The 'Welcome To Night Vale' Book Is Coming In October 2015, So Wait It Out While Reading One Of These 9 Books
Before there was Serial, a podcast called Welcome to Night Vale was the addictive show pumping in everyone's headphones. Published by Commonplace Books and released twice-monthly, Welcome to Night Vale is like a hybrid of A Prairie Home Companion, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the X-Files with a dash of hipster cool thrown in for good measure. If you're not already a dedicated subscriber and that sounds right up your alley, well, I don't have to be the one to tell you you're missing out. (But, really, you're missing out.)
The podcast is a treat on its own, but there's even more for the Night Vale-loving crew: a Welcome to Night Vale book is coming in October 2015. Series creators (and soon-to-be published authors) Jacob Fink and Jeffrey Cranor have proven themselves to be brilliant noir thinkers with an uncommon style that marries the tedious and the absurd with high art and dark humor — and that means the book has the potential to be great.
But the October 20 release date is a while off. So, while you count down the days until the fall, keep the spirit of Night Vale alive with these 9 novels:
Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem
One of Jonathan Lethem's strangest novels, Chronic City follows a former child actor as he winds his way through a New York City somehow both vividly recognizable and not at all what we know. With a chronically high cultural critic (and probable hoarder) as his guide, and a girlfriend circling the Earth on a space station trapped beyond the atmosphere, Chase Insteadman inhabits a world nearly as strange as the desert hamlet of Night Vale (and that right there is saying something). So, when you just need to feel a little hit of that good old-fashioned strangeness, pick up Chronic City and keep the weird flame burning as you count down to October 20.
The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula K. Le Guin is a modern master of the genre novel, and with The Dispossessed Le Guin takes on the ultimate fantasy of a clash of alien cultures in a novel that forges its heroes and villains from the philosophies of science and feminism, consumerism, and anarchy, all in the search for a greater truth. Settle in for a good long read if you turn to this Le Guin text for comfort in the run-up to the Welcome to Night Vale release, because once you pick up The Dispossessed, you'll be hard pressed to put it down.
The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
Chillingly vivid and frighteningly plausible, Philip Roth's The Plot Against America is a historical satire so well-plotted and perfectly written that I actually found myself on Wikipedia checking to make sure that Charles Lindbergh was actually never a president of the United States. Begging the never-before-asked question of what the world might have looked like if anti-semites embodied by the cultural figure of Charles Lindbergh took over the White House during World War II, The Plot Against America is perhaps the ultimate conspiracy theory novel, and the perfect companion piece to anything Fink and Cranor might produce.
Sarah Canary by Karen Joy Fowler
What happens when you bring Alien life to 19th century California? Karen Joy Fowler asks and answers this exact question with adventure, humor, romance, and more than a little mystery in the high desert. Get your fill of the strange, beautiful, and barely believable with Sarah Canary, and you'll feel as though you never left Night Vale when the highly anticipated book finally does make its way into your hands.
The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
Thomas Pynchon's celebrated novels all have an air of the conspiracy about them, as though hidden secrets may lie just beyond every paragraph. While I've never been a fan of Pynchon's later (and significantly longer) works of fiction, The Crying of Lot 49 is nearly perfect in its neurotic tenor, elevating paranoia into a form of literary art, and all this with a story hinging on the vagaries of philology.
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
Mary Doria Russell's elusive, enigmatic masterwork The Sparrow reimagines the search for alien life as the purview of the Catholic church. Careening through space on a haunting journey both literary and philosophical, The Sparrow is an important read.
The Ministry of Fear by Graham Greene
Graham Greene's elegant noirs have a casual way of poking at structures and systems that I've always found poignant. With The Ministry of Fear, Greene brings protagonist Arthur Rowe from the insane asylum to the county fair, where a chance win at a carnival game reveals a spool of film concealed inside a cake and sends Rowe off into a world of intrigue and espionage. If the promise of a vast, dark underworld of secrets and lies doesn't lure you in, perhaps the subtle similarities between the dulcet tones of Night Vale's own Cecil Baldwin and Greene's suave style will be enough to seal the deal.
Libra by Don DeLillo
With a premise that shares much in common with Roth's A Plot Against America, Don DeLillo's Libra reimagines the the assassination of John F. Kennedy as a vast conspiracy beyond what even the most ardent believers might have been prepared to accept. Resplendent in DeLillo's poetic, minimal prose, Libra is the perfect book to prepare you for another encounter with the hooded figures you're sure to encounter in the Night Vale book come fall.
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
Stars in alignment, a mysterious gathering, a rocky coastline, the lure of gold, and a murdered girl? If those aren't the makings of a novel perfectly in line with the sensibilities of every Welcome to Night Vale reader, I don't know what are. Don't be dissuaded by the length or the rather renaissance-inspired cover, The Luminaries is more than a match for your Night Vale cravings.