These are some of the books that have come across my desk lately, and though I haven’t had the opportunity yet to read them in full, I think they’re worth a mention and a look.

Fifteen Candles: 15 Tales of Taffeta, Hairspray, Drunk Uncles, and other Quinceanera Stories

Edited by Adriana Lopez
Rayo; 332 pages; $14.95, June 2007

Who can resist that title, promising personal tales of humiliation, cheesiness, laughter and spectacle that can only come from hormonal teenage experiences? Edited by Criticas’ founding editor, this collection about the Latino coming of age ceremony, Quinceanera, is punctuated by embarrassing teen-year photos, and statements like “I don’t remember the year 1988 as a scary time,” and “The next morning I woke up destroyed.” Above all it’s original—move over Bat Mitzvah stories.

Celebrating the Filipino Centennial
Bamboo Ridge No. 89, Spring 2006

Various poetry, prose and art by Filipino-Americans and those who celebrate them. One poem stands out, reminding readers to expect the unexpected, Steve Shrader’s “Touching the Sweep,” which begins:

“turning for that long last reach downwind / a pole of language for balance / port and starboard, an adverb and an adjective …”

In the Driver’s Seat: Stories by Helen Simpson
Knopf; 177 pages; $22, May 2007

From the Iraq War to carpentry to lung cancer, Simpson’s wry stories render domestic British life with an eye toward the past and toward our common destination–aging and death. But her fiction (she’s written three short story collections and a novella) and this latest addition are not maudlin–it moves while also calmly disturbing.

Photos linked to publisher web sites. Thank you!