New In Paperback: Dec. 13-19
by Don DeLillo
Don DeLillo's latest novel, Point Omega, is short, but it's just as dark and unsparing as his earlier work. It's no less ambitious than White Noise, Underworld or Mao II, his masterpieces, all of which took a hard and uncomfortable look at America's evolving identity. The novel unfolds over the space of a few weeks in a California desert, where Jim Finley, a young filmmaker, is trying to convince Richard Elster, a retired Iraq war adviser, to take part in a documentary he's planning. Elster never quite agrees, though he's happy to talk to Finley, abstractly, about his experience in the Pentagon. After several days, the two are joined by Jessie, Elster's beloved daughter, "pale and thin, mid-twenties, awkward." Her presence doesn't alter the dynamic between the men, though eventually everything breaks down. DeLillo's genius here lies in what he doesn't tell the reader, what he dares us to figure out for ourselves.
128 pages, $12, Scribner
The Gordian Knot
by Bernhard Schlink
The search for moral justification in a world of fatally compromised people is at the center of Bernhard Schlink’s novels, including The Reader and his Gerhard Self mysteries. His latest noir thriller centers on Georg Polger, a German translator living in France, for whom everything starts going suspiciously right after his boss dies suddenly and he lands a contract for a high-level military project. But when he finds his new lover, a beautiful secretary for the firm, photographing documents he has translated, it all unravels. As thrillers go, Polger is an easy mark, though his trials make for a moving story of two flawed people.
256 pages, $15.95, Vintage
What the Dog Saw
And Other Adventures
by Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell is well known for his ability to find larger meaning in quirky topics like why Heinz ketchup has proved unbeatable, the effects of women's changing career patterns on the number of menstrual periods they have in their lifetimes, and the phenomenon of dog whispering, which prompted the title for this collection of 22 essays originally written for the New Yorker. A few essays feel dated, like Gladwell's look at how easily available information helped lead to the downfall of Enron, despite a post-script filling in the rest of the story. But overall, this collection will satisfy newcomers and fans alike.
448 pages, $16.99, Back Bay Books
I'm Tempted to Stop Acting Randomly
A Dilbert Book
by Scott Adams
The artist and his sparely-drawn strip have taken knocks over the years, but as this new compilation shows, Dilbert's piercing take on corporate life far outdates revered parodies like The Office and Office Space.
128 pages, $12.99, Andrews McMeel Publishing
Charlotte Abbott edits "New in Paperback." A contributing editor for Publishers Weekly, she also leads a weekly chat on books and reading in the digital age every Friday from 4-5pm ET on Twitter. Follow her at @charabbott or check out the #followreader hashtag .
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