The Angel Maker

Dr. Frankenstein meets Dolly the Sheep in Stefan Brijs's neo-gothic horror story. Already a bestseller in Brijs's native Belgium, The Angel Maker makes its way to American shores cloaked in a narrative of eerie dread. As the novel opens, Dr. Victor Hoppe arrives at his old family home in the small village of Wolfheim. In the backseat of the car are three crying babies -- deformed children that the renowned geneticist is at first loath to let the villagers see. Rumors about the triplet infants begin to spread. Are they freaks and monsters? Or is the oddly reticent doctor just trying to maintain his privacy? The answer, when it eventually comes to light, is as much a shock to the residents of Wolfheim as it is to the reader. For the first 100 pages, Brijs builds the suspense with such old-school atmosphere that you expect to hear haunting organ music while lightning streaks across the sky. The novel slows down in a middle section that painstakingly documents the evolution of a mad scientist alternately obsessed with cloning and wrestling with a Christ complex. The closing pages of The Angel Maker, however, are the stuff of nightmares and offer up some very unsettling ethical questions about man making man in his own image.

April 21: " 'Pull' includes 'invitations to tea' at which one hears smiling reminders that a better life is available to people who stop talking about massacres..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.