Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death By Katy Butler (September 10) An author’s first book is an unlikely pick for a preview list, but this one touches on a subject many of us will face: “end of life” care. The longtime journalist’s account of her father’s death had its roots in a New York Times Magazine story. It examines how medical science sometimes privileges life over quality of life, and imagines an alternative.
Bleeding Edge By Thomas Pynchon (September 17) The no-brainer pick for the fall. Pynchon is arguably our greatest living writer, author of V, Gravity’s Rainbow and Against the Day. Like 2009’s Inherent Vice, his latest is a detective-story-of-sorts, dealing with computers, the wake of 9/11 and whatever else Pynchon’s polymath mind comes across.
Levels of Life By Julian Barnes (September 24) Almost any new book from Barnes should be highly anticipated. Winner of Britain’s Man Booker Prize in 2011 for A Sense of an Ending, Barnes has had a long career plumbing the vagaries of romantic entanglements, starting with Metroland in 1980. Levels of Life continues working that rich vein.
Public Enemy: Confessions of an American Dissident By Bill Ayers (October 8) The co-founder of the Weather Underground picks up where he left off in Fugitive Days, his earlier account of life on the lam. Here he takes a look at his career as a (now emeritus) education professor while fending off unwelcome attention in the 2008 election campaign, when Sarah Palin accused him of being the “terrorist” mentor of Barack Obama.
The Men Who United the States: America’s Explorers, Inventors, Eccentrics and Mavericks, and the Creation of One Nation, Indivisible By Simon Winchester (October 15) The British-born geologist and author explored the United States and its history in 2006’s A Crack in the Edge of the World, which took the 1906 San Francisco earthquake as a starting point. The title of his latest, nearly book-length, speaks for itself. Expect dense research and witty, off-hand narration.