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Louise Erdrich

Seeking justice and confronting evil in her suspenseful new novel, The Round House

A mother and son bond through reading Halloween books that go bump in the night

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55 new reviews inside

america’s book review


paperback picks PENGUIN.COM

Robert B. Parker’s Killing the Blues

The Professionals

Zero History

Mistress of Rome

It’s tourist season in Paradise, Massachusetts. With it comes a baffling and violent crime wave that has residents on edge. It’s also brought a mysterious figure who’s stirring up troubling memories for Chief of Police Jesse Stone—especially when it appears the stranger is out for revenge.

Four friends, caught in a terrible job market, joke about turning to kidnapping to survive. And then, suddenly, it’s no joke. For two years, the strategy they devise works like a charm—until they kidnap the wrong man.

Hollis Henry has reluctantly agreed to work for the secretive Belgian finance genius Hubertus Bigend—only to find herself entangled in a threatening mesh of postmodern marketing, corrupt American military contractors, and belated romance.

Thea is a slave girl from Judaea, purchased as a toy for the spiteful heiress Lepida Pollia. Now she has infuriated her mistress by capturing the attention of Rome’s newest and most savage gladiator—and though his love brings Thea the first happiness of her life, their affair ends quickly when a jealous Lepida tears them apart.

9780425250495 • $9.99

9780425250457 • $9.99

9780425259450 • $9.99

9780425263624 • $7.99

D.C. Dead

Bianca

Lover Reborn

Echo of the Reich

Stone Barrington is summoned to Washington, D.C., by President Will Lee. The president has a special operation that calls for Stone’s unique skill set—and it’s a mission that will reunite him with his former partner in crime, Holly Barker.

Bianca flees her dark, cruel union, seeking shelter in a seaside villa. It is the shocking murder of her husband that allows her to find the possibility of love at last. But Florentine society would never approve of the man she’s chosen. Two passionate lovers...two different cultures... two worlds determined to keep them apart.

Seeing his beloved in dreams—trapped in a cold, isolated netherworld—Tohr turns to the angel Lassiter to save his former mate. As war with the lessers rages, and a new clan of vampires vie for the Blind King’s throne, Tohr struggles between an unforgettable past and a hot, passion-filled future.

Chris Bronson is ordered to infiltrate a group of anarchists who plan to disrupt the Olympic Games with destruction and violence. Bronson soon finds himself immersed in a long-buried secret surrounding a Nazi weapon and a deadly revenge plot that he must stop before it’s too late.

9780451237958 • $16

9780451238283 • $7.99

9780451238290 • $9.99

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In this sweeping epic, true love transcends the brutality of war. Octavio Ribeiro loves truth, beauty, literature, and above all else, his wife Salomé. As a student in Chile, he courted her with the words of great poets, and she fell in love with his fierce intelligence and uncompromising passion. Then a sudden coup brings a brutal military dictatorship into power, and puts anyone who resists in grave danger. Salomé begs Octavio to put his family’s safety first, rather than speak against the new regime. When he refuses, it’s Salomé who pays the price. Belatedly awake to the reality of their danger, Octavio finds political asylum for the family in Sweden. But for Salomé, the path back to love is fraught with painful secrets, and the knowledge that they can never go home again.

NEW IN PAPERBACK BERKLEY

A Penguin Group (USA) Company

9780425258774 • $15


contents

OCTOBER 2012 w w w. B o o k Pa g e . c o m

features

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16 Will Schwalbe A mother and son share the healing power of books in The End of Your Life Book Club

cover story

Louise Erdrich

An injustice on tribal lands and her own bout of cancer fueled Louise Erdrich’s 14th novel, The Round House.

18 Justin Cronin Meet the author of The Twelve

20 Music biographies

Take a closer look at five beloved musicians

22 Halloween Horrors Four books to give you goosebumps

28 Teen Read Week Surprising heroes defy the odds in four young adult novels

29 Lois Lowry The Newbery-winning author concludes the Giver Quartet with Son

31 kid-friendly Halloween Three charming picture books for young trick-or-treaters

31 Jon Klassen Meet the author-illustrator of This Is Not My Hat

Cover photo © Paul Emmel Photography

reviews

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23 Fiction

San Miguel by T.C. Boyle also reviewed: The Lighthouse Road by Peter Geye Peaches for Father Francis by Joanne Harris May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan Ancient Light by John Banville Live by Night by Dennis Lehane Heaven Should Fall by Rebecca Coleman Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles The Heart Broke In by James Meek A Working Theory of Love by Scott Hutchins

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Audio The author Enabler Well read ROMANCE whodunit Book Clubs Cooking Lifestyles

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26 NonFiction top pick:

The Story of Ain’t by David Skinner

also reviewed:

columns

• BookPageXTRA • Top 10 • Book of the Day • Children’s Corner

top pick:

Master of the Mountain by Henry Wiencek The Black Count by Tom Reiss The Oath by Jeffrey Toobin Ike’s Bluff by Evan Thomas

30 Children’s top pick:

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson

also reviewed:

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente Keeping Safe the Stars by Sheila O’Connor On the Road to Mr. Mineo’s by Barbara O’Connor

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columns

audio

THE author enabler

by sukey howard

by Sam Barry

COME IN FROM THE COLD I loved The Trinity Six, Charles Cumming’s last thriller, and now am just as taken with A Foreign Country (Macmillan Audio, $39.99, 9.5 hours, ISBN 9781427221810), faultlessly performed by Jot Davies. With le Carré-esque finesse, Cumming weaves a suspenseful, intricate tale filled with spies using their well-honed tradecraft, rogue agents bending rules, “old-boy” Secret Service bureaucrats trying to keep a woman from taking over and an appealing “turfed-out” MI6 operative who wants to come in from the cold. When Amelia Levene, soon to be chief of MI6, goes miss-

into his past, his restless traveling and the heinous criminals he chronicled. Moving from Paris to Budapest, Rostov and Argentina, where he’d traveled as a young man, they uncover Julian’s obsession with a woman he had known in Buenos Aires who was disappeared during Argentina’s “dirty war.” Was there a “crime of Julian Wells”? Had he experienced the human evil he was so drawn to? Or did a naïve game collide with cruel reality? Keep listening!

TOP PICK IN AUDIO

ing in Nice, the powers that be turn to Thomas Kell, a former colleague and close friend of Amelia’s, now in the no-man’s-land of disgrace and dismissal. What he finds is a secret buried in Amelia’s past that has caused two murders and a kidnapping and now threatens her future. Kell, wanting to prove himself again, begins to work through the layers of an audacious scheme to entrap and coerce Amelia. Cumming knows the spook world and knows how to create plausible characters enmeshed in a tantalizing plot.

THE HEART OF DARKNESS

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Julian Wells slit his wrists and died in a small boat on a Montauk pond. He’d been a brilliant true crime writer, true crime so dark it had become its own subgenre. Why he killed himself is the question that drives Thomas H. Cook’s elegantly written new novel, The Crime of Julian Wells (Highbridge Audio, $32.95, 7.5 hours, ISBN 9781611747454). And with Traber Burns’ emotionally nuanced narration, it becomes an irresistibly engrossing audio. Julian’s sister and his best friend, searching for what haunted him, dig

A stale marriage, a dashing stranger, a passionate affair that can’t last—the stuff of many memorable books, but not nearly enough for David Gillham. City of Women, his dazzling debut novel set in 1943 Berlin, is so authentically atmospheric that you taste the ersatz coffee and feel the Gestapo’s eyes on you. And you understand Sigrid Schröder, living with her nasty, meddling motherin-law while her husband is at the Russian front, when she falls wildly in love with a man she meets in the cinema, a man who is an enigma and a Jew. He’s there and then he isn’t, and Sigrid, stingingly aware of the moral complexities of her world, gets involved with a young woman helping Jews escape, thus becoming one of those ordinary people forced to make extraordinary choices and to live with the consequences. Reading with just the shadow of a German accent, Suzanne Bertish gives this complex tapestry of love, lies, betrayal, fear and hope the texture of real life in a time of total war.

CITY OF WOMEN By David R. Gillham Penguin Audio $39.95, 13 hours ISBN 9781611761276

HISTORICAL FICTION

Practical advice on writing & publishing for aspiring authors

CHOOSING A GENRE Dear Author Enabler, I am writing about a murder that happened about 90 years ago. I aim to use the real setting and characters, with the addition of creative dialogue, a fictional character and fictional associations. Therefore, historical characters, places and events are real, but some characters, dialogue and events are fiction. My question is: How do I categorize my book? Elizabeth Kral Steamboat Springs, Colorado Establishing the genre of a book is always tricky, since it is rare for good writing to fit neatly into one category. Is A Christmas Carol a sentimental tale about Christmas and redemption or a ghost story? Is War and Peace literary fiction or a historical novel? Or was it just something I had to read in college? From a publishing standpoint, you want your book to be categorized accurately but also in a genre that will help it sell. The story you describe might be true crime, mystery or historical fiction. I would categorize your book as historical fiction. The plot is drawn from a past you did not live through, and the setting appears to be a key literary ingredient—an important aspect of historical fiction. Historical fiction should also present a believable and plausible depiction of the past. In other words, the information about the time period must be reasonably accurate and authentic. It sounds like this is important to you, and this reinforces my decision. I hope it sells.

BABY STEPS Dear Author Enabler, I am interested in publishing a children’s book I’ve written. The story is done, so what do I do next? Do I find an illustrator first? What’s the typical process? Rebecca Thieme-Baeseman Appleton, Wisconsin

Now that you’ve written the manuscript, you need to find a few trusted people to read it and give you their honest opinions. This can happen in a writing class, a writers’ conference or in the more informal setting of a writing group. Your local library or bookstore might offer writers’ groups or seminars in which you can get feedback. Once you think you’re ready to shop your piece around to publishers, a good place to start is the Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market. This resource will help you to find outlets for your writing and provide information on how to write a query letter, format your manuscript and find an agent. Literary Market Place is another resource offering a comprehensive list of agents and publishers, their specialties, and requirements for query letters and submissions. Once you’ve done your research, send each publisher or agent whatever is asked for in the agency’s published guidelines. You should also consider becoming a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, a nonprofit organization that acts as a network for children’s book writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, librarians and other professionals. Good luck! May the first line of your book come to be as familiar to the world as this one: “Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin.”

Author Enabler News Your friendly Author Enabler is changing his day job. When this column appears I will be the marketing director at Book Passage in San Francisco, one of America’s great independent bookstores and home of many fabulous author events and writer’s conferences. If you’re in the Bay Area, stop by and see me. Send your questions about publishing to authorenablers@gmail.com. Please include your name and hometown.


well read by robert Weibezahl

Writer CHARLES PORTIS, BEYOND ‘TRUE GRIT’ The Coen brothers’ remake of True Grit helped bring Charles Portis’ 1968 novel back to bestseller lists, reminding readers what a gem of a book it is. The somewhat reclusive Arkansas writer had been off the literary radar for a while—his last novel, Gringos, published in 1991, was only his fifth since his 1966 debut, Norwood. That lack of productivity must be the culprit behind Portis’ relative obscurity—anyone who has read his work knows it is certainly not due to lack of talent. Fellow Little Rock-based journalist Jay Jennings, one of the writer’s selfavowed biggest fans, has spent years squirreling away anything he could find written by or about Portis. This “Portis file” is the basis for a An American new compenoriginal dium, Escape gets the star Velocity: A Charles Portis treatment Miscellany, in a new which gathcollection. ers some of the previously uncollected fiction and nonfiction of the man Ron Rosenbaum (in a tribute essay included in the book) calls “a maddeningly under-appreciated American writer . . . the only man to penetrate the true heart of dimness.” Most of Portis’ writing is comic in nature, but it is foolhardy to pigeonhole him. His work is keenly observed, deadpan, ironic and indisputably entertaining, but it speaks on a deeper level to the peculiarly American psyche. Portis began his writing life as a newspaper reporter, and the book collects a number of early pieces from the Memphis Commercial Appeal and Arkansas Gazette, and later writing from the New York Herald Tribune, where he worked during that paper’s legendary final days. These range from a light report about a Brooklyn longshoreman who fights in court to keep a pet lion, to more serious dispatches from the South during the battle for Civil Rights, including the riots in

Birmingham and the murder of Medgar Evers. Travel pieces he wrote for a variety of publications take Portis from Nashville to Baja, California, to a series of isolated motels in New Mexico. An autobiographical essay that first ran in The Atlantic offers a family snapshot from 1943, the year the future writer turned nine. Just four examples of short fiction are featured in the book, including a hilarious 1977 humor piece from the New Yorker that mimics the “action line” column in a small-town newspaper. The most recent story, from 2005, is really a eulogy to the death of print journalism that plays off the old notion that, given typewriters and enough time, monkeys could reproduce the works of Shakespeare. Indeed, journalists bear the brunt of Portis’ (good-natured) ribbing. A character in his only play, Delray’s New Moon, a collision of Samuel Beckett and Noël Coward set halfway between Little Rock and Texarkana (produced only once and printed here for the first time), lumps newspapermen with “other bystanders, onlookers, eavesdroppers and talebearers.” The labeling of Escape Velocity as the first new book from Portis in 20 years is a bit misleading, since none of the material is, strictly speaking, new. But Jennings has done a great service by bringing it all together in one welcome volume, especially since a new book from this 78-yearold American original does not seem to be in the cards.

ESCAPE VELOCITY

“An amazing piece of literature, a must-read for every book club!” —Sean Covey New York Times bestselling author

Even in a dump in Cambodia—perhaps especially in a dump in Cambodia— everyone deserves a second chance.

s

®

By Charles Portis

Edited by Jay Jennings Butler Center Books $27.95, 380 pages ISBN 9781935106500

View the Trailer TheRentCollectorbook.com

literature

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by

Novel Reads

HARPERCOLLINS

HarperVoyagerBooks.com • AvonRomance.com A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison

Pulled in by the FIB to help investigate, former witch-turnedday-walking demon Rachel Morgan soon realizes a horrifying truth: others want to create their own demons, and to do so they need her blood. 9780061957901, $7.99

Blood Riders

by Michael P. Spradlin

Civil War veteran and former U.S. Cavalry Captain Jonas P. Hollister has been rotting in a prison cell at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He lied about the loss of 11 soldiers under his command …who he claims were slaughtered by a band of nonhuman, blood-drinking demons. 9780062023094, $7.99

Judgment and Wrath by Matt Hilton

columns Shannon McKenna makes the pulse pound with her sultry and suspenseful One Wrong Move (Kensington, $15, 400 pages, ISBN 9780758273475). Heroine Nina Christie is followed and stuck with a hypodermic needle, and strange “doctors” at the hospital attempt to kidnap her. Forced to flee, she contacts a friend, desperate for help. That’s when computer security consultant Alex Aaro gets involved; a buddy asks him to be Nina’s bodyguard. This isn’t a good time for him, though. He’s coming out of the shadows to say goodbye to his dying aunt, which puts him in the proxim-

9780061718267, $9.99

The Lady Risks All

by Stephanie Laurens

He lives by his own code of honor. She is tempted by a passion too powerful to deny. Flung together in peril, danger and intrigue, they discover a love impossible to ignore.

My Scandalous Viscount by Gaelen Foley

Sebastian, Viscount Beauchamp, lives by a code of honor, and now honor dictates he must marry Miss Carissa Portland. But when Carissa uncovers secrets about the Inferno Club may prove even more hazardous than falling in love with her own husband. 9780062075932, $7.99

Nightwatcher

by Wendy Corsi Staub As the city sleeps in the early hours of September 10, 2001, the killer waits and watches, unaware of the cataclysm to come. Even the nightmare of 9/11 will not postpone his private reign of terror. 9780062070289, $7.99

Sleepwalker

by Wendy Corsi Staub Suddenly Allison Taylor MacKenna must confront a devastating truth: her life is in jeopardy once again … and quite possibly from the man she trusts and loves. 9780062070302, $7.99

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

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

a Big, bad bodyguard

Suddenly the only choice is to run, as a simple snatch-and-grab becomes a deadly game of cat-and-mouse in the Florida swamplands, a desperate battle for survival against a maniac who’ll let nobody live who stands in his way.

9780062068637, $7.99

romance

ity of his crime boss father. But as the danger becomes more dire for Nina, Aaro steps up and saves her life . . . then finds himself on the run with the beautiful woman. Nina, wary of men, finds herself fascinated by big, bad Aaro. As they try to understand the threat against them, what seemed like an adrenalinefueled attraction turns to love—but they face lethal obstacles. The language is raw and the action fastpaced in this page-turner.

SWEET TEMPTATION Small-town Icicle Falls is in almost as much trouble as its generations-old candy factory, Sweet Dreams, in Better Than Chocolate (MIRA, $7.99, 400 pages, ISBN 9780778313458) by Sheila Roberts. Just weeks away from losing her family’s chocolate business to the bank, Samantha Sterling struggles to raise funds, and appealing to hunky bank manager Blake Preston doesn’t change a thing. So what if he’s sexy—he’s clearly cold-hearted. With the help of her two sisters and her newly widowed mother, Samantha

conceives of a chocolate festival, an idea the whole town gets behind. But can they pull off the event? While Samantha prepares for the weekend, her mother must learn to forge a new life for herself. At times poignant and also just fun, the story will have readers rooting for Sweet Dreams and the Sterling family. The romance comes with kisses only, but the very sweetest kind.

TOP PICK IN ROMANCE Young Rose Balfour is determined to get a shot at happily ever after in How to Capture a Countess by Karen Hawkins. However, the outcome looks uncertain after she meets Lord Alton Sinclair—“Lord Sin”—and determines he’s the man to deliver her first kiss. While their embrace is as delicious as a girl could dream, the heated moment leads her to shove the handsome earl away . . . and into a nearby fountain. Lord Sin gains the nickname “Lord Fin,” and six years later he still dreams of wreaking revenge on the unknown young lady who impugned his reputation. Now 22, Rose re-meets Lord Sin at a house party. He tells her his intention: to seduce her then walk away. But instead his interest only grows. Rose is just as smitten, though she’s sure it cannot last—unless the two can get past their pride and make it through the challenges they set up for each other. Amusing side characters, including a passel of pugs and a matchmaking duchess, round out a fast-paced, passionate romp.

HOW TO CAPTURE A COUNTESS By Karen Hawkins

Pocket $7.99, 384 pages ISBN 9781451685176 eBook available

Historical Romance


Ne w fr o m t h e N e w Y o rk Ti m e s be s ts e lli Ng a uthor of sT il l Al ice

Most people love with a guarded heart… but you loved me unconditionally. A piercing story about motherhood, autism, and love, Love Anthony introduces readers to two unforgettable women on the verge of change—and the irrepressible young boy whose unique wisdom helps them both find the courage to move on.

An October Indie Next Pick

“This book. . . [left] me feeling with my mind and thinking with my heart. Everyone should read this book!” —Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

“Love Anthony dares to ask enormous questions, the big questions that bedevil all of us. Better yet, Lisa Genova has the wisdom to know which ones can be answered, and which cannot.” —Laura Lippman, New York Times bestselling author of And When She Was Good

AvAi lA bl e i n pA p e r b Ac k :

www.simonandschuster.com


International bestselling author

columns

Whodunit by Bruce Tierney

CLEVER COUNTER-INTELLIGENCE

A loving family fracturing under pressure…. In the wake of their heartbreak, a mother and son disappear…. A frantic father searches for clues as time ticks down….

“Moves like a tornado.”

—James Patterson, #1 bestselling author, on Six Seconds

On sale now! 8

It undoubtedly adds a touch of credibility when the author of a legal thriller has pursued a stellar career as an attorney (think Scott Turow) or when the guy writing a police procedural has moved up through the ranks of the constabulary (Joseph Wambaugh). Few, however, bring better credentials to the table than Stella Rimington, the former head of Britain’s vaunted MI5 counter-intelligence agency. At the opening of her latest novel, The Geneva Trap (Bloomsbury, $25, 336 pages, ISBN 9781608198726), it looks as if the Cold War may be heating up once again. In Switzerland, MI5 agent Liz Carlyle interrogates a Russian spy who claims to possess information about an imminent and potentially devastating cyber attack. Meanwhile, an intelligence drone falls from the sky over Oman, and U.S./Brit forces go on high alert. Are the Russians up to their old tricks, or is something more sinister at play? Painstakingly plotted and cleverly resolved, Rimington’s novels lean more toward John le Carré than Ian Fleming; there is little of the gadgetry of James Bond. Rather, Rimington pays a great deal of attention to the procedural aspects of espionage, on balance a good tradeoff.

MURDER ON THE PLANTATION Let’s say you are looking for an atmospheric, nuanced mystery of the Old South, one in which antebellum history shares equal billing with, say, steamin’ humidity. Look no further: Attica Locke fills the bill brilliantly with her second novel, The Cutting Season (Harper, $25.99, 384 pages, ISBN 9780061802058). The action centers on Belle Vie, a Civil War-era mansion recreated as a tourist attraction. A young migrant worker has been found in a shallow grave at the edge of the property, her throat slit. Belle Vie’s manager, Caren Gray, feels that the

cops are barking up the wrong tree, suspect-wise, so she undertakes a parallel investigation of her own, along the way unearthing some new information about an old murder, one that may have ties to this latest homicide. As is the case with author Louise Penny, Locke draws the reader

into her milieu, offering a taste of history, atmosphere and character with a level of skill rarely equalled in suspense fiction. When I reviewed Locke’s first novel, Black Water Rising, I called it “nothing short of astonishing.” With The Cutting Season, she’s batting a thousand.

TWISTS AND TURNS IN TOKYO For the most part, Japanese suspense novelists haven’t made much of a blip on the radar in the Englishspeaking portions of the world; this is something of a mystery in itself, as 2 million (and counting) worldwide buyers of Keigo Higashino’s awardwinning The Devotion of Suspect X can well attest. Now “Detective Galileo”—aka brainiac physicist and sometime police consultant Manabu Yukawa—and the intrepid Detective Kusanagi reunite for a second taut psychological thriller, ­Salvation of a Saint (Minotaur, $24.99, 336 pages, ISBN 9780312600686). This time out, the pair investigates the murder of Yoshitaka Mashiba, a very Agatha Christie-ish homicide crafted with arsenic-laced coffee. Easy case: The spurned wife did it, right? Not so fast; she was several hundred miles away at the time. Twists and turns abound, and there are enough red herrings for a firstrate sushi supper. Higashino is Japan’s best-selling author, with millions of books in

print. Read his two Detective Galileo books, and you will see what all the fuss is about.

TOP PICK IN MYSTERY When last we checked in on Jo Nesbø’s melancholic ex-cop Harry Hole (in 2011’s The Leopard ), he was in Hong Kong, having more or less come to terms with his myriad demons and the loss of his lady love. There was nothing for him in his native Norway, and it seemed likely he would never return. But that was before Oleg, the boy he had come to think of as a son, was arrested for murder, a scenario that, for Harry, beggars belief. Now, in Phantom, the erstwhile investigator is back in Oslo after a three-year absence, only to discover that everything is new—and yet everything is somehow disturbingly the same. He is still persona non grata with most of his former police associates. His one-time lover Rakel is an unknown quantity, and her son Oleg seems to have changed markedly for the worse, a casualty of “violin,” the powerful new synthetic opiate that has taken Norway’s youth by storm. Nonetheless, with or without a badge, first and foremost Harry Hole is still a cop, and that will be either his salvation or his undoing. No spoiler here: You will have to wait until the final pages to find out which. Easily the most troubling and heartfelt of this excellent series, Phantom is one of the finest suspense novels to come out of Scandinavia to date.

PHANTOM By Jo Nesbø

Knopf $25.95, 400 pages ISBN 9780307960474 Audio, eBook available

MYSTERY


Lie low. Stay sweet. Be helpful. Rebecca Coleman tests the lines between family, loyalty and patriotism. “Rebecca Coleman's HEAVEN SHOULD FALL is a compelling, intimate exploration of a family in crisis. Coleman deftly tells the story of lost souls searching for the meaning of honor, loyalty and one's place in the world. An enveloping, heartfelt read.” —New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf

Available September 25.


columns New paperback releases for reading groups

THE BONDS OF FRIENDSHIP In her enthralling third novel, Falling Together (Morrow, $14.99, 384 pages, ISBN 9780061670886), Marisa de los Santos explores the powerful nature of female friendship. Cat, Pen and Will meet in college, forming a strong bond that lasts throughout their university years. After college, the girls live together until lively, vibrant Cat gets married—a decision that destroys the trio’s special relationship. The friends fall out of touch for six years until an email from Cat summons them to their college reunion. Will

book clubs by julie hale

plant in 1970s California. In Belgium in 1931, aspiring musician Robert Frobisher serves as assistant to a famous composer, recounting his adventure-filled tenure in letters to his lover. In a grimly futuristic Hawaii, Zachry leads a life of crude survival after a catastrophe wipes out civilization. By book’s end the threads of the narrative come together like an act of magic. Mitchell, author of the best-selling Black Swan Green, writes about different time periods with ease and authority. This is a challenging yet rewarding novel from a master storyteller.

TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS

and Pen both attend, but Cat’s husband, Jason, shows up instead of Cat, and reveals that she has been missing for weeks. Pen and Will soon embark on a search for Cat—a journey takes them around the world and into uncharted emotional territory. De los Santos is an expert at portraying the interior lives of women. Her latest novel is a sensitively rendered, insightful look at the personal ties that bind us all.

A JOURNEY ACROSS TIME Cloud Atlas (Random House, $15, 528 pages, ISBN 9780812984415), David Mitchell’s magnificent, century-hopping novel, comes to the big screen this month in a film adaptation featuring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry. Originally published in 2004, the book is now available in a movie tie-in edition. In six intertwined narratives, Mitchell tells an ambitious story about the unexpected connections that link individual lives. The book features a cast of sharply drawn characters, each with his or her own fascinating plotline. Intrepid journalist Luisa Rey goes after sinister dealings at a nuclear power

In The Odds—his 13th novel— Stewart O’Nan tells the story of Marion and Art Fowler, an out-ofwork couple in Cleveland whose lives are falling apart. Facing foreclosure on their home and struggling to keep their marriage afloat, the Fowlers throw caution to the wind one Valentine’s Day weekend and risk everything on a gambling trip to Niagara Falls. For what they envision as a second honeymoon, the Fowlers drain the funds from their savings account and take a bridal suite at a fancy hotel. They enjoy all Niagara Falls has to offer, including its casinos, where they hope to win big. O’Nan captures both the delicate moments and the passionate incidents that make up a marriage. His novel is a compelling examination of the fragility of relationships and the resilience that’s required to sustain them over time.

The Odds

Great Group Reads New in Paperback

From the Bestselling Author of Love Walked In and Belong to Me   “A satisfying novel about friends rediscovering one another—and confronting unwelcome truths—at their college reunion.” —People

The Final Volume in the Wicked Years   “[A] masterwork. Hilarious, heart-wrenching and extremely poignant.” —Washington Post

“The Devil Wears Prada for the Blogger Age”*   “A whip-smart, lacerating, laugh-out-loud look at what it’s like to be young, smart and trying to make it in the big city.” —Jennifer Weiner Valerie Frankel

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By Stewart O’Nan

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11


columns

cooking

lifestyles

b y s y b i l P RATT

by joanna brichetto

DINING WITH DAVID David Venable is referred to as QVC’s “resident foodie,” but I think he should really be called their “comfort foodie.” On his cooking show, David whips up recipes that “warm your heart, stir your soul, and happily fill your stomach”—in other words, great comfort food. Now, he’s collected 150 of his downhome, downright delicious dishes in his debut cookbook, In the Kitchen with David (Ballantine, $30, 272 pages, ISBN 9780345536280). A warm, chatty home cook, schooled by his mother and grandmothers, David puts comfort in every course and category from appetizing starters to delicious desserts, along with helpful, time-saving tidbits and easy

ideas for variations and substitutions. That so many of these recipes are familiar only adds to the appeal, and it’s so comforting to have them all together. If you crave homemade Chicken Noodle Soup, authentic Hush Puppies, Smothered Pork Chops, Barbecued Beef Brisket or Bananas Foster Bread Pudding, you only need to look in one book.

DOLLARS AND COOKING SENSE

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“When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping”: Though I’m not sure who first coined those words of wisdom, they probably didn’t have Melissa d’Arabian in mind, nor our current economic woes. Melissa, the attractive host of the Food Network’s popular “Ten Dollar Dinners,” doesn’t look tough but she’s taken a tough, practical stand on savvy shopping for delicious, $10 dinners for four. She’s gathered all her spending-with-a-purpose strategies for supermarket shopping (smart splurges included), tips for stretching expensive ingredients, budget entertaining and pantry management, as well as 140 tanta-

The crafty entrepreneur lizing recipes in her first cookbook, Ten Dollar Dinners (Clarkson Potter, $24.99, 368 pages, ISBN 9780307985149). Every recipe is marked with a scale that lets you know whether a dish is cheap, pricey or in between. Then you can mix and match, pairing inexpensive Crispy Kale Chips, Tomatoes Provençal and Lemon-Ginger Pudding with more costly Pot Roast Carbonade for an elegant dinner. Go for it—serve super suppers while you save big time.

TOP PICK IN COOKBOOKS It was love at first bite—with my first taste of Silver Queen Corn Pudding I knew Alex Hitz was a brilliant cook and knew I had to try everything in My Beverly Hills Kitchen. There are endless Southern cookbooks, but few really stand out. This one does. It’s Southern food on Alex’s terms, revived, revamped and revved up, grand old plantation recipes (plus a few newer creations) prepared to foodie-pleasing, haute cuisine specs. Charming and wonderfully opinionated, Alex supplies expert directions and expert advice on entertaining. Brought up in Atlanta, trained at Le Cordon Bleu, tested by the realities of restaurant cooking and now purveyor of prepared gourmet food, he takes us from Gruyère-laced Crab Tarts (no crab cakes here), lavish Millionaire’s Macaroni and Cheese and biscuitcrusted Chicken Pot Pie to Dorothy’s ambrosial Coconut Cake. Just promise to make the Corn Pudding first!

MY beverly hills kitchen By Alex Hitz

Knopf $35, 384 pages ISBN 9780307701527 eBook available

southern

Anyone who has ever visited a craft fair is likely to wonder, “How do these crafty folks find the time to make all these nifty things, let alone schlep their wares from fair to fair?” In Handmade to Sell (Potter Craft, $16.99, 176 pages, ISBN 9780307587107), Kelly Rand demystifies the business of crafting. As executive director of the organization Hello Craft, she has gathered advice from the best craftswomen around, providing both a philosophy for developing a livelihood from the work of your hands and a thoroughly practical course of action to get you up and running, online and in the real world. The book’s complex texture—a combination of femi-

nist wisdom and no-nonsense tips on delivering your product to the widest possible market—feels like a literary analogue to a well-crafted object: something that is both a pleasure in itself and a vitally useful tool to enhance your life.

BUSINESS MEETS PASSION Kari Chapin sets her sights on more ambitious goals in Grow Your Handmade Business (Storey, $16.95, 272 pages, ISBN 9781603429894), shifting the scene from the crafts fairground to both the real and virtual storefront. Chapin takes her role as mentor with high seriousness. Like Kelly Rand, she is also a philosopher of small businesses, but the tone of her reflections is more hard-boiled. Carefully defining such differences as “goals” versus “intentions” and “business” versus “personal,” Chapin draws the reader up through successive layers of consciousness, moving steadily toward that crucial juncture where what you do and how you think are absolutely in harmony. It is right at this point

where you can “grow your business,” just as if you were tending a garden. There’s no mystery to the process, just a vigilant management of many tasks, all of which work together toward simple sustainability.

TOP PICK FOR LIFESTYLES Wildly successful blogger Joy Deangdeelert Cho sums up the visionary scope of Blog, Inc. right off the bat, in the book’s amazing subtitle: “Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community.” This would be an ideal set of objectives for work of any kind. The notion that it might work for blogging seems at first almost too good to be true. When everybody you know plus her aunt is already posting day and night, filling the Internet with so much twaddle, how could anyone ever hope not merely to make a living out of blogging—which seems hard enough to imagine—but create for themselves an ethical way of life? Cho is as good as her far-reaching words. Enlisting the aid of 18 blogging wizards who participate in interviews interlaced throughout the text, Cho & Co. lay out what’s essential to establish oneself in the virtual marketplace. The ultimate rewards of this process are as philosophical as they can be. As a successful blogger, you realize your dreams by virtue of the symbiosis you set in motion between yourself and like-minded souls. Fair warning: Do not try this at home, unless you’re ready to go whole hog . . . well, let’s make that more kosher— unless you’re ready to go whole blog.

BLOG, INC By Joy Deangdeelert Cho Chronicle Books $16.95, 184 pages ISBN 9781452107202

BUSINESS


JUSTICE HAS NEVER LOOKED THIS GOOD.

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cover story

LOUISE ERDRICH

the heartBreaking toll of revenge

A

bout four months into the composition of her outstanding 14th novel, The Round House, award-winning author Louise Erdrich was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I just never thought anything like this would happen to me,” Erdrich says during a call to her home outside Minneapolis, where she lives with her second husband and their 11-year-old daughter. Another daughter, Persia, lives nearby and works at Birchbark Books, the independent bookstore Erdrich owns with her sister in Minneapolis. During her illness, a third daughter came home from New York to help care for the household. “There’s no breast cancer in my family, and I’ve always been incredibly healthy. It was picked up by accident by my wonderful doctor, who found what hardly showed up on a mammogram.” Lucky thing. The cancer turned out to be a very aggressive, fastgrowing strain, but caught at such an early stage, it was entirely treatable. Erdrich is now “very well,” she says. “I was very lucky with this.” Still, in the first days of her treatment Erdrich did not feel so lucky. She wondered if she’d be able to write through it. Then, remarkably, she entered one of the most productive periods of her writing career. Not only did she work intensively on The Round House, but she wrote a completely new version of her seventh novel, The Antelope Wife, and a

The round house

By Louise Erdrich

14

Harper, $27.99, 336 pages ISBN 9780062065247, eBook available

new children’s book, Chickadee, all of which are arriving on booksellers’ shelves in summer and early fall. “I think it’s because I played the C card,” Erdrich says, laughing. Throughout the conversation, she laughs easily and frequently, seeming very much at home with herself. “I suddenly had a good excuse to get out of just about anything anyone asked of me. It’s ridiculous! Why should a person have to go through cancer in order to just say I’ve got to stay home and write? But In Erdrich’s that seems to powerful be what hapnew novel, a pened.” Since she mother’s rape made her launches her name with son’s search Love Medicine and The Beet for justice. Queen in the 1980s, Erdrich has been writing about the social and spiritual lives of contemporary Native Americans. Her brush with cancer seems to have sharpened both the emotional and narrative drive of her latest novel, The Round House, which tells the riveting story of 13-year-old Joe Coutts coming of age on a North Dakota reservation in 1988. “It’s always hard to tell what piece of yourself goes into a book,” Erdrich says. “My particular fear was of leaving my children. As a parent you’re not really afraid for yourself, you’re just afraid to leave them. I’m never helpless around my children, but I was helpless then. And I sensed nothing but them wanting to help me. My memories are of laughing very hard, reading funny notes, eating wonderful food that my daughters prepared and holding their hands. The sharpness of the emotion I felt may have helped me in understanding the characters. It’s a very character-driven book, and it’s very much about emotions between Joe and his mother.”

It gives little away to say that in the first pages of The Round House, Joe’s mother, Geraldine Coutts, is brutally raped by a white man in a savage act of vengeance. Traumatized, Geraldine withdraws into silence, leaving her husband, a tribal judge, with a kind of roiling, helpless grief and anger, and Joe with the need to resolve profound questions about justice, revenge and the inexplicable nature of evil. Justice, Erdrich says, was the seminal issue for The Round House. “Right now, tribal governments can’t prosecute non-Indians who commit crimes on their land,” she says. In the novel’s afterword, she writes about the appalling numbers of non-Indian men who rape Indian women on tribal lands and escape prosecution because of jurisdictional issues. “I’ve known about this for a long time but it’s an injustice I never knew how to write about. I didn’t want to write a polemical piece. Every time I’d talk about the novel, I’d say it’s about jurisdiction and—YAWN, people’s eyes would glaze over. I thought, I have to find a way to tell this story that doesn’t make them completely lose consciousness.” Readers of The Round House will find themselves fully alert and paying rapt attention to the story. This is one of Erdrich’s most suspenseful novels. “I wanted to make it a book with suspense,” Erdrich says, “so I keep answering questions all through the book. There’s always something unanswered.” But, as she hopes, it is the vibrancy of Erdrich’s characters that give this book its liveliness. Joe and his three valiant boyhood pals ride around the reservations on their bicycles, longing for girls and getting into the minor, sometimes

© Paul Emmel Photography

Interview by alden mudge

comical scrapes young teenage boys do, even while they are forced to confront daunting moral challenges. “I grew up in a small town where your bike was your means of freedom,” Erdrich says when asked about how she entered the mindset of her boy characters. “My brothers did crazy things, my husband is one of many brothers, and my daughters were always great pals with boys. So I just knew and know a great many 13- and 14-year-old boys. That age always gets to me. I know boys of that age who really hide their tenderness for their mothers, and I wanted to write something about that because it’s so mysterious: that simultaneous feeling of wanting to break away and wanting to protect them. Having gone through life with my daughters and their friends, I just have this sense of a great purity of courage in those boys. They haven’t thought it out, but they know exactly what’s right.” The spiritual part of Joe’s journey involves a mix of Native spiritual practices and Catholicism. Joe assists tribal elders with their sweat lodge ceremonies, but he and his friends are fascinated by Father Travis, a virile young priest and an Iraq War veteran. “I’ve always had a different sort of priest in every book. This priest is the first one who has a sense of irony and who has really questioned his own life,” Erdrich says.


“The Ojibwe people’s earliest contact with non-Natives was with the Jesuits, so there’s a long history of entwinement of the cultures,” she points out. “But it’s always up to the individual priest how much he’ll allow the traditionalists into his belief system. It’s anathema to the church itself to admit the truth or goodness of any other form of religion, especially a non-Christian religion. But priests are sometimes hit over the head by the fact that they’re trying to teach spirituality to an intensely spiritual people, and they’re trying to take their spirituality away from them in order to force another form of spirituality upon them. Father Travis has a lot of respect for traditional people, he tells Joe. He has, I guess, a very masculine, soldierly view of the world and is willing to talk to Joe on a level that I don’t think most priests really would.” Joe and his friends come of age discovering the existence of injustice and real evil in the world. But Erdrich’s own vision has a wider embrace. Surprisingly, The Round House is often laugh-out-loud funny. This is because the elders, who have been through their own torments and sorrows, joke about everything, especially about sex. “It’s a relief to be around elders because they can say anything,” Erdrich says. “They delight in embarrassing young people. They don’t have to hold anything back, and there’s just a lot of sexual joking that elders can do that young people aren’t really supposed to. I guess part of me wants to joke on that level too but I’m not quite allowed to yet. So those parts were a lot of fun to write. “When I’m with older relatives, we just laugh nonstop. I laugh a lot with people my age, but not with the kind of merciless hilarity that comes in looking back. It’s an intense sort of freedom that maybe only comes to those who are lucky enough to be that old and be able to see back into the crazy hearts of the young.” And that is the real wonder of Louise Erdrich’s newest novel. It vividly portrays both the deep tragedy and crazy comedy of life.

DEE HENDERSON IS BACK!

Midwest Homicide Investigator Ann Silver appears out of nowhere and drops the best lead on a serial murder case that Special Agent Paul Falcon has had in years. But is he ready for this case’s secrets—or this woman’s? Full Disclosure by Dee Henderson

ON SALE OCTOBER 2, 2012 Visit facebook.com/ DeeHendersonsFullDisclosure to: • like the book page and get an exclusive excerpt from Full Disclosure • watch the book trailer • see reader reviews • get an exclusive excerpt from Dee’s new novella, Jennifer: An O’Malley Love Story— prequel to The O’Malley series • and MORE! You can also check out fulldisclosurenovel. com or deehenderson.com for a full disclosure of details.

A Division of Baker Publishing Group • bethanyhouse.com Available at your bookstore or by calling 1-866-241-6733

15


interview

WILL SCHWALBE By amy scribner

A BOOK LOVER TO THE VERY END

W

hat self-respecting reader isn’t a sucker for a great book about other great books? The End of Your Life Book Club is that and much more.

After Will Schwalbe’s 73-year-old mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2007, he began accompanying her to many of her chemotherapy treatments and doctor’s appointments. Both book lovers—Schwalbe is the former editorin-chief of Hyperion Books—they often passed the time by reading, talking about reading or both. Their informal waiting-room book club endured for the remaining two years of her life, and led to this tender tribute to Schwalbe’s mother and also to the universal power of books to unite and heal. In it, he chronicles the many books that he and his mother, Mary Anne, read together, and how those books shaped their final years together.

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“In our society, after someone dies, there’s a period where you’re almost supposed to stop talking about her,” Schwalbe says from his New York City apartment, where he lives with his longtime partner David. “It’s a great joy in life to talk about the people you love. My main impetus was to show how books can connect and bring people closer. My mother taught me so much and I wanted to share it.” A small, gray-haired dynamo with super-sized energy and opinions, Mary Anne Schwalbe served as director of admissions at Harvard University and Radcliffe, and founding director of the Women’s Refugee Commission. She and her husband raised three voracious readers who,

as Schwalbe recalls in the book, learned early on that reading was a priority: “On weekends, when Mom and Dad had settled into the living room, each with a stack of books, we had two options: We could sit and read, or we could disappear until mealtime.” Sometimes, the books mother and son read were purely escapist (like P.G. Wodehouse and a 1949 beach read called Brat Farrar). That came in handy when Mary Anne was enduring what she called one of her “not great” days. Other times, the books allowed them to broach tough topics. Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking helped Schwalbe understand the importance of acknowledging his mother’s pain. Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety led to talks about what Schwalbe’s father would do once Mary Anne died. “It was a shorthand way to talk about my father,” Schwalbe says. “It was too painful to talk about head-on.” But most of all, their impromptu book club of two allowed them to simply be, as mother and son. “We weren’t a sick person and a well person,” Schwalbe says. “We were just two readers. That was a revelation.” Certainly Schwalbe knows his books, having spent several years in publishing. He left Hyperion to start a cooking website, Cookstr. “The best thing about leaving publishing is now I get to read,” Schwalbe laughs. No longer a slave to a stack of manuscripts, he finally gets to indulge in what he calls “reading promiscuously.” He and his mother also chose their books haphazardly, drifting between genres. “We were given books; we knocked them over on a bookstore shelf and then bought them,” he says. Schwalbe realized he wanted to write about their book club while his mother was still alive. She initially demurred when he told her his idea, but the next day began emailing him her thoughts, along with a list of books they’d read together. The rest of his family soon was on board, too. “They encouraged me to write

the book I wanted to write,” he says, even though that meant laying bare some incredibly personal experiences in order to paint the full picture of his family. One of Schwalbe’s favorite outcomes of writing this book so far is that early copies have inspired people to start reading with their family. He got an email recently from a woman who has started a book club with her grandson, a teen who is reading The Hunger Games to her. “That made me so happy,” he says. It’s a fitting tribute to a woman who died at 75 but left an enduring legacy. “There are a lot of extraordinary people in this country and most don’t get an obituary in the New York Times,” Schwalbe says. “Mom was not somebody who was in the New York Times. She was one of those extraordinary, ordinary people.”

the end of your life book club

By Will Schwalbe

Knopf, $25, 352 pages ISBN 9780307594037, audio, eBook available


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the twelve Justin Cronin put a memorable twist on the vampire trope in his 2010 bestseller, The Passage. THE TWELVE (Ballantine, $28, 592 pages, ISBN 9780345504982), is the sequel that fans have been waiting for, continuing the story of Amy, Peter and Alicia as they attempt to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. Cronin lives with his wife and two children in Houston. Look for a review of THE TWELVE on BookPage.com.


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features

MUSIC biographies by

henry l. Carrigan

THEIR STARS STILL SHINE

A

s Pete Seeger reminds us in his now-iconic ballad, “Turn, Turn, Turn,” there’s a season for everything. This fall is the season for a cavalcade of music memoirs and biographies, books that will make music lovers weep, laugh and sing.

It’s Only Rock and Roll This year the Rolling Stones will gather no moss but rake in the coin, as no fewer than four new books celebrate the band’s 50th anniversary. In music critic Philip Norman’s admiring and adoring biography of rock’s legendary bad boy, Mick Jagger (Ecco, $34.99, 624 pages, ISBN 9780061944857), we meet the entire cast of characters who’ve feasted at the Stones’ banquet over the years— from Marianne Faithfull and Brian Jones to Jagger’s first girlfriend, Chrissie Shrimpton, Ronnie Wood and many others. At the center of it all is the canny middle-class Jagger, who carefully controlled and orches-

  



       1



trated his rebellious image to distinguish himself and the band from the well-scrubbed lads from Liverpool. Gathering interviews from everyone in Jagger’s life except Jagger himself, Norman takes us for a revealing walk down the moonlight mile of Jagger’s life, from his youthful embrace of the blues through the controversies surrounding the Altamont Music Festival, the arguments with band mate Keith Richards, and Jagger’s own constant need to reinvent himself as performer. Wild horses can’t drag Stones fans away from this riveting tale of a rock legend who’s still trying to find satisfaction.

My Man’s Got It Made In the early 1970s, one of the frequent guests at the Stones’ banquet was a star-crossed lad from Waycross, Georgia. Gram Parsons’ story is well known to many: Charming, handsome and talented young man with a trust fund grows up in a dysfunctional family, leaves home to carry his crystal voice and brilliant songwriting to music circles, rises quickly to radiant stardom, dies young in 1973 and is immortalized as the founder of cosmic American music and country rock. Journalist Bob Kealing rehearses this familiar story in his mesmerizing Calling Me Home: Gram Parsons and the Roots of Country Rock (University Press of Florida, $27.50, 296 pages, ISBN 9780813042046), but he also draws upon dozens of new interviews with Parsons’ family, friends and fellow musicians. Kealing offers a compulsively readable and intimate portrait of a young man who introduced the pure strains of country stars such as the Louvin Brothers and Merle Haggard to rock.

Like a Bird on a Wire

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

When Leonard Cohen returned to the stage to much acclaim in 2007 after an extended absence, his fans

embraced him as a long-lost pilgrim, and indeed he had been holed up in a Buddhist retreat center, looking for tranquility and order in his life. In I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen (Ecco, $27.99, 576 pages, ISBN 9780061994982), music critic Sylvie Simmons vividly chronicles the life of a musician whose song “Hallelujah,” affirming his faith in life and love, has become one of the most-recorded songs in pop history. Simmons draws extensively on Cohen’s private archives, unpublished writings and his vast store of published writings, as well as interviews with close friends, rabbis and Buddhist monks as she traces Cohen’s path from his early life in Montreal through his rise to fame as a raspy-voiced singer-songwriter in the 1960s and ’70s, his retreat from the public eye and his return. In this elegantly crafted biography, Simmons captures the artist who, in spite of all his highs and lows, is still sharp at the edges, a wise old monk, a trouper offering up himself and his songs.

Ain’t I A Woman While Cohen has recently returned to the music scene, soul singer Bettye LaVette never left it, and she’s finally getting some long-overdue recognition for her powerful, heart-wrenching singing. Unflinchingly honest, LaVette, with writer David Ritz, shares the searing story of her struggle to gain recognition for her tremendous talent—praised by her friends Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding and others— and the many obstacles along the way that kept her from stardom in A Woman Like Me (Blue Rider, $26.95, 272 pages, ISBN 9780399159381). As a teenager, she hit the charts

with “My Man—He’s a Lovin’ Man,” and though life continued to push her down, LaVette never lost hope. Her stunning rendition of the Who’s “Love Reign o’er Me” at the Kennedy Center Honors catapulted her back into the spotlight in 2008. Energetic and frank, LaVette’s unforgettable memoir spotlights a star that still shines.

The Gambler On a train bound for nowhere, country legend Kenny Rogers met up with success. In his aw-shucks, sit-down-and-listen-for-a-spell memoir, Luck or Something Like It (Morrow, $27.99, 432 pages, ISBN 9780062071811), the singer-songwriter who has sold tens of millions of records asks us onto his front porch as he reminisces in never-before-told stories about his upbringing in a poor part of Houston, his love for his parents and family, his love of music at an early age, his five marriages and his artistic partnerships with Dolly Parton and Barry Gibb, among others. With a twinkle in his eye and a song in his heart, Rogers gracefully recalls the ups and downs on his wild ride to fame, grateful to have had the good fortune to remain in the spotlight as an entertainer for more than 50 years. Visit BookPage.com for a review of Neil Young’s Waging Heavy Peace.


features

Halloween by michael alec rose

Zombies, demons, werewolves and fairy tales

T

he news industry has always threatened to doom horror fiction to redundancy. How can any writer outdo the nightmare reality of the “developing stories” on CNN? Fortunately, masters of the genre don’t even try. Instead, they play riffs on the “standards” of horror, and a different kind of news emerges. It’s not what you tell that matters, it’s how you tell it. That’s what horror fans call a “developing story.” David Wong (a pseudonym) is the champion of slackers and couch potatoes everywhere. In This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It (Thomas Dunne, $25.99, 416 pages, ISBN 9780312546342), Wong’s hilarious fictive self muddles through a series of epic disasters unleashed by his own slacking. Just as well: Only a full-throttle global apocalypse could In Jurassic Park, he created a terrifying new world. Now in

MICRO

MICHAEL CRICHTON REVEALS A UNIVERSE TOO SMALL

TO SEE AND TOO DANGEROUS TO IGNORE.

“Micro is yet another terrifically entertaining Crichton thriller.” —Associated Press

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FEAR ON A SCALE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN

relieve Wong’s boredom and absolute societal redundancy. You know you’re in for it when the therapist assigned to “cure” you by the police (because you’ve persuaded them you’re a borderline psychopath) is creepier by far than any of the invisible spiders-who-turn-people-intozombies which only you and your slacker friend John can see. True to his schlemiel essence, Wong hardly has to lift a finger for all bloody hell to break loose. When it does, he’s invariably caught somewhere between the feelings of “Oh, sh—!” and “Bring it on, man!” As in his first novel John Dies at the End, Wong makes no bones (and there are plenty of ‘em, poking out of bleeding flesh) about annoying every authority figure in sight, including grammar fascists like me. With sublime contempt for literary decorum, Wong not only uses “lay” when he should use “lie”; he then conjugates the error throughout with aplomb. This book is full of slacking: seriously, dude, lay down on the couch and read it. Victor LaValle’s The Devil in Silver (Spiegel & Grau, $27, 432 pages, ISBN 9781400069866) feels like a grand symphonic variation on Ken Kesey’s horrific “chamber music” in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. LaValle makes explicit his tribute to that great novel. At one point, his hapless hero Pepper, an inadvertent mental-ward inmate, imagines himself as Kesey’s “Chief,” busting out

of the place by tossing a heavy object through the window. Nothing could surpass the horror of Kesey’s finale, so LaValle gives the reader something else to worry about besides a lobotomy: the possibility that the inmates are menaced by a devil from Hell at loose in the ward. In The ­Devil in Silver, as in every worthy horror story, the threat of the supernatural plays second fiddle to a humane gallery of lovable characters in the ward, all of whom might just be crazier than we are. Pepper’s obvious sanity (like McMurphy’s in Cuckoo’s Nest) exposes the real horror: the insanity of the institution itself.

History’s horrors The last two novels derive their superior quality from a subtle infusion of 20th-century history, the horrors of which run like a dark conscience through both narratives. With Breed (Mulholland, $25.99, 320 pages, ISBN 9780316198561), mainstream author Scott Spencer changes his name to Chase Novak and bursts out fully armed as a knight of horror, dubbed by none other than Stephen King in the cover blurb. King is justified in his enthusiasm for Breed: It’s hard to imagine a more twisted or

timely riff on the theme of lycanthropy, whereby the monsters must fend off a desire to devour their own children. Best of all, the novel serves up a vivid allegory on the malaise and corruption of formerly Communist countries in Eastern Europe. Novak may not be doing the tourist trade of Slovenia any good, but he does a shattered world of good for both the tragic history of the Soviet bloc and the geographic legacy of the horror novel. There is just one word potent enough to describe Stefan Kiesbye’s Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone (Penguin, $15, 208 pages, ISBN 9780143121466): sublime. The notion of the “sublime”— whatever exceeds our understanding or violates the dictates of our senses, inspiring both terror and wonder—nurtured the poetry of Schiller, the music of Beethoven and (most pertinent here) the bloodthirsty tales of the Brothers Grimm. Born and raised in Germany, Kiesbye digs deep into the sublime vein of his homeland’s literary tradition and comes up with horrific gold. But Kiesbye benefits too from the literature of his adopted United States: The multiple narrative voices of Faulkner work like a dark charm, as four children from a German village bear witness to the fundamental evil of the place, and to their own chilling soullessness. The ongoing rumors of a witch or demon preying upon the village can’t stand up to the comprehensive horror of what transpired nearby, in the barracks, in the crematoria, behind the barbed wire, under the Third Reich. There is no greater horror than this: the sins of the fathers visited upon the children, beyond any hope of redemption.


reviews san miguel

FICTION

This land is our land review by cat acree

Few authors so easily disassemble the American dream as T.C. Boyle. Over the course of 13 novels, he has made it a signature move to take the core tenets of our identity—the right to define your sense of place, to own and control the land beneath your feet—and dissect them, move the pieces around and put them back together however he likes. This theme returns in his new novel, the surprisingly restrained San Miguel. Boyle first wrote about California’s Channel Islands in his novel When the Killing’s Done (2011), a contentious story of environmentalists battling over the lives of animals. The backdrop might be similar, but San Miguel is driven less by conflict and more by the emotions of three real historical women. In 1888, Marantha’s husband Will brings her to the island with the promise of warm Californian air to help soothe her violent consumpBy T.C. Boyle tion. What she finds instead is a moldy house that smells of sheep, terViking, $27.95, 368 pages rible storms and the interminable ennui of forced exile. Two years later, ISBN 9780670026241, eBook available Marantha’s adopted teenage daughter, Edith, desperately seeks a way off the island and will stop at nothing to return to civilization. In 1930, the care of the sheep falls to newlyweds Elise and Herbie, who find romance and freedom in their seclusion. However, World War II is a constant, growing threat to their 12 peaceful years as King and Queen of San Miguel. If Boyle’s past works have chuckled and made glib asides—he was once dubbed an “adventurer among the potholes and pratfalls of the American language” by the L.A. Times—San Miguel simply breathes. Stripped of Boyle’s characteristic irony and comedy, San Miguel allows human frailty to stand, Ahab-like, in stark contrast to a hostile environment. Readers will find within San Miguel a gentler touch, a reticent style capable of rendering a reader speechless with its quiet beauty.

the lighthouse road By Peter Geye

Unbridled $24.95, 280 pages ISBN 9781609530846 eBook available

historical FICTION

Minnesota author Peter Geye’s engaging second novel, following 2011’s Safe from the Sea, is also set in northern Minnesota, near the rugged shores of Lake Superior. The plot shifts back and forth in time from the late 1800s to the 1920s, focusing on Thea Eide—who is just 17 in 1895 when she leaves Norway for America to find a better life—and Odd, her son, born a year later. Thea arrives on Ellis Island and makes the long trip to the small town of Gunflint, Minnesota, outside of

Duluth, where she is to be met by her aunt and uncle. She’s told that her aunt has hung herself, and her uncle has gone mad—but is taken under the benevolent wing of Hosea Grimm, who runs the local apothecary. Geye adroitly weaves together the stories of Hosea and his adopted daughter Rebekah with that of Thea and Odd, gradually revealing the ways in which their lives continue to intersect over decades. The environment itself plays a huge role in Geye’s captivating story. The dark and brooding Northwoods, the rivers frozen in winter, the weeks of subzero days in the logging camp, the sudden storms whipping up on Lake Superior—all contribute to an atmosphere that makes the novel come alive. As with Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News, readers will feel as if they are experiencing the nature that Geye paints for them first-hand. —Deborah Donovan

peaches for father francis By Joanne Harris

Viking $26.95, 464 pages ISBN 9780670026364 Audio, eBook available

POPULAR FICTION

The story begins when Vianne receives a letter beckoning her back to the village from her current home aboard a houseboat in Paris. Though Roux declines to accompany Vianne, she is undeterred, following her heart and returning to a Lansquenet fraught with cultural tensions between the French townspeople and their new neighbors: a burgeoning community of Moroccan immigrants. Indeed, Harris bravely embraces the messiness of a miniature holy war, with Catholics and Muslims alternating between fascination and fear regarding each other’s disparate religions and cultures. Surprisingly, Father Francis—her former nemesis—is now an unlikely ally in solving a mystery that threatens to destroy everything precious to both the French villagers and their increasingly restless new neighbors. Harris’ elegant writing coexists alongside a plot that is in many ways a straight-up mystery, albeit one with a sprinkle of romance and a dash of mysticism. It all adds up to a novel that is adept at exploring misconceptions about Islamic traditions like the niqab (the face veil) as well as the challenges facing the Roman Catholic Church in Europe. Above all, Harris achieves what many lesser talents have found impossible: mesmerizing readers with a socially relevant plot, without ever becoming cliché, maudlin or forgetting that in the end, she is not a lecturer, but a storyteller. —Karen Ann Cullotta

may we be forgiven For readers with sweet memories of Joanne Harris’ 1999 bestseller Chocolat, the beloved novelist has served up another delicious literary treat. With Peaches for Father Francis, Harris returns to the charming French village of Lansquenet, and of course, so do many of Chocolat’s cast of characters, including mercurial matriarch Vianne; her partner, the enigmatic Roux; Vianne’s daughters, Anouk and Rosette; and the cantankerous yet endearing Father Francis Reynaud.

By A.M. Homes

Viking $27.95, 496 pages ISBN 9780670025480 eBook available

literary FICTION

Inadvertent culpability. Suburban insanity. Personal and familial redemption. Such are the subjects of A.M. Homes’ ambi-

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reviews tious, sprawling and nearly Dickensian new novel that follows one middle-aged, middle-class man from bad to worse to renewed, and everywhere in between. May We Be Forgiven opens with a series of unfortunate events. George Silver, a widely loathed television executive, flies off the handle after a deadly car accident. Harry Silver, a Nixon scholar with less money and success than his brother, finds himself not only embroiled in the drama, but also entwined emotionally and sexually with George’s gorgeous wife, Jane—that is, until George comes home and bludgeons her to death with a table lamp. And that’s when things really get crazy. Homes—never one to shy from unpleasant situations—takes these brothers’ bad deeds as her starting point, and Harry’s circuitous quest for forgiveness as the book’s core. Abandoned by his shrewish wife and saddled with the care of George’s two precocious children, Harry moves into his brother’s Westchester home and begins to build a brand new life. This process, it turns out, is as hilarious as it is wrenching. Think kleptomaniac great aunts, Internet sexcapades with lonely housewives and a covert mission to recover Richard Nixon’s lost short-story collection. In many ways, Nixon and the failed American dream form the cheeky subtext of this novel: The house, the wife, the kids are an outmoded myth, and even when good men try, they come up short. This

The Guardians by Richard Williams AuthorHouse • $16.99 ISBN 9781434376633

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Two shelties lead their masters back to the path of God’s love. These special dogs have the ability to speak, but their unusual talent is a closely guarded secret.

FICTION said, Homes is also up to something sneakier and more redemptive with her madcap antics. By seeking to do good in the lives of others, she seems to say, and by cobbling together a different version of the nuclear family, we can heal ourselves. Such issues might seem weighty, but Homes is never didactic—a balance she achieves with the sheer strangeness and deadpan nature of her tale. Indeed, one never can predict what’s going to happen next. In a less capable writer’s hands, this spiraling and volatility might feel disorienting. But with Homes at the helm, you can’t help but be delighted by the ride. —J i l l i a n Q u i n t

Visit BookPage.com for a Q&A with A.M. Homes.

mr. penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore

by developing “boob-simulation software” and Mr. Penumbra himself, the hopeful store proprietor. Though there’s a code to be cracked in these pages, the real treat of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is Sloan’s energetic storytelling—and the many, many lines that you will surely want to share on Facebook and tweet to the masses. (“He has the strangest expression on his face—the emotive equivalent of 404 PAGE NOT FOUND.” Or: “If fidgets were Wikipedia edits, I would have completely revamped the entry on guilt by now, and translated it into five new languages.”) Readers who don’t know a hashtag from a wiki will still appreciate the book’s ultimate message about friendship, and the conclusion that nothing— not even a world full of programmers and hackers—can substitute for a cunning mind.

cast as the lead in a film along with megastar Dawn Devonport, the present begins to claim more of his attention, while drawing increasingly close to his past. As Cleave stacks one crisp memory on top of another, the edifice of his story begins to quiver beneath the weight. Recipient of the 2005 Man Booker Prize, Banville is peerless in his steadfast precision of language. Ultimately it is his masterful, high style prose that makes Ancient Light shine. — W . S . Ly o n

live by night By Dennis Lehane

Morrow $27.99, 416 pages ISBN 9780060004873 Audio, eBook available

HISTORICAL fiction

—Eliza Borné

By Robin Sloan

FSG $25, 304 pages ISBN 9780374214913 eBook available

debut fiction

ancient light By John Banville

Knopf $25.95, 304 pages ISBN 9780307957054 Audio, eBook available

literary fiction

Robin Sloan’s funny debut novel, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, is both a celebration and a send-up of the clashing worlds of technology and those who cling to dead-tree books. After losing a job at the corporate headquarters of NewBagel, where “ex-Googlers” developed software to create the perfect bagel, Clay Jannon gets hired at an unconventional bookstore in San Francisco. Unconventional because it’s open 24 hours, has very few customers, is vertical—there are three stories worth of books you have to climb a ladder to retrieve—and the books are written in secret code. What at first seems to be a front for an illegal operation turns out to be connected with a cult, and Clay goes on a mission to solve the mystery that has been plaguing its members for centuries, enlisting the help of a quirky team, like the Google acolyte he’s dating, the friend who got rich

John Banville’s Ancient Light is a trip through a hall of mirrors, where memory unfolds into memory and is scattered into a thousand angles, each one staring back in lurid detail. It’s all source material for our narrator Alex Cleave, retired actor and now memoirist. But for him, for us, the material source of the images he recalls is the most elusive thing in the world. Through Cleave’s narration, we shift among three time periods— two viscerally remembered and one presently lived—and all the women who have mattered in his life. The first is Mrs. Gray, his lover, him at age 15 and she at 35, and the mother of his then-best friend. Their tryst is recounted in striking detail, vivid to the point of upstaging his present. But when Cleave is unexpectedly

“Some years later, in a tugboat in the Gulf of Mexico, Joe Coughlin’s feet were placed in a tub of cement.” As an opening line guaranteed to pick you up by the scruff of the neck and not let go, it doesn’t get much better than that. Live by Night is told in flashbacks, coming around full circle to that gripping beginning, which is, in its way, the end. Ardent Dennis Lehane-ophiles will recognize the Coughlin family name from 2008’s The Given Day, the sweeping early 20thcentury novel in which Aiden (Danny) Coughlin, Joe’s Boston cop father, played a pivotal role. Fast-forward 10 years or so to the heady time of Prohibition, and the younger Coughlin offers up a fine example of the apple having fallen far from the tree. While Coughlin père pursued his vision of law and order, Coughlin fils embarked early on a life of crime. He should have known better than to rob well-connected speakeasy owner Albert White, and he really should have known better than to make a play for White’s girl, but then there would have been no cement overshoes and probably no story as


FICTION well. And make no mistake, there is a fine story here, more than the equal of its predecessor—one that begs for (and, according to reports, will receive) a third installment. —Bruce Tierney

Heaven Should Fall By Rebecca Coleman

MIRA $15.95, 368 pages ISBN 9780778313892 eBook available

POPULAR FICTION

While the Olmsteads’ grim story is told through the separate perspectives of the family members themselves, only the voice of Jill resonates with uncorrupted clarity. The landscape Coleman has created here is strikingly bleak. Instead of bells and whistles, she relies on substance and atmosphere to build her story; her language is subdued, but the words cut deeply. She crafts each character with a love that is genuine and sometimes fearful, pulling helpless readers headlong into their struggles. As the heartbreak spreading through this family rots away to reveal something sinister, it is impossible to turn away. —Rachel Norfleet

Rebecca Coleman’s haunting second novel, Heaven Should Fall, begins innocently enough: Jill Wagner’s otherwise affable and charismatic boyfriend, Cade Olmstead, does not want to introduce her to his family. Still reeling from the death of her own mother, Jill can’t help but feel rejected by this uncharacteristic refusal. But when the young college couple discovers that Jill is pregnant, Cade concedes that their best option is to retreat to the Olmstead family farm. Once they arrive, Cade’s reasons for keeping Jill away become dismally clear. In place of the domestic togetherness she has been craving she finds a toxic environment choked with long-buried secrets and bitter animosity. Cade’s family tiptoes around the reminders of the past to simply make it through each day—mother Leela, father Eddy, sister Candy and brother Elias are all beyond the reach of Jill’s good intentions. With her due date looming, Jill takes a special shine to Elias, a combat veteran who’s come home riddled with the horrific memories of his time in Afghanistan. But not even the government Elias pledged his life to can help him, and as he sinks deeper into the cruel depths of post-traumatic stress disorder, Jill notices an unsettling change in Cade’s behavior as well. When an unspeakable tragedy descends upon the family, she fears it will be just enough to push Cade over the edge.

Care of wooden floors By Will Wiles

New Harvest $24, 304 pages ISBN 9780547953564 Audio, eBook available

ing notes multiply throughout the flat, and our narrator’s struggle to right his growing disaster brings our own faults uncomfortably, somehow pleasingly, right up close. And while the story chronicles one man’s problems, it ably takes a larger view, pitting control against chaos and examining the madness that the quest for perfection can bring. The book suffers a little from an oddly stunted ending. But the ride is such a tense pleasure, it doesn’t even matter. Wiles is a strong new voice. Enjoy this one with a glass of wine—if you dare. —Sheri Bodoh

the heart broke in By James Meek

FSG $28, 416 pages ISBN 9780374168711 eBook available

literary FICTION

debut FICTION

It turns out a novel about trying to keep a floor clean can be edge-ofyour-seat compelling. Who knew? Journalist Will Wiles’ fiction debut, Care of Wooden Floors, takes this unlikely plot and twists it into a tight, lovely, unique work full of heart as well as darkness. An unnamed narrator agrees to housesit for his old college friend, Oskar, in a dreary, unidentified Eastern European city. He doesn’t know how long the gig will last, and he hopes the stay in Oskar’s meticulously kept environs will get his writing juices flowing. It’s deceptively easy: care for the cats, use a coaster and above all else, don’t damage the floors. But this seemingly painless job goes terribly, terribly wrong. Terribly, hilariously wrong. A wine stain is only the beginning, and the slapstick moments, tinged with threat, are nimbly choreographed. What’s truly wonderful, though, is the narrator’s imperfection—his vulnerability, humanity. As one mistake leads to another, Oskar’s demand-

James Meek’s stunningly crafted fifth novel, The Heart Broke In, follows the exploits of Ritchie Shepherd, an aging, married pop star who is defined by the parameters of his marriage, the success of his teen talent reality show and his penchant for underage girls. His sister, Bec Shepherd, on the other hand, fills her time not with vices but with the search for a malaria vaccine, even if it means putting her own life at risk. Bec has dared turn down the marriage proposal of megalomaniac tabloid editor Val Oatman, and Oatman’s bitter revenge—directed at Bec, using her brother—threatens not only to break apart the family, but also to ruin their livelihoods. From the dried-out plains of Tanzania to the foggy estates dotting the London countryside, The Heart Broke In follows these all too realistic characters as they search for medical miracles, a family’s forgiveness and exoneration in the public eye. What makes Meek’s brilliant novel so compulsive and utterly enjoyable is his ability to push each of

his characters to their moral limit. —Megan Fishmann

a working theory of love By Scott Hutchins

Penguin $25.95, 336 pages ISBN 9781594205057 eBook available

debut fiction

Neill Bassett is a 30-something former businessman living in San Francisco, inputting his dead father’s incredibly detailed journals into a supercomputer for Amiante Systems, a company that hopes to use them to win an artificial intelligence contest. Add in a highschool dropout, a beautiful ex-wife Neill can’t stop running into and a sex cult, and you’ve got the strange yet beautiful interworkings of Scott Hutchins’ debut novel, A Working Theory of Love. The idea of a grown man receiving closure from a supercomputer acting as his father sounds more comical than poignant, but readers will be unable to put the book down as the conversations between man and machine grow more intimate, and Neill is forced to deal with the pain of his father’s suicide. Questions about the nature of humanity and love are expertly explored in this impressive debut. —Brooke Allen

A Patient’s Perspective by Patricia Cyr Amazon.com • $14.95 ISBN 9781463648800 Get the high-quality health care you deserve! “An indispensable guide.” —Kirkus

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reviews

NONFICTION THe black count By Tom Reiss

The Story of Ain’t

an offensive four-letter word Review by pete croatto

When Merriam-Webster announced the new words included in its 2012 Collegiate Dictionary—entries that included “sexting” and “energy drink”—the news was greeted quietly, perhaps because most of us understand how language evolves. Slang makes its way to grandparents; jargon becomes commonplace. Or maybe we’ve exhausted our anger. Tolerance was in short supply 51 years ago when Webster’s Third New International Dictionary caused the intellectual, journalistic and academic worlds to go nuts over one little word—and a change in the dictionary’s philosophy. David Skinner traces the evolution of this language battle in The Story of Ain’t, a fascinating, highly entertaining cultural history that will enchant an audience beyond word nerds. Webster’s Third hit shelves in 1961, 27 years after the release of Webster’s By David Skinner Second. In the intervening years, World War II, pop culture and other changHarper, $26.99, 368 pages es had broadened the language. Plus, many researchers had concluded that ISBN 9780062027467, eBook available defining the “right way” to speak English was, at best, an elusive concept. Editor Philip Gove decided that Webster’s, the leading dictionary of the day, would fit these less formal times. He updated the literary references, shortened the definitions and steered the book away from its encyclopedic past. Even the pronunciation key was dumped. The response to this new approach was met with an anger that rose to pitchfork-carrying levels when the press release for the new dictionary focused on the premiere of “ain’t.” The sloppily prepared release portrayed the word as a staple of educational speakers, neglecting to mention that “a substandard label was attached” to the word in the Webster’s Third entry. Despite the title, the scandal over “ain’t” is not the book’s best part. It’s the way in which Skinner nimbly, concisely—and without academic dryness—traces the everyday changes that shaped what came out of Americans’ mouths and into our dictionaries. Ain’t that something?

Master of the moutain By Henry Wiencek FSG $28, 352 pages ISBN 9780374299569 eBook available

history

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It’s one of the great lingering conundrums of American history: How is it that the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence was a lifelong owner of slaves? George Washington freed his slaves in his will, after his relatives talked him out of doing it during his lifetime. Not Thomas Jefferson, in life or death. Instead, he collateralized them to borrow the money to rebuild Monticello, and left writings that were all over the map: proemancipation, anti-emancipation and everything in between.

Before the civil rights movement, historians tended to ignore or cover up the reality of Jefferson’s slave ownership. More recent ones have wrestled with it. Author Henry Wiencek, who wrote about Washington’s decision in An Imperfect God, doesn’t think it’s that complicated. In his persuasive Master of the Mountain, he concludes that Jefferson realized quite quickly that slave ownership could be extremely profitable. He consciously chose money over morality and spent the rest of his life pretending otherwise to his liberal European friends. “Jefferson constantly moved the boundaries on his moral map to make the horrific tolerable to him,” Wiencek writes. Many of Jefferson’s admirers will find this assessment hard to accept. But Wiencek makes a forceful case through a careful description of Jefferson’s records, letters and actions, as well as memoirs by his former

Crown $27, 432 pages ISBN 9780307382467 Audio, eBook available

history

slaves and archaeological findings at Monticello. Wiencek argues that Jefferson wasn’t even a particularly kindly master: He was decent enough—usually—to his house servants, but left his field workers to the mercies of overseers whom he himself acknowledged were thugs. Wiencek is among those who believe Sally Hemings was Jefferson’s slave-mistress and the mother of several of his children, but he doesn’t buy the theory that their relationship was a heartwarming secret romance. Instead, Wiencek goes through the evidence to show that it was likely a more pragmatic bargain. Master of the Mountain is a remarkable re-creation of Monticello’s economy and culture, and it’s not a positive one. Whether you agree or disagree with Wiencek’s provocative analysis, it’s a book worth taking seriously as we continue to struggle with slavery’s legacy.

The Count of Monte Cristo is a classic tale of betrayal and revenge, penned by the renowned 19th-century author Alexandre Dumas. But it turns out the novel is not merely fiction; key plot developments were based on the true-life experiences of the author’s father. This is the premise of The Black Count, a new book by Tom Reiss that traces the incredible rise and precipitous fall of Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, the father of author Alexandre Dumas. In many ways, the life of the elder Dumas mirrors that of Edmond Dantes, the hero of The Count of Monte Cristo. In the novel, Dantes is falsely accused of being a supporter of Napoleon, who has been exiled from France. Dantes is imprisoned for 14 years before escaping and enacting revenge on his accusers. While some occurrences in Thomas-Alexandre Dumas’ life were not as dramatic as those of the fictional Dantes, other aspects were even more remarkable. Dumas was born in present-day Haiti to a French nobleman and a black slave. Brought to France by his father, the mixed-race Dumas became a general under Napoleon Bonaparte. But General Dumas’ fortunes abruptly changed. He was captured in Italy, thrown into a dungeon and left to rot. Though he was finally released, he died impoverished and embittered. Perhaps his revenge was achieved with his son’s writing of The Count of Monte Cristo, which takes a critical look at France’s tumultuous political climate. The Black Count is a thoroughly researched, lively piece of nonfiction that will be savored by fans of Alexandre Dumas. But The Black Count needs no partner: It is fascinating enough to stand on its own.

—Anne Bartlett

—J o h n T. S l a n i a


NONFICTION

Travels

with

NONFICTION

by Robert Reid

The Oath By Jeffrey Toobin

Doubleday $28.95, 352 pages ISBN 9780385527200 Audio, eBook available

LAW

Overall, The Oath is an entertaining read that provides lively personal accounts of the justices and that makes complex legal issues understandable. It is a welcome portrait of the contemporary Supreme Court. —J o h n C h a r l e s W i l l i a m s

ike’s bluff By Evan Thomas

There are two theses running through The Oath, Jeffrey Toobin’s follow-up to his 2008 Supreme Court profile, The Nine. The first is that former constitutional law professor Barack Obama and current Chief Justice John Roberts have fundamentally opposed theories of constitutional interpretation. As Toobin writes, it is Roberts who is an “apostle of change” and Obama who is “determined to hold on to an older version of the meaning of the Constitution.” The book bills itself by this difference, but Toobin fails to deliver a thorough portrait on the president’s end. Though he convincingly argues that judicial matters are not high among the president’s priorities, Toobin offers little about Obama’s legal philosophy. The Oath is really an up-close look at recent high-profile cases on the Supreme Court’s docket. That brings us to the book’s second thesis: Constitutional law is politics by other means, at least in the current day. This sentiment pervades the discussion of the cases at the book’s core: District of Columbia v. Heller’s location of an individual right to a handgun in the Second Amendment; Citizens United and the Court’s equation of corporate campaign contributions with speech; and this summer’s decision to uphold the individual mandate in Obama’s healthcare law. In each of these cases, Toobin sees a battle between Democrats and Republicans. Legal theories serve as proxies for partisan politics. Some might view this equivalence as overly simplistic and the emphasis on big-ticket cases as unduly narrow. Yet it is difficult to refute the notion that the Court has taken a conservative tack—even prior to Roberts—that relies on overturning legal precedent.

Little, Brown $29.99, 496 pages ISBN 9780316091046 Audio, eBook available

history

In 1952, with the Cold War beginning and a hot war raging in Korea, American voters sought a leader whose foreign policy could bring peace and security. Toward that end, they elected war hero Dwight Eisenhower as their president. With an escalating nuclear arms race, Ike found he was the first person in history with the power to destroy the world. As Evan Thomas demonstrates in his riveting Ike’s Bluff, the new president’s single most important preoccupation was avoiding war. How he did it, with subtlety and a pragmatic approach, is the focus of the book. At the heart of Eisenhower’s strategy on nuclear weapons was confidentiality—he was the only person who knew whether he would drop the bomb. His ability to convince the enemies of the U.S. as well as his own supporters that he would use nuclear weapons was, Thomas writes, “a bluff of epic proportions.” To do this required extraordinary patience and self-discipline. As Thomas points out, “Eisenhower’s critical insight was that nuclear warfare had made war itself the enemy.” Thomas shows that Eisenhower’s approach to nuclear weapons would have worked only for him, a highly respected and popular military hero. As Thomas writes, “Ike was more comfortable as a soldier, yet his greatest victories were the wars he did not fight.” — ROGER B ISHO P

A moveable feast: food & travel I’ve long considered the bulk of travel itineraries—going to an art museum, seeing a monument, climbing a tower for a city view—as merely “the space between meals.” It’s the food that anchors the days, be it sitdown chic off the Champs d’Elysses or 50-cent noodles on plastic stools on a cracked sidewalk in Hanoi. To eat! That is to travel. Before you set off, there are amazing food-related travel books that cover the world or focus on some of the world’s most interesting destinations.  Food Lover’s Guide to the World (Lonely Planet, $39.99, 320 pages, ISBN 9781743210208) is an indispensable new pictorial tour through the great cuisines of the world, including travel tips and recipes if you want to bring the world back home to your kitchen. For a more literary choice, A Moveable Feast (Lonely Planet, $14.99, 288 pages, ISBN 9781742202297) takes the Hemingway title literally, with a collection of bitesized essays by well-known writers focused on the tasty fusion of travel and food experiences, including contributions by Anthony Bourdain, Pico Iyer and Elizabeth Eaves. Italy always wins for foodie travel. Beth Elon’s A Culinary Traveler in Tuscany (Little Bookroom, $17.95, 320 pages, ISBN 9781892145680) gives 10 off-the-beatentrack, recipefilled itineraries around Italy’s

most famous food and wine region. Elon arrives in lesser-known towns, like Filattiera during its July 1-4 festival La Fame e la Sete (the hunger and the thirst), where the aroma of sizzling meats hangs over the old village square filled with tables for that night’s feast. Italian food continues in New Yorker staff writer Bill Buford’s Heat (Vintage, $19.75, 318 pages, ISBN 9781400034475), which gives an illuminating behind-the-scenes look at

a great New York Italian restaurant. After daringly inviting celeb chef Mario Batali over for dinner, Buford signs up to be a ‘kitchen slave’ at his acclaimed restaurant Babbo. The result is a fun and intimate book, where Buford learns to butcher a hog and jets off to Italy to learn more from Batali’s former teachers. Pastry chef David Lebovitz had wanted a Paris home address since he learned that the French clip the tips of haricots verts (green beans) before tossing them in a pot—toujours! A couple of decades later his dream came true, when he left the restaurant business in San Francisco and moved to France. Lebovitz recounts his stumbles with life as an expat in Paris, along with dozens of new French-inspired recipes, in his memoir The Sweet Life in Paris (Broadway, $14, 282 pages, ISBN 9780767928892). Warning: reading Lebovitz’s story may make you book a flight to the City of Light or induce uncontrollable chocolate urges.

Robert Reid is Lonely Planet’s U.S. Travel Editor. If he could choose his last meal on Earth, it would be a picnic lunch of Vietnamese imperial rolls at Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park.

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children’s books

TEEN READ WEEK

fortune favors the bold

I

n our four exciting choices for Teen Read Week (October 14-20), readers can root for heroes and heroines who face near-impossible challenges with uncommon courage and a little magic. JEPP, WHO DEFIED THE STARS By Katherine Marsh Hyperion $16.99, 400 pages ISBN 9781423135005 Audio, eBook available Ages 12 and up

TEEN

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There is a long history of prejudice against people with dwarfism, and while today we know it is usually caused by a genetic disorder, author Katherine Marsh details the cruel treatment of Renaissance dwarf jesters in her fascinating new novel. To imagine the world of Jepp, Who Defied the Stars, Marsh drew inspiration from a portrait of a court dwarf to Philip IV of Spain, “Don Sebastián de Morra” by Diego Velázquez—a painting that suggests sympathy for the poorly treated little people of the day. Jepp leaves home for court, thinking that a whole new world will open for him; what he finds instead is a version of slavery. Punished for helping another dwarf try to escape, Jepp is sent to Uraniborg Castle to serve Lord Tycho, a character based on the real Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. Although a brilliant seeker of truth about the stars, Tycho is an eccentric, often cruel master. Jepp’s place at dinner is under the table, and he sleeps in the stable with Tycho’s pet moose. At first given menial tasks like filling inkpots and cleaning Tycho’s celestial globe, Jepp begins to learn from the scholars around him and eventually reveals his secret command of Latin. “Fate has cast me here, but I wish to learn and better myself,” he tells his master. With an engaging hero and unusual setting, Jepp is compelling historical fiction about the treat-

ment of those who are different and the challenges they face to be viewed as equals. —Deborah Hopkinson

THE PALADIN PROPHECY

The result is a fast, fun novel that will spark imaginations like something off the silver screen.

TEEN

Will West knows how to blend in. He can run 1.2 miles in 3:47 minutes and scores off the charts in aptitude tests, but his teachers can barely remember his name. As the 14-yearold hero of The Paladin Prophecy, the first in a new series from New York Times best-selling author Mark Frost, Will should be showing off his talents; instead, he’s keeping the promise he made to his parents to never reveal his true abilities. Will and his parents have moved from city to city “like Bedouins every eighteen months.” On a breathtakingly beautiful Southern California morning, though, Will finds out why: Someone is after them—him, especially—and now his father’s admonition to trust no one is proving very helpful. Whether it’s by dark-suited men in black sedans or yawping, snarling, fleshy masses from the nightmarish Never-Was, Will is being chased. They’ve already gotten to his mother; the proof is in her glassy eyes and eerie smile. “Do whatever you need to do to stay alive,” his father tells him in a video message. And so Will does. Frost, co-creator of the creepy television show “Twin Peaks,” heads in a more action-adventure, sci-fi direction with The Paladin Prophecy.

—J i l l R a t z a n

—Lacey Galbraith

the diviners

safekeeping By Karen Hesse

Feiwel & Friends $17.99, 304 pages ISBN 9781250011343 Audio, eBook available Ages 12 and up

By Libba Bray

Little, Brown $19.99, 608 pages ISBN 9780316126113 Audio, eBook available Ages 15 and up

TEEN

TEEN

By Mark Frost

Random House $17.99, 560 pages ISBN 9780375870453 Audio, eBook available Ages 12 and up

latest example of an emerging form of young adult literature.

Newbery Medal-winning author Karen Hesse is known for tales of characters finding rays of hope in situations of despair. In Safekeeping, Hesse envisions a future United States torn apart by civil war. Teenage Radley, returning to Vermont after volunteering at an orphanage in Haiti, looks forward to her parents meeting her at the airport. But her parents are missing—and her credit card and cell phone are useless. Strangers are wary, daylight curfews are violently enforced and the police may be chasing her. Hoping her parents have sought sanctuary in Canada, Radley heads north. Along the way, Radley cautiously befriends the secretive Celia and her loyal dog, Jerry Lee. As the three travelers seek safety, shelter and food, they also struggle with defining their new identities, accepting their past regrets and learning to live in a world where the rules have suddenly and irrevocably changed. Fifty of Hesse’s original blackand-white photographs accompany the narration. The photographs, which include panoramic views of landscapes, ghostly images of abandoned buildings and close-up shots of ordinary objects, enhance the story. Sometimes they directly illustrate Radley’s world; other times they set the tone or invite further reflection on a theme. Readers looking for an introspective view of a post-apocalyptic world, or who enjoyed the use of photographs in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, won’t want to miss this

The lights and sounds of 1926 Manhattan burst to life in Printz Award-winner Libba Bray’s exciting new historical fantasy series. When 17-year-old Evie O’Neill causes a scandal in her Ohio hometown, her parents banish her to Manhattan to live with her Uncle Will, a paranormal expert and curator at the failing Museum of the Creepy Crawlies. Evie is thrilled to sneak out to illicit nightclubs, drink “hooch” at speakeasies and drag her best friend into trouble every step of the way. When a young girl is sadistically murdered, the lead detective asks Uncle Will for help, but Evie discovers that as a Diviner (a person with supernatural abilities), she is the key to finding the killer. Interwoven throughout Evie’s story are the lives of other Diviners. Memphis is a Harlem numbersrunner who can heal with his hands. Theta is a Ziegfeld girl with a violent gift. Sam is a hypnotic pickpocket who’s after Evie’s heart. None of them know about each other’s powers, but as the series progresses, these dynamic characters will come together to stop a growing evil. Incredibly haunting and at times frightening, The Diviners is well researched and ambitious. The glitzy nightlife, the kitschy slang and the flapper-girl fashion all invoke the glamour of the Roaring ’20s. Readers will love Evie, a fearless and charming protagonist who lights up the book with her carefree attitude and sense of humor. This is Heroes meets the Jazz Age, and one could divine it will be the next big series in YA. — K i m b e r ly G i a r r a t a n o


interview

LOIS LOWRY

A FRIGHTENING AND FAMILIAR WORLD

A

lmost 20 years have passed since the publication of Lois Lowry’s Newbery-winning novel The Giver. While dystopian stories are widespread today, Lowry’s 1993 book was a pioneer in the genre for young readers, and it remains a searing and unforgettable reading experience. It’s therefore chilling to be transported back to this colorless, controlled community where sameness is the norm, and where a boy named Jonas is designated as the “Receiver” of the society’s past memories. But that’s exactly what readers have in store with Son, Lowry’s latest book and the final volume in The Giver Quartet. Son introduces a new character, Claire, a 14-year-old girl who is somewhat embarrassed to be assigned the role of birthmother. Things don’t go as planned for Claire. She becomes a “Vessel,” but has such difficulty with the birth of her first “Product” that she is sent instead to work at the fish hatchery. Claire is filled with a sense of loss and an urgency to be with her baby. She finds a way to visit the Nurturing Center, all the while hiding her true intentions: to be with her son, no matter what it takes. Claire’s story is riveting. And for readers of The Giver, reading Son is like visiting a place you lived long ago: Memories flood back; the landscape is eerily familiar; you start to recall people and events. The events in Claire’s life con-

SON

By Lois Lowry

HMH, $17.99, 400 pages ISBN 9780547887203, audio, eBook available Ages 12 and up

nect so effortlessly with The Giver it seems as if Lowry must have planned it this way. Nothing could be further from the truth. “I thought The Giver would be a single book,” laughs the author, speaking from her home in Maine. She was inspired to continue Jonas’ story in part because of young readers’ reactions to The Giver’s ambiguous ending. “Kids like things tied up a little more,” she explains. “It was clear from letters and emails that kids didn’t like the ambiguity of the ending.” This led to the next books in the series, Gathering Blue and Messenger. Similarly, readers’ curiosity about another character in The Giver prompted Lowry to write Son and return to the world that Jonas fled. (In preparation, Lowry herself sat down to reread the first book!) Just as Lowry never planned to write a quartet, she also doesn’t do much planning for individual books. “I never have a plot carefully thought out,” Lowry explains. “As an author you want to create a journey.” Critical to Claire’s journey is that somehow, after she is sent to the fish hatchery, no one remembers to give her the “pills,” which are used to stop stirrings—of love, dreams, longing and emotions. While she didn’t know what would happen to Claire, Lowry understood her character’s passionate need to connect with her son. For readers who know that Lowry herself lost a son (an Air Force pilot who was killed in the crash of his F-15), the story has added resonance. Claire’s journey takes her to a place far from the world of The Giver, to an isolated village at the foot of a high, terrifying cliff. In Claire’s new home, the technology that permeates the community of The Giver is absent. Lowry’s juxtaposition of

© Matthew McKee

by Deborah Hopkinson

Nov. 10, 2012 Sat., 10AM - 4PM Forsyth Park

Savannah, Georgia Rain location: Savannah Civic Center

primitive conditions and advanced technology draws inspiration from her life and the connections she makes to others. For some time, she has been part of Women for Women International, a program that helps women survivors of war rebuild their lives. Through a monthly sponsorship, Lowry is helping a mother of five in Afghanistan support and educate her children; her photo is posted by Lowry’s computer, a reminder that many people in our world still struggle with poverty and difficult living conditions. Lowry is a mentor and role model, as well as a mother, grandmother and a writer with an immense dedication to her readers. So it’s probably no accident that Claire finds help in her own quest to be reunited with her son. “I realize in looking back that Jonas, Kira, Matty, Gabe and Claire each find a mentor, or someone who gives them wisdom,” the renowned author notes, reflecting on the main characters in The Giver Quartet. “It seems to be a recurring theme.” While Lowry only works on one project at a time, she feels fortunate that inspiration still strikes. “Within the past week, the beginning of a new book appeared in my imagination,” she reveals. She started to write down what had come to her. “I suddenly realized I had written five pages,” Lowry says. She closed the file on her computer: She has another deadline to fulfill. But the book will be waiting for her—and hopefully someday for us—when she is ready.

Featuring some of the biggest children’s book authors and illustrators in the country! Plus arts & crafts, music, a comics/graphics tent, international area, theatrical performances, and more! All activities, shows & author programs are FREE!

For details:

www.liveoakpl.org 912-652-3605 Presented by:

29


children’s books EACH KINDNESS

reviews

THE RIPPLES OF HUMAN KINDNESS Review by angela leeper

The creators of The Other Side and the Caldecott Honor-winning Coming on Home Soon team up again in another beautifully illustrated picture book that touches hearts and minds. Just as snow falls on young Chloe’s community, a new girl named Maya appears at the door of her classroom. The first things Chloe notices are Maya’s ragged coat and broken springtime shoes. When Maya takes the seat next to Chloe and smiles, Chloe looks away without returning the smile—that day and every day after. Jacqueline Woodson’s poetic narration and E.B. Lewis’ stunning watercolors, which use light, shadow and perspective for dramatic effect, capture the hurt feelings as Chloe and her friends whisper secrets and snub Maya’s attempts at friendship. One day Maya stops asking to play and jumps rope alone. The next day her seat is empty, the same day that By Jacqueline Woodson teacher Ms. Albert drops a stone into a bowl of water, and the children Illustrated by E.B. Lewis watch as waves ripple away. “This is what kindness does, Ms. Albert said. Penguin, $16.99, 32 pages Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world.” ISBN 9780399246524, ages 5 to 8 While each classmate drops a stone into the water and recalls a kind act, such as helping with a baby brother’s diaper or carrying the teacher’s books, Chloe can’t think of one act of kindness she has done lately. When she discovers that Maya will not be returning, she laments her missed opportunities to be kind to her classmate. A lesser author would have made this a didactic moment. In Woodson’s soft, lyrical tone, Chloe’s dilemma becomes an occasion for personal reflection. From now on, when they watch water ripple, readers of Each Kindness will ponder their own gifts to the world and the splash they can make.

The girl who fell beneath fairyland and led the revels there By Catherynne M. Valente

Feiwel & Friends $16.99, 272 pages ISBN 9780312649623 Audio, eBook available Ages 10 to 14

middle grade

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In Catherynne M. Valente’s first book for young readers, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, the 12-year-old protagonist, September, had a unique and wonderful adventure in the world of Fairy and was brought home to Nebraska, safe and sound. For those of us who read the earlier novel and fell in love���with the writing, with the characters, with September—our desperate need for another trip to Fairyland has been as great as September’s own. With this second novel, Valente delivers

another truly wonderful story. Having vanquished the evil Marquess the first time around, September longed to return and enjoy the many marvels of what is now, surely, a peaceful kingdom. Once she finds another way back, however, she discovers that her very own shadow, the one she was forced to relinquish on her first visit, has been stirring up a good bit of trouble. She sets off once again off to make things right and restore magic to Fairyland. Valente’s rich prose is practically poetry. Her narrative voice is so immediate and revealing that we feel we know more about September than she knows about herself. The vocabulary is full and deep and continuously rewards the careful reader. As one character observes, “A book is a door, you know. Always and forever.” The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There is one of the best doors to choose: a completely satisfying read and a joy to revel in. —J e n n i f e r B r u e r K i t c h e l

Keeping safe the stars By Sheila O’Connor Putnam $16.99, 304 pages ISBN 9780399254598 Ages 10 and up

middle grade

How far would you go to keep your family together? That’s a question 13-year-old Kathleen Star— better known as Pride—must find an answer to, and fast. In Sheila O’Connor’s Keeping Safe the Stars, Pride and her two younger siblings must learn to survive on their own when Old Finn, their grandfather and only living relative, gets sick. He is taken from Eden, where the Stars live, and transferred to the big hospital hours away in Duluth. Pride isn’t sure how she’s going to do it, but she vows to fulfill her mother’s wish to “keep safe the Stars.”

When Pride realizes they will need help from Old Finn, the Stars travel by themselves to Duluth to find their grandfather. Unfortunately, what they find there is nothing like what they expected. Set during Richard Nixon’s resignation, Keeping Safe the Stars is a blend of adventure and history. Filled with just the right amount of tension, humor and love, this book grabs readers from the first page and pulls them, gently but firmly, all the way through to the satisfying conclusion. — Kevin Delecki

on the road to mr. mineo’s By Barbara O’Connor

Frances Foster/FSG $16.99, 192 pages ISBN 9780374380021 eBook available Ages 8 to 12

middle grade

This gem of a story, covering eight days in a sleepy small-town summer, has an unusual central character: a one-legged homing pigeon named Sherman who has gone missing from Mr. Mineo’s flock. While on the lam, Sherman is spotted by many folks. Stella and her friend Gerald want a pet. Amos and Ethel Roper enjoy arguing about the bird. Mutt is enthralled that the silly pigeon seems attracted to his head and that everyone thinks he is making up the story. And the unnamed sweet brown dog only wants a friend. All these stories twist and turn into each other like the footpaths of a small town. Where will it all end up? Just where it should: The brown dog finds a home (and a name: Harvey) with Stella, Mutt’s story is proved true, Sherman finds his girl pigeon and everyone has a soda at the bait shop. Barbara O’Connor’s gift in storytelling is her restraint. Holding back allows the reader to fill in a bit, making the story more personal. Her talents make On the Road to Mr. Mineo’s an unforgettable trip. —Robin Smith


feature

HALLOWEEN by alice cary

meet  JON KLASSEN

TREATS FOR LITTLE TRICKSTERS

F

riendly ghosts can be comforting, especially to young goblins who may find Halloween a little overwhelming. I’m dating myself with this admission, but I grew up watching “Casper, the Friendly Ghost” every Saturday morning on TV. Here are some newly created ghosts waiting to befriend the latest generation of Halloween revelers.

A GHOST OF YOUR VERY OWN Start with My First Ghost (Hyperion, $16.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9781423119494), by Maggie Miller and Michael Leviton, which is loads of fun and, as the cover boasts, comes with a “Free GHOST INSIDE!” Just turn the page, the text says, to claim yours, but first be sure you’re ready to take on the responsibility. Miller and Leviton offer a humorous owner’s manual, explaining, for instance, how ghosts are better than pets and siblings (“Your ghost will never punch your arm” or “sing annoying songs for hours on end”). Young readers will enjoy the activity suggestions (hide and seek, invite another ghost over), as well as the warnings (“Ghosts are very bad at catch”). Stephanie Buscema’s energetic illustrations have a delightful retro feel, reminiscent of the 1960s and 1970s, yet with a modern twist. My First Ghost will bring reassuring smiles to young trick-or-treaters, who will be pleased to learn that “If you love your ghost, your ghost will haunt you forever.”

SURPRISE GUESTS Halloween has finally arrived in Leo Landry’s Trick or Treat (HMH, $12.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9780547249698), which means that a charming little ghost named Oliver is getting ready to throw his annual party. As he cleans house and doles

out invitations to several witches and skeletons, he unknowingly drops one, which is found by two young trick-or-treaters. When this twosome arrives at Oliver’s doorstep on party night, Oliver and his guests are initially perplexed about what to do. Not to worry, of course—much fun ensues, and new friendships are formed. Landry’s watercolorand-pencil illustrations are a perfect match for the text: gentle, straightforward and sure to please anxious, eager youngsters.

NEVER FEAR! Another comforting book is Susan Hood’s Just Say BOO! (Harper, $12.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9780062010292), which is sure to be a readaloud hit with its resounding chorus, featured in the title and throughout the book. Fun and fear go hand in hand on this creepy holiday, and Just Say BOO! will help youngsters navigate that wobbly tightrope between the two. As a group of trick-or-treaters ventures out, the book tackles the pre-school fear factor by asking a series of rhymed questions like, “If a yip and yowl make you shiver and scowl, what do you say?” Just Say BOO! gives little ones the ammunition they need to conquer their jitters in a boisterous, humorous manner. Jed Henry’s illustrations feature cute young trick-or-treaters quaking in their little boots, and then shouting “boo!” with wild abandon.

THIS IS NOT MY HAT Following up on his #1 bestseller I Want My Hat Back, Jon Klassen returns with the story of a big fish in pursuit of a tiny thief in THIS IS NOT MY HAT (Candlewick, $15.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9780763655990). Klassen lives in Los Angeles.

31


WORDNOOK

By the editors of Merriam-Webster

PRISONER OF LOVE Dear Editor, Can you tell me where we got the term Stockholm syndrome? K. V. Fond du Lac, Wisconsin The term Stockholm syndrome describes an odd pattern of psychological behavior exhibited by a person who has been kidnapped, in which the person develops an irrational emotional bond with his or her captor. The phrase derives from a real-life incident that occurred in the Swedish capital. On August 23, 1973, four employees of the Sveriges Kreditbank were taken hostage during a robbery by a prison escapee named Jan-Erik Olsson. Olsson and his former cellmate held the hostages in the bank’s vault for 131 hours. Details of exactly what took place over the course of those six days are cloudy, but before the conclusion of the standoff, the hostages actually attempted to block the efforts of the police to liberate them, and they later refused to testify against their captors and visited

the criminals in jail. There were even reports that one of the victims later became engaged to one of the kidnappers. A psychologist named Nils Bejerot, who had assisted police during the robbery, coined the term Stockholm syndrome to describe the behavior of the hostages.

THE GATHERING STORM Dear Editor, Can you tell me when the word thunderstorm came into use and when it was introduced into the dictionary as an acceptable word? R. G. Huntsville, Alabama People have been using the word thunderstorm for the combination of rain, thunder and lightning for more than 350 years. Lightning storm is used as well, but less commonly. The date of the earliest known occurrence of thunderstorm is given by Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition as 1652. Dr. Samuel Johnson did not enter it in his great dictionary of 1755,

though he did enter thundershower. Noah Webster, however, put thunderstorm into his masterpiece, An American Dictionary of the English Language, in 1828. The entry is substantial and rather dramatic, reading in part, “In America, the violence of the wind at the commencement is sometimes equal to that of a hurricane and at this time the explosions of electricity are the most terrible.” As for the “why” of this word, we suppose that little more is involved than the plain fact that a loud clap of thunder is a powerful attention-getter.

A HIGH-SPEED CHASE Dear Editor, We have quite a lot of white-tailed deer around the area I live in, and watching them run with their tails held high led me to wonder if that’s where our expression hightailing it comes from. Do you know? A. T. Princeton, New Jersey Accounts differ slightly as to the precise origin of the verb hightail,

but they all agree that it was the sight of an animal fleeing, tail raised high, that inspired its original use. Many etymologies trace hightail to the cowboys of the bygone American West, who are said to have used it to refer to herds of cattle whose tails shot upright as they tried to flee from roundup. Others trace it to hunters, attributing it to the sight of startled game bolting with tails high, or to the wild mustangs of the plains which would quickly raise their tails before galloping off in fright. What we know for certain is that hightail first appeared at the beginning of this century in the American West as a word to describe the quick moving or fleeing of frightened or hurrying animals. It soon acquired the extended sense of “to move at full speed especially in making a retreat.” Today, hightail is largely used idiomatically with it, as in “I hightailed it out of there.”

Send correspondence regarding Word Nook to: Language Research Service P.O. Box 281 Springfield, MA 01102

T Plus Three

CROSS-TRAIN YOUR BRAIN!

long-term memory working memory

All of the answers in this quiz are four-letter words that begin with T.

This challange has been adapted from 399 Games, Puzzles & Trivia Challenges Specially Designed to Keep Your Brain Young.

1. Collective term for equipment used in horseback riding, including the saddle and bridle.

trivia

GEOGRAPHICAL FOODS

long-term memory

2. This is the largest and lowest-pitched brass instrument.

executive functioning

Foods are often closely tied to cultures and locations for a variety of reasons, as you’ll see in this quiz. marinated flank steak that is cut against the grain in thin strips. This U.S. dish is unknown in the European city it’s named for.

SOLUTIONS: Trivia—Geographical

• This soft, mildly

8. Tart 9. Team 10. Tofu 11. Tojo 12. Toga 13. Teal

• Baked Alaska • London Broil • Philadelphia Cream Cheese • Yorkshire Pudding 399 bookpage_plus3.indd 1

in the English region it’s named after, but in the U.S. it’s known as popovers.

SOLUTIONS: T Plus Three

Foods

workman.com

• This food originated

sweet spread was branded with this U.S. city’s name because it was considered the home of top quality food in 1880.

Tack Tuba Trix Tutu (Desmond Tutu) Tick Toto Tang

• Broiled or grilled

in meringue and briefly baked in a hot oven. This dessert’s name was coined in a New York restaurant in 1876 to honor a newly acquired U.S. territory.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

• Ice cream covered

3. This breakfast cereal is for kids, not rabbits.

9. The Oakland Raiders or Pittsburgh Steelers.

4. A South African cleric and 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

10. Basically, this food is made from coagulated soy milk.

5. Insect responsible for Lyme disease and tularemia.

11. Prime Minister of Japan for most of World War II.

6. Dorothy’s dog.

12. Roman garment.

7. The astronauts’ favorite drink.

13. A blue-green color.

8. Having a sharp or bitter taste.

WORKMAN is a registered trademark of Workman Publishing Co., Inc.

8/13/12 11:33 AM


BookPage October 2012