You Remind Me of Me, by Dan Chaon (Ballantine). National Book Award finalist Chaon (nominated for his 2001 short-story collection, Among the Missing) tests his chops as a novelist in this poignant, grim tale of four young outsiders, from the ’60s to the present, who reach bleak turning points in their lives, bringing them right into the chill grip of fate’s mysterious hands.
Grosse Pointe Girl, by Sarah Grace McCandless (Simon & Schuster). More tales of suburban alienation, BJs and peach-flavored lip gloss, in this graphic novel — a bildungsroman, really — set in 1980s Michigan.
Faithful, by Davitt Sigerson (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday). Back when he was a music-biz bigwig, before he was a much-publicized author, Davitt Sigerson was coaxing Susana Hoffs to sing naked for him while he was producing the Bangles and writing songs with KISS — what better fodder for his sex-charged novel, in which the notion of an “Eternal Flame” is invoked once again.
Sock, by Penn Jillette (St. Martin’s Griffin). What would a sock-monkey cop say if it could talk? Dirty, dirty stuff, according to Ray Teller’s other half, first-time author Penn Jillette (and we always thought that was his last name!).
I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason, by Susan Kandel (William Morrow). Kandel (who was an L.A. Times art critic for five years, as well as editor of the erudite arttext) has crafted a self-aware story steeped in a Chandlerian vision of Los Angeles — and, with just enough references to Robertson Boulevard boutiques and Chanel suits, this first novel straddles, rather elegantly, the genres of “chick-lit beach book” and “smart mystery.”
Asphalt, by Carl Hancock Rux (Atria). “Is it possible to remember what you never knew?” asks poet/performance artist/playwright Hancock Rux in his debut novel, Asphalt, which mines the rhythms of hip-hop and bebop jazz to tell the story of a nomadic Brooklyn DJ and a Brownstone-full of other soul-searching characters thrashing around in a post-apocalyptic New York.
My Father’s Fighter, by Ronald K. Fried (Permanent Press). Boxing buff Fried (who also authored the nonfiction Corner Men: Great Boxing Trainers) is used to writing from the ringside out, but in this first novel, he takes a turn of the imagination, portraying the raucous world of prizefighting from an outsider’s perspective, as a cerebral English teacher who inherits his father’s business.