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    There are loads of legitimate reasons a reader might dislike "The Ink Black Heart," the sixth book in the Cormoran Strike series. Writing as Robert Galbraith, J.K. Rowling has spun out a 1,024-page-long mystery, which is long even by, say, Elizabeth George standards and at least 500 pages longer than the story warrants. Far too many of those pages are filled with tweets; characters discussing ...

      CHICAGO — You know how we don’t notice the leaves on the trees until September arrives, nature flips its switch and emeralds become purples, reds and golds? That’s not the worst metaphor for the new fall book season — the big season for publishers (eyeing awards and holiday sales), and the best season for readers (facing more new titles than autumn foliage). There’s a fresh poignancy these ...

        FICTION: A biochemist returns to his Wisconsin hometown in this book set in the near future. "Painting Beyond Walls" by David Rhodes; Milkweed Editions (432 pages, $28) ——— "Painting Beyond Walls" marks David Rhodes' sixth novel in a career that can be divided into two parts. After graduating from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1971, he published three novels in quick succession ...

          The Booker Prize-winning novelist is an explorer at heart. September has seen the publication of "Lessons" by the Booker Prize-winning writer Ian McEwan. In an interview with the New Yorker, McEwan explained that he wrote "Lessons," with its narrative sweep across the decades since World War II, in the retrospective mood that took hold of so many of us during the pandemic. His remarks prompted ...

            FICTION: In the third novel narrated by Lucy Barton, COVID hits and Lucy heads for Maine with her ex-husband, William. "Lucy by the Sea" by Elizabeth Strout; Random House (285 pages, $28) ——— Lucy Barton doesn't quite grasp what is going on when her ex-husband, William, calls her early in 2020 and tells her to pack a bag, they are fleeing New York. "Let me get you out of this city," he says. ...

              Javier Zamora hadn't yet learned to tie his shoes when he began a 4,000-mile journey in 1999. He was a 9-year-old boy living in El Salvador with his grandparents before he embarked, unaccompanied, on a cross-border trip to reunite with his parents in the United States. What was supposed to be a two-week journey turned into a harrowing two-month trek through Guatemala, Mexico and Arizona. ...

                FICTION: Andrew Sean Greer's accomplished sequel to "Less" maps a cross-country odyssey filled with hijinks. "Less Is Lost" by Andrew Sean Greer; Little, Brown (272 pages, $29) ——— While scarcely an original observation, actor Sir Michael Caine still nailed it in 2017 when he said, "Comedy is harder to do than drama. You can make anyone burst into tears, but trying to get a laugh is murder." I ...

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