Updike by Adam Begley (Harper, 576 pages, April 8)
Dare I even admit that I haven't yet read John Updike? Oh wait, I guess I just admitted it. Well, now I really want to read his novels, especially the Rabbit tetralogy, after checking out this new biography. Updike strove to "transcribe middleness with all its grits, bumps and anonymities," like a modern-day Naturalist writer, allowing him to dissect and analyze suburban America in a multitude of novels, poems, short stories, and critical essays. Looks awesome.
Here we have a fascinating story about Paris in the interwar years, with all of its expats, artists, musicians, and writers, pushing the boundaries of art and social norms. Prose originally set out to write a history of the Hungarian photographer George Brassaï, but you never know where your pen will take you, so we have instead Lovers at the Chameleon Club. Ooo la la!
Baudelaire's Revenge by Bob Van Laerhoven (Pegasus, 256 pages, April 15)
Three words: Historical Crime Novel. That should set some of you running to your nearest bookstore! Now, all I had to see was the word "Baudelaire," and I was interested. In Baudelaire's Revenge, amid have the social and political disruption of the Franco-Prussian War, a killer is on the loose- and s/he likes to leave extracts from Baudelaire's Fleurs du Mal with each corpse. In the dead poet's handwriting. Right?! I'm all over this one.