Fall Books: Dissident Gardens, Bleeding Edge & Salinger

As we wrap up the last weekend of summer, flip through these three fall books that were hand-picked (and then read!) by FLARE’s editorial staff.

Dissident Gardens: Jonathan Lethem (Doubleday, $32)
Dissident Gardens: Jonathan Lethem (Doubleday, $32)

Perennial New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Lethem was born into activism: The son of a political radical, he attended Vietnam rallies as a child and actively supported the Occupy movement. Life becomes art in his new novel, Dissident Gardens, which boasts an imposing, politically engaged brood. Matriarch Rose, the Communist “Red Queen of Sunnyside, Queens,” heads a family that includes her mercurial, anti-Establishment daughter Miriam and her strange grandson, Sergius. Lethem spans the fervent idealism of ’30s proletarianism, ’60s free love, ’70s civil rights and the Occupy movement of the aughts with a (fitting) handful of contradictions: sincere satire, tragic humour and bombastic honesty.  —Alicia Cox Thomson

Bleeding Edge: Thomas Pynchon (The Penguin Press, $29.50)

Thomas Pynchon’s trademark paranoia is perfect for a hardboiled thriller set in New York’s Silicon alley in spring 2001, right between the dot-com bust and 9/11. Maxine Tarnow, a heat-packing fraud investigator for the firm Tail ’Em and nail ’Em, is following the mystery money funnelling into and out of an internet mogul’s virtual empire. her sleuthing leads her from fictional organizations like the Disgruntled Employee Simulation Program for audit information and Review (or DESPaiR) to the all-too-real Deep Web, a vast secret internet that—unless you’re an arms dealer, killer-for-hire or alternative alternative artist—is best left hidden under the area rug of the internet you know. At 76, Pynchon is still writing novels that are deeply engaged with current events, and his vigorous prose speeds and bustles like Manhattan traffic, racing past September 11 into a new, even more frightening america. —Linda Besner

The Private War of J.D Salinger: David Shields and Shane Salerno (Simon & Schuster, $42.99)
The Private War of J.D Salinger: David Shields and Shane Salerno (Simon & Schuster, $42.99)

Released in tandem with the star-studded documentary Salinger, this oral biography of literature’s most famous recluse contains an astonishing trove of new information culled from 200 interviews conducted over five continents, including many previously unheard anecdotes. Diary entries and unpublished photographs from Salinger,along with details on those shadowy final few decades of his life, are sure to sate the curiosity of ever-rabid fans.  —Briony Smith

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