By Steven Carter (Bloomsbury)

Hotshot writer Alton Reece begins to identify too closely with his mercurial subject in this darkly comic meta-bio. Told through interviews, diary entries, and commentary, Hughes reads like Edie by way of Pale Fire, and Carter draws empathy for a man who for seven months carted around a "coffin" packed with douche bags and comics.

By M. Dylan Raskin (Four Walls Eight Windows)

In this bildungsmemoir, "M.D.R." drops out of "Queens-stinking-College," and embarks on a road trip to discover that there are as many uninspired "jerk-offs" in Chicago as in New York. To create his persona, the 22-year-old Raskin has conspicuously raided the teen-lit bin, dragging Holden Caulfield closer to Hunter Thompson than he ever deserved to be, and exciting those respective qualities—solipsism and hyperbole—that have aged the worst.

By Matthew McIntosh (Grove)

Inarticulate and drug-addled, these residents of Federal Way come to grief, or worse, in McIntosh's bruising novel of existential despair. In a series of vignettes and clipped bios, he renders the facts that brought them there with an acute ear for each character's voice and the tragic sense of the ineffable ("Something must have happened to that person," one concludes, in a nod to Heller). Plotless, their lives flicker with the restlessness of a home movie, at once reductive and terrifying.

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