We follow odd-ducks, middle-aged failures, and bourgeois literary types as they trek off to India, quest for a sense of fulfillment, sacrifice their ambition, and generally struggle to be happy.
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado: “Blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.”
A Field Guide to the North American Family by Garth Risk Hallberg: “For years, the Hungates and the Harrisons have coexisted peacefully in the same Long Island neighborhood, enjoying the pleasures and weathering the pitfalls of their suburban habitat. But when the patriarch of one family dies unexpectedly, the survivors face a stark imperative: adapt or face extinction.”
The Future Is History by Masha Gessen: “Putin’s bestselling biographer reveals how, in the space of a generation, Russia surrendered to a more virulent and invincible new strain of autocracy.”
Also this month: We’ll review new books from Jeffrey Eugenides and Lindsay Hunter, publish Rick Moody’s foreword to Charlatan by Cris Mazza, and get nerdy about disaster movies with Ashley Wells.