Genre-crossing books for pulpy summer reading
It’s summer and you’re hitting the beach or relaxing in the park. All you want is a satisfying holiday read to devour on your hard-earned days off, but maybe, like me, you’ve grown tired of the same old tropes popping up in stories.
Here are some hot literary recommendations that challenge readers, but will still hit the mark when it comes to the popcorn factor…
You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
Contemporary Fiction meets Crime fiction
Megan Abbott started out writing hard-boiled crime fiction featuring interesting, complex women – and her more recent contemporary literary fiction follows suit more closely than might be immediately apparent. You Will Know Me delivers a body, killed in a hit-and-run, and surrounded by mysterious circumstances. Abbott takes us through the gradual and creeping discovery of the truth, touching on the complications of family, ambition, motherly love, small-town gossip, and more. Her writing is spot-on, sensual and sharp.
The Love of a Bad Man by Laura Elizabeth Woollett
Literary Short Story Collection meets True Crime
These thematically linked short stories will appeal to fans of literary fiction and true-crime alike. They are all told from a wholly unique perspective: of women in our recent history who were romantically involved with a famous man who committed terrible crimes. Think Hitler, Charles Manson, the Lonely Hearts Killer, and so on. In finding the voices of these women, Woollett manages to inspire empathy and tender insight into the pathology of love, in all its variances of lust, desire, need, power and control. And there’s an appendix to give you the details of the real-life cases behind the fictionalised stories.
The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial by Maggie Nelson
Memoir meets Cultural studies meets True Crime
In 1969, Maggie Nelson’s aunt was murdered, but the case had never been solved. In 2004, it was re-opened after the discovery of DNA evidence, and a suspect was put on trial. Nelson’s writing transcends genre, and this memoir is no exception. It examines the trial in some detail, the American obsession with violence, crime and missing (white) women, and the nature of grief and empathy. Nelson also reflects on the shadow this ordeal cast on her family, identity, and childhood. This is brilliant and accessible prose, and a fascinating story.
The Girls by Emma Cline
Literary Fiction meets True Crime
Loosely following the story of the Manson family, this novel explores that dark and violent history through the lens of a particular time and place in the life of its protagonist, Evie Boyd. The novel is written with such insight and strength that the focus remains with Evie as she navigates that time of adolescence when the yearning to belong and to be a part of something special, to be important, overtakes almost all else. The power of this novel is in its exploration of adolescent girlhood and the nature of violence, evil, chaos, degradation and desire. The writing is also accomplished and intensely beautiful, and well worth reading for that fact alone.
The Dragon Behind the Glass by Emily Voigt
Natural History meets Black Market Heist Adventure
The Dragon Behind the Glass describes the black-market trafficking of one of the most sought-after and expensive aquarium fish in the world, the Asian arowana or ‘dragon fish’. As well as providing some fascinating detail of the arowana, its appeal in certain prestigious circles, and the deeper questions about the human drive to possess the endangered fish, this book is also a thrilling adventure tale that traverses 15 different countries, dangerous wild swamps and back-alley dealings, packed with villains and heroes and heists and capers.
Amy Vuleta is the Shop Manager at Readings St Kilda.