By Hillel Italie
AP National Writer
For the weightiest novel this fall, or most any season, Alan Moore has the grandest ambition.
“The intention was to somehow combine four or five different books or impulses for books into one coherent whole,” the author known for the graphic novels “Watchmen” and “V for Vendetta” says of “Jerusalem,” a 1,266 page words-only union of science and fantasy that references everyone from Albert Einstein to Oliver Cromwell. Moore worked a decade on his all-encompassing tale, set in his native Northampton, England.
“This is the book in which I have written most directly about the things that are most central to my life, these being my family and the place that I emerged from. By making the narrative so personal and specific I hoped to conjure a kind of universality, an evocation of the families and places that we all come from at some point in our ancestry, irrespective of who or where we are, but the fact remains that the materials of ‘Jerusalem’ come from a source very close to me.”
Fall is the time for “big books,” whatever the page length, and some of the top fiction authors from around the world have new works coming, including Ian McEwan, Zadie Smith, Margaret Atwood, T. Coraghessan Boyle, Rabih Alameddine, Emma Donoghue, Jonathan Safran Foer and Michael Chabon. Ann Patchett, owner of Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tenn., looks forward to selling Jacqueline Woodson’s autobiographical novel “Another Brooklyn” and Colson Whitehead’s celebrated, Oprah Winfrey-endorsed historical novel about slavery, “The Underground Railroad.”
Ann Patchett, the author, will be promoting her novel “Commonwealth,” although she’ll keep it low-key at Parnassus Books.
“I’ll sign them, put them in a linen bag, send them off with a picture of my dog Sparky. Sparky is the ‘value added’ element,” she says.
Another author-book store owner, Jeff Kinney, has completed “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down,” the 11th installment in his multimillion selling series. He will tour worldwide on behalf of “Double Down,” but at Kinney’s An Unlikely Story, in Plainville, Mass., the message is “try not to overdo it on the ‘Wimpy Kid’ front.”
“We have two small roller units with my books, and that’s about it. I don’t think someone coming off the street would know I own the bookstore if they hadn’t heard beforehand,” Kinney said.
Whitehead’s novel is among several notable accounts of black life, past and present. Wesley Lowery’s “They Can’t Kill Us All” is The Washington Post reporter’s book on the Black Lives Matter movement. “The Fire This Time,” edited by Jesmyn Ward, includes essays and poems on race by Isabel Wilkerson, Kevin Young and 16 others. Margot Lee Shetterly’s “Hidden Figures,” which has been adapted for a feature film, documents the historic contributions made by black women mathematicians to the country’s space program.
Douglas R. Egerton’s “Thunder at the Gates” tells of the black Civil War soldiers made famous in the movie “Glory,” which he calls a “powerful, beautifully acted” production that “manages to get absolutely everything wrong.” Egerton says fiction and nonfiction on slavery and the Civil War have become more prominent in recent years.
“When I was younger, novels that wrestled with slavery were few and often published by obscure presses,” he says. “That appears to be no longer true. Perhaps also the sesquicentennial of the war and the dawn of Reconstruction has led ... to a rebirth of scholarship about black history. One of the depressing things about going to conferences now is to wander through the book exhibit and realize how many new books there are that I need to read!”
Two books that could contain tough words for presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are scheduled for Nov. 15, the week after Election Day: Bernie Sanders’ “Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In” is expected to include his thoughts on his surprisingly competitive primary battle with Clinton, while Megyn Kelly’s “Settle for More” will likely recount her feud with Trump and her thoughts on ousted Fox News chairman Roger Ailes.
In music, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” could be the hottest rock memoir since Keith Richards’ “Life” was released in 2010. The Band’s Robbie Robertson offers “Testimony” this fall, while “My Life with Earth, Wind & Fire” is a posthumous release from Earth, Wind & Fire founder Maurice White, featuring an introduction by Steve Harvey and foreword by producer David Foster.
Brian Wilson and fellow Beach Boys founder (and first cousin) Mike Love continue their long-running and occasionally litigious family competition as Wilson releases “I Am Brian Wilson” and Love has “Good Vibrations.” Often cast as the business-minded Beach Boy, at odds with the visionary Wilson, Love provides detailed accounts of how he wrote the lyrics to many of the Beach Boys’ best known songs.
“The problem is you have hundreds of thousands of words about us, not always by people who were actually there,” Love says. “I wanted to show how I was actually working on the songs with my cousin, writing the lyrics while he was creating those incredible chord processions and harmonies.”
Other musical memoirs are coming from Tom Jones, songwriter Carol Bayer Sager and the Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones. Beatle fans with some extra cash might consider “A Hard Day’s Night: A Private Archive,” a $125 volume of photographs, documents and memorabilia about the 1964 film that stunned critics and delighted fans. Annotation is provided by one of the world’s foremost Beatle experts, Mark Lewisohn.
“It isn’t only the end-product that’s extraordinary, it’s the background story, too. It always comes down to the people, to the four guys themselves,” Lewisohn told the AP.
“Why was ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ their first film when it could have been their third or fourth? They’d had movie offers for six months before this one and turned them all down, because The Beatles were always innately clear on what not to do as well as what to do. They were prepared to risk never appearing in a film at all than say yes to something ‘soft,’ which in their vocabulary meant ‘stupid.’”