As soon as booksellers (and journalists) crack open BEA's most sought-after galleys and compare notes, the season starts falling into place. It may be too soon to declare whether literary books from Ann Patchett, Amy Bloom, Phillip Roth, Tom Perrotta, Ann Packer and Irène Némirovsky will fare better at independent stores than at national retailers. Or whether there will be enough of an appetite for the fall's political books, which far outnumber the histories, biographies and cookbooks most likely to wind up in holiday displays. But based on all we saw and heard at last week's show, we can still make plenty of confident predictions.

A Solid Literary Lineup

Destined for Most Review Coverage

Alice Sebold's story of a woman who commits matricide, Almost Moon (Little, Brown, Oct. 16), is all but guaranteed review coverage—even in newspapers that have killed their book sections—given the success of The Lovely Bones.

Pulitzer Prize—winner Richard Russo's The Bridge of Sighs (Knopf, Oct. 2) offers something for everyone: a horizon-broadening foray to Venice that doesn't lose sight of his usual themes of family and marriage in small town America.

Likely National Book Award Finalist

FSG has an impressive record for breaking out long novels by cult authors who spent years writing them. The buzz on Denis Johnson's tale of a CIA-trained Vietnam vet, Tree of Smoke (Sept. 1), is by turns sincere and dutiful.

Debuts to Watch

Loving Frank (Ballantine, Aug.), Nancy Horan's story of a woman who has a tragic love affair with Frank Lloyd Wright, was a BEA buzz panel pick that's gathering fans at Borders and Rainy Day Books in Fairway, Kans., among others.

The Spanish Bow (Harcourt, Sept.), Andromeda Romano-Lax's tale about a Catalonian boy's 50-year musical journey through Spain, has been compared to Carlos Ruiz Zafón's Shadow of the Wind by Jen Reynolds of Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati, Ohio.

National Retailer Picks:

Noah Charney's debut novel, The Art Thief (Atria, Sept.), about heists in three cities, is a top pick for Amazon fiction editor Brad Parsons.

Rhett Butler's People (St. Martin's, Nov.) by Donald McCaig, an authorized sequel to Gone with the Wind told by Scarlett's famed lover, caught the eye of Borders fiction buyer Suzanne Farr.

Chelsea Cain's suspense debut, Heartsick (St. Martin's, Sept.), featuring a detective who's tortured and released by a foxy female serial killer, is a favorite of Rob Gruen, Borders's executive v-p of merchandising and marketing.

Indie Darlings:

It's taken Junot Diaz more than 10 years to write The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead, Sept. 6), but Hans Weyandt, co-owner of Micawber Books in St. Paul, Minn., and Arsen Kashkashian, buyer at Colorado's Boulder Bookstore, haven't given up on his potential to win readers.

The Quiet Girl (FSG, Nov.), Peter Hoeg's first novel since 1993's Smilla's Sense of Snow, should meet a ready audience. “He's just a stunning writer. I'm still selling Smilla,” said Betsy Burton, co-owner of the King's English in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Last Chicken in America by Ellen Litman (Norton, Sept. 7), a novel-in-stories about Russian immigrants in Pittsburgh, has already won praise from Daniel Goldin of Harry W. Schwartz Booksellers in Milwaukee and Gayle Shanks of Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Ariz.

Colbert vs. Greenspan

Wondering if former Fed chief Alan Greenspan's $8-million memoir, The Age of Turbulence (Penguin, Sept.), will outsell cable comedian Stephen Colbert's political spoof? If you compare the flow of booksellers leaving Greenspan's keynote early to the hundreds who lined up at 7 a.m. (on a Saturday!) for tickets to Colbert's signing, you might place your bet on Colbert's I Am America (and So Can You!) (Grand Central, Oct. 2).

Memoir on the Rebound

Steve Martin's Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life (Scribner, Dec. 4) is the rare celeb memoir that's likely to find fans at chain, indie and online retailers alike. “He's a real writer with a great sales track,” enthused Amazon's Parsons.

18 months after James Frey imploded on Oprah, readers may be ready to turn back to more intimate stories. Goldin and Kashkashian were buzzing about Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's by John Elder Robison (Crown, Sept.), which Robinson's brother, Augusten Burroughs, will help him promote.

24-year-old law student Amy Silverstein, who got a heart transplant, started a family and outlasted her doctor's life-expectancy predictions, tells her story in Sick Girl (Grove, Oct.). “It's a personal journey and also a larger story about the health-care system,” said Karen West of Book Passage in Corte Madera, Calif.

Politics Boil Up

There's no safer place to tell a controversial personal story than in your own book. Two memoirs likely to make headlines include outed CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson's Fair Game (S&S, Oct.) and Jimmy Carter's newly announced memoir of his post-presidency (S&S, ).

A lot of anti-Bush books are coming, but Carla Cohen of Washington, D.C.'s Politics & Prose believes many of them could find an audience. “That's how the Bush-haters expiate their fury, by laying down $25 for another book that socks it to him.” Her top pick is The Conscience of a Liberal by Paul Krugman (Norton, Oct. 9).

The presidential primaries are also piquing a lot of interest in the political big picture, says Carole Horne of Harvard Bookstore in Cambridge, Mass. She's looking forward to Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich's look at the compatibility of democracy and capitalism in Supercapitalism (Knopf, Sept. 6).

Too Many Boomers Are Just Enough

Tom Brokaw's reflection on the '60s, BOOM! (Random, Nov. 6), sounds like a runaway hit, many booksellers say.

Eric Clapton's autobiography, Clapton (Broadway, Oct. 9), may not catch Dylan's sales, but it still looks like a winner.

However, Mr. Slow Hand won't have the last word: ex-wife Pattie Boyd (aka “Layla”) also has a memoir: Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me (Harmony, Aug.)

And don't underestimate the sleeper potential of Dorothy Hamill's A Skating Life (Hyperion, Oct. 2). After all, she was once America's sweetheart.