“You Should Have Left” is a brief but alarming chronicle of one writer’s emotional unraveling. The narrator, his wife, and small daughter have rented a cabin in the mountains of Germany, and this is the most innocent detail within Kehlmann’s eerie novel, which is translated from German. A large part of the story’s uncanny nature comes from its compressed form. In just 111 pages, psychic and physical landscapes begin to swerve and merge into and out of one another. The book will leave you feeling “strnage” — that is, strange and slightly misspelled, as if the book were a spell cast upon you, the reader. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Laurent Binet’s latest novel opens with the untimely death of the theorist Roland Barthes, killed while crossing the street in a random traffic accident. Or is it not so random after all? In a nod to the satires of Umberto Eco, Binet turns the French academic scene of the late 20th century into the setting of a murder mystery, with Derrida and Foucault squaring off against a wise-cracking police inspector. Full of strange conspiracies, political espionage, and bracing wit, the twists and turns of this novel arrive at an alternate reality as engaging and comically absurd as anything to emerge from the pen of a post-structuralist professor.
— Samuel Partal, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.commun
In Lehane’s new thriller, an esteemed reporter suffers an on-screen meltdown while corresponding from Haiti, tanking her career and reducing her life to nothing but loneliness, anxiety, and regret. One night, a charming gentleman from her past unexpectedly swoops back into her life, kicking off a sequence of dizzying plot twists a la “Breaking Bad.” This taut, suspenseful ride will keep you guessing until the final page.
— Seth Cockfield, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbo