The Pale King By David Foster Wallace. Back Bay, 549 pages, $18.50
In writer David Foster Wallace’s posthumous novel, the character David Wallace makes good money plagiarizing papers for his university classmates. He is caught and punished, and ends up as a functionary with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Mistaken for another, higher-ranking David Wallace, the author’s fictional doppelgänger enters an absurd labyrinth of bureaucracy and paradox.
Letters From America By Alexis de Tocqueville. Edited and translated by Frederick Brown. Yale University Press, 284 pages, $20
Nearly 200 years along, the acute observations and trenchant comments of this young French aristocrat still ring true. Sent by the French government to investigate American prisons, Tocqueville travelled the young nation for nine months, observing prisons, to be sure, but also the political, economic and social systems of the new republic, sending frequent reports to his family, gathered here by eminent historian Frederick Brown.
Jackie, Ethel, Joan Women of Camelot. By J. Randy Taraborrelli. Grand Central, 528 pages, $18.50
Celebrity writer Randy Taraborrelli uses extensive research and a great deal of exclusive information to construct this revelation-dense biography of the three famous Kennedy wives, Jacqueline Bouvier, Ethel Skakel and Joan Bennett, their tragic marriages and their strange and trouble-plagued relationships with one another.
The Art of Fielding By Chad Harbach. Back Bay, 512 pages, $16.50
Chad Harbach’s first novel follows Westish College baseball star Henry Skrimshander, who one day makes a disastrous throwing error, one that has a profound effect on five people, Henry included. As the season counts down to its last game, all five must confront themselves and their hopes, anxieties and dreams.