“Kiss Me in the Coral Lounge” - Helen Ellis may live in New York City now, but her Southern bona fides hold true. Raised in Alabama, where her family’s roots run deep, she displays the gift for gab and superior storytelling skills so often attributed to denizens of our region. In this collection of humorous essays, Ellis turns minor observations and anecdotes about everything from snoring husbands and the contents of a mysterious box to cat ownership into epic tales of hilarity involving a colorful cast of family and friends. The unifying thread is domestic life with her husband of 20 years in the NYC apartment they share with two cats. (Doubleday, June 13)
“How to Stay Married” - Savannah-based author and SCAD faculty member Harrison Scott Key is renowned for his wit. After all, he won the James Thurber Prize for Humor in 2016 for “The World’s Largest Man,” his memoir about growing up in Star, Mississippi, with his larger-than-life father. And his Ted Talk on the fallacy of the American Dream is a knee slapper. So what’s a humor writer to do when he discovers his wife and the mother of their three daughters has been unfaithful? He writes a memoir charting the fallout. While he mines plenty of humor from the situation, Key also does a lot of serious soul searching and embarks on a spiritual journey in the process. (Avid Reader Press, June 13)
Credit: Avid Press Reader
Credit: Avid Press Reader
“Goodbye Earl” – If you’re familiar with The Chicks’ song of the same name that inspired Leesa Cross-Smith’s newest novel, then you have a clue what it’s about. A tight clique of four girlfriends in small-town Texas implodes after high school graduation when Kasey leaves town without explanation. Fifteen years later, Kasey returns to town for a wedding and the women are reunited. But when it becomes apparent that Caroline is in an abusive marriage, the other three women have to figure out how to save her. (Grand Central Publishing, July 3)
For more on new Southern books we recommend this summer, check out the Sunday Living & Arts section on May 28 or go online at ajc.com.
Mea culpa. Thanks to all the many readers who pointed out my blunder in last week’s column. I know Barbara Kingsolver’s 1998 bestseller is titled “The Poisonwood Bible,” but for some reason my typing fingers overrode my brain and typed the wrong thing. My apologies for the error.
Suzanne Van Atten is a book critic and contributing editor to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.