The Song Is You

From its absolutely gorgeous, period-perfect cover to its evocative portrait of the 1940s Hollywood studio system in action, Megan Abbott's new novel is a sensual feast. "Hop was rarely surprised these days," Abbott says of Gil Hopkins, a once-promising journalist, now a studio flack who knows where all the bodies are buried because he buried most of them himself. Her other main player is a young starlet who really existed: Jean Spangler, a sexy-longlegs who disappeared one night and was never seen again. The papers called her "Daughter of Black Dahlia," connecting Spangler to another notorious disappearance. Abbott makes this single mother of a five-year-old girl a deeply touching and fully understandable young woman: knowing the dangers of having little talent other than her looks but still thinking she can survive in a very twisted world. Hopkins has some damaging knowledge of his own about that world: he was probably responsible for bringing about Spangler's fate. It's only when a friend of Jean's appears from the past does his own guilt begin to percolate, and when that girl also disappears he is forced into action almost against his will. A famed song-and-dance team who specialize in rough sex are among the culprits, as are Gil's ex-wife and a blackmail ring that takes advantage of the creepy mileu to make their own failed Hollywood dreams come true.

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…

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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.