Best New Fiction: March 2015


Best New Fiction is a monthly segment dedicated to highlighting the most interesting and noteworthy releases that will be published over the next thirty days.

Is it almost March yet? No seriously, don’t play games with me. There’s like 90 inches of snow piled up around me. I can barely get out of my house. Never mind me getting out. New things can’t get in! Things like BOOKS I want to read. Everything is cold. Every package I track has a red “delayed” status blinking next to its estimated delivery date. I can almost see the top of my mailbox from my front door if I jump high enough to see over the snow banks.

If you don’t see another post from soon, please send some form of help. If you can’t be bothered, or won’t for your own petty personal reasons, at least consider reading these five fine pieces of fabulous fiction in March. Regardless of what happens to me, you’ll enjoy’em for sure.

UnlovedThe Unloved
by Deborah Levy
Bloomsbury USA
March 3rd

Topless girls and cold beer, that’s what makes me happy.

Back in 2012 I wrote this super rambling piece about why Deborah Levy’s novel Swimming Home should win the Man Booker Prize. It didn’t of course, because seriously, who was going to stop the juggernaut that is Hillary Mantel, but I still believe that it should have. As a result Swimming Home remains near the tippy top of my list of favorite books from the last decade.

First published in the UK in 1994, The Unloved finally finds its way to US shores. Seriousy people, what the heck took so long? The story involves a group of tourists from the around the globe who have gathered together in a French chateau to enjoy Christmas together. All’s well until a woman is savagely murdered during, what else, a game of Murder in the Dark. What follows finds Levy unabashedly exploring themes of sex, loneliness, sex, violence, sex, and what happens when love is denied.

Exaggerated_MurderAn Exaggerated Murder
by Josh Cook
Melville House
March 3rd

There was a dead pig on his kitchen floor. Bleeding. A scrap of heavy fabric, with an embroidered message, was stitched to its flesh.

Go ahead and call me biased for putting Josh Cook’s delightful debut novel on this month’s list of must reads, but the Porter Square Books / Boston connection really has nothing to do with it. Okay, maybe it does just a little bit, but trust me, if the book was less than stellar you wouldn’t be reading about it here.

The thing I love most about this one, beyond the nods to Poe and Joyce, beyond the excellently titled chapters, beyond the hopelessness of the lead’s two sidekicks, is the tagline the publisher is using to sell it:

How can you solve a murder when the clues are so dumb?

Private investigator Trike Augustine might think the clues he’s been given are stupid, but trust me, Josh Cook’s novel is anything but.

Sex_Criminals_2Sex Criminals Volume 2: Two Worlds, One Cop
by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky
Image Comics
March 10th

Before we’re allowed near real live lady business we practice on them. Gross anatomy exams, IUD insertions, diaphragm fittings. Thing is, it’s all hypothetical, right? Because bodies are all different.

Those guys, those fucking guys! They’re baaaaaaaack! Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals: Volume One) return with volume two, collecting all of the stories from the second arc of the series in one handy dandy, easy to read, pleasurable to look at, 128 page volume. Did we mention that we named the first collection one of our Best Reads of 2014?  It’s true, we did, and it’s not just because we’re super perverted or something. We only ever look at/read the dialog bubbles in these things. Swear!

Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera / Translated from the Spanish by Lisa DillmanSigns Preceding the End of the World
by Yuri Herrera
Translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman
And Other Stories Publishing
March 10th

These things always happen to someone else, until they happen to you, she thought. She had a quick peek over the precipice, empathized with the poor soul on his way to hell. Happy trails, she said without irony, and then muttered Best be on with my errand.

In Herrera’s stunning Signs Preceding the End of the World, a young female named Makina finds herself fleeing Mexico. She’s being smuggled into the United States so that she can deliver a set of secret messages to her brother—one is from their mother, the other is from the Mexican underworld. It’s not the story itself, but Herrera’s brilliant telling of it, his ability to capture his subject’s thoughts, fears, and desires and so eloquently convey all that she’s experiencing, that will leave you spellbound, aching for more.

The_Last_Flight_Of_Poxl_WestThe Last Flight of Poxl West
by Daniel Torday
St. Martin’s Press
March 17th

As the autumn grew cold the Luftwaffe began a new campaign, dropping incendiary bombs, making it ever more important for us to reach bomb sites quickly, before the burning phosphorous gained purchase and set buildings—and bodies—ablaze.

Daniel Torday (The Sensualist) returns with a new novel about a fictional RAF bomber pilot named Poxl West and the teenage nephew, Elijah, who looks up to him as a hero. But when it comes to surviving the horrors of war, what does the word “hero” really mean? Bouncing between Poxl and Elijah’s vantage points, and enhanced by a book within the book, The Last Flight of Poxl West is a surprisingly twisty affair that questions just what our closest personal heroes mean to us, and what we in turn mean to them.

What books are you looking forward to reading this month? Do be sure to write us a charming story about them using the comment form below.

About Aaron Westerman

Aaron Westerman is the Manager of Web Architecture for a national human services organization. When he's not busy tearing sites apart and rebuilding them, he spends his ever shrinking free time trying to keep up with his twins, reading works of translated literature, and watching far too many Oscar nominated movies.