This week, we highlight a writing guide from Chuck Palahniuk; a candid and fascinating portrait of young American masculinity from Peggy Orenstein; a ruminative, endlessly clever book by Pulitzer Prize–winner Robert Hass; and a whole lot more.

Naked Came the Florida Man

Tim Dorsey. Morrow, $26.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-279600-4

Bestseller Dorsey’s outstanding 23rd Serge Storms novel (after 2019’s No Sunscreen for the Dead) finds Serge, a serial killer with a warped moral streak, and his stoner buddy, Coleman, on a tour of Florida, visiting cemeteries around the state so that Serge can make rubbings of the tombstones of celebrities, including Mitzi, the dolphin who starred as Flipper in the 1960s TV series. Along the way, Serge indulges his desire to harm wrongdoers who are beyond the law’s reach by targeting a man who encourages animal cruelty and another who rips off impoverished elderly people. Dorsey builds suspense with a number of cryptic subplots, notably one set in 1928 centered on the discovery of three murder victims in the aftermath of a hurricane. Another one concerns a girl, desperate to join her high school football team, who’s found a hidden cache of rare coins. Dorsey keeps readers guessing about whether the disparate plot strands will connect. Serge’s sadistic methods aren’t for all tastes, but readers with an appetite for gallows humor will be sated. Agent: Nat Sobel, Sobel Weber Assoc. (Jan.)

The Black Cathedral

Marcial Gala, trans. from the Spanish by Anna Kushner. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25 (192p) ISBN 978-0-374-11801-3

In Gala’s strange, exuberant, and altogether brilliant English-language debut, a vibrant collection of narrators tell the story of a tight-knit community in Cienfuegos, Cuba. The Stuarts, a religious family, move into town and set into motion numerous threads, narrated by a number of neighborhood residents. Arturo, the father, decides to build a temple for his growing church, the Church of the Holy Sacrament of the Resurrected, which begins as a congregation of “no more than a dozen people” and balloons to “more than twenty thousand.” Johannes, the artist daughter, beguiles and rejects the duplicitous hustler Gringo, who, because of this (according to him), turns into a murderous con man who sells the bodies of his victims as meat to unsuspecting locals in a neighboring upscale community. David King and Samuel Prince, the Stuart sons, have opposing personalities (King is athletic and domineering; Prince is gentle and poetically minded), but they come together to commit a horrible atrocity. One of Gringo’s victims haunts Prince’s friend Berta from beyond the grave, seeking help to take care of some unfinished business, which leads Berta to Araceli, with whom Berta and Prince form a love triangle. The temple, meanwhile, is never finished; it grows and grows and grows, eating up money and time and the spirits of those dedicated to erecting it. An enthralling work of imagination and grit, Gala’s novel captures the complexity of one neighborhood as much as it exemplifies the many pleasures of great fiction. (Jan.)

Summer Snow

Robert Hass. Ecco, $27.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-06-295002-4

In this ruminative, endlessly clever book, Pulitzer Prize–winner Hass (The Apple Trees at Olema) turns his eye toward nature, love, and even drone strikes, as, when chronicling a visit to a Las Vegas Air Force base for a protest, he juxtaposes the specter of commerce at a nearby casino with headlines detailing drone-related deaths in the Middle East. Though death may be the prevailing theme, these poems are far from dirges, as images of his Northern California environs shimmer with life: “you can almost hear the earth sigh/ As it sucks up the rain.” Hass experiments with form, vacillating between long and short lines, stanzas and long unbroken blocks of verse. His language is lofty but accessible, as in “The Archaeology of Plenty,” a loose, associative riff about finding meaning in a callous and capricious world, in which the poet argues for poetry as a cure for existential dread: “reach into your heavy waking,/ The metaphysical nausea that being in your life,/ With its bearing and its strife, its stiffs,/ Its stuff, seems to have produced in you,/ Reduced you to, and make something with a pleasing,/ Or teasing, ring to it.” Hass is a rarity, a poet’s poet and a reader’s poet who, with this newest endeavor, bestows a precious gift to his audience. (Jan.)

A Collective Bargain: Unions, Organizing, and the Fight for Democracy

Jane McAlevey. Ecco, $26.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-290859-9

Labor activist McAlevey (Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell)) delivers a persuasive argument that the power of “strong, democratic” trade unions can fix many of America’s social problems in this timely cri de coeur. Sketching the history of the labor movement from the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, which guaranteed the right to collective bargaining; through the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, which banned sympathy strikes, legalized corporate campaigns against unionization, and created “right-to-work” laws; and the “union-busting effects of globalization” beginning in the 1970s, McAlevey contends that the weakening of private- and public-sector unions over the past 80 years is directly responsible for increased income and political inequality. Yet unions can be successful even in a diminished state, McAlevey notes, pointing to recent strikes in the education, health-care, and hospitality industries that led to improved contracts. She offers a useful primer on how labor organizing works, and effectively refutes common assumptions about unions, including that they discriminate against women and are inherently corrupt. Well-run unions, she contends, can achieve better schools, stronger environmental protections, and increased racial and gender equality. McAlevey’s caustic humor (“We don’t need robots to care for the aging population. We need the rich to pay their taxes”) and contagious confidence in the efficacy of organized labor give this succinct volume an outsize impact. (Jan.)

One of Us Is Next

Karen M. McManus. Delacorte, $19.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-525-70796-7

McManus follows up her page-turning One of Us Is Lying with an equally breathless read, this time focusing on secondary characters from the original story. Following the events of the first book, the Bayview Four—Bronwyn, Addy, Cooper, and Nate—have now gone their separate ways. Only Addy remains in town, working as a server, alongside Phoebe, at Café Contigo. Maeve, Bronwyn’s younger sister, a leukemia survivor, spends a great deal of time there with Knox, her best friend and former boyfriend. When a new Reddit thread mysteriously begins under the moniker “Vengeance Is Mine,” and an anonymous texter begins a Truth or Dare game on Bayview High students’ phones, the new friends’ secrets are revealed in a public and embarrassing way, via school-wide texts. The anonymous texter ends the reveal with a warning: “Always take the dare.” When the dares go from shocking to dangerous, Maeve, Phoebe, Addy, and Knox find themselves at the center of a new mystery with an even more dangerous puppet master. Full of exciting and unexpected twists and racing toward a shocking conclusion, McManus’s tale will not disappoint fans, and those unfamiliar with her previous work will inhale this complicated story of friendship and revenge. Ages 14–up. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Jan.)

Boys & Sex: Young Men on Hookups, Love, Porn, Consent, and Navigating the New Masculinity

Peggy Orenstein. Harper, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-266697-0

Journalist Orenstein (Girls & Sex) talks with high school– and college-age boys and men about sex in this candid and fascinating portrait of young American masculinity. Conducting more than 100 interviews with males ages 16–22 throughout America, Orenstein shares a narrative of “toxic masculinity”—exemplified by emotional suppression, casual homophobia, and bragging about sexual conquests—and unveils a “historically unprecedented” availability—and habitual watching—of porn, with boys beginning to watch it as early as sixth grade. The damaging effects of this trend are reflected in misconceptions about women, and also result in boys who are unprepared for real-life relationships. Orenstein’s scope is wide, as she delves into the lives of gay and transgender boys and men and interviews young black men at predominantly white schools who stringently follow the rules of “consent,” wary of severe punishment for any hint of improper behavior. Among other conclusions, the author demands that parents “get over it” and talk openly with their kids about sex and intimacy. The #MeToo movement, she asserts, is not only a chance for girls to expose sexual misconduct, but also an opportunity to raise boys up to be compassionate, responsible men. Expertly written and sometimes disturbing, but always informative, Orenstein’s latest is a valuable reference for parents of teenage boys and young men. (Jan.)

Consider This: Moments in My Writing Life After Which Everything Was Different

Chuck Palahniuk. Grand Central, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-1-5387-1795-0

Palahniuk (Adjustment Day) delivers a fine book on writing, full of advice and anecdotes garnered from his career as a novelist, that will help both those aspiring to write bestsellers and those hoping to write from the heart. His practical tips range from the importance of surprising one’s readers to the need to torment one’s characters. He concludes the book’s nuts-and-bolts component with a troubleshooting chart (he asks those whose beginnings don’t hook readers, “Do you begin with a thesis sentence that summarizes, or do you begin by raising a compelling question or possibility?”). Palahniuk also writes about his own life, in recurrent “Postcards from the Tour” sections on the joys and trials of being a famous author (the latter including an incident when a book-signing attendee, angered that Palahniuk refused to sign a Don DeLillo novel, attacked him with a tube full of mice). The book finally rises to a moving emotional crescendo, in a final chapter that shares moments of serendipity from Palahniuk’s time on the road. Reminiscent of Stephen King’s On Writing in never failing to entertain while imparting wisdom, this is an indispensable resource for writers. Agent: Dan Kirschen, Sloan Harris, ICM Partners. (Jan.)

The Art of Dying

Ambrose Parry. Canongate, $26 (416p) ISBN 978-1-78689-669-8

Set in 1849 Edinburgh, Parry’s outstanding sequel to 2018’s The Way of All Flesh (the author is the husband-and-wife writing team of Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman) finds Will Raven still apprenticed to real-life surgeon James Simpson. Will and his sometime love interest, Sarah Fisher, who was once Simpson’s maid, join forces to prove Simpson’s innocence after a former assistant and a professor of surgery accuse Simpson of being responsible for the death of a patient through negligence. Simpson’s accusers claim that the woman on whom he performed a procedure (“Something to do with the cervix, I think,” Sarah says) died of a hemorrhage, as evidenced by the bloodstains on the mattress she died on. Simpson maintains that she died of inflammation. No autopsy was done to spare the feelings of the widower, himself a medical man. Chapters from the perspective of the unnamed killer, who expresses amusement that the murder has caused such a controversy, lend dark counterpoint to the inquiry. Fans of David Pirie and Katie Welsh, who likewise have set crime novels in Victorian Edinburgh, will be richly rewarded. Agent: Sophie Scard, United Agents (U.K.). (Jan.)

Kill Reply All: A Modern Guide to Online Etiquette, from Social Media to Work to Love

Victoria Turk. Plume, $16 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-5930-8619-3

Turk (The Damage Done), features editor at Wired U.K., playfully updates etiquette protocol for the modern era with this helpful guide. The tenet “good etiquette means putting other people’s comfort first” serves as Turk’s through line when figuring out the best way to interact virtually. Fun boxes and flowcharts are peppered throughout the text, and each of the four chapters (work, dating, friendship, social media) opens with five “Golden Rules” that bullet point key takeaways. Work email is extensively covered, with “reduce emails at all costs” as the main message. “Consent and reciprocity” is the core advice of Turk’s tips for online dating, which cover how and when to communicate. The art of text messaging is also thoroughly investigated, with Turk making the case that seemingly small details (such as punctuation) require attention to avoid misunderstandings. Funny “translations” of common email phrases as well as a guide to using emoji (such as how to use winking, smirking, and hand emoji for flirting) will be useful and amusing to those who feel out of the loop or take things too literally. While this digital-age primer will be of most interest to those who didn’t grow up with the internet, even online natives will find Turk’s savvy advice a joy. (Jan.)

I’ve Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know

W. Lee Warren. WaterBrook, $25.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-5256-5321-9

Brain surgeon and Iraq War veteran Warren (No Place to Hide) delivers a powerful memoir of his experiences—inside the operating room and out—that test his faith. He shares the stories of several of his patients, including Samuel, a young devout Christian whose life is cut short by brain cancer despite his good moral character, and Joey, a violent criminal whose surviving a brain tumor despite the odds leads Warren to question God’s fairness. Warren describes the calm acceptance and steadfast belief in God’s greater plan of his patient Rupert when he informs him of his terminal cancer. Rupert’s family’s request to pray with Warren (“that you will be blessed in the difficult work you do”) following their son’s death demonstrates a strength of faith that challenges Warren’s ideas about the purpose of prayer. Warren comes to realize, through these and other encounters, that faith may not change outcomes but can lead to better quality of life and relationships. His convictions are heart-wrenchingly put to the test by the sudden death of his 19-year-old son. Warren’s poignant work will provide hope and encouragement to any reader facing trauma or questioning meaning. (Jan.)

Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy

David Zucchino. Atlantic Monthly, $28 (436p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2838-6

Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Zucchino (Thunder Run) delivers a searing chronicle of the November 1898 white supremacist uprising in Wilmington, N.C., that overthrew the municipal government. At the time, Zucchino notes, Wilmington’s “thriving population of black professionals” made it, according to one contemporary source, “the freest town for a negro in the country.” Determined to end “Negro rule,” a cabal of white politicians and newspapermen launched a statewide campaign of voter suppression, intimidation, and ballot stuffing that flipped control of North Carolina’s state legislature from a Republican-Populist alliance to Democrats in the 1898 elections. The next day, the white supremacist leader Col. Alfred Waddell read a “White Declaration of Independence” in the Wilmington courthouse; among its seven resolutions was a demand for black newspaper owner Alexander Manly to be banished from the city for publishing an editorial that, Zucchino writes, “upended the core white conviction that any sex act between a black man and a white woman could only be rape.” When Waddell falsely claimed that Wilmington’s black leaders didn’t deliver their written response to the demands by 7:30 the next morning, as was required, nearly 2,000 armed white men burned down Manly’s newspaper offices, killed an estimated 60 African-Americans, and installed Waddell as mayor. Drawing on a wealth of primary sources, Zucchino paints a disturbing portrait of the massacre and how it was covered up by being described as a “race riot” sparked by African-Americans. This masterful account reveals a shameful chapter in American history. Agent: Philippa Brophy, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Jan.)