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The month in books

From Libya to an existential detective story, Rachel Aspden picks June’s highlights

By Rachel Aspden   June 2012

What should we read on the longest, brightest days of the year? Publishers’ answers for June are counterintuitively gloomy. Before the season of more lighthearted travels, this month’s books follow quests and journeys of a downbeat kind—with the occasional glimmer of light.

Aside from his cult experimental story collection The Age of Wire and String, Ben Marcus is best-known for a fractious essay in Harper’s magazine attacking Jonathan Franzen’s bestselling novels for being just too easy and enjoyable to read. The Flame Alphabet (Granta, £14.99)—“an urban ironist’s reply to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road,” in the words of novelist Jonathan Lethem—seems…

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