10 New Books We Recommend This Week

CULT CLASSIC, by Sloane Crosley. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.) In her second novel, Crosley lends her trademark wit to the story of a reluctantly engaged woman who is still searching for a particular, elusive kind of love even as a high-concept cult arranges a series of seemingly chance run-ins with her ex-boyfriends. “It’s a book about regret, about hoping you made the right choice, about the noxious power of our memories, but also about one of the worst things a woman can do in a big city: date men,” Scaachi Koul writes in her review. “The novel’s happenings are conceptual, but the feelings it inspires are pretty universal. There’s a thick ooze of malaise throughout, a pleasing sinking feeling of dread and desire and compulsion.”

THE UNCOLLECTED ESSAYS OF ELIZABETH HARDWICK. (New York Review Books, paper, $18.95.) This volume of the legendary critic’s previously uncollected works, many more casual and idiosyncratic than her better-known essays, touches on everything from grits soufflé to Kennedy scandals, the end of love and female suicides. “Strange, surprising, slippery and beautiful,” is how reviewer Katie Roiphe describes Elizabeth Hardwick’s prose. Says Roiphe, “the glimpse this collection gives of Hardwick, the woman, is intriguing. We experience her mind in darts and flashes. Browsing these essays is what I imagine it would be like to be standing next to her in the corner of a crowded party, in a cloud of smoke: at times uncomfortable, thrilling, alarming.”

JACKIE & ME, by Louis Bayard. (Algonquin, $27.99.) Bayard’s 10th novel imagines the courtship of Jackie Bouvier and John F. Kennedy through the eyes of a friend, the real-life Lem Billings, who met Kennedy as a teenager and became his longtime fixer and confidant, entertaining Jackie and watching out for her while J.F.K. laid the groundwork to pursue his political ambitions. “On the surface, this is a fun, glittery tale about the Kennedys. But it’s also a prism for examining situational friendship and the loneliness of public life,” Elisabeth Egan writes in her latest Group Text column. “Even if you’re not a Kennedy enthusiast — even if your grandmother didn’t have a framed picture of J.F.K. in her kitchen, as mine did, alongside one of Pope John Paul II — this stylish, sexy, nostalgic story will linger like Jackie’s signature scent of Pall Malls and Chateau Krigler 12. It’s a complicated bouquet of bitter and sweet.”

Leave a Comment