Heller McAlpin

Life is strange and people are odd. That's one of the takeaways from Elizabeth McCracken's wildly entertaining third novel, a wonderfully unpredictable multi-generational saga which revolves around a Massachusetts bowling alley. Like all her fiction, including her 2014 story collection, Thunderstruck, and her much-loved novels, The Giant's House (1996) and Niagara Falls All Over Again (2001), Bowlaway celebrates the oddest of oddballs and the freakiest of freak accidents with wit and heart.

Pithy, loaded letters and emails aimed at their vulnerable targets fly more like missiles than missives in Amanda Sthers' lively epistolary novel about a combative, estranged family scattered between Israel, France, New York, and Los Angeles. At the beginning of Holy Lands, it seems as if nothing is sacrosanct to this pugnacious foursome. During the course of this short novel, that changes.

Many literary memoirs involve surmounting hurdles or uncovering family secrets in pursuit of self-discovery.

My guess is that you've never read a book quite like Heather Rose's The Museum of Modern Love. I know I haven't. This is the Australian author's seventh novel, though it's her first published in the United States, and it's a real find.

"She is famous the world over, but how many people know her name?" asks Camille Laurens in her new book Little Dancer Aged Fourteen: The True Story Behind Degas's Masterpiece.

The French novelist and essayist, best known for her autofiction, poses more questions than she can answer in this slim book about the girl who modeled, in 1881, for Edgar Degas's sculpture "Little Dancer Aged Fourteen."

Pages