OUR KIND OF CRUELTY, by Araminta Hall. (MCD/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.) In this searing, chilling sliver of perfection about a toxic relationship, the man is the psychopath — or is it all a game, with the tacit support of his complicit ex-girlfriend? “We grow uneasy, wondering if in fact all we’re reading is a portrait of entwined madness and male entitlement,” Charles Finch writes in his review. “That doubt lingers all the way through the stunning final pages of ‘Our Kind of Cruelty,’ which may well turn out to be the year’s best thriller.”
SAVING CENTRAL PARK: A History and a Memoir, by Elizabeth Barlow Rogers. (Knopf, $30.) The inspiring story of how one woman, in the face of considerable resistance, created a partnership in the 1970s to privately augment the funding and management of Manhattan’s beloved park, rescuing what had become “a ragged 843-acre wasteland.” Reviewing the memoir, Dominique Browning notes that Rogers was inspired in part by Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique” to think beyond her own home and family. And how. “By the time Rogers retired in 1995, the Conservancy had put more than $100 million of private money into the park; today, she says, the figure has grown to $1 billion,” Browning writes. “All that money went into the refurbishment of hardscapes and the restoration of gardens, as well as planting and pruning.”
ROBIN, by Dave Itzkoff. (Times/Holt, $30.) A generous, appreciative biography of Robin Williams by a New York Times culture reporter. The author, who had access to Williams and members of the comedian’s family, is an unabashed fan but doesn’t shy away from the abundant messiness in his subject’s personal life. The book is “exhaustively reported,” according to our reviewer, David Kamp, “a straightforward, chronological account of how an introverted wealthy kid … blossomed into a sui generis comic force of nature: a man who, as Itzkoff nicely puts it, ‘had admirers but no imitators; no one combined the precise set of talents he had in the same alchemical proportions.’”
SABRINA, by Nick Drnaso. (Drawn and Quarterly, $27.95.) This graphic novel is a Midwestern gothic tale for our times, recounting the story of a woman’s disappearance and murder, seen through the eyes of her bereaved boyfriend as he watches the trolls and conspiracy theorists dissect her death online. “It’s an unnerving mystery told by a rigorous moralist, a profoundly American nightmare set squarely in the first year of the Trump presidency,” Ed Park writes in his review. “Politics is never mentioned, but the dread is everywhere. … Drnaso subtly suggests that the current climate of constant horror, weaponized by hashtags and spread by autofill, has its seeds in the fall of the Twin Towers and our response to the tragedy. It’s a shattering work of art.”
SOME TRICK: Thirteen Stories, by Helen DeWitt. (New Directions, $22.95.) DeWitt’s manic, brilliant new collection explores her interest in “fiction that shows the way mathematicians think,” as one character puts it. Populated by geniuses and virtuosos, the stories are zanily cerebral and proceed with fractal precision. “A DeWitt short story is a thing crafted with unimpeachable skill, even genius, but as you marvel at the stitching you might also shudder at the sense of a cruel, even brutal, joke,” our reviewer, Hermione Hoby, writes. “There is much madness in DeWitt’s method, a madness of pure logic” and “the sometimes discomfiting pleasure of being dazzled.”
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