Benjamin Percy, Red Moon
Galveston’s Pleasure Pier reminds us of a nightmare dreamscape—a really terrific Rabelaisian nightmare, with angry clowns and sad pirates. After a day baking in that we think you’ll be well primed to dip into Ben Percy’s latest, a horror novel in which an oppressed species of werewolves launches a 9/11-like attack on the country. If you enjoy both bloody fight scenes and political subtext, this is the beach reading for you.
Erica Grieder, Big, Hot, Cheap and Right
We’d summarize this one, but the subtitle—What America Can Learn From the Strange Genius of Texas—pretty much takes care of that. Where better to celebrate the success story that is the Lone Star State than South Padre, a city with the entrepreneurial genius to draw debauched kids from all over the map?
The Flamethrowers,Rachel Kushner
It’s 1970-something. Reno, the woman protagonist of Kushner’s much celebrated second novel, is a complicated motorcycle chick trying to break a speed record on the salt flats of Utah. This is clearly required reading after a visit to the salt-swept biker heaven that is Gilhooley’s in San Leon.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Oleander Girl
Divakaruni writes epic books; and we mean that in both the ninth-grade-English-professor-describing-Beowulf sense and the 14-year-old-describing-a-successful-trip-to-the-mall sense. In her latest, Oleander Girl, a privileged girl in a crumbling Kolkata mansion (think Galveston’s Bishop’s Palacewith less upkeep) launches a quest to discover the true identity of her troubled father.
Renata Adler, Speedboat
It’s not technically new, but Adler’s fragmentary 1976 classic is newly released, to great fanfare, and gearing up for a second cult following. If you like straight storytelling and your response to modern art generally involves a comparison to your toddler, skip Speedboat. On the other hand, if you’re visiting gallery-packed Rockport from your base in Marfa, take this one along and prepare to have your mind blown.