The June new releases stormed out of the gates, and the closing week is no different. Bookseller favorite, Ottessa Moshfegh returns with a literary who/what/when/wheredunnit, a pair of reads that sets you in the heart of Japan, and that saucy White House insider account you’ve been hearing about…read on for more.
Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh
Ottessa Moshfegh has haunted and delighted us in so many ways. We were unnerved by Eileen, shivered at the visions in Homesick for Another World, gasped alongside each other as we turned the last pages of My Year of Rest & Relaxation, and are more than ready to dive into the latest from a perennial bookseller favorite. Here’s what a few booksellers had to say about Death in Her Hands:
“This book is stellar, and its effect on me has far outlasted the duration of time spent reading it…it’s great to see Moshfegh moving into new territory while also delivering her customary sardonic, grotesque hilarity. Ottessa forever.”
— Mat C.
“‘Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn’t me. Here is her dead body.’ This note plunges the elderly Vesta, a woman living at civilization’s edge, on a madcap search for Magda’s killer. Undaunted by the visible lack of evidence, Vesta’s search takes her to the end of her sanity, forcing her to confront repressed demons and the memories of her now-deceased husband, as well as a bevy of shadowy figures out to foil her plans. With clues and evil-doers at every turn, the investigation becomes an all-consuming descent into a void of possibilities. In piecing together this narrative of brilliant violence and divine revelations Ottessa Moshfegh illustrates a startlingly firm understanding of the dark things that make us tick. Death in Her Hands is an immaculate example of a writer at her absolute best.”
— Uriel P.
“This book breathed such a disturbing haze of madness, it settled deep in my bones. When I was finished, I had no answers only a vague fugue of disquietude—and I was totally fine with it.”
— Lindsey M.
“A good time that keeps getting better — I cannot wait to read this one again. Death in Her Hands is Moshfegh’s entry into the “woman living alone loses grip on reality” genre, done with signature dark humor, precise language, and impeccable timing…I got spectacularly freaked, especially during the first half, but in that rare good-natured way. Moshfegh never fails to bring me joy.”
— Molly M.
Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory
A chance meeting with a handsome stranger turns into a whirlwind affair that gets everyone talking.
Dating is the last thing on Olivia Monroe’s mind when she moves to LA to start her own law firm. But when she meets a gorgeous man at a hotel bar and they spend the entire night flirting, she discovers too late that he is none other than hotshot junior senator Max Powell. Olivia has zero interest in dating a politician, but when a cake arrives at her office with the cutest message, she can’t resist—it is chocolate cake, after all.
Olivia is surprised to find that Max is sweet, funny, and noble—not just some privileged white politician she assumed him to be. Because of Max’s high-profile job, they start seeing each other secretly, which leads to clandestine dates and silly disguises. But when they finally go public, the intense media scrutiny means people are now digging up her rocky past and criticizing her job and even her suitability as a trophy girlfriend. Olivia knows what she has with Max is something special, but is it strong enough to survive the heat of the spotlight?
Love by Roddy Doyle
Two old friends reconnect in Dublin for a dramatic, revealing evening of drinking and storytelling in this winning new novel from the author of the Booker Prize winning Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
Davy and Joe were drinking pals back in their Dublin youth. Davy rarely sees Joe for a pint anymore—maybe one or two when Davy comes over from England to check on his elderly father. But tonight Davy’s father is dying in the hospice, and Joe has a secret that will lead the two on a bender back to the haunts of their youth.
Joe had left his wife and family a year earlier for another woman, Jessica. Davy knows her too, or should—she was the girl of their dreams four decades earlier, the girl with the cello in George’s pub. As Joe’s story unfolds across Dublin—pint after pint, pub after pub—so too do the memories of what eventually drove Davy from Ireland: the upheaval that Faye, his feisty, profane wife, would bring into his life; his father’s somber disapproval; the pained spaces left behind when a parent dies.
As much a hymn to the Dublin of old as a delightfully comic yet moving portrait of what it means to try to put into words the many forms that love can take, Love marks a triumphant new turn for Roddy Doyle.
Jesus and John Wayne by Kristin Kobes Du Mez
A scholar of American Christianity presents a seventy-five-year history of evangelicalism that identifies the forces that have turned Donald Trump into a hero of the Religious Right.
How did a libertine who lacks even the most basic knowledge of the Christian faith win 81 percent of the white evangelical vote in 2016? And why have white evangelicals become a presidential reprobate’s staunchest supporters? These are among the questions acclaimed historian Kristin Kobes Du Mez asks in Jesus and John Wayne, which delves beyond facile headlines to explain how white evangelicals have brought us to our fractured political moment. Challenging the commonly held assumption that the “moral majority” backed Donald Trump for purely pragmatic reasons, Du Mez reveals that Donald Trump in fact represents the fulfillment, rather than the betrayal, of white evangelicals’ most deeply held values.
Jesus and John Wayne is a sweeping account of the last seventy-five years of white evangelicalism, showing how American evangelicals have worked for decades to replace the Jesus of the Gospels with an idol of rugged masculinity and Christian nationalism, or in the words of one modern chaplain, with “a spiritual badass.” As Du Mez explains, the key to understanding this transformation is to recognize the role of culture in modern American evangelicalism. Many of today’s evangelicals may not be theologically astute, but they know their VeggieTales, they’ve read John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart, and they learned about purity before they learned about sex—and they have a silver ring to prove it. Evangelical books, films, music, clothing, and merchandise shape the beliefs of millions. And evangelical popular culture is teeming with muscular heroes—mythical warriors and rugged soldiers, men like Oliver North, Ronald Reagan, Mel Gibson, and the Duck Dynasty clan, who assert white masculine power in defense of “Christian America.” Chief among these evangelical legends is John Wayne, an icon of a lost time when men were uncowed by political correctness, unafraid to tell it like it was, and did what needed to be done.
Trump, in other words, is hardly the first flashy celebrity to capture evangelicals’ hearts and minds, nor is he the first strongman to promise evangelicals protection and power. Indeed, the values and viewpoints at the heart of white evangelicalism today—patriarchy, authoritarian rule, aggressive foreign policy, fear of Islam, ambivalence toward #MeToo, and opposition to Black Lives Matter and the LGBTQ community—are likely to persist long after Trump leaves office.
A much-needed reexamination, Jesus and John Wayne explains why evangelicals have rallied behind the least-Christian president in American history and how they have transformed their faith in the process, with enduring consequences for all of us.
Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri
A surreal, devastating story of a homeless ghost who haunts one of Tokyo’s busiest train stations.
Kazu is dead. Born in Fukushima in 1933, the same year as the Japanese Emperor, his life is tied by a series of coincidences to the Imperial family and has been shaped at every turn by modern Japanese history. But his life story is also marked by bad luck, and now, in death, he is unable to rest, doomed to haunt the park near Ueno Station in Tokyo.
Kazu’s life in the city began and ended in that park; he arrived there to work as a laborer in the preparations for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and ended his days living in the vast homeless village in the park, traumatized by the destruction of the 2011 tsunami and shattered by the announcement of the 2020 Olympics.
Through Kazu’s eyes, we see daily life in Tokyo buzz around him and learn the intimate details of his personal story, how loss and society’s inequalities and constrictions spiraled towards this ghostly fate, with moments of beauty and grace just out of reach. A powerful masterwork from one of Japan’s most brilliant outsider writers, Tokyo Ueno Station is a book for our times and a look into a marginalized existence in a shiny global megapolis.
Pure Invention by Matt Alt
The untold story of how Japan became a cultural superpower through the fantastic inventions that captured—and transformed—the world’s imagination.
The Walkman. Karaoke. Pikachu. Pac-Man. Akira. Emoji. We’ve all fallen in love with one or another of Japan’s pop-culture creations, from the techy to the wild to the super-kawaii. But as Japanese media veteran Matt Alt proves in this brilliant investigation of Tokyo’s pop-fantasy complex, we don’t know the half of it. Japan’s toys, gadgets, and fantasy worlds didn’t merely entertain. They profoundly transformed the way we live.
In the 1970s and ’80s, Japan seemed to exist in some near future, soaring on the superior technology of Sony and Toyota while the West struggled to catch up. Then a catastrophic 1990 stock-market crash ushered in the “lost decades” of deep recession and social dysfunction. The end of the boom times should have plunged Japan into irrelevance, but that’s precisely when its cultural clout soared—when, once again, Japan got to the future a little ahead of the rest of us.
Hello Kitty, the Nintendo Entertainment System, and entertainment empires like Pokémon and Dragon Ball Z were more than marketing hits. Artfully packaged, dangerously cute, and dizzyingly fun, these products made Japan the forge of the world’s fantasies, and gave us new tools for coping with trying times. They also transformed us as we consumed them—connecting as well as isolating us in new ways, opening vistas of imagination and pathways to revolution. Through the stories of an indelible group of artists, geniuses, and oddballs, Pure Invention reveals how Japanese ingenuity remade global culture and may have created modern life as we know it. It’s Japan’s world; we’re just gaming, texting, singing, and dreaming in it.
The Room Where It Happened by John Bolton
As President Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton spent many of his 453 days in the room where it happened, and the facts speak for themselves.
The result is a White House memoir that is the most comprehensive and substantial account of the Trump Administration, and one of the few to date by a top-level official. With almost daily access to the President, John Bolton has produced a precise rendering of his days in and around the Oval Office. What Bolton saw astonished him: a President for whom getting reelected was the only thing that mattered, even if it meant endangering or weakening the nation. “I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by reelection calculations,” he writes. In fact, he argues that the House committed impeachment malpractice by keeping their prosecution focused narrowly on Ukraine when Trump’s Ukraine-like transgressions existed across the full range of his foreign policy—and Bolton documents exactly what those were, and attempts by him and others in the Administration to raise alarms about them.
He shows a President addicted to chaos, who embraced our enemies and spurned our friends, and was deeply suspicious of his own government. In Bolton’s telling, all this helped put Trump on the bizarre road to impeachment. “The differences between this presidency and previous ones I had served were stunning,” writes Bolton, who worked for Reagan, Bush 41, and Bush 43. He discovered a President who thought foreign policy is like closing a real estate deal—about personal relationships, made-for-TV showmanship, and advancing his own interests. As a result, the US lost an opportunity to confront its deepening threats, and in cases like China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea ended up in a more vulnerable place.
Bolton’s account starts with his long march to the West Wing as Trump and others woo him for the National Security job. The minute he lands, he has to deal with Syria’s chemical attack on the city of Douma, and the crises after that never stop. As he writes in the opening pages, “If you don’t like turmoil, uncertainty, and risk—all the while being constantly overwhelmed with information, decisions to be made, and sheer amount of work—and enlivened by international and domestic personality and ego conflicts beyond description, try something else.”
The turmoil, conflicts, and egos are all there—from the upheaval in Venezuela, to the erratic and manipulative moves of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, to the showdowns at the G7 summits, the calculated warmongering by Iran, the crazy plan to bring the Taliban to Camp David, and the placating of an authoritarian China that ultimately exposed the world to its lethal lies. But this seasoned public servant also has a great eye for the Washington inside game, and his story is full of wit and wry humor about how he saw it played.
The Last Flight by Julie Clark
Two women. Two flights. One last chance to disappear.
You might know a husband like Claire’s. Ambitious, admired, with deep pockets. But behind closed doors, this husband has a temper that burns as bright as his promising political career, and he’s not above using his staff to track Claire’s every move. What he doesn’t know is that Claire has worked for months on a plan to vanish.
A chance meeting in an airport bar brings her together with a woman who seems equally desperate to flee her life. Together they make a last-minute decision to switch tickets—Claire taking Eva’s flight to Oakland, and Eva traveling to Puerto Rico as Claire. But when the Puerto Rico plane crashes, Claire’s options narrow to one impossible choice: assume Eva’s identity, and along with it, the secrets Eva fought so hard to keep hidden.
For fans of Lisa Jewell and Liv Constantine, a novel that asks the question: with your back against a wall, would you be brave enough to take the chance you’re given?
Now In Paperback
Chaos by Tom O’Neill
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These titles and more are available to order from BookPeople today.