Summer Brenner’s graceful slip of a story collection is more like a novel in delicate pieces, told by a chorus of first-person narrators. Fashion is a unifying tool, whether as an analogy or a lovely detail—a coat of “heavy, coarse Scottish wool, faintly purple like boiled rhubarb” or “a navy nylon shirtwaist with flocked polka-dots, accordion-pleated skirt, and rhinestone barrel-shaped buttons.” Brenner grew up in Atlanta. Even after she relocated to California, the city is still her setting of choice. All twenty-six stories are brilliant in their brevity, yet rich enough to fill out a novel.
(West Hills Press/Hundreds of Heads Books)
Jeffrey Small, a Harvard/Yale/Oxford-educated speaker on religion and spirituality, makes an impressive literary debut with a thriller that explores where Jesus went between the ages of twelve and twenty-nine. Small begins with a real fragment of history from 1887, when a Russian journalist discovered something in the Himalayas that might have solved the mystery of those lost years. In The Breath of God, an Emory scholar sets out to separate historical fact from religious legend. Small’s themes, such as the common ground of the world’s religions, are timely.
(Little, Brown and Company)
Former Atlantan Mark Childress writes the funniest outlandish characters in Southern fiction, from the Tupperware-toting murderer Lucille in Crazy in Alabama to Georgia Bottoms, a fine, upstanding church lady in Six Points, Alabama, who sells sex on the side.
Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land by Joseph E. Lowery
Civil rights veteran Joseph E. Lowery uses his first book—a loose collection of essays, sermons, and eulogies—as a pulpit to talk about the role of religious faith in social justice.