Every year-end ought to be paired with a great book as the weather gets colder. Here’s a list of late fall’s best titles, so grab a copy for yourself and one for a friend, too.
This thriller of a debut novel by Carmiel Banasky throws any tired stereotype about women’s fiction right out the window. An exquisite mix of Let the Great World Spin, The Goldfinch, and the indie flick Safety Not Guaranteed, The Suicide of Claire Bishop begins in Greenwich Village in 1959 when a wealthy, emotionally cautious Claire sits for a portrait only to find the artist has painted her suicide instead. When schizophrenic West encounters the painting decades later in 2004, he becomes convinced it was painted by the ex-girlfriend who still haunts him. His obsession sets himself and Claire on a collision course with the eerie, mercurial painting ever beckoning them onward.
Banasky has created a trademark theology all her own in West’s unreliable, yet oddly brilliant musings on time travel that pair unsettlingly well with the notion that Alzheimer’s, which has a hold on Claire’s family, is a kind of time travel all its own. Though the story itself is boldly labyrinthine and miasmic, the best part of the novel is the romantic mania that inhabits the prose. Intellectually provocative and elegantly rhapsodic, The Suicide of Claire Bishop celebrates the arrival of an uncommonly ambitious and inventive writer.