“The New Me,” by Halle Butler
The creep of economic precarity and labor insecurity into the millennial generation of the upper middle class, the notable absence of men in the lives of women, and a potent strain of social hostility combine to make “The New Me,” the novel you must read to understand many young professional women. Butler does not pretty anything up: not the ambivalence about b——- jobs, the professional striving, the materialist hunger for lifestyle and unearned satisfaction, or the clinging depression and noxious hope that drive this novel’s action. It is a book full of private shame made public and almost-guilty admissions, perfect for readers of Ottessa Moshfegh or Alissa Nutting. Our heroine — and she is mine — is even named Millie — the millennial. Just perfect.
Jeff Waxman, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbookstores.com].
Community Bookstore’s pick: “Exhalation,” by Ted Chiang
The second story collection from the master behind “Stories Of Your Life” (which was adapted into the film “Arrival”), is just as mind-blowing as the first. Chiang continues to carry off his impeccable synthesis of high literary style and intensely informed speculative fiction. Think an elegant mix of Borges and Phillip K. Dick.
— Samuel Partal, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.communitybookstore.net].
Greenlight Bookstore’s pick: “A Devil Comes to Town,” by Paolo Maurensig
“A Devil Comes to Town” is an intriguing novella that alludes to multiple literary and artistic traditions, from dark fairy tales and Gothic fiction to Goethe’s “Faust” and even horror movies like “The Exorcist.” It is tense, paranoiac, and well-crafted in its short length.
— Geo Ong, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.greenlightbookstore.com].