Two Fiction Debuts to Watch

It’s not easy for a debut novel to pick up buzz amid the cacophony of the fall season, but Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has done a good job of marshalling its enthusiasm for The Wake of Forgiveness by Bruce Machart.

This tale about the antipathy between a father and his fourth son, whose birth in 1895 Texas precipitated his mother’s death, is an Indie Next pick for October.  The author was also a featured speaker at the Mountains and Plains trade show. And the Wall St. Journal recently ran an excerpt.

Library Journal says this “intense, fast-paced debut novel is hard to put down. Machart’s hard-hitting style is sure to capture fans of Cormac McCarthy and Jim Harrison.”

Kirkus is slightly less enthusiastic, however, declaring that “the novel splinters into a variety of episodes, all of them rendered with flair. Though he navigates erratically within it, Machart has created a dense, vibrant world.”

On Goodreads, 56 reviewers gave it an average of 3.57 out of 5 stars.

Libraries we checked have modest holds on modest orders, but this looks like one to watch.

It arrives with an atmospheric book trailer.

The Wake of Forgiveness
Bruce Machart
Retail Price: $26.00
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade – (2010-10-21)
ISBN / EAN: 0151014434 / 9780151014439

Large Type; Thorndike; 2/16/2011; 9781410435248; $30.99

Actor James Franco also makes his debut next week with a story collection, Palo Alto, about an interconnected group of teenagers in the same zip code. The media has been making a big deal of it — though not all reviews are positive.

The hoopla began last March, when a story was excerpted in Esquire. An interview and excerpt ran on NPR last week. And this week, Franco is interviewed in the book section of People magazine (not online).

But the Los Angeles Times calls it “the work of an ambitious young man who clearly loves to read, who has a good eye for detail but who has spent way too much time on style and virtually none on substance.”

Half the libraries we checked did not have the book on order, while the other half had modest orders in line with modest reserves.

Palo Alto: Stories
James Franco
Retail Price: $24.00
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Scribner – (2010-10-19)
ISBN / EAN: 1439163146 / 9781439163146

Usual Suspects On Sale Next Week

Worth Dying For by Lee Child (Delacorte) is the 15th novel starring ex-military cop Jack Reacher, which his publisher working to bring to a new level of sales. Child will appear on CBS Sunday Morning on Oct. 24 or Oct. 31.

Chasing the Night by Iris Johansen (St. Martin’s) follows a forensic sculptor’s attempts to help a CIA agent find her missing daughter.

The Templar Salvation by Raymond Khoury (Dutton) chronicles the quest over the centuries for a controversial document from early Christianity. Booklist calls it a “well constructed blend of historical mystery and present-day thriller. [Khoury] doesn’t break any new ground, but theres no denying he’s got the storytelling chops and the imagination to spin an exciting yarn.”

In the Company of Others by Jan Karon is the second installment in her Father Tim series, in which a long-awaited Irish vacation turns into a busman’s holiday. Kirkus says, “long journal entries do little to advance the present story but are sometimes a welcome diversion from it. Readers who are not devoted followers of Karon may be impatient with the glacial pace of this installment.”

Young Adult

Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick is the sequel to the author’s young adult breakout, Hush Hush.

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