Books: Writing and motherhood, noir, satire and more

Books Editor

About a week ago I was heading out of Alabama, hoping I’d get to Oxford Miss., before William Faulkner’s house Rowan Oak closed for the day. I did, but that’s a story for another day. I’m Books editor Carolyn Kellogg, and here is this week’s Books newsletter from the L.A. Times.


I’d been hoping that critic-at-large Adriana E. Ramírez might share some of her thoughts about becoming a new parent, and I’m so delighted that she did. With her son just about 4 months old, she shares what it’s been like for her trying to write, being a new mother, with lots of pumping and little sleep. She’s got a book due. Don’t miss her powerful essay.



“The Arid Sky” is the first book by Mexican author Emiliano Monge to be translated into English. A desert noir set in an unnamed dusty town where the bodies pile up, it has earned its comparisons to Cormac McCarthy, writes Mark Athitakis in our review, but it also owes a big debt to James Joyce.

From a different landscape comes David Joy’s latest noir, “The Line That Held Us.” Set in the same Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina that the author calls home, the thriller begins with an accidental killing that sets in motion a plot of revenge. Adam Morgan has our review.

Just in time to relieve professors preparing their fall syllabi comes Julie Schumacher’s academic satire “The Shakespeare Requirement.” The book revels in the absurdities of academia. Paul Gleason, an emerging critic (and university instructor), has our review.

Tyler Malone reviews Bragi Ólafsson’s “Narrator,” a darkly comedic tale of a man trailing his nemesis, translated from the Icelandic.

And R.O. Kwon’s novel “The Incendiaries” is sensational, writes Ilana Masad in our review.


Kwon enters our fiction bestseller list this week with “The Incendiaries,” placing at No. 7. The No. 1 bestseller in fiction is Ottessa Moshfegh’s “My Year of Rest and Relaxation.”

Now in its 10th week on the list, “Calypso” by David Sedaris remains the No. 1 bestseller in nonfiction. Entering the list for the first time is “You’re an Airplane,” the memoir by indie film star Parker Posey, at No. 5.

You can find all the books on our bestseller lists here.

Thanks for reading!