CULT CLASSIC, by Sloane Crosley. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.) In her second novel, Crosley lends her trademark wit to the story of a reluctantly engaged woman who is still searching for a peculiar and elusive kind of love even as a high-profile cult stage a series. of seemingly chance encounters with her ex-boyfriend. “It’s a book about regret, about the hope of having made the right choice, about the harmful power of our memories, but also about one of the worst things a woman can do in a big city: date men,” Scaachi Koul wrote in her review. . “The events of the novel are conceptual, but the feelings it inspires are quite universal. There is a thick ooze of unease everywhere, a pleasant feeling of dread, desire and compulsion.
THE UNCOLLECTED ESSAYS OF ELIZABETH HARDWICK. (New York Review Books, paper, $18.95.) Far more laid-back and idiosyncratic than his best-known essays, this volume of unpublished works by the legendary critic touches on everything from oatmeal soufflé to the Kennedy scandals, the end of love and female suicides. “Weird, surprising, slippery and beautiful” is how critic Katie Roiphe describes Elizabeth Hardwick’s prose. According to Roiphe, “The glimpse this collection gives of Hardwick, the woman, is intriguing. We experience her spirit in darts and lightning. Going through these essays is what I imagine it would be like to stand next to her in the corner of a crowded party, in a cloud of smoke: sometimes uncomfortable, thrilling, alarming.
JACKIE & ME, by Louis Bayard. (Algonquin, $27.99.) Bayard’s 10th novel imagines the courtship of Jackie Bouvier and John F. Kennedy through the eyes of a friend, the real Lem Billings, who met Kennedy as a teenager and became his entertaining fixer and longtime confidant. Jackie and watching over her while JFK laid the groundwork to pursue his political ambitions. “On the surface, it’s a fun, scintillating story about the Kennedys. But it’s also a prism for examining situational friendship and the loneliness of public life,” Elisabeth Egan writes in her latest Group Text column. if you’re not a Kennedy enthusiast – even if your grandmother didn’t have a framed picture of JFK in her kitchen, like mine did, alongside that of Pope John Paul II – this elegant story , sexy and nostalgic will linger as Jackie’s signature scent of Pall Malls and Château Krigler 12. It’s a complicated bouquet of bitter and sweet.