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Book Review - Summer reading list

Titles by Bret Easton Ellis, Jamie Iredell, Pearl Cleage, Sherman Alexie and more make the cut

The Ask by Sam Lipsyte

Lipsyte takes a deeply cynical and often hilarious look at great-recession-era America through the story of Milo, a desperate university fundraiser. Condescending millionaires, white-collar slackers and great sentences abound. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. $25. 296 pp.

BMF: The Rise and Fall of Big Meech and the Black Mafia Family by Mara Shalhoup

Creative Loafing editor-in-chief Shalhoup dug deep into Atlanta's massive cocaine syndicate, the Black Mafia Family, and came back with a gripping book, telling its story though artfully detailed scenes and perspectives. You'll find it hard to look at Buckhead, Big Meech or a line of cocaine the same ever again. St. Martin's Press. $24.99. 320 pp.

One More Theory About Happiness by Paul Guest

Local poet Paul Guest wrote a precise and fascinating memoir, beginning with the childhood bike ride that left him a quadriplegic. Those familiar with his poetry will recognize his blunt tone and insightful observations in a less-dense style. Ecco. $21.99. 202 pp.

Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky

A book-length interview with David Foster Wallace from 1996, conducted at the height of his fame resulting from the epic novel Infinite Jest. The now-deceased author ruminates in uncharacteristically open and relaxed terms about the events of his life and the aims of his writing as Lipsky records their conversations. An essential document of a powerful, insightful voice. Broadway. $16.99. 352 pp.

War Dances by Sherman Alexie

After publishing book after book for two decades now, Alexie somehow continues to improve upon his distinct interpretations of Native American identity and the writing life. This poetry and short story collection is a self-described "mix-tape" of styles and topics, ruminating on everything from death to pop music. Grove Press. $23. 256 pp.

Till You Hear From Me by Pearl Cleage

The age of Obama and YouTube politics collides with civil rights history in this new novel by Atlanta's Cleage. Set in the West End, a middle-aged campaign organizer gets bumped to the side by a younger generation while her father becomes ensnared in a Republican smear campaign. Random House. $25. 272 pp.

Tinkers by Paul Harding

The story behind Tinkers' rise from a rejected, nearly abandoned manuscript to winning the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for fiction is an undeniably charming fairy tale. The novel itself, an exquisite story told from the perspective of a dying grandfather, is even better. Bellevue Literary Press. $14.95. 191 pp.

Everything Here is the Best Thing Ever by Justin Taylor

The super-stoked title of Taylor's debut short story collection is a ruse. As it turns out, the young characters Taylor so artfully develops are in the midst of discovering that "everything here" is not so great, often flawed and occasionally headed for a disastrous end. Harper Perennial. $13.99. 208 pp.

Prose. Poems. A Novel. by Jamie Iredell

Atlanta's Iredell might be a poet who knows how to tell stories or a storyteller that speaks in poems. Either way, Prose. Poems. A Novel. is a debut collection of chapbooks that form the life story of a drunken, delinquent, occasionally drugged and frequently engrossing man. Fans of Denis Johnson should take note. Orange Alert Press. $14. 112 pp.

Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis

Contemporary fiction's most misunderstood satirist returns to the characters of his enfant terrible debut, Less Than Zero, 20 years later. Drawing from Raymond Chandler's noir and Paul Auster's meta-fictional detective conceits, Ellis paints Los Angeles in the deepest shades of black. Knopf. $24.95. 192 pp.

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