Southeastern Book Preview

Amid all the speculation about the future of publishing, one thing has yet to change: the arrival of new books each fall. Our picks from the Southeast include a few familiar faces and some brand new writers we think you’ll welcome to your reading list.

"Ape House" -- Sara Gruen

In Gruen's follow-up to bestseller "Like Water for Elephants," a group of peaceable bonobo apes live in a language acquisition lab, where they communicate using American Sign Language and drink caramel macchiatos with whipped cream -- until they're kidnapped, sold and turn up in a reality TV show that ignores their language skills to focus on their frisky sexuality and newfound appetite for junk food. Of course, there are no parallels to our advanced society in this scenario. (Spiegel & Grau, September)

"My Reading Life" -- Pat Conroy

Conroy has said that every author he's ever read has left him a different person, be it the long-winded Thomas Wolfe or master of restraint Ernest Hemingway. He revisits those transforming moments of literature in "My Reading Life," which includes moving accounts of how reading pulled him through dark times and lists of the books that particularly influenced him at various stages of his life. Could you ask for a better literary tour guide? (Nan A. Talese, November)

"Wicked River: The Mississippi When It Last Ran Wild" -- Lee Sandlin

Long before Mark Twain's day, the Mississippi River played host to a forgotten society of boat-borne pirates, revivalists, con men, gypsies, tramps and thieves who rubbed elbows at all-night parties full of music, drinkin', gamblin' n' fancy wimmen. First-time author Sandlin digs deep into the river's shameless past via firsthand accounts, diaries, letters and travelers' tales. (Pantheon, October)

"The Wake of Forgiveness" -- Bruce Machart

Houston native Machart sets his lushly written debut in rural Texas, where the love of a man's life dies giving birth to his youngest son. Years later, the boy becomes an accomplished horseman who hopes to earn his father's forgiveness in a high-stakes race. Hanging in the balance are the father's fortune, his brothers' futures and a love story as ill-fated as that of his parents. Dark as midnight, but gripping. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October)

Also recommended:

"The Eden Hunter" -- Skip Horack (Counterpoint, August)

"Beyond Katrina" -- Natasha Trethewey (University of Georgia Press, September)

"Nashville Chrome" -- Rick Bass (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, September)

"The Dance Boots: Stories" -- Linda Legarde Grover (University of Georgia Press, September)

"The Grace of Silence, a Memoir" -- Michele Norris (Pantheon, September)

"Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self" -- Danielle Evans (Riverhead Books, September)

"The Perfect Love Song: A Holiday Story" -- Patti Callahan Henry (Vanguard Press, October)

"Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family" -- Condoleezza Rice (Crown, October)

"In the Company of Others" -- Jan Karon (Viking, October)

"I Still Dream About You, Honey" -- Fannie Flagg (Random House, November)

"Creative Is a Verb" -- Patti Digh (Globe Pequot Press, November)