So many memoirs are coming out this fall, written in so many ways.
Neil Patrick Harris, for instance, decided that his early 40s was too young for a “life” story, even for a Tony- and Emmy-winning actor. So he has completed “Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography,” in which Harris steps back into the second person to allow you to imagine yourself onstage, on television, or, in November 2006, on edge as you prepare to tell the world you’re gay.
“I couldn’t wrap my mind around a structure that made sense to me — to pass on words of wisdom or to write some salacious tell-all. My life hasn’t been like that,” Harris said during a recent interview.
“So I came upon this conceit of ‘choose your own adventure,’ to allow readers to choose which autobiography they were interested in. You can have poignancy; you can have funny remembrances, or whatever path you want to follow.”
Lena Dunham of “Girls” fame has written “Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s ‘Learned,’” a non-advice advice book in which she hopes that readers will know when and when not to emulate “a girl with a keen interest in having it all.” Amy Poehler’s “Yes Please” promises a “big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice.”
Keith Richards, having taken care of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll in his million-selling “Life,” turns sentimental with the picture book “Gus and Me,” a tribute to his grandfather, musician Gus Dupree. Neil Young honors a favorite hobby in “Special Deluxe”: cars. “Jimmy Page” is a “photographic autobiography” by the Led Zeppelin guitarist. “Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story” is not entirely in his own words, alternating between first-person memories and third-person accounts by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author-journalist Rick Bragg.
Former President George W. Bush already has written a memoir, “Decision Points,” so for his new book (currently untitled) he tells the story of his father, George H.W. Bush. “Steve Jobs” author Walter Isaacson returns to the virtual world with “The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution.”
Fiction readers can look forward to books from Stephen King, Janet Evanovich, John Grisham and David Baldacci, among others. Anne Rice brings back the undead for “Prince Lestat: The Vampire Chronicles” and “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin shares some of the back story in “The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire).”
Some of the top literary writers also have books out. David Mitchell of “Cloud Atlas” fame has written “The Bone Clocks” and fellow British novelist Ian McEwan’s latest is “The Children Act.” Hilary Mantel, a two-time Man Booker Prize winner for her novels about the court of King Henry VIII, names names in the 20th century with the story collection “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher.” Denis Johnson’s “The Laughing Monsters” is the author’s first full-length work of fiction since “Tree of Smoke” won the National Book Award in 2008. Marilynne Robinson returns to the Iowa setting of her Pulitzer-Prize-winning “Gilead” with “Lila.”
Six years ago, few noticed when Garth Stein had the bright idea to write a novel told from a dog’s point of view, “The Art of Racing in the Rain.” Thanks to 4 million copies sold, and more than three years on The New York Times’ best-seller list, Stein should have plenty of attention for “A Sudden Light,” which features a boy and a mansion.
“It’s what every writer dreams of, to be talked about as much as I was for ‘Racing in the Rain,’” Stein says. “But I’m a writer, and a writer’s got to write and I finally had to announce my retirement from ‘Racing in the Rain.’ As I said to my publisher, ‘I have to go in the cave. Don’t come in here. I’ll come out of the cave when it’s time.”
For some books this fall, the bold-faced name isn’t the author.
“The Monogram Murders” is a new mystery featuring Agatha Christie detective Hercule Poirot. Christie gets star billing on the cover, but the writer, approved by the Christie estate, is Sophie Hannah. “Robert B. Parker’s Blind Spot” offers a new case to solve for baseball star-turned police chief Jesse Stone, the sleuth of nine novels by Parker, who died in 2010. The author this time is Reed Farrel Coleman.
Sidney Sheldon lives on, at least in name, through British author Tilly Bagshawe. Her latest is “Sidney Sheldon’s Chasing Tomorrow,” a novel written “in his inimitable Sheldon style,” Bagshawe promises on her website. Dick Francis died in 2010, but a new thriller is called “Dick Francis’s ‘Damage”” in U.S. editions. The author’s son, Felix Francis, wrote the novel and prefers the British title: “Damage,” with FELIX FRANCIS printed above the title and “A Dick Francis Novel” at the bottom.
“It’s a Dick Francis novel in that it’s got horses and was written in the first person and the main character is both courageous and loyal,” Felix Francis said.
“I like the idea that I am giving my father immortality, or perhaps I am keeping his name alive. I just hope that if it goes on it becomes a little bit smaller and mine a little bit bigger.”