I'm ignoring all talk of slumps and despair in the world of publishing. It might be wretched at the coal face but from where I'm sitting there is a massive slew of very enticing books coming up in early 2011, by a variety of authors I have enjoyed and whose next novels I have been anticipating eagerly.
I mentioned last week that the Spring 2011 catalogues are arriving from the publishers and that I spend ages poring over them, and you asked in comments if I could share a few titles.
So the question I asked myself was, am I selling my soul to the devil by advertising, or heaven forfend being a marketing tool?
Or am I just too excited to keep quiet about what's in the offing and can't stop myself sharing the sense of anticipation I feel about some of these books?
Well I have nothing to gain by advertising and plenty for all of us to gain by knowing what's on the way so start plaguing your local library in advance, besides which I hope you know me well enough by now.
Apart from the fact that the catalogues are usually very plush books in their own right, it's the surprises over every page that enthrall me, I sit there with my pen ticking away the books I like the sound of, then I go back and read more carefully and gather in a few more that might be a bit of a challenge, or might take me somewhere new. Then, usually feeling rather embarrassed I send along wish lists the length of the M1 to the publicists and as the books are published miraculously copies appear, often early proofs, sometimes the real thing, occasionally both.
Many of you will have benefited from this whenever I meet you as I try to pass on duplicates or sometimes post them off to those of you for whom I have addresses if I think it's a book you might enjoy.
So notebooks at the ready for some books that sound so good on paper we can but hope they live up to that promise in the writing of, and here are my first choices from the Faber and Quercus catalogues with more to follow from others in the weeks to come.
I think 2011 might just be a very rich year for fiction.
Faber & Faber
The Possessions of Doctor Forrest by Richard T.Kelly (May 2011)
Author of Crusaders which I enjoyed very much...this one a chilling modern-day Gothic fable, Dr Jekyll meets Dr Faustus and all translated into the 'immaculate world of twenty-first century medicine' and then insinuated into the lives a psychiatrist, a paediatric surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon.
Gillespie and I by Jane Harris (May 2011)
I was late getting to Jane Harris's first novel The Observations, but when I did I loved it so what's not to anticipate about an elderly woman sitting in her Bloomsbury home and relating the story of her acquaintance some four decades earlier with famous artist Ned Gillespie in Glasgow, 1888 and the International Exhibition.
The Storm at the Door by Stefan Merrill Block (March 2011)
I was completely engaged with this young writer's talent in his first novel, The Story of Forgetting and it looks as if this might be a return to similar and very challenging territory as Stefan Merrill Block examines his grandparents story, and in particular his grandfather's stay in a mental hospital which cast a long shadow over his own childhood. A mix of imagination, historical fact and storytelling.
Small Bird, Beating Heart by Miriam Toews (May 2011)
Yesssssss! Any new novel by Miriam Toews has my undivided attention here and here, and it's back to the Mennonite territory of A Complicated Kindness in this novel as a film crew arrive in this isolated community based in rural Mexico and nineteen-year old Irma finds herself drawn towards the outsiders...well her father's having none of that. Apparently darker than we are used to from Miriam Toews, but still laced with her familiar dry wit, I'll be there.
Saints and Sinners by Edna O'Brien (Feb 2011)
OK hands up, have never read any, but many of you have and I suspect this collection of short stories will be eagerly awaited by her fans, her first book in ten years, we are promised passion, pain and beauty, that's enough to make me explore a writer I should definitely have read by now.
The Path of Minor Planets by Andrew Sean Greer (Mar 2011)
Well The Story of a Marriage had Mark Thwaite and I in a friendly bout of blogging repartee, I was for he was agin, so it will be interesting to see how we feel about a group of astronomers gathered on a Pacific island to witness the passing of a comet with a tragic event during a meteorite shower about to change every ones lives.
Edward Thomas - The Final Years by Matthew Hollis (May 2011)
I'm hoping to pay particular attention to the life and writing of Edward Thomas with some Remembrance reading this November and will therefore be on the edge of my seat waiting for this one.
Now to Quercus, a publisher who hadn't really knowingly come to my attention until I read Brodeck's Report by Philippe Claudel and then I notice that they also published Stef Penney's The Tenderness of Wolves. I'm currently reading Diana Souhami's excelent new biography, Edith Cavell so Quercus are firmly on my radar and plenty here to tempt the reading taste buds and by authors who are new to me.
The Legacy by Kirsten Tranter (Jan 2011)
This is being likened to Donna Tartt's The Secret History, as Ingrid inherits a fortune, heads to New York where she settles, leaves for an appointment at 9am on September 11th 2001 and is never seen again...or is she?
The Black House by Peter May (Feb 2011)
Set on the Isle of Lewis, this murder mystery will offer detective Fin Macleod for our delectation as he returns to his home island from Edinburgh to investigate the slaying. If there's one thing I like it's a new detective to get to know, will he be surly and troubled, unkempt, divorced, now married to the job and the bottle. The storm and croft-laden monochrome cover suggests all manner of darkness and menace to come.
Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran (Mar 2011)
Well, just what will our regular Tussaud commenter make of this? The family fictionalised as a young Madame T heads off to Versailles to teach Marie Antoinette the art of wax mask making. Expecting to loath her, she finds someone quite different and a firm friendship ensues which can only mean trouble for Madame T and the death masks are sure to follow.
Child Wonder by Roy Jacobsen (Mar 2011)
An early 60's childhood in Oslo and Finn has to grasp a strange, adult world as a mysterious half-sister appears with something even more mysterious in her suitcase. We are promised a powerful, unsentimental evocation of childhood from this Norwegian author who has previously been shortlisted for the Dublin Impac Award... talking of which that might be a prize list I follow more closely next time around.
Island of Wings by Karen Altenberg ( Mar 2011)
A first novel and set on St Kilda in 1830 as Lizzie, pregnant with her first child and her husband, minister Neil McKenzie, head to this remote island and their new parish. That's all it took to sell this one to me but add in natives living in squalor and babies perishing mysteriously, plenty of zealous Christianity and threats to sanity and a bit of haunting of the cliff tops and I can hardly contain myself.
Monsieur Linh and His Child by Philippe Claudel ( Mar 2011)
Many of us really enjoyed Brodeck's Report so how about this... ' Traumatized by memories of his war-ravaged country and with his son and daughter-in-law dead, Monsieur Linh travels to a foreign land to bring the child in his arms to safety' and there is the added promise of an extraordinary twist.
Foxes in the Night and Other Stories by Cees Nooteboom (May 2011)
A.S.Byatt rates Dutch author Cees Nooteboom as 'one of the greatest modern novelists' and this collection of linked short stories that read more like a novel, a meditation on memory, life and death sounds like a must...' the world observed with a combination of melancholy and astonishment'.
Well that was our starter for ten and plenty more to come from the other catalogues.
Any there that take your fancy?