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America’s BoOK Review

July 2009

One

Small Step

40 years after the moonwalk Plus: Buzz Aldrin on life after space

Beach books

Can’t-miss vacation reads

best friends Jennifer Weiner’s take on renewing old ties

six suspects

Multifaceted tale from author of ‘Slumdog’

first blood

Striking mystery debuts


America’s BoOK Review

CONTENTS

Associate publisher Julia Steele Editor Lynn L. Green Nonfiction Editor MiChelle Jones

6 Fly Me to the Moon Just in time for the 40th anniversary—the best books on the historic moon landing

INTERVIEWS 7 Buzz Aldrin Insights from the Apollo astronaut 19 Laura Caldwell Law professor pens a trilogy

FEATURES 8 Behind the Book Hemingway’s grandson talks

fiction Editor Abby Plesser web Editor Trisha Ping Contributing Editor Sukey Howard Contributor Roger Bishop

10 Jennifer Weiner Meet the author of Best Friends

Forever

‘Slumdog Millionaire’ author returns with a mystery

12 Beach Reading No matter what you like to read, we have the best picks for beach season

20 Well Read Colum McCann’s kaleidoscopic portrait

Advertising Sales Julia Steele Angela J. Bowman

Children’s Books

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of New York City in the 1970s

24 Summer Reading What’s probably not on your

18 Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It

Production Manager Penny Childress

child’s summer reading list this year—but should be

Production Designer Karen Trotter Elley

18

A Happy Marriage by Rafael Yglesias

25 Jennifer E. Smith A hilarious and heartfelt road-

22

Brodeck by Philippe Claudel

28

The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine

26 Alan Bean Meet the illustrator (and astronaut)

31

Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan

27 The final frontier The best space books for kids

Nonfiction

Customer Service Alice Fitzgibbon ONLINE SERVICES manager Scott Grissom

R E V I E W S Our editors evaluate and select for review the best new books published each month. Only books we highly recommend are featured. BookPage is editorially independent and never accepts payment for editorial coverage.

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about the new edition of A Moveable Feast

Children’s books Allison Hammond

SUBSCRIPTION MANAGER Elizabeth Grace Herbert

2

Vikas Swarup

ON THE COVER

THE BEST IN NEW BOOKS Publisher Michael A. Zibart

july 2009

© ROHT SURI

®

trip novel

4 Free by Chris Anderson

REVIEWS

4 The Indifferent Stars Above by Daniel James Brown

Fiction 5

Everything Matters! by Ron Currie Jr.

10

The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

16 What I Thought I Knew by Alice Eve Cohen

10

Strangers by Anita Brookner

20

by Jancee Dunn Provenance by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo

20 The State of Jones

14

Six Suspects by Vikas Swarup

even more mystery

by Sally Jenkins and John Stauffer

21 A Brave Vessel by Hobson Woodward 22 Making an Elephant by Graham Swift 29 The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes 31

Satchel by Larry Tye

31 The Sages by Charles R. Morris

DEPARTMENTS

Rates are available online, or contact Julia Steele at 615-292-8926, ext.15.

B O O K PA GE.COM

16 Why Is My Mother Getting a Tattoo?

11 A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert

A D V E R T I S E

R E A D A L L O U R R E V I E W S AT

1959 by Fred Kaplan

In the Kitchen by Monica Ali

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by Maile Meloy

The best crime fiction debuts of the summer

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3 4 11 17 18 22 28 30

Buzz Girl The Author Enablers Bestseller Watch Whodunit? Audio Book Clubs Romance Cooking

Cover illustration by Mike Wimmer from the children’s picture book, One Giant Leap (Philomel), reviewed in this issue. Reprinted with permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.


buzz girl

➥ Our publishing insider gets the skinny on tomorrow’s bestsellers A strong Fall is shaping up, with new releases from some big names in fiction, plus a blockbuster memoir from a political legend.

➥ teen from Trigiani One of our most enjoyable visits at BookExpo was with Adriana Trigiani, author of the popular Big Stone Gap series. Trigiani is making her young adult debut this fall with Viola in Reel Life, and she led our editor right down to the Harper booth to make sure we got adriana a galley. Aimed at trigiani ages 12 and up, the new novel focuses on a teenager who is shipped off to boarding school and has to find her way with a new group of friends. The author never attended boarding school herself and her own daughter is only six, so the new book isn’t a “drawn-from-real-life” story. “I made it all up,” Trigiani says with refreshing honesty. She did tap her memories of teenage angst and adolescent awkwardness in creating Viola, who is named after Adriana’s grandmother, continuing a tradition of naming characters “after the people I love.” Trigiani says she really enjoyed writing for a younger audience and is looking for-

ward to expanding the new book into a teen series. We give her credit for starting a new young adult series that does NOT involve supernatural characters—werewolves, angels, vampires, you name it—when almost every other teen author and/or publisher is rushing to snag a slice of the huge Stephenie Meyer market.

was leaving her longtime publisher, Putnam, and signing on with them for her next three books in the Anna Pigeon series. The first book will appear in 2010. In the official press release, Minotaur VP and Publisher Andrew Martin calls Barr “a star author,” saying that he is “absolutely delighted to be welcoming her onto our list.” Barr’s final novel with Putnam, Borderline, was released in April, and she has a standalone thriller, 13 1/2, coming from Vanguard Press on September 29.

THE SUMMER

KITCHEN

From the author of A Month of Summer, an inspiring new novel in the Blue Sky Hill series about one woman’s effect on a struggling Dallas neighborhood. In this moving story of second chances, two unlikely allies realize their ability to make a difference—and the power of what becomes known as the Summer Kitchen to nourish the soul.

NEW IN PAPERBACK

A Member of Penguin Group (USA) penguin.com

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JULY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

In 2007, a young, handThe New York Times may be some and totally unknown bemoaning the state of pubwriter named Joshua Ferris lishing/bookselling, but there’s diana gabaldon rocked the publishing scene a strong fall shaping up, with with his brilliant debut novel the return of many favorite authors. We’ve already told you about And Then We Came to the End. Writing Stephen King, Pat Conroy and Dan in a first-person-plural narrative, FerBrown. Now Diana Gabaldon enters the ris satirized the American workplace by list in October with a new installment in exploring a fictional Chicago advertisher popular Outlander series. An Echo ing agency at the end of the ’90s Internet in the Bone is set during the American boom. The book won Revolution and pits Jamie against his the PEN/Hemingway illegitimate son who is fighting for the Award, was named British. At a reported 992 pages, this is a one of the New York book readers can get lost in, and should Times Book Review’s keep them occupied until Spring 2010, “10 Best Books of when Del Rey will release a graphic nov- the Year” and became a finalist for el based on the series. In a 1997 Q&A, Gabaldon told Book- the National Book Page that the 18th century was “Nice Award. Not bad for place to visit,” but unlike her a 32-year-old who in—you joshua ferris time-traveling heroine Claire, worked “I wouldn’t want to live there.” guessed it—advertising before turning to writing. CONTESTS In January 2010, Ferris will be back TED Tells all? with The Unnamed—a novel that At a recent meeting sounds as mysterious as its title. The with Books-A-Million, David novel focuses on Tim and Jane FarnYoung, chairman and CEO of sworth, a long-married couple who Hachette Book Group, told seem to have it all, until Tim’s illness Get to know the redesigned buyers that the upcoming Ted forces them to leave their comfortable BookPage.com, and win great Kennedy memoir would be the existence and battle against a series of nonfiction hit of the fall. prizes along the way. This month, terrifying new realities. Industry buzz According to Young, True says that while this book is absolutely we’re sending BookPage.com visiCompass (Twelve) covers ev- a departure for Ferris, the new novel is tors around the site in a search for erything from Kennedy’s youth well-worth the wait. BookPage trivia. Find the answers, to the current day in surprising detail. “Revelations in this book fill out the questionnaire and you contributor news will amaze people,” Young said, could be a winner. Prizes include Congratulations to our romance colpromising that Kennedy “went books, gift cards and a grand prize everywhere we wanted him umnist Christie Ridgway, who just to go” in the memoir—incl- signed a deal with Berkley to publish a so grand, we can’t print it here—so uding Chappaquiddick—and new series of contemporary romance head on over to the site to find out, that the scene where Kennedy novels. Set in Napa, The Three Kisses and play along. informs their father of his trilogy focuses on three single sisters who brother Jack’s death is espe- are fighting to keep their struggling vinMore ways to win cially poignant. The book will, yard afloat—and the smoking hot bachof course, be embargoed until elor brothers who are the sisters’ biggest New site, more chances to win. competitors. Or, in Christie’s words: “One its October 6 release date. Check out our home page for contests failing winery, two feuding families, three unforgettable pairings.” We’re just wishgalore, and read our new blog, The barr moves ing we could help out with the research Book Case, for more giveaways.  Minotaur announced that involved in this one! The first book will mystery writer Nevada Barr be published next summer. 

LISA WINGATE

➥ ferris returns

➥ dark side

Join the BookPage.com scavenger hunt!

National bestselling author

3


BUSINESS

‘Long Tail’ author takes a free ride By Linda M. Castellitto When Chris Anderson wrote his first book, 2006’s The Long Tail, he made some of his research, ideas and conclusions available free to readers of his blog. He was rewarded with thoughtful feedback and questions, not to mention a ready-made audience for the book. His new book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price, takes a page from that experience via case studies with a foundation of free, plus a tour through the history and psychology of “freeconomics.” By “free,” Anderson doesn’t mean gift-withpurchase; he means no-strings-attached giveaways that reap rewards through sales of other products or services, or information that can be used to build brand and customer loyalty. The author, whose day job is editor-in-chief of Wired (available free online), explores print advertising models and their new online counterparts and also describes strategies employed by pioneers and modern-day masters of freecentric business models. For example, in 1904, Jell-O created demand for its strange new product by giving away recipe booklets; in 2008, science fiction writer Neil Gaiman offered for four weeks a free download of American Gods. Obviously, Jell-O’s strategy worked, as did Gaiman’s: American Gods Free became a bestseller, and independent-bookstore sales of his By Chris Anderson other books increased by 40 percent. Hyperion Also valuable: a willingness to take risks in pursuit of cap- $26.99, 288 pages turing the attention of media-savvy, demanding consumers ISBN 9781401322908 with Web-centric lives. Anderson writes, “If you’re controlling scarce resources (the prime-time broadcast schedule, say) you have to be discriminating. . . . But if you’re tapping into abundant resources, you can afford to take chances, since the cost of failure is so low.” Sections like “The 10 Principles of Abundance Thinking” and “50 Business Models Built on Free” will help readers grasp (and apply) freeconomic principles, while sidebars such as “Why do free bikes thrive in one city, but not another?” ask and answer intriguing questions. As with The Long Tail, Anderson has crafted an edifying, entertaining read—one that will be exciting and useful for readers looking for a fresh approach to business. o Linda M. Castellitto writes from North Carolina.

HISTORY

JULY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

A moving retelling of the Donner saga

4

By Rebecca Steinitz The tale of the Donner party is one of the mythic tragedies of American history. In The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride, Daniel James Brown brings the myth to life, transforming faint history class memories into gripping reality. Through painstaking research and powerful narrative, Brown tracks the disparate groups of pioneers who ended up snowbound in the High Sierras in the winter of 1846-1847, infamously turning to cannibalism when their food ran out. While the book ostensibly focuses on Sarah Graves, a young bride traveling with her family and new husband, its scope is panoramic, taking in everything from the Mexican-American War, to mid-19th-century hygiene practices, to conflicts over money, leadership and routes. Drawing on contemporary accounts, historical research, scholarly studies of topics like survival psychology and the physiology of starvation, and his own retracing of the Donner party’s steps, Brown vividly depicts the sights, sounds and smells of the Emigrant Trail. Most strikingly, he plausibly reconstructs how Graves and other members of the The Indifferent Donner party would have felt, physically and emotionally, as they pushed their wagons up the Wasatch mountains, Stars Above staggered across Utah’s salt desert, tried to protect them- By Daniel James Brown selves from powerful winter storms, and finally faced the Morrow choice—or so they thought—of eating the flesh of family $25.99, 352 pages and friends or starving to death. It’s not a pretty tale, but ISBN 9780061348105 Brown makes it utterly compelling, creating a horror story that we keep hoping will have a happy ending, even as we know it won’t. Except that for some, it did. For much of the book, Graves is an inadequate heroine. Brown himself points out that there is “little record” of her, and she often seems less a focal point than a minor character. But unlike her husband and parents, she survived the horrors, ultimately making a successful life in California for herself and her surviving sisters. In the end, Graves becomes a symbol, not just of the ability to withstand inconceivable hardship, but of hope itself. This book is a fitting tribute to her story. o Rebecca Steinitz is a writer, editor and consultant in Arlington, Massachusetts.

THE AUTHOR ENABLERS All in good time Dear Author Enablers: I am a published writer working on my first novel. I have read numerous articles and books and have attended conferences regarding agents, editors, publishers, etc. While I have a lot of information, much of it is conflicting. I know that everyone proceeds differently depending on their skill level and needs, but do you have a suggested timeline for publishing a novel? Sharon Weatherhead Sebring, Florida It’s true that there is no one timeline or template for publishing a novel. Decades passed after Ralph Ellison published his first novel, Invisible Man, and his second, Juneteenth, did not appear until after his BY SAM BARRY & death. On the other end of the spectrum, Joyce Carol Oates publishes a novel every KATHI KAMEN GOLDMARK seven weeks. If you’ve been to writers’ conferences, I’m sure you’re aware that these timelines can vary greatly. It’s those pesky apocryphal “one agent submission/immediately goes to auction/six-figure advance” stories that happen just often enough to throw off the averages, and also give us all a glimmer of hope. The general rule is that it takes a couple of years to go through the whole process. For a first work of fiction, you need to complete your manuscript. Once that is done, here is a possible timeline: • Immediately: Go to Literary Market Place (visit your library or local bookstore for more info) and research agents that suit your book. • One Month: Finish a beautifully crafted query letter to the select agents you have chosen to pursue. • Two to six months: Send out your query letter and await responses. • Six months to a year: Send out partial or whole manuscripts to agents as requested and patiently await their response. If necessary, pursue more agents. • One to two years: Work with your agent to change manuscript and other materials as needed. Hold breath while agent sends manuscript to publishers. • Two to three years: Sign contract and complete requested editorial revisions. Books are usually published about a year (or sometimes a little more) after they are acquired, depending on how much revision is needed. For timely, news-related topics, books can be slammed out much, much faster. Dear Author Enablers: Why do you think agents are so important? Aren’t agents only needed more by already-established authors? At what point does a writer get an agent? Is the agent’s main job to submit, or negotiate? Does an agent work on a commission basis? Who pays him? Is the agent paid after the fact—a certain amount based on the number of book sales? What percentage of the money does the agent receive in the process? Will the agent still be expecting $$ even if the book doesn’t end up getting published after all or the novel does get published but turns into a dud? Are there publishers who work directly with authors without an agent? Sorry, but I’m wondering if y’all have “friends in the business” (agents) and that’s why you push them! Or, are you enabling authors with the facts? L. W. Smith Well, you caught us! We do have friends who are agents, but we don’t concern ourselves with how much money they make, unless they are our agents and making money from the sale of our own books. A reputable agent works on a percentage basis, most often taking 15 percent of an author’s advance and royalties. Agents submit manuscripts to publishers and negotiate contracts when books are sold, but the good ones also do a lot more. Many offer first-line editorial guidance, making sure their authors’ manuscripts are in the best possible shape before submission. Most also serve as advocates and even de facto publicists for published authors. Agents know the lay of the land; they know which acquiring editors might be most interested in a particular book, and they know where and with whom not to waste everyone’s time. It is definitely possible to sell a book to an established publisher without an agent, but unless you are a lawyer yourself, it’s unlikely you’ll wind up with as good a deal as you would have had with representation. Some publishers will not consider manuscripts that are submitted “over the transom” (meaning, without agent representation), and if you have an agent, you get to be the sweetie-pie while your agent plays hardball with your publisher, in the ever-popular good cop/bad cop scenario. o With more than 25 years of experience, Kathi Kamen Goldmark and Sam Barry have the inside scoop on writing and publishing. Email your questions (along with your name and hometown) to AuthorEnabler@aol.com, or visit their new blog at BookPage.com.


FICTION

FICTION

Chef’s special from Monica Ali

It’s the end of the world as we know it

By Jillian Quint At the start of Monica Ali’s third novel, In the Kitchen, executive chef Gabriel Lightfoot fears he has bitten off more than he can chew. His multi-ethnic staff is unruly, his girlfriend wants more from their relationship, his father is ill, his secret plans to open his own dining establishment threaten to unravel, and one of his porters has just turned up dead in the basement of his London restaurant. For a while, Gabe keeps things under control, erring on the side of both caution and obligation. But, after he agrees to help his former employee Lena, a young Belarusian woman with a dark past, his life takes a series of twists that lead him away from his sense of duty and, in turn, from the things he thinks he wants. Ali’s highly acclaimed debut, Brick Lane, centered on Bengali immigrants in London, and it’s easy to see how her interest in multiculturalism and nationality extends to the new novel. However, where the first book was focused and contained, In the Kitchen is surprisingly farreaching and delightfully nuanced—messy even, in the best way possible. After all, much of Gabe’s neurosis and guilt stems from his Englishness, his ho-hum middleclass worries about tea and football and cancer in the face In the Kitchen of Lena’s concerns about human trafficking, poverty and By Monica Ali horrific violence. As a way to assuage this guilt, he takes Scribner her on as his cause worth fighting for. But this charity is $26.99, 448 pages misguided. The more he tries to help Lena, the more he ISBN 9781416571681 hurts himself; and the more he seeks to understand the inner workings of his kitchen, the more muddled his life becomes. Ali doesn’t provide easy answers for either her characters or readers. Gabe is endearingly flawed from page one, making choices that are somehow both admirable and cringe-worthy. But it is precisely this duality that wins readers over as Ali employs her immensely vibrant and critical voice to address yet another side of the complicated intersection between where one comes from and who one is. o Jillian Quint is an editor at a publishing house in New York. She lives in Brooklyn.

By Lindsey Schwoeri In his award-winning debut collection, God Is Dead, Ron Currie Jr. imagined what the world would be like if God came to earth in human form and was killed. In his new novel, he tackles an equally weighty subject with the same irresistible sense of humor: in a world where the apocalypse is certain, does anything we do matter? In this hilarious, wry, deeply moving but never sentimental novel, the answer is clear: Everything Matters! While Rodney Thibodeau Jr. is still in the womb, a mysterious voice entrusts him with the knowledge that on June 15, 2010, at 3:44 p.m. EST, the world will be obliterated by a fiery comet. In the 36 years he has on this earth, Junior is accompanied by this voice, and haunted by the implications of its prophecy. Meanwhile, his loved ones bear burdens of their own—his anxious but doting mother begins her slow descent into alcoholism; his distant father retreats still further into his work; and his brother becomes a cocaine addict. The one bright spot in all of this is Amy—the love of Junior’s life. But when he confides in her what the voice has told him, she turns away from him, sending him into a deep downward spiral. Will Junior give into the familial vice—addiction—lay back and let the apocalypse come, or will he try to do some- Everything thing about it? Matters! The magic of this book is that Currie’s vision of the end By Ron Currie Jr. of humanity is in fact a celebration of life—even at its very Viking worst. For a novel shot through with addiction, abuse, vio- $25.95, 320 pages lence and failed relationships, Everything Matters! is shock- ISBN 9780670020928 ingly, impossibly uplifting. Currie captures people, in all Also available on audio their imperfect splendor, in just a few sentences; he creates visceral images in just a few words. And while Junior, Amy and the others prepare for the end of days, you begin to realize that the questions the novel raises—about God, fate, destiny and the future—are just as immediate for the rest of us. Everything Matters! is a powerful, funny, thought-provoking book that confirms Currie as an exciting new voice in American fiction. o Lindsey Schwoeri is waiting out the apocalypse in Seattle.

New iN PaPerback!

From the New York Times bestselling author of Lost & Found “Jacqueline Sheehan’s Now & Then is a sweet, funny, fascinating novel.” —Michael White, author of Soul Catcher

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also from Jacqueline Sheehan: Lost & Found

5


SPACE

Walking on the moon: 40 years after Apollo 11 By MiChelle Jones ddressing a joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961, John F. Kennedy proposed putting a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth by the end of the decade. This was almost science fiction at the time, but through a remarkable series of steps and the contributions of an estimated 400,000 people, the U.S. achieved that goal just under the wire. This summer marks the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and while there aren’t quite enough new space books to reach the moon, there are plenty to choose from. Here are five of the most interesting.

A

How we did it If you weren’t glued to your black-and-white TV watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin climb out onto the moon on July 20, 1969, it might be hard to understand the marvel felt by those who were. Reading Craig Nelson’s intricately detailed Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon (Viking, $27.95, 404 pages, ISBN 9780670021031) might help. Nelson assumes a certain knowledge and level of interest, which also makes his book a perfect choice for the seasoned Apollo fan. He works in details that put readers into the heart of America’s space program, including the smell of the fuel atop a Saturn V (like trout), signs hanging around NASA hallways to keep employees focused (“Will you be ready?”) and descriptions of life as an astronaut (relentless training, low wages, the press). Nelson’s writing can be clunky in places, but the breadth of his coverage suggests his research was nearly as comprehensive as the planning of the missions themselves.

Men on the moon For most of the Apollo moonwalkers—more so than for their crewmates like Apollo 11’s Mike Collins, orbiting solo in the command service mod-

HISTORY

JULY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

Looking back at 1959

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BY EDWARD MORRIS While it’s easy enough to show that the events of any given year were pivotal to one cause or another, Fred Kaplan makes a persuasive argument in 1959: The Year Everything Changed (Wiley, $27.95, 336 pages, ISBN 9780470387818) that the highlighted year was a real political, scientific and artistic watershed. It was the year Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission issued its withering report on racial discrimination in America, the microchip and the birth control pill were introduced, and the first American soldiers were killed in Vietnam. In addition, relations eased between the U.S. and Russia, thanks to high-level diplomatic exchanges; scientists probed deeper into space; courts overturned literary censorship laws; and jazz musicians, painters and comedians debuted exciting new forms of expression. (Having been a 24-year-old and reasonably culturally aware graduate student in 1959, this reviewer thinks Kaplan should have also mentioned the then rising tide of politically tinged folk music.) Fortunately, the author does a great deal more than merely enumerate this torrent of transitional wonders. He also fills in each of their backstories and demonstrates subtle connections between seemingly discrete occurrences. Naturally enough, he ends the book with a chapter on Sen. John F. Kennedy laying the groundwork for what would turn out to be his successful run for the presidency the following year. As Kaplan correctly concludes, 1959 set the stage for the massive “upheavals of the subsequent decades.” America would quickly end its love affair with Castro. The Cuban missile crisis would soon sweep away the threads of harmony between the two reigning superpowers. Civil rights would move from the courts into the streets of Little Rock, Montgomery, Birmingham and beyond. The pill would enable Americans to make love without fear even as they made war with increasing fearfulness in Vietnam. “Above all,” says Kaplan, “there was suddenly a palpable sense [in 1959]—brought on by jet travel, space exploration, and the shift from nuclear domination to a competitive arms race—that the world was shrinking and that America was part of that world, locked into it, no longer merely affecting events but also affected by them. . . . ” Fifty years later, the country is still coming to terms with those realities. o —EDWARD MORRIS

ule—the missions were the easy part; retelling them ad nauseam has been the rub. Andrew Chaikin, one of the foremost space historians, spoke to 22 of the original 23 Apollo astronauts when researching A Man on the Moon, an exhaustive book about the Apollo program. He combines quotations from those interviews with archival photos—as well as stills from 16mm film—in Voices from the Moon: Apollo Astronauts Describe Their Lunar Experiences (Viking Studio, $29.95, 202 pages, ISBN 9780670020782), co-written with his equally Apollo-obsessed wife, Victoria Kohl. “Landing on the moon, to a lot of us, wasn’t the be-all and end-all of life,” Frank Borman (Apollo 8) says. That, combined with Pete Conrad’s (Apollo 12) “You can never get over the fact that you were an astronaut,” sums up the conundrum facing the men of Apollo. Still, they talk about things like seeing Earth from afar (“I was just wishing I could spin it all around and look at the rest of it.”) and Neil Armstrong even muses about being on the moon (“In my view, the emotional moment was the landing. That was the human contact with the moon.”). In Apollo: Through the Eyes of the Astronauts (Abrams, $24.95, 132 pages, ISBN 9780810921467)—edited by Robert Jacobs et al., with an introduction by Stephen Hawking and his daughter Lucy—we get the astronauts’ opinions on the many images taken during the Apollo era. Combining their choices (subtly designated with a cutline and a tiny red square) with other images, the editors also include particulars about each mission, including any firsts (live TV broadcast, flights of spacecrafts, use of special spacesuits). As the intro says, this is the work of “twenty-nine amateur American photographers whose entire portfolio spans the five short years from 1968 to 1972.” Equipped with specially built Hasselblad cameras, they captured iconic shots like a blue half Earth rising majestically over the moon’s horizon and a full Earth centered on the black field of space. But other, less grand images—the family photo Apollo 16’s Charlie Duke left on the moon, astronauts wearing Chuck Taylor All-Stars—are equally compelling.

Best dressed Though often seen in Chucks or Ban-Lon trousers (see Nelson’s Rocket Men) here on Earth, the classic images of astronauts show them in white spacesuits adorned with mission patches, name label and shiny red, blue and silver hose connectors. Spacesuits: The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Collection (powerHouse, $29.95, 152 pages, ISBN 9781576874981) pays homage to the aesthetics of these personal life support systems through Mark Avino’s gorgeous photographs of mission suits, prototypes and training gear. The images pop off the black pages—radiographs of gloves and suits, as well as arrangements of helmets are particularly stunning—and are complemented by archival images and publicity stills from NASA. Spacesuits also charts the evolution of the suits, with informative text written by Amanda Young, a specialist in spacesuits and astronaut equipment at the museum. She begins with the first pressure suits from the 1930s, works through to the shimmery attire of the Mercury era (green nylon coated in aluminum powder), and onto Gemini and Apollo. She then continues through Skylab and Shuttle suits, as well as those of Apollo Soyuz and Soviet missions. Throughout, she includes mission specifics and interesting tidbits. The book closes with a chapter on the deterioration of the suits, with eerie photos of morgue-like racks full of suits, some with mannequins inside. As Young explains, this “is the only way to keep it from collapsing on itself from its own weight—once that happens, it is almost impossible to open it up again to a ‘normal’ shape without creating further damage.”

Rocket science? Tom Sachs: Space Program (Rizzoli, $65, 280 pages, ISBN 9780847832262) documents his 2007 installation of a lunar module and control center, and a performance art staging of a complete “lunar” mission from launch to splashdown, at the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills. Fullcolor photos on high-gloss paper show every aspect of the piece, while art historian and philosopher Arthur C. Danto places Sachs’ art along a continuum of Duchamp, Warhol and Lichtenstein. A conversation between Sachs and Buzz Aldrin rounds out the intro text. Space Program, the project, was a sophisticated cross between a faithful re-creation and witty observation on 1960s culture: Sachs’ LEM includes a well-stocked liquor cabinet and library, and a collection of soul hits from the 1950s through 1970s. For mission control, he puts a vintage steel before rows of monitors—and “Applause” and “Silence, please” signs. o


INTERVIEW

A man on the moon Buzz Aldrin’s 40-year recovery from Apollo 11

By MiChelle Jones here’s nothing like seeing Buzz Aldrin’s name on one’s caller ID. His office is calling from California for part two of our interview to discuss his second memoir, Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon. He sounds more relaxed this time around: there are no phones ringing in the background, no email alerts sounding on his computer and he’s not shouting out fax instructions to a staff member. At 79, the former Apollo 11 astronaut and the second man to walk on the moon is incredibly active, traveling the world pro-

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cessfully, the deafening silence once the Lunar Module’s engines shut down, planting the American flag (“I still think it’s the best-looking flag up there out of all six”), and just wanting to sleep on the return flight to Earth. He writes about the mission’s iconic images, including the ones he shot of his footprint: “Framed in the photo was the evidence of man on the moon—a single footprint. . . . That’s kind of lonely looking, I thought. So I’d better put my boot down, and then move my boot away from the print, but only slightly so it’s still in the frame. . . .” That’s a lot more than he’s willing to say over the phone. The question, the one every interviewer has to ask, is met by a pause just this side of uncomfortable. “Well, I know it would be nice to pinpoint, but there was a continuity associated with kind of moving beyond each achievement successfully and the culmination is being in the Pacific Ocean,” he concludes with a laugh. OK, but is there one thing in particular, one tiny detail about being on the moon that stands out even after all this time? “We were sightseeing, looking back and seeing the gradually diminishing size of the back side of the moon, and I think most everyone who’s seen it would say the crater named after the Russian pioneer Tsiolkovsky is probably the most unique feature that stands moting space exploration and his space lottery idea and also just out. You gotta take our word for it,” he says, his voice becoming enjoying himself. He’s been to the North Pole (on an expedition BUZZ ALDRIN slightly mischievous, “because only 24 people have seen it, plus with ABC’s Hugh Downs for “20/20”) and is finalizing a South the cameras.” Pole excursion. A longtime avid diver—he’s the guy who develThough he gets why people feel compelled to tell him where they were on the night of oped many of NASA’s underwater training procedures for the Apollo program—he shot B-roll shark footage for the 1981 Bond flick For Your Eyes Only, visited the Titanic July, 20, 1969, he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life reliving those seven hours on the moon. Instead, he’s interested in promoting continued space exploration and develwreckage with a British documentary team and still dives regularly. Aldrin’s schedule remains almost as packed as the world tour he and crewmates Neil oping new rocket technology (he holds a couple of patents for rocket design). “I’m known as an astronaut, and I am still thrilled with that designation,” he writes in Armstrong and Mike Collins took—or, rather, were subjected to, in his opinion—after their July 1969 moon flight. Along with his annual visit to the Paris Air Show, he’ll also Magnificent Desolation. “But I don’t want to live in the past; as long as I am here on Earth, I want to be contributing to the present, and I want to stride confidently into the future.” o make a number of appearances in observation of Apollo 11’s 40th anniversary. “I’m standing by for NASA endorsement of different events,” he says, his gravelly voice assuming a cadence indicative of his many years of military training. He says he’ll squeeze in some sort of book tour when he can. But what he really wants is a spot on Oprah’s show. “I would appreciate that invitation. . . . This is a book that’s about a human,” he pauses, then laughs, “drama.” Magnificent Desolation is an account of Aldrin’s difficult years—decades, really—following the moon landing. He discusses alcoholism (no, he wasn’t drunk when he punched that Apollo hoax theorist), infidelity, divorce, financial troubles, a frequently strained reNew York Times lationship with his father, depression and a stalled career, among other things. He’s right, Bestselling Author this is definitely Oprah territory. As hard as it has been for Aldrin (and many of his fellow Apollo astronauts) to talk about their experiences in space—more on that later—you’d think he would have found it nearly impossible to open up about personal matters, or that it was perhaps difficult to revisit some of the most trying periods of his life. “No, I don’t think so,” Aldrin says. “The stories, the photographs, the activities have been related in progressive interviews over 30 years now. It’s just a question of deciding: what is the output going to be? Are we looking for a dramatic movie to reach large numbers of people, or are we going to try to put more detail, more things down in writing because there probably won’t be another real chance to do that.” Ben Benedict must fight against time—and his own darkness— He spent less than a year working with co-writer Ken Abraham and also bringing in other people for interviews. “It was quite satisfying to renew some of those acquainto rescue millions of innocents and the woman he loves from a tances,” he says. There were astronauts, family members and Aldrin’s children. “[to get virulent bioweapon in the hands of a dangerous enemy. their] perspective now on their adolescent observations, and teen-aged and subsequent witnessing of the progressions in my life,” Aldrin says somewhat ruefully. Magnificent Desolation starts on a high note, though: July 16, 1969, the morning of the Apollo 11 launch. It makes for a great opener. “It always has,” Aldrin laughs. He takes readers through that morning and does a marvelous job of putting the technology of the day in perspective for those used to 21st-century devices: “Many modern mobile phones have more computing power than we did. But those computers enabled us to measure our velocity changes to a hundredth of a foot per second, determine rendezvous and course corrections, and guide our descent . . . to the moon. You couldn’t do that with a slide rule.” Pick up your copy today! Aldrin spends the first three chapters in space, describing Magnificent Desolation what he saw and By Buzz Aldrin with Ken Abraham how he felt about Harmony www.MIRABooks.com it. He describes the $27, 336 pages www.JoanJohnston.com astronauts’ relief at ISBN 9780307463456 having landed sucAlso available on audio

“We were sightseeing, looking back

and seeing the gradually diminishing back side of the moon.”

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Hemingway classic restored Author’s grandson assembles new edition of ‘Moveable Feast’ “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” By Seán Hemingway ost people do not realize that the title of Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast was not chosen by my grandfather or that significant revisions to his final manuscript were made after his death in 1961. People do not realize this because the book was presented as completed in 1960. However, it was never finished in Hemingway’s eyes and it is clear that he worked on it practically until his death. The title, of course, is wonderful. In many ways Mary Hemingway, my grandfather’s widow and my godmother, did a fine job editing the book, but she made changes to the text that we know the author did not want and passed them off as his own. The Restored Edition of A Moveable Feast is based on my grandfather’s last manuscript with his notations and emendations. Even without a final chapter, it is, I believe, a truer representation PAPA HEMINGWAY of the book that he intended to publish. Some years ago, my uncle Patrick Hemingway suggested I re-examine the original manuscripts for A Moveable Feast. He always suspected that Mary Hemingway had purposefully deleted parts of the book about his mother, Pauline, downplaying her role as another Mrs. Ernest Hemingway. In a sense, he was right, as readers of the Restored Edition will see, but it is more complicated than that. For example, the order of the chapters was changed and, perhaps most significantly, only part of an ending was re-crafted from one that Hemingway had considered, but decided not to use. In Paris in the 1920s, Ezra Pound had told Hemingway that writing your memoirs meant you were at the end. Hemingway preferred to write fiction since it allowed a writer of his talents to craft more perfect stories out of his experience and invention. Although Hemingway avowed many times that he would only write about himself as a last resort, he experimented with memoir throughout his life. There is, of course, Green Hills of Africa, which holds a special place among his works for me as the account of my grandfather and grandmother’s safari in East Africa. What distinguishes A Moveable Feast though, and what is more characteristic of memoir, is the significant length of time between what happens in the book and when the author wrote it. My favorite title that Hemingway considered for the book is “How Different It Was When You Were There.” I think that this was a humorous jab—and the humor in Hemingway’s writing is undervalued—at the volumes of writing that had already been published

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on that historic time in Paris by people who were not there. Our perception is very different in media res and we feel this in Hemingway’s vignettes, which are personal, idiosyncratic recollections, intimate and emotive. It was thrilling for me to work directly with my grandfather’s manuscripts. Readers of the Restored Edition can share in that excitement since a selection of the actual manuscript pages have been reproduced in the book. Hemingway wrote his first drafts in longhand, and you do not have to be a handwriting analyst from the FBI to appreciate his bold, fluid penmanship. Despite the author’s own comments in the book about the difficulty of the writing process and the need for revisions, many of his first drafts are remarkably clean, poignant testaments to his continued abilities as a writer later in life. The Restored Edition includes a section with 10 chapters that Hemingway wrote for the book but decided not to include, acting “by the old rule that how good a book is should be judged by the man who writes it by the excellence of the material that he eliminates.” These sketches were not finished to the author’s satisfaction, and in several cases it was necessary for me to transcribe them from his handwritten drafts. The additional sketches cover a wide range of experiences that extend beyond the chronological parameters of the book. The final sketch finishes with a particularly moving reflection on the very end of Hemingway’s life— A page from the original manuscript a wrenchingly honest self-appraisal by an embattled genius who sees his faculties slipping away from him. This material was understandably much too raw for Mary Hemingway to include in the first posthumous edition, but knowing what we do—some 50 years later—about the depression and paranoia Hemingway faced in later life, it is a profound, humanizing endnote to Ernest Hemingway, the man who has become an iconic legendary figure. o © COLETTE C. HEMINGWAY

®

BEHIND THE BOOK

© PETER DUFFIELD

E v en N e w m ore look! con t en t.

On July 14, the 45th anniversary of the book’s publication and the 50th anniversary of the original manuscript submission, a new, restored edition of A Moveable Feast is being published by Seán Hemingway Scribner ($25, 256 pages, ISBN 9781416591313). Seán Hemingway, a writer and editor who is Ernest Hemingway’s grandson, introduced and edited the new volume.


The Goon Volume 7: A Place of Heartache and Grief Eric Powell

Star Wars: The Clone Wars— The Wind Raiders of Taloraan

The seventh volume in this awardwinning series brings an ancient curse that spreads hatred, fear, and violence, drawing the most powerful and vile creatures to a town with only one hope for protection—the Goon. Even the Goon’s lifelong deadly foe, the zombie priest, is running scared! FC

John Ostrander and Wayne Lo Jedi Knights Anakin and Obi-Wan, with Padawan Ahsoka, travel to the planet Taloraan in hopes of gaining some useful allies for the Republic. But the two ruling groups on the planet are not particularly interested in making a treaty. Inspired by the new film and television show The Clone Wars. FC

978-1-59582-311-3 | $15.95

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight Volume 4: Time of Your Life

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus Volume 7

Joss Whedon, Jeph Loeb, and others Willow and Buffy head to New York City to unlock the secrets of Buffy’s mysterious scythe, when something goes terribly awry. Buffy is propelled into a dystopian future where there’s only one Slayer—Fray. A New York Times best-selling series! FC

Christopher Golden, Amber Benson, Tom Fassbender, and others This value-priced omnibus volume contains over four hundred pages of early Buffy stories. She struggles with blood-starved vamps, swarms of green demon children, long-dead enemies— even her own death. FC

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Star Wars Adventures: Han Solo and the Hollow Moon of Khorya

Jeremy Barlow, Rick Lacy, and others In this action-packed tale, Han and Chewie are caught between gangsters and the Empire, and their only help is Han’s former partner—who may be worse than either! Star Wars Adventures is a new series of graphic novellas designed for readers of all ages! FC

978-1-59582-198-0 | $7.95

Applegeeks Volume 1: Freshman Year

Ananth Panagariya and Mohammad F. Haque Our first volume, Applegeeks: Freshman Year, includes the first two years’ worth of Applegeeks comics. FC

978-1-59582-174-4 | $14.95

The Dylan Dog Case Files

Oh My Goddess! Colors

Tiziano Sclavi and others An ex-cop who now battles against evil as a “nightmare investigator,” Dylan Dog is unlike any private eye you’ve ever met. If creatures from beyond the unknown are after you, and if you can hire him, he just might save your life. Dylan Dog will take to the silver screen in the major motion picture Dead of Night, starring Brandon Routh. B&W

Kosuke Fujishima This volume features four full-color Oh My Goddess! stories, each focusing on a different goddess; a metallic, gold-embossed cover; and an exhaustive Encyclopedia section cross-referencing the people, places, and things of the first thirty volumes of OMG! The ultimate celebration for the Oh My Goddess! fan. FC

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978-1-59582-255-0 | $19.95

Clover

Indiana Jones Omnibus: The Further Adventures Volume 1

CLAMP Clover is a long-out-of-print classic, from Japan’s shojo artist supergroup CLAMP, that follows Kazuhiko, a young, black-ops agent of a baroque, retro-tech future, pulled out of retirement to escort Sue, a military top secret, and the most dangerous person in the world! B&W

978-1-59582-196-6 | $19.95

Various Join comics luminaries Walt Simonson, John Byrne, Archie Goodwin, and Howard Chaykin, among others, in the very first appearances of the esteemed professor on the comic-book page! Weighing in at a hefty 368 pages, this tome collects the first twelve issues of the 1980s ongoing series. FC

978-1-59582-246-8 | $24.95

R E M M U ALL S HESE WITH T AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE | FOR MORE INFORMATION ON DARK HORSE BOOKS VISIT DARKHORSE.COM ®

The Goon™ © 2009 Eric Powell. Buffy the Vampire Slayer™ & © 1998, 2006, 2009 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Indiana Jones™ & © 2009 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. Used under authorization. Dylan Dog © 2009 by Sergio Bonelli Editore & SAF. Published Under Agreement with Strip Art Features. Bonelli Comics is a trademark of Sergio Bonelli Editore S.p.A. and SAF B.V. Oh My Goddess! Colors © 2009 Kosuke Fujishima. All rights reserved. First published in Japan in 2006 by Kodansha Ltd., Tokyo. Publication rights for this English edition arranged through Kodansha Ltd. Clover™ story and art © 2009 Pyrotechnist Co., Ltd./CLAMP. English language translation © Pyrotechnist Co., Ltd. Applegeeks™ Volume 1: Freshman Year © 2009 Mohammad F. Haque & Ananth Panagariya. Star Wars © 2009 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All rights reserved. Used under authorization. Text and illustrations for The Clone Wars and Adventures are © 2009 Lucasfilm Ltd. Dark Horse Books® and the Dark Horse logo are registered trademarks of Dark Horse Comics, Inc.


Zafón’s latest literary game By Robert Weibezahl Spanish writer Carlos Ruiz Zafón returns to the world of his international megaseller, The Shadow of the Wind, with his latest novel, The Angel’s Game. The setting is Barcelona in the first half of the 20th century—though a fictional Barcelona, envisioned, perhaps, by Poe by way of Buñuel. The story, which has threads that bind it to the earlier novel but can be read independently, once again features the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, the labyrinthian secret library where volumes languish until someone rescues them from eternal obscurity. The liberator this time is David Martín, who as a young boy is deserted by his mother and ultimately orphaned when his abusive reprobate father is gunned downed in the street by thugs. David seeks refuge in the newspaper offices where he works as an errand boy, and soon shows his talents by writing a popular serial novel for the paper. When he is fired out of jealousy, he cleverly turns out a series of potboilers under a pseudonym. Then David is approached by a Parisian publisher, Andreas Corelli, to take on a highly lucrative commission, but because of his longterm contract with the philistine publishers of his series, he is obliged to turn down the offer. The lure of the mysterious Corelli’s money is too great, however, and as soon as The Angel’s Game David agrees to take on the project, his obstructive pub- By Carlos Ruiz Zafón lishers are killed in a suspicious fire. David, of course, is a Doubleday $26.95, 544 pages prime suspect. Byzantine complications ensue. The work Corelli hopes David will write will provide the ISBN 9780385528702 founding myths for a new faith. The volume that David Also available on audio rescues from the Cemetery of Forgotten Books is a theological tract, Lux Aeterna. It is safe to say that Zafón has religion on his mind in The Angel’s Game, in a somewhat more didactic purpose than he seemed to have in The Shadow of the Wind. That earlier book, with its clever blend of gothic and pulp, moved at a more engaging pace than this one. But fans of Zafón’s mesmerizing literary style will not be disappointed as he sweeps them into his curious literary netherworld. o

MEET

Jennifer Weiner ANDREA CIPRIANI MEECH

INTERNATIONAL FICTION

FICTION

Regrets, rumination as life nears its close

JULY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

By Rebecca Stropoli Not much happens in Strangers, British author Anita Brookner’s 24th novel; it’s the quiet tale of a man facing his mortality and wrestling with regret, and much of the action goes on inside the protagonist’s head. But the plot’s minimalism is exactly what makes it so intriguing; the story of Paul Sturgis is so utterly, painfully human that it’s nearly impossible not to relate. Paul, a retired, never-married banker in his 70s with few remaining acquaintances and no relatives (save for the widow of a long-dead cousin), lives his isolated life in London. He relishes his time spent walking among the strangers who share the city streets—strangers whom he expects to die among—but his interactions with them are superficial at best. The one person whom he visits on a semiregular basis (Helena, the cousin-in-law) offers him little more than those strangers in the way of companionship and conversation. What keeps Paul company are his books, thoughts and memories; like so many people who are closer to the end of their lives than to the beginning, his recollections, while frequently painful, often seem more vivid than his present life. Everything changes for Paul when, on a solitary trip to Strangers Venice, he meets a younger woman named Vicky, a peripa- By Anita Brookner tetic divorcée who immediately insinuates herself into his Random House life. Soon after he meets Vicky, Paul runs into an old girl- $26, 256 pages friend, Sarah, a formerly vibrant woman who has been bur- ISBN 9781400068340 dened by age. With these two women suddenly a larger part of his life than anyone has been for years, Paul finds himself weighing his desire to be alone against a thirst for human contact that he barely knew he had. In the account of Paul and the very few people in his life, Brookner expertly taps into the dark realities of the human condition: loneliness, regret, fear of death and sometimes-destructive rumination. Even when Paul’s ponderings become tiresome, they are relatable—after all, who among us doesn’t find our own internal dialogue tedious at times? Ultimately, Strangers is a satisfyingly melancholy read, powerful in its simplicity. o 10 Rebecca Stropoli writes from New York City.

Jennifer Weiner is a former newspaper reporter and columnist who became a best-selling author with the publication of her first novel, Good in Bed (2001). Her latest book is Best Friends Forever (Atria, $26.99, 368 pages, ISBN 9780743294294), which goes on sale July 14. Weiner lives in Philadelphia with her husband and two daughters.


FICTION

Tracing the role of women through time and place By Stephenie Harrison Some books lend themselves to speedreading, urging you to devour the story with pages turned at a breakneck pace. But other books require a more leisurely perusal, one in which you nibble at the prose, allowing yourself to linger over writing that has been so skillfully crafted. Given that Kate Walbert’s latest novel begins with suffragist Dorothy Townsend starving herself to death in the name of her cause, it is perhaps unsurprising that A Short History of Women falls into the latter camp. Beginning with Dorothy’s death, A Short History of Women follows the lives of the Townsend women through several generations, skipping back and forth between Dorothy’s struggle in England at the turn of the 20th century all the way up to her great-granddaughters facing their own travails in modern-day America. Through these interlocking sketches, Walbert creates a dual history—one that is personal to each Townsend woman and uniquely her own, while also universal to all women no matter their time or place. Whether campaigning for women’s rights, finding success as a chemist and professor, protesting the war in Iraq, or arranging play dates on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, each woman grapples with finding her purpose and asserting herself in the world around her. Through this widesweeping lens, Walbert deftly examines “The Woman Question,” that is the ever-shifting, always evolving role of women in society. Walbert’s prose is intricate but fluid, effortlessly adjusting in style to evoke the various time periods while shuttling the reader backward and forward through history. Lyrical and dreamlike, her writing is often punctuated by astonishing turns of phrase and vivid imagery. Although her topic will particularly appeal to female readers (this would be a wonderful book club selection),

her writing is so multifaceted, so honest, that any reader looking for a thoughtful and challenging read will be rewarded. At one point in the novel, Dorothy’s granddaughter remarks, “What I am trying to do is to aim for something real . . . something that is not just an approximation of real.” One cannot help but feel that this was also Walbert’s motivation in writing A Short History of Women; fortunately for readers, she suc-

ceeds, demonstrating that even within the pages of fiction, truth can be found. o Stephenie Harrison lives in Nashville.

A Short History of Women By Kate Walbert Scribner $24, 256 pages ISBN 9781416594987

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In Moscow Rules, Gabriel Allon brought down the most dangerous man in the world. But he made one mistake: leaving him alive.

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Loveable hacker Lisbeth Salander finds herself implicated in a ghastly crime in Larsson’s latest thriller.

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The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder By Rebecca Wells

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BEACH READS W

hether you’re headed to the beach or the mountains this summer, we’re guessing you’ll share the dilemma of many readers: which book(s) to stash in that suitcase for the best vacation reading? Add one of these choices to your packing list—and don’t forget to send us a postcard!

CHICK LIT

Sizzling temptations in and out of the kitchen By Becky Ohlsen In the land of guilty pleasures, food is a go-to theme, for good reason: it’s hard to make a decadent meal sound anything but tempting. Cooking also lends itself to metaphor, which is part of its appeal to Vanessa, a chef and the narrator of Dirty Girls author Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s newest romp, The Husband Habit (St. Martin’s, $24.99, 384 pages, ISBN 9780312537043). A troubled woman, Vanessa is frustrated in her career and love life. She works for a monomaniacal chef at a chic Albuquerque restaurant who takes credit for her brilliant creations without apology. That’s bad enough, but then there’s her habit of—purely by accident—falling for men who turn out to be married. It’s happened three times in a row, so Vanessa is understandably a little gun-shy when she meets her parents’ new neighbor, Paul. Her overprotective sister, Larissa, has warned her about Paul already, so Vanessa puts on her best above-it-all act, but Paul is difficult to ignore. He’s charming and persistent, and confounds Vanessa’s expectations at every turn: despite being an ex-military guy with a crew cut who listens to speed-metal in his garage and has a yellow-ribbon magnet on his SUV, Paul is enlightened—even a pacifist—and a very good cook. There’s no complexity to the novel’s story arc, and the author’s transparent political agenda could’ve used some finesse, but then this is a beach read—agendas are second to the love story, and that simmers along nicely. Vanessa and Paul are multidimensional characters with the capacity to surprise each other and the reader. And there’s a lot of good cooking along the way. The Husband Habit might not be a particularly nutritious read, but it’s not just empty calories, either. o

THRILLER

Welcome to my nightmare JULY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

By Paul Goat Allen In Lisa Gardner’s third thriller featuring feisty Boston police detective D.D. Warren (after 2005’s Alone and 2007’s Hide), The Neighbor (Bantam, $25, 384 pages, ISBN 9780553807233) focuses on an attractive young wife and mother who inexplicably disappears from her suburban home. Sandra Jones was a sixth-grade social studies teacher at a local middle school, a well-liked employee, the doting mother to a precocious four-year-old daughter, and a seemingly devoted wife to her handsome husband, a reporter at the Boston Daily. So why would she abandon her daughter in the middle of the night and leave without taking any money, identification or clothing? When Warren is called in to investigate the bizarre disappearance, she finds the husband—who should be overwrought—eerily detached and uncooperative. “His eyes were empty, like staring into pools of starless night,” she notes. To complicate matters, Warren soon has several persons of interest: Aidan Brewster, an oversexed neighbor who happens to be a convicted sex offender; Ethan Hastings, an eighthgrade computer nerd who was helping Mrs. Jones with a teaching module about the Internet and apparently has a crush on her; and Wayne Reynolds, Ethan’s uncle and a certified forensic computer examiner who may or may not be romantically linked to 12 the comely teacher. Both Sandra Jones and her husband have histories that are shadowy at best. As War-

ren methodically unearths more and more information about the enigmatic couple’s past, she begins to realize that outward appearances can be deceiving—and that unspeakable evil can lurk inside anyone. Powered by a cast of realistically portrayed—and deeply flawed—characters as well as a virtual closet full of nightmarish plot twists, Gardner’s latest is a pulse-pounding page-turner of the highest order. Fans of emotionally super-charged thrillers should be forewarned, however, to make sure all the doors are securely locked before reading. Or better yet, bring this one to the beach—and start reading well before sunset. o

BIOGRAPHY

Jackie, oh no! By Pat H. Broeske On the flight to Washington—following her husband’s assassination in Dallas—former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy spoke by phone to brother-in-law Bobby Kennedy. “Life has no meaning for me anymore,” she told him. But the widow of John Fitzgerald Kennedy made a new life for herself and her children—with the stalwart help of Robert Francis Kennedy. He was their rock, her shoulder to cry on. In time he became much more, as solidly presented in the page-turner Bobby and Jackie: A Love Story (Atria, $26, 240 pages, ISBN 9781416556244). The book is a natural for C. David Heymann, whose biographical bestsellers include RFK and Jackie tomes. (Heymann’s A Woman Named Jackie became a still-compelling miniseries.) Interviewer of scores of Kennedy associates, Heymann’s back-up materials include FBI and Secret Service reports, RFK and Jackie’s letters, and other creditable library and archive findings. The end result leaves no doubt: the RFK-Jackie relationship was no mere fling, but a deep, abiding love. For Jackie—whose marriage to the philandering JFK was largely loveless—RFK was probably the love of her life. Yet by the time of the 1968 California presidential primary, the two were over. RFK, who was married and the father of 10, was on a path to the White House. And Jackie was on to the next absorbing chapter of her life: for hovering throughout this book is Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. Money and power. Heartbreak and love. It’s all here. Bone up for the inevitable miniseries. o

TRAVEL MEMOIR

The road paved with good abstentions By Thane Tierney Some people travel to Mecca. Others climb Mount Fuji. Some join the sunglassed throng at the gates of Graceland. But even if it’s just down to the local Kwik-E-Mart, sooner or later everybody makes a pilgrimage. Take for instance, self-described couch potato, German television host and comedian Hans Peter “Hape” Kerkeling. In his I’m Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago (Free Press, $15, 352 pages, ISBN 9781416553878), which sold more than 3 million copies in its original German, Kerkeling boldly goes where thousands, if not millions, have gone before: along what is called (in German, anyway) the Jakobsweg to Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in the Spanish region of Galicia, where Catholic legend has it that the remains of the apostle Saint James lie buried. You want some insights? Kerkeling’s book has them sprinkled throughout, like little Easter eggs scattered along a 475-mile path. Some are simple and obvious: wear comfortable shoes; drink plenty of water. Others, particularly as the journey progresses, are more spiritual, nuanced and plain insightful. Despite occasional (well, actually more or less constant) carping about sore feet and bad food, of which there is much along the way, Kerkeling is a highly amiable traveling companion, interested in both the external and internal phenomena that accompany a voyage of exploration. And even if your pilgrimage extends only to your local bookstore, Kerkeling has provided a rich reward at journey’s end. o


GET AWAY WITH A GOOD BOOK WOMEN’S FICTION

HOLLYWOOD MEMOIR

Starting over

Stardom to motherhood

By Kari Edgens If you take one thing away from Heather Barbieri’s The Lace Makers of Glenmara (Harper, $24.99, 288 pages, ISBN 9780061721557), remember this: “You can always start again; all it takes is a new thread.” Kate Robinson grew up hearing this advice from her mother, which was drilled into her head during sewing lessons. Like her mother, Kate possesses a gift with a needle and thread, and their creative passion formed an impenetrable bond between them. But after a series of emotional blows leave Kate gasping for air, she discovers that her mother’s advice serves a much bigger purpose than a simple sewing lesson. Overwhelmed and exhausted, Kate escapes her heartbreak and struggling fashion career with a trip to her ancestral home of Ireland. She stumbles upon the quaint coastal village of Glenmara and befriends a group of local lace makers. As Kate learns the secrets of their traditional craft, she finds the inspiration that has eluded her for so long—and soon the women are working together to create a line of exquisite lingerie. But not everyone is enamored with these new ideas. Kate’s presence in Glenmara has sparked controversy, and the women must summon the courage to face opposition and confront their own personal troubles. As they work together, the lace makers gain the determination to achieve their own goals and face their long-standing demons. Barbieri found inspiration for this, her second novel, on a trip to the Irish coast and a New York Times article about Polish lace makers. Despite a fairly predictable plot, she has created an interesting story using exceptional characters and the dynamic backdrop of Glenmara, a traditional town trying to balance old world values with modern practices. Barbieri weaves together stories on life, love, friendship and family to create a multifaceted novel, where personal histories define her characters and influence their decisions. In her affinity for literary patchwork, Barbieri has created an entertaining novel by blending a thoughtful story with a light read, perfect for this summer’s vacation. o

By Pat H. Broeske A precocious child actress known for the late 1970s TV series “Family,” and her Oscar-nominated role as Marsha Mason’s daughter in The Goodbye Girl, Quinn Cummings is today a mother, businesswoman (creator of the Hiphugger baby carrier) and blogger. Her “QC Report” has snared national ink and is the springboard for a breezy first book. Part memoir, part mom-ish ruminations, Notes from the Underwire: Adventures from My Awkward and Lovely Life (Hyperion, $14.99, 272 pages, ISBN 9781401322861) is also salted by an ample dose of wry. Cummings, who lives in Los Angeles with her baby daddy (whom she refers to in the text as Consort) and their daughter, tackles subjects such as the family dog(s), injuries sustained during gymnastics lessons and negotiating the minefield wrought when little Alice asks how a classmate can have two mommies. Unafraid to be sarcastic or reveal her uncertainties, Cummings dips into lessons learned as a show biz survivor. Though she’ll be saddled with the “former child star” label in perpetuity, she also spent two years as a talent agent. Milking her background in self-deprecating style, she riffs on L.A.’s obsession with looks (“an eye lift at thirty-three doesn’t make you look twenty-three, it makes you look alarmed”), fashion, mansions and more. She visited one lavish house where the daughters’ bedrooms were in a separate wing. That’s one way to create a family of strangers, notes Cummings, who much prefers her family’s more modest abode—and close proximity to motherhood. Which means readers can anticipate a sequel. o

FICTION

Magic in Venezuela

They’ve been on countless reading lists over the years, and now the lives and works of three classic English writers have inspired intriguing new novels. Syrie James’ interest in classic literature led to extensive research on beloved authors like Austen and Brontë. Though the stories resulting from her studies aren’t quite nonfiction, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë (Avon, $14.99, 512 pages, ISBN 9780061648373) is based on fact. James adapts Brontë’s voice, telling Brontë’s story as though it came straight from the great writer. Living with an alcoholic, drug-addicted brother and a deeply eccentric father, Brontë—and her sisters—still managed to write some of the most famous novels of their time. With The Secret Diaries, James offers a satisfying—if partly imagined—history of the real-life experiences that inspired Brontë’s classic novels. In Girl in a Blue Dress (Crown, $25.99, 432 pages, ISBN 9780307462268), Gaynor Arnold weaves a narrative based closely on the real-life marriage of Charles and Catherine Dickens. Estranged at the time of Dickens’ death, Catherine left a collection of letters she had received from Charles over the years, so that the world would know the truth about her role in his life. In Arnold’s account, the great writer Alfred Gibson is dead. After 20 years of marriage, Dorothea Gibson is excluded from her husband’s passing and his will. Through recollections of their history together and dealing with the aftermath of his death, Dorothea finally faces the hard truths of being married to her generation’s most beloved writer. Though we’ll never know for sure what went on in the Dickens’ marriage, this fictional account helps us to better understand the woman behind the talented man. Courtney Stone, a self-proclaimed Jane Austen addict, was mysteriously transported to the early 19th century in Laurie Viera Rigler’s debut, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict. In that book, Courtney traded places with English girl Jane Mansfield, and was abruptly forced to abandon her modern ways and adapt to the life of a lady in 1800s England. In Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict (Dutton, $25.95, 304 pages, ISBN 9780525950769), Jane awakens in Courtney’s 21st-century American life, completing Viera Rigler’s clever switch-a-roo. As Jane aims to untangle Courtney’s problems and understand modern society, she finds that the girls and their time periods aren’t as different as they may seem. o —CARLA JEAN WHITLEY

JULY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

By Karen Ann CulLotta In The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos (Grand Central, $13.99, 384 pages, ISBN 9780446541107), Margaret Mascarenhas’ American debut, the feminine mystique is juxtaposed with revolutionary chaos in the remote rural villages of Venezuela. Exploring the tangled relationships binding mothers and daughters, best friends and lovers, Mascarenhas’ magical novel is inhabited by an eclectic cast of characters whose lives are inexorably altered by the missing Irene dos Santos. Fifteen-year-old Irene is assumed to have drowned swimming in a lagoon while vacationing with her best friend Lily Martinez, though her body is never recovered. Deftly sidestepping a chronological plot, Mascarenhas weaves the past with the present, braiding them together with the magical threads of folk legends. Not unlike best-selling novelist Amy Tan, Mascarenhas understands the enchanting seduction of mystical tales laden with life lessons and an indomitable heroine—in this case, the Venezuelan goddess Maria Lionza. When Lily’s long-awaited first pregnancy is imperiled—leaving her bedridden—her family and friends gather at her bedside and instinctively turn to the beloved Maria Lionza, offering up prayers and promises. And when Lily’s dreams are haunted by a ghost-like apparition of Irene, the decades-old, unsolved mystery is revived, and the dormant friendship is reignited. If the novel’s flashbacks and folk tales can sometimes be discombobulating, the patient reader will appreciate the complexity of the narrative—a vibrant montage of despair and hope, joy and pain. For those unfamiliar with the seemingly never-ending revolutions plaguing the people of Latin America, the novel’s unflinching account of poverty and violence is sure to be a revelation. Still, the raw realism is tempered by Mascarenhas’ truthful portrayal of the relationships that prevail—despite the desperation of a nation decimated by decades of senseless destruction. o

New takes on classic authors

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Q&A

‘Slumdog’ follow-up An Indian diplomat’s sophisticated murder mystery

By Abby Plessser nless you were living under a rock this past Oscar season, you’ve undoubtedly heard the buzz about Slumdog Millionaire. But what you might not know is that Danny Boyle’s beloved film was actually the adaptation of a successful novel, Q&A, from Indian diplomat turned author Vikas Swarup. Swarup’s new novel, focused on the murder of a high society Indian playboy with a knack for getting out of trouble, is not your typical murder mystery. Instead, Six Suspects intricately weaves the stories of six different people (the six suspects of the murder in question) against a fascinating backdrop of modern India. Swarup, who comes from a family of lawyers, currently serves as India’s Deputy High Commissioner in South Africa. Adept at juggling his diplomatic career with his writing career, he answered questions from BookPage after completing work on Indian’s recent parliamentiary elections.

U

Six Suspects narrates the lives of six people—seven, if you count journalist Arun Advani’s columns. What was it like writing from so many different perspectives?

It was quite difficult. The difficulty stemmed not so much from the second book syndrome as from my choice of narrative structure. Writing about the interior lives of six different characters is much more complex than writing about the interior life of one character as in Q&A. I had to experiment with voice, with technique and at the same time ensure that my story remained coherent within the confines of the schematic space signposted by the section headVIKAS SWARUP ings—Murder, Suspects, Motives, Evidence . . . In the same vein, you cover such a vast range of characters, occupations and complex legal and social situations. How did you do your research?

I was trying to give the readers a glimpse of modern India through six different eyes. So you had to have a diverse range of characters covering a wide social spectrum. Research meant poring over books dealing with the Onge tribe in the Andaman Islands, learning about the modus operandi of mobile phone thieves, discussions with police officers on firearms, and a crash course in Texan English! The Internet was certainly a big help. Did any of your characters surprise you as the narration progressed? Or did you plot out exactly who did what and when before you started writing?

I think several did. For instance, when I first started writing the diary of the Bollywood

FICTION

actress I thought of her as a vain, flippant celebrity who couldn’t see below the surface. I had initially conceived of her diary entries as being in the vein of chick-lit. But she surprised me with her erudition and emotional depth. She starts out as a clichéd sex symbol but by the end the reader has started feeling sympathetic towards her. The plot also mutated as the book went along. This may be an impossible question for a writer, but do you have a favorite character in Six Suspects?

I think it is the stone-age tribesman Eketi. The choice of Eketi as a character was inspired by a report I had read of how during the 2004 tsunami the primitive tribes of the Andaman had remained safe using their powers of medicine and magic. I was interested in the interplay between two totally diverse cultures; what would happen when a primitive tribesman is confronted by the glittering lights of the modern world. Although I did a lot of research, eventually I had to get under the skin of the character and that proved to be quite difficult. How do you know how a stone-age tribesman behaves, what he thinks? Despite your career as an Indian diplomat, you’ve been remarkably frank in depicting your home country in your fiction. Do you have any concerns about giving the rest of the world such an honest slice of Indian life?

Well, first of all, what I write is fiction. I do not wear my diplomat’s hat when I write fiction and my government allows me that freedom. As a writer, I have complete liberty to express myself in a literary work as long as it is clear that the views expressed do not represent the views of my government or mine in my official capacity. I also don’t feel defensive about what I write because at core I am extremely optimistic about India and that comes through in my novels, as well. Tell us about your writing process. When and where do you do your best work?

Because I have a full-time day job, I do not have the luxury of writing whenever I want to. Besides, I can only write when I have a clear horizon ahead of me and no interruptions. So I write early in the mornings and on weekends only. Has the success of Slumdog Millionaire had any effect on the way you approach your work as a writer?

When your first novel becomes such a huge success, the pressure on the second novel is much more. But I always ask myself the question, do I have a story to tell? As it turned out, I didn’t have just one story to tell, I had six, hence Six Suspects. The success of the first book has made me somewhat more self-conscious as a writer. But the good thing is, I still see myself primarily as a storyteller.

JULY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

Crime and punishment in India

14

By Tasha Alexander Vikas Swarup’s Six Suspects is not an ordinary murder mystery. Vicky Rai is as awful a reprobate as an author could create—“the poster boy for sleaze in this country.” Insider trading, defrauding investors, bribery and tax evasion are just the beginning. He lacks any remorse for having run down six people while drunkenly driving the swanky BMW his father gave him for a birthday present. As a follow-up, he kills two bucks on a wildlife sanctuary. Finally, in a crowded bar, he shoots a beautiful bartender named Ruby Gill point-blank in the face, angry that she wouldn’t serve him another drink after closing time. If there’s anything Vicky excels at, it’s escaping punishment. After a five-year Six Suspects trial, he’s found not guilty of this grotesque crime. But while celebrating his acBy Vikas Swarup quittal at a blowout bash, he is shot to death. The police seal the scene and search Minotaur all the guests, identifying six suspects, each of whom is carrying a different gun. $24.99, 480 pages And it’s here that Swarup’s story takes off. Not only does he reject the standard ISBN 9780312605032 structure for a crime novel, there is also no traditional detective or brave hero to be found. Rather than planting clues and flashing red herrings, he tells the tale of each of the suspects—a career bureaucrat suffering from split personality disorder (half the time he believes he’s Mahatma Gandhi), a scary-naïve American tourist who’s come to India thinking he’s getting a mail-order bride, a cell phone thief, a tribesman from the Andaman Islands, a sexy Bollywood actress, and Vicky’s own father. Swarup has taken an ambitious step with this book, and it’s a fascinating and complex read, as well as a journey through diverse views of modern India. Rich with culture, this novel should not be left out of any holidaymaker’s suitcase. o Tasha Alexander is the author of And Only to Deceive. Her latest novel, Tears of Pearl, will be published in September.

Six Suspects has already been optioned for film. Do you expect to be any more involved in this adaptation than you were in the making of Slumdog?

Six Suspects is a more ambitious book than Q&A. The characters are very diverse, the resolution is much more complex. So certainly I would take a much closer look at how it is translated onto the screen. In fact, I am myself curious to see how John Hodge (he has just been commissioned as the screenplay writer) adapts it. Whodunits are notoriously difficult to film. You can disguise the murderer in the novel, but how do you disguise it in a film, where everything is in your face? What do you like to read for pleasure? Any recent favorites?

I have read many authors and many books over the years, from Albert Camus to Irving Wallace. I have been a big fan of the thriller genre, but I have enjoyed contemporary literary works as well, such as Coetzee’s Disgrace, David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and the novels of Haruki Murakami. What can we expect from you next? Do you have plans for a third novel? If so, can you tell us anything about it?

As long as I feel I have stories to tell, I will write. I have already begun my third novel. For a change, it is set outside India. o


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CRIME FICTION

The best mystery and thriller debuts of the summer By Bruce Tierney hen you launch your search for a chilling suspense novel to read on vacation, why limit yourself to the tried-and-true favorites? Many new authors are trying their hands at whodunits this season, and I’ve found four whose debuts are great candidates for your summer reading list. You have to love a story that sets its entire tone in the first sentence: “The shovel has to meet certain requirements.” And, in a mystery novel at least, where there is a shovel, can a burial be far behind? With his debut novel, Bad Things Happen (Putnam, $24.95, 352 pages, ISBN 9780399155635), author Harry Dolan has channeled the great noir mystery novelists like James M. Cain and Jim Thompson. He has crafted a sly and suspense-filled tale set in the environs of a mystery periodical, Gray Streets. The stories in Gray Streets follow a simple formula: plans go wrong, bad things happen, people die. But then real life for our protagonist David Loogan starts to look a lot like a plot for a story in Gray Streets when he gets roped into helping his boss dispose of a corpse. And quickly, plans go wrong, bad things happen, people die. And let me say this: the characters in Bad Things Happen are masters at telling lies. There are layers upon layers of deceit, several murders, a veritable Pike’s Place worth of red herrings and a convoluted storyline guaranteed to intrigue. Oh, and if you can guess the culprit(s), you’re better at this than I am!

W

Escaping the past

Fighting crime in a sleepy Amish town

It is easy to look at the lives of others and think, if I could be like them (or have their stuff or date their girlfriend), then I would be happy. For Jay Porter, the protagonist

I almost didn’t read Linda Castillo’s debut suspense novel, Sworn to Silence (Minotaur, $24.95, 336 pages, ISBN 9780312374976)—a novel about an Amish cop in Ohio, penned by a former romance novelist, for heaven’s sake—until I happened to glance at the back cover, where I found exceptionally complimentary blurbs from Alex Kava, Lisa Scottoline and C.J. Box, three writers I admire greatly. I’m afraid I am as much a sucker for a good blurb as the next guy, so I decided to give the book a try. Painter’s Mill police chief Kate Burkholder is a “lapsed” Amish woman living outside the enclave, shunned by the Amish community for having embraced modern ways. She is a good choice for police chief, however, with strong law enforcement skills and an insider’s knowledge of the Amish language and people. When a series of murders rock sleepy Painter’s Mill, they strongly resemble four unsolved rape/murders of 16 years before, even down to details—which were suppressed in the original case. But that cannot be, for that killer is long dead—Kate knows that for a fact. Or does she? Kate will have to dredge up (literally) a skeleton from her distant past if she is to have any hope of solving the current batch of murders, and keeping the perpetrator from killing again. With high suspense, just a bit of romance and a very clever villain, Sworn to Silence is a rare example of a book that can be judged by its (back) cover. o

MEMOIR

MEMOIR

It runs in the family

When life goes off script

By most measures, it would be difficult to like a character, who, by page 13, has shot and killed his longtime friend and mentor simply to save his own skin. Still, even if you don’t exactly like Paul Dark, you cannot help but be drawn into his machinations as he desperately tries to cover his tracks and distance himself from treason charges in Jeremy Duns’ cracking debut thriller, Free Agent (Viking, $25.95, 352 pages, ISBN 9780670021017). The tale begins in the closing days of WWII, when Dark was a young secret agent tasked with the clandestine execution of Nazi war criminals. Seduced by a comely young Georgian (that’s Georgia as in “Back in the USSR,” not as in “Georgia on My Mind”) nurse, Dark is recruited as a double agent for Mother Russia. Fast-forward 20 some years: a KGB officer, eager to defect to the West, has a piece of valuable information to trade for asylum—the identity of the British double agent embedded all those years ago. Dark must go into cleanup mode, and fast. All the players seem to have agendas within agendas, leaving the reader to wonder just who is playing whom, and how, and why. A diabolically clever novel that will keep you guessing until the final moments.

Be careful what you wish for

By Rebecca Bain If it weren’t for wacky families, what would writers use for their literary inspiration? That’s a question that will never plague humorist Jancee Dunn, as she amply portrays in her new memoir, Why Is My Mother Getting a Tattoo? Dunn explores the paradox of the child/parent relationship with amusement and exasperation. This is a quandary familiar to anyone who has tried to drag a parent into the technological 21st century. Of course, as Dunn cheerfully chronicles, these children are then appalled when the parent Why Is My embraces modern ideas, demonstrated in Dunn’s case when Mother Getting her 60-something mother decides to get a tattoo. Most of Dunn’s vignettes are funny (occasionally hilari- a Tattoo? ous), but she does tread solemn ground when she writes of By Jancee Dunn her decision not to have children. An otherwise pleasant Villard woman becomes incensed when Dunn confesses she and $14, 224 pages her husband enjoy their childless existence: “‘Don’t you ISBN 9780345501929 think it’s selfish not to have children?’ This dishearteningly familiar argument never failed to amaze me. Why on earth was refraining from adding a child to a world with an exploding population and diminishing ozone layer selfish?” Dunn’s humor confirms that if you can’t change things, it’s much better to laugh 16 about them, especially if you can do so with others. o JULY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

of Attica Locke’s debut thriller Black Water Rising (Harper, $25.99, 448 pages, ISBN 9780061735868), the pie-in-the-sky dream was to be a lawyer, no easy feat for a young black activist in the 1970s. He has pulled it off, but it isn’t bringing him the recognition and financial security he had hoped for. His clients are “B-list” at best: his major case at the moment involves a young escort allegedly injured while plying her trade in a moving car, resulting in an epic denouement featuring a crash into a phone pole. It is not the sort of case of which dreams (or careers) are made. It scarcely matters, though, because Porter’s life is about to take a turn he could not have anticipated in a hundred years: he saves a drowning woman, and in doing so, unwittingly becoming a pawn in a deadly game involving a warring union, some good-old-boy oilmen, and the power elite of Houston. Locke could easily be compared to T. Coraghessan Boyle, Walter Mosley or Dennis Lehane: for one thing, she is in their class as a wordsmith, but more than that, she locks into a tumultuous period of American history, reflecting the social class structures and their attendant injustices through the eyes of her protagonist. Black Water Rising is an excellent book by any measure, but as a debut, it is nothing short of astonishing.

By Kelly Koepke They say God laughs when men make plans. Well, God laughs at women’s plans, too, especially the plans of happy women. At least that’s what Alice Eve Cohen thinks. She was one of those happy, planning women. Then she discovered that, although she wasn’t dying of a mysterious illness as feared, she was pregnant at age 44. She had taken birth control pills the first six months of her pregnancy, which meant that her child might be profoundly deformed. Cohen recounts the events leading to and following the What I Thought birth of her now seven-year-old daughter in the diary-style memoir What I Thought I Knew. The chapter ending lists of I Knew things Cohen “knows” swing wildly from the highs of elation By Alice Eve Cohen as she schedules her wedding, to the depths of despair as she Viking contemplates ending the pregnancy, her life or both. Com- $24.95, 208 pages pounding her no-win choices are the values of her fiancé, ISBN 9780670020959 their respective families and the medical establishment. Cohen is first and foremost a performer—a writer and actor of one-woman plays— so she knows how to build tension to a climax. Her easy intimacy when recounting the events of a pivotal year of her life is amazing. What I Thought I Knew seems made for verbatim adaptation to the stage, with ever increasing emotional highs and lower lows. Many chapters are recounted with the same cold, calculating journalism of a news story, while others are heart-wrenchingly personal. All of them are revelatory. o


WHODUNIT? A dying wish

Mystery of the month

Stone Heights, Colorado: Jericho Ainsley, onetime director of the CIA, lies dying. He has gathered his relatives, friends, supporters and minions to his side for a final goodbye. At the opening of Jericho’s Fall (Knopf, $25.95, 368 pages, ISBN 9780307272621), Stephen L. Carter’s espionage thriller, Rebecca “Beck” DeForde has been summoned to Jericho’s bedside. Ainsley gave up his family and his CIA career (read: big scandal) for Beck some 20 years back; in the years since their relationship ended, they have had but sporadic contact. The word is that Jericho has gone a bit crazy, with paranoid delusions at every turn. Beck, for her part, cannot believe it. She is sure that he is playing for somebody’s benefit, perhaps even hers, but that he’s actually lucid, manipulating the cast like the proverbial pieces on a chess board. So let the BY BRUCE TIERNEY games begin: first the dog is killed, then one of Jericho’s daughters; quickly Beck realizes that Jericho is no longer in control of the board. The cell phones die mysteriously, the electricity goes out, the backup generators fail. And then the snipers fall into position one by one. The radical reporter, the stalwart sheriff, the trusted sidekick—any one (or more) of them could be on the opposing team. Nonstop action, twists and turns that rival the winding Colorado mountain roads and a slick surprise wrap-up. Just the thing for the first beach read of summer!

The Tip of the Ice Pick Award is accompanied by a sad and fond farewell to Donald E. Westlake, who until his death in December had entertained us for years with hilarious crime novels featuring John Dortmunder and his merry men, a band of thieves always on the lookout for the next score. In Westlake’s final novel, Get Real (Grand Central, $23.99, 288 pages, ISBN 9780446178600), Dortmunder et al. will portray themselves in a TV reality show; over the course of a season, they will plot a crime and carry it out in front of millions of viewers. Now wait a minute, you might say; if they do this on national television, won’t they get arrested? Never fear; they have that part figured out. They are going to plunder the series production company office. That way, no real crime will have been committed, and the Dortmunder crew will be rich and famous by season’s end. If only. Because, as always, John Dortmunder has an idea to scam the system. He plans to set up a fake heist, which will be the TV subject, and also a real robbery, looting the company’s offsite safe. Of course, when the real crime goes down, Dortmunder and all of his buddies will have unassailable alibis. One corollary of Murphy’s Law, however, suggests that nature sides with the hidden flaw—and that is never truer than with Dortmunder escapades. Anything that can go wrong, does. And with side-splittingly funny ramifications. Get Real is a tongue-in-cheek look at both larceny and America’s love affair with mindless reality TV. Westlake will be remembered for his clever commentary on current affairs, his always amusingly whimsical characters and of course his brilliant depiction of modern-day Robin Hoods robbing from the rich and giving to, well, themselves. Sleep ye well, Mr. Westlake. Donald E. Westlake, 1933-2008 o —BRUCE TIERNEY

Making the wrong acquaintance Steve Martini’s Paul Madriani books are staples in the legal thriller genre, starting with 1992’s Compelling Evidence, and continuing through his latest, Guardian of Lies (Morrow, $26.99, 448 pages, ISBN 9780061230905), the title of which is derived from a great Winston Churchill quote: “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.” As the book opens, Madriani strikes up an acquaintance with an attractive young Latina. Little does he know that she will soon be his client, charged with the murder of her Svengali-like boyfriend, a rare coin dealer and retired CIA agent. Even less does he suspect that he will be targeted as an accomplice to that murder, and forced into a life on the run, pursued by the San Diego police, the FBI, and Homeland Security. Worse yet, there is one seriously bad guy who will stop at nothing to get the hapless lawyer in his crosshairs. Mix in a conspiracy dating back some 40 years, a hitherto misplaced container of Soviet-era bomb-quality uranium, an elderly and somewhat deranged freedom fighter, and Fidel Castro (whew, take a breath), and you get a relentlessly paced action thriller that transcends the comparatively staid courtroom drama we tend to expect in legal novels.

Cleaning up one big mess

brings readers into a world where few can be trusted and appearances often deceive.

THE

MIST

Corrupt billionaires, underworld spies and a dangerous attraction… 978-0-7783-2624-3 • $24.95

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JULY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

Brett Battles’ new book, Shadow of Betrayal (Delacorte, $25, 400 pages, ISBN 9780385341585), features “cleaner” Jonathan Quinn, whose job is to sanitize a crime scene, leaving no evidence of a crime having been committed. Quinn works for a shadowy quasi-governmental entity known simply as “The Office,” which seems to be comprised in moreor-less equal parts of CIA and the team from “Mission: Impossible.” This time out, Quinn, lethal girlfriend Orlando and sidekick Nate head north of the border to track the whereabouts of a missing U.N. aide, Marion Dupuis, and her charge, a young West African girl with Down syndrome. Someone has beaten the A-team to the punch, however; when they arrive in Montreal, they find that Dupuis’ home has been torched, her family murdered and Dupuis herself is apparently running for her life. The reader is quickly drawn in, experiencing a good deal of Quinn’s urgency as he zigzags across the country, hot on the trail of Dupuis. The suspense achieves critical mass in an iconic area of Northern California, scene of a high-level summit meeting with international ramifications, and the unveiling of a sinister plot so downright clever it’s a wonder somebody hasn’t tried something similar in real life. Start Shadow of Betrayal early in the day, or be prepared for a later-than-usual bedtime. o

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author

17


SHORT STORIES

Tales of truth and sadness By Jessica Inman Sometimes you can have it both ways. Maile Meloy’s new collection of short stories, for example, is an exhibition of both substance and style. Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It features 11 fresh and unique stories, many set in the author’s native Montana. Some, like the story of two combative brothers, are wryly funny; some wear a deep sadness, like the story of a ranch hand who spends almost all of his time alone; and some, like the story of a teen’s last summer at home, are simply true. In all of them, the air is heavy with meaning. Meloy’s standout is “Lovely Rita,” a love story that mostly takes place in a nuclear power plant. It’s completely heartbreaking in an accessible, believable way. And the rest of the stories offer that same believability as they trace the lines of grace and beauty in everyday human existence. Each one is told patiently, perfectly—even the ones that explode with fear or passion. That may be Meloy’s greatest strength as a writer: her skill with clarity and control. The images and storylines in Both Ways are clean, yet complex, and somehow Meloy deftly avoids being too obvious. Her dialogue also earns Both Ways Is the high marks. But what edges out the other qualities of Both Ways is Only Way I Want It that these stories, even in their simplicity, are so deep and By Maile Meloy involving that they forbid their readers to stop turning Riverhead the pages. Not only will you want to read this book in one $25.95, 240 pages sitting, you will want to read each story a second time— ISBN 9781594488696 and a third. And that’s something not every short story collection achieves. Meloy has received much praise—including a Guggenheim fellowship and a spot on Granta’s list of Best Young American Novelists, among other honors—for her novels, Liars and Saints and A Family Daughter, and her first book of short stories, Half in Love. She’s undeniably talented, and Both Ways is the latest installment in what is sure to be a long list of beautiful, truthful tales from Maile Meloy. o Jessica Inman writes and edits in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

FICTION

The mysterious ties of matrimony

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By Harvey Freedenberg Unlike Joan Didion and Anne Roiphe in their recent memoirs of marital love and loss, Rafael Yglesias has elected to tell his own similar tale in the form of a painfully honest and passionate autobiographical novel. Whatever the reason for that narrative choice, the novel is a moving exploration of the mysterious, often tenuous, bonds that hold men and women together in marriage. Enrique Sabas, a precocious young writer, meets Margaret Cohen, an aspiring artist, in Greenwich Village in 1975. In chapters that alternate between those first, fresh days of the couple’s relationship and harrowing scenes of Margaret’s final weeks of life, Yglesias skillfully navigates the road the pair travels in their 29 years together. It’s anything but a smooth path: there are emotional and physical betrayals, the two drifting apart and coming together in an elaborate, complex dance. But by the time Margaret decides to surrender to her battle with cancer, we may grasp, in a way that’s nearly as revealing as our understanding of our own most intimate relationships, the strength of this couple’s connection. Yglesias demonstrates impressive courage in exposing the raw details of Margaret’s final days with the honesty only a participant could bring to the grim account. He’s equally A Happy forthright in chronicling the searing pain experienced by the Marriage loving friends and family who surround her and must say By Rafael Yglesias goodbye. Most impressive is the way he probes Enrique and Scribner Margaret’s relationship, almost clinically and yet with com- $26, 384 pages passion, seeking to “penetrate the mystery of how they had ISBN 9781439102305 managed to live a life together while they were so different in their natures and in their expectations of one another.” Who knows, in the end, what makes love flourish and grow? Who but the participants can unknot the tangled strands of compromises, deceptions, generosity and selfishness that nurture or threaten a relationship from day to day? There are as many answers as there are marriages. In its ironically titled candor, A Happy Marriage proposes some intriguing ones for our consideration. o 18 Harvey Freedenberg writes from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

THE SPOKEN WORD Panning for gold Lee Woodruff and her husband, ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff, wrote In an Instant, their moving memoir of Bob’s near-fatal traumatic brain injury in Iraq and his and the family’s painful recovery, together. Perfectly Imperfect: A Life in Progress (Random House Audiobooks, $29.95, 6 hours abridged, ISBN 9780739382189), Lee’s debut as a solo author, is a sure winner and puts her in that hallowed hall of wise women who have taught us to rejoice in the small, everyday charms of marriage and family, to laugh when tears and gritted teeth might seem more in order, and to confront the truly dire with grace. She has the marvelous ability to move between humor BY SUKEY HOWARD and sorrow, joy and pathos—and does it with the open honesty you’d only expect from someone very near and dear. Lee’s warmth and compassion color the way she sees the world and her place in it as wife, mother of four children, sister, daughter and unstinting friend. In these essays, you’ll find that the chronicle of her busy, madly multitasking life is deftly laced with the lessons she’s learned about facing up to the bad things that happen, about rolling down the chutes and climbing up the ladders, about the healing power of female friendship and about our capacity to recover and regenerate. Lee reads, creating a mood of easy intimacy.

Myron does Paris If a little summer escapism is on your agenda, Harlan Coben’s latest, Long Lost (Brilliance Audio, $36.99, 10 hours unabridged, ISBN 9781423327578), performed with race-paced precision by Steven Weber, is your ticket. When a sleep-fogged Myron Bolitar reaches for his chirping cell phone at 5 a.m., he hears a voice he thought he’d never hear again—and, Coben lets us know up front, life for Myron is going to change big-time. Oh the phone, the beautiful, enigmatic Terese Collins, gone for almost a decade, purrs, “Come to Paris.” They’d met at a party and run off to a private Caribbean island, two lost, damaged souls seeking solace in sex, sand and sun. And then it was over; she vanished, not just from him, but also from her high-profile job as a CNN anchor. After hemming and hawing and insisting that he’s involved with someone, Myron boards the evening Air France flight to Paris and finds himself swept into a wild, topsy-turvy, nothing-is-as-it-seems world, with assassins and assailants galore, not to mention the unfriendly agents of Homeland Security, the Mossad and Interpol. It’s an epic thrill ride guaranteed to provide hours of entertaining, edge-of-your-seat distraction.

Sukey’s favorite Ariana Franklin could be called the Patricia Cornwell of the medieval world, but she’s a cut or two above. Franklin’s fabulous blending of forensic thriller with historical novel is, so far, unique. Grave Goods (Penguin Audio, $39.95, 13.5 hours unabridged, ISBN 9780143144120), the third in her series starring Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar, a.k.a. Mistress of the Art of Death, a brilliant 12th-century woman doctor (shocking in those days) trained at the famed (and real) School of Medicine in Salerno. When bones that could be those of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere are uncovered at the ancient Abbey of Glastonbury, King Henry II turns to Adelia, once again, to ask her to authenticate them, putting to rest the idea that the Once and Future King might return. But Glastonbury has become a very dangerous place, seething with secrets and bestial robbers. Adelia, her young daughter, the multitasking nanny Gyltha and Mansur, her white robed Arab aide, are in for far more than they bargained for. Fascinating subplots, wrapped in the fabric of medieval life and lore, place Adelia in situations she’d rather not be in, except, that is, the arms of her erstwhile lover, the Bishop of St. Albans. Marvelously read by Kate Reading, who also narrated Adelia’s previous two exploits. o


INTERVIEW

Laura Caldwell’s triple threat By Rebecca Bain hen readers fall in love with a character, it can be excruciating to have to wait a year (or more) for the next book in the series to be published— think of the crowds of people who flocked to stores at midnight to get the latest Harry Potter. That might be one reason for the interesting back-to-back publication of three new mysteries by Laura Caldwell: June brought Red Hot Lies (MIRA, $7.99, 464 pages, ISBN 9780778326502) this month’s offering is Red Blooded Murder (ISBN 9780778326588) and Red, White & Dead (ISBN 9780778326663) will hit bookstores in August. So readers charmed by the series’ feisty, red-headed heroine, Izzy McNeil, won’t have to wait long for their next fix.

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Izzy bears a definite resemblance to her creator: both she and Caldwell have red hair, law degrees LAURA and live in Chicago. And yes, feisty is applicable CALDWELL to both, too. Speaking by phone from her office at Loyola University’s School of Law, where she is a professor and Distinguished Scholar in Residence, Caldwell’s pleasure in her character is evident, dubbing her “the younger, taller, hotter and cooler me!” “I guess what you’re supposed to do in life is go minute to minute, and that’s kind of what I’ve been doing with Izzy. It just started clicking, and moving, and I loved the character, and I loved writing those books. I’m writing a nonfiction book right now [about her work with Loyola’s Life After Innocence Project], but I’m ready to go back and start on number four.” Caldwell certainly puts Izzy in some real pickles. In the first book, Red Hot Lies, Izzy’s biggest client is murdered, her fiancé disappears with the deceased man’s money, and her employer suggests she take an “indefinite leave of absence.” This “fresh start” scenario is a topic Caldwell herself finds intriguing, and she continues it in her next two books. Red Blooded Murder puts Izzy in a new career, working as a reporter for Trial TV until the brutal death of a colleague places her under suspicion for murder. And in Red, White & Dead, Izzy dashes off to Rome to search for a vital piece of her personal history . . . and escape some Mafiosi killers in the process. Caldwell is fascinated by the myriad ways people regroup—or not—after the life they thought they knew gets yanked out from under them. “Unless you live in a hole, that happens to everyone throughout their life. Someone dies, you’re in a car accident, or someone breaks up with you, you lose a job; there are a million examples, and I’m always fascinated with how people respond. So that’s why Izzy, in the beginning of book one, everything she really identifies herself with gets pulled away from her. . . . It was fun to be along for the ride as an author.” While Caldwell has no intention of putting Izzy in the backseat, she has created characters in all three books she’d like to play a more prominent roles in future books. “I really am hoping to have different characters step forward now. I want Maggie [Izzy’s best friend] to play a bigger part. I also think Izzy’s mom is a fascinating character and based on what happens in Red, White & Dead, she’s got a lot of stuff to deal with, too. . . . So what I’m hoping with this series would be that all these characters would be fleshed out enough that as one develops or changes, it does affect other people.” One word of warning: Those captivated by Izzy McNeil in Red Hot Lies may want to ration out Red Blooded Murder and Red, White & Dead. After this series jumpstart, it will be a year or more before the fourth book in the series is released. That kind of wait could have frustrated readers wishing they’d been a little more judicious and a little less greedy. o Rebecca Bain writes from her home in Nashville.

19


TRUE CRIME

Inside an art history mystery By Alison Hood If the summer fiction offerings aren’t tempting enough to tote to the seaside, pick up Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by husband-and-wife journalists Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo. This is the incredible, gripping story of British con man John Drewe and his partner in deception, art forger John Myatt. It is nonfiction, but its hair-raising investigative reporting reads like a thriller that just might knock you right out of your beach chair. Provenance is a masterpiece of research fashioned into a well-written, tautly paced tale of a strange scandal in the art world. For nearly 10 years, “Professor” John Drewe, a truly self-invented man who laid claim to many names and occupations (including physicist), pulled off a complex, twisted art fraud that involved forgery—not only of paintings, but also of their provenance. Provenance, in the art world, is the record of ownership—aka the “paper trail”—of an artwork from the minute it leaves the artist’s hands. The cast of characters in this drama is broad: the book begins with a list of the dramatis personae, which includes Drewe and Myatt (the main perpetrators) and extends to museum archivists, art dealers, Scotland Yard art and an- Provenance tiques squad detectives, and a host of innocent bystanders. By Laney Salisbury & John Drewe was brilliant. He also was a charismatic Aly Sujo (and dangerous) psychopathic liar with an uncanny abil- Penguin Press ity to pick up downtrodden individuals, like struggling $26.95, 352 pages artist John Myatt, and bend them to do his bidding. He ISBN 9781594202209 conned Myatt into creating fake paintings in the style of modern masters, such as Giacometti and Ben Nicholson. Often, these paintings were truly poor imitations—a sad fact that led Drewe to do a little forging of his own: he made individual pieces of provenance to authenticate the fakes. Charming his way into the higher echelons of the international and British art worlds, Drewe gained access to prominent museum archives, like the Tate, both stealing from and altering their formerly sacrosanct records. The results were chaotic, cataclysmic and downright murderous—not your typical day at the beach. o Alison Hood writes from Marin County, California.

HISTORY

Another side of the Civil War South

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By John T. Slania The romanticized version of the Civil War has noble Southerners united in a battle to preserve states’ rights and a genteel way of life. The reality is that the South was anything but unified, and there were any number of Southern abolitionists opposed to slavery, the true underlying issue of the war. Consider the residents of Jones County in southern Mississippi, the subject of The State of Jones. They were hardscrabble farmers too poor to own slaves. They were recruited by the South to fight in some major battles, including the siege of Vicksburg. But they ultimately became disenchanted, determining that they weren’t fighting for freedom, but to preserve slavery for wealthy plantation owners. They ended up deserting and returning home to establish their own independent government called “The Free State of Jones.” This ragtag band opposed slavery, declared their allegiance to the Union and fought unending waves of Confederates who tried to quell the uprising. The State of Jones, by best-selling author Sally Jenkins and Harvard historian John Stauffer, is a colorful account of this defiant group of Southerners, led by a strong, fearless farmer named Newton Knight. A survivor of several Confederate assassination attempts, Knight also killed The State of Jones many of his enemies who came down to Jones County to By Sally Jenkins & hunt him down. But The State of Jones isn’t just about vio- John Stauffer lence and war. It is also a love story—albeit a salacious one. Doubleday Knight fathered close to a dozen children with two women: $27.50, 416 pages his white wife, Serena, and a freed slave named Rachel. He ISBN 9780385525930 then tried unsuccessfully to enroll his mixed-raced chil- Also available on audio dren in an all-white school. The State of Jones is an entertaining, informative book about a courageous group of Southerners clearly ahead of their time. It offers a refreshing look at the issues surrounding the Civil War, and some delightful surprises for even the most knowledgeable history buff. o 20 John T. Slania is a journalism professor at Loyola University in Chicago.

Well Read A bird’s-eye view of ’70s New York To make sense of public tragedies, we generally turn to nonfiction, be it the immediacy of a newspaper account or the arm’s length perspective of the historian. But it can take a good novelist to convey the full measure of private tragedy. Colum McCann accomplishes exactly that in his enveloping new novel, Let the Great World Spin. Set in New York City in 1974, the novel’s interconnected storylines pivot around a single headline-making event: Philippe Petit’s audacious tightrope walk between the World Trade Center towers. While momentarily galvanizing the cynical city, the funambulist’s showboating, with all its attendant symbolism, is largely a peripheral occurrence for the novel’s main characters—who are preoccupied with getting through the difficulties that define their days. At the start, each carries an abiding grief, a sense of loss that tentative human connections fail to assuage. Yet, the events of August 7, 1974, in the figurative shadow of the man on the tightrope, will change that. BY ROBERT Corrigan, an Irish monk, lives among the prostitutes WEIBEZAHL and heroin addicts of a Bronx housing project. His brother, Ciaran, recently arrived from Dublin, wants to protect his younger sibling, but has very little patience for this self-sacrificing religious mission. The purest of spirits, Corrigan has rejected material trappings and blushes at the suggestive banter of his hooker charges with a beguiling lack of worldliness. Recently, though, he has met Adelita, a nurse at an old age home where he volunteers, and for the first time he is doing battle with his vow of chastity. Down in the tonier environs of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Claire prepares to host a morning coffee for an informal support group of woman who, like her, have lost their sons in Vietnam. She is nervous that her posh Park Avenue digs might alienate the others, who hail from Staten Island, the Lower East Side and the Bronx. She is not entirely wrong about the women’s reac-

Colum McCann focuses on everyday miracles in his most ambitious novel yet. tions, but in her anxiety, she only makes matters worse. Resentful when one of the women usurps the conversation by talking about the strange happenings at the Twin Let the Great Towers, Claire reacts by losing herself in a rambling rev- World Spin erie about her son, Joshua, a computer whiz killed in a By Colum McCann Saigon café. Only one among the women understands Random House Claire’s defense mechanism—Gloria, a black woman $25, 368 pages who lives, coincidentally, in the same Bronx project as ISBN 9781400063734 Corrigan. By day’s end, the two very different women will forge an unlikely alliance. As it happens, Claire’s husband is the judge who will arraign the tightrope walker, but not before he hears the pleas of two of Corrigan’s streetwalker friends. Tillie and her teenage daughter, Jazzlyn, have been picked up by the cops and brought downtown. Corrigan has come along to help them. Tillie, with a long rap sheet, is advised to plead guilty, but the judge lets Jazzlyn go. It is on the return trip to the Bronx that Corrigan’s old van spins out of control on the FDR Drive and collides with another car. For Lara, a passenger in the other vehicle, the accident is a catalyst to improve her dissipated lifestyle. For the others—and their families—life is forever changed. While most of the action takes place on this singular day in New York, the multi-voice narrative moves back in time to accommodate the rich stories of the Irish brothers’ Dublin childhood, Gloria’s Missouri upbringing, Claire’s marriage and motherhood, Lara’s heiress origins, Tillie’s years on the street, and Adelita’s Guatemalan past. At the end, the novel fast-forwards to 2006, as one of Jazzlyn’s daughters, now fully grown, supplies the final elements of the story. McCann masterfully delineates each character’s voice, getting beneath the skin of vastly dissimilar human beings. He lends a forgiving tenderness that invigorates the timeless notion that we are not really all the different under the skin, each of us longing for love, for beauty, for those connections that will quell our loneliness. With its quality of mercy, Let the Great World Spin reminds us that while there may be no Oscar-nominated documentaries made about them, those who manage to walk the tightrope of life every day are perhaps the world’s most accomplished acrobats. o


HISTORY

Tale of two Williams: Strachey, Shakespeare and ‘The Tempest’

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Woodward also notes, for example, that Shakespeare’s character Caliban had attributes that appeared to come from a mix of animal allusions in Strachey’s text. Woodward believes that while Strachey would have been flattered to see his influence in the play, he would have also believed that The Tempest was merely popular entertainment that would fade away. He would have felt it was up to him to write a work of litera-

ture that would endure. o Roger Bishop is a retired Nashville bookseller and a frequent contributor to BookPage.

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Collision Ben Forsberg is a successful corporate consultant, mourning the murder of his bride. “Pilgrim” is a former CIA agent haunted by his own personal trauma. When Ben and Pilgrim are thrown together in a violent event, the two men realize they’ve been framed in an elaborate setup.

Moscow Rules In Gabriel Allon’s world, deception is everywhere. But one thing is all too real: the threat of catastrophe if Allon fails. While everyone around him breaks the rules, knowing the Moscow Rules— don’t look back, you’re never alone—is the only way to survive.

Mystic Warrior As Europe is torn by revolution, the fate of the Mystic Isle of Aelynn also falls into question—its survival dependent on recovering the elusive treasure known as the Chalice of Plenty. Only the daughter of Aelynn’s spiritual leader and a renegade warrior can accomplish the dangerous mission.

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The Plantation Across the country, people are being kidnapped. Jonathon Payne, with the help of his best friend, is following the trail of his girlfriend’s disappearance. Their chase leads them to a New Orleans plantation—and the South’s most violent and shocking secret.

Rough Justice In Kosovo, American Blake Johnson and British Major Harry Miller band together to stop a rogue Russian from desecrating a helpless village. In the world of covert operations, revenge leads only to revenge. And before the explosive situation is put to rest, there will be plenty of both.

The Sword of the Templars Lt. Col. John Holliday is ending his career teaching at West Point. When his uncle passes away, Holliday discovers a medieval sword wrapped in Adolf Hitler’s personal battle standard and is drawn into a war that has been fought for centuries—a war in which he may be the next casualty.

TailSpin When a fellow agent’s plane crashes deep in the mountains, married FBI agents Savich and Sherlock find the pilot and his passenger alive. But that’s just the beginning of a case that plummets them into a whirlwind of vicious murder attempts, powerful suspects, political secrets, and escalating terror.

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By Roger Bishop William Strachey wanted to be a writer. He hoped to publish travel narratives and sonnets; his best friend in London was John Dunne. Strachey enjoyed reading the chronicles of New World explorers and had seen indigenous people who were captured and brought to Europe. But in 1609, after 10 years in London without any notable success and his inheritance running low, the 32year-old left his wife and two sons behind and signed on for the largest expedition ever sent to Jamestown by the Virginia Company. Strachey’s extraordinary journey to Jamestown was interrupted by a hurricane and a shipwreck in Bermuda, where he was stranded for almost a year. He was a careful observer and gifted writer about that experience as well as about the life of the Jamestown colony, where he was especially interested in the native people. Strachey could not know until later that his writing would inspire the last play William Shakespeare wrote alone, and that the play would include many of Strachey’s own words, among them the play’s title: The Tempest. Hobson Woodward masterfully tells this fascinating, harrowing story of adventure and survival in A Brave Vessel. Drawing on Strachey’s journals and other authoritative sources, Woodward shows, in a most compelling manner, how dangerous such a voyage was. The place in Bermuda where Strachey and his shipmates finally landed after being tossed by the storm was the only place on the island’s entire coast deep enough to allow a large ship to approach so close. On the island, there were much hard work and mutinies, but the voyagers had found a generally wonderful place that was free of disease, unlike plague-ravished London. Many did not want to leave, but most did. What they found when they finally arrived in Jamestown, however, shocked them. Only about 90 of the 245 original settlers had survived a winter of starvation and Indian attacks. Conditions were so bad, the colony was abandoned and only the arrival of a new governor, Lord Delaware, reversed the decision that would have perhaps changed the course of history, and even theatrical and literary history. Strachey was appointed secretary of the colony, allowing him to do officially what he hoped to do on his own— write about events and people in the New World. Strachey also wrote to a possible patron, Lucy, Countess of Bedford, who had earlier supported Dunne. The narrative sent to this “Excellent Lady” is most likely the source from which Shakespeare read Strachey’s work. In two excellent chapters, Woodward discusses in significant detail the parallels between Strachey’s writings and The Tempest. They include the use of certain words, expressions and themes unique to Strachey.

21


NONFICTION

A writer’s life in words By Alison Hood I must confess: I have never read one of Graham Swift’s novels. But reading his first long work of nonfiction, Making an Elephant: Writing from Within, made me want to rush to my local library and gather up a stack of his fictional tales (especially his Booker Prize-winning novel, Last Orders). I had met the man, telling of his literary and day-to-day life, in his own fine and witty words; now I wanted to meet the novelist. Making an Elephant is a funny sort of book, in that it is not easily categorized. It contains interviews, memoir, a lecture on writing, various personal memories about Swift’s friendships and career, a small collection of poems and an elegant essay on the French writer Michel Montaigne. But this veritable curio cabinet of detailed reminiscences makes for an extraordinary autobiographical look into the literary and otherwise ordinary life of an accomplished, though wryly self-deprecating novelist—one who taught himself to write. The book’s title, taken from an essay about Swift’s father, is a wonderfully tender, poignant, yet cogent analysis of his father’s life and legacy. Hoping to please his straightarrow, responsible, handyman father, Swift endeavored to fashion a wooden silhouette of an elephant, which he then painted a realistic gray hue, even after his father fancifully encouraged him to paint it pink or yellow. “Grey it Making an was. . . . The strange reversal stays with me . . . that I should Elephant have been the realist, he the fantasist.” By Graham Swift Several other pieces in this literary collection shine Knopf brightly as well: Swift’s local history of the town in which $26.95, 416 pages he lives, combined with a catalog of his writing habits and ISBN 9780307270993 credo; a determinedly merry Christmas celebration spent with the beleaguered Salman Rushdie; meditative fishing forays with poet Ted Hughes; shopping for a guitar with author Kazuo Ishiguro; and my favorite, a moving tribute, called “Negronis with Alan,” to his former mentor and editor, Alan Ross. A pleasure to read, from first word to last, Making an Elephant is sure to move writers and readers alike to join the legions of Graham Swift fans. o

INTERNATIONAL FICTION

Stranger in a strange land

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By Lauren Bufferd Americans have become acquainted with best-selling French author and director Philippe Claudel through his award-winning film I’ve Loved You So Long in which Kristin Scott Thomas plays a woman re-entering society after serving time in prison. Claudel’s superb new novel Brodeck also features a protagonist who is thrust back into the world after a horrific experience. Brodeck takes place in an unnamed European village in the aftermath of a terrible, but unspecified, war. Brodeck, who earns his living writing reports for a government bureau, has returned to the village after two years in a concentration camp. A stranger arrives in the village where his odd manner and habits draw suspicion. After he exhibits his drawings of the village, he dies in a mysterious accident. Brodeck is told to write an authorized account of the stranger’s death, essentially a whitewash of the incident, which provokes Brodeck into secretly writing a description of his own troubled past. Brodeck’s first line is an assertion of his innocence in the Brodeck stranger’s death. But as he tries to unravel the mystery, his By Philippe Claudel own life story pushes to the foreground. Though Brodeck Nan A. Talese/Doubleday has grown up in the village, he arrived there as a fremder (a $26, 336 pages stranger) and, during the war, he was interned in a camp ISBN 9780385527248 where his life depended on almost a complete negation of his humanity. With his return to the community, he worries that his survival only reminds the villagers of their collective guilt, and their fear of the stranger proves to Brodeck that, again, they will sacrifice one they think is not their own. Brodeck has a fairy-tale quality, but it is of the Brothers Grimm variety, filled with dark woods, wandering strangers and mysterious feasts. The village is peopled with rural archetypes, but their actions—some cruel, some kind—have a disturbing specificity. Although there are occasional mentions of modern machines, the lack of a precise time or location adds to the air of the unfamiliar. Like other explorers of the 20thcentury experience—Elie Wiesel, J.M. Coetzee, Franz Kafka—Claudel is a novelist of ideas and abstractions, but he weaves a powerful spell with this engrossing tale. o 22 Lauren Bufferd writes from Nashville.

Book clubs New paperbacks for reading groups Requiem, Mass. By John Dufresne This novel-about-a-novel is a smartly crafted narrative that deconstructs the writing process. John, the book’s central character, has composed a work of fiction that fails to live up to the standards of his girlfriend, Annick. She thinks it lacks life, so John undertakes an overhaul of the manuscript, ending up with a memoir about his childhood in Requiem, Massachusetts. Back then, John was known as Johnny, and—along with Audrey, his sister—he grew up mostly in the care of Frances, their crazy but loving mother. Frances, who took baths in gas- Norton oline, believed her real children were kidnapped and that John $13.95, 336 pages ISBN 9780393334869 and Audrey were aliens. Their father, Rainey, a truck driver, was on the road more often than not and seemed to be hiding something from the family. The narrative juxtaposes the past and the present, comparing John’s unorthodox upbringing with his modern life, as he composes the memoir, hangs out with friends and interviews for various teaching jobs. The shifts in time and place set up a fascinating contrast that illuminates the practice of writing and the slippery nature of memory. Dufresne manipulates complex, varied narrative strands with the skill of a master storyteller. This is a multilayered novel that’s sure to appeal to fans of literary fiction. A reading group guide is included in the book.

The Little Book By Selden Edwards Edwards’ debut novel is a whimsical story of time travel that blends fiction and fact. Magically carried into the past, Stan “Wheeler” Burden—47-year-old rock star, history buff and heir to a prestigious Boston banking family—moves from 1980s San Francisco to 1890s Vienna, without a clue as to how the uprooting occurs. Wheeler sets out to make the best of it, outfitting himself in fashionable clothes and making equally fashionable friends—a group of intellectu- Plume als that includes none other than Sigmund Freud. Freud, $15, 416 pages who listens to Wheeler’s strange stories about the future, is ISBN 9780452295513 convinced that his new friend suffers from mental delusions and takes on the role of guardian and mentor. While stranded in this strange new world, Wheeler falls in love with a beautiful American woman and learns some incredible facts about his own peculiar family. Edwards, a retired high school English teacher and headmaster who spent more than 30 years working on the novel, fills this ingenious tale with cleverly staged incidents involving famous figures—Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler and Gustav Mahler all have roles. Fast-paced and full of wonderful dialogue, with a true hero at the helm, the novel spans nine decades, covering plenty of territory along the way. In the end, the answer to the book’s central puzzle—how Wheeler managed to travel through time—proves the most amazing story of all. A reading group guide is available at us.penguingroup.com.

The Road Home By Rose Tremain Tremain’s latest book is a powerful novel about immigration and its attendant complexities. Lev, a widower from Eastern Europe, comes to London in search of a job that will allow him to support the daughter and mother who wait for him back home. Lev—who speaks scant English and has precious little money—is anxious and skeptical about the move and soon suffers from culture shock. He doesn’t quite know what to make of Western Europe’s speed and openness—its sexy advertisements and poorly cooked food—or its inhospitable Back Bay attitude toward transplants like himself. But things take a turn $14.99, 432 pages for the better when he’s hired as a kitchen worker in a fancy ISBN 9780316002622 restaurant. He also befriends a lonely Irishman named Christy, who drinks too much and has his own past to mourn. Christy gives Lev a room in his house—a place that feels like home—and Lev does his best to assimilate, becoming romantically involved with a young coworker named Sophie and learning to tolerate the tyrant ways of Gregory, his boss. Intelligent, observant and open-minded, Lev is a likable central character, and his attempts to combat the homesickness that inevitably plagues him make for a poignant narrative. Winner of the prestigious Orange Prize, this is a timely, moving novel—a beautifully written account of the immigrant experience. A reading group guide is included in the book. o —JULIE HALE


This month’s top publisher picks Goldy’s Baby Socks

The Guardians

Desperado City

Richard Williams

Rebecca Coleman

Judy Snider Illustrated by Thomas McAtee

Imagine a world where there are special dogs whose only task in life is to lead their masters back to the path of God’s love. The Guardians is such a story; it tells of two shelties named DJ and Maggie who have the ability to speak, but their unusual talent is a closely guarded secret. Visit www.lovingeyesarewatching.com

In a deserted theme park in the Catskill Mountains 14-year-old Elisabeth Glass commits suicide. End of story. Or is it?

Heartwarming and humorous picture book about a family that adopts a cat and all the fun that follows. Also available in Spanish. Visit www.goldysbabysocks.com

PB 9781599264530 $15.99 HC 9781599264547 $21.99

Xlibris

PB 9781434376633 $16.99

AuthorHouse

There Be Dragons

Forty-Eight X: The Lemuria Project

Liz Wolfe

Beautiful Marina is forced to choose between saving her land and her people or following her heart in this Christmas-themed romance from New York Times best-selling author Heather Graham.

A colonel with a shadowy past. A new kind of war and warrior. A military science experiment out of control.

PB 9781605420561 $7.95

Let Sleeping Dogs Die

Heather Graham

Barry Pollack

Medallion Press

Skye Donovan is back. This time she’s sniffing out the murderer of the owner of The Pet Place. Medallion Press

Medallion Press

Medallion Press HC 9781605420714 $25.95

HC 9781934755020 $24.95

PB 9781934755655 $7.95

Nelson Mandela

CD 9781600246661 $16.98

A selection of Mandela’s favorite folktales from across Africa, performed by a diverse group of acclaimed actors; an instant classic for all families! MandelasFavoriteFolktales.com Hachette Audio

Ronald Damien Malfi

Raymond L. Atkins

Based on a true story. The author’s father goes undercover to take down one of the most notoriously violent Irish gangs in New York’s history.

Who killed the promiscuous woman who reputedly engaged in bizarre sexual rites at Sorrow Wood? Medallion Press

Medallion Press

HC 9781933836942 $24.95

®

HC 9781934755631 $24.95

Where readers discover their next great book

JULY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

Visit

Sorrow Wood

Shamrock Alley

Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales

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CHILDREN’S BOOKS New additions for the summer reading list

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ome children and teens want to explore what’s beyond the school reading list and branch out with a new book that hasn’t yet become a teacher’s tried-and-true selection. This summer, we recommend five new releases that range from funny to heartbreaking. Pick up one of these titles and add a little variety to your child’s summer reading experience.

MIDDLE GRADE

Letters from the heart By Angela Leeper “I had everything I needed to run a household: a house, food, and a new family,” explains 11-year-old Aubrey after stocking up on SpaghettiOs and buying Sammy, a pet fish, to keep her company. In Suzanne LaFleur’s tender debut novel, Love, Aubrey (Wendy Lamb, $15.99, 272 pages, ISBN 9780385737746, ages 9 to 13) the grieving girl has been holed up in her Virginia home since her mother, Lissie, devastated by the car crash that claimed Aubrey’s father and younger sister, packed up and left her all alone. Discovered by her concerned Gram, Aubrey accompanies her back to Vermont, where they begin their search for Lissie and their long road to healing. Aubrey not only has to adjust to a new climate and school year, but to each holiday and even day-to-day events without her family. What eases Aubrey’s grief the most are her emotionally charged letters, first to her sister’s imaginary friend, Sammy, and then to her absent family members. When she’s torn between moving back with her mother and staying with her grandmother, the letters allow her to work through the tense dilemma and to realize that home is not just a physical place but a refuge where comfort and caring reside. Aubrey draws readers into her stirring plight with realistic concerns and a spot-on tween voice. The author’s precise word choice and even pacing leads middle-grade girls through every step of Aubrey’s heart-wrenching survival. They will indeed love Aubrey. o

MIDDLE GRADE

JULY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

A summer of big steps By James Neal Webb Tamera Ann Simpson is, in a word, grumpy—the fifth grader doesn’t get along with anyone, especially the annoying Douglas McGinty, or as she calls him, “Muscle Man.” What sets Tammy’s teeth on edge is the boy’s tendency to tell whoppers about himself. For instance, who would believe that a 10-year-old is training for the 1972 Olympics? When the whoppers get out of this world, Tammy decides that enough is enough. In Nan Marino’s Neil Armstrong is My Uncle & Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me (Roaring Brook, $16.95, 160 pages, ISBN 9781596434998, ages 8 to 12) it’s the summer of 1969 in Tammy’s little town on the outskirts of New York City, a typical slice of American culture. Tammy’s neighbor, Mr. Grabowsky, is lawn-obsessive; Mr. Pizzarelli, the police officer, loves to sing at barbeques; one of her classmates is driven to collect Barbie dolls; and everyone is talking about the moon landing. Yet all of these things are small change to Tammy, who has decided that the kid who took her best friend’s place at a local foster home is her worst enemy. Readers soon realize that while Tammy has her share of problems, none of them are caused by the mindlessly cheerful Muscle Man. It will take tragedy and a surprising revelation for Tammy to see the light—moonlight, that is. Neil Armstrong is my Uncle is a lovingly portrayed look at life during a memorable time in American history; it deserves to be on your child’s summer reading list. o

TEEN

Blending love and memories

By Angela Leeper Next-door neighbors Anna and Frankie have felt like sisters all their lives. In Sarah Ockler’s poignant debut novel, Twenty Boy Summer (Little, Brown, $16.99, 304 pages, 24 ISBN 9780316051590, ages 13 and up) the girls’ friendship is tested when a freak acci-

dent changes their lives forever. Anna’s longtime crush on Frankie’s older brother, Matt, turns to love when he kisses her on her 15th birthday. They keep their romance a secret, since Matt wants to wait until his family’s summer vacation to break the news to his sister. But the night before the big trip, the three teens experience a tragic car crash which takes Matt’s life. Now a year later, Anna joins Frankie’s family on their California excursion. While hanging out in all of Matt’s favorite locales, Anna meets Sam and finds instant, mutual attraction. She can’t help but worry, though, that falling in love with Sam means erasing her memories with Matt. With friendship at the forefront, Anna explores grief and love and the pain and wonders of it all. The teen’s dilemma—how to remember Matt, move on with Sam and still be loyal to Frankie—gives a firm tug on the reader’s heart. o

TEEN

The ultimate decision By Emily Booth Masters Seventeen-year-old Mia has her entire life ahead of her. She’s a shoo-in for the prestigious Juilliard School of Music, and the biggest decision she has to make is whether to move to New York on her own or stay in Oregon with her boyfriend Adam. That decision seems trite in comparison to the one she faces after a deadly car crash changes the course of her life forever. If I Stay (Dutton, $16.99, 208 pages, ISBN 9780525421030, ages 14 and up) is a page-turner, save the moments when reflection is required. In a fairly slim volume, author Gayle Forman manages to create a believable and virtually blameless character in Mia. Readers will find themselves drawn to empathize with Mia and nearly all of the other characters at some point. Mia contemplates her love for the cello, her boyfriend Adam and her best friend Kim. She also considers what life will be like having lost so much. Life and death are the two choices presented to Mia, but the first-person account offers no insight into who is presenting that decision. Religion, faith and preconceived notions about life after death play no role in this bare-bones depiction of the psychological inner-workings of one young woman. Soon to be a film, If I Stay calls to mind Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, but readers must cope with the tragic events in the novel without having the satisfaction of a specific character to blame. Teen readers will be thrilled, horrified, saddened and excited by the subject matter. The implications of Mia’s choice—and eventual decision—will resonate with readers of all ages. o

TEEN

Going back in time with a hero By James Neal Webb Robert B. Parker’s literary protagonist, Boston detective Spenser, is brave, witty, strong and smart, with a streak of impregnable integrity and a stubborn determination to do the right thing. Through almost 40 novels, Parker has given us glimpses of Spenser’s past, but his newest novel, Chasing the Bear (Philomel, $14.99, 176 pages, ISBN 9780399247767, ages 12 and up), takes us back to an incident that molds the boy into the man he would become. As a teenager growing up in Laramie, Wyoming, Spenser is raised by his father Sam, and his two uncles, Patrick and Cash. An all-male household means a lot of testosteroneinfluenced activities, including boxing and hunting. But the three men also try to expose their young kin to the classics (like Shakespeare and Milton) and encourage him to do what’s right. These lessons come into play when Jeannie, a friend from school, is taken upriver against her will by her abusive, alcoholic father, and Spenser has no choice but to follow them in a small, rickety skiff. The choices he makes in trying to rescue Jeannie will have repercussions both in the short term and for the rest of his life. Chasing the Bear will appeal to teen readers in much the same way the Spenser mysteries appeal to adults. Spenser’s wit, strength and moral rectitude serve as a stand-in for the way we want ourselves to be. He’s the quintessential hero, and we all need a hero, no matter what our age. o


CHILDREN’S BOOKS Road trip! Two teens follow a new path on the drive of a lifetime By Heidi Henneman wo teenagers take off in a whirlwind journey and a quest for answers in Jennifer E. Smith’s second book for young adults, You Are Here. Along the way, they find out a little about each other and a lot about themselves. Emma Healy and Peter Finnegan, both on the brink of their 17th birthdays, embark on a road trip—in matching Mustang convertibles—that will change their lives and their feelings for each other forever. Emma, a middle-of-theroad student and self-admitted misfit, has never quite understood how she is related to her academic-obsessed parents and multi-degreed, uber-successful siblings. She has always felt that there was a missing link in her life—until she finds a clue to a dark family secret hidden away in the attic.

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“Kids have an unabashedy honest response to people’s work and that’s the best part.” On the other hand, Peter, a study geek and history buff, fits in with Emma’s family just fine—but not his own. His widower, police officer father cannot understand why Peter would ever want to leave their small upstate New York town or why he is obsessed with historic battlefields and far-off places instead of just being happy where he is. First separately, then together, Emma and Peter set off on a spontaneous road trip to find out for themselves who they are and where they belong. Smith’s coming-of-age story, told intermittently through the eyes of both Emma and Peter, is remarkably insightful, heart-wrenchingly sad and laugh-out-loud funny. Through both Emma and Peter, we learn how the loss of someone you never really knew—in Emma’s case, a twin brother, and in Peter’s, a mother—can leave scars that run surprisingly deep. We see how an uninvited three-legged hitchhiker (a mangy but hilarious dog) can unlock hidden talents and emotions in a person. We witness how a friendship born out of patience, understanding and a little bit of teasing can lead to unexpected first love. And we see how the open road and a fresh perspective can help two teenagers find a new path to happiness. Smith got her start in the publishing world working in a literary agency in New York City shortly after graduating from Colgate University in upstate New York, a location she later used as the setting for You Are Here. She had wanted to be a writer since the fourth grade, and after helping others get their starts in the literary world, Smith took the plunge into writing herself. Having perused volumes upon volumes of adult literary fiction, Smith was anxious to focus on another genre. “That’s what steered me to young adult books,” the author recalls in an interview. “It’s a different world from adult, and it was nice to sit down and be the writer for once.” It also helped that she was a longtime fan of the genre. “I loved

Where the Red Fern Grows and Bridge to Terabithia,” Smith says, “and I wanted to write a book that I would have liked to read when I was a kid, something wholesome and heartfelt.” Smith’s first novel for young adults, The Comeback Season, was inspired by her love of baseball. A Chicago-area native, Smith was watching a Cubs baseball game on TV when she got the idea for the book. “I wrote the first two paragraphs of the novel right then—and they are the same now as when I wrote them,” she says. In fact, the book took her a mere four months to write. “It was a once in a lifetime experience,” Smith says, “and such a wonderfully easy process.” From there, Smith was convinced that YA was the right market for her. “The more I learned about YA books and the wonderful outpouring from kids and teachers, the more hooked I became.” She especially loves hearing from her readers. “The emails I have received have been so gratifying,” she says. “Kids have an unabashedly honest response to people’s work, and that’s the best part.” After The Comeback Season was published, Smith went back to school to get her master’s degree in Creative Writing at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. While there, she started working on her second novel, You Are Here. “It was great to take a year to really focus on writing and traveling,” Smith recalls, “and it was nice to have a new perspective.” When Smith returned to New York, she went back into publishing—this time as an editor—and had to finish the book “on the side.” “I love my job,” Smith says, “and it’s been JENNIFER E. SMITH great to see the industry from all perspectives, but it does make writing a little slower.” Still, she hasn’t been that slow: she finished You Are Here in nine months. The author’s experiences traveling through Europe and studying abroad leant a theme of perspective to the book as well. Her characters seem to be able to “find” themselves once they have stepped out of their normal comfort zones. For Emma, it takes tracing her family’s history back to her birth and visiting her long-lost brother’s grave to find out that she is the glue that has always bound her eclectic family together. For Peter, it takes a road trip to Gettysburg and a view from outside his small town’s limits to realize that You Are Here where he actually wants to be is home. By Jennifer E. Smith Smith’s own journey is taking her further into the YA Simon & Schuster world, with two more books already underway. In addition, $15.99, 256 pages she’s promoting You Are Here with local readings, school ISBN 9781416967996 visits and guest blogging for various YA sites. All the while, Ages 13 and up she is keeping her “day job with homework,” as she calls it, and continues to edit manuscripts for the adult literary world by day and write wonderful stories for her young adult audience by night. With her sophomore title already poised to take the YA world on an incredible voyage, Jennifer E. Smith has arrived. o

By Ellen Trachtenberg Following the death of her mother, 16-year-old Katie D’Amore is spending the summer tending to the grounds at the home of the famously reclusive Miss Martine. It’s the kind of work Katie’s mother would have appreciated—the quiet pursuit of beauty—and the physical labor is a welcome diversion. She joins a cast of devoted caretakers, working under the guidance of the inscrutable Old Olson, who begin clearing a patch of land for a new gazebo. The project is the latest in a string of orders seemingly handed down by Miss Martine herself— though she was last seen in 1954—that reflect a meticulous and somewhat puzzling need to perpetually reorganize the lush landscape of the vast estate. In Nothing but Ghosts, acclaimed author Beth Kephart (Undercover and House of Dance) artfully juxtaposes themes of grief and torment with the persistence of beauty. Katie must reconcile herself with the notion that “Things disappear and vanish. That’s the fact. Before you’re ready for them to go, they go, and after that all you can do is keep the idea of them bright inside yourself.”

Nothing but Ghosts By Beth Kephart HarperTeen $15.99, 288 pages ISBN 9780061667961 Ages 12 and up

Spurred by a need to make sense of her own recent loss, Katie becomes compelled to solve the mystery that has shrouded Miss Martine’s withdrawal from society. She begins to delve into the community archives with the assistance of a local librarian, an atypical beauty herself, trying to break through a tangle of riddles and hidden truths. Though confronting her own ghosts, Katie keeps busy through the long, hot summer, dividing her time between the big old house she now shares only with her father, the library where she conducts her research, and Miss Martine’s garden where secrets are being unearthed daily. Meanwhile, Katie’s father is grieving in his own eccentric but even-handed way. He restores paintings for a living and his latest acquisition might just hold an important key. Beth Kephart’s dazzling new novel is wise and wonderful, certain to be a revelation for young adult readers. As Katie makes a few necessary discoveries, she begins to let love in once again. In doing so, she honors an important promise, “a daughter’s promise: to live my life with my eyes wide open. To honor exuberance, and color.” o

JULY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

The ghosts of a vanished past

Ellen Trachtenberg is the author of A Parent’s Guide to the Best Chil- 25 dren’s Literature.


MEET  Alan Bean

CHILDREN’S BOOKS Miranda’s perplexing mystery By Dean Schneider “The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious,” said Albert Einstein, and that’s exactly what 12-year-old Miranda has. In fact, her whole story is a mystery. Readers know from page one that Miranda is telling this story to someone in particular. She narrates the story and stops every now and then to address the unknown person: “Just like you said” or “You asked me to mention the key.” Then there’s Sal, Miranda’s best friend—only friend, actually—who is hit in the stomach and face on the way home from school one day, and that ends their friendship, but we don’t know why that should be. And Miranda begins finding mysterious notes that say things like, “I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own” and “The trip is a difficult one. I will not be myself when I reach you.” The notes indicate that she is being watched and that whoever is writing them knows about things before they happen. The book’s cover gathers some of the clues: a key, a shoe, a two dollar bill, a mailbox with a person’s shadow extending from it (but there’s no person), a green coat, a book, a sack of bread. All of these things play into the story, When You though readers will just have to keep reading if they don’t Reach Me understand everything right away. They can trust Rebecca Stead’s masterful plotting. She sprinkles clues, and readers By Rebecca Stead Wendy Lamb must collect them along the way, as Miranda does. $15.99, 208 pages In the midst of all the mysteriousness is an expertly ISBN 9780385737425 crafted realistic story perfect for intermediate readers. Ages 9 to 14 The setting—New York City’s Upper West Side in 1979— is well drawn, and Miranda’s mother lets her navigate the streets of her neighborhood, teaching her to avoid those older boys hanging out and that mysterious laughing man always saying crazy things. What could be better: a great setting, believable characters and a mystery deftly woven by a fine writer. This is a book to be reckoned with come Newbery season. o Dean Schneider teaches middle school English in Nashville.

JULY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

Paying homage to magical books

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Apollo astronaut Alan Bean is an illustrator with a claim to fame unlike any other: he’s the only artist to have walked on the moon. His dazzling color paintings of the Apollo missions appear in a new book for middle grade readers, Misson Control, This Is Apollo: The Story of the First Voyages to the Moon (Viking, $23.99, 128 pages, ISBN 9780670011568), written by Andrew Chaikin.

By Joanna Brichetto At the beginning of Any Which Wall, Laurel Snyder’s second middle-grade novel, four bored children while away the summer, wistful for the kind of magic that only happens in books. They’ve been reading Edward Eager, author of the 1954 uber-classic Half Magic, which also begins with bored children yearning for something, anything exciting to happen. And those children—the kids in Half Magic—have been reading E. Nesbit, the mother of all adventure writers (The Railway Children, Five Children and It, etc.) and the model for Eager himself. Any Which Wall then, is the second degree of separation from Nesbit to Eager to Snyder, and the new book holds up well in such august company. Magic is actually quite common, as we are told by the chatty, no-nonsense narrator who has not forgotten what it’s like to be a kid. “Common magic” is what can happen to characters lucky enough to be bored, be together, have excellent taste in literature and have parents too busy to interfere. Such as Emma, six years old; her brother Henry, a rising fifth grader; Henry’s best friend Roy; and Roy’s older sister Susan. Susan is charged with looking after the younger ones, but does not do a great job keeping anyone out of Any Which Wall trouble. The trouble starts at the end of a path through an By Laurel Snyder Iowa cornfield, where a bizarre, gigantic stone wall launch- Random House es adventures accidental and on purpose. As in Half Magic, $16.99, 256 pages each kid gets a turn, and each kid discovers the power of ISBN 9780375855603 Ages 9 to 12 words. “Be careful what you wish for” has never been such an apt caution: wordplay and syntactical imprecision make for unexpected (and funny) plot twists. Also look for the funky, retro-feel illustrations by LeUyen Phem: magical in their own right. Perfectly timed for a summer release, Any Which Wall should handily alleviate boredom for young readers, and keep us all wishing for a sequel. Of course, the ultimate accolade would be a book written by someone in the next generation of children’s authors, and which begins with bored characters wistful for the kind of magic in Any Which Wall. o Joanna Brichetto still owns the copy of Half Magic she first read 34 years ago (price: 75 cents).


CHILDREN’S BOOKS Books in space: celebrating the Apollo program By MiChelle Jones ome of the authors and illustrators of the books timed to mark the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing are longtime space fans. They faithfully monitored the Apollo 11 mission and documented the adventures of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins in treasured scrapbooks. Now, a new generation will be inspired to follow dreams of traveling back to the moon or even to Mars, or perhaps designing the equipment and procedures for those missions.

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Mission, possible It was a close race, but Jerry Stone’s One Small Step: Celebrating the First Men on the Moon (Roaring Brook, $24.95, 24 pages, ISBN 9781596434912) wins honors for best cover. A round hologram shows an astronaut climbing down a ladder, stepping on the moon, moving closer and finally standing front-and-center holding a flag. The rest of the book, presented as an Apollo program scrapbook kept by the grandson of a Mission Control employee (and son of a present-day NASA scientist), is equally fascinating. Scores of photographs—of things like the Apollo 11 crew eating breakfast, a Saturn V rocket under construction—some of which lift to reveal more information—fill the book and wonderful two-page spreads document the in-space experience, the crew’s return to Earth, etc. Other nice touches include a mission diagram of orbits, docking and undocking maneuvers; minibooks of countdown checklists and mission menus; removable facsimiles of VIP and press passes for the Apollo 11 launch; and a hologram showing the rocket lifting off the pad. There are lots of similarities between One Small Step and Alan Dyer’s Mission to the Moon (Simon & Schuster, $19.99, 80 pages, ISBN 9781416979357), including a show-stopping cover— this one features an embossed image of an Apollo 11 astronaut on the lunar surface. A mix of images and short blocks of text (much more inviting and accessible than long passages) cover the men, machines and other aspects of the Apollo program in well-designed spreads. Factor in the enclosed double-sided poster and truly spectacular DVD of authentic NASA footage, and this book is sure to please children and adults.

Junior version

Fly me to the moon Buzz Aldrin flew on the Apollo mission just before Alan Bean’s. He teams up again with painter (and pilot) Wendell Minor for Look to the Stars (Putnam, $17.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9780399247217), the follow-up to 2005’s Reaching for the Moon (HarperCollins). It’s a quick trip through aviation history sprinkled with personal insights and recollections from Aldrin. He tells us, for example, that crewmate Armstrong took along a piece of fabric from the Wright Brothers’ plane to the moon. (He doesn’t mention that aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh was in the viewing stand for Apollo 11’s launch, seated next to Apollo 13’s Jim Lovell. But, hey, Aldrin was obviously too busy that day to notice.) The timeline at the end of the book is packed with information and looks like a cool 1950s mobile. One Giant Leap (Philomel, $16.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9780399238833) takes its title from the famous words spoken by Armstrong when he became the first man to step on the moon. Written by Robert Burleigh, the book skips the launch and starts when the lunar lander separates from the command service module and heads off toward the moon. Mike Wimmer’s paintings capture the stark beauty of outer space—and his likenesses of the astronauts are astounding. Brian Floca offers a completely different view of the Apollo 11 mission in Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 (Atheneum, $17.99, 48 pages, ISBN 9781416950462). Reading Chaikin’s A Man on the Moon inspired Floca to write (and, of course, illustrate) his own project, the first time he’s tackled both words and pictures. His paintings are bright and airy, perfect for suggesting the sensation of floating in space, but equally effective portraying Mission Control, liftoff and star-studded space vistas.

Cool, daddy, cool If you’ve not yet seen the world via M. Sasek’s series of children’s travel books, here’s the perfect excuse to do so: This is the Way to the Moon (Universe, $17.95, 64 pages, ISBN 9780789318428) is the latest of the series to be rereleased. Originally published in 1963, the book is a colorful time capsule from the hip world of Cape Canaveral during the era of “Right Stuff” astronauts. Sasek’s simple, stylish drawings show off the clothes, cars and buildings of the day—including a beautiful rendering

of a two-story hotel favored by the Mercury 7 astronauts, complete with pool, splashy sign and geometric wrought-iron railing. Sasek also wrote the accompanying text, which is tinged with the sarcasm of a late 1950s animated feature. Halfway through This is the Way to the Moon, he makes an easy transition into more technical drawings of rockets—really missiles at this point in the space program— and explanatory copy. Tomi Ungerer’s Moon Man (Phaidon, $16.95, 40 pages, ISBN 9780714855981) is another oldie but goodie re-released this year. Rockets don’t appear until nearly the end of this tale about the man in the moon catching a ride on a falling star to satisfy his curiosity about the fun-loving earthlings he spies each night. After causing a series of events familiar to fans of the 1951 version of The Day the Earth Stood Still, the moon man visits a tinkerer-scientist and catches a ride back to his orb. Ungerer’s lush colorful illustrations add to the poignancy of the story. o

More stellar choices There are simply too many children’s books being published to coincide with the Apollo 11 anniversary to discuss them all. On the other hand, many of them are too good to ignore. Here are a few more stars in the collection. T-Minus: The Race to the Moon By Jim Ottaviani, illustrated by Zander Cannon and Kevin Cannon Aladdin, $21.99, 128 pages, ISBN 9781416986829

The Apollo story told through words and drawings evoking the sci-fi/space comic vibe that inspired many of the original astronauts, rocket designers and mission controllers. (Also in paperback.)

Almost-Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream By Tanya Lee Stone Candlewick, $24.99, 144 pages, ISBN 9780763636111

The Mercury 13 was a select group of pilots who met NASA’s strict requirements for entry into the Mercury astronaut corps—except they were female. They’ve been chronicled in a couple of books for adults, including one by Margaret A. Weitekamp, who wrote the intro here.

One Small Step By Peter Murray Murray Books, $34.95, 164 pages, ISBN 9780980313192

Who could resist a round book with a puffy cover, depicting the surface of the moon? Readers are guided through the Apollo program by informative copy on the left-hand pages and full-page photographs on the right. Buzz Aldrin wrote the intro.

Footprints on the Moon By Mark Haddon, illustrated by Christian Birmingham Candlewick, $16.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9780763644406

In this sweet book for younger readers, best-selling author Haddon’s (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) story of his boyhood fascination with the space program is perfectly illustrated by Birmingham’s chalk-pastel drawings. o

—MICHELLE JONES

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Andrew Chaikin was a space-obsessed 12-year-old the first time he met Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean, and there’s a photo on the back flap of Mission Control, This Is Apollo: The Story of the First Voyages to the Moon (Viking, $23.99, 114 pages, ISBN 9780670011568) to prove it. Chaikin, writing with wife Victoria Kohl, covers the same wide territory he so expertly presented in A Man on the Moon, here in a version for junior space fans. There are plenty of photographs of activities on the ground and in space, informative sidebars (waste management gets glorious treatment, as it does in many of the space books published this year) and colorful graphics to appeal to young minds. In addition to original paintings of his colleagues and their missions, Bean contributes personal reminiscences about them, as well as details

about the paintings themselves. For example, he stages the scenes with small models he makes himself, uses crushed soil to add texture and sometimes even grinds up small pieces of mission patches, flags and NASA emblems from his spacesuits into the paint. For budding artists or those otherwise intrigued by the paintings, consider Painting Apollo: First Artist on Another World (Smithsonian Books), which includes 107 of Bean’s paintings and is the companion volume to an exhibition at the National Air & Space Museum July 16 through January 2010.

27


ROMANCE

DEBUT FICTION

A dark, but important tale By Dennis Lythgoe Ordinarily, a reader might not be inclined to pick up a novel about the miserable life of a prostitute. But this compelling account of a nine-year-old girl sold (by her own father) into sex slavery in India is an emotional powerhouse. James A. Levine, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, is the gifted author. During a research trip to Mumbai, Levine was walking down the infamous “Street of Cages” when he noticed a young girl writing in a notebook. Stopping to chat, he discovered she was writing about her frightening life as a sex slave. He felt moved to write a novel based on her life and the dark global problem she not only lives, but symbolizes. With The Blue Notebook, Levine introduces Batuk, a young girl who learned to read at age seven while recovering from tuberculosis at a missionary medical clinic in rural India. Later she is forced into prostitution, subjected to violent beatings and frequent rape. While Batuk’s story is graphic, it is beautifully designed to establish instant rapport between the reader and the intellectually gifted girl who ages from nine to 15 in the book. The Blue Notebook Levine writes from inside the mind of Batuk—a compelling character herself—and deepens the complexity of By James A. Levine his narrative as Batuk invents entertaining, symbolic stories Spiegel & Grau 224 pages about fictional characters to sustain her spirit. When Batuk $23, ISBN 9780385528719 is sold to a wealthy man as a plaything for his psychotic son, Also available on audio her creative gifts help protect her. Like the girl Levine met in Mumbai, Batuk clings to writing as salvation, a practice that provides temporary escape from her grim reality. Readers will come to care deeply for Batuk, a delightful, witty young girl bravely bearing her unspeakable burdens. And they will hope desperately that Batuk will be rescued from her life’s depravity. As for the talented Levine, he has made a forceful literary debut that will compete with the time he devotes to medicine. It isn’t often that a scientist is also a writer who grips the hearts and minds of his readers. o Dennis Lythgoe is a writer who has lived in Boston and Salt Lake City.

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scavenger hunt

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Get to know the redesigned BookPage.com, and win great prizes along the way. This month we are sending BookPage.com visitors arond the site in a search for BookPage trivia. Find the answers, fill out the questionnaire and you could be a winner. Prizes include books, gift cards and a grand prize so grand, we can’t print it here—so head on over to the site to find out, and play along.

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Instant pleasure July’s temperatures are hot and so are the four books highlighted this month. From a California contemporary to an edgy urban fantasy, these novels feature spicy conflicts and searing romance. Readers are in for a fun and thrilling ride in the latest from Jill Shalvis, Instant Gratification (Kensington Brava, $14, 320 pages, ISBN 9780758231253). New Yorkbased ER doctor Emma Sinclair is in Wishful, California, tending to her ailing father’s small-town practice. She’s finding it a rocky go—though the Lake Tahoe region is beautiful, Emma is a city girl accustomed to a faster pace. Here, patients are few and her patience is tried by the appearance of hunky Stone Wilder in her treatment room. One of three brothers who BY christie ridgway run a mountain adventure business, he’s sexy and confident—and confident he doesn’t need her needles or stitches. The attraction is undeniable, and slowly Stone persuades Emma to revel in his company. But the city calls louder than love . . . or does it? A capable woman bumps hearts with a determined man in a story that’s both sizzling and sweet.

Timely plot Suspense and family drama mix in Joan Johnston’s latest romantic thriller, Outcast (MIRA, $7.99, 384 pages, ISBN 9780778325741). Former Army sniper Ben Benedict is now an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer in Washington, D.C. His current assignment: working with the metropolitan police to curb gang violence. But that very violence turns Ben onto a dangerous path when he witnesses the grisly death of a young informant. After a shooting, his boss sends Ben to psychologist Dr. Anna Schuster for evaluation. He’s distracted by her blond beauty, only furthering his troubles because he’s hiding debilitating episodes of PostTraumatic Stress Disorder. Despite the need to keep things professional between them, Anna can’t ignore her attraction to Ben or her strong need to help the man cope with his demons. As she struggles to help him heal, both are drawn further into a deadly scheme of international terrorism. Will they survive to build on their blossoming relationship? With a breathless pace and a large cast of characters, this gritty tale includes complex relationships and family secrets at last revealed.

Sweet interlude Friendship forged in a reform school for aristocratic boys is the starting point for Mary Jo Putney’s Regency-era historical, Loving a Lost Lord (Zebra, $6.99, 352 pages, ISBN 9781420103281). Heroine Mariah Clarke finds security at last when her gambling father wins a country estate. But he leaves her there alone and another man comes into her life—one she pulls half-dead from the sea. “Adam” awakens to the gentle touch of a woman and the realization that he’s lost his memory. He and Mariah spend a blissful interlude of love and passion until he’s found by his childhood friends and must return to London to rediscover his life—and uncover who might be interested in ending it. As Adam recoups his memories, he does not lose his passion for Mariah, but his obligations may make a future for them impossible—if he lives long enough to see it. Brimming with broken families and friends bonding once again, Loving a Lost Lord will make readers eager for the next installment in the series.

Out of this world Elements of urban fantasy and paranormal romance combine in Gena Showalter’s Seduce the Darkness (Pocket, $7.99, 416 pages, ISBN 9781416531647). Vampire Bride McKells thinks she’s the only one of her kind on earth, and she’s been wandering for years trying to find the sole friend she ever had. She’s never found a hint of her, not until she happens upon an otherworlder who bears the distinctive scent of the one she seeks. If that was not enough, the very attractive King of the Targons, Devyn de bon ci Laci, speaks of other vampires he’s known. But Devyn, an agent for AIR (Alien Investigation and Removal), doesn’t want to get tangled up with the lovely vampire, especially now when there’s a dire threat to humans on the horizon. But Bride and Devyn do tangle—and team up—and battle ferociously against their attraction and their enemies. Imaginative and sexy, this story teems with nonstop action. o Christie Ridgway’s latest contemporary romance, Dirty Sexy Knitting, is now on the shelves.


HISTORY

The Romantic era, an age of science and literature

Read reviews online at www.bookpage.com

new torchbearer in the progression of science in the age—and each figure also bringing new questions as that same science slowly reveals a universe far vaster and stranger than the easily defined world of the old philosophy. The Age of Wonder is a book about discovery, both exciting and frightening— discovery that removes surety as much as it offers hope. To read it is to read the opening of the human mind, and to be called again

to look at the world with wonder. o Howard Shirley is a writer in Franklin, Tennessee.

The Age of Wonder By Richard Holmes Pantheon $40, 576 pages ISBN 9780375422225

“An effortless and immensely satisfying read.”* A Proper Education for Girls tells the story of Alice and Lilian Talbot, twins separated for the first time in their lives by their strict father. After a love affair comes to a tragic end, Lilian is banished to India to marry a sickly missionary. Alice is forced to remain on their father’s isolated estate and serve as curator to his collection of artifacts. The bonds of sisterhood are strong, however, and the twins embark on a dangerous plan to establish their freedom and reunite once more. *—Janice Graham, New York Times bestselling author of The Tailor’s Daughter

“[This] delightful debut novel debunks Victorian morality with the ease and authority of A.S. Byatt and the naughty irony of Margaret Atwood.” —Valerie Martin, author of Property and Trespass Crown Publishers

CrownPublishing.com

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By Howard Shirley In 1769, a young Englishman named Joseph Banks arrived on the island of Tahiti, serving as the official botanist of the HMS Endeavour under the command of Lt. James Cook. Banks was wealthy—he had entirely funded his presence on the ship himself, along with several assistants and their equipment—as well as highly intelligent, well educated and enormously curious. He was, in a single person, the embodiment of a rising new breed of “natural philosopher,” the gentleman of science, out to study nature in intimate detail, not only by thinking about it but by experiencing it. Botanist he may have officially been, but Banks’ study went far further, into the nature of the island and the culture of its people, collecting thousands of specimens ranging from plants to Polynesian clothing and tools. He was welcomed back to England as a celebrity, becoming a friend and advisor to King George III, and the rising star of science. Banks was, author Richard Holmes suggests, a Romantic hero, the first of many who would change Europe’s perception of science, nature and the very universe—a change historian Richard Holmes calls “the Age of Wonder,” the title of his latest book. The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science is Holmes’ study of that change in perceptions, which sent ripples across everything from literature to industry to religion. It was a change firmly rooted in startling discoveries in science that rapidly began to appear, guided by a change from science as a mental exercise of philosophy to active experimentation and observation. It was also a change that cut through the social layers which had largely relegated scientific philosophy to the wealthy gentility, to the point that the greatest astronomer of the age would turn out to be an immigrant German musician (William Herschel), the greatest chemist was the son of a Welsh ne’er-do-well (Humphry Davy), and a whole new branch of study—electromagnetism—would be founded by the son of a blacksmith (Michael Faraday). All these figures appear as characters in Holmes’ fascinating work, along with poets, novelists, explorers, aristocrats and even balloonists. Holmes shares how the new developments in astronomy, chemistry and the new science of geology spurred popular fascination with science, both its possibilities for good and abuse, with the language, ideas and ethics of science and scientists appearing in poems by Coleridge, Keats, Byron and Shelley and, on the darker side, novels such as Mary Shelley’s classic tale of science gone wrong, Frankenstein. Like the polymath intellectuals of the times, The Age of Wonder reaches across multiple themes and disciplines, combining biography with the history of science, literature and even social change. Holmes’ biographical accounts carry the reader through the book, each figure serving as a

29


COOKING

My big fat Greek cookbook

Phaidon, known as a classy art book publisher, started its foray into the culinary arts with The Silver Spoon, a super-hefty tome billed as the “bible of authentic Italian cooking.” That was followed by 1,080 Spanish Recipes, “the bible of Spanish cooking.” Now, the fine Phaidon folks have turned to Vefa Alexiadou, a best-selling cookbook author in Greece with her own TV series. Vefa’s Kitchen ($45, ISBN 9780714849294), “the bible of authentic Greek cooking,” is an amazingly thorough, 704-page cook’s tour of Vefa’s beautiful country and its wideranging repertoire of recipes. Most of us know about spanakopita, those flaky, spinach-feta-filled delights, stuffed grape leaves, moussaka, pastitsio, baklava and tzatziki (now sold BY SYBIL PRATT at Costco). But I would imagine that few of us have really delved into Greek cooking or even tried to make a pan of spanakopita or to stuff a grape leaf at home. Once you try, you’ll be hooked. Vefa moves from a marvelous mélange of mezedes—small-plate appetizers, so varied, so inviting that it’s easy to make a full meal of them—to three full chapters on sweets. In between, she makes stops for every kind of fish, shellfish, poultry and meat entree, soups, salads, pasta, beans and rice, breads and savory pies. With more than 650 recipes and 230 full-color photos, Vefa’s Kitchen is the very best way to get to know the “mother of Mediterranean cuisine.”

Man for all seasons Mark Bittman is a master at putting home cooks at ease. At the height of the holiday season in 2007, when entertaining was turning this usually serene host into a harried harridan, his New York Times column, “The Minimalist,” listed 101 easy appetizers—it was a lifesaver. I clipped it,

cherish it and use it whenever I need inspiration for quick hors d’oeuvres. Now, just in time for casual summertime dining, Bittman has come to the rescue again with Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express (Simon & Schuster, $26, 240 pages, ISBN 9781416575665). These recipes, all 404 of them, don’t follow traditional form: it’s more like chatting with a friend who has lots of great ideas for lots of great dishes. There are no ingredient lists; each recipe is just a short paragraph, rarely more than seven lines, that has all the info you need to make Panzanella, Shrimp with Toasted Coconut, Stir-Fried Corn and Clams, Korean Barbecued Beef, or Blueberry Ricotta Cheesecake. And that’s just a sample of the summer recipes. Every season gets its due and you get to think about cooking in an ultra-relaxed, what-do-I-have-in-the-fridge way.

Shake it up, baby When you think of a milkshake, you probably conjure up images of soda fountains, bobbysox and swooning Sinatra fans. Even if you still indulge in these sweet, frosty concoctions, the thrill of vanilla may not make you twist and shout. You might even consider them a tad old-fashioned, a little dowdy, definitely not where you’ll get a cutting-edge culinary kick. Think again! In the hands of Adam Ried, cooking columnist for the Sunday Boston Globe Magazine and self-appointed revitalizer, reviver and re-invigorator of this historic treat, the mighty milkshake rides again. Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes (Norton, $24.95, 208 pages, ISBN 9780393068771) thoroughly changes the rules, bringing the venerable combo of ice cream, milk and syrup into the 21st century, big-time. Adam has assembled an arsenal of inspiring ingredients to energize his end product. Yes, you’ll get the basics, but then the basics go ballistic: add tangerine sorbet to a chocolate shake; cardamom to a mocha shake; dark rum and cashew butter to a vanilla shake or jazz it up with mango sorbet, chile and lime or tea-soaked prunes and Armagnac. Serve shakes for dessert. I’ve done so with great success—they’re fast, festive and so much fun. o

JULY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

Independent Voices for an Independent World

30

The Intrigue of the Possible

Get Off the Dime

Do you have questions like: Why am I here? What happens when I die? The author provides information about thirteen unusual, but credible, individuals whose works or lives he has encountered.

Who really pays for healthcare and how do we finally improve cost and quality? Dr. Potarazu sounds a clarion call to action for anyone who pays for health care, employer or employee.

9780982228906 $24.95

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Summer’s Distant Echoes

Ohio Salt

Eight years have passed since Summer and Destiny’s parents were brutally gunned down. When the things you hold dear to your heart are taken away, what do you do?

This detective novel is filled with embezzlement, murder and decades-old crimes. Private investigator Adrian Leblanc is a modern day Sam Spade who specializes in corporate crime.

9780977148417 $14.99

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The Wonderful Adventures of Ozzie the Sea Otter

This book provides a comprehensive approach leaders can use to get on the path to more effective leadership. It will challenge and encourage you to be the best you can be.

Follow Ozzie, a little sea otter, and his mother on their ocean journey. Their adventures will entertain and educate the reader about the ocean and the sea otter.

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Available at your favorite bookstore, online at www.atlasbooks.com or by calling 1-800-BOOKLOG.


SPORTS

BUSINESS

New Satchel Paige bio scores big

Learning from the market masters

By Martin Brady Like Leroy (“Satchel”) Paige’s barnstorming baseball life itself, what we know about the man is flung far and wide, over decades of disparate newspaper and magazine stories and occasional biographical accounts. Larry Tye’s Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend probably separates fact from fancy as well as any major bio ever could, and the former Boston Globe writer’s lengthy bibliography serves as testament to thorough sourcing, not to mention to Paige’s obvious historical importance. But tying up the elusive threads of Paige’s legendary career at times seems to play second banana to Tye’s informative insights into the world of the old Negro baseball leagues and the Jim Crow culture that marginalized many great black ballplayers. Not that societal realities ever seemed to affect Satchel. As the leading figure in what Tye calls “blackball,” Paige was pulling in $40,000 a year in his prime, traveling all over North America and the Caribbean, and winning acclaim as one of the greatest pitchers ever, even by the whites who wouldn’t let him into their game until 1948, when, at age 42, he helped the Cleveland Indians win a World Series title. Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Paige learned of his baseball gift at a reform school (shades of Babe Ruth) Satchel and from age 18 on, that was his life, throwing thousands of By Larry Tye innings from Chattanooga to Bismarck, while establishing Random House himself as a truly independent personality—digging wom- $26, 416 pages en, cool clothes and big cars—until finally hurling his last ISBN 9781400066513 fastball in 1965 for the Kansas City Athletics at the record age of 59. Paige had his peccadilloes—a little bigamy, some occasional over-imbibing, bouts of bad driving—but otherwise he emerges here as a genuinely enthusiastic person and athlete who made every minute count until his death in 1982. For those flimflammed by Paige’s well-noted distortion of his age, Tye sets the record straight with a birth date of July 7, 1906, and he also cues us in that Satch’s penchant for catchy aphorisms—“Ain’t no man can avoid being born average, but there ain’t no man got to be common”—was the real deal. o Martin Brady writes from Nashville.

By Ellen R. Marsden The Wall Street Journal ranked 51 of the nation’s leading economic forecasters on the accuracy of their 2008 economic forecasts using two key statistics: 2007-2008 fourth quarter-to-fourth-quarter real GDP growth, and 2008’s ending unemployment rate. The actual change in GDP growth was -0.8 percent. Just one forecaster was in the margin of error; all the rest expected positive real growth. On the unemployment rate, every forecaster expected a much better outcome than the 6.9 percent it actually was. In sum, 101 of the 102 estimates were wrong in the same direction. A few others, however, got it very right. In The Sages: Warren Buffett, George Soros, Paul Volcker, and the Maelstrom of Markets, Charles R. Morris provides a short, insightful biography of each of these eminently successful men. He then advocates for learning from them as he concludes with a chapter on what’s wrong with our current economics. Although many prominent forecasters were providing woefully inaccurate forecasts even when the credit crunch was front-page news, Buffett, Soros and Volcker had been warning about the impending crisis for years. Morris argues The Sages that they are outstanding successes in part because they’re By Charles R. Morris not overly reliant on a certain market model or particular Public Affairs school of economic thinking, but instead The Sages take a $23.95, 224 pages broader view and more commonsense approach. Volcker’s ISBN 9781586487522 Also available on audio victory over inflation as chairman of the Federal Reserve laid the path for stable global economic growth in the 1980s and 1990s. Buffett and Soros have been wildly successful in the markets, with markedly different investment styles—Buffett the value seeker, in for the long term, and Soros with a keen sense of opportunity, always on the lookout to move in and out of positions quickly. Their core belief is that markets are often wrong. Judging by their success, Morris believes they are right. While The Sages may be best understood by the layperson who has some insight into how markets work, this is a very timely book with a compelling message for us all. o Ellen R. Marsden writes from Mason, Ohio.

FICTION

Friendships forged at a women’s college

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By Rebecca Shapiro When April, Celia, Bree and Sally arrive at Smith College in the late 1990s and move onto the same freshman hall, it doesn’t seem likely that they’ll end up as friends. Celia’s a boy-crazy Catholic schoolgirl, ready for adventure; Bree is a sweet Southern belle—a Smith legacy—with an engagement ring on her finger and a pile of family pressure hanging over her; Sally, a wealthy girl from Boston, is still reeling from her mother’s death the previous summer; and April, who seems to fit in best, is an angry feminist from Chicago with unshaven legs and a chip on her shoulder. But remarkably, they do get along, supporting each other through the daily ups and downs of college life, the unique issues of an all-women’s school and the more substantial clouds that hang over each of them. For Sally, it’s an intense and damaging relationship with a professor; for Celia, a trip off-campus that shatters her trust in men; for Bree it’s the end of an engagement, and an unlikely new love interest; and for April, a deepening commitment to a dangerous cause. Four years after graduation, the group reunites for Sally’s wedding. Celia, Bree, Sally and April come together on Smith’s campus looking for the same kind of comfortable rapport that they once had. As they reminisce about Commencement their college days, though, ugly feelings are revealed, and By J. Courtney Sullivan the once unbreakable quartet seems more vulnerable than Knopf ever. But then something unthinkable happens to one $24.95, 336 pages member, forcing them again to find the strength in these ISBN 9780307270740 friendships—the most important of their lives. Taking a page from Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep, J. Courtney Sullivan has honed in on so much of the utter anguish of adolescence and young adulthood. Her characters are brilliantly flawed, intensely realistic, thoroughly compassionate and often incredibly funny. And, while a plot twist in the middle of the book feels a bit unrealistic, it also adds suspense and depth to a more classic coming-of-age tale. With this warm, insightful debut, Sullivan has positioned herself as a voice to watch. o Rebecca Shapiro writes best from her hammock in Brooklyn, New York.

31


WORDNOOK

By the editors of Merriam-Webster

Cinema classic Dear Editor: I am quite sure that I have heard the word gaslight used as a verb meaning “to drive someone crazy,” but I have asked a number of my friends and colleagues about this word and no one seems to know what I’m talking about. Are you familiar with this odd use of the word gaslight, and if so, can you tell me anything about its history? C. M. Waterville, Maine In 1938, a Victorian-era thriller titled Angel Street opened in London. It was the story of a man who attempts to drive his young wife mad by causing her to doubt her own grip on reality. One of his favorite tricks is to dim the house gaslights and then pretend not to notice any difference in illumination. When the play was filmed in 1944 as Gaslight, it starred Charles Boyer as the evil husband and Ingrid Bergman as the distraught wife. The film version prompted a vogue for using gaslight as a verb meaning “to drive someone insane.” Today, however, this word is one that only old movie buffs are likely to recognize.

If you do something to the bitter end, you continue until it is completely done, even though it is difficult, painful or disastrous to do so. This could jibe with your idea of finishing eating something even though it tastes bad at the end. Unfortunately, we don’t have any evidence to support such a theory. Rest assured, however, that you are not the only one who has struggled to explain bitter end. In fact, the origin of the phrase is quite obscure, and even the experts have not reached a consensus on it. Two theories are generally offered. One of them suggests that the phrase derives from the nautical term, bitter-end. On a ship, bitter refers to a turn of anchoring line around the bitts (timbers fixed to the deck for securing lines.) The bitter-end is the inboard end of this anchoring line. When the line is paid out to the bitter end, there is no more line, and you are literally at the end of your rope. Another theory holds that bitter end refers to death and traces the phrase to the Bible. Proverbs 5:4 reads, “but her end is bitter as wormwood, and sharp as a two-edged sword.” The suggestion is that death is the ultimate bitter end, and, by extension, any difficult ending or defeat is a bitter end.

Pipe down

Dead end Dear Editor: Does the phrase bitter end have something to do with the taste of something becoming bitter as you get to the end of it? P.L. Boise, Idaho

IT’S A MYSTERY

You’re right that the ancient Greek god Pan is often represented playing the panpipe, which is so called because Pan was believed to be the inventor of the instrument. Pan was very lustful and fond of chasing the nymphs. A nymph named Syrinx was once being chased by him and, finding herself unable to escape across the River Ladon, asked the nymphs of the river for help. They changed her into a bed of reeds by the riverbank. When Pan saw these reeds, the story goes, he cut pieces of different lengths and made a panpipe. (Syrinx lives on as an occasional synonym of panpipe, and it also survives in English in the word syringe.) But that is all a digression from the answer to your question. Pan did not spend all his time playing pipes or chasing nymphs. For instance, it was believed that he gave a great shout which instilled fear into the giants during their battle against the gods, and in Athens, the citizens believed that it was Pan who caused the Persians to flee in fear from the battle of Marathon. It is from this more awesome aspect of his nature that we get the word panic. 

Please send correspondence

Dear Editor: My daughter said she learned in school that the word panic comes from the name of the Greek god Pan. Isn’t Pan that little guy who played the pipes? What is the association between him and a word like panic? M. Y. Yonkers, New York

regarding Word Nook to:

Language Research Service P.O. Box 281 Springfield, MA 01102

This crossword is from Linda K. Murdock’s Mystery Lover’s Puzzle Book, published by Bellwether Books. © 2007 Linda K. Murdock.

NEVADA BARR

ACROSS 1. Main character Anna ____ 6. Animals featured in 14-Across 11. Anna’s pet Piedmont 14. Blood ____ takes place in Glacier National Park 15. Kit Carson occupation 17. Anna doesn’t bond much with her ____-workers 18. Not wealthy 20. Anna’s drink of choice, red or white 22. An FDR agency 23. Hunting Season’s Natchez ____ Pkwy. 24. A tasty herb? 26. Distinct area for Anna to search 28. Anger, or what Anna feels toward litterers 29. President or vacuum 32. River in Yorkshire, England 33. Anna’s age in Ill Wind 34. A fibber 37. A beau of Anna’s, ____ Davidson

S O L U T I O N

40. Robert or Jack for one 42. Chance occurrence 43. Anna loses a boyfriend to this relative 45. Breed of Anna’s adopted dog Taco 47. Cereal grain (sing.) 48. Helpful to Hard Truth wheelchair- bound character 50. Flying prefix 51. Egyptian war god depicted as a bull 52. State setting for Anna’s intro 54. Anna does not eat this 55. He is, they ____ 56. Radio used before the cell phone 59. Anna tries to find out ____ done it 60. Anna’s vice/addiction 63. Wisconsin tourist spot 66. Southern Civil War org. 67. On, above, in addition to: prefix 68. Part for 12-Down 69. Anna works for the National ____ Service 71. A series of metal links 73. Flashback takes place in the ____ Tortugas 74. Spoil appearance 75. Glued 76. Golly 77. Anna’s American Motors car 78. Sighs of relaxation

DOWN 1. Soft drink 2. Hand protection 3. Multicountry currency 4. Portland state 5. Anna’s sibling lives here

7. Direction 8. “Cool” luxury Anna seldom gets in park housing 9. Lines of seats 10. Great Lake involved in ____ Death 12. Profession of Anna’s husband Zach 13. Manager of New York Yankees 16. Tactical Air Command (abbr.) 19. Used in rowing 21. Military branch 25. Greek letter 27. Subjects of Endangered Species 30. Short for what Anna never gets paid 31. River boat 33. State location of 73-Across 35. Least restrictive environment (abbr.) 36. Strong ____ an ox 37. Anna and her sister communicate by ____ 38. Battery size 39. Anna’s evildoers are ____ no good 40. Donkey 41. Anna’s Fred Stanton is an ____ agent 43. Anna carries a ____ & Wesson 44. Inches per second (abbr.) 46. Mr. Franken 48. Union organizer Norma ____ 49. An animal’s foot or a kind of print Anna examines 50. Circle of light 52. ____ of the Cat, Anna’s first adventure 53. Snakelike fish 54. Anna’s sister

56. Duplicates 57. ____ Descent has to do with spelunking 58. Ill Wind takes place in Mesa ____ 61. Park ranger code for Carlsbad Caverns 62. Wheelchair-bound ____ Jarrod was introduced in Hard Truth 64. Anna enjoys local park folk ____

65. Direction as Atlanta is to Chicago 69. Cooking spray 70. Short for arbitrager 72. Health savings acct. 74. Boston state 75. Dept. assigned to goodwill

July 2009 BookPage  

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