By Karen Russell [Knopf, $25]
The story in a nutshell: From the author of the acclaimed story collection St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves comes an even stranger tale about how the members of an eccentric Florida family, who own a gator-wrestling theme park, respond to the threat of a new corporate rival.
The standout scene: On the book's first page, the mom takes a moonlight swim in a pool full of gators (and all the subsequent scenes are pretty memorable too).
The cultural reference point: The Royal Tenenbaums go to the Everglades.
2. The Gospel of Anarchy
By Justin Taylor [Harper Perennial, $14]
The story in a nutshell: After an Internet-porn-addicted college dropout and a group of promiscuous freegetarian anarchists in Gainesville, Florida, find an old Mead notebook filled with the scribbled ravings of a mysterious hobo in the back yard, they decide to treat it as holy gospel.
The standout scene: Two of the kids start having the same dream at the same time, prompting their search for the notebook.
The cultural reference point: Dianetics for street punks.
3. The Fates Will Find Their Way
By Hannah Pittard [Ecco, $25]
The story in a nutshell: Told in the technically tricky first-person plural, this novel uncovers creepy male sexuality in every form and facet by recounting the way a local girl's disappearance traumatized a group of suburban men and revealing their morbid fantasies about her ultimate fate.
The standout scene: A 13-year-old girl tells a police detective how much she wants to have sex with her parents' middle-aged friend.
The cultural reference point: The Virgin Suicides, but without the virgins.