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paperback picks penguin.com

Blood Hunt

Crossfire

Cure

Dark Watch

When Hope and Logan both fall prey to Krag, a powerful desire grows between them. But is it enough to thwart their captor’s diabolical plan and his demon warriors, and survive a vampire’s destiny written in blood?

Shell-shocked after losing a foot during his tour in Afghanistan, Captain Tom Forsyth returns to his estranged mother’s house. Learning that she’s being blackmailed, Tom sets out to find and defeat a hidden enemy before his mother’s reputation is ruined, and he ends up back in the crossfire.

With her son’s illness in complete remission, New York City medical examiner Laurie Montgomery returns to work—and finds her first case back to be a dangerous puzzle of the highest order, involving organized crime and two start-up biotech companies caught in a zero-sum game…

The author of the bestselling NUMA® and Dirk Pitt® series returns with an all-new novel of adventure and intrigue featuring his unbeatable hero of the high seas, Captain Juan Cabrillo…

9780425242629 • $9.99

9780425242605 • $9.99

9780451234292 • $7.99

9780425226278 • $9.99

In Harm’s Way

The Last Lie

Secrets of Bella Terra

Treachery in Death

Sun Valley sheriff Walt Fleming’s budding relationship with photographer Fiona Kenshaw hits a rough patch after Fiona is involved in a heroic river rescue. Then Walt gets a phone call that changes everything. Walt knows there’s a link—but can he pull the pieces together in time?

Thankfully Alan and Lauren Gregory aren’t invited to their affluent new neighbors’ housewarming party—because the next morning, a rape accusation rocks the town of Boulder. Alan discovers he has an unusual perspective into what really happened after the party, but he may not be able to stop crucial witnesses—and people close to him—from being murdered.

Brooding and sexy Rafe Di Luca has returned to his family’s luxurious vineyard resort for one reason: to find out who attacked his beloved grandmother. His homecoming stirs up a decades-old feud, forcing him to work with Brooke Petersson, the woman he once seduced and betrayed...but never forgot.

In the latest book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series, Eve Dallas tracks down those who break the law—including the ones sworn to uphold it.

9780451234285 • $9.99

9780451413093 • $7.99

9780515149715 • $9.99

9780425242612 • $7.99

A mother-daughter story about the strong pull of tradition, and the lure and cost of breaking free of it. When Shoko decided to marry an American GI and leave Japan, she had her parents’ blessing, her brother’s scorn, and a gift from her husband—a book on how to be a proper American housewife. Half a century later, Shoko’s plans to finally return to Japan and reconcile with her brother are derailed by illness. In her place, she sends her grown American daughter, Sue, a divorced single mother whose own life isn’t what she hoped for. As Sue takes in Japan, with all its beauty and contradictions, she discovers another side to her mother and returns to America unexpectedly changed and irrevocably touched.

NOW IN PAPERBACK BERKLEY

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For live author chats, reading group guides, excerpts, and more, visit penguin.com/whattheworldisreading

A Penguin Group (USA) Company

9780425241295 • $15


contents

AUGUST 2011 w w w. B o o k Pa g e . c o m

features

24

06 dick cheney

feature

new voices

With several weeks of summer reading left, let our favorite new debut novels transport you to places near and far

The former VP reflects on his historic role

13 melanie benjamin Inspired by the very big adventures of a very small woman

15 kevin wilson Parenting as performance art

28 christopher moore Meet the author of The Griff

35 james howe Finding the softer side of a tough character

39 back to school Four new books to help young readers get excited for the start of the school year

39 lois ehlert Meet the author-illustrator of RRRalph

departments 04 new! book fortunes 05 08 10 10 11 12 12

book clubs whodunit lifestyles cooking romance author enablers audio

reviews 29 Fiction

top pick:

Northwest Corner by John Burnham Schwartz a l s o r e v i e w e d : The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson; Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close; A Small Hotel by Robert Olen Butler; Burnt Mountain by Anne Rivers Siddons; The Submission by Amy Waldman; Tony and Susan by Austin Wright; The Magician King by Lev Grossman; Rules of Civility by Amor Towles; The Night Train by Clyde Edgerton

32 NonFiction top pick:

It Looked Different on the Model by Laurie Notaro a l s o r e v i e w e d : Paradise Lust by Brook WilenskyLanford; Just One Catch by Tracy Daugherty; Finding Everett Ruess by David Roberts; 1493 by Charles Mann; Unwasted by Sacha Scoblic; Supergods by Grant Morrison; Precious Objects by Alicia Oltuski

36 Children’s top pick:

A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan a l s o r e v i e w e d : The Summer Visitors by Karel Hayes; Into the Trap by Craig Moodie; Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur; Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker; Clean by Amy Reed

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34

29

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39

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BookPage is a selection guide for new books. Our editors evaluate and select for review the best books published each month in a variety of categories. Only books we highly recommend are featured.

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columns

NEW! Book FortuneS by eliza borné

Favorite books: Invisible Monsters, The Long Walk, The Bean Trees, Good in Bed, House Rules, Twilight, Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang, Fight Club

Some people might want a crystal ball to look up winning lottery numbers or connect with a soulmate, but we know our readers are more interested in finding an excellent book to read. From now on, consider BookPage your personal fortune teller. You tell us your favorite authors and books, and we’ll predict your next great read—specifically tailored to your taste. Reader name: Melissa Hometown: Sunnyvale, California Favorite genre: Chick lit, thrillers Favorite authors: Chuck Palahniuk, Jodi Picoult, Stephen King, Barbara Kingsolver, Jennifer Weiner, Stephenie Meyer, Chelsea Handler

There are so many recommendations we could make based on this list of favorite authors. Here are a few we predict Melissa will like: Chevy Stevens’ Still Missing—a raw story about a Realtor’s worst nightmare (being abducted at an open house)—was one of our favorite thrillers of 2010. The paperback came out in May, just a few weeks before the publication of the sequel, Never Knowing. On the lighter side, you can’t go wrong with Jennifer Crusie (her wit and curvier heroines will remind you of Jennifer Weiner). We like Bet Me, about a woman who is wise to the bet her suitor is trying to win. Finally, the Twilight fan would do well to read Elizabeth Kostova’s vampire tale The Historian—described in BookPage as a “terrifying gothic thriller, enlightening historical novel and haunting love story.”

Reader name: Janet Hometown: Indianola, Iowa Favorite genre: Women’s fiction Favorite author: Maeve Binchy Favorite book: Firefly Summer

ning Mankell, Kristin Hannah, Jack London Favorite books: Finding Jack, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, Faithful Place, Faceless Killers

We like Maeve Binchy for her lighthearted looks at life—not to mention her unforgettable characters. So when Janet told us that Binchy is her favorite novelist, we immediately thought of Belva Plain. We recommend Plain’s Werner Family saga; the posthumously published Heartwood came out in February, although you should start with Evergreen, first published in 1978, followed by Golden Cup, Tapestry and Harvest. Readers will fall in love with the multigenerational family—especially the strong women—portrayed in this series.

The dazzling writer Tana French (Faithful Place) is an in-house favorite, and we predict her fans will enjoy Sophie Hannah’s novels, such as Little Face, in which a woman discovers that her infant daughter has been replaced with another child. Mystery lovers and those interested in detective stories should also read The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale, the fascinating story of one of the first Scotland Yard detectives and a murder in 1860s England.

Reader name: Sue Hometown: Morton Grove, Illinois Favorite genre: Detective stories, books about serial killers, good fiction Favorite authors: Jo Nesbø, Hen-

For a chance at your own book fortune, email bookfortunes@bookpage.com with your name, hometown and your favorite genre(s), author(s) and book(s). Also, visit bookpage.com/newsletters to sign up for Book of the Day, our daily e-newsletter with a review of a recommended book every weekday.

A sassy and sexy new tale from New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author

He’ll do anything to win the woman of his dreams. Even if it means

Visit www.SusanAndersen.com to read an excerpt today!

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Also available: another classic story of love and seduction.…


book clubs by julie hale

This month’s best paperbacks for reading groups

WITNESS TO WAR Every Man in This Village Is a Liar (Anchor, $15.95, 272 pages, ISBN 9780767930345), Megan Stack’s shrewd work of reportage, was nominated for the National Book Award, and it’s easy to see why. Stack was 25 and employed by the Los Angeles Times when she wrote the essays that comprise this much-praised account of her adventures as a journalist in the Middle East. A remarkably accomplished reporter, Stack focuses on

friendship and her life as a writer. A bit of an introvert, Violet is forced out of her comfort zone on the six-day trip, as she gets to know her fellow passengers—a diverse group that includes Dino, the ship’s dance instructor, who schools her in the foxtrot, and whose attentions seem more than platonic. The cruise proves therapeutic as Violet reflects on the past and makes plans for the future. Vickers is an expert when it comes to character development, and she writes with humor, warmth and intelligence about matters of the heart.

TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS

the conflict in Afghanistan following 9/11, gives an inside look at occupied Baghdad and provides heartrending portraits of civilians throughout the Middle East whose daily lives are marred by religious and political upheaval, war and terrorism. Through first-person narration, she brings emotion and insight to unforgettable incidents, whether she’s protecting herself from a lustful Afghan leader or suffering discrimination as a woman in Saudi Arabia. Providing invaluable perspectives on what it’s like to be female and American—and thus persona non grata—in some of the world’s most dangerous cities, Stack has written a timely and illuminating book.

STEP BY STEP Travel acts as an antidote to heartache in Dancing Backwards (Picador, $15, 272 pages, ISBN 9780312569327), the charming sixth novel by British author Salley Vickers. Following the death of her second husband, Violet Hetherington goes on a transatlantic cruise to New York with plans of visiting her old friend Edwin. Violet knew Edwin during her years as a poet in the 1960s, and she spends some of her time at sea musing over the tragic incidents that ended their

Allegra Goodman’s latest novel is a smartly constructed romance set during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s. Savvy and driven, Emily Bach is the CEO of a successful data-storage company in Berkeley. Her beau, Jonathan Tilghman, is preparing to open a similar company in Cambridge—a decision that causes friction as the two plan their wedding. Meanwhile, Emily’s quirky sister, Jessamine, a philosophy student at Berkeley, works in a bookstore and pours her energy into conservation projects. When Jessamine becomes obsessed with a set of valuable cookbooks that arrive at the store, she finds herself embroiled in a mystery. Emily also seeks answers, as two rabbis urge her to come to terms with a family secret. Goodman writes with wit and sophistication about Generation X and the plight of 20-somethings who are trying to find themselves. This is a delightful romantic comedy that asks big questions about success, betrayal and the nature of ambition.

The Cookbook Collector By Allegra Goodman Dial $15, 432 pages ISBN 9780385340861

FICTION

books to engage your heart and mind th e year e v e r y th in g ch a n g e d

Four grown sisters gather at their childhood home and discover what it means to be a family.

a novel

n B o c kov e Ge oorr go fi aA n o t h e r S u m m e r

Auth

From the New York Times bestselling author, a suspenseful tale about two girls who steal a baby… and the unimaginable consequences of their act.

“Mesmerizing…. A spine-tingler that resonates with torn-fromthe-headlines immediacy.” –Washington Post

a novel

g stsellin re times be he new york d know you anyw ’ f i author o

le vaeur yr as elc ri pe tptmh ianng wit h t res on ate s -ti ng ler tha ton Po st . . . . A sp ine ” —Wa sh ing “M es me riz ing s im me dia cy. ne dli ea e-h tor n-f rom -th

Antonia Ashton is about to learn about love, magic and a little black dress with the power to break hearts and make dreams come true.

ck little bla dress

dr e s s e b L aC K a LiTTL iC a L a s i s a s m aG nG i H T nO

ri n Thme Cocugb ar Cl ub susa au th or of

“A lovely and entertaining journey into the magical side of things.” – Sarah A. Allen

de

e of things.” magical sid per y into the Peach Kee ining journe hor of The and enterta tselling aut “a lovely k Times bes en, New Yor all ison —sarah add

excellent for book clubs new in paperback

@WMPaperbacks

5


cover story

dick cheney by Beth e. Williams

straight talk from the former VP

O

ne of the most influential and controversial vice presidents in American history gives his version of events during the tumultuous post-9/11 era in a memoir to be published this month.

A frank and unyielding advocate who appears unfazed by public criticism, Dick Cheney is not likely to pull any punches in recounting his years at the center of power. Daughter Liz Cheney, who encouraged her father to write the book and is listed as a co-writer, tells the Associated Press that the memoir, In My Time, offers a “very straightforward” account of Cheney’s views on “critically important issues.” The Washington Post has reported that the book will reveal Cheney’s strong disagreements with Bush during his second term, as the president grew reluctant to take Cheney’s hard-line advice on battling terrorists. The divide between the two men widened when Bush

fired Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, whom Cheney deeply admired. A final blow for Cheney came when Bush refused to pardon the vice president’s former chief of staff, Scooter Libby, who had been convicted of perjury in the Valerie Plame CIA leak case. In the book, Cheney is expected to detail his heated arguments with Bush about a possible pardon for Libby. Cheney was reportedly enraged by Bush’s refusal and argued until the administration’s final days in an effort to win a pardon for his former aide. Since leaving office, Cheney has been an outspoken opponent of President Obama’s handling of the war on terror, again distancing himself from Bush, who has chosen

to remain silent about his successor. In an interview with the Weekly Standard, Cheney defended his decision to speak out. “I worked in the trenches, and I was a loyal and supportive vice president. And when the president made decisions that I didn’t agree with, I still supported him and didn’t go out and undercut him. Now we’re talking about after we’ve left office. I have strong feelings about what happened and what we did or didn’t do and what’s happening now. And I don’t have any reason not to forthrightly express those views,” Cheney said. In My Time is subtitled “A Personal and Political Memoir,” but the book is expected to focus heavily on the political side of his life. Daughter Liz Cheney tells the AP that the memoir will move “very quickly” from Cheney’s youth in Wyoming to his four decades in Washington, D.C., where he served as a U.S. Representative, House Minority Whip, Chief of Staff to President Gerald Ford and Secretary of Defense for President George H.W. Bush, before

taking office as Vice President in 2001. Simon & Schuster’s Threshold imprint paid a reported $2 million advance for the book, which goes on sale August 30. S&S CEO Carolyn Reidy says Cheney’s memoir “promises to be a work of paramount interest no matter where you stand in the political spectrum.”

IN MY TIME

By Dick Cheney with Liz Cheney, Threshold, $35 576 pages, ISBN 9781439176191, audio, eBook available

Can she convince a man to let down his defenses when he’s set on guarding his heart? New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author

returns with i h a bbrand-new d sweeping i llove story set in the Texas heartland. 978-0-373-77579-8 • Hardcover • $24.95 U.S./$27.95 CAN. • August 2011

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7


columns

Whodunit by Bruce Tierney

Substance and suspense in a cool debut Any number of mysteries from the Frozen North have graced the Whodunit column, but M.J. McGrath’s fiction debut, White Heat (Viking, $25.95, 400 pages, ISBN 9780670022489), marks a first: a tale of murder and betrayal set in Canada’s remote Ellesmere Island. Plucky protagonist Edie Kiglatuk, half Inuit and half CFA (“comes from away”), runs a respected Arctic adventure company; it’s widely known that nobody does a better job of guiding tenderfoot tourists into the icy outback. When a difficult client is shot to death on Edie’s watch, police sergeant Derek Palliser launches an investigation. Palliser is initially somewhat doubtful that a crime has even been committed; all in all, an accident seems more likely. But when a second tourist goes missing in the rough country and a local boy inexplicably commits suicide, even the reluctant Palliser has to admit that there is more going on than meets the eye. Author McGrath’s sense of location

is spot on; her characters are believable, sympathetic and complex. No surprise for an author of her caliber: In an earlier incarnation (as Melanie McGrath) she won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for best British writer under 35.  

One hell of a heist All career criminals must imagine the “dream gig”—the job that will set them up for life, freeing them from the night sweats, the potential betrayals and the myriad opportunities for something to go awry in their “best-laid plans.” This is just

Unique Father/Son Biography of

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the sort of mission envisioned by an elite group of dark-side pros in Peter Spiegelman’s genre-defining heist novel, Thick as Thieves (Knopf, $24.95, 320 pages, ISBN 9780307263179). The leader, Carr, tenuously holds his position by appointment rather than acclaim; the crew’s popular previous chief was killed in South America when their last job went pearshaped. Carr is convinced that the killing was a setup, and he is worried that his own neck is on the block in similar fashion with this latest operation. That said, Carr is a seasoned pro, and one doesn’t arrive at his level of expertise without having a well-developed sense of self-preservation. He will need it, as everybody (and I mean everybody) is working an angle, and each one could well prove deadly for Carr. Thick as Thieves is a superbly crafted tale, pulsing with tension, twisty as a corkscrew and positively demanding to be read in one sitting.  

A very creepy collection I have always been a sucker for stories that feature a disgraced cop, the tortured soul who has turned to private investigation (licit or otherwise) as a means of redemption. Case in point: Theo Tate, the tormented lead character in Paul Cleave’s New Zealand thriller, Collecting Cooper (Atria, $15, 400 pages, ISBN 9781439189627). On the day of his release from jail, Tate is confronted by an unlikely supplicant: the father of the girl he injured in the DUI incident that precipitated his incarceration. Now the girl has gone missing under mysterious circumstances, and the police are unwilling to look into the matter. “You owe me,” her father says, compellingly. So once again, this time without gun or badge, Tate finds himself on the investigative trail. He fears that the girl is dead, but that is not the case, at least not yet: Emma Green is the latest addition to a mental patient’s growing collection—a bizarre assortment of serial-killer memorabilia that now includes not only weapons and ephemera, but also a real-live serial killer and his potential victim.

After a bit of strainedto-the-limit coincidence at the outset, Collecting Cooper roars on at breakneck speed, pitting not two, but three deadly adversaries against an inexorably ticking clock.

Mystery of the Month Every now and then, a suspense novel comes along that transcends the genre: Peter Hoeg’s Smilla’s Sense of Snow ; Ross King’s Ex-Libris ; Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, to name a few. And now Reginald Hill’s latest offering, The Woodcutter. Wolf Hadda is a self-made man, dedicated to enjoying the life of the landed gentry. All that is about to change: He will be arrested for pedophilia, with enough proof to put him away for many years. The thing is, the evidence is bogus; he has been set up by the people he trusted most—his wife, his lawyer and his partner. After years of protesting his innocence to no avail, he changes tack: He invents a history of his “disease,” convincing his prison psychiatrist that although he was once an offender, he is now cured and should be re-integrated into society. And then the revenge begins, on an epic scale. One by one his enemies fall, each in a manner appropriate to his sins. In every case, Hadda has an airtight alibi, but the coincidences are not going unnoticed, especially by the psychiatrist, who is beginning to suspect she’s been played. The Woodcutter is superb on every level: a rich fable with overtones of Greek mythology, multidimensional characters, sly humor and a very satisfying ending. This is absolutely the “don’t miss” book of the month—perhaps even the year!

The Woodcutter By Reginald Hill Harper $25.99, 528 pages ISBN 9780062060747 Audio, eBook available

mystery


New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author

brings readers a captivating new trilogy set in the court of Henry VII.

The Three Graces of Graydon

are well-born sisters bearing an ominous curse: any man betrothed to them without love is doomed to die.

September 27 August 30

On sale now!

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9


columns

lifestyles

cooking

b y j o a n n a b r i c h e tt o

by sybil PRATT

Parenting predicaments 101

Home on the Range

The Available Parent: Radical Optimism for Raising Teens and Tweens (Viva, $15.95, 184 pages, ISBN 9781573446570) is a refreshing take on parenting. Dr. John Duffy, family counselor, life coach and “top teen expert” (an honorific all the more remarkable for its near impossibility) proposes proven techniques to negotiate the everchanging, seismic shifts of puberty and beyond. What is an available parent? One who encourages a kid to feel heard, understood, supported. Not as a “friend,” but as an effective parent. The author boils it down for us: “Our goal is to foster an environment that is most likely to provide a sense of competence and resilience.” And by focusing on our own behav-

The Heartland of America, the Midwest, is still the agricultural core of our country, its “pastoral face,” where amber grain waves and the deer and a few antelope still play. Many Midwesterners are only a generation or two removed from the family farm, and their deep roots are reflected in the food they love and share. Heartland: The Cookbook (Andrews McMeel, $35, 304 pages, ISBN 9781449400576), Judith Fertig’s culinary ode to the Midwestern kitchen, celebrates its farm-to-table traditions, grounded in the bounty of the land and laced with the ethnic accents and pioneering spirit of the settlers. With its beautiful full-color photos of vistas and vittles, the collection also serves as a visual ode to the heart and soul

for urgent problems like Bites/ Stings and Fever. Within these sections, chapters address specific symptoms and situations, beginning with “Definitions” and “When to Call Your Doctor.” The “when” part is divided into levels from “call 911 now” down to “call your doctor during weekday office hours.” Thankfully, all information—including the detailed Home Care Advice—is presented in clear checklist style. Such visual organization will be a blessing to parents, especially for those unavoidable moments of panic in the middle of the night.

TOP PICK FOR LIFESTYLES

ior (which looks as crazy to our kids as our kids’ behavior looks to us) we can open the lines of communication, establish trust and try to balance fear with love and acceptance. Parental behaviors that don’t work make an all-too-familiar list, including lecturing, micromanaging, smothering, coddling, bribing, waiting and snooping. Luckily, the bulk of the book is all about what does work, along with insider tips and exercises to make us truly available.

WHEN TO CALL THE DOC

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Good parenting skills include keeping kids well and safe. This means knowing whether to treat something at home or call in the experts. But sometimes, we need an expert just to get us that far. My Child Is Sick! Expert Advice for Managing Common Illnesses and Injuries (American Academy of Pediatrics, $12.95, 308 pages, ISBN 9781581105520), by pediatrician Barton D. Schmitt, helps parents and caregivers identify symptoms of everyday childhood maladies. The book makes searching easy, with sections organized for specific body areas—for example, Eye, Ear, Nose, Mouth/Throat, Chest/Breathing—or

Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis, by Sandra Steingraber, is an acclaimed biologist’s look at the contamination of our planet and of our kids. It presents facts and evidence terrifying to contemplate. So what is a “thoughtful but overwhelmed” parent to do? Read this book, for a start. As grim as the evidence is, Steingraber seeks “to explore systemic solutions to the ongoing chemical contamination of our children and our biosphere.” She argues that our well-meant weeding of plastic sippy cups and chlorine toilet cleaners don’t really make a dent, and shows that the real solutions will call for larger-scale thinking and major political action, including regulatory frameworks and a global weaning from fossil fuels. The biggest revelation about Raising Elijah, however, is how enjoyable it is to read. A guilty pleasure in the truest sense, Steingraber’s lyrical descriptions of everyday family life and its connections to “urgent public health issues” are astonishing.

raising elijah By Sandra Steingraber Da Capo $26, 368 pages ISBN 9780738213996 eBook available

Parenting

to shoots to leafy greens and roots, Italians find fascinating, flavorsome ways to use veggies in antipasti, primi piatti (risottos, pastas, soups), in entrées, salads and a few desserts. As we move into the most bountiful weeks of summer, when the tomatoes are luscious, the corn perfect and the zucchini overwhelming, it can be fun, even necessary, to try something new: icy Spicy Tomato Granita; Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Flan; Corn and Radicchio Salad; Linguine with Zucchini, Almond and Mint Pesto. And you’ll find equally intriguing ways to savor veggies in fall, winter and spring.

Cookbook of the Month

of middle America. The recipes run the gastronomic gamut, from Winterberry Breakfast Pudding, Haymaker’s Hash and Prairie Panzanella to Sunflower Cookie Brittle and Shaker-inspired Ohio Lemon Tart. Judith has made sure that prep techniques and cooking methods are streamlined for our time-​ challenged lives—Farmhouse Butter is “churned” in a Cuisinart, Rosy Rhubarb Syrup will keep, unsealed (and without canning hassles) in the fridge for a year and No-Knead Clover Honey Dough turns itself into coffee cake, yeast rolls and challah.

Viva Verdure! Italians are locavores by nature; the idea of eating seasonally and locally seems to be part of their genetic makeup. So it’s natural that seasonal vegetables are at the very heart of la cucina Italiana and find their way into homecooked dishes in many ways. Vegetables from an Italian Garden (Phaidon, $39.95, 432 pages, ISBN 9780714861173), a new collection of more than 350 easy-to-follow recipes, gathered by the famed Silver Spoon Kitchen and arranged by season, is an elegant tribute to a glorious array of vegetables that speak Italian. From stems

Chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, move over—there’s a flavor makeover in the works. Jeni Britton Bauer, owner of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, has revolutionized the texture and taste of our favorite frozen confection and now shares her expertise in Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. To replicate Jeni’s fabulous flavors, you’ll need an ice cream machine, you’ll need to read her overview and recipes thoroughly—and then you’ll need a modicum of self-control to keep from becoming a hopeless but happy icecream­aholic. Her flavors are bold and different, and her innovative combinations open new worlds and invite you to dream up a few of your own. Start with a summery stunner like Sweet Corn & Black Raspberry, go on to Jeni’s signature Salty Caramel for fall, warm up winter with a cayenne-spiced chocolate creation and, when spring reappears, salute it with a scoop of Roasted Strawberry & Buttermilk. Sensational, inspirational ice cream!

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home By Jeni Britton Bauer Artisan $23.95, 217 pages ISBN 9781579654368

desserts


romance b y c h r i s t i e r i d g way

Love’s forbidden fire An Amish artist and an arson investigator unraveling a series of mysterious barn fires form a special bond in Fall from Pride (MIRA, $14.95, 368 pages, ISBN 9780778312499) by Karen Harper. The small Amish community of Home Valley is struggling and Sarah Kauffman’s church elders give her permission to paint quilt squares on picturesque barns to draw tourists. But then one after another of the barns is burned—is it just chance or is someone targeting Sarah’s work? When arson investigator Nate MacKenzie seeks the answer, he’s stymied not only by the crimes but also by his lack of understand-

as his wife. Sparks fly between the fiery young lady and the controlled lord, but they must learn to deal with the heat to save a prescient child from falling into the wrong hands. Soon the pair are mixing business and pleasure, although Anaïs believes she’s destined to wed a Tuscan man. While Geoff makes her secondguess the prophecy foretold by her great-grandmother, there is evil at work that may mean the end—not only of their burgeoning love, but of their lives. Carlyle delivers a fastpaced pleasure.

Romance of the month

ing of the Amish people. Turning to Sarah for help, he finds himself falling for her—and she for him, though their romance is completely forbidden. With danger plaguing the community, the two work together to put an end to the present trouble, while it appears there’s only heartache in their future. A story of wrenching personal choices is set in a locale both bucolic and exotic. Though only kisses are exchanged, Nate and Sarah’s romance feels real.

Undercover lovers Liz Carlyle pens an entrancing Victorian-era story filled with passion and danger in The Bride Wore Scarlet (Avon, $7.99, 384 pages, ISBN 9780061965760). The St. James Society is a secret circle whose members have pledged to guard those with extraordinary mental powers from misuse by others. It’s a global organization comprised only of men until Anaïs de Rohan arrives at the group’s London headquarters, trained for fighting, educated in their ways and asking to be initiated into their ranks. While Lord Geoffrey Bessett immediately refuses her membership, he is willing to partner with her on a mission—during which she’ll pose

Thrilling adventure awaits readers of Cindy Gerard’s With No Remorse. Luke Colter, an operative of Black Ops, Inc., is riding a train through Peru when bandits attack. He manages to save himself and the teenage boy sitting across from him—who is no teen at all, but supermodel Valentina. Val is traveling incognito to escape attention after her scandalous break with her ex-husband, a senator. Now she finds herself running for her life with an ex-SEAL she doesn’t know, and her confusion only ratchets higher when this stranger tells her he believes the bad guys are targeting her. Val’s survival depends on trusting Luke, and trust is hard for her to give these days, even when she finds the man at her side so capable and so downright sexy. With the help of Luke’s team, they piece together the ugly truth. Righting old wrongs might mean losing her life . . . or Luke losing his. Breathtaking suspense and pulse-pounding passion make this a wow of a read.

With No Remorse By Cindy Gerard Pocket $7.99, 384 pages ISBN 9781451606812 eBook available

Romantic suspense

by

Novel Reads

HARPERCOLLINS HarperCollins.com • AvonRomance.com

Agent X

by Noah Boyd FBI agent-turned-bricklayer Steve Vail thought he was done with the agency, but the Bureau has another unsolvable problem, and it has Vail’s name written all over it. Finding the hidden turncoats, however, won’t be easy—in fact, it could be downright deadly. And even with the help of FBI Assistant Director Kate Bannon, the Bricklayer’s going to have to come up with a few new tricks of his own if he hopes to survive. 9780061827037, $9.99

The Bed and the Bachelor by Tracy Anne Warren

Lord Drake Byron has no time in his busy life to worry about taking a wife. He is more interested in the unbreakable code he has developed to defeat Napoleon’s forces. Little does he know that the irresistibly lovely new housekeeper he’s hired, Sabastianne Dumont, is really a French secret agent. Forced to spy to save her family, Sabastianne embarks on a mission that takes a dangerous turn when she falls in love with the surprisingly tempting man she must ultimately betray. 9780062033055, $7.99

Trail of Blood by Lisa Black

A decapitated body has been found in a sealed room in an abandoned building—and forensic scientist Theresa MacLean believes the decades-old corpse is a previously unaccounted-for victim of the legendary psychopath. But the discovery of a second body—newly slain and bearing the unmistakable signature of the Torso Killer—suggests the unthinkable: that a copycat serial killer is following in a madman’s bloody footprints. 9780061989360, $7.99

Wicked in Your Arms by Sophie Jordan

Prince Sevastian Maksimi knows where his duty lies: he must find a well-bred young lady—one with a considerable fortune to her name—wed her promptly, and get to the business of producing an heir. The last thing Grier Hadley, the illegitimate daughter of one of London’s most unsavory characters, needs is some unattainable prince curling her toes. As far as Sev is concerned, she lacks the breeding to become a princess. And yet one kiss from this arresting female is all it takes for him to realize that anyone else in his arms would be unthinkable. 9780062032997, $7.99

All available as eBooks Visit LibraryLoveFest.com for more great reading

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columns

audio

author enablers

by sukey howard

by kathi kamen goldmark & Sam Barry

Drawn to the City of Light When it comes to making history live, nobody does it better than David McCullough. Now, with The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris (Simon & Schuster Audio, $49.99, 17 hours unabridged, ISBN 9781442344181), he’s done it again in spades. You won’t find Hemingway or Gertrude Stein or any of the Americans we usually associate with the City of Light. The Yankees in McCullough’s account were the first wave of “talented, aspiring Americans” who began to make the transformative, transatlantic voyage in increasing numbers in the 1830s. From James Fenimore Cooper, Samuel F.B. Morse, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Elizabeth Blackwell to Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent

precepts of an abstruse, enigmatic French detective, rarely says no to drugs, finds clues in dreams and throws the I ­Ching. Back in New Orleans, just after Katrina, to find a missing D.A., Claire is instantly immersed in a maelstrom of malaise, dislocation, disillusionment and gratuitous violence but, while solving the case, she may have found a young acolyte and, through him, a touch of redemption. Carol Monda reads in a voice and style that’s noir personified—aloof, ironic, ideally tailored to Claire and her grim surroundings.

Audio of the Month

and Harriet Beecher Stowe, they came to learn and to immerse themselves in a kindred yet very different culture where wine was cheaper than milk, the food was fabulous, the boulevards were broad and the astounding treasures of the Louvre were open to the public. Weaving detailed bios of these Americans into the colorful fabric of Parisian history from 1830 to 1900, McCullough makes excellent use of his ability to simultaneously entertain and educate, while master narrator Edward Herrmann’s perfect pacing makes this journey from apple pie to tarte tatin into compelling listening.

Case of the Green Parrots

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Though Claire DeWitt may have started her detecting career as a Nancy Drew-ish kid, the older investigator, whom we meet in the first installment of Sara Gran’s quirky, genre-bending series, Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead (Highbridge, $34.95, 8.5 hours unabridged, ISBN 9781611742565), moves in a bleak world where, as Raymond Chandler would say, “the streets were dark with something more than night.” But crack the tough, takeno-prisoners façade and you’ll find a woman with an odd mystical core, who follows the abstruse, enigmatic

Contrary to the hyper-hype surrounding the release of Jo Nesbø’s latest Harry Hole mystery, The Snowman, superbly narrated here by Robin Sachs, Nesbø is not the next Stieg Larsson and Harry is not a stand-in for Mikael Blomkvist. But that elusive something about Scandinavian crime fiction that has grabbed American attention is here—big-time. There’s a serial killer in Oslo, perhaps the first ever in Norway, preying on married women with children, and each murder is accompanied by a snowman built of new-fallen snow. As Harry, beset by inner demons, debilitating bouts of binge drinking and a wrecked romance, digs deeper, he and his new associate, an almost preternaturally canny and collected young policewoman, uncover a pattern that goes back for years. Yet, over and over again, just when you think he’s got his grisly guy, the storyline swerves and the suspect is exonerated—until you get to the gasp moment, when all the elements in this brilliantly conceived plot fall into place.

The Snowman By Jo Nesbø Random House Audio $39.95, 15.5 hours unabridged ISBN 9780307917508

mystery

Practical advice on writing and publishing for aspiring authors

FACT OR FICTION Dear Author Enablers, I have written over 100 stories of growing up poor during the Depression and World War II era. I’m 76 years old now, with cancer. Because many of these events occurred some 60-70 years ago, many of the names, dates and places are hazy at best. My question: Should I treat this writing as fiction or memoir? Do you think there might be an interest in reading of a farm boy growing up without electricity or indoor plumbing? Jim Moulton Binghamton, New York To answer your last question first: It’s all about the quality of the writing. Frank McCourt’s memoir, Angela’s Ashes, was so compelling that it took the world by storm. The question of whether you write this as a memoir or fiction is not as easy to answer. There is freedom in writing fiction, allowing you to use your imagination to improve the story. On the other hand, you may be more interested in capturing the actual time, people and places of your past. You could start by including a disclaimer indicating that you have used your memories to capture events to the best of your ability, and that some names and details have been changed.

MOTHER’S VERSES Dear Author Enablers, My siblings and I have created a company to market our deceased mother’s large collection of short, spirit-based, uplifting, often whimsical poems. In my research I have discovered self-publishing, e-publishing, and have been told to get an agent. The first two choices may be our only option, but we had hoped to avoid do-it-yourself. How do we find an appropriate agent? How do we get noticed? Rich Holder Tampa, Florida Your story inspired us to write a little verse: Poetry is a pretty tough sell But if you try, you can do well The first step—publishing just one poem Then another, till your book finds a home

Your mother, no doubt, was a better poet. Start by submitting her poetry to literary magazines and journals. Once her work has appeared in print a few times, try approaching small presses that specialize in poetry. There are a number of well-respected first-book contests for poetry, such as the Walt Whitman Award sponsored by the Academy of American Poets. Writer’s Digest publishes an annual journal called Poet’s Market that includes detailed information about book publishers, magazines, newsletters and journals that publish poetry. Make sure you carefully follow the submission guidelines for each publication.

Craft of Writing Spotlight We asked Patricia Albers, author of Joan Mitchell: Lady Painter, how she establishes a sense of place in her writing. “Establishing a sense of place begins with prowling around,” Albers tells us. “To write about the childhood home of painter Joan Mitchell, I walked Chicago’s Streeterville district with my eyes on the 1920s and 1930s. It was like spending time with someone to get a reading on her deceased mother. “I observed the light, got a sense of distances, and felt the presence of Lake Michigan. But instead of the Mitchells’ small Tudor apartment house I discovered the John Hancock Building, whose monster Cheesecake Factory precluded even imagining old Chicago. I dug up a letter that mentions the elms that once lined East Chestnut and a 1928 real estate prospectus that brags about the private silver vaults in the Mitchells’ building. I used such tangibles to establish a sense of place. The clincher unexpectedly came in a list of 190 East Chestnut residents in the 1932 Social Register: Mr. and Mrs. A. Badger Shreve, Mr. and Mrs. J. Beach Clow, and the like. Ah, so it was that kind of place!” Email your questions about writing to authorenablers@gmail.com. Please include your name and hometown.


S

he was one of the nation’s first celebrities— a miniature human who hobnobbed with presidents, queens and Rockefellers.

P.T. Barnum showcased her in his introduction to New York society American Museum, and her wedas “the queen of beauty.” Their ding knocked news of the Civil War deep connection and shared off the front pages of newspapers. love of good publicity forms the In a remarkable, soaring novel emotional center of the story. about 19th-century sensation Mrs. Even Vinnie’s 1863 marriage— Tom Thumb—a real-life dwarf born to fellow dwarf General Tom Mercy Lavinia (Vinnie) Warren Thumb—seemed more rooted in Bump—author Melanie Benjamin strategy than love. Benjamin defully inhabits this 32-inch woman, picts their relationship as cordial who took a nation by storm. but platonic. Together, they travThe Autobiography of Mrs. Tom eled the world giving performances Thumb examines just how Vinand meeting heads of state. nie became a global celebrity—a So how would Vinnie feel about precursor to the Benjamin’s novel? current crop of stars “She’d be comwho are famous for ing on [book] being famous. With tour with me!” no discernible talents Benjamin says other than her small with a laugh durstature and pleasant ing a call to her singing voice, Vinnie home in Chicago. still managed to rise “She would be to unparalleled fame. so thrilled to see As portrayed by her name in the Benjamin, Vinnie was public again. She ambitious, businessjust thrived on savvy and desperate that attention to escape her ordinary and meeting new life as a Massachupeople. I always The real Mrs. Tom Thumb, circa 1860. say she’d have her setts schoolteacher. She accepted an inown reality show vitation to join a traveling curiosity if she were alive now. And a Twitter show that drifted along the Missisaccount.” sippi in a ramshackle steamboat. This isn’t the first time Benjamin When the escalating Civil War made has imagined the voice of an iconic that too dangerous, Vinnie returned female. In her last novel, Alice I Have home and immediately began Been, she wrote about life after the marketing herself to the famous P.T. rabbit hole for Alice in Wonderland. Barnum. Together, they plotted her Writing literature set in another time has its dangers—which, to Benjamin, is also its attraction. The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb “It does worry you,” she says of setting her stories in other periods. “You have to be very careful of language and be really concise. Say if I’m writing in the 19th century— contractions weren’t as prevalent. To me, that’s the fun part of historical fiction. Part of my nerdy-history personality helps out. I was one of those kids who on vacation loved to go to all the museums.” Benjamin is an astonishingly selfassured writer, especially considering the fact that she didn’t start writing until her late 30s, when her two sons were in middle school. “I just instinctively knew it would By Melanie Benjamin, Delacorte, $25, 448 pages ISBN 9780385344159, audio, eBook available be impossible before that point,”

By Amy Scribner

she says. “I don’t know how young mothers do it. I was PTA president, a full-time mom, a room mother.” It was an offhanded remark from a friend—who said she always thought Benjamin would be a writer—that spurred her to start writing essays and short stories. She began writing more after her children left for college (her oldest son just graduated from DePaul University and wants to be a comic book author, and her younger is a junior at Indiana University, who to her relief has secured himself “a nice summer job”). At this point, Benjamin does several book club appearances a week via Skype, and is embarking on a tour to support The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb. Book tours “take a surprisingly big amount of time,” Benjamin admits. “I’m thrilled to do them. I’m lucky to do them. I actually like it. But then, I also like putting on my sloppy writer clothes and hiding from the world. I enjoy both parts of the author life.” Benjamin has a home office for the “hiding from the world” part of her job, but often finds herself roaming around the house with her laptop and doesn’t tie herself to one routine. “I read. I watch movies. I go visit museums and wait for that inspiration to strike. Once I decide on a subject, I have to let it percolate for awhile and live with the character and really formulate the story and absorb the time period.” Mission accomplished. The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb is a fascinating story of triumph and tragedy and one person who refused to live a small life. Part biography, with a healthy dollop of artistic liberty, it is a spellbinding tale from the Gilded Age that seems more relevant now than ever.

One of the

most important women in our lives now has a name.

“It has brains and pacing and nerve and heart, and it is uncommonly endearing. You might put it down only to wipe off the sweat.” —Dwight Garner, New York Times, Top Ten Book of the Year

Named by more than 60 critics as one of the best books of the year Read Henrietta Lacks’s remarkable story and join the conversation at RebeccaSkloot.com

Photo © Manda Townsend

A little lady, living large

Melanie Benjamin © Dennis Hauser

interviews

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER NOW IN PAPERBACK

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.

The master of suspense delivers a chilling portrayal of a merciless killer waiting to strike...

D

etective Frank Quinn is hunting a twisted serial killer and it’s not just the ritual weapon that makes the murderer so disturbing, it’s who he kills…and how he makes them suffer.

“Lutz knows how to make you shiver.”

—Harlan Coben

On Sale 7.26.11 Also available PINNACLE

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B•O•O•K•S

An imprint of Kensington Publishing Corp.

FOR CONTESTS, GIVEAWAYS, AND MORE VISIT KENSINGTONBOOKS.COM

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interviews

KEVIN WILSON

When chaos runs in the family

Y

ou could easily imagine that with all the hilarious—and, well, less than hilarious— antics of his fabulous fictional family Fang, Kevin Wilson might have some serious family issues of his own. You would be wrong. “I have incredible parents and I have a sister with whom I am very close,” Wilson says during a call to the “little cabin” in Sewanee, Tennessee, where he lives with his wife Leigh Anne, a poet, and their three-year-old son. Wilson, who recently turned 33, is the author of an award-winning story collection, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth. This fall he will become a full-time faculty member at The University of the South in Sewanee. Until then he will be “basically a secretary,” helping organize the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and teaching fictionwriting workshops. Wilson’s parents live just a 20-minute drive down Monteagle mountain, where his father—whom he describes as “the most capable person” he’s ever known—sells insurance. “My parents didn’t really understand what I wanted to do when I wanted to write, but they were always supportive. My father was paying for me to go to this great school [Vanderbilt] in part because I was going to get a good job. When I told them I wanted to write, both of my parents said, ‘That’s what you should do.’ They just kind of embraced it. My father always reads everything I write.” And his parents’ impressions of his first novel, The Family Fang? Or their thoughts about performance artists Caleb and Camille Fang, who

The Family Fang

By Kevin Wilson, Ecco, $23.99, 320 pages ISBN 9780061579035, eBook available

sow chaos wherever they go—with the reluctant help of their children Buster and Annie (known in the art world as Child A and Child B)? “They loved it! The characters of Camille and Caleb are so divorced from them that it was pretty much impossible for them to mistakenly read themselves into them,” Wilson says. “Sometimes I think they worry about being characters in my stories. But with this book I think it was so bizarre that they just didn’t worry about it.” The Family Fang is told from the alternating points of view of the older and perhaps wiser A tragicomic Buster and family tale of Annie, who parenting as woefully return as adults to performance live with their art. parents after a series of missteps. When their parents mysteriously disappear, Buster and Annie launch a skeptical search, more than half-believing that the disappearance is just another of their parents’ performance-art schemes. The setup allows Wilson to dazzle and amuse us with some very inventive and provocatively imagined performance art. “I hesitate to say that I’m a fan of performance art because I know so little of it. But when I was in junior high or high school, I read about this guy who had someone shoot him for a performance piece, for an art piece! The way it was posited in the article was ‘isn’t this ridiculous, this is not real art, this is a kind of profanity.’ But I thought, this is the best art, this is the most incredible thing I can imagine. I was just so taken with the idea that art can bleed into the spaces where art is not supposed to enter.” In this case, Wilson’s performance art pieces allow him to enter the deeply complicated spaces of family relationships. “The thing that I most care about

© Leigh Ann Crouch

by Alden Mudge

e Go b ehind t h hese s cenes wit h t s! great aut hor

A nn Pa tchett

in writing is the ways in which we’re bound to these people who for all intents and purposes create you. They build you up, and the second step after they make you is that you unmake that and become your own person. I think that’s a really weird relationship.” And so there is a startling point at which The Family Fang is suddenly something quite different from the satirical romp through the art world that it first appears to be. “One of my strengths is humor. It’s easier for me to get into the darker stuff if I initially treat it as absurd. It gives me an entry point. One of the things I’ve always loved in the books or movies I admire is that moment when something funny shifts so quickly into sadness that you are laughing and you are crying. That’s a wonderful thing. It’s a magic trick. And it’s something I’ve tried to emulate. One of the things I want to do is make it light in a way that right up until the moment it becomes dark, you don’t notice how much light has disappeared from the story.” Wilson continues, “I like the absurd, I like magical realism, I like fairy tales. When those things are done correctly, what is a dream and what is real bleeds into each other so much that you just cannot trust that yourself. I think those transformative moments when you are not sure what is reality are just wonderful. I’m very much interested in that kind of magic, where you’re amazed by the strangeness and weirdness of the world.” The Family Fang. Magic indeed.

ater Maggie Stiefv

Justin Cronin

Plus many more! Watch author interviews l on ou r YouTube channe de by scanning this QR co e. with your mobile devic

www.youtube.com/ BookPagedotcom

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features

debut NOVELists

Talented first-timers take the stage

E

very season brings another crop of new writers hoping to make their mark on the literary world. We dug through the stacks of summer debuts to find eight authors whose first novels deserve a place on your reading list.

STEPHEN KELMAN

—J i l l i a n Q u i n t

Ellen Airgood A request from an old family friend lures Madeline Stone from her stale life as a Chicago waitress to Lake Superior’s coast. McAllaster, Michigan, is only 500 miles from home, but to Madeline, who just lost her adoptive mother, the landscape feels further from anything she’s experienced before: Icebergs bob and waves lash a town that time forgot. As she cares for a sweet elderly woman—and butts heads with the woman’s stubborn sister—Madeline discovers the town hasn’t forgotten her. Nor © Nina Subin

Just when the publishing world is ready to assert that nothing good ever comes out of the slush pile, a talent like Stephen Kelman comes along. The 34-year-old Englishman—who before turning to writing worked in jobs ranging from house-cleaner to warehouse operative—began his novel, Pigeon English (HMH, $24, 288 pages, ISBN 9780547500607), in response to a spate of news stories about British youth violence. But he also called upon his own childhood experience, which was not unlike that of Hari Opuku, the narrator of this electric debut. An 11-year-old Ghanaian immigrant who loves sneakers, YouTube and driving his older sister crazy, Hari is decidedly a child. Yet he’s also wise beyond his years—growing up as part of a London housing project’s insular community of illegal aliens, addicts and knife-wielding thugs will do that to a kid. Indeed, violence is a common occurrence, and one Hari describes with as much honesty, humor and emotion as he does a grade-school crush or the pigeon that regularly visits his balcony. Still, when one of his classmates is killed in the street, Hari does feel deeply moved and decides, along with his

best friend Dean, to solve the crime using techniques gleaned from episodes of “CSI.” But while his attempts to go undercover and obtain DNA samples may seem comical, as the duo comes closer to the truth (and the murderer), their adventures grow ever more dangerous. Hari’s joie de vivre is infectious, and his voice simultaneously charming and haunting—similar to the narrators of Emma Donoghue’s Room or Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the NightTime. And much like those books, Pigeon English is a story for adults whose success rests almost entirely on the unreliability of a child’s interpretation. Were Kelman to have entrusted this tale to an older teller, we’d no doubt lose the excitement, immediacy and hopefulness that infuses it.

KELMAN

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MCARDLE

—Katie Lewis

Patricia McArdle Only someone who has actually served as a wartime diplomat in northern Afghanistan could craft a novel as heartbreaking, real and compelling as Patricia McArdle’s Farishta (Riverhead, $24.95, 368 pages, ISBN 9781594487965). Winner of Amazon’s 2010 Breakthrough Novel Award, Farishta is the story of 47-year-old American foreign service officer Angela Morgan, who 21 years earlier lost both her husband and her unborn baby when the U.S. Embassy in Beirut was bombed. Still in mourning and suffering from PTSD, Angela has reached a dead end in both her personal and professional lives. An emotional wreck, she is given a choice by her U.S. State Department superiors: retire early or accept an assignment at an isolated British Army compound in the dangerous—and devastatingly poor—Balkh province of Afghanistan, where she will be © Marcelo Biglia

© Tisara photo

AIRGOOD

has it forgotten the young, wild mother who abandoned her. Madeline learns bit by bit of her family’s connection to the land—and to the shuttered Hotel Leppinen, which she is sneakily using as a nighttime painting studio. South of Superior (Riverhead, $25.95, 384 pages, ISBN 9781594487934) is a story about home, what people are willing to fight for, the weight of friendships and continued ambition. Despite Madeline’s move to a one-stoplight town, she never stops dreaming: She wants to sell paintings, illustrate books and run a destination hotel. A romantic storyline takes a backseat to allow for Madeline’s self-actualization, and it’s a treat to read a book starring such a stirring female lead. Ellen Airgood, who has spent the last 19 years in the Upper Peninsula, knows small-town life and portrays its positive and negative aspects with affection and feeling. Readers will tear through this engrossing story.

WATSON

RITTER

the only woman and only American. Angela’s reluctant acceptance takes her, along with readers, to a place few see: a stark area of Afghanistan where women are imprisoned for “marriage crimes,” families burn garbage for cooking fuel and archaeologists fight as hard as soldiers to save 2,000-year-old Hellenistic treasures. New York City native and Marine Corps brat McArdle uses her more than 30 years in the U.S. diplomatic corps to bring Angela to life. Other characters equally vivid and engaging are Rahim, the Afghan translator who in many ways becomes the child Angela never had; Nilofar, a young, fearless law student who through her own work battling for Afghan women’s rights helps Angela find a new sense of purpose; and Mark Davies, a handsome British intelligence officer who helps Angela rediscover her spirit and her heart. In the Dari language spoken in northern Afghanistan, the name Angela means “farishta” or “angel.” For many of the Afghan women and children in this novel, Angela becomes an unexpected angel. McArdle is also a real “farishta” for Afghanistan, as she demonstrates that even though the need for international military aid is coming to an end, the need for international human aid has just begun. Farishta is a fabulous debut novel, as readable as it is relevant. —Cynthia Wolfe Boynton

S.J. Watson The pre-publication hyperbole on S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep (Harper, $25.95, 384 pages, ISBN 9780062060556) has easily matched that of any fiction debut in recent memory, with accolades from luminaries such as Dennis Lehane, Mo Hayder and Val McDermid. So what’s all the fuss about? The basic premise, that of an amnesia victim suffering from debilitating short-term memory loss, has been thoroughly mined in print (James Hilton’s Random Harvest, G.H.


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Ephron’s Amnesia) and cinema (50 First Dates, Memento). Where Watson diverges from the formula is in his exhaustive exploration of one woman’s spiral into paranoia. Does Christine have a happy marriage, or is it a total sham? Does she have a son, and if so, did he die in Iraq, or is that just a figment of her overworked imagination? And what’s up with her doctor, anyway? From early on, it is clear that her husband is not being entirely truthful with her, but to what end—Christine’s well-being or something darker? On the sly, Christine begins keeping a journal, documenting the inconsistencies in the stories she is told by those she thought she could trust, leading to a showdown of epic proportions. So, what’s the verdict? Well, Before I Go to Sleep is unquestionably a suspenseful and gripping psychological thriller, relentlessly paced, but there are a couple of stumbling points that stretch taut the fabric of coincidence in the interest of furthering the plot. That said, the novel is a noteworthy debut indeed, and it’s not difficult to see why this former British NHS worker has caused such a stir in literary circles.

JUST KIDS WRITTEN AND READ BY

PAT T I S M I T H

—Bruce Tierney

JOSH RITTER Singer-songwriter Josh Ritter has built a following on the strength of his literary song lyrics, which tackle such subjects as the parallels between science and relationships, the difficulties of love in an apocalyptic age and the beauty of relying on people close to you. With his debut novel, Bright’s Passage (Dial, $22, 208 pages, ISBN 9781400069507), Ritter shows that his range extends well beyond the three-minute pop song. He takes full advantage of the near-limitless bounds of the novel in this postWorld War I tale, drawing contrast between a stark landscape filled with people in war scenes and a lush countryside and the lonely man who roams it after the war.

Winner of the National Book Award – Nonfiction Finalist for the LA Times Book Prize – Nonfiction Finalist for the LAMBDA Literary Award Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award “This book is so honest and pure as to count as a true rapture.” — J OA N D I D I O N Just Kids

Written and Read by Patti Smith

Available on CD and in Digital Audio

www.HarperAudio.com

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features

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British journalist David Whitehouse has built his first novel on a crazy premise: A young man, flush with life and deeply in love, decides that pursuing adulthood in normal terms is a complete waste of time. Rather than succumb to the drudgery of being a grownup, this eccentric freethinker decides to return to his childhood bed and never get out again. To push the premise even further, Whitehouse imagines that, after 20 sedentary years, his disillusioned character has become the fattest man in the world. Those with weak constitutions should be forewarned that the descriptions of this enormous man—the narrator’s older brother Mal—are truly disgusting. Mal is compared to a sausage stuffed into a too-small skin. After being trained as a butcher, our narrator unsentimentally imagines a professional dividing his brother’s flesh into fatty steaks.

— K e l ly B l e w e t t

BRANDI LYNN RYDER

— Abb y P l e s s e r

Beauty, obsession and identity are at the heart of Brandi Lynn Ryder’s SAMUEL PARK accomplished and darkly sensuous debut, In Malice, Quite Close Korean-American author Sam(Viking, $26.95, 400 pages, ISBN uel Park grew up listening to his 9780670022793). At once a murder mother’s stories about her life in mystery, a vivid exploration of the art South Korea in the aftermath of world and a meditation on the sethe Korean War, when the country crets we keep, Ryder’s novel is unlike teetered on the brink of modernity anything else you will read this summer. The moment Tristan Mourault, a wealthy, charming 34-year-old French expat in San Francisco, casts his eyes on Karen Miller, an alluring local 15-year-old with a troubled home life, he decides he must have her for his own. Tristan urges Karen to run away with him, offerWHITEHOUSE RYDER

while remaining steeped in centuries of tradition. He sets his intriguing novel in this tumultuous period, introducing a fascinating character whose life is forever changed by one very important decision. The year is 1960, and in Daegu, Soo-Ja Choi dreams of becoming South Korea’s first woman diplomat. Though she is accepted into the program, her wealthy and overprotective father refuses to let her go, wanting her to marry and start a family instead. Reluctantly, Soo-Ja agrees to marry Min, a suitor who has been relentlessly pursuing her. But two days before the wedding, a handsome acquaintance named Yul asks her to run away with him instead. Fearing that she will disappoint her family, Soo-Ja rejects his offer, but realizes after just one night in her new husband’s home what a grave mistake she has made. Divorce is unthinkable in the still male-dominated society, especially after Soo-Ja gives birth to a daughter who means everything to her, but not a day passes that she doesn’t think of Yul and wonder what might have been if she had married him instead. Traversing the South Korean landscape, from the rural fishing village of Pusan to the bustling capital of Seoul, This Burns My Heart (Simon & Schuster, $25, 320 pages, ISBN 9781439199619) is truly a slice of history, capturing a country very much in transition. But more importantly, it is a love story so simple and universal that, in many ways, it could be set anywhere. With complex, sympathetic characters and vibrant, lyrical prose, Park reminds readers about loyalty, sacrifice, friendship, family and, above all, the enduring power of first love. — RE B E C C A SHA P IR O

Looking for more notable 2011 debuts? Visit BookPage.com for an expanded version of this article. © Ryan Bakerink

DAVID WHITEHOUSE

ing her a life of promise and luxury; when Karen can’t imagine leaving her beloved little sister Mandy, Tristan makes that decision for her by staging her death and fleeing with his new “acquisition.” Karen is born anew as Gisèle Mourault, on paper Tristan’s daughter, but in reality something entirely different. Settling into domestic life, they begin to play a sinister game of cat and mouse, manipulating and supporting each other in equal measure. Their unique relationship seems to satisfy them—albeit Featuring in very differdark secrets ent ways—until Gisèle’s young and twisted daughter, relationships, Nicola, finds Ryder’s a collection of triumphant secret paintings, and the web of debut is lies her mother unlike and “Grandanything else père” Tristan have created beyou’ll read gins to unravel. this summer. Then Gisèle turns up dead in her swimming pool, while a young woman arrives claiming that Gisèle just may be her long-lost sister. In Malice, Quite Close is a triumph. Ryder’s writing is as gorgeous as the many works of art she describes, and her characters—especially the twisted Tristan and tortured Gisèle—seem to leap right off the page. The novel’s many mysteries unfold carefully and beautifully, and readers will be trying to connect the dots until the very last page.

© Zachary Ryder

—Carla Jean Whitley

Read an interview with Josh Ritter on BookPage.com

While Whitehouse’s merry revelry in the grotesque could be something of a turnoff, the story’s momentum keeps pages flipping. The story is told in two parts. The first begins on day “Seven Thousand Four Hundred and Eighty Three” of Mal’s tenure in the sheets. He is clearly near death. The second storyline flashes backward and attempts to explain—or at least observe—Mal’s path from his tyrannical childhood (in which he stole center stage of every family scene) to his morbid adulthood (in which Mal continues to be, as Whitehouse puts it, the planet around which his family orbits). Into this mix enters Lou, a waiflike woman whom both brothers love. Ultimately the story becomes a pleasure as we learn that the younger brother and the older brother may not be as different as they first appear. Mal, whose “rebellion” earns him a cult-like following, also emerges as an insightful and surprisingly daring character in his own right. While Whitehouse’s treatment of women, all of whom seemingly exist only to serve the men, might be criticized, the ideas that drive this story and the originality with which it is executed make Bed (Scribner, $24, 256 pages, ISBN 9781451614220) well worth reading.

© James Lees

After veteran Henry Bright delivers his son and watches his wife die in childbirth, he begins a journey across the Appalachian terrain of West Virginia. An angel who followed Henry home from war and now speaks through his horse instructs him to burn his house and leave before his neighbor can follow his tracks. The reader gains insight into Henry’s life as chapters cut between his past in West Virginia, the war and his race from the neighbor and the burning house, which instigates a wildfire. It quickly becomes evident that Henry isn’t only recovering from seeing friends die in the Great War; he’s also facing family battles and an internal struggle. Ritter allows readers to draw their own conclusions about Henry’s heavenly interaction, and this psychologically engaging tale will keep readers thinking for days after they close the book.

debut Novelists

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the title of your new Q: What’s  book?

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the scariest thing about the griff and how should we Q: What’s  defend ourselves if confronted by them?

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of his generation.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Tight, vivid and brilliantly reassured...

[Lehane’s] true literary forefathers include John Steinbeck as well as Raymond Chandler.” —Chicago Tribune

“Among the most interesting and accomplished American novelists of any genre or category.”—Washington Post

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Available from HarperAudio, HarperLuxe, and HarperCollins e-books

your own chance of surviving the end of the world? Q: What’s 

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Best known for writing novels of “profound goofiness” (Lamb, Fool, The Stupidest Angel ), Christopher Moore tries his hand at something entirely different in The Griff (­Morrow, $22.99, 160 pages, ISBN 9780061977527), a graphic novel co-authored by Ian Corson. When not tackling alien invaders, Moore divides his time between Hawaii and San Francisco.


reviews NORTHWEST CORNER

FICTION

The mistakes of the fathers Review by Deborah Donovan

John Burnham Schwartz introduced readers to two Connecticut families inextricably bound by tragedy in his breakout novel Reservation Road (1999). In this sequel, which stands brilliantly on its own, he revisits those characters 12 years later. In the earlier novel, Dwight Arno left the scene of a hit-and-run accident resulting in the death of Josh Learner, a 10-year-old classmate of his son, Sam. He was disbarred, went to prison, and after his release, left his wife Ruth and Sam and moved across the country to Santa Barbara. Sam is now 22 and just a month away from his graduation from ­UConn when he gets in the middle of a bar fight after losing his final baseball game of the season. He drives his bat into his assailant’s stomach, sending him to the hospital. Sam flees to Santa Barbara, despite the years that have passed since he last saw his father—somehow sensing that only Dwight will understand his need to escape the shame and By John Burnham Schwartz, Random House, $26 disgrace in which he is suddenly mired. 304 pages, ISBN 9781400068456, eBook available In Northwest Corner, Schwartz delicately explores this broken fatherson relationship, and how Dwight and Sam begin to reach out to one another—awkwardly at first, then with increasing empathy for the guilt and self-hatred each has experienced. Male characters are Schwartz’s forte, but his perceptive portrayal of Dwight’s ex-wife Ruth is also unerring, as he paints her gradual realization that, though she has been Sam’s primary caregiver and confidante for the last 12 years, in crisis he is drawn to his father: his comrade in shame. And in chapters written in the voices of Josh Learner’s mother Grace and sister Emma, Schwartz subtly depicts the ripple effects of Josh’s death throughout each of their lives. In short, finely honed chapters, Schwartz examines the state of mind of each of these wounded souls, drawing the reader into their fragile lives. This is a brilliant exposure of one modern family in moral crisis, a story that in some way touches each of us.

The Lantern By Deborah Lawrenson Harper $25.99, 400 pages ISBN 9780062049698 eBook available

GOTHIC

Deborah Lawrenson pays homage to Daphne du Maurier’s 20thcentury Gothic novel Rebecca in The Lantern, which interweaves two stories, past and present, both set in a crumbling manor in the romantic, rural landscape in the south of France. The Lantern contains deliberate similarities to the du Maurier classic, including a big house and a mysterious first wife, but offers them with a contemporary twist. The story begins when the unnamed narrator (the first tip of the hat to Rebecca), called “Eve” by her lover, meets the charming but secretive Dom and begins a whirlwind af-

fair that takes the couple to an abandoned house in the south of France. Eve and Dom live in splendid isolation among the lavender fields at Les Genevriers, but as the months go by, she finds herself wondering about his life, his parents and especially about his first wife, Rachel. When a nosy neighbor begins to ask questions, Eve realizes how little she really knows about her lover’s past. Soon she begins noticing a sweet odor wafting through the house and imagines ghostly figures in the garden. Eve’s story is interspersed with that of Benedicte Lincel, an old woman who grew up in the house and whose elder sister mysteriously disappeared after starting her own perfume company based on the scents of her native Provence. Though the short chapters with alternating storylines can make for choppy reading and the novel never quite achieves the eerie power and haunted sensation of its inspired source, The Lantern works best when the prose evokes the drama and sensuality of the Provencal

landscape. Lawrenson, who splits her time between France and England, is clearly familiar with the small hamlets and villages that she writes about so beautifully.

longtime resident of New York City, Close deftly pulls back the curtain on a series of dingy apartments in bustling metropolises. Inside are groups of 20-somethings who graduated from college and are now trying to figure out what’s next. Marriage and/or a meaningful career may be on the horizon (or not). Regardless of what’s to come, this is a group that is more than ready for something to happen. Their lives bump together over vacations or wedding weekends, and the occasional (unavoidable) catastrophe. We watch these young women find their way through a series of tricky transitions. Love is not center stage here—although there are plenty of weddings and bridal showers, boyfriends and break-ups—nor is there a sustained look at any one character’s personal transformation. Rather we observe the group navigating the whole of life itself. Though readers might long to get to know some character more fully, that isn’t the point. Instead, this novel offers something perhaps finer: a portrait of a generation of women at a particular moment in time. — K E L LY B L E W E T T

A SMALL HOTEL By Robert Olen Butler Grove $24, 256 pages ISBN 9780802119872

fiction

—Lauren Bufferd

GIRLS IN WHITE DRESSES By Jennifer Close Knopf $24.95, 304 pages ISBN 9780307596857 Audio, eBook available

debut fiction

Sometimes we read fiction not to better understand our own lives but to get a glimpse into a life beyond our own. For voyeuristic readers— especially those curious about the lives of young women in Chicago or New York—Girls in White Dresses, Jennifer Close’s debut novel, will be a welcome addition to the bookshelf. Born and raised in Chicago and a

This sad book is about a man whose marriage disintegrates because he can’t say, “I love you.” And it’s a book about a woman whose marriage disintegrates because she can no longer tolerate not hearing her husband say, “I love you,” year after frustrating year. So it is that Michael and Kelly Hays, after many years of marriage and a daughter, Samantha, decide to throw in the towel and divorce; the only problem is that Kelly doesn’t show up in court to sign the papers. Instead, she gets in her car and drives straight from her house in Pensacola to New Orleans, and checks into the small hotel that the couple considered “theirs” whenever they were in the city. But once in familiar room 303, Kelly finds herself

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reviews anchorless, defenseless and sliding into despair. Michael is a successful defense lawyer, and his lucrative job has allowed Kelly to dabble in charity work and other things. Anticipating the formal end of his marriage, he’s taken up with a sweet young flibbertigibbet who literally swans around in crinolines for much of the book. Yet Michael’s instinct and his long years with Kelly not only tell him that she’s at “their” hotel, but that something has gone and is going very wrong. Robert Olen Butler, a past winner of the Pulitzer Prize, is masterful in the way he draws us into the hearts of his characters. It’s tempting to say that Kelly and Michael have Daddy issues, but that would be too glib. Kelly’s father was mentally ill; Michael’s father believed the withholding of tenderness was the proper way to be a man and passed that belief on to his son, to devastating effect. For the Hays’ tragedy is that in his heart, Michael is neither cold nor unloving, no matter how hard he tries to be.  Butler gives the last pages of his quiet book the urgency of a thriller. The ending might be too on the nose for some readers, but for this reviewer, it was heartbreaking, and just right. —Arlene McKanic

Burnt Mountain By Anne Rivers Siddons Grand Central $25.99, 336 pages ISBN 9780446527897 eBook available

southern fiction

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Growing up, Thayer Wentworth knew three things about herself: She was an untamable, wild force, at least by her mother’s standards; her only true confidante was her exotic grandmother; and wherever she went, magic followed her. Although her elitist Southern belle mother attempted to reconcile Thayer to a life where society dictated every last aspect, Thayer escapes every summer to Camp Edgewood on Burnt Mountain. On Burnt Mountain, Thayer immersed herself in the magic that was embedded in the fibers of the

FICTION camp—a place where she was free to experience the magic of nature, mountain life and first love. Thayer’s summer romance with Nick Abrams burned passionately while it lasted, with promises of forever once he returned from a trip to France. However, after not receiving the much-anticipated phone calls and letter from her fiancé-to-be, Thayer plunges into a deep sadness that steals the magic away from her world and forces her to deal with the cruel realities of life. Years later, Thayer marries and begins her dream life with a man she loves and trusts, and the magic of life is fully restored to her world. But when her husband starts a new career as a mythological storyteller at her beloved camp, it sends Thayer’s life into chaos. She discovers her husband is a man of disturbing obsessions, forcing her to face her own secrets involving her family and Nick. These revelations challenge her to take another look at the outcome of her life—and force her to decide where, or to whom, she might run. Best-selling author Anne Rivers Siddons brings to life the traditional Old South culture in Burnt Mountain, a modern-day tale of heartbreak, love and, ultimately, selfdiscovery. Siddons captures readers from the start with elegant, flowing prose. We are left with the haunting reality that the true magic of life manifests itself in our adaption to its changing storms—and in who we become after weathering our own personal tragedies. — T a r a P e tt i t

The Submission By Amy Waldman FSG $26, 320 pages ISBN 9780374271565 eBook available

Debut fiction

Only a few months ago, our country was immersed in an intense debate over the “Ground Zero” mosque. In her first novel, The Submission, former New York Times reporter Amy Waldman offers a fictional account of a similar controversy that’s noteworthy for its complex characters, moral seriousness and willingness

to raise soul-searching questions Americans will be forced to answer with ever-increasing urgency. Two years after 9/11, a jury of 13 prominent New Yorkers meets to select the winner of a contest to design a memorial at the site of the World Trade Center. To the dismay of many, the winner, picked from an anonymous field of entrants, turns out to be a Muslim, a partner in a successful New York City architectural firm. Virginia-born Mohammed Waldman’s “Mo” Khan, whose connovel nection to his proves that faith is tenuthoughtful ous at best, reluctantly fiction can finds himself be more at ground zero illuminating of the controversy that than fact. surrounds the choice of his design, known as “the Garden.” When the Times architectural critic highlights its similarity to a traditional Islamic garden, the smoldering public opposition bursts into a full-blown blaze. What is most rewarding about Waldman’s novel is her deftness in shunning stereotypes, offering an array of characters both appealing and frustrating in all their human complexity. She skillfully manages multiple points of view to tell the story, among them Claire Burwell, jury member and widow of a wealthy investment banker killed on 9/11; Sean Gallagher, the brother of a firefighter victim, who becomes an angry spokesman for survivor families; and Asma Anwar, a Bangladeshi immigrant, widowed herself on that terrible day, whose dignified appearance at a climactic public hearing provides the story’s moral anchor. These characters and others are buffeted by the emotions, some genuine and others stoked by the media and special interest groups pursuing their own agendas, that swirl around the memorial. Despite the evident parallels between Waldman’s story and the mosque debate, its perspective is both fresh and vivid. Manifesting a confidence that thoughtful fiction can prove more illuminating than fact, she’s produced a novel whose questions will resonate long after the controversy of the moment has played itself out.

The reprinting of Tony and Susan has been described as the return of a modern classic—the book was first released in 1993. The novel’s premise is unusual: A woman, Susan, has received a draft of a novel from Edward, a man she once briefly called her husband. Edward wanted to be a writer even when married to Susan, but it’s only now—long after their divorce—that he has realized his dream. As Susan reads, she is awed by the skillful, harrowing story—a story that real-world readers of Tony and Susan will encounter in its entirety. It’s about a man, Tony, whose wife and daughter are abducted by some menacing men in the middle of the road. And as Tony copes with the aftermath of this violent incident, Susan copes with the memories of her dead marriage and the realities of her current domestic situation. Susan and Tony seem to speak to one another, the way any attentive reader feels that he is speaking with the characters on the page. Tony and Susan accomplishes many difficult tasks. For example, Susan grows from a nonentity to something like a complex, living, breathing human being. Also, Tony’s situation in the manuscript subtly and plausibly sheds light on Susan’s predicament. Though Susan isn’t fighting for her life or seeking bloody revenge, she is deeply dissatisfied with some of her choices, and Edward’s tale forces her to confront some skeletons in her own closet. Readers may find themselves repeatedly thinking of David Mamet’s plays, which are similarly playful in their use of language and attuned to the darkness that runs alongside just about any simple, civil human encounter. It’s impressive that Wright has invented such a bold structure for a novel, and that he has found a way to draw us so skillfully into not one, but two fictional worlds.

— H A R V E Y F REE D EN B ER G

— D A N B A RRE T T

TONY AND SUSAN By Austin Wright Grand Central $24.99, 336 pages ISBN 9780446582902 Audio available

Literary fiction


FICTION THE MAGICIAN KING By Lev Grossman Viking $26.95, 400 pages ISBN 9780670022311 Audio, eBook available

fiction

that the journey truly is the destination, and that in the end, not all men (or women) are destined to save the day. The Magician King is one suspenseful novel that sucks you in and spits you out into a world where ships sail on sand, rabbits rhyme and fulfillment lies just out of reach. —Megan Fishmann

It’s been said before, and it’s worth repeating: If you’re a grownup Harry Potter fan, New York Times best-selling author (and Time book critic) Lev Grossman is the new J.K. Rowling. In the wake of his triumphant debut The Magicians, this cutting-edge sequel does not disappoint. The Magician King drops its readers back off in Fillory, the enchanted land that exists just outside the boundaries of reality. Quentin has been made King, with his loyal friends Eliot and Janet joining him on the throne (along with Julia, who was rejected from Brakebills School of Magical Pedagogy). Despite his lackadaisical days of leisure and rule, Quentin feels dissatisfied. However, when a recreational hunting trip in search of The Questing Hare takes the life of one of his own subjects, Quentin unexpectedly finds himself on the journey he had been searching for. He sets out with the tempestuous Julia to find out what, exactly, is bringing harm to their kingdom. Armed with an enchanted ship and a vigilant crew, the two set sail for the outer boundaries of Fillory, only to find themselves thrust back into reality, on the doorstep of Quentin’s parents’ house. Here in Massachusetts, the King no longer reigns supreme and it is Julia—whose black magic skills were painfully earned on the streets—who must return them to Fillory in order to save it. Grossman masterfully weaves Quentin’s narration of ennui with Julia’s tale of how she spent the years that the others were at Brakebills. It was a difficult time that included a nervous breakdown and a life in underground houses with magicians practicing their craft off the grid. Grossman perfectly gets to the core of his magicians’ emotions: frustration, desire, omnipotence and loneliness. While Quentin is on the search to become the hero, the author gently reminds his readers

Rules of Civility By Amor Towles Viking $26.95, 352 pages ISBN 9780670022694 Audio, eBook available

Historical fiction

Literary wisdom has it that it is often easiest to write what you know, but with his debut novel, investment banker Amor Towles couldn’t have strayed farther from his own life. Raised in suburban Boston in the 1970s, he somehow manages to conjure an impeccably detailed, poetically rendered portrayal of the complicated rise of a professional woman in 1930s New York. On New Year’s Eve, 1937, Katey Kontent and Eve Ross leave their boardinghouse for a night in a Greenwich Village jazz club with nothing but $3 and boundless dreams between them. Brooklynbred Katey hails from poor, Russian immigrant stock, trying to rise through the ranks as a secretary in a Wall Street law firm. Stubborn Eve, who comes from Wisconsin money, got her publishing job thanks to family connections, but otherwise is determined to make it on her own. Katey and Eve are best friends, sharing everything from dresses to their boardinghouse bedroom, and they think that nothing could come between them—until the charming, debonair Tinker Grey walks into the bar, and Eve calls dibs. The novel is governed by the chance encounters and seemingly small moments that end up making a difference in people’s lives—an interesting theme, but one that ultimately undermines the absolutely tremendous tension that Towles builds between Katey, Eve and

Tinker. The triangle is shattered early on by an unexpected incident, which is perhaps true to life, but losing such nuanced momentum feels like a shame. Still, Towles’ prose is enormously promising, and Rules of Civility is a worthwhile read just for the pleasure of watching the New York landscape come alive under his pen, from the decadent 21 Club and the grand apartments of the Beresford to the stodgy Chelsea boardinghouses and lively Russian bars on the Lower East Side. —Rebecca Shapiro

THe NIGHT TRAIN By Clyde Edgerton Little, Brown $23.99, 224 pages ISBN 9780316117593 eBook available

Southern fiction

tibly weaker as time passes. Aunt Marzie, keeper of the unwritten archives of the black community, is the source of much of the humor—with anecdotes like the story of the woman who was so thrifty with paper towels that she was able to will half a roll to a relative. Marzie also provides grand names to newborns (“Sunshine Booming Out Of Darkness and Sorrow Benjamin,” called “Sunny Boom Ben” for short). She’s the link between the past—the “few years of sunshine when good things happened” after the Civil War—the uneasy present and the inconceivable future. Edgerton, an ardent jazz fan and performer himself, is uniquely equipped to render jazz on paper. He makes its appeal across racial lines unmistakable and sketches in its promise for the future. Ending with at least a temporary resolution between black and white, the beat of The Night Train offers a hint of eventual reconciliation even beyond, perhaps, the transcendent service of music itself. —Maude McDaniel

No one can find the fun in human dynamics like Clyde Edgerton, the author of such keenly observed Southern romps as Raney and The Bible Salesman. Here, that fun accompanies a darker plot about the uneasy interplay of the races in the 1960s and 1970s. Throughout the story, the black-and-white reverberations thump deep down underneath like a jazz beat, with a riff of humor on top. Dwayne Hallston and Larry Lime Nolan live in small-town Starke, North Carolina, in the 1960s, an unlikely region and time for race differences to take second place to anything else. Yet unaccountably, they mostly fade away in the boys’ mutual love of jazz. Larry, who is black, takes jazz lessons from a local musician, aiming to play the piano like Thelonious Monk. Dwayne, who is white, dreams of reprising the music of James Brown’s Live at the Apollo album with his own band, The Amazing Rumblers. Edgerton’s humor lurks in turns of phrase as much as in incidents. (Larry’s little dog was tired because “he’d got to staying gone lately.”) He doesn’t make the mistake of mocking any of his characters. His one potential villain, Mr. Fitzsimmons, is more of a devil ex machina, who, like the KKK, gets almost impercep-

“Intriguing…engaging… an illicit delight.” — Stephanie Laurens

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Liz Carlyle ushers readers once again inside the mysterious St. James Club. In her deliciously intriguing The Bride Wore Scarlet, Carlyle does historical romance absolutely right—as a determined young beauty’s desire to gain entrance into the secret all-male society places her under the powerfully sensuous spell of the group’s ruthless and enigmatic leader.

AvonRomance.com LizCaryle.com

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reviews It Looked Different on the Model

NONFICTION

the idiot girl sleeps tonight Review by heather seggel

Idiot Girls and other fans of writer Laurie Notaro most likely know what they’re getting themselves into with her latest collection, It Looked Different on the Model. This reader’s first warning sign came when the table of contents provoked a laugh attack that very nearly resulted in coffee out the nose. Things only got more perilous—and hilarious—from there. Notaro and her husband recently relocated from Phoenix to Eugene, Oregon, and many of the pieces here reflect the culture shock of being surrounded by so many eccentrics. It’s not just the woman who takes out one breast at a picnic despite there being no hungry infant within a half-mile radius, or the young man discovered napping on Notaro’s lawn with a line of ants traversing his face. As if that weren’t enough, all her husband’s friends are graduate-level English majors! Just try being Anna Nicole Smith for Halloween in that crowd: blank stares all around. By Laurie Notaro, Villard, $15, 240 pages The eccentricity doesn’t limit itself to humans, either. When her dog’s ISBN 9780345510990, audio, eBook available shrieking becomes overwhelming, Notaro buys a bark translator to better understand its needs. Suddenly modest, the dog won’t perform on cue, leading to a bark-off between Notaro and her husband, followed by competitive analysis of the translations. At least she bought the device while conscious; one of the funniest pieces here is about Notaro’s adventures with Ambien, combining sleep with online shoe-shopping and eating Devil Dogs in bed. Buyer’s remorse? Eater’s remorse? Ha. “There was just no contest. I like sleeping, so if a Twinkie or Devil Dog had to die every now and then at the hands of a teeth-gnashing night-eater, I was cool with that.” Each piece stands on its own, but they’re even funnier together, since Notaro will build on the premise of one essay in another. For instance, we know she takes Ambien and wanders the halls eating snack foods, so when her husband starts finding little star-shaped chocolate imprints on his pillowcase, she’s certainly the most obvious suspect. When she catches the perpetrator in the act, it’s priceless . . . and disgusting. No spoilers here; read for yourself, but wait half an hour after eating, lest you literally bust a gut laughing.

Paradise Lust By Brook WilenskyLanford Grove $25, 304 pages ISBN 9780802119803

History

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Adam and Eve most definitely lived in Ohio. Or China. Or the North Pole, or Mesopotamia. Actually, the real location of the Garden of Eden (if indeed there was a Garden of Eden) is something of a mystery. In the thought-provoking Paradise Lust, author Brook Wilensky-Lanford explores why this Biblical paradise still fascinates so many. It may be an unanswerable question, relating to some intangible human need to understand our origin. She calls a well-known archaeologist to ask just why people care so much. “You tell me,” he replies. “You’re

the one calling from halfway around the world.” Fair enough. So Wilensky-Lanford goes directly to the source, so to speak: Genesis, which describes Eden as being situated between four rivers (Pishon, Gihon, Tigris and Euphrates). “The Bible sounds positively nonchalant: if you can pinpoint the four rivers, you can locate paradise,” WilenskyLanford writes. “In fact, many Eden seekers claimed that the unusually matter-of-fact description was the reason they decided to look for Eden to begin with—it just sounded like a real place.” Real enough to draw the attention of everyone from the first president of Boston University—William Fairfield Warren, a Methodist minister who firmly believed Eden was in the North Pole— to Elvy Callaway, a Baptist Floridian who opened the Garden of Eden Park right there near Pensacola in 1956. Paradise Lust recounts their journeys and those of others with buoyant humor and fascinating historical tidbits. This is the first book for Wilensky-

Lanford, who has written for ​ Salon.com and other publications. If you want dramatic pronouncements about the latitude and longitude of the Garden of Eden, you’ll have to look elsewhere. As Wilensky-Lanford notes, “No matter how unassailable a theory of Eden seems, it will be assailed.” But if you’re looking for a sly and entertaining account of the ongoing search for paradise, Paradise Lust is it. —Amy Scribner

JUST ONE CATCH By Tracy Daugherty St. Martin’s $35, 560 pages ISBN 9780312596859 eBook available

Biography

In Just One Catch, his reconstruction of the life of novelist, playwright and screenwriter Joseph

Heller, Tracy Daugherty has also illuminated the post-World War II culture of American fiction—from the emergence of Jewish sensibilities as a key narrative element to the influence of mass advertising and television to the corporatization of book publishing. It’s about time for such a comprehensive biography, given the fact that Heller died nearly 12 years ago. Born to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents in 1923 in the grimy but colorful Coney Island section of Brooklyn, Heller would go to war at 19 (assimilating all its horrors and hilarities as an aerial bombardier); attend college under the G.I. Bill; become an English teacher and advertising copywriter; and finally surface as one of the freshest, most distinctive voices among a cadre of gifted peers that included Norman Mailer, James Jones, J.D. Salinger, Saul Bellow and Kurt Vonnegut. Heller’s earliest success was as a short-story writer. It wasn’t until 1953 that he began penning a novel whose working title for years would be Catch-18. After many starts and stops—and some Herculean editing by the soon-to-be legendary Robert Gottlieb—Heller’s absurdist rendition of war and bureaucracy was finally published in 1961 as Catch-22. Just as From Here to Eternity did for Jones, Catch-22 became the standard by which all Heller’s subsequent novels were judged— and would always fall short. The Heller portrayed in these pages is surprisingly free of major psychological quirks, considering he lost his father when he was four, suffered the terrors of war and became a celebrity while still a relatively young man. In addition to Catch-22, Daugherty traces the evolution and critical reception of many of Heller’s novels (including Good As Gold, for which he was paid an advance of nearly two million dollars) as well as the play We Bombed in New Haven. Daugherty also provides a lively account of the clashes between the liberal Heller and the increasingly conservative Norman Podhoretz. To examine Heller’s less public side, Daugherty interviewed dozens of sources close to the author, among them Gottlieb, Heller’s two children, his second wife and such close friends as comedian-producer Mel Brooks and author Christopher Buckley. Heller gave the world more than just his stories; he endowed the


NONFICTION English language with a term that has become the indispensable cry of despair for the thwarted and frustrated. Blame it on Catch-22. —Edward Morris

FINDING EVERETT RUESS By David Roberts Broadway $25, 416 pages ISBN 9780307591760 eBook available

Biography

Cult figure Everett Ruess gained a wider fame after Jon Krakauer’s best-selling Into the Wild identified a number of parallels between Ruess and Chris McCandless, the subject of Krakauer’s book. Both young men were idealistic dreamers, drawn to wilderness solitude, and both disappeared in the wild under mysterious circumstances. Ruess’ body has never been found. David Roberts’ definitive biography draws a full and sensitive portrait of the quixotic Ruess, who spent four years making increasingly arduous solo treks into the Southwestern canyonlands before disappearing in 1934. While the rest of America suffered under the strictures of the Depression, he scoffed at those who worked for a living, while financing his wilderness trips largely through an allowance from his parents. Ruess grew up in a loving, artistic and possibly overinvolved family, and his rebellious claims to independence (bolstered by that allowance) make him sound exactly like the teenager he was, and strengthen his connection to McCandless. Through the ample quotations from Ruess’ letters and diaries included here, we hear the adorable hubris of this wilderness-loving boy. “I must pack my short life full of interesting events and creative activity,” Ruess writes to his brother, mixing radiant descriptions of the desert alongside stories of throwing boulders off cliffs and chasing after his runaway burros. Roberts’ aim in this biography is to provide a corrective to overly idealized portraits of Ruess, and he does not shy away from discussing Ruess’ looting of Anasazi ruins or his use of a Navajo hogan for firewood. A balanced

portrait emerges of a complex figure who—while fascinating—was no saint. The second half of Finding Everett Ruess reads like a detective novel, as Roberts tracks Ruess’ afterlife through the theories and legends that surround his disappearance. Roberts pursues a lead that takes him and a team of forensic anthropologists to an anomalous ridgetop grave, and seems poised to solve the mystery. His narrative about working with Ruess’ niece and the Navajo family that found the grave provides a suspenseful kick that will keep readers hooked until the very end of the book. Perfect for a late summer read, this biography will attract many more people to the brief, artistic life of Everett Ruess, and provide compelling fodder for further debate about the many issues raised by his life and death. —Catherine Hollis

1493 By Charles Mann Knopf $30.50, 544 pages ISBN 9780307265722 Audio, eBook available

History

uniform blend. Organisms from the separate hemispheres could now travel to, and prosper in, locations halfway around the world. Many historians consider the introduction of the hardy potato (native to the Americas) to Europe as a watershed historical moment. But these exchanges were not always beneficent. Among other things, Columbus brought viruses that caused epidemic diseases such as cholera, typhus and smallpox to the Americas, where they were previously unknown—with catastrophic results. During the 16th and 17th centuries, such diseases were responsible for the deaths of at least three-fourths of the native population of the Americas. Globalization extended beyond the interchange between Europe and the Americas. In 1570, two Spanish explorers, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Andres Ochoa de Urdaneta y Cerain, did what Columbus was unable to do: initiate trade with wealthy China by sailing west. They did for economics what Columbus did for ecology. For 2,000

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Globalization, according to Charles C. Mann, began in December of 1492, when Christopher Columbus established what he hoped would be a permanent settlement in what is now the Dominican Republic. (It lasted for five years.) Thus began what historian Alfred W. Crosby called the Columbian Exchange. Following Crosby’s lead, noted scientific journalist Mann, using the latest scholarship and his own trips to sites around the world, demonstrates the crucial importance of that exchange in 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, a follow-up to his critically acclaimed 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. Mann shows that globalization was not just economic and cultural, but was also, maybe even primarily, a biological phenomenon. Some biologists say it was the beginning of a new biological era: the Homogenocene, a mixing of new substances to create a

years the population of China had grown slowly. That changed when American crops were introduced there and the population soared. What became known as the “galleon trade” brought together Asia, Europe, the Americas and, less directly, Africa, in a network of exchange for the first time in history. Mann’s sweeping overview invites us to interpret history a bit differently than more conventional approaches. One of the most compelling subjects is the crucial role played by the slave trade and the Indians in developing what became the United States. Although textbooks indicate that the Europeans moved into a sparsely populated hemisphere, in fact the hemisphere was already home to millions of inhabitants. And most of the movement into the Americas was by Africans, who easily became the majority population in places not controlled by native tribes. One recent study has calculated that in the period between 1500 and 1840, three Africans were brought to the Americas for every European.

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reviews In one fascinating discussion, Mann relates how malaria, to which many in West and Central Africa are largely immune, assisted in slavery’s development. Although it is unlikely that they were conscious of it at first, planters with slaves had an economic advantage over planters who used indentured servants, who were more likely to come down with the disease. As that became apparent, the most successful planters imported additional slaves, and other planters who wished to prosper did the same thing. There is so much more in Mann’s engaging and well-written book. Information and insight abound on every page. This dazzling display of erudition, theory and insight will help readers to view history in a fresh way. —Roger Bishop

UNWASTED By Sacha Scoblic Kensington/Citadel $14.95, 272 pages ISBN 9780806534299 eBook available

Memoir

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Sacha Scoblic lived to drink, until the morning she stumbled out of a bar with only vague memories of the night before. She gave up alcohol that day, sick of the person she had become. But without alcohol, who was she? In Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety, she discovers that sobriety has its own strange trips. Memoirs about recovery travel a well-trodden path, but not many of them manage to be this piercing and ribald. Scoblic’s memoir uncovers the everyday frustrations recovering alcoholics face as they negotiate a world saturated with their drug of choice. It’s a hilarious, honest and heart-breaking glimpse into the routine torments of addiction. Terribly insecure and already addicted to booze, 30-something Scoblic feels intimidated by her sophisticated new colleagues at the New Republic. “At the time, I assumed either cosmic intervention or a gas leak in the building had led to me getting hired at the New Republic magazine,” she writes. “Still, I was completely ready to emulate Hunter S. Thompson: I’d

NONFICTION drink all night and write colorful scene-scapes about American zeitgeist by day.” She relies on drinking to transform herself into a snarky party girl willing to try anything once, even if it also makes her cruel, self-centered and prone to property damage. But after years of hangovers, panic attacks and relationships as empty as last night’s beer bottles, Scoblic finally gives it up. She struggles to stay clean, fantasizing about wacky scenarios that would require her to drink again, such as celebrating a successful nuclear arms treaty with Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev and a bottle of Russian vodka. Fearful of becoming banal without the stimulation of alcohol, Scoblic realizes that a sober life has its own richness. In the end, she finds that sobriety is a life of unmissed opportunities, authentic love and forgotten dreams waiting to be rediscovered. —Marianne Peters

SUPERGODS By Grant Morrison Spiegel & Grau $28, 464 pages ISBN 9781400069125 eBook available

Culture

He had me at “Shazam!” Grant Morrison, the comic book writer and author of Supergods, rubbed the magic lantern of my memories and re-ignited my lifelong love affair with comic books. He helped me recall being a young boy and placing a dime and two pennies into a vending machine to fetch the latest issue of Superman. And the times as a college student, rummaging through cardboard boxes at a used comic book store to find old editions of Batman and the Fantastic Four. More recently, thanks to reading Supergods, I’ve invited my 12-year-old son to join me in paging through the 300-plus yellowing comic books I have stored in the basement. Like me, Morrison is a comic book aficionado, and his passion for comic superheroes bursts through the pages of his book, subtitled “What Masked Vigilantes,

Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human.” Supergods is an examination of the evolution of superheroes and how they symbolize the changes in our culture, and it begins, appropriately, with the debut of Superman in 1938, a time when people were longing for a hero who could fight the forces of evil bent on world domination. On the two-dimensional pages, the criminals were Brainiac and Lex Luthor, but in real life, the villain was Adolf Hitler. In the turbulent 1960s, the superheroes developed an anti-authority edge, as seen in the popularity of Spiderman and The Incredible Hulk. By the 1980s, as society settled into a great malaise, the comics turned darker, typified by the rise of anti-heroes like the X-Men and Watchmen. But Supergods doesn’t just offer us a reflection of ourselves throughout our recent history; it tackles important social issues such as feminism, illustrated in the comic book form of Wonder Woman and the Invisible Girl, and diversity in the guise of Black Panther and Storm. Morrison also notes with insight and irony how comic books, once considered subversive to youth, are now a reliable source of income for Hollywood. Supergods is an enjoyable read for both rabid comic book fans who want to take a trip down memory lane and casual readers who want to understand how these colorful, sometimes crude books offer us a glimpse at how far we’ve come as a society. In Morrison’s words, comic books “tell us where we’ve been, what we feared and what we desired, and . . . speak to us about what we could be.” —J o h n T. S l a n i a

PRECIOUS OBJECTS By Alicia Oltuski Scribner $24, 368 pages ISBN 9781416545125 eBook available

Science

Diamonds—those glittery, magical conclusions of the courtship process, those small, pricey declarations of love—have a less

glamorous meaning for 26-year-old Alicia Oltuski. Her father, Paul, is a diamond dealer and a fixture on New York City’s bazaar-like Diamond District. Her late uncle and her retired grandfather, who still visits his old stomping grounds on 47th Street, were also in the diamond trade. Even the younger Oltuski briefly worked for her father. Now a journalist, she turns her attention to every nook and cranny of this natural resource in Precious Objects, an enjoyable mélange of reporting, memories and profiles of the people who give the diamond industry—and a stretch of city street—its sparkle. The author introduces us to various Midtown movers and shakers. We meet Dan and Elie Ribacoff, the “diamond detectives” whose crime-solving methods include donning fake disguises to track down perpetrators, and a young upand-comer who uses the Internet to make his mark and learn how dealers procure and sell their goods. We also meet the powerful and controversial Martin Rapaport, whose crazy notion to publish a price list of diamonds in the late 1970s nearly killed his career. “He was listing the price of the finished goods, so how in the world were we supposed to make a living?” asks a 1970s-era diamond manufacturer. Oltuski’s narrative goes beyond New York—we discover the tragic origins of the phrase “blood diamond”—and covers a lot of ground, sometimes too much. You want her to scale back on some topics (e.g., trade shows, auctions) and expand on others (e.g., the Diamond District’s architectural facelift). She builds her story around that of her family, especially her father. Hardworking and somewhat eccentric (he rarely admits his occupation), Paul is the narrative’s face. Through the Great Recession, advancing technology and his brother’s untimely death, Paul Oltuski remains an entrepreneurial survivor. What redeems Precious Objects is that we understand that adaptation is a way of life in the industry, including the Diamond District, which still stands despite business methods steeped in old-fashioned values and the tenets of Judaism. So, more change is coming. That is the diamond industry’s one constant. —Pete Croatto


children’s books

JAMES howe I n t e r v i e w b y A l i c e Ca r y

B

© John Maggiotto

Searching for Addie’s voice est-selling children’s author James Howe had written many books, but suddenly he was stuck. Really stuck.

Howe was determined to write a book about Addie Carle, one of the main characters in The Misfits, his 2001 novel about four middle school friends. He had already written one sequel, Totally Joe, about a gay seventh-grader in the group. But he had spent two unsuccessful years trying to capture the voice of the strong-willed and extremely outspoken Addie. “Her voice can be kind of offputting,” Howe admits during a call to his home in Yonkers, New York. “I had tried so many different approaches, and nothing was working.” Finally, a letter from an eighthgrade fan put Howe on the right path. The girl wrote: “Addie’s got such a strong personality, but sometimes I think readers don’t actually know what her soft side is.” Howe realized he had been ignoring Addie’s soft side, and decided to explore what he calls her “inside voice.” He also decided that the best way to explore this part of Addie’s personality would be to write his novel in poetry. This presented yet another hurdle, since Howe had never written a book in poetry. He enjoyed the writing, but soon realized that all of his new poems needed to form a narrative whole. “At one point my dining room table was covered with all of these printed-out poems,” Howe remembers. “I was rearranging and physically trying to find where the story was. So it took a good two years to get the shape of the book.” If all of this sounds like a giant puzzle, Howe isn’t fazed. “I like to draw, and I love to do collage,” he says. “And I used to direct theater. I think there are connections in all of these things. I like taking pieces and making something out of them.” The result was certainly worth waiting for. Addie on the Inside is immensely readable, with an active and conversational tone. What did Howe end up learning about Addie, who was, as he puts it, “such a tough nut to crack?” “I learned that she’s much more tender than I thought she was,” Howe says. “And I learned more about where her outside voice

came from, and how connected it is to her own insecurities. I also learned, and this was a surprise, that she did have some desire to be popular and be cool.” Howe is best known as the author of books for younger children, having gotten his start in 1979 with a beloved series about a vampire bunny named Bunnicula. A struggling actor and director at the time, he began writing for children by accident. “I was doing what a lot of actors do and staying up too late and watching movies on TV,” Howe recalls. “It was watching all those bad vampire movies in the ’70s that led to the idea of Bunnicula. I can’t say that it’s my proudest moment when I tell young children how I got the idea for still my most popular book.” He and his wife Deborah cowrote the first book, but sadly she died of cancer before their book was published. Ever since, A letter from Howe has had a young fan an intriguing helped Howe literary and life journey, having discover the now embarked softer side of on what he an outspoken calls “almost a second career” character. writing for middle school students and young adults. Howe eventually remarried and became a father to Zoey, now 23. His editor at the time remarked that Howe would probably begin writing board books for his daughter. Instead, Howe felt compelled to head in the opposite direction. “These very powerful feelings that come with being a parent were pushing me to write work that was more personal and deep,” he says, “for older readers.” Zoey’s eventual complaints about middle school social dynamics prompted him to write The Misfits. Another important event helped trigger Howe’s writing for middle school students. When Zoey was in the fifth grade, he divorced his second wife and admitted he was gay. Howe has now been with his partner for 10 years, and they plan

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to marry in September. One of Howe’s immediate reactions upon coming out was anger. “I thought, I cannot believe I have put so much energy and have lived with this inner turmoil for so long and feared all of this rejection,” he says. “I wanted to write a book in which there’s a kid who’s growing up and gay and feels fine about who he is.” The publication of Totally Joe ended up sparking a few controveries about its gay protagonist. “I was referred to as the openly gay author of The Misfits,” Howe recalls. “After years of being in the closet, that was actually pretty thrilling.” Howe is especially gratified that The Misfits inspired an annual event called No-Name-Calling Week (www.nonamecallingweek.org), which began in 2004. “It’s gotten big,” Howe says. “There’s a curriculum for it. It’s ­really taken off and it makes me feel very good.”

Addie on the Inside

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SIGN UP TODAY BOOKPAGE.COM By James Howe, Atheneum, $16.99, 224 pages ISBN 9781416913849, ages 10 to 14

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children’s books A Long, Long Sleep

reviews

SUSPENDED IN TIME and space Review by angela leeper

After 62 years in stasis, a chemically induced hypersleep that suspends the aging process, Rosalinda Samantha Fitzroy—or simply Rose—awakens, still 16 years old, to discover not only that she’s been slumbering in a forgotten subbasement all these years, but that she’s the sole surviving heiress, a princess if you will, to an interplanetary empire known as UniCorp. In Anna Sheehan’s futuristic young adult debut, A Long, Long Sleep, this sleeping beauty bears no resemblance to the Disney princess. Rose’s chilling story explores the emotional aftermath of lost time, dreams and love. As Rose tries to assimilate in her new Uni Prep school (the best in the solar system), she learns the history of the last half-century, including the Dark Times, in which a population boom was followed by a resurgence of tuberculosis and bubonic plague, as well as widespread infertility. FlashBy Anna Sheehan, Candlewick, $16.99 backs to Rose’s youth slowly reveal her numerous stays in stasis (really 352 pages, ISBN 9780763652609, audio available making her 100 years old), the long-term effects of her abusive parents Ages 14 and up and her first love with Xavier, whom she met when he was an infant and she was seven years old, though he grew to surpass her in age. Although Rose finds some comfort in her friendships with princely, handsome Bren and Otto, a mute human-alien hybrid created by UniCorp who understands the briar patch she has formed around her heart, she still longs for Xavier. And adjustment would definitely be easier if there weren’t a Plastine, a plasticized human corpse, programmed to find and kill her. Outrunning this nearly indestructible assassin and finding its original programmer add layers of adventure and mystery to this already intriguing science fiction story. Whether comparing Rose’s story to other Briar Rose and Sleeping Beauty variants, wondering about her complicated situation or simply enjoying the thrilling suspense, readers will hope that Rose can find some happiness ever after in a complex world.

THE SUMMER VISITORS By Karel Hayes Down East $16.95, 32 pages ISBN 9780892729180 Ages 4 to 8

picture book

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The little bear family from Karel Hayes’ charming picture book The Winter Visitors returns, but this time the lakeside cabin they visit isn’t a deserted retreat. The summer visitors—a human family of four—have arrived at the first sign of sunny weather. Their presence won’t deter the bear family, however; with a little bit of sneakiness, they still find ways to enjoy themselves. The bears are quick learners. After watching the family in a sailboat, the bears don lifejackets one night and take a spin around the lake by moonlight. Soon they’re stealing blueberry pie, sneaking a peek at a fireworks display and—in a twist on “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”— taking naps in the cabin’s beds. Like The Winter Visitors, The

Summer Visitors is told almost entirely with pen-and-ink and watercolor drawings. Author-illustrator Hayes captures the sleepy sweetness of summer days, which slowly give way to changing leaves when the family must bid farewell to the little cottage. The soft drawings bring a dreamlike quality to the cottage, and the smiling bears and befuddled humans will delight children and parents alike. — C a t Ac r e e

INTO THE TRAP By Craig Moodie Roaring Brook $15.99, 208 pages ISBN 9781596435858 eBook available Ages 10 to 14

middle grade

Vampires, ghosts, wizards, angels —they’re hard to escape in books these days. But every once in a while, a kid longs for an old-fash-

ioned summer adventure story, which is exactly what Craig Moodie delivers in his exciting new novel, Into the Trap. Eddie Atwell is the 12-year-old son of a lobster fisherman on Fog Island. The local lobstermen are being hit by a series of thefts: Nearly 10,000 pounds of lobster have disappeared from fishermen’s holding areas. Meanwhile, Eddie’s father is laid up with a shoulder injury. Eddie wants to help out by catching some striped bass, even though he’s not supposed to go out fishing alone. That’s how Eddie finds himself on Greenhead Island early one August morning, staring with shock into a tidal pool full of stolen lobsters. Eddie manages to hide from the two thieves who come to check their cache, but he recognizes their voices. One is Jake Daggett, his sister’s boyfriend. What’s worse, Jake recognizes Eddie’s skiff, and he and the other thief, Marty, take it, leaving Eddie stranded. Luckily for Eddie, an unlikely rescuer is at hand. Briggs Fairfield, a rich, nerdy New York kid who’s AWOL from a nearby sailing camp, is

happy to have Eddie aboard. Eddie doesn’t think he and this rich kid have much in common—until he realizes that the camp counselor who has been tormenting Briggs is none other than Marty, one of the lobster thieves. Eddie and Briggs decide to join forces to rescue the lobsters and bring the thieves to justice. Full of sailing lore and pageturning excitement, Into the Trap is the perfect book to stick into a duffel bag for a young camper—along with a flashlight for reading under the folds of a sleeping bag. —Deborah Hopkinson

EIGHT KEYS By Suzanne LaFleur Wendy Lamb/ Random House $16.99, 224 pages ISBN 9780385740302 eBook available Ages 9 to 12

middle grade

Middle school is hard. There are more students and more expectations of what is cool and what is not. For Elise, the prospect of starting sixth grade is less frightening since she will have her best friend Franklin there as well. However, when she discovers that Franklin is considered a “baby” by the toughest kids in school, she finds herself wanting to pull away from him. This leaves her feeling alone and unsure of herself. At home, Elise’s aunt and uncle have provided her a loving family since the death of her parents. When she finds a key with her name on it, she realizes she may be able to open one of the eight locked doors in the barn. As she makes her way through each door, she learns something about her parents, her choices in life and herself. This is a wonderful story about a girl growing up and learning that it is important to surround yourself with people who love you and support you—and not to let others choose those people for you. Elise handles a bully at school with clumsy grace, renews her friendship with Franklin and makes new friends. The gift of locked rooms from her father allows her to explore a corner of her heart a little at a time, and the reader is as drawn into the discoveries as she is. Eight


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children’s books Keys is just right for any student entering middle school and looking for his or her own way. —J e n n i f e r B r u e r K i t c h e L

Small Town Sinners By Melissa Walker Bloomsbury $16.99, 272 pages ISBN 9781599905273 Ages 14 and up

teen

Good girl Lacey Anne Byer longs for nothing more than to play the part of “Abortion Girl” in her church’s Hell House production over Halloween weekend. As a lifelong member of the House of Enlightenment Evangelical Church, and the daughter of the youth pastor, she plans to turn the role into her “movie moment.” The scenes in Hell House—which

reviews

deal with abortion, gay marriage, drunk driving—all seem like cutand-dried ways to go straight to Hell as far as Lacey is concerned. She is so firm in her beliefs that she has trouble recognizing the new feelings that wash over her when “new guy” Ty Davis sends her on a wild ride of emotions. For the first time in her life, Lacey is forced to stop and think about her faith, her friendships and what she wants for her future. Even as her feelings for Ty grow, and are returned, she finds her conversations with him challenging and frustrating. Ty is not someone who is willing to simply accept the beliefs and standards that are handed to him by authority figures. He insists on examining what seems right to him, and Lacey finds herself drawn down the path of introspection as well. In Small Town Sinners, Melissa Walker tackles difficult subjects with a unique approach. Hidden within this sweet and engrossing story of first love is one of an intelligent young woman with

strong moral values, discovering her own truth. Young readers will find themselves enchanted by the likable characters and challenged to examine their own convictions. — E m i ly B o o t h M a s t e r s

clean By Amy Reed Simon Pulse $19.99, 288 pages ISBN 9781442413443 eBook available Ages 14 and up

teen

Amy Reed sets her new novel, Clean, in a drug and alcohol rehab clinic for teens. Actually, she tosses us in and locks the door behind us until graduation, and it’s a tough but fascinating sentence to serve. Clean follows five teens through treatment: Christopher (“the nerdy guy”), Kelly (“the pretty girl”), Jason

(“the tough guy”), Eva (“the emo/ Goth girl”) and Olivia, who just got there. Through journal entries, medical forms and transcribed group therapy sessions with hardnosed counselor Shirley, we learn each person’s story a little at a time. While the path to becoming an addict is always bleak, teasing out the details makes Clean unfold like a mystery. Is the guy climbing in Christopher’s bedroom window real or imaginary? Olivia is “just” hooked on diet pills; does she really belong here? With a subject as broad as addiction, Reed uses small moments to show us daily life in rehab. A simple thing like watching a movie now requires kids to sit two feet apart with no blankets, after previous residents were busted in a moment of intimacy under the covers. When it’s time for graduation, we don’t know who will stay sober, but the characters in Clean make us hope for the best, for them and for anyone facing a similar challenge. —Heather Seggel

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By Angela Leeper

Back to the classroom in style

I

t’s the time of year that parents eagerly await and students nervously dread: back to school. Four new picture books ease first-day jitters with a mix of humor, reality and fun.

A Show of Hands Because socialization is as important as academics during the first year of school, parents and educators alike will welcome Rosemary Wells’ Kindergators: Hands Off, Harry! (HarperCollins, $14.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9780061921124), the first title in a new series featuring a lively classroom of alligator kindergartners. Harry knocks down classmates, spills glue on Miracle’s shoes and ruins Benjamin’s shirt with paint. Time in the Thinking Chair and an emergency session of Friendly Circle give him the opportunity to think about where his personal space begins and ends and the three proper uses of hands: shake a hand, hold a hand and lend a hand. Harry redeems himself as playground monitor, using helping hands on scraped knees.

Say Cheese Always dreaming big, Louise Cheese makes her third appearance in Elise Primavera’s Louise the Big Cheese and the Back-toSchool Smarty-Pants (Simon & Schuster, $16.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9781442406001). This time Louise starts second grade with a burning desire to make straight A’s, and with a teacher named Mrs. Pearl, how can she go wrong? Louise soon discovers that her teacher is drab and rarely hands out A’s. Constantly discouraged by Mrs. Pearl’s “You can do better,” she feels vindicated

by the sparkly substitute who gives everyone good grades—until Louise realizes her accomplishments no longer mean anything. Energetic watercolor illustrations capture Louise’s spunk, while thought bubbles reveal her true feelings, like wanting meticulous Mrs. Pearl back in the classroom.

meet   LOIS EHLERT the title of your new book? Q: What’s 

© Lillian Schultz

SCHOOL DAYS

would you describe Q: How  the book?

has been the biggest Q: Who  influence on your work?

was your favorite subject in school? Why? Q: What 

A Dog’s School Life From Harry Bliss, illustrator of the best-selling Diary of a Worm, comes Bailey (Scholastic, $16.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9780545233446), featuring another endearing and comical character. Bailey the dog attends school and enlivens the day in the process. After riding the bus (with his head out the window, of course), Bailey puts his doggie treats in his cubby, has an excuse for not doing his homework (he ate it!) and gives a class report on FDR’s famous pooch, Fala. Even if classmates raise their eyebrows at Bailey’s water bowl at lunch, they can’t help but love the way he wags his tail during free dance.

New concepts In Everything I Need to Know Before I’m Five (Random House, $20.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9780375868658), Valorie Fisher gives parents an entertaining way to prepare young children for kindergarten. Drawing on her collection of vintage tiny toys, she poses her playthings against bright backgrounds to create eyecatching photographs that introduce the concepts of the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, opposites, seasons and weather. The real amusement comes from the book’s many surprises, including an expressive old-fashioned doll pushing a giant frog while her equally animated double tries to pull it from the other side. Fisher’s entertaining retro collections will leave children hoping that school will be just as enjoyable as this book.

was your childhood hero? Q: Who 

books did you enjoy as a child? Q: What 

one thing would you like to learn to do? Q: What 

message would you like to send to children? Q: What 

RRRALPH

Lois Ehlert is a Caldecott Honor-winning author and illustrator whose vivid collagestyle illustrations have been featured in such books as Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Waiting for Wings and Color Zoo. She gives voice to an amazing dog in her latest picture book, RRRalph (Beach Lane, $17.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9780547315812). Ehlert lives in Milwaukee.

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Books-A-Million BookPage August 2011