It’s fall, the publishing industry is back in full swing, and that means there are plenty of great new books to choose from. Let’s see. . .
Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the book launch for American Emperor: Aaron Burr’s Challenge to Jefferson’s America, by my colleague David O. Stewart. Stewart views Burr’s tale as both an adventure story and a political/legal thriller, and why not? Imagine a novel in which a sitting Vice President is charged for murder in two states, plans an elaborate military coup to overthrow the U.S. government (and have himself installed as the head of the new upstart government installed in its place), is indicted for treason, and is put on trial — and acquitted! — before the Chief Justice of the United States. A tale too unbelievable to be true? You bet — and yet it is. Stewart’s book is available now—and getting spectacular reviews—so go get it (and look for a cameo appearance by Washington Irving, who made sure he had a good seat in the courthouse every day of Burr’s trial in Richmond).
The book currently sitting on my nightstand is Walter Issacson’s biography Steve Jobs, which is already kicking ass and taking names on numerous bestseller lists. Those of us who were keeping tabs on Issacson’s book for the past year (and who rolled our eyes when it was rumored, probably falsely, that the book was going to called either The Book of Jobs or iJobs) watched with interest as it was updated and revised after the manuscript was already completed to reflect Jobs’s resignation from Apple due to health reasons — and then revised again immediately following his death. That gives Issacson’s book the wonderful weight of immediacy—though it’s not like most us weren’t chomping at the bit to get our hands on this one anyway.
Coming up next week is the long-awaited And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life by my pal (and fellow BIO member) Charles J. Shields, who pulls back the curtain on the enigmatic writer whose Slaughterhouse Five has been picked up by countless high school students who thought they were reading a horror novel. Ahem.
I’m anxious to get my mitts on this one as well, though I’ll admit to having some inside information: namely, I know how hard Shields worked not only on the book itself, but on getting Vonnegut to allow him to write the story in the first place. You can read that story and more over on Shields’ way-cool blog Writing Kurt Vonnegut, where you’ll learn all about his adventures as Vonnegut’s biographer — as well as beer, kids’ TV, and writing in general. Go. Now.
Over the past decade or so, I’ve largely given up fiction—but I’m still a sucker for Stephen King (yeah, guh head, make the face!) and I’ve gotta admit to being psyched for his newest, the massive, 960-page 11/22/63: A Novel. I had to fling aside the review in today’s Washington Post, which seemed too eager to commit the major foul of Giving Too Much Away.
And finally, I just read this afternoon that the fourth — but not yet final! — book in Robert A. Caro’s biography of Lyndon Johnson comes out next May.
What are you looking forward to reading this fall? You don’t have to post it here, just talk amongst yuhselves.
You were at David’s book launch? How come I didn’t see you there?
Well, thanks for the shout out about the Vonnegut book, buddy. Believe me, I’m looking forward to the publication of it, too!
Charles J. Shields
Were you at P&P? Or at Garrett Park? I didn’t make the P&P appearance, but made it to Garrett Park just in time to hear David speak….