Five Books to Read in November

A pair of juicy thrillers with colorful characters, a literary bucket list, and a volume examining the work and life of one of the world’s most inventive artists—these are a sampling of the books we review this month.

 

It should be no surprise that a newcomer to the best-seller list is Lethal White by Robert Galbraith. Mystery readers have gobbled up this fourth in the series featuring detective Cormorant Strike just as enthusiastically as younger readers embraced the Harry Potter books—Galbraith is the pseudonym for J.K. Rowling. But for me the most interesting aspect of this new, long (650 pages), complicated thriller with its big cast of colorful characters, murder, blackmail, and equine maltreatment, among other crimes, are the personal lives of Strike and his assistant, Robin Ellacott. –Sally Wendkos Olds

The latest in the “1,000…Before You Die” series is James Mustich’s massive and entertaining “1,000 Books to Read Before You Die.” From Edward Abbey to Carl Zuckmayer, the erudite author offers mini evaluations of titles from every corner of the world. Error: He spells the last name of Swede, protagonist of Philip Roth’s “American Pastoral,” Lvov instead of Levov. Missing: entries for Nobel laureate Mario Vargas-Llosa and American giant Don DeLillo. Still, it’s the perfect gift for a reader on your holiday list. –Grace Lichtenstein

 

Tangerine by Christine Mangan. Set in Tangiers in 1956, there’s nothing dated about the plot of this page-turning psychological thriller. The protagonist Alice is stuck in the wrong place, at the wrong time, in the wrong marriage. (Haven’t we all?) When her former college roommate Lucy shows up uninvited, we know there’s going to be trouble. We just don’t know how much. Both Alice and Lucy are unreliable narrators, feeding on competing versions of reality and deception. As one of the novel’s shadier characters says, “If you are looking for a place that makes sense, I feel I must provide this warning—you will be disappointed…This is Africa, after all.” —Stacia Friedman

Political madness, corporate greed, climate change, subway turmoil—all collude to create the harrowing backdrop in Deborah Eisenberg’s latest story collection, Your Duck is My Duck. The plots perplex, but readers are rewarded with exquisite, breathtaking prose. I love this book, even the way its relationships and mental states are presented via allusion and indirection. A pronouncement about the U.S.—“it’s finished there, isn’t it–really, truly finished”—is emailed by an ex-boyfriend in Barcelona, to a narrator taking time off in an unnamed spot in the tropics. The title references a riddle about a Zen master, his disciple and a duck, all stuck in a bottle. Its message—we’re in this together and must assist one another—is our only salvation. —Linda Dyett

In Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again, Whitney Museum curator Donna De Salvo examines the work and life of one of the world’s most inventive artists. With 450 images and eleven essays, this magnum opus offers a stunning retrospective, ranging from Warhol’s commercial illustrations to his break-through silk screens and explorations in paint and other media, including iconic portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Mao—anticipating, today’s digital landscape. Both book and the Whitney exhibition (opens Nov. 12), underscore Warhol’s continuing relevance and are, as museum director Adam D. Weinberg writes, “apropos in the age of Donald Trump, where celebrity outweighs experience and art and business are…hopelessly entangled.” –Suzanne Charlé

Andy Warhol Marilyn

Andy Warhol (1928–1987)
Top: Self-Portrait, 1964. Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen, 20 x 16 in. The Art Institute of Chicago;
gift of Edlis/Neeson Collection, 2015.126.

Above: Marilyn Diptych, 1962. Acrylic, silkscreen ink, and graphite on linen, two panels: 80 7/8 x 114 in. overall. Tate, London; purchase 1980.
© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York.

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