Embittered characters with artistic sensibilities find unexpected sources of creativity in this trio of linked novellas.

The Back Chamber


Donald Hall

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $22

A 16th poetry collection in which the poet, now in his early 80s, explores sex, desire and his beloved New Hampshire landscape.

The Barbarian Nurseries

A Novel

Hector Tobar

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27

A Mexican maid's Los Angeles odyssey and the tangled web of the California judicial system.

Before the End, After the Beginning


Dagoberto Gilb

Grove Press, $24

Stories of boys and men trying to assert control over their situations in the face of life's often unexpected changes.

The Berrybender Narratives

A Novel

Larry McMurtry

Simon & Schuster, $32.50