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Maya Angelou Finding hope and healing in a mother’s imperfect love
k new boo reviews
Zelda: The queen of the Jazz Age tells her own story Summer camp & lifelong friendships in Meg Wolitzer’s ‘The Interestings’
paperback picks p p PENGUIN.COM
Delusion in Death
Robert B. Parker’s Lullaby
It appears bar patrons were exposed to a cocktail of chemicals and illegal drugs that killed more than 80 people. But that doesn’t explain who would unleash such horror—or why. Lieutenant Eve Dallas’ husband, Roarke, happens to own the bar, but he’s convinced the attack wasn’t directed at him. If Eve can’t figure it out fast, it could happen again—anytime, anywhere.
It’s the worst possible time for a human body to show up in Eric Northman’s front yard—especially the body of a woman whose blood he just drank. Now it’s up to Sookie to solve the murder. Sookie has an enemy, one far more devious than she would ever suspect, who’s set out to make Sookie’s world come crashing down.
When 14-year-old Mattie Sullivan asks Spenser to look into her mother’s murder, he’s not convinced by her claim that the wrong man was convicted. As Spenser becomes more involved, he thinks that Mattie may be onto something after all—a job that’s more dangerous than he ever thought.
The Arrington gala will be attended by socialites, royalty, and billionaires from overseas…and according to phone conversations intercepted by the NSA, it may also have attracted the attention of international terrorists. To ensure the safety of his guests—and the city of Los Angeles—Stone may have to call in a few favors from his friends at the CIA.
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The Risk Agent
The Head of the World Economic Bureau has been arrested for attacking a maid in his hotel. But when a second body is found with Luc’s restaurant matchbox, Alex begins to fear that the two cases may not be as unrelated as she thought. Uncovering the sordid secrets of the city’s most wealthy and powerful could cost her and her loved ones everything they hold dear.
In the cathedral tower lives a strange boy with a limp who talks to the bells. In a luxury penthouse lives a high-class prostitute who’s in mortal danger. And in a low-rent hotel lives a private investigator who has no idea how he got there. These three strangers have something in common they can’t begin to imagine.
Fascinated by the paranormal energy of Crystal Gardens, Evangeline finds pleasure in sneaking past the walls when her life is threatened. Lucas has never been one to ignore a lady in danger, even if she is trespassing. With Evangeline’s skill for detection, and Lucas’s sense of the criminal mind, they soon discover that they have a common enemy.
After a Chinese national working for an American-owned construction company is kidnapped in Shanghai, Rutherford Risk—a hostage rescue firm—is called in. For the job, the company recruits two outsiders: Grace Chu and John Knox. Can they save the hostages before the deadline?
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The Black Dagger Brotherhood is back! Brand-new from #1 New York Times bestselling author J.R. Ward
Qhuinn, son of no one, is used to being on his own. Disavowed from his bloodline, shunned by the aristocracy, he has finally found an identity as one of the most brutal fighters in the war against the Lessening Society. But his life is not complete. Blay, after years of unrequited love, has moved on from his feelings for Qhuinn. He has found his perfect match in a Chosen female, and they are going to have a young. Fate seems to have taken these vampire soldiers in different directions, but as the battle over the race’s throne intensifies, Qhuinn finally learns the true definition of courage, and two hearts who are meant to be together…finally become one.
NEW AMERICAN LIBRARY A Penguin Group (USA) Company
9780451239358 • $27.95
aPril 2013 W W W. b o o k pa g e . c o m
THErEsE annE foWlEr Zelda Fitzgerald tells her own story
Beloved poet and author Maya Angelou tells of her complicated relationship with her mother in a new memoir, Mom & Me & Mom.
MEG WoliTZEr On friendship, the passage of time and how we become who we are
PoETry MonTH Celebrating the power of verse
JanE GooDall Meet the author of Seeds of Hope
sPoTliGHT: basEball A look at our national pastime
28 PoETry for CHilDrEn Clever verse for young readers
29 Mary E. PEarson The vast imagination behind the Jenna Fox Chronicles
EliZa WHEElEr Meet the author-illustrator of Miss Maple’s Seeds
columns 04 04 05 06 09 10 10 12
Cover photo by Dwight Carter Cover illustration @ iStock.com/chuwy
reviews 20 fiCTion
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson ALSO REVIEWED: The Edge of the Earth by Christina Schwarz Amity & Sorrow by Peggy Riley The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout Love Water Memory by Jennie Shortridge The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner The Stud Book by Monica Drake A Nearly Perfect Copy by Allison Amend Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger Double Feature by Owen King Where You Can Find Me by Sheri Joseph Equilateral by Ken Kalfus Life After Life by Jill McCorkle The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh
Gulp by Mary Roach
Life in Icicle Falls
where the men have turned poker night into book club night, determined to find out what women want from the world’s best love experts… romance novels!
The Book of My Lives by Aleksandar Hemon The Sleepwalkers by Christopher Clark My Foreign Cities by Elizabeth Scarboro The Spark by Kristine Barnett Toms River by Dan Fagin How to Create the Perfect Wife by Wendy Moore The Little Way of Ruthie Leming by Rod Dreher
30 CHilDrEn’s TOP PICK:
The Dark by Lemony Snicket ALSO REVIEWED: When the Butterﬂies Came by Kimberley Griffiths Little Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace by Nan Marino In the Shadow of Blackbirds Editor’s note: Readers may notice an by Cat Winters odd coincidence in the fiction section: There are two books with the same title, Rotten by Michael Northrop Life After Life, one by Kate Atkinson and This Is What Happy Looks Like the other by Jill McCorkle. by Jennifer E. Smith
lifEsTylEs THE auTHor EnablEr WEll rEaD WHoDuniT booK Clubs auDio CooKinG roManCE
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THE author enabler
by joanna brichetto
by Sam Barry
NATURAL CONCOCTIONS The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World’s Great Drinks (Algonquin, $19.95, 400 pages, ISBN 9781616200466) is the latest from Amy Stewart, the “award-winning author of six books on the pleasures and perils of the natural world.” Lest you think this is for imbibers only, a teetotaler foodie, gardener or naturalist will be just as intoxicated by the dashing wit and detailed lore. As a naturalist myself, I have my eye not so much on the dozens of classic cocktail recipes
by Laura Erickson and Jonathan Alderfer is a prime choice for beginners. The guide limits itself to one species per page and includes key facts, a unique “bird-ography,” a range map, drawings and a large color photograph. And it fits in a pocket, which is perfect for hiking, especially with binoculars already pulling one’s shoulder out of joint. Handier still is the color index, which makes it easy to identify a bird, even on the fly.
TOP PICK IN LIFESTYLES
(with original variations) or even the DIY syrups and infusions, but on the book’s main ingredients: style and substance. The book features a combination of conversational tone and scholarly authority. “The botanical world produces alcohol in abundance,” and the human world has paid close attention to this fact for millennia. The first section of the book explores the fermentation and distillation of “the classics” in alphabetical order, from agave to wheat. The second section looks at the herbs, spices, flowers, trees, fruits, nuts and seeds that partner with the classics, while the third takes us into the garden, where “we encounter a seasonal array of botanical mixers and garnishes” for the final finesse.
Anytime is a good time to start watching birds, and anywhere will do: out the window or farther afield. There is much to see and hear right now. Springtime migration brings temporary and seasonal visitors, while year-round residents claim territory and set up housekeeping. A good field guide helps us identify birds familiar and new, and invites us to learn more about particular species’ habits, habitats and sounds. The National Geographic Pocket Guide to the Birds of North America (National Geographic, $12.95, 192 pages, ISBN 9781426210440)
Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat brings the Eat Local movement about as local as you can get. Author Ellen Zachos “presents familiar ornamental plants and weeds with a secret: they just happen to be delicious.” Secret is right—not many of us know that we can eat lawn weeds (chickweed and dandelion), exotic invasives (Japanese knotweed and autumn olive) or redbud blossoms, magnolia buds and the berries on the ubiquitous Mahonia bush (aka Oregon grape). Even our flower beds can be well-provisioned with bee balm, hostas, ferns, spiderworts and other beauties, and I can personally recommend the delicate, asparaguslike sautéed daylily buds. Zachos details which parts of which plants to eat, when and how, and where best to find them. Greens, flowers, fruits, nuts, seeds, roots, tubers and fungi are included. Color photos, descriptions and common and botanical names keep beginners on the path to safe foraging and are accompanied by advice on forager etiquette, dangerous lookalikes and commonsense cautions, like avoiding areas that are chemically treated.
Backyard Foraging By Ellen Zachos
Storey $16.95, 240 pages ISBN 9781612120096 eBook available
Practical advice on writing & publishing for aspiring authors
FINDING AN AGENT Dear Author Enabler, Several years ago, I wrote and made a prototype of a children’s book best suited for the board book format. I have shown it to several college professors, including a children’s literature professor, and all of them agreed that it is worthy of publication. Unfortunately, I don’t have the slightest idea how to market this to publishers. Even if I did know who to contact, I’m not sure how I would proceed because I would not feel comfortable sending my prototype out unsolicited. I have published some poems in literary journals, but this seems an entirely different procedure and one with which I am thoroughly unfamiliar. Can you give me any advice? Laura Holloway Washington Crossing, PA First, congratulations on having produced something that knowledgeable people recognize as being worthy of publication. That, in itself, is quite an accomplishment. The tried-and-true path to getting published is to find a literary agent to represent you. Trade publishing is very competitive, and the major publishers almost never accept submissions “over the transom” (i.e., un-agented). If you are well connected or extraordinarily persistent and gifted at selling, it’s possible you might get your book published without an agent. But most of us don’t have the required skill set and connections. That’s why you need the help of a good agent who has connections and knows the market. When seeking an agent, be sure to put your best foot forward. I’m surprised at how sloppy or impatient people can be with this stage of the process. Make sure your material is polished and do your homework before you send out query letters. For instance, check agents’ websites to be sure they represent children’s books. Carefully follow submission guidelines, and send your queries in small, manageable batches. There are no real shortcuts, but writing conferences can be a boon for aspiring writers. Book Passage, the Bay Area bookstore where I am the marketing director, presents a Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference each June. Participants
work with other writers and illustrators and with agents, editors and publishers to develop their ideas, hone their skills and learn how to find a publisher. Conferences such as this one offer aspiring authors a chance to connect with agents and publishers, and sometimes even lead to a contract. Writing conferences are also an excellent forum for meeting kindred spirits. We all need that since writing is such a solitary occupation.
GOING IT ALONE Dear Author Enabler, I’m tech-challenged but want to turn my writing into eBooks. Where do I begin? How do I prevent being taken advantage of? Brad Pettit West Dundee, IL The process of eBook self-publishing is evolving so fast that it’s hard for publishing professionals to keep up, much less tech-challenged amateurs like yourself. It’s true that there have been some amazing success stories in which unknown writers have sold hundreds of thousands of eBooks. But far more often, writers who have experienced a lack of response from traditional publishers self-publish their work in eBook format out of frustration, or because they believe they can make lots of money by cutting out the pesky middlemen. Self-publishing an eBook can be rewarding if it is done well, but making a hit out of a self-published book in any format is hard work—as hard as trying to get published in the traditional way. Your best approach is to thoroughly research the subject and make sure that eBook self-publishing is the best route for you. I recommend that you explore some thoughtful articles, including “5 Things Beginners Need to Know About E-Book Publishing,” by Jane Friedman, web editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review, and “How to Self-Publish an E-book” by CNET Executive Editor David Carnoy, both available online. Send your questions about writing and publishing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
well read by robert Weibezahl
REdiscovering a Russian Master of the short story Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Chekhov, Leskov. Leskov? In his native Russia, the 19th-century writer Nikolai Leskov is counted among the greats, yet in our country, few know his work and even fewer have actually read it. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, the translating team (and married couple) who have twice been awarded the PEN/ Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize (for their versions of The Brothers Karamazov and Anna Karenina), rightly believe that Leskov’s work deserves a wider English-language readership. Their latest translation project, The Enchanted Wanderer: and Other Stories, offers new renderings of 17 classic Leskov tales. A number of common features distinguish many of these stories. Leskov often drew on the Russian tradition of “oral writing” Leskov’s called skaz, entertaining which incorporates the teller tales are into the tale (much the way laced with Chaucer did). humor and It is a congenial anecdotal technique that draws the reader realism. in, as if sitting by a warm fire on a winter’s night listening to a casual storyteller impart some truth. It also lends an anecdotal element of realism to the stories, and in his day, Leskov—who was also a journalist— was sometimes accused of merely reporting things he had observed or heard. He never denied this claim. In the introduction, Pevear quotes the author as saying, “I love literature as a means enabling me to express what I hold to be true and good. If I cannot do that, literature is of no value to me: looking upon it as art is not my point of view. I absolutely cannot understand the concept of ‘art for art’s sake.’ No, art must be useful.” Despite what may seem a highminded manifesto, though, Leskov’s stories are at their core entertainments, albeit ones that unsentimentally portray the panoply of Russian society at the time—peasants, the mercantile class and the aristocracy alike. And, perhaps most notably, they are often very funny, capturing a peculiarly Slavic gallows humor
even when the stakes are dire. Take, for example, the first story in the collection, “The Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” (which opera fans will recognize as the source material for Dmitri Shostakovich’s controversial 20th-century composition, much reviled and banned by Stalin). As the title implies, the story chronicles the murderous doings of a discontented wife, yet even at its darkest moments, there is levity to be found in the amoral behavior of Katerina Lvovna and her lover. Leskov’s stories unfold leisurely, and some of the key works featured here might better be described as novellas. The picaresque title story, for example, runs for some 120 pages. Yet there are shorter gems, too, such as “The Pearl Necklace,” a Christmastime tale about generosity of spirit, and “A Little Mistake,” which offers a bemused glimpse at the malleability of faith when employed to avert a scandal. The comic jewel “The Tale of Cross-eyed Lefty from Tula and the Steel Flea”—here just called “Lefty”—is one of Leskov’s more widely known stories. Its hilarious folktale-like narrative tells of a Russian craftsman who competes with his English counterparts by building a small mechanical flea. In a translator’s note, Pevear and Volokhonsky write that Leskov is notoriously difficult to translate, his stories being so indelibly Russian both in spirit and in their use of the colloquial. With these translations they have managed a formidable job, maintaining the master’s voice and allowing these essential Russian stories to retain a distinct 19th-century flavor while keeping them fresh and alive for the modern reader.
Is your portfolio worth $100,000 or more? If so, this book speaks directly to you! Congratulations! You’re making a comfortable living, providing for your family, and putting money away for retirement. So why do you have the nagging feeling that your financial future is on thin ice? Investment advisor and best-selling author Phil DeMuth helps you increase your net worth by showing you how to: • Custom tailor your asset allocation to match your lifestyle • Avoid Wall Street’s wealth extraction machine and keep what you’ve got • Retire following Warren Buffet’s classic investment principles
“[An] unbelievable bargain: you get one of the brainiest guys out there, telling you how the smart guys make money with relative safety.” —Ben Stein
the enchanted wanderer By Nikolai Leskov
Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky Knopf $35, 608 pages ISBN 9780307268822 eBook available
Now available in hardcover and e-book
Scan for an excerpt!
Miss Julia returns!
WHoDuniT by bruce tierney
EvEryTHinG To ProvE, noTHinG To losE
Miss Julia and the ladies of Abbotsville have put on their aprons and are giving cooking lessons— but will things taste sour or sweet when an unexpected visitor shows up? Praise for Miss Julia to the Rescue:
“DELIGHTFUL . . . Those who like smiles with their crimes will be satisfied.” —Publishers Weekly
As James Thompson’s Helsinki Blood (Putnam, $26.95, 320 pages, ISBN 9780399158889) opens, Finnish police inspector Kari Vaara is but a shadow of his former self, in many of the ways that are vital to his ongoing career as a cop: “I’m shot to pieces. Bullets to my knee and jaw—places I’ve been shot before— have left me a wreck.” Vaara is not anybody’s idea of a clean cop; in fact, he is holed up in a safe house, the byproduct of a sting in which he and his associates liberated 10 million ill-gotten euros from some very dangerous people. And this is where the Estonian woman finds him—her daughter with Down syndrome has gone missing and is perhaps now in the clutches of sex slavers. In some repressed corner of his mind, Vaara seeks redemption for past bad acts, and perhaps locating and saving this young woman can offer some measure of that elusive reprieve. So begins a deadly game of cat and mouse, with Vaara assuming both roles in turn, never entirely certain which part he is playing. Helsinki Blood, a dark and gritty thriller, marks yet another great installment in a first-rate series.
no siMPlE ansWErs Now in paperback from Penguin Books:
Miss Julia to the Rescue A New York Times bestseller
Members of PENGUIN Penguin Group (USA) BOOKS penguin.com
I have been waiting for another fine suspense novel to come out of Israel since the passing of mystery author Batya Gur in 2005, and it appears my patience has been rewarded with D.A. Mishani’s electrifying police procedural, The Missing File (Harper, $25.99, 304 pages, ISBN 9780062195371). Police detective Avraham Avraham (no typo) leads a fairly normal life, as the lives of fictional cops go; Israel is not a land of serial killers, of kidnappers, of rapists. “Here, when a crime is committed, it is usually the neighbor, the uncle, the grandfather, and there is no need for a complex investigation to find the criminal and clear up the mystery. There is no mystery. The explanation is always the simplest.” Well, maybe not always, and therein lies the story of a perplexing investigation into the disappearance of a 16-year-old boy in a usually tranquil suburb of Tel Aviv. The story is told from alternating points of view, with
each character revealing a different facet of the tale or a different take on an already revealed piece of the puzzle. Painstakingly crafted, The Missing File offers an intense look at the unexpected fallout of the investigation into a crime against a child. Batya Gur is no doubt smiling down from somewhere above!
WHEn DEaTH CoMEs To TEa If you are looking for wickedly inventive crime fiction, you need look no further than the writing team of Nicci Gerrard and Sean French,
who have co-authored a string of bestsellers (8 million in print thus far) as Nicci French. Following the success of Blue Monday, the first in the series featuring tenacious psychotherapist Frieda Klein, Nicci French is (are?) back with a second installment, Tuesday’s Gone (Pamela Dorman, $27.95, 384 pages, ISBN 9780670025671). London social worker Maggie Brennan is already two days behind schedule for the week, and it is only Tuesday. She is about to fall further behind when, on a routine home visit, she finds a corpse seated on the living room sofa—a naked, decaying, long-dead corpse being served afternoon tea by Maggie’s client, a confused and disoriented former mental patient. Early on, the investigation offers no clues to the identity of the body. Stymied, Chief Inspector Karlsson once again requests the unsmiling Frieda’s assistance. Frieda Klein is not the intuitive choice: Her branch of psychotherapy deals with “ordinary” people, not abnormal psychology. Still, despite her reservations, she accepts the assignment. When the deceased turns out to be a notorious con man, things begin to get complicated in ways unforeseeable by either Klein or her police compatriots. Warning: Unless you are into tension, paranoia and burning the midnight oil to finish a
book, don’t embark on reading Tuesday’s Gone after suppertime!
ToP PiCK in MysTEry Donna Leon’s latest Commissario Brunetti novel, The Golden Egg, finds the introspective investigator looking into the death of a simpleminded man who worked at the local dry cleaner’s shop. Brunetti’s wife, a kind-hearted woman who feels strongly that everyone’s life matters, is most unwilling to let this death go by without so much as a blip on the collective public radar. She spurs Brunetti into launching an investigation, which in short order raises more questions than it answers: The dead man has essentially no record of ever existing. His mother refuses to cooperate with the investigation, and when pressed, she claims that his papers went missing in a burglary. If that is indeed the case, then where are the analogous files at the various governmental registration agencies that would normally have his records? Conundrums pile upon conundrums, and when the evidence starts to implicate a powerful Venetian family, Brunetti worries that this may be another “swept under the rug” case that gets solved but never prosecuted. Character-driven to the nth degree, The Golden Egg weaves in Brunetti’s relationships with his family, his avaricious boss and the beautiful Signorina Elettra. Add to the mix a convoluted and lightningpaced crime narrative, and you get one of the finest mysteries to come out of Europe in quite some time!
THE GolDEn EGG by Donna leon
Atlantic Monthly $26, 256 pages ISBN 9780802121011 Audio, eBook available
Four ES I R O T S e v lo Three SUPREMES Two TS S O H G y l e v li One
s u o i r a o r p u r e d n e t d an
DEBUT N O★ ★V★E★L
★ es at m e r p u S e h T anC u o Y l l A Earl’s T Eat C O N T E Sa brunch
ance to win Enter for a ch g with goodies min basket tee hocolates, c , it u fr : d for a crow linens, and china s, tarts, cookie dy.com. Plus a Ed from Fishs The Supremes at of signed copy an-Eat! u-C Earl’s All-Yo om
ookPage.c B t a r e t n E
The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore “You will be casting the movie by the second chapter.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Comparisons to The Help and Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe are inevitable, but Moore’s take on this rowdy troupe of outspoken, loveable women has its own distinctive pluck.” —Publishers Weekly
“An event-filled plot that readers will laugh and cry over.” —Library Journal
Discover the surprising life of a country music legend.
billy ray cyrus hillbilly heart a memoir
He is an award-winning country music legend and the father of one of Hollywood’s most successful young stars. Now, for the first time, Billy Ray Cyrus tells the story of his tenacious and inspiring struggle to find his own way to faith, family, and the power of music.
From a turbulent childhood in Kentucky, to his years working the club circuit, to his stratospheric breakthrough, becoming a multi-platinum-selling artist and taking his rock-and-roll twist on country music to the world’s stage— Hillbilly Heart gives fans a front-row seat for his most candid performance ever.
columns New paperback releases for reading groups
ONE CRUCIAL CHOICE M.L. Stedman’s debut novel, The Light Between Oceans (Scribner, $16, 352 pages, ISBN 9781451681758), is a poignant pageturner that marks the arrival of an impressive new literary talent. Tom Sherbourne minds the lighthouse on Janus Rock, an island off the coast of Australia. A World War I veteran with a strong sense of right and wrong, Tom leads a quiet life until he meets outgoing, bubbly Isabel. Eager for marriage and motherhood, she wins Tom’s affections, and the two make a home on the island. After Isabel endures a pair of miscarriages, their
hopes for a family dim—until a boat washes ashore bearing a dead man and a baby, whom Isabel wants to keep. Tom, concerned about the baby’s mother, has doubts about the decision, but he guards their secret, and his silence has heartrending repercussions. Emotionally riveting, Stedman’s powerful novel won’t soon be forgotten by readers. It’s a firstrate story and also a sensitive exploration of the ways in which loyalty and love shape individual lives.
A TRIP WORTH TAKING In Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Vintage, $15.95, 336 pages, ISBN 9780307476074), her remarkable chronicle of self-discovery, Cheryl Strayed shares the story of the solitary trek that changed her life. Emotionally exhausted after the death of her mother, bouts of drug use and a divorce, 26-yearold Strayed embarks on a difficult hike along the Pacific Crest Trail— a 1,100-mile stretch that passes through California and Oregon. The already challenging enterprise is further complicated by Strayed’s lack of preparation. She fails to research the trail or fit herself out with proper hiking boots. Instead of suit-
book clubs by julie hale
able camping equipment, she brings along beloved books by Adrienne Rich and Flannery O’Connor. But her willingness to risk everything adds to the appeal of the narrative. This is a compelling story of personal transformation seasoned with fascinating details about the trail itself—its hazards, its challenges and its hikers, who are, by and large, an odd bunch. Chosen for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0, this memoir stands out thanks to Strayed’s formidable storytelling skills.
TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS The story of a mother who pulls an unexpected disappearing act, Maria Semple’s second novel, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, is a charmer from start to finish. Bernadette is disgruntled with the politically correct Seattle lifestyle she and her family became a part of when they left Los Angeles. Although life is good—her computer-whiz husband, Elgin, works at Microsoft, and their daughter, Bee, excels in school—Bernadette retreats from everyday existence. Unbeknownst to her family, she uses an online personal assistant, who takes care of her daily tasks—and listens to her complaints. When Bernadette disappears, Bee is left to piece together her story, and the book unfolds through the emails, magazine pieces and police reports she gathers. In Semple’s hands, this narrative approach feels wonderfully original. Semple, who spent 15 years as a writer for TV shows, including “Arrested Development,” is a gifted novelist who brings warmth, humor and a sly intelligence to this tale of maternal angst.
Great Reads New in Paperback
From the author of Bird in the Hand and The Way Life Should Be “A lovely novel about the search for family that also happens to illuminate a fascinating and forgotten chapter of American history. Beautiful.” —Ann Packer, New York Times bestselling author
A precisely-crafted psychological journey from debut novelist Lisa Ballantyne “Sophisticated, suspenseful, unsettling, and highly recommended: a terrific debut from an author to watch.” —Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author Available for the first time in paperback from New York Times bestselling author Susan Elizabeth Phillips “Phillips’ signature mix of complicated characters, sexual chemistry and emotionally compelling writing is irresistible.” —Chicago Tribune An inspiring story of the strength of a mother’s love “Bloom is one of the most emotionally stirring books I’ve ever read. This story is a reminder that …. a mother’s love for her child is a powerful, eternal, unshakable force.” —Ree Drummond, New York Times bestselling author A brilliant, hilarious, and touching story with a Texas twist “Palmer’s dialogue is reliably natural and funny, and her insights into the way women betray their true selves in search of acceptance are keen and honest.” —Publishers Weekly
Where’d You Go, Bernadette By Maria Semple
Back Bay $14.99, 352 pages ISBN 9780316204262 Audio, eBook available
PERFECT FOR READING GROUPS @WilliamMorrowPB
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Book Club Girl
by Sukey hoWard
by Sybil pratt
a TalE of TWo HEisTs
There’s a new kid on the thrillerdiller block named Roger Hobbs, and he’s the real deal. Ghostman (Random House Audio, $40, 12 hours, ISBN 9780385361743), his debut, has already been optioned by Warner Bros., with much interest from Leonardo DiCaprio. Many heads are bashed, endless cell phones trashed, a lot of blood is spilled and a lot of money is stolen as we follow a preternaturally cool, Aeneid-loving antihero, who may or may not be Jack Delton, through this compellingly complex heist how-to, packed with action and the nitty-gritty details of robbery tradecraft. Hobbs’ noirish, just-thefacts-ma’am, hardboiled style, won-
If you get the dinnertime blues, there’s good news, and it’s all spelled out in The Dinnertime Survival Cookbook (Running Press, $22, 256 pages, ISBN 9780762444755), Debra Ponzek’s collection of accessible recipes and tips for taking the blahs, boredom, bother and quotidian quandaries out of getting a good dinner on the table every night. Chef, caterer, owner of three shops offering company-branded prepared foods and mother of three growing kids, Ponzek knows her way around dinner and knows that we all can get stuck making the same things over and over. To shake things up, and get you out of that rut and into adding new, easy dishes to your repertoire,
is brought to life—on and off the wagon—by Mary Beth Hurt’s fabulous performance. Although you want to shake Hildy out of her deepening denial, at the same time, you don’t want to miss a single detail of her take on the goings-on in Wendover, Massachusetts, the classic New England town she grew up in, whose houses, citizens and secrets she knows so well. Leary, too, knows this smalltown territory, and she makes its inevitable soap operas compelling, real and even a tad romantic.
ToP PiCK in auDio
derfully mirrored in Jake Weber’s narration, is just the ticket for this tale of two heists. “Jack,” responsible for a major screw-up in Kuala Lumpur five years ago, comes out of his default Ghostman anonymity to pay his dues by playing Mr. Fixit after an Atlantic City casino job implodes big-time. There are bad guys galore, from smug thugs to criminal masterminds, and an alluring FBI agent, but best of all is Jack, who lives for “the rush not the dollars” and “the pure ecstasy of the job.”
THE GooD rEalTor
My name is Hildy, and I’m not an alcoholic. How could I be when I’m one of the most successful Realtors on Boston’s North Shore? Well, maybe I’ve had a few blackouts, a few cringe-worthy moments under the influence, and my two grown daughters staged an intervention that sent me to rehab at Hazelton. But I’m really a much nicer, funnier, more loving person after a glass or two of wine. . . . Hildy Good, 60-something, a bit overweight and a descendent of one of the Salem witches, is the proverbial piece of work, and she’s the tough-tender narrator of Ann Leary’s wonderfully dark, comedic new novel, The Good House (Macmillan Audio, $39.99, 10 hours, ISBN 9781427228888). Hildy
“Did the accused premeditate the abduction?” The accused is Eric Kennedy, né Erik Schroder, and the abduction is more like a wildly misconceived seven-day “adventure” with the beloved daughter he’s about to lose in a custody battle. It’s Eric who’s telling you all this in a rambling “love” letter to his ex-wife and, perhaps, to the woman his daughter will become, a letter that’s supposed to help her understand him and what he did. And it’s this letter that makes up the entirety of Amity Gaige’s latest novel, Schroder. Gaige so elegantly crafts the storyline, moving seamlessly back and forth in time, that it may take you a while to realize that Eric’s whole life has been based on a lie, that this lyrical, poignant “confession” is riddled with self-delusions. But Eric, persuasively evoked by Will Collyer’s reading, is a disturbingly appealing man, and his daughter, Meadow, a wonderfully imagined, brilliant 6-year-old, is a joy to spend time with. Gaige raises many disquieting questions about parental love and loss, about identity and expectations—questions that will linger.
sCHroDEr by amity Gaige
Hachette Audio $24.98, 7 hours ISBN 9781611132953
she offers ideas for organizing your shopping, whipping up your own sauces, salsas and pestos to make the ordinary extraordinary and adding just a few minutes of do-ahead prepping to your routine. Then you’ll find more than 125 recipes for a bevy of burgers, a savory slew of slow-cooked mains, pastas, soups, salads, new twists on chicken standards and desserts guaranteed to produce smiles and happy campers.
CooK WHaT you CravE Sometime in the not-too-distant past Lucinda Scala Quinn, adamant advocate of the family meal, star of the Hallmark Channel’s popular show “Mad Hungry” and executive food editor of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, had an epiphany. And that epiphany led her to a new take on takeout that’s all summed up in Mad Hungry Cravings: 173 Recipes for the Food You Want to Eat Right Now (Artisan, $27.95, 312 pages, ISBN 9781579654382). With Lucinda at your side, you can cook what you crave at home; it will be tastier, healthier and much less expensive, and you’ll have the added joy of sitting and savoring at your own table with family and friends. Now, when that unyielding yen for a Philly Cheesesteak, Shrimp Summer Rolls, Beef Satay with Thai Peanut Sauce,
Chicken Tikka Masala, Cheese Tamales with Roasted Salsa Verde or Tiramisu comes over you, just turn to your well-stocked larder (instructions included on setting up four basic pantries—American, Asian, Mediterranean and Latin), turn on the stove and get to it. You’ll be able to cook up anything you hanker for.
ToP PiCK in CooKbooKs A restaurant staff, like an army, marches on its stomach (pace Napoleon). Well-fed workers, from exalted chef to newbie busperson, are happier and more productive if they take a break to break bread with the whole staff at the “family meal” they’re served before they serve you. For Danny Meyer, CEO of the Union Square Hospitality Group, which includes many of New York City’s most admired restaurants, and Michael Romano, his partner and culinary director of the group, these meals are essential to their philosophy of “enlightened hospitality.” Now Romano and food writer Karen Stabiner have collected more than 150 easy, affordable recipes, peppered with behind-the-scenes stories in Family Table: Favorite Staff Meals from Our Restaurants to Your Home. They range from staffers’ personal family favorites (marinated, oven-roasted Dominican Chicken) and innovations inspired by available ingredients (Caramelized Corn with Smoked Paprika) to “reconsidered classics” with innovative tweaks (Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe, Sausage and Ricotta). With good header notes and more-than-thorough instructions, these dishes will bring pizzazz and new pleasures to your own family table.
faMily TablE by Michael romano and Karen stabiner
HMH $35, 336 pages ISBN 9780547615622 eBook available
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New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author
FROST The next chapter in the Night Prince Series
romance b y c h r i s t i e r i d g way
A Second Chance at Love Fans of inspirational romance will appreciate Beth Wiseman’s The House that Love Built (Thomas Nelson, $15.99, 352 pages, ISBN 9781595548894). Young widow Brooke Holloway is busy raising her two kids and running the family hardware store when a new man comes to her small Texas town. Handsome Owen Saunders moves into the old Hadley place—a house that is in urgent need of restoration and is rumored to have a secret bunker and hidden treasure. Brooke’s curiosity leads her to strike up a friendship with the newcomer. To be friends is all Owen wants, bitter as he is after a failed marriage, but it’s hard to keep his distance from pretty Brooke and her charming
where she hopes to encounter her anonymous swain— whom she believes is her true love. Henry wonders if his correspondent might be the one for him, too, but there’s the small matter of her unknown identity . . . and the attraction he has for a woman he meets in person, a member of the Dale family, which the Seldons have despised for generations. What transpires is an engaging comedy in which words and deeds sometimes confuse minds and hearts, and the happily-ever-after seems just out of reach. A charmer.
Top Pick in Romance
“I always open a Frost book with happy anticipation.” —Charlaine Harris “A stay-up-until-sunrise read.” —Ilona Andrews www.jeanienefrost.com Win free prizes, get exclusive content, and more - scan with a QR App now!
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children. Despite his cynical outlook on life, Owen reaches out to his elderly uncle and a teen in trouble, and soon the old mansion becomes home for all three. Meanwhile, Brooke struggles with her growing feelings for Owen, as well as the strange behavior of her longdivorced mother. With a gentle pace that includes genuine moments of doubt and despair, this story of forgiveness and second chances demonstrates how hearts can be healed. A warm, sweet tale of faith renewed and families restored.
You’ve got Mail A Regency “miss” seeks to avoid spinsterhood in Elizabeth Boyle’s And the Miss Ran Away With the Rake (Avon, $7.99, 384 pages, ISBN 9780062089083). After spying a newspaper advertisement from a “sensible gentleman” seeking a wife, Daphne Dale has begun a correspondence—signing her letter as “Miss Spooner”—with one “Mr. Dishforth.” Although the ad was placed by one of his drunken relatives, Lord Henry Seldon decides on a whim to write back. Six weeks later, Daphne travels to London for the engagement ball of her friend,
Nora Roberts takes readers to New England’s coastline in Whiskey Beach. Former criminal attorney Eli Landon moves into his family’s historic home, Bluff House. He’s glad to have left Boston, where he had been under suspicion for his wife’s unsolved murder. In the small community of Whiskey Beach, he meets Abra Walsh, another survivor of life’s slings and arrows. Her good-natured prodding and genuine, caring nature lead Eli to open up, and soon he’s at work on writing a book . . . and beginning to think more clearly about what may have happened to his late wife. With a modern-day murder to solve and an intriguing legend of treasure to spice things up, there are plenty of motives and suspects to keep the guesswork going. With her superb storytelling skills, Roberts fleshes out the world of Whiskey Beach with realistic secondary characters and chronicles the burgeoning romance between the two leads with a deft hand that will leave book lovers satisfied and smiling.
Whiskey Beach By Nora Roberts
Putnam $27.95, 496 pages ISBN 9780399159893 Audio, eBook available
It’s never too late for love in Hope’s Crossing…. An emotional and compelling new romance from
USA TODAY bestselling author
RaeAnne Thayne Alexandra McKnight prefers a life of long workdays and short-term relationships, and she’s found it in Hope’s Crossing. She’s just been offered her dream job at an exclusive new restaurant being built in town. But when it comes to designing the kitchen, Alex finds herself getting up close and personal with construction foreman Sam Delgado….
Learn more at www.RaeAnneThayne.com
Available now! Look for Willowleaf Lane coming this July!
MAYA ANGELOU interview by amy scribner
LESSONS OF LOVE FROM THE MOTHER WHO LEFT HER BEHIND
t the age of 84, Maya Angelou doesn’t have to write anymore. She has global fame as a poet, author and performer, as well as a professorship in American Studies at Wake Forest University. She has won three Grammys and a Presidential Medal of Arts, published two cookbooks, directed movies and appeared on “Sesame Street.” She wrote her latest memoir, Mom & Me & Mom, not because she has to, but because she feels an obligation to share what she knows. “Every adult owes to every young person the truth,” Angelou says in an interview with BookPage from her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “Not the facts—you can get the facts from various sources. The truth is how human beings feel—how a particular action makes a human being sad or happy—so that when young people encounter that particular feeling, they can say, oh, I know this feeling because someone else has been here before.” In straightforward style, Mom & Me & Mom dives deeply into Angelou’s complicated relationship with her mother, Vivian Baxter Johnson, who owned gambling businesses and boarding houses in California and Nome, Alaska. Anyone who has read Angelou’s previous memoirs, including the searing I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, knows that Angelou and her brother, Bailey, were sent as very young children to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas.
mom & Me & Mom
By Maya Angelou
Random House, $22, 224 pages ISBN 9781400066117, audio, eBook available
Those readers might also have been left with the impression that Vivian Baxter Johnson was not mother material. In her new book, Angelou paints a more complete picture of the woman she called “Lady,” fleshing out in her wholly singular voice the story of what happened when their grandmother decided in the early 1940s that it was time they rejoined their mother in California. The move was mainly for her 14-year-old brother’s sake. It was, Angelou wrote, “a dangerous age for a black boy in the segregated South.” They traveled by train to San Francisco, settling in with Lady and her husband, “a wondrous, very pleasantlooking man” named Clidell Maya Angelou with her mother, Vivian Baxter Johnson, whom she called simply “Lady.” Jackson. Angelou was a gangly teenager, six feet tall with a deep voice, and at first her 4 a.m. shift, and drove behind “I’ve always loved him but I was she felt ill at ease around her pretty, the streetcar until daylight, a pistol never in love with him. When he was petite mother, who favored “red lips on the car seat next to her. 8 or 9, I told him there was a place and high heels.” When Angelou became pregnant inside him which had to remain Over time, their relationship while still in high school, she was inviolate. No mother, no father, no warmed, and despite her illicit terrified to tell her mother. But Lady boyfriend, no girlfriend could go business interests and occasional was accepting of her daughter’s there. It was the place he would go arrests, Lady had strong opinions pregnancy, telling her, “We—you when he met his maker.” about maintaining the family’s repu- and I—and this family are going to Angelou longed to do more than tation. “You will learn that we do have a wonderful baby. That’s all work as a fry cook and a clerk in a not lie, and we do not cheat, and we there is to that.” record shop—just as her mother do laugh a lot,” she tells Maya and Angelou gave birth right after knew she would, long before AnBailey shortly after their arrival. graduating and worked two jobs to gelou knew it herself. In the book, While still in high school, Angesupport herself and her young son, Angelou recalls the time her mother lou decided she wanted a job as a Guy. Trying hard to forge her own stopped her while they walked conductorette on a San Francisco path, she moved into a boarding toward the streetcar. “Baby,” her streetcar. With headstrong determihouse, and would not accept money mother told her, “I’ve been thinknation, she planted herself in the or even a ride from her mother, but ing and now I am sure. You are the company office for two weeks until did let Lady take Guy twice a week. greatest woman I’ve ever met.” a supervisor finally accepted her Angelou raised him with humor and “I got onto the streetcar,” Angeapplication. When she was hired, a firm desire that he be a strong, lou says. “I can even remember the the newspapers hailed her as “the self-reliant man who was always time of day—the sun shone onto the first American Negro to work on the true to himself. seats. I thought, suppose she’s right. railway.” Her mother drove her to “We got on so wonderfully well. Because she was very intelligent and the streetcar barn each day to start I’m grateful for that,” Angelou says. always said she was too mean to lie.”
Angelou began dancing and singing, eventually traveling to Europe as part of an African-American production of Porgy and Bess. Guiltridden at leaving Guy behind for several months, Angelou suffered a breakdown and sought the advice of her vocal coach, who sat her down with a pad of paper and a pencil, and told her to write her blessings. It was in that moment that she found her written voice. At 84, Angelou shows few signs of slowing down, although her famously powerful voice trembles a bit. She keeps up with pop Angelou was culture. “I did watch the a gangly Grammys,” she teenager says. “I liked it when she all. I must admit I fell asleep.” was sent to She cooks. California to “Whatever I live with her cook is the best pretty, petite I know how to cook,” she says. mother. “I’m not a chef but I’m a very serious cook. I respect the ingredients and I respect the people who eat them. My mother used to say a cook’s greatest tools are hands and nose and ears.” She still hosts an annual Black History Month radio show aired around the nation. This year, she featured interviews with Kofi Annan, Oprah Winfrey and Alicia Keys, among others. “There are so many reasons young black men in particular—and young black women—don’t value themselves. One of the reasons is they don’t know enough about who they are and whose they are,” she says. “I try to pack the hour [of radio] I have. This year I’m using more contemporary people. I want to continue to talk about the achievements, wherever they came from.” And she’s a loving grandmother. She speaks proudly of her grandson’s recent graduation from George Washington University with a master’s degree in international finance, and her desire to “be to my grandson what my grandmother was to me. And I am! He thinks I’m the bee’s knees.” As for what her own mother—her biggest champion—would think of Mom & Me & Mom, Angelou is certain. “I think she’d love it,” she says. “It tells some of her truth. She deserved to have a real fine daughter.”
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THERESE Anne FOWLER by cat acree
Giving ZELDA ‘a FAIR SHAKE’ in a FICTIONAL MEMOIR
opular understanding of Zelda Fitzgerald has her pegged as something between two of F. Scott’s notorious female characters: devastating Rosalind from This Side of Paradise and vacuous Gloria from The Beautiful and Damned. Add a dollop of insanity, and that’s our Zelda. But as Therese Anne Fowler reveals in her new novel, Z, that’s not the whole story. F. Scott’s legendary wife, as defined by media, literature and time, is less a real woman and more a mythical flapper creature. She is remembered as impulsive, usually drunk and eventually schizophrenic, and together she and Scott ruled the Jazz Age as American royalty. That’s the myth, and when Fowler first considered writing Z, it was all she knew. “All I thought I knew about her was that she was Scott’s crazy wife,” Fowler says from her home in Raleigh, North Carolina. “I just couldn’t imagine that writing about a crazy person would be very interesting except in a Mommie Dearest sort of way.”
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As it turns out, Zelda wasn’t crazy. She was probably misdiagnosed as schizophrenic and more likely suffered from bipolar disorder. Her wild behavior in New York has also been exaggerated over time (though she did jump from a table down a flight of stairs). “She’s made out to be this sort of diva,” says Fowler. “I have included some of those incidents, but I think they do not stand out quite as vividly because I’m offsetting them with day-to-day truths of her life, the struggle.” That’s the side of Zelda that has been forgotten by history, memorialized only in letters—her diaries cannot be found—and resurrected now in fiction: She was a mother and a wife, grappling with an identity separate from her marriage, split between the Southern sensibilities of her youth and the modern, feminist ideas she encountered in Paris. “Zelda is sort of hamstrung by being raised a traditional Southern girl, and then she lived in this world of rapid women’s rights developments and never seemed to be able to be one or the other of those women,” Fowler explains. “She would’ve been much happier if she’d identified one way or the other.” This humanized Zelda is markedly less glamorous and therefore less of what we might want her to be. But Fowler maintains that the inexperienced, lost Zelda depicted in Z is much closer to the truth. “I have not taken liberties with the story or characterization in any case, in any character throughout the book,” Fowler says. “[The story] that pop culture has shown [readers] previously is an over-hyped misrepresentation. Zelda will get the fair shake that she didn’t get in her own lifetime.” Zelda tells the story in her own words, in what could be called a “fictional memoir” that begins with a siren call: “Look closer and you’ll see something extraordinary, mystifying, something real and true. We have never been what we have seemed.” From there, Zelda takes readers to her childhood home in Alabama, where she first meets a
dashing young F. Scott, and then to New York City, where they decide to act like characters from his first novel to draw the public eye, thus beginning their scandalous reign over NYC. It is not until they move to Europe that the label of “wife” starts to conflict with Zelda’s own aspirations, but when she seeks careers in dance, art and writing, Scott’s jealousy creeps in. Throughout her life, Zelda’s identity is inextricably aligned with Scott’s career—Scott defined the Jazz Age as a whole, and Zelda’s identity in particular, and she could never disconnect from that. This is her great tragedy. Juicy scenes, such as boozy stunts and rumors of an affair between Scott and Hemingway, add spice to a relatively simple story of a disintegrating marriage. Perhaps the only scene in which Fowler takes fiction’s liberties is when Hemingway propositions Zelda. “[That scene is] deductive based on everything that I could find about their relationship,” says Fowler, who could find no historic evidence as to why Zelda and Hemingway never got along. “I wasn’t ramping it up, so to speak, for the purpose of story. I thought, ‘This is just something this guy does.’ ” Z introduces an arguably more flattering Zelda, but Scott loses his golden-boy veneer (as Hemingway does in Paula McLain’s novel, The Paris Wife). At his worst, he is an obtuse bully and an insecure fool. “We have these preconceived ideas of him partially based on anecdotal stuff . . . and also [from] reading his work,” explains Fowler, who filtered Scott’s worst out of the book. “We see this thoughtful, compassionate, tender person behind the story. Nobody who writes the kinds of things he wrote could be otherwise, but the truth of it is, he was a man of the times and he did have some struggles.” While Fowler blames neither Scott nor Zelda for the ruin of their
marriage, she has found that readers often take sides, and she expects criticism from “Team Scott.” “For me to tell this story and to give it the verisimilitude that it deserved, if I wanted to stand up against the critical eye that’s going to be brought to it, I couldn’t make it a polemic in the way biographers seem to get away with,” Fowler says. “I didn’t think that would be fair to either of them.” No matter which side they’re on, readers will find Z to be an intimate look at the collapse of a fascinating celebrity marriage through the eyes of a woman who defies expectations. “Her voice, her letters, her essays and her short fiction were all so clear and accessible and humorous and wry,” Fowler says. “She wasn’t out there trying to be anyone’s hero except maybe her own, and not doing such a great job at that, either. I think she fought the good fight in the end. I think that’s one of the reasons I admire her.”
By Therese Anne Fowler
St. Martin’s, $25.99, 384 pages ISBN 9781250028655, audio, eBook available
A mother’s love. A wife’s obsession. The invisible fractures that can shatter a family….
B A R B A R A TAY L O R S I S S E L
EVIDENCE OF LIFE “A chilling mystery with a haunting resolution you won’t see coming.” —Sophie Littlefield, acclaimed author of Garden of Stones
On sale now. 17
features All Points Press 978-0-9850827-0-3 | $22.99
Aphorisms from A to Z Jay Friedenberg This is a comprehensive and qualitative source of sayings, consisting of over 2,000 different aphorisms on more than 600 topics. The book is intended to inspire and serve as a practical guide to living a better life. Golden Palace Publishing 978-0-9851472-2-8 | $19.99
Jade Beach Vol II: Mystic Adventures in Big Sur J.W. Winslow Volume 2 of the Mystic Adventures in Big Sur series finds Dyanna Falconer in a scorching love story and twists of fate against the fabulous coast of California. She faces the force of nature in a brutal catastrophe that defies the imagination, but she is the ultimate green woman. Fresh Art 978-0-9882546-0-2 | $25.95
Cat Veronica Bains Alicia’s life seems under control. One day a stranger tries to kill her, and she cannot fathom why. As the killer leaves behind a trail of murdered victims and a list of names, Alicia must dig into her past to find a connection. Moonleaf Publishing 978-1-937700-08-9 | $14.99
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e S S ay b y m e g W o l i t z e r
TiME CHanGEs EvEryTHinG
© NINA SUBIN
Matt Monroe and The Secret Society Edward Torba Matt Monroe finds a set of mysterious wooden tablets and an onyx ring. He and his older brother, along with five friends, find themselves transported to the world of Paragon, where they face numerous obstacles.
bEHinD THE booK
’ve always been preoccupied by what happens to people over time. I’ve spent more hours than I should studying the online adult faces of some of the kids I grew up with, looking for something that would explain how we become the people we become.
And many years ago, when I discovered Michael Apted’s “Up” series of documentaries, which traces the lives of a diverse group of ordinary British citizens, starting in 1964 when they were 7 years old, and then filming them every seven years, I was mesmerized. The films captured innocence, loss of innocence, beauty, loss of beauty, disappointments and surprising pleasures, and the roughness and occaI wanted to sional wisdom keep moving involved in the involuntary through business of getJules’ life, ting older. Taken circling back together, the whole enterto that ﬁrst, prise reminded me of what a essential novel can do, summer. or at least can sometimes try to do. One’s own preoccupation is an invitation to a novelist to take a closer look at the thing being obsessed over, because very likely it belongs in that novelist’s next book. The Interestings is that book for me. It doesn’t follow its characters every seven years, but it does track them through life from age 15 through their early 50s, providing snapshots from different eras, bounding ahead and backward in big leaps from the 1970s, ’80s, ’90s and into the present day. I wanted to write a book about what happens to early talent over time, and also what happens to friendships over time. The common factor here is time. But how do you write about that elusive, elastic thing? When you’re a kid, summers seem so long and lazy, and life feels endless. Then, much later, when you have kids yourself, older parents tell you, “Enjoy it; it all goes by so fast.” But none of it really makes sense. I decided to try and put time to the novel test, or put a novel to the time test. I knew that I would deliberately allow myself much more
time-fluidity in this book than in my previous novels. I started with my central character, Jules Jacobson, a quirky, awkward, not yet stellar girl, off at a summer camp for the performing arts when she’s 15 years old. Had this been a certain kind of novel, it might’ve ended at the close of that eventful summer, during which she meets a boy who becomes her “soulmate”; and though he is in love with her and she with him, she’s not attracted to him, and so she makes a decision that leaves both of them unhappy. Also during that summer, Jules becomes best friends with a beautiful, charismatic girl who is beloved by all boys everywhere, and for whom life seems to hold so many possibilities. If the novel had presented an expanded version of that summer, and ended at the close of August, it might’ve been described on the jacket as “a portrait of adolescence,” and I suppose it might’ve been satisfying in its own right. One of my favorite novels ever, The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers, takes place during a few days of summer in adolescence, when a girl named Frankie Addams, who feels she doesn’t fit in anywhere, tries to determine her place in the world. The novel is gorgeous and powerful and perfect. It didn’t need to go anywhere else. But my novel did. I knew I wanted to keep moving through Jules’ life, circling back to that first, essential summer and following her and her friends as they change and in some ways don’t change; as they are very much themselves, but in a continually aging form. Also, along the way, there are marriages, and children are born, and people die. In chapter one Jules is 15; in chapter three she’s middle-aged. And then time loops backward and she’s a teenager again, visiting her summer friends in New York City; and then she’s a recent college graduate living in a cheap apartment in Greenwich Vil-
lage, which is a fact that itself says a great deal about the passage of time: cheap apartments in the Village? Where? When? How? As in the “Up” films, I wanted to show how people become who they are eventually, and how the seeds of the finalized self, or maybe the whole of it, can sometimes be seen from the start. I sometimes feel shocked that I’m no longer 15, and that my son is graduating from college, and that some of my friends from an important, early time in my life are now dead. I don’t know that I’ll ever understand any of it. But I’m glad to have found a way to write about it. Long Island resident Meg Wolitzer is the author of several smart, critically acclaimed novels. In The interestings, she follows characters who meet as teens at summer camp over the course of four decades, exploring the ways that time does—and doesn’t—change who we are.
by Meg Wolitzer
Riverhead, $27.95, 480 pages ISBN 9781594488399, audio, eBook available
POETRY month by julie hale
eye-opening, VISIONARY VERSES
oetry has a capacity that other literary forms lack—the lightning-quick ability to provide a sense of connection on an intimate scale. These new collections will open your eyes to the ways a skilled poet can conjure fresh meaning from our familiar language.
meet JANE GOODALL
the title of your Q: What’s new book?
would you describe the book Q: How in one sentence?
Poet at play Named England’s poet laureate in 2009, Carol Ann Duffy writes linguistically extravagant poems that mix an appealing sense of play with a disciplined awareness of form. In her new collection, The Bees (Faber & Faber, $23, 96 pages, ISBN 9780865478855), she examines nature and history, relationships and politics through the lens of her visionary sensibility, deftly capturing the abundance of everyday experience. The pieces in this accessible collection celebrate the poet’s transformative urge—the practice of remaking in words whatever meets the eye, a theme Duffy mines in “Poetry”: “I couldn’t see woods/ for the names of trees—sycamore,/ yew, birch, beech.” Elsewhere, elm trees are “green rhymes” and birds “verbs.” In “Invisible Ink,” Duffy turns the urge on the air itself, presenting it as a “fluent, glittery stream”—a communal medium we all inscribe with a “vast same poem.” Duffy is a calculating and precise poet, a genius when it comes to line design. Positioned to produce the maximum amount of sound, words rub elbows in her work, and the results are often lavish, like these verses from “Virgil’s Bees”: “each bee’s body/at its brilliant flower, lover-stunned,/strumming on fragrance, smitten.” For Duffy, poetry’s purpose is to “pursue the human.” As The Bees proves, the chase can produce glorious associations.
navigating the past Complex and symphonic, with sections and movements that unfold slowly and inform each other, the poems in Rick Hilles’ lovely second collection, A Map of the Lost World (University of Pittsburgh, $15.95, 96 pages, ISBN 9780822961826), examine the nature of memory and the trials of coming to grips with the past. Many of the poems are narrative-based—story-like, plotted and
Q: W hat fascinates you most about the “Green Kingdom”? wonderfully compelling. In “The Red Scarf & the Black Briefcase,” Hilles takes on the daring persona of real-life French Resistance activist Lisa Fittko, who reflects on her experiences during World War II: “Red, the color of my hat but also the way my walking/with it through the raging Brownshirts still causes/them to part around me like the Red Sea.” Throughout the collection, the past invades the present—often quite literally, as in “Nights & Days of 2007: Autumn.” Written during a stay in the apartment of the late poet James Merrill, the piece chronicles the author’s attempt to contact a dead college buddy via Ouija board, a device “whose ghost-galleon absinthe-glow rides the dark.” Whether sifting through his own memories or channeling the voices of the past, Hilles composes poems that, ultimately, honor history and the personal stories that lie behind it.
BEST OF THE BEST Think of it as American poetry’s hot 100: Spanning a quarter of a century, The Best of the Best American Poetry: 25th Anniversary Edition (Scribner, $18, 352 pages, ISBN 9781451658880) collects 100 classic pieces from the yearly anthology The Best American Poetry. This indispensable volume, with its rich mix of voices, forms and techniques, serves as a melting pot of contemporary American verse. Curated by former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, this diverse anthology is filled with some of literature’s most respected names, including Adrienne Rich, James Merrill and Jane Kenyon, as well as newer writers like Kevin Young and Meghan O’Rourke.
for humans to connect and identify with animals. Q: IWhy t’s easy should we care about plants?
Q: What is the greatest threat to the world of plants?
Q: W hat do you hope readers will gain from reading Seeds of Hope?
Q: W hat are you most grateful for?
SEEDS OF HOPE The author of more than 20 books for adults and children, Jane Goodall is an anthropologist and primatologist best known for her study of chimpanzees in Tanzania. In her latest book, SEEDS OF HOPE: WISDOM AND WONDER FROM THE WORLD OF PLANTS (Grand Central, $26.99, 384 pages, ISBN 9781455513222), she shares her love of the botanical world. Goodall lives in Bournemouth, England, but travels widely in her roles as a conservationist and U.N. Messenger of Peace.
reviews LIFE AFTER LIFE
Multiplying life’s twists and turns Review by Maude McDaniel
Kate Atkinson’s remarkable, and vastly enjoyable, new novel requires a reader on ball bearings—someone capable of turning with every plot variation and yet able to stay balanced through the incredible twists that must occur when a fictional character takes a dozen or so chances to get life right. We have all read books about going back in time, but in Life After Life, time finally catches up with Ursula, the English schoolgirl who relives her life over and over, both in England and in Nazi Germany, mostly during the Second World War. Each variation may constitute her best shot yet (or not), no matter how many times she has to repeat it. And every time you think, by golly, she’s got it—the author knows better. Plot summation here is difficult, because it changes at the drop of a bomb. (And incidentally, the descriptions of the London Blitz are the best—the most realistic—that this reader has ever read, bringing home By Kate Atkinson the horrifying details of death out of the sky as nothing else in fiction has Reagan Arthur, $27.99, 544 pages before.) One might think that Atkinson’s technique of ending Ursula’s ISBN 9780316176484, audio, eBook available story and then starting it over would be too confusing or tedious to stay with very long, but no such thing happens. The cast of characters varies slightly from existence to existence, and the alternate histories with a multitude of endings cast their own spell. Still, it helps that most characters stay dependably the same; there are slight variations in individual personalities, but the main individuals stay fairly faithful to their past and future personas. It’s the events that vary. Edinburgh author Atkinson has won Britain’s Whitbread Book of the Year Award, and has published a collection of short stories and seven previous novels, four of them starring Jackson Brodie, a former police inspector turned private investigator. She deals with harder questions here (“what if there was no demonstrable reality?”) and arrives at few general answers—but the process and the plotline are gripping. You might think that humor wouldn’t fit in such a scenario, but Atkinson’s very dry, very British wit adds to the story without interfering with its serious trajectory. Darkness so often descends—but life goes on. Which may or may not be comforting, but surely forms the premise of an absorbing novel you will want to finish before the next darkness descends.
The Edge of the Earth By Christina Schwarz
Atria $25, 288 pages ISBN 9781451683677 eBook available
Be careful what you wish for—this adage rings true for The Edge of the Earth protagonist Trudy, a young, educated girl living in Wisconsin in the late 1800s. Her upbringing is sheltered and traditional: After college, she is expected to marry her childhood friend, Ernst, and enter into a life of security and domesticity. Feeling overwhelmed by these preordained arrangements, Trudy is caught off guard when Ernst’s cousin, Oskar, returns to town. Naïve and vulnerable, she quickly falls
for the intelligent and adventurous Oskar, abandoning the safe path that lies before her, and the two marry. When Oskar takes a job as a lighthouse keeper, the couple moves across the country to Point Lucia, California. Their new home is surrounded by choppy waters, rugged mountains and impenetrable fog. Isolated from all but the other lighthouse keeper and his family, Trudy finds her world quickly changed. Burdened by work, Oskar grows distant and cold, and Trudy relies on letters from her parents and her childhood friend, Lucy, to keep her afloat. She becomes fascinated by the sea and its inhabitants, embarking on a scientific quest that uncovers some of the island’s secrets and alters each character’s fate. Author of the 2000 bestseller Drowning Ruth, Christina Schwarz has created a haunting story. While many surprises are revealed within the final chapters, Schwarz slowly and beautifully describes the depths
of each character throughout the novel. Set in a murky, isolated portion of the Pacific coastline, The Edge of the Earth paints a rich picture of mountainous landscapes and the aquatic life that Trudy comes to know so well. Told in brilliant detail, this is a memorable tale of an uncommon woman who embarks on the road less traveled. —Meg Bowden
Amity & Sorrow By Peggy Riley
Little, Brown $25.99, 320 pages ISBN 9780316220880 eBook available
These days, polygamous sects are dominating the news and enter-
tainment headlines. Playwright Peggy Riley feeds that fascination with her debut novel, Amity & Sorrow, the suspenseful story of a mother and her two daughters after their escape from a polygamous, fundamentalist cult. Amity & Sorrow hooks readers from its riveting opening: Amaranth has just escaped the cult with Sorrow and Amity, fleeing across the country by car. Hysterical and sleep deprived, Amaranth totals the car when they reach rural Oklahoma, leading her older daughter Sorrow to flee from the wreckage. When Amaranth, Amity and a widowed farmer named Bradley discover Sorrow locked in Bradley’s gas station bathroom, she is miscarrying. Who could have gotten Sorrow pregnant? Without a car or provisions, where will Amaranth and her daughters go? And what exactly are they running from? Told from the viewpoints of all three women, the novel gradually reveals a troubling history of abuse. Amaranth is terrified that her husband will hunt them down. Sorrow—the most religious of the three and a zealous pyromaniac— not only demands to return to the compound, but also is convinced that she is an oracle, set forth on earth to deliver God’s message. Amity is merely attempting to join the real world by learning how to read, with Bradley’s aging father acting as her teacher. And then there is Bradley, who must ultimately decide what to do with these women who refuse to leave his front porch. However, Sorrow will stop at nothing to return to what she sees as her rightful place by her father’s side. But the reasoning behind her desire to go back is more complicated than it appears. What makes Amity & Sorrow so fascinating is Riley’s compassionate portrayal of these women. Whether she’s explaining the pull that drew Amaranth to her husband in the first place, the power he holds over his many wives or the shock that both daughters face when dealing with the outside world, each emotion is captured exquisitely. This novel is not sensationalist, but rather realistic and frightening as it captures the horrors of real-life cults. —Megan Fishmann
FICTION The Burgess Boys By Elizabeth Strout Random House $26, 336 pages ISBN 9781400067688 Audio, eBook available
Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Elizabeth Strout is known for the remarkable empathy she shows her characters and for her tough yet truthful depiction of intimate relationships. Her moving new novel, The Burgess Boys, examines how patterns established in childhood can impact the choices we make as adults. When the three Burgesses, who lost their father in a freak accident, are called together over a crisis decades later, they are forced to forge a new set of family dynamics. Jim and Bob, the Burgess brothers, may have only moved from Maine to New York, but emotionally, they are far away from the little town of Shirley Falls where they grew up. Jim is a highly visible corporate lawyer, whose cases have brought him fame and some notoriety. His life with his wife Helen in a Park Slope brownstone seems just about perfect, even as they adjust to an empty nest. Younger brother Bob prefers a quieter life as a Legal Aid attorney and idolizes Jim, though he finds some of his career choices distasteful. Neither man maintains anything but the most casual connection with their hometown, and when Bob’s resentful twin, Susan, calls from Maine after her son Zach is charged with a hate crime, their lives are turned upside down. Zach, an isolated and lonely teenager, was caught throwing a pig’s head into the local mosque, and the brothers arrive back in Shirley Falls to handle his case. When the siblings are together once again, long-buried secrets about their father’s accidental death are uncovered and family loyalties and ties are tested. This is familiar territory for Strout, whose previous books (Amy and Isabelle, Olive Kitteridge) were also set in Maine and featured families strained to their breaking point. Strout casts a wider net in The Burgess Boys, examining how the recent influx of Somalis to Shirley Falls has changed the fabric of the
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New England town. Her characters navigate the rich urban landscapes of Manhattan and gentrified Park Slope, which stand in stark contrast to the insularity of Shirley Falls. Strout based part of the story on an actual case, and her expertise as a lawyer offers much fruitful detail on the building of a legal case against Zach. The Burgess Boys is an ambitious novel that weaves an intricate family drama shot through with the threads of race and class, though it occasionally suffers from a lack of focus—Zach’s story is sometimes overshadowed by the squabbling between the siblings and their spouses as they scramble to uncover the unsolvable mystery of their childhood. Nevertheless, Strout excels in constructing an intricate but believable web of family drama, and her ear for how siblings, husbands and wives really communicate makes for a deeply powerful story. — L a u r e n B u ff e r d
Love Water Memory By Jennie Shortridge
Gallery $24.99, 336 pages ISBN 9781451684834 Audio, eBook available
A woman awakes knee-deep in the frigid San Francisco Bay, clueless as to how she got there—and who she is. So begins Lucie Walker’s second life in Jennie Shortridge’s heartfelt fifth novel, Love Water Memory, an appealing examination of the puzzle of identity and the enduring power of love. A handsome, loving fiancé comes to claim Lucie, and, nervous but willing, she returns to the Seattle home she doesn’t remember. Suffering from dissociative fugue, a rare amnesia sparked by trauma, Lucie investigates her former self and finds she doesn’t like it very much: She was controlling, insecure and obsessed with appearances. The new Lucie, ironically, is more at ease in her own skin—strange and alien as it is—than ever before, and she wonders how the unpretentious, sensitive Grady ever loved that woman. Yet he is unnerved by this relaxed new Lucie. It’s too bad, be-
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reviews cause she’s falling in love with him. What follows is a series of missed cues as the pair, unsure of each other, stumble toward re-courtship, even as Lucie struggles to jar real memories of her past. But she turns up more than she bargained for, not only about the day she left, but also about her troubled childhood. It may prove more than her already shaky psyche can bear. Shortridge’s love story is cozy and Lucie’s quest for truth keeps the pages turning, but what may be most compelling about this fast read is Lucie’s psychological rebirth. A clean slate personified, she gets the chance to see her faults, errors and shortcomings with neutral eyes, and then, free of the baggage that formed them, she acts to change them. Readers will wonder if they can do the same in their own lives. An engaging journey, Shortridge’s latest should please her fans and earn her new ones. —Sheri bodoh
THE flaMETHroWErs by rachel Kushner Scribner $26.99, 400 pages ISBN 9781439142004 Audio, eBook available
When Rachel Kushner sat down to write her second novel, she had three images taped to the wall above her desk: A pretty young blonde woman, face painted for war, with an X of tape across her lips, which eventually became the cover image;
Blues By the Numbers…And Other Numbers by Paul Hastings Wilson Blue Atlas Press • $17.95 ISBN 9781456469498
Remarkable collection: stories ranging from revolution in North Africa to the New Orleans jazz scene.
fiCTion a well-heeled engineer standing with his creation, a 1971 Ducati motorcycle; and two men racing by in a primitive cycle and sidecar, circa World War I. The Flamethrowers, then, is a sort of weaving together of these disparate lives. Set partly in prewar Italy at the dawn of the Futurist movement, partly in the art world of New York in the 1970s, and converging briefly in the riots of the Autonomist movement in 1970s Rome, this is ultimately the story of a young woman called Reno who is reborn again and again through her acts of defiant grace. In this story, art is not just an imitation of life but also life itself. Acts of life begin and end as performance, within the inescapable prison of self-consciousness. But this isn’t boilerplate postmodernism either; it’s a complex tale of youth and the need to escape oneself and one’s past, a story about time and speed and violence, about the roles we play, willingly and unwillingly, in the vast, closed system of the human stage. And it’s about a young woman, confused and yet self-possessed, remarkable in her search for meaning. When Reno meets Sandro Valera, famed sculptor and prodigal heir to Italy’s greatest moto-empire, she has just moved to New York to live as an artist. He takes her in, and through him she meets the art-world elite. Her own work is still nebulous, unformed but for a notion of line and a love of movement. Chance intervenes—or as one of the characters has it, Reno “put herself in the way of life”—and her first serious project begins to take shape. But in The Flamethrowers, momentum has a way of swerving into the ditch. In Italy, on her way to make a film with the Valera race team, events bring Reno crashing down hard. Battered and bruised, she finds herself in a world of violence and anarchism, a brief encounter that is ultimately more positive and humane than the high-flying world she fled. Because life is not simple, nothing meaningful can be easy. And so away we go, this novel seems to say, racing off-road into the future. — W . S . ly o n
Visit BookPage.com to read an interview with Rachel Kushner.
THE sTuD booK by Monica Drake
Hogarth $25, 336 pages ISBN 9780307955524 eBook available
In Monica Drake’s unconventional, satirical second novel, The Stud Book, four longtime female friends grapple with the meaning of motherhood, relationships and their lives. Sarah studies animal behavior at the Oregon Zoo, fascinated by how and why animals mate and reproduce. She longs to have a baby of her own, but after three miscarriages, she’s not sure her dream will ever come true. She is (not so) quietly envious of her friends Georgie, who just had her first baby, and Nyla, who already has two children. Rounding out the group is Dulcet, a free spirit more interested in teaching high school students how not to get pregnant with a radical sex-ed presentation than in planning for a family. While these women are in their late 30s and early 40s, none of them have life quite figured out. Drake probes the nuances of human relationships—mothers and children, husbands and wives, and circles of friends. Much is brewing just under the surface. Sarah will do almost anything to have a baby. Georgie loves her newborn daughter, but her husband is a drunk. Nyla thinks she is managing quite well as a single mother, but her teenage daughter is hiding some dangerous secrets. And while she’s satisfied in her work, Dulcet only seems to find true relief in prescription pills. Set in progressive Portland, Oregon, The Stud Book is a study in happiness (or the lack thereof) and the perils of wanting what we don’t—and maybe can’t—have. One part comedy, two parts tragedy and three parts honest truth, The Stud Book is a wild ride full of dark humor—after all, Drake’s first novel, Clown Girl, had an introduction by Chuck Palahniuk. It’s a story of choices made and not made, human biology, and the bonds of family and friendship. Drake reminds us that we aren’t so different from our animal ancestors: Many of our desires are, and have always
been, primal. What we choose to do with those desires, well, that’s what makes us human. —abby pleSSer
a nEarly PErfECT CoPy by allison amend
Nan A. talese $25.95, 304 pages ISBN 9780385536691 eBook available
Elm Howells led a charmed life. As a member of the Tinsley family, she found use for her art history degree through employment at the family’s prestigious New York City auction house. She also found joy outside of work: Elm and her husband, Colin, were the parents of son Ronan and daughter Moira. But her life was forever changed during a 2004 vacation to Thailand, when Ronan was swept away by a tsunami. In the years since, his death has colored everything in Elm’s life, including the decisions she makes at work. Meanwhile, Spanish-born painter Gabriel Connois is trying to make a name for himself in Paris’ art scene. His adopted last name is already a success, thanks to his distant ancestor Marcel Connois. Gabriel has taken steps to prove his talent as well: He financed his Parisian art education by forging a Connois painting that belonged to his mother so he could replace it, and then sell the original. When an art dealer approaches Gabriel to paint a number of works “in the style of” famed artists, the money and the opportunity are too good to pass up. Elm is desperate to reduce the pain caused by her son’s death. Gabriel is determined to get his shot at artistic success, no matter the cost. In Allison Amend’s A Nearly Perfect Copy, the lives of these art connoisseurs run along parallel, and sometimes intersecting, paths as Elm and Gabriel go to extremes in their work and personal lives. Amend’s talent is on full display as these smart, complex narratives dance around each other, each capturing the reader’s imagination without ever detracting from the other story. Although she’s received critical acclaim for her work in a number of literary publications and
FICTION for her historical novel, Stations West, this finely rendered portrait of two lives should introduce Amend to a wider audience. —Carla Jean Whitley
Ordinary Grace By William Kent Krueger
Atria $24.99, 320 pages ISBN 9781451645828 eBook available
thing that is anything but ordinary. —Stephenie Harrison
“One of the South’s greatest writers; she is also one of America’s.” The Best-Selling Critically author of The CoveAcclaimed —ROn RASH,and Author Is Back With Her Best Yet
JILL JILLMcCORKLE McCORKLE
By Owen King
Scribner $26, 432 pages ISBN 9781451676891 eBook available
There comes a time in every life when childhood is placed firmly in the past and the future must be faced with the burgeoning wisdom of adulthood. But as Frank Drum learns in William Kent Krueger’s latest novel, Ordinary Grace, the price one often pays for this kind of wisdom is the loss of something infinitely more precious. For Frank and his brother Jake, sons of the local minister, the death of a schoolmate named Bobby during the early days of the summer of 1961 heralds the crashing end to their idyllic boyhood in small-town Minnesota. The loss of a child sets tongues wagging and imaginations racing, but no one realizes that the aftermath of this death is the calm before the storm. By the summer’s end, others will join Bobby’s ranks, leaving the survivors to attempt to make sense of all that has been taken from them. When the Drum family is thrust into the center of the drama, Frank and Jake struggle to understand life through the lens of death and wrestle with the wisdom they have been granted through the awful grace of God. Author of the successful Cork O’Connor detective series, Minnesota writer Krueger has no shortage of fans, but with Ordinary Grace he is poised to increase his following. Though this is a stand-alone novel, Krueger stays true to his roots, producing a thoughtful literary mystery that is wholly compelling and will appeal to fans of Dennis Lehane and Tom Franklin. Writing with aching clarity, Krueger deftly shows that even in life’s moments of unimaginable sadness there is beauty to be found. Don’t take the title too literally, for Krueger has produced some-
Coming-of-age stories about young men trying to find their purpose in life can make readers cringe before they’ve even read the first page—such stories are often assumed to be nothing more than solipsistic exercises in pretension with no real plot. But as Owen King’s powerfully insightful and often devastatingly funny debut novel proves, those assumptions are often very, very wrong. King’s hero is Sam Dolan, an aspiring filmmaker who must juggle a broken family, a collection of very odd friends and his own attempts at establishing a creative vision as he tries to find his place in the world as an artist, a lover and even a son. His father, Booth, is a B-movie actor whose views on cinema and life are vastly different from his son’s. His mother, Allie, is only a beautiful and bittersweet memory. Sam’s friends range from an ex who won’t stop texting him for phone sex to his unpredictable roommate to his godfather, a contractor whose ever-expanding mansion of a house stands in sharp contrast to Sam’s own fragmented, tenuous creative career. King follows Sam and the often bizarre cast that surrounds him through creative triumphs and blunders, sexual awkwardness and glimpses of real love, familial strife and fleeting moments of what could have been lasting happiness had things gone just a little differently. Double Feature constantly walks the line between tragedy and comedy, between love and loathing, between friendship and strained codependency, between art and what’s only posing as art. Stories that attempt such delicate thematic juggling can become mired in the muck of their own intellectual ambition. King overcomes this with witty and tightly paced prose, and
ill McCorkle’s first novel in seventeen years is a cause for celebration. A constantly surprising work that illuminates the possibility of second chances, hope, and rediscovering life right up to the very end, Life After Life conjures up an entire community that reminds us that grace and magic can— and do—appear when we least expect it.
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reviews the novel breezes by in spite of (and even because of) its depth. King first caught the attention of readers with his 2005 short story collection, We’re All in This Together. He is equally—perhaps even more— adept at long-form writing, and this novel heralds a new phase in an already promising literary career.
FICTION equilateral By Ken Kalfus
Bloomsbury $24, 224 pages ISBN 9781620400067 eBook available
the demands of commerce. There’s an equally impressive equilibrium between the undeniable daffiness of this imaginary project and the serious invitation to ponder a question that occurs to many of us when we gaze into the clear night sky: Is there anyone out there?
and how we think about death—for ourselves, as well as the ones we love. But her signature humor shines through, lightening the mood just when it’s most needed. This is a beautifully written, perceptive and poignant novel that will linger in readers’ minds for a long while.
life after life
where you can find me By Sheri Joseph
Thomas Dunne $24.99, 336 pages ISBN 9781250012852 eBook available
What is it like to be one of those families whose child is abducted? What is it like to be one of those families whose child is miraculously restored to them? The Vincents, in Atlanta author Sheri Joseph’s unsettling novel Where You Can Find Me, know the answer to both questions. When he was 11, their son Caleb was abducted, then found three years later. He and his family—mother Marlene, dad Jeff and precocious little sister Lark—struggle to pick up the pieces after he returns. But Caleb’s abduction and return only exacerbate what was already wrong with Marlene and Jeff’s marriage. Deeply flawed, neither Marlene nor Jeff can give their children what they need, at least not by themselves. Eventually, Marlene takes the kids from Georgia to her mother-in-law Hilda’s ramshackle hotel in the rainforest of Costa Rica, without Jeff. There, no one knows who Caleb is. There are no news vans on the street; no one points and stares. Hilda is distracted but loving, and her man-boy of a son Lowell becomes a buddy to Caleb and Lark. All seems to be well, but one mark of a good writer is the ability to hint at the disquiet beneath what looks like a calm surface. Like Hilda’s old hotel, part of it fallen into the valley and the rest teetering on the edge of a cliff, the reader is kept in a state of almost nail-biting uncertainty when it comes to this family’s recovery. In Where You Can Find Me, Joseph takes on a difficult subject and makes it work. —Arlene McKanic
The subject of Ken Kalfus’ startlingly original third novel—a bizarre 19th-century attempt to communicate with the planet Mars from the Egyptian desert—couldn’t be more remote from his first two, the death throes of Czarist Russia and the uneasy world of post-9/11 New York City. That he’s able to carry it off with such gusto is a tribute to both his versatility and the considerable breadth of his imagination. As the summer solstice approaches in 1895, fever-stricken British astronomer Professor Sanford Thayer desperately urges his chief engineer Wilson Ballard to galvanize a workforce of 900,000 sullen and occasionally mutinous Arab fellahin. Their task is to complete the excavation of a vast equilateral triangle, 306 miles and 1,663 feet on each side (precisely 1/73 of the Earth’s circumference at that latitude in the western Egyptian desert). At the moment Earth reaches its farthest point from the sun on June 17, Thayer’s plan is to ignite the oil-filled trench, hoping to send a signal to what he believes is the far more advanced Martian civilization and begin a dialogue between the two planets. For such a brief novel, Equilateral overflows with intrigue and action, featuring duplicitous despots and feckless politicians, bands of marauding desert warriors and a nearly wordless love story between the obsessed astronomer and the young Arab girl who attends to him in his desert outpost. Though Kalfus often paints in broad strokes, he succeeds in investing characters like Thayer and his devoted private secretary Adele Keaton, among others, with a depth that engages us fully in their bizarrely inspiring quest. Kalfus nicely balances a fastpaced plot with consideration of the big themes that lurk under the surface of the story: the notion of progress, the arrogance of empire, the audacity of science and the tension between pure research and
By Jill McCorkle
Algonquin $24.95, 352 pages ISBN 9781565122550 Audio, eBook available
Southern novelist Jill McCorkle’s latest character-driven and emotionally vivid novel is set—as is most of her previous work—in Fulton, North Carolina, a small town in which the reader quickly becomes immersed. Her story centers on the residents and staff of Pine Haven Retirement Center—their stories adroitly interwoven by McCorkle, layer by layer, as she gradually illuminates how their pasts intersected far before they came together in the present. Joanna is a hospice volunteer who keeps a notebook with an entry for each person she visits when they die—their favorite things, their memories, their last words. One of her first journal entries was about her own father’s death, including the fact that he never told her he loved her. Joanna’s somewhat mysterious past includes numerous marriages, somewhere between three and seven, depending on who’s doing the gossiping. Her best friend is C.J.—a tattooed and pierced single mom half Joanna’s age whose life so far has been one long struggle. She now helps groom the hair and nails of Pine Haven’s grateful residents. Sadie, 85 and wheelchair-bound, is a former third-grade teacher who sees an 8-year-old inside everyone she meets. Her best friend and loyal companion is Abby, the 13-year-old who lives next door and visits Pine Haven daily to escape her constantly bickering parents. McCorkle interweaves the stories of these unlikely friendships to offer penetrating insight into the different routes aging might lead us along,
The FEVER TREE By Jennifer McVeigh
Amy Einhorn $25.95, 432 pages ISBN 9780399158247 eBook available
The Fever Tree, Jennifer McVeigh’s riveting debut novel, follows a pampered British woman, Frances Irvine, who leaves her insular life and journeys to the Southern Cape of Africa during the 19th-century diamond rush. When Frances suddenly loses her father—and subsequently her station in life—she must choose whether to become a maid in her aunt’s home or travel to South Africa to marry a man she does not love, Dr. Edwin Matthews. Reluctantly engaged and en route to Africa, Frances falls for handsome diamond trader William Westbrooke, but soon learns he is a man of weak promises and loose morals. Disillusioned and heartbroken, Frances is forced to ﬁnish her journey to meet Dr. Matthews in the Karoo, a distant hinterland outside of Kimberley. Once there, she realizes her husband’s duty as a doctor has set him on a crusade to end the corruption inherent in the European colonial rule. Frances must make a brutal decision: Will she choose passion over morality, material wealth over integrity? McVeigh’s exhaustive research shines through the vivid recounting of the harsh lives of the settlers of South Africa. Drought, deplorable mistreatment of the native Africans, and abject living conditions are illustriously brought to life and, at times, difficult to digest. The Fever Tree is an engaging read; its capricious heroine grabs you from the start, urging you to ride out her journey before the morning alarm rings. —Elisabeth Atwood
An after-dinner adventure
Review by Becky Ohlsen
With the smallest shift in marketing, Mary Roach could singlehandedly triple the rate of pleasure reading among teenage boys. She writes about exactly the things that fascinate them: outer space, human bodies and especially all the weird, smelly, slimy, loud, hilarious byproducts of said bodies. In her latest, Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, Roach follows the process of digestion from beginning to inglorious end. Though her subject matter is the stuff of sixth-grade humor, her approach is (slightly) more serious, and substantially more journalistic. She begins on a dreamy note: “How lovely to picture one’s dinner making its way down a tranquil, winding waterway, digestion and excretion no more upsetting or off-putting than a cruise along the Rhine.” Alas, most of us don’t particularly like thinking about our food once we’ve eaten it. “The prevailing attitude,” she notes with regret, “is one of disgust.” By Mary Roach Roach wants us to get over it already. And she’s persuasive, thanks to her Norton, $26.95, 352 pages trademark blend of goofball humor and sincere devotion to her subject. ISBN 9780393081572, eBook available She wants to know what makes us tick, physically and philosophically. While talking spit with scientist Erika Silletti, Roach acknowledges, “I am honestly curious about saliva, but I am also curious about obsession and its role in scientific inquiry.” The woman clearly loves her job. She gets to interview people who spend their days classifying bad smells, testing dog food flavors, measuring the colons of eating-contest winners. She has a “favorite snake digestion expert.” It’s hard not to share her delight when she finds a rabbi to quote on the subject of whether human hair is kosher and it turns out his last name is “Blech.” Later, when she’s tracing the use of digestive enzymes (aka spit) in stain removal, she interviews “a chemist named Luis Spitz,” then “a detergent industry consultant named Keith Grime.” The giggling is almost audible through the page. Roach also writes excellent footnotes, draws vivid if unorthodox comparisons (she likens a colonoscope to a bartender’s soda gun) and asks all the questions you’re too self-conscious to Google, plus others that have never occurred to you (can farts cure cancer?). Along the way she sneaks in sly critiques of bureaucracy, bigotry, animal cruelty and other less-than-noble human behavior. You may be grossed out, but you’ll also be impressed.
The Book of My Lives By Aleksandar Hemon
FSG $25, 224 pages ISBN 9780374115739 eBook available
In March of 1992 Aleksandar Hemon came to Chicago on what was supposed to be a month-long cultural exchange. During that month his native Sarajevo came under siege, and the war that he and his city had been wishing away came thundering home. Hemon, then 27, decided not to return. He stayed in Chicago, worked odd jobs and began writing stories in English, a language of which he had only an imperfect grasp. Eight years later he published his first collection of short stories, and eight years after that
he published a novel, The Lazarus Project, that had the critics swooning and made him a finalist for the National Book Award. Along the way, Hemon published a number of autobiographical essays, many of them in The New Yorker, and it’s those pieces that are collected in The Book of My Lives. As with his fiction, the essays here—though originally written as freestanding pieces—work together as a set of interlocking stories. In his careful, occasionally idiosyncratic prose, Hemon works his familiar theme of displacement, as experienced by those whom the forces of history (or, in the tragic final story, of biology) have yanked out of their old lives. The stories are set mostly in Sarajevo and Chicago, and they focus mostly on individual components of his lives in one or both of those cities: rambling walks, soccer matches, chess games, pet dogs, borscht. They give a vivid sense both of the texture of the two cities and of the pain, and eventual joy, Hemon
felt in abandoning one for the other. By turns sardonic and forlorn, Hemon’s tales illustrate the absurdity of war (the story of a beloved professor who became a genocidal nationalist is especially chilling), the enigma of arrival and the tragedy of finding your most cherished plans crushed by an onslaught of inhuman forces. —Mark Doyle
The Sleepwalkers By Christopher Clark
Harper $29.99, 736 pages ISBN 9780061146657 eBook available
When Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir apparent to the AustroHungarian throne, and his wife,
Sophie, were assassinated on June 28, 1914, in Sarajevo, there was no outpouring of collective grief. The archduke was not charismatic, had few friends and was selected as heir only because the emperor’s son had committed suicide. How could his death have led to a war into which the major world powers—Germany, Russia, France, Austria-Hungary, Britain, Italy, plus the Ottoman Empire and the states of the Balkan peninsula—were soon drawn? How did a conflict that was first known as the Third Balkan War mutate into what we now call World War I, a war in which more than 15 million people were killed and empires were destroyed? Noted historian Christopher Clark is keenly aware of the difficulties in finding answers to these questions. As he writes in his painstakingly researched, masterfully written and wonderfully readable new book, The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914, “There is virtually no viewpoint on its origins that cannot be supported from a selection of the available sources.” In this ambitious and richly textured overview, Clark is more concerned with how the war came about than why. Rather than focus on large concepts, such as nationalism, imperialism or an arms race, he deals with how the key decisionmakers arrived at the choices they made when faced with the 37-day July Crisis that led to war. Clark goes back to the years before the war, in some cases many years before, to understand the alliances or treaties that bound certain states together. As he explains, “Alliances, like constitutions, are at best only an approximate guide to political realities.” Readers are introduced to a large and diverse cast of decision-makers, many of whom had known each other for years. Because of these longterm relationships, Clark writes, “Beneath the surface of many of the key transactions lurked personal antipathies and long-remembered injuries.” The best known of these were the three imperial cousins: Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany and King George V of England. As we see, though, the early 20th-century monarchs only had a relatively modest impact on actual policy decisions. Often it was ambassadors or military commanders who either developed policies or took policy-driving initiatives. Article 231 of the Versailles Peace
reviews Treaty stated that Germany and her allies were morally responsible for the outbreak of the war. But Clark argues that “the Germans were not the only imperialists and not the only ones to subscribe to paranoia. The crisis that brought war in 1914 was the fruit of a shared political culture.” He brings that culture vividly to life for readers. The Sleepwalkers is certainly one of the best books on World War I to be published in recent times. —roger biShop
My forEiGn CiTiEs by Elizabeth scarboro
Liveright $24.95, 304 pages ISBN 9780871403384 eBook available
As a teenager, Elizabeth Scarboro pictured herself as an international journalist, moving from one country to another, and from one boyfriend to the next. Then one summer she met Stephen, a friend of a friend who was older than his years, with a happy-go-lucky attitude toward life and living with cystic fibrosis, and her dreams vanished as she fell slowly, raggedly and wholeheartedly in love with him. From the beginning, Scarboro resisted her feelings for this man with a life expectancy of 30 years whose medical condition lurked always in the background. After high school, she set off for the University of Chicago, and he headed off in the
nonfiCTion opposite direction to Berkeley. As she writes, “We were supposed to be setting out. Whatever we did, we were not supposed to compromise for relationships. . . . I had ambitions and the urge to experience all kinds of freedom, and the last thing I wanted to be was a girl following some guy around.” In the end, however, Stephen’s illness called her bluff, and she realized that, compared to Stephen, “most things would be there [later]. If I wanted him, I had to hurry up.” In My Foreign Cities, Scarboro invites us to accompany her on every mile of her joyous, often terrifying, sad and exalted journey of love. A natural storyteller, she brings vividly to life her struggles both to protect Stephen, who has a “lightness about him,” and to keep him at her side as long as she can so that they can embrace life to its fullest. She leads us down the path where his medical condition consumes every waking minute of their lives—including a lung transplant, its results and Stephen’s eventual decline—and shares her agony, her joy, her anger and her indecision with us. In the end, Scarboro hardly feels sorry for herself or the young man who died too soon: “This was what we wanted, to live out being together for as long as we could. It’s hard to explain—the life was difficult but not lacking.” —henry l. carrigan jr.
THE sParK by Kristine barnett Random House $25, 272 pages ISBN 9780812993370 Audio, eBook available
Barnett that Jacob would never read. In fact, he’d be lucky to tie his shoes. Yet Barnett was not convinced by the experts. She paid attention to the way her son loved alphabet cards, to his interest in the sky, and wondered, why are we paying attention to what he can’t do rather than what he can do? And then she decided—against the advice of his educators and her husband—to prepare Jacob for mainstream kindergarten herself. The rest of Jacob’s story spills forth like a fairy tale: He stops many disruptive behaviors, embraces his giftedness, finds friends, responds to his parents and begins attending college at the tender age of 9. While his remarkable trajectory may be discouraging to families of severely autistic children who have not made the same strides, the real pleasure of The Spark does not lie in Jacob’s story alone but in his mother’s unwavering view that each child has tremendous promise, an innate spark, which can be ignited and nurtured by perceptive parents. Barnett’s devotion to her son will stir readers to take a closer look at their own children and loved ones, as will her singular focus on providing meaningful experiences for her boy. After a day of therapy, she packs up the then-silent Jacob, drives out to the countryside, turns on the radio and dances with him under the stars. The two share a popsicle while sitting on the hood of the car. She writes, “Indulging the senses isn’t a luxury, but a necessity. We have to walk barefoot in the grass. . . . We have to lie on our backs and feel the sun on our faces.” These experiences open us up to our very humanity. In this way, Barnett’s inspiring story is really relevant to all of us. — k e l ly b l e W e t t
Momma said, “Never Feel Sorry for a MAN” by Ramona Phillips AuthorHouse • $12.99 ISBN 9781468540680
For women who want healthy relationships and are trauma survivors who want emotional healing.
Jacob’s story may sound familiar. After a healthy babyhood, he began to change as his second birthday approached. His speech slowed and then stopped. He ignored his peers and parents. He developed unusual obsessive patterns, gazing at sunlight, waving his hands. He was eventually diagnosed, as you might have guessed, with autism. And so entered experts for speech development, motor skills, life skills. They announced to mother Kristine
by Dan fagin
Bantam $28, 560 pages ISBN 9780553806533 Audio, eBook available
Despite this book’s emotionally neutral title, Toms River is at bottom a horror story of unregulated
capitalism. A Ciba-owned chemical plant came to the coastal town of Toms River, New Jersey, in 1952 to make dyes through processes that used and discharged enormous quantities of water. This same company had been polluting the Ohio River in Cincinnati since the early 1920s, but its huge Toms River plant employed so many local people and contributed so many civic adornments to the community that it took years for the citizens to realize they had clasped a viper to their collective bosom. First, the plant polluted the adjacent Toms River and the aquifers that supplied the town with its drinking water. Then, when these convenient dumping grounds became overloaded, Ciba constructed a pipeline through the town that enabled it to pump millions of gallons of daily waste water directly into the Atlantic Ocean. Smoke from its operations, which the plant tried to conceal by emitting it at night, persisted in fouling the town’s air. So firm was Ciba’s economic grip on Toms River that local politicians—and even the city-owned water company—remained docile and compliant as the plant continued its environmental assaults. Whenever Ciba had the choice of either lessening its poisonous impact by installing expensive safety devices or ramping up its public relations pitches, it invariably chose the latter. To make matters worse, in 1971 Union Carbide began dumping barrels of toxic chemicals at a site near Toms River, further polluting the groundwater. The advent of the federal Environmental Protection Agency in 1970 made polluters like Ciba and Union Carbide somewhat more accountable for their actions. But it took a group of Toms River parents of children with cancer to ultimately exact a small measure of justice from their corporate assailants. Author Dan Fagin, a distinguished science reporter, provides meticulously detailed accounts of the rise of the offending chemical industries, the evolution of the science of epidemiology and the struggle of the fiercely devoted parents who hounded politicians and bureaucrats to do their jobs when their natural inclination was to do nothing. —edWard morriS
spotlight How To Create the Perfect Wife By Wendy Moore
Basic $27.99, 360 pages ISBN 9780465065745
not a love story but a cautionary tale about the limits of omnipotence. —Heather Seggel
The Little Way of Ruthie Leming By Rod Dreher
Grand Central $25.99, 288 pages ISBN 9781455521913 Audio, eBook available
On June 22, 1769, Thomas Day turned 21. Long-suffering in his quest to find a perfect woman, he now found himself a free man in possession of substantial income, and elected to find an unspoiled specimen and train her to his liking. Since Day’s habits included bathing in ice water, eschewing fashion and frippery and manifesting “virtue” through suffering, his struggles to find a mate the old-fashioned way are unsurprising. What does come as a shock is his decision to grease the palms in charge of a foundling hospital in order to abduct two orphans, whom he then trained in an unspoken competition to see which he would select for a bride. How to Create the Perfect Wife follows this quest, which is by turns comic and tragic. Day sought to follow the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, but his desires were all in conflict with one another: He wanted a woman who was strong and healthy, yet demure and virginal; one who was his intellectual equal, yet willing to live in seclusion with him and defer to his authority in all things. Even by the Enlightenment’s standards, his actions were wildly controversial, and of the two girls he trained, it’s clear that Lucretia, who lost a contest she didn’t know she was involved in, came out the winner overall. Author and historian Wendy Moore writes with a novelist’s flair and fluidity. She is tough but fair to Day; though his ideas about women were clearly dangerous, he was a fine writer, a loyal if blustery friend and an early supporter of the abolition of slavery. He did ultimately marry a woman to whom he appeared well-suited. Nevertheless, he and his foundlings never escaped being objects of “tea table tittle-tattle” for the remainder of their days, and the scandal was harmful to all concerned. Day’s story echoes the original Pygmalion myth, which was
By all appearances, Rod Dreher had a wonderful life. He had a successful career as a journalist; his writing appeared in The Dallas Morning News, The New York Post and The American Conservative; and he had published a book as well. But Dreher felt an emptiness in his life when his younger sister, Ruthie Leming, was diagnosed with terminal cancer at age 40. Suddenly, Dreher felt the tug of his hometown: St. Francisville, Louisiana, a small community whose residents were rallying around Ruthie in her time of need. So Dreher took his wife and three children and moved home to help care for his sister and reconnect with his roots. Ruthie Leming’s life may not have been as glamorous as her brother’s, but in many ways, Dreher finds it more meaningful. She was a popular schoolteacher, a loving mother of three and a devoted wife to her high school sweetheart. While her brother fled their town of 1,700 people, Ruthie stayed home. Her energy and enthusiasm touched people’s lives, and when she got sick, they responded with caring and love. “Ruthie transfigured this town in my eyes,” Dreher writes. “Her suffering and death made me see the good that I couldn’t see before. The same communal bonds that appeared to me as chains all those years ago had become my Louisiana family’s lifelines.” Yet coming home to the town—and the family—he left behind isn’t always easy; resentments linger, and some wounds heal more quickly than others. The Little Way of Ruthie Leming reminds us of the importance of love, faith and family. And while it deals in death, this book shows us that it is, indeed, a wonderful life. —J o h n T. S l a n i a
baseball By john c. williams
God, Money and Enos Slaughter
aseball is a game of threes—three strikes to an out, three outs to an inning, three times three innings to a game. Here we present three new books with very different takes on the national pastime.
THE SACRED Baseball as a Road to God (Gotham, $27.50, 256 pages, ISBN 9781592407545), by NYU president John Sexton, is one of the most unorthodox baseball books published in recent memory. Indeed, it may be better not to call this a “baseball book” at all, but rather a peculiar entry in the counterattack against the new atheists of the Richard Dawkins stripe, arguing that baseball is a medium by which we can experience a “shining through of the sacred.” In a facile way, the game’s forms resemble those of a religion— stadiums its temples, the Hall of Fame its pantheon of saints—and Sexton draws on these analogies. But he goes beyond them to provide a comprehensive example of how the spiritual can manifest itself in the real. Sexton fills in his argument with plenty of familiar baseball history, and the book is shot through with exultation of the game. Its worshipful rhetoric matches the loftiness of the project, one with which it is worth engaging.
THE PROFANE Leaving aside baseball’s sacred elements, Joe Peta’s Trading Bases: A Story About Wall Street, Gambling, and Baseball (Not Necessarily in That Order) (Dutton, $27.95, 368 pages, ISBN 9780525953647) represents the moneychangers in the temple. Profit is the name of the game here, and, untrue to its subtitle, the book takes as its subject Wall Street first, gambling a close second and baseball a distant third. The author, using his own experience as a stock trader, shares with readers—complete with clever pop culture references—a model by which to beat the Vegas odds
and make a healthy return over a season of wagering. Readers keen on statistical analysis of baseball should take an interest, but others may find the technical language not worth the price of admission. The real revelations here are about the way gambling and markets work, not baseball. Still, Peta appreciates the charms of the game, and the book contains several nice reminiscences that suggest he and Sexton would find common ground over a beer.
CARDINAL RULES With every April comes the return of baseball, and so too, it seems, comes a history of an individual season connecting the sport to the great issues of its era. This year the book is The Victory Season (Little, Brown, $27.99, 464 pages, ISBN 9780316205917), the year is 1946, and the milieu is the struggle of the U.S. to adjust to peacetime. Many players had fought in WWII, and Robert Weintraub brings new light to the world of baseball within the military. After the war, key figures of the 1946 season include Jackie Robinson, preparing to break the color line; Larry MacPhail, overseeing the crassification of the Yankees; and especially Enos Slaughter of the Cardinals, a team destined to meet the Red Sox in the World Series. Under the weight of these personalities, the broader social history falls mostly by the wayside—Robert Murphy’s early attempt to unionize the players, for example, is only glimpsed. The detail can be a bit overwhelming, but those interested in this era of baseball will find a rich accounting in Weintraub’s book.
Is Children’s Corner just for kids? Nope.
Parents, grandparents, teachers, librarians, and kids of all ages will love the recommended books in our free e-newsletter!
by alice cary
HavinG fun WiTH rHyTHM & rHyME
hese six sparkling poetry books speak to young readers of all ages, addressing a symphony of subjects with creativity, humor and style.
sTarTinG sMall In the introduction to Wee Rhymes: Baby’s First Poetry Book (Simon & Schuster, $19.99, 112 pages, ISBN 9781416948988), longtime collaborators Jane Yolen and artist Jane Dyer explain how vital poetry is: “Children who are given poetry early will have a fullness inside. Mother Goose rhymes, baby verse—that kind of singsong, singalong rhythm—is as important as a heartbeat.” In this charming collection, Yolen includes a few Mother Goose rhymes alongside her own poems for babies (such as “Five Little Fingers” and “Baby Snores”) and toddlers (“My Slide” and “Soap Dragons”). All are filled with warmth and sometimes a dose of well-placed humor, such as these lines from “Sitting in the Quiet Chair”: When you’re bad And make a riot You must go And be real quiet. Dyer’s pencil-and-watercolor illustrations are lovingly sweet and a perfect blend of classic nostalgia and modernism.
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Older children and even adults will be charmed by the short, thought-provoking poems in Pug: And Other Animal Poems (FSG, $16.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9780374350246). These short verses were crafted by the late poetic virtuoso Valerie Worth, whose talents are apparent in each selection. Take, for example, the last lines of “Fox”: Streaking the Dark like A fabulous Comet— Famous, but Seldom seen. Illustrator Steve Jenkins’ bold illustrations are a vibrant match for each poem, filled with color, texture and depth. Never cutesy, Jenkins creates animals whose fur can practically be touched, such as an opossum “Staring with serious/Eyes at nothing.” The eyes of Jenkins’ creatures will grab your attention, including those of a soulful pug, a fierce fish and a singing wood thrush.
Although no one has ever seen the imaginary critters in Stardines Swim High Across the Sky (Greenwillow, $17.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9780062014641), they are indeed intriguingly beautiful. This creative venture by the king of children’s poetry, Jack Prelutsky, and fine artist Carin Berger is presented as though it were a naturalist’s field guide. As the cover flap cheerfully explains: “While many creatures (two dozen species in all) were discovered and recorded and their precise qualities examined, we are presenting sixteen here for the first time and for the enjoyment and education of the general public.” Berger’s illustrations continue the ruse, consisting of dioramas, shadow boxes and a variety of other materials, giving this book unique visual appeal. “Chormorants,” for example, are birds who never stop doing chores, and you can easily guess the characteristics of “slobsters,” “jollyfish” and “sobcats.” Prelutsky brings humor and verbal acrobatics to his poems, as would be expected, while Berger has created perfect pairings of artistic wit and cleverness. Very much back on terra firma, Forest Has a Song (Clarion, $16.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9780618843497) is a lovely compendium of woods-related poems by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. A girl and her dog wander through the forest in a variety of seasons, inviting readers to share their discoveries. Poems such as “Bone Pile,” “Colorful Actor” (about a cardinal) and “First Flight” (chronicling an owl) nicely convey the discoveries that an observant hiker might make. Gentle watercolors by Robbin Gourley add just the right suggestion of realism, while bringing the poems together into a narrative whole.
for olDEr rEaDErs The zany poems found in If You Were a Chocolate Mustache (Wordsong, $18.95, 160 pages, ISBN 9781590789278) remind me of Prelutsky’s beloved antics. Instead, they are written by J. Patrick Lewis, the current children’s poet laureate. He is certainly deserving of the title,
judging from the smiles you’ll see if you put this volume into the hands of any elementary student. Fun is the operative word here, with plenty of poems, some very short, such as “Rules for Tightrope Walking Between Tall Buildings”: 1. Whatever you do, don’t laugh. 2. Avoid looking down at the traf— Matthew Cordell’s simple line drawings add plenty of whimsy—in this case showing a terrified tightrope walker making his way over honking traffic. There are riddle poems, too, to keep readers engaged, and slightly snarky humor throughout, such as the short and sweet “A Special Bond”: Each time a child folds her hands, She may be saying prayers for you, Or else she just misunderstands How to use the Elmer’s glue. Young readers will also relish the abundant humor in Tamera Will Wissinger’s Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse (HMH, $15.99, 128 pages, ISBN 9780547820118), also illustrated by Cordell. The poems here tell the story of a memorable summer day of lake fishing. Young Sam is excited to spend the day with his dad, and righteously dismayed when his younger sister decides to tag along. What’s worse, she quickly catches eight bluegills while Sam still has none. Happily, Sam soon lands a big one, and the trio ends up having an unforgettable day. Using varied poetic forms, Wissinger captures the fun and family dynamics of this fisherman’s tale.
MARY E. PEARSON More than just flesh and blood
survey of Mary E. Pearson’s seven novels to date reveals an interesting trend. Namely, all of her protagonists are the same age: 17.
“That’s true! You’re the only one who’s noticed that and asked about it,” Pearson says in a call from her home in Carlsbad, California. “I just like that age. . . . You’re as old as you can be as a teenager and not considered an adult.” Plus, she explains, “It might sound weird, but I feel like I had all of my adult sensibilities at 17, my world outlook. Hopefully I’ll always continue to change, and I have been changing, but I do feel like I was pretty much aware of the world then. I think the decisions we make at that age are adult decisions, and they last us a lifetime.” That’s certainly true of Locke Jenkins, the 17-year-old at the heart of Fox Forever, the third and final installment of Pearson’s Jenna Fox Chronicles. Readers first became aware of Locke in the first book, The Adoration of Jenna Fox, as one in a tightknit trio of teens: Jenna, Locke and Kara. In that first volume, Jenna told her story, an astonishing, often disturbing tale—one in which her friends seemingly disappeared under tragic circumstances. In book two, The Fox Inheritance, Locke recounted what had happened to him and Kara: Like Jenna, their minds were kept alive after a terrible car accident, their only physical form a couple of cubes sitting on a shelf. But unlike Jenna, who awoke after a year, Locke’s and Kara’s minds were kept in a ter-
By Mary E. Pearson
Holt, $17.99, 304 pages, ISBN 9780805094343 Audio, eBook available, ages 12 and up
rifying limbo for 260 years. As they travel to a reunion with Jenna, the two must face a new reality: They’re 17, but also 277—and while their existence arguably represents a triumph of science, it’s also illegal. Now, in Fox Forever, it’s time for Locke to strike out on his own. He wants to return to Boston, where he’s from, and search for any traces of his family. At Jenna’s urging, he’s adjusting to life as a young man who in many ways is the 17-year-old he appears to be, yet has endured things that have aged him well beyond most people. And most urgently, he needs to repay the help, or Favor, extended to him by an underground resistance group known as the Network . . . an endeavor that will be much more complicated than he anticipates. The near-future world Pearson has created is carefully constructed and vividly depicted, from the Network to the intricate transportation system to the memorable Bots, who are programmed to be loyal but dare to have their own dreams, too. Says Pearson, “I grew up watching ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Lost in Space,’ so the idea of something that is really like a robot but has much more humanity to it—this story gave me a chance to explore that. I’m always interested in exploring what makes us human, the differences between humans, is one person more human than another. . . .” She adds, “Another thing I liked exploring, probably more than anything, is our relationships and how they feed and nurture us. [For some of the characters], there’s probably not any actual genetic connection after so many generations, but now they still need somebody to feel connected to this world. . . . I have to say, I cried like a baby when [certain key characters] met. I like it when a scene makes me cry—this was one of those instances where I felt like I was outside of myself and really watching it happen.” Pearson also raises questions about science and technology, and whether the benefits of scientific advances outweigh the repercussions. It makes for a heady read, because it leads to larger questions about the
effects our choices can have—not just now, but also rippling ahead through time in ways we can’t even imagine. “I always love how science says one thing, and then a few years later, it’s ‘Maybe this is possible after all,’” Pearson says. “Science is kind of an art, too. There’s always something being discovered and unfolding, and that’s what makes it exciting.” Pearson also enjoys writing about the near-ish future— just a few hundred years ahead—because some of the things she describes aren’t really that unlikely. “I did a lot of research, like with the colonization of Mars. Scientists are predicting it, and we’re already landing things on Mars, so it’s not so far-fetched that we’ll have people out there by then,” she says. But just in case, she’s glad that the futuristic setting means “No one can ever tell me if I was right or wrong!” Clearly, her enthusiasm for scientific inquiry has struck a chord, to judge by all the letters she receives from science teachers. “A lot of them are using the Fox series as the literature in their science classrooms, which I think is pretty cool,” she says. “I do love exploring gray areas. The books don’t give answers, I hope, they just raise questions, and I think that’s why they’re using them.” Pearson is certain, though, that regardless of technology or time period, “there are some things that never change, the things that truly matter.” That notion is physically embodied by the locations Pearson chose for Fox Forever, which begins in California and moves to Boston, where Locke returns for the bulk of the book’s goings-on involving the Network, numerous Bots, political intrigue and new friends and enemies. “It’s a fun thing in a futuristic book to have that old history. In The Adoration of Jenna Fox, the mission . . . in California terms, that’s old, a few hundred years. And that’s one of the things we always try to hold onto—our heritage. Since Boston is the birthplace of our country, it was
interview by linda m. castellitto
a great place to have so much of Fox Forever take place.” Bringing such a complex, thought-provoking, action-packed trilogy to a close was no small task, not least because Pearson initially had no intention of writing a series. In fact, she says, “There was a point in my life when I said I’d never write a series! I always wanted to try something new and challenging, but I realized that, after writing all different kinds of books, writing a series was a challenge.” Pearson’s experience taking a story through three books and two narrators will smooth the way for her next endeavor: another series, The Remnant Trilogy. Although she can’t share too much about the series, she did reveal that it “explores various histories and how they contradict each other. . . . There’s definitely a romance, too, and it appears to take place in medieval times.” If the Jenna Fox Chronicles are any indication, the new trilogy is sure to benefit from Pearson’s facility for world-building and character development, not to mention a willingness to embrace her own penchant for the far-out. And yes, for the 17-year-old protagonist— this time, a princess. After all, she says, “People sometimes think of teenagers as some other kind of being, but they’re adults, just young ones. And ages are arbitrary. . . . Age doesn’t necessarily make you the more wise or knowledgeable person.” Wisely said.
children’s books The Dark
Are you afraid of the dark? Review by Angela Leeper
Who wouldn’t be afraid of the dark, the mysterious thing that sometimes hides in the closet, sits behind the shower curtain and lives in the basement? Little Laszlo certainly is. Unorthodox children’s author Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events) and equally unconventional, Caldecott Award-winning illustrator Jon Klassen (This Is Not My Hat) team up to dispel Laszlo’s fears in a charmingly creepy picture book, simply titled The Dark. Every morning Laszlo peeks at the dark in the basement and says hello, hoping that if he visits the dark’s room, maybe it won’t visit his. But one night the dark does visit his bedroom, luring him past the closet and the shower curtain and down the long stairs to the basement. Klassen’s gouache and digitally enhanced illustrations—with a retro design, muted golds from the evening light and an abundance of black—build the susBy Lemony Snicket pense and aptly depict Laszlo’s heightened fear. Illustrated by Jon Klassen After poetically explaining the need for closets (where would we keep Little, Brown, $16.99, 40 pages our shoes, after all?) and shower curtains (we would splash water everyISBN 9780316187480, eBook available where!) and even the dark itself (how would we know when we need a Ages 3 to 6 lightbulb?), the dark offers Laszlo just what he needs to feel secure again. By avoiding the saccharine simplicity of many picture books on this topic, Snicket and Klassen reach children at their level, allowing them to explore their fear of the dark and overcome it on their own terms. Just imagine how this pair might handle a fear of hats!
When The Butterflies Came By Kimberley Griffiths Little
Scholastic $17.99, 336 pages ISBN 9780545425131 eBook available Ages 8 to 12
“The first butterfly comes the day after the funeral.” Often, the first line of a book is just that, a generic starting point for a story that has to begin somewhere. But sometimes, that first line can be magical, pulling readers into a book that they have no hope of escaping until they arrive, breathless, at the end. When the Butterflies Came is one of those stories. Its sublime first line transitions into a tale filled with intrigue, love, suspense and heartbreak. Tara Doucet, descendent of a proud, traditional Louisiana family, has just lost her beloved Grammy Claire. Tara’s mother has withdrawn from the family, leaving Tara and her older, much grumpier sister Riley to
fend for themselves. But then, the first butterfly comes—big and beautiful, right through Tara’s window— and hovers directly in front of her. This butterfly sets in motion a series of events that will transport Tara and Riley from their home and into the middle of a mystery that becomes more dangerous by the day. When the Butterflies Came is a unique book that defies definition. It could be called a murder mystery, a coming-of-age story, an environmental tale or a fantasy. Whatever the category, it is definitely engrossing—right from the very first line. —Kevin Delecki
Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace By Nan Marino
Roaring Brook $16.99, 256 pages ISBN 9781596437531 eBook available Ages 8 to 12
Ever wonder what it’s like to be on a reality competition like “American
Idol”? What if it were a show for child performers? What would their lives look like? Author Nan Marino brings us the story of Elvis Ruby, an 11-year-old boy who, after becoming the most popular contestant on “Tween Star,” freezes on stage during his final performance. To escape the paparazzi and have some quiet time to heal, Elvis’ father takes him to the remote town of Wares Grove, in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens, where he can “hide out” with his aunt and cousin, who own a local restaurant. Marino deftly draws a character who loves music and performing but needs something more in his life. Cecilia Wreel lives in Wares Grove and is content, mostly, with her life and where she is—except that she wants to hear a particular song that no one can find. When she figures out early on who Elvis really is, she is not especially impressed with his fame, but she recognizes that he might be able to help her find the music. Elvis must learn to trust her, and others, while he figures out what kind of person he wants to be. Marino has written a simple but beautiful story about love and honesty, music and acceptance. She includes the legend of the Pine Barrens’ “Jersey Devil” between chapters, using it to illustrate how the
negative opinions of others should not define who you are. Her prose is accessible and genuine and moves the plot along at a perfect pace. Whether they have visions of being a star, like Elvis, or think they have no talent, like Cecilia, young readers will be drawn to this sympathetic account of the struggles of being a tween. —J e n n i f e r B r u e r K i t c h e l
In the Shadow of Blackbirds By Cat Winters
Amulet $16.95, 400 pages ISBN 9781419705304 Ages 12 and up
The year is 1918, and wherever 16-year-old Mary Shelley Black turns, she is confronted with people’s fears of the deadly Spanish influenza. Desperate attempts to ward off or cure the disease abound: Victims are smothered in raw onions; the uninfected wear pouches reeking of supposed medicines around their necks to prevent getting sick; and soldiers returning from WWI have been quarantined. Nothing is certain. After her father’s arrest for opposing the war, Mary Shelley sets out from Portland to stay with her Aunt Eva in San Diego, where it seems that everyone she meets is wearing a gauze mask to try to protect themselves from this horrible disease. In the wake of the Great War, it’s no wonder that people are turning to superstition and séances to make sense of the mystery of death. In the weeks that follow her arrival in California, Mary Shelley is confronted with a mystery only she can solve: What exactly has happened to Stephen, the young soldier she loves so deeply? Was he a victim of the battlefield, or was there another, even darker reason for his death? Mary Shelley is a likable, sympathetic heroine, and through her story, teen readers will get a glimpse of a fascinating time period, made all the more real by the haunting historic photographs that pepper the novel, from soldiers in trenches to policemen in gauze masks.
Part romance, part mystery and part ghost story, In the Shadow of Blackbirds makes palpable a terrifying time that brought the horror of death into the homes of millions. —Deborah Hopkinson
rotten By Michael Northrop
Scholastic $17.99, 256 pages ISBN 9780545495875 eBook available Ages 12 and up
this is what happy looks like By Jennifer E. Smith
Poppy $17.99, 416 pages ISBN 9780316212823 eBook available Ages 15 and up
An author of sports fiction and thrillers, Michael Northrop shows his versatility as he turns to realistic fiction in Rotten. After spending the summer away from home, 16-yearold Jimmer Dobbs (or preferably JD) returns to his small town to discover that his single mother has rescued an abused Rottweiler that’s not too fond of men, including him. Their tenuous relationship causes JD to name the dog Johnny Rotten (or preferably JR) after the lead singer of the classic punk rock band, the Sex Pistols. JD spends his last few days of summer earning the dog’s trust with pizza rolls until he can finally approach JR comfortably. But when good friend Mars corners JR and the canine responds with a bite, it’s JD who feels like he’s in the doghouse. Mars’ lazy family threatens legal action to make quick money, which means not only that JD and his mother could lose their house, but also that their now-beloved pet will have to be euthanized. Suspense drives the story as JD solicits the help of his buddies to do some intelligence gathering on Mars’ family. JD may also have to come clean about where he really spent his summer (and it was no vacation). In the process of trying to save his dog, JD may earn another shot at dating Janie, his on-again, off-again and hopefully on-again girlfriend. Northrop knows just how to get into the male mind, blending subtle humor with convincing dialogue throughout. But above all, the author knows that nothing gets between a guy and his dog.
Ellie O’Neill is probably the last person you’d expect to get involved with a movie star. She doesn’t really care about celebrities, and a secret in her own family’s past has made her skittish of even the idea of fame. Thanks to a misspelled email address, however, Ellie finds herself the unwitting pen pal of none other than Graham Larkin, teen heartthrob, who is about to start shooting a film in Ellie’s coastal Maine hometown. This shooting locale is more than just a coincidence, though—Graham pressured the director to choose it because he wants to meet the funny, smart, poetry-quoting girl with whom he’s been corresponding for the past several months. Even if she has no idea—yet—who he is. Over the course of a single summer, Graham and Ellie’s relationship is characterized by a series of awkward encounters, miscommunications and mixed signals—and by some truly sweet and lovely discoveries. Graham loves Ellie because she sees him for who he is, apart from all the fame and rumors. Ellie loves Graham because he seems to hear and understand her when no one else does. But what will happen if the press gets wind of their romance? Can Ellie risk having her family’s secret uncovered? And can Graham’s career survive him dating someone other than another A-list star? Told through adorably worded emails and chapters from both Ellie and Graham’s points of view, This Is What Happy Looks Like is both breezy and thoughtful. Author Jennifer E. Smith’s bittersweet romance certainly stretches the boundaries of believability at times, but readers likely won’t care as they’re swept away by the small-town resort atmosphere and the aura of Hollywood glamour that underlie Graham and Ellie’s love story.
meet ELIZA WHEELER ADAM WHEELER
miss maple’s seeds Eliza Wheeler grew up in northern Wisconsin and cites her childhood experiences in the outdoors—from canoeing to blueberry picking—as a major influence on her work. In her first picture book, MISS MAPLE’S SEEDS (Nancy Paulsen, $16.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9780399257926), Wheeler celebrates the potential that exists in the smallest of seeds.
By the editors of Merriam-Webster
GOD’S CLOTH Dear Editor: I have always wondered why members of the clergy are called men of the cloth. F. L. Mobile, Alabama The answer to your question lies in the history of the word cloth itself. The original meaning is the one that we usually associate with it, namely, “material used to make clothing.” Around 1175, cloth took on the additional meaning of “clothing” or “dress,” and by 1300 it came to designate a single garment or robe. Nearly 300 years later, the word cloth acquired the even more specialized sense denoting the distinctive clothing worn by servants or by members of a profession—in other words, a uniform. One of the professions for which the term was used was the clergy. Around 1608, a writer warned of the dangers of indifference among God’s servants: “Many wear God’s cloth, that know not their master, that never did good chare [work] in his service.” By 1634, the word cloth had
acquired the transferred meaning in which it denotes one’s profession, especially the profession of clergyman, because of the strong association between a clergyman and his clothing. Eventually, cloth took on the still current meaning of “clergy.” It is this last sense that comes to mind when we hear the phrase man of the cloth.
SOMETHING’S FISHY Dear Editor: Why do we use the term red herring for something that draws someone’s attention in the wrong direction? W. S. Warren, Ohio The original red herrings were real fish. They were reddish or copperybrown because they had been smoked and salted to keep them from spoiling. In the 1600s, hunters would drag smelly red herrings along the ground where they were training their dogs. The fish smell was a distraction; the hunter wanted the dog to ignore it and focus on the scent of the animal being tracked. The figurative meaning came into use in the early 1800s, mainly in the
context of politics. Over time, English speakers started using the term red herring for anything intended to distract someone.
COMING & GOING Dear Editor: So much of the news lately has focused on the issue of immigration. It has raised this question among my coworkers: What is the difference between emigrate and immigrate? None of us knew the answer for sure. D. M. Boca Raton, Florida Emigrate and immigrate are a case in which English has two words where it could have easily made do with one. The two words have the same essential meaning—“to leave one country to live in another.” They differ only in stress or point of view. Emigrate stresses leaving, and immigrate stresses entering. A clue to the differences between these two similar words is sometimes provided by the prepositions each takes. Since it stresses leaving, emigrate tends naturally to be used with from. This is particularly true
if the writer or speaker is thinking in terms of the “old” country—the country of origin. However, when the writer is thinking in terms of the new country, to is also sometimes used with emigrate. Immigrate, with its stress on entering, is usually used with to or into. Immigrate is, however, sometimes used with from as well. To speak of emigrating to or immigrating from another country is, in effect, to place the point of view in one place but the emphasis in another. All of which can certainly be confusing. But distinguishing these words may be less of a problem than you think, as your meaning is essentially the same no matter which you use. Our advice is simple: To emphasize the notion of leaving, use emigrate with from; to emphasize the notion of arriving, use immigrate with to or into.
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