An insightful—frequently funny, often devastating—meditation on human existence online and off.

NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT THIS

Debut novel from the internet-famous poet and author of the memoir Priestdaddy (2017).

Lockwood first made a name for herself on Twitter: “@parisreview So is Paris any good or not.” Such was the acclaim of this 2013 tweet that the Paris Review felt compelled to respond to it—a year after it was first posted—with a review of Paris. In 2013, Lockwood achieved a new level of web-based fame when “Rape Joke” went viral. This poem seems, in retrospect, to have been perfectly calibrated for a moment when people—mostly young or youngish, largely online—were asking themselves who gets to talk about what and how. But it also succeeds—and continues to succeed—as a work of literature. All of this is to say that Lockwood is very much of the internet but also, perhaps, our guide to moving beyond thinking of the internet as a thing apart from real lives and real art. Her debut novel is divided into two parts. The first introduces us to a nameless protagonist who makes up famous tweets and composes blog posts and turns this into a career traveling the world talking about tweets and blog posts. In the second part, this character goes back to her family home when she learns that the baby her sister is carrying has a profound congenital disorder. The first part is written in short little bursts that feel like Instagram captions or texts—but if Lydia Davis was writing Instagram captions and texts. The second part is written in short little bursts that feel like they’re being written in spare moments snatched while caring for an infant. (Again, Lydia Davis comes to mind.) This bifurcation mirrors the protagonist’s own meditations on the difference between the life that she chooses online and the life that comes crashing in on her, but it’s a mistake to imagine that this novel is simply an indictment of the former and a celebration of the latter. The woman at the center of this novel doesn’t trade ironic laughter for soul-shattering awe so much as she reveals that both can coexist in the same life and that, sometimes, they may be indistinguishable.

An insightful—frequently funny, often devastating—meditation on human existence online and off.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18958-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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