William Boyd’s Love Is Blind (Knopf, $26.95) is the story of Brodie Moncur, a piano tuner born with perfect pitch. It is his perfect pitch that takes him from a banal village in Scotland to the cosmopolitan cities of Edinburgh, Paris, and St. Petersburg. It is in these cities that he meets John Kilbarron, “the Irish Liszt,” and his romantic companion, Lika Blum. It is within this triangle of different people that conflicts of love, duplicity, and revenge fester. It is an age-old story told with Boyd’s clear and elegant style of writing. Readers who have missed Boyd’s beautifully-written narratives about a hero’s journey through a particular time period will rejoice at Boyd’s return after a three-year silence. Readers who have not yet read him but still enjoy good historical fiction will find Love Is Blind as a good entry point to Boyd’s marvelous oeuvre.
Fans of Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn and smart detective fiction in general should rejoice because, after almost two decades, he returns to the genre that netted him the NBCC Award for Fiction in 1999. In the opening pages of his new book, The Feral Detective (Ecco, $26.99), Phoebe Siegler walks into the decrepit office of Charles Heist, the titular feral detective. She seeks Heist’s services in helping her find the daughter of her friend who is now believed to be lost in the wilderness of Southern California. With this familiar setup, Lethem then thrusts us into the forgotten population of California’s vagrant communities, the locus of Phoebe and Charles’s search. Using the tropes of the mystery novel, Lethem gives us an empathic novel about the scores of people who live alienated from the mainstream of the country they are born in, an alienation that, as the novel suggests, has become more apparent in today’s sociopolitical climate.
True to the book's title, RO Kwon has crafted a fiery debut that announces her arrival as a new singular voice in American literature. Her first novel, told through three different perspectives, is an interrogation on the nature of love, faith, and identity. The book reminded me of Graham Greene's The End of the Affair as both books tackle a character's investigation into the driving force behind the faith of a beloved in order to shed light into the mystery of why the beloved did the things that she did in the course of the novel. Compelling narrative matched with an eloquent writing style, you can't go wrong with that.