AMERICA’S BOOK REVIEW
GREEN New from the author of The Fault in Our Stars
Stephen & Owen King Armistead Maupin Jennifer Egan
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The Hold List Whodunit Book Clubs Cooking Lifestyles Audio Romance Well Read
After five years, John Green returns with Turtles All the Way Down, a tale of treasure hunts, poetry and hope. Cover photo of Green in Marfa, Texas, by Marina Waters
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on the cover
t o p p i c k : Manhattan Beach
Armistead Maupin Halloween Short stories Science fiction & fantasy Wild America
meet the author 13
t o p p i c k : Release by Patrick Ness
by Jennifer Egan
Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King Caroline by Sarah Miller Here in Berlin by Cristina García The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott The Power by Naomi Alderman The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman The Trick by Emanuel Bergmann
The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
t o p p i c k : Grant by Ron Chernow
A Secret Sisterhood by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney Texas Blood by Roger D. Hodge The State of Affairs by Esther Perel This Blessed Earth by Ted Genoways Man of the Hour by Jennet Conant Going into Town by Roz Chast After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry
t o p p i c k : Wishtree
by Katherine Applegate
After the Fall by Dan Santat Robinson by Peter Sís The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine by Mark Twain, Philip C. Stead and Erin Stead The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore Chasing Augustus by Kimberly Newton Fusco My Brigadista Year by Katherine Paterson
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Each month, BookPage e ditors share curated reading lists—our personal favorites, old and new.
Covens that call to us Ever dreamed of joining a magical sisterhood? We’ve gathered up some of the most envy-inducing covens found in literature—they’ll have you wishing you could pal around with your own group of spell-casting witches.
PRACTICAL MAGIC by Alice Hoffman Cast aside as supposed witches, the Owens women have been the scapegoats of their small Massachusetts town for generations. The orphaned Owens sisters are dead set on leaving behind their creepy family home, their potion-making aunts and their hoard of black cats. However, when the sisters return home years later, they realize that there might be some truth to the old Owens rumors. (Check out a review of the new prequel to Practical Magic, The Rules of Magic, on page 22!)
THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE by Neil Gaiman Not many authors can write magic with the grace and creativity of Gaiman. When a man returns to his hometown in rural Sussex, he finds himself at the home of his childhood friend Lettie Hempstock and discovers that two Hempstock women still live there—but they haven’t aged a day since his childhood. As he mines the memories of his youth, he discovers strange, terrible things, and he realizes that his connection to the Hempstock women is much more complex than he thought.
Top book club picks!
THE HOLD LIST
THE BLIND A.F. Brady
An addictive psychological suspense debut that delves into the psyche of a deeply disturbed woman who discovers that sometimes what’s most terrifying is what exists in your mind.
THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK by John Updike When three divorced women each acquire unexpected magical skills in 1970s Rhode Island, it seems like a delightful lark. Floating on air, summoning thunderstorms and turning milk to cream (maybe not the most exciting trick, to be honest) is all fun and games. But then a mysterious man arrives in town, and things take a sinister turn. You might not want to hang with this coven unless you’re feeling wicked.
For fans of powerful women’s fiction. THE SUMMER THAT MADE US Robyn Carr
GARDEN SPELLS by Sarah Addison Allen A charming garden holds power over the women of the Waverley family in this enchanting novel. All of the Waverley women have a peculiar skill, from Claire’s otherworldly expertise with plants and cooking to her aunt’s uncanny ability to give just the right gift. When wayward sister Sydney returns home to North Carolina with her young daughter in tow, the Waverleys must heal old wounds and come together as a magical family.
A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES by Deborah Harkness Diana Bishop is sick of the local coven asking her to join. Although she’s the daughter of a powerful witch, she has no interest in exploring her own powers. But when she discovers an enchanted book in an Oxford library that only she can open, she’s forced to seek help as magical creatures come out of the woodwork. This is the first in Deborah Harkness’ captivating All Souls trilogy, and it’s got vampires, to boot.
For fans of spine-tingling domestic suspense. BEST DAY EVER Kaira Rouda
Do we have a story for you!
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WHODUNIT BY BRUCE TIERNEY
A winning, cerebral sleuth faces ghosts from his past Joe Ide, author of the brilliant IQ, returns with Righteous (Mulholland, $26, 336 pages, ISBN 9780316267779), once again starring off-the-books private investigator Isaiah Quintabe, known as “IQ.” This time out, Isaiah turns up some information suggesting that the hit-and-run death of his beloved brother, Marcus, 10 years ago was anything but an accident. Instead, it appears to have been premeditated murder. The details nag at Isaiah, and if he accepts this narrative, it will mean viewing his brother in an entirely new light—as a thief. Meanwhile, another ghost shows up: Sarita Van, Marcus’ girlfriend at the time of his death and the longtime object of Isaiah’s unrequited fantasies. It seems Sarita’s sister is in some trouble with a Las Vegas loan shark. But there are other forces at play: the Chinese mob; a strange and dapper East African
fellow with an exceptionally checkered past; and even one guy who is, in theory at least, on Isaiah’s team. Righteous is action packed, cerebral and altogether engaging, and I predict a long string of follow-up novels in this fine series.
two U.S. military police officers, George Sueño and Ernie Bascom, are serving. The Nine-Tailed Fox (Soho Crime, $26.95, 336 pages, ISBN 9781616958237) follows the pair as they attempt to track down someone pursuing vigilante justice
TOP PICK IN MYSTERY
FOLKLORE RINGS TRUE For many years, Martin Limón has been on my short list of authors whose work I read even if it’s not for this column. His books are set in 1970s Korea, where
against Army personnel who have perpetrated violence against Korean nationals, particularly women, and gotten away with it. Whispers in back alleys speak of a gumiho, a mythical fox-woman, who lures unsuspecting soldiers to their deaths, but Sueño and Bascom naturally blow off such rumors. Yet the closer they get to the killer, the more truth these rumors seem to hold.
THE TRUTH IS DARKER
“From Cate Holahan, USA Today bestselling author of The Widower’s Wife, comes an electrifying story of love and deceit.” PICK UP YOUR COPY TODAY!
and Eskens neatly ties it all together with a strong thread of revenge. By the time things resolve, there will be plenty of vengeance to be dealt, by and to several deserving parties.
It’s not every day that a suspense novel starts in the Minnesota woods in midwinter, with the good guy about to bash in the skull of someone who may be innocent of any wrongdoing, but that is exactly where The Deep Dark Descending (Seventh Street, $15.95, 272 pages, ISBN 9781633883550), Allen Eskens’ gripping tale of revenge, begins. A few short pages later, we flash back to the events leading up to this showdown, and then for the rest of the book, we jump back and forth between the past and the present moment. Detective Max Rupert, who appeared as a supporting character in Eskens’ previous books, learns that his wife’s murder five years ago was a result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and not because of something related to Rupert’s police work, a worry that has caused him relentless insomnia since her death. The narrative covers sex trafficking, political cronyism and police corruption,
Picture for a moment Rex Stout’s famous detectives, Nero Wolfe and sidekick Archie Goodwin. Then magically transport them to Victorian England, and render them with a Brit overlay of pedantry and dry humor, plus a dash of Indiana Jones’ flair, just for spice. Finally, give them a convoluted case to solve, and bingo, we’re off to the races. Will Thomas’ characters Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewellyn have figured in several books together, but the latest, Old Scores (Minotaur, $25.99, 304 pages, ISBN 9781250077967), is easily the most intricately plotted to date, pitting the duo against nefarious forces from Japan, China and even within the British government. When the Japanese ambassador to England is found dead from a gunshot wound and Barker is apprehended outside the ambassador’s window with a gun that has one bullet missing, it all looks pretty open and shut. But not everyone is convinced of Barker’s guilt, and one of the people on his side is General Mononobe, the military presence in the Japanese embassy, who takes it upon himself to hire Barker to find out who really killed the ambassador. Apart from Barker’s admittedly suspect presence at the crime scene, he is a natural for the task: He speaks Japanese and Chinese fluently, and he’s spent much of his career attached to the foreign office. And of course Baker has a vested interest in finding the real killer in order to clear his name. Convoluted in a Sherlockian sort of way and redolent of an age gone by, Old Scores is clever, wry and chock-full of period odds and ends—and their somewhat fractious history with one another.
BOOK CLUBS BY JULIE HALE
Deathbed revelations A finalist for the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award, Michael Chabon’s Moonglow (Harper Perennial, $16.99, 480 pages, ISBN 9780062225566) is another fascinating blend of fact and fiction from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author. This masterfully constructed novel takes the form of a memoir narrated by a writer named Mike, who is in many ways similar to Chabon himself. Filled
with the stories Mike’s grandfather shared with him before he passed away, the book offers a remarkable portrait of 1950s America. Mike’s grandfather, an engineer who served in World War II, has many adventures as an enlisted man. After the war, he loses his job, and his volatile temper lands him in prison. Mike’s grandmother, a sensitive woman scarred by the Holocaust, suffers bouts of depression and winds up in an institution. The novel draws upon both of their pasts, and the result is an expansive yet intimate chronicle of a bygone era. Based on actual conversations the author had with his dying grandfather, Chabon’s compassionate exploration of his family’s history is a must-read for fans of literary fiction.
SINS OF THE PAST Madeleine Thien’s skillfully constructed novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Norton, $16.95, 496 pages, ISBN 9780393354720) follows a damaged family in the years after Mao’s Cultural Revolution in China. A math instructor living in Vancouver, Marie is trying to find answers about her father, Kai, a talented pianist who committed suicide. During the 1960s, a time of political unrest in China, Kai trained at the Shanghai Conserva-
tory of Music with Sparrow, a gifted composer, and Zhuli, a young violinist. Sparrow is the father of Marie’s old friend, Ai-Ming, who is also trying to untangle her family’s history. Marie gradually teases out the threads of the past through notebooks her father left behind. Across the years, the lives of the three musicians have repercussions for both women. The narrative moves back and forth in time with wonderful fluidity as Thien explores the complexities of family and the far-reaching effects of history. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, this provocative novel is a great fit for reading groups.
TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS Brit Bennett’s acclaimed debut novel, The Mothers (River head, $16, 288 pages, ISBN 9780399184529), takes place in an African-American enclave in California. Nadia Turner, a headstrong teen, is approaching the end of high school while coping with her mother’s suicide. She finds romance with 21-year-old Luke Sheppard, a once promising athlete who now works at a diner. When Nadia gets pregnant, she does her best to conceal her condition. Not even Aubrey, her closest friend, knows the truth about her pregnancy. Nadia succeeds in keeping her secret, and as she says goodbye to her teenage years, she finds that her choices regarding Luke and the baby have lingering consequences. Writing with luminous clarity, Bennett spins a poignant story of young people in search of themselves. An exciting introduction to an important new novelist, this is a timely book that will resonate with readers of all ages.
Fresh New Reads for Fall
Odd Child Out by Gilly Macmillan “Subtle, nuanced writing and a compelling, timely story taut with tension…a hugely satisfying and thrilling read.” —Shari Lapena, New York Times bestselling author
by Margot Lee Shetterly
The phenomenal true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space, and the basis of the blockbuster film.
The Fire by Night
by Teresa Messineo “A luminous once-in-a-lifetime story of war, love, loss and the enduring grace of the human spirit. I can’t remember the last time I was so deeply moved by a novel.” — Bestselling author Lauren Willig
by Sophfronia Scott
“Imagine Dangerous Liaisons set in 1940s Harlem, amidst the nascent civil rights movement, baseball, and jazz, and you have Sophfronia Scott’s riveting novel Unforgivable Love.” —Lori Ostlund, author of After the Parade
Book Club Girl
B Y S U S A N N A H F E LT S
BY SYBIL PRATT
A feast of tradition
A big American cookbook is not a novelty—there have been quite a few over the years. But Gabrielle Langholtz’s America: The Cookbook (Phaidon, $49.95, 768 pages, ISBN 9780714873961) is the most exuberant celebration yet of our culinary melting pot. Though American cuisine has taken giant steps, with legions of luminary chefs opening world-class restaurants all over the country, it’s
You might think of Moorea Seal as the face of millennial social entrepreneurism. Through her 52 Lists series and lifestyle brand, she has cultivated a huge following and popularized what’s now a dominant decor aesthetic: lots of white walls, sheepskins, succulents and other natural elements. In Make Yourself at Home (Sasquatch, $24.95, 224 pages, ISBN 9781632170354), she shares stories
our regional dishes that remain the real heart of our wonderfully diverse, multicultural nation. Honoring that heritage, Langholtz includes 800 recipes, each typical of a state or region. Dishes range from Pickled Northern Pike and Puerto Rican Salt Cod Salad to Vichyssoise and Beer Cheese Soup. Venison Stew with Wild Rice and Seafood Gumbo are delectable main courses, while Boston Cream Pie and Tennessee Jam Cake round out a meal. Every turn of the page delivers a new delight or an old friend, transforming Langholtz’s cookbook into an amble through the abundance of the splendid, sprawling American table. Fifty essays and accompanying recipes from some of America’s foremost food experts and chefs are an added bonus, offering personal insights into the gustatory glories of home.
THE SWEET SPOT There’s a new word in the contemporary food lexicon— Ottolenghify: (verb) to prepare food with love, fresh ingredients, a bit of flair and attention to detail, just like star chef Yotam Ottolenghi. His new book, Sweet (Ten Speed, $35, 368 pages, ISBN 9781607749141), written in collaboration with Helen Goh,
Ottolenghi’s exceptionally talented pastry chef, is an effusive, sumptuous ode to sugary pleasures that have all been Ottolenghified and tirelessly tweaked and tested to absolute perfection. There are over 120 recipes, complete with luscious photos, for festive and “happymaking” cookies, simple and showstopping cakes, tarts and pies for weekend lunches and more treats that range from epic to easy and boozy to zesty. You’ll want to make every single one.
TOP PICK IN COOKBOOKS The title of David Tanis’ latest cookbook is David Tanis Market Cooking: Recipes and Revelations, Ingredient by Ingredient (Artisan, $40, 480 pages, ISBN 9781579656287), but to me, it’s Tanis himself who is always a revelation. His elegant, understated simplicity is unforced; he simply celebrates his favorite foods, the local and seasonal ingredients that go into them and the joy in marketing for them. “Market cooking,” his translation of la cuisine du marché, means going to the market, seeing what looks most wonderful, then deciding on what your menu will be. The over 200 confidence-building recipes Tanis has collected here, many of them vegetable based, will give you inventive ideas for preparing the market marvels you find. Whether you go straight for his pungent, soul-satisfying Provençal Garlic Soup, fabulous Fennel al Forno, slow-simmered Moroccan Lamb Tagine or Japanese Eggplant with Miso, you’ll be cooking with a thoughtful, thorough, intelligent master. Tanis is a wise chef for all seasons.
from her life and suggests ways for readers to infuse their living spaces with personality. Seal also highlights other creative women in her orbit, each of whom offers tips on things like thrifting, leadership and decorating with plants. Each chapter contains two DIY projects, like gold-patterned glassware (think Sharpies!), an essential oil diffuser and a copper blanket ladder, which I’m especially eager to attempt. A dash of self-help, a sprinkle of craft, plus lifestyle tips and tricks seasoned with storytelling—Seal’s new book adds up to a pretty package.
FIT TO PRINT I browse lots of arts-and-crafts books for this column, but it’s the rare title that summons me to jump right into a new project. Enter Laura Sofie Hantke and Lucas Grassmann’s Kitchen Lithography: Hand Printing at Home (Princeton Architectural Press, $21.95, 120 pages, ISBN 9781616896232), an adorable guide to printmaking that shows readers how to print designs drawn with traditional oil paints and pastels using household items: aluminum foil, glass from a picture frame, cola and vegetable oil. I’ve always admired printmaking from a distance, so how could I resist this at-home version? I wast-
ed no time gathering supplies and enlisting my daughter, who at 9 is the perfect age to attempt this process alongside an adult. We appreciated the authors’ honest accounts of trial and error—they even display goofed-up prints and explain what went wrong. But we were pleasantly surprised when our first print turned out quite well. The book itself is well-designed with matte pages, hand-drawn visual instructions and photos of the artists in their modest kitchen “studio.”
TOP PICK IN LIFESTYLES A neighbor with great style introduced me to designer and blogger Justina Blakeney’s The New Bohemians, so I couldn’t wait to tell her that a follow-up has arrived. The New Bohemians Handbook: Come Home to Good Vibes (Abrams, $27.50, 288 pages, ISBN 9781419724824) has all the wild and juicy color, patterns, textures and houseplants of its predecessor, but with a heavier dose of woo-woo. Get ready for chapters titled “Clarity,” “Flow,” “Spirit,” “Growth” and “Harmony,” with sections on astrology, crystals and essential oil elixirs. Blakeney pulls in an herbalist, floral designer and a feng shui master, among others, for their insights. I especially like the “Flow” chapter, which provides practical advice on setting up interior spaces that avoid congestion and delineate zones, and her indepth look at textiles from cultures worldwide, such as African indigo, boucherouite rugs and Otomi embroidery. And I mentioned massive color, right? If you’re eager to go bold and bright or unsure how to take the plunge, then this book could change everything.
columns Fall Listening FROM
“A love letter, an invocation, and something of an epitaph... An exceptionally beautiful book.” —The New York Times Book Review
Read by Armie Hammer
“G” is for Grafton OMG! We’re almost at the end. Y Is for Yesterday (Random House Audio, 17 hours) is Sue Grafton’s 25th Alphabet mystery, and it’s just as compelling as A is for Alibi was when it was published 35 years ago. That’s when we first met Kinsey Millhone, the smart, spunky, thoroughly competent, just tough-enough female PI who lives and works in fictional Santa Teresa (think Santa Barbara). In the
“Sprightly or serious, Eugenides consistently writes about complex lives with depth and compassion.” —Kirkus (starred review)
Read by a full cast
“The ideal presentation of any book of mine is to have excellent actors perform it in audio-only format.” —Orson Scott Card
Read by Stefan Rudnicki & a full cast
Read by the author Foreword read by Idina Menzel Read by Oprah Winfrey & a full cast “If you want to be more fully present and live your life with a wide-open heart, this is the place to come to.” —Oprah Winfrey
“Archer is a master storyteller.” —Time
Listen to excerpts at
AUDIO BY SUKEY HOWARD
latest go-round, Grafton braids two plots together. The first goes back and forth in time, from “yesterday,” 1979, when a bunch of out-of-control, posh private school teenagers make a sex tape, murder a classmate and get caught, to now, 1989 in Kinsey time, when the youngest is finally out of juvy and being blackmailed. Kinsey, hired by the kid’s mother, is working on this complex case when a serial killer from her past, determined to add her to his morbid tally of murdered women, shows up and does his damnedest. Judy Kaye, who’s become the very voice of Kinsey, narrates as she has for much of the series, lending extra verve to Grafton’s keen attention to detail.
MOMMY DEAREST Ready for another unreliable narrator? Meet Cass Tanner, who was just 15 years old when she and her older sister, Emma, disappeared from their home in affluent Connecticut. Then, three years later, Cass returns—alone, unharmed, with a highly explicit story about where the sisters have been and why they left. As Wendy Walker’s doozy of a psychological thriller, Emma in the Night (Macmillan Audio, 9 hours), read by Therese Plummer and Julia Whelan, begins to unfold, you’ll be caught up in Cass’ tale of a remote island in Maine, Emma’s pregnancy and the
couple who took them in. Providing a subtle counterpoint are FBI forensic psychiatrist Abby Winter’s doubts. Abby was on the original case when the sisters went missing and has long wanted to look more deeply into Cass and Emma’s seemingly disturbed, dysfunctional family. An expert on narcissistic personality disorder and the daughter of a difficult mother herself, Abby begins to find holes in Cass’ explanation. She’s sure that Judith Martin, the sisters’ maniacally manipulative, needy mother, is at the heart of their problems. Nothing is as it seems, and you’ll root for Cass and for Abby to see it through.
TOP PICK IN AUDIO In The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story (Recorded Books, 6 hours), Edwidge Danticat writes about death and grief and mourning with calm intensity and grace, circling around the pain and loss she experienced while her mother was dying of ovarian cancer. She searches through novels, poems and memoirs by writers from Leo Tolstoy to Albert Camus, Toni Morrison, Michael Ondaatje, Zora Neale Hurston, Christopher Hitchens and many more, looking for a way that “might make all of this easier to grasp even though we cannot change the outcome.” Death has echoed through many of Danticat’s books, and her close, insightful reading of the way others have framed unbearable heartbreak seems to bring her, if not comfort, a kind of solace, a glimmer of understanding—“Each death frames previous deaths in a different light, and even deaths to come.” She reads here, making her mother’s final story intimate, immediate and timeless.
Jim Frangione has recorded over 100 audiobooks. He is the narrator for J. R. Wardâ€™s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, as well as Spencer Quinnâ€™s Chet and Bernie mysteries and the Bowser and Birdie stories.
Welcome to Happily Inc, a wedding destination founded on a fairy tale!
B Y C H R I S T I E R I D G WAY
All the right moves Yazmine Fernandez has put her ambitions on hold at the beginning of His Perfect Partner (Zebra Shout, $4.99, 336 pages, ISBN 9781420144284), the first book in Priscilla Oliveras’ Matched to Perfection series. But with her father’s cancer in remission, she plans to leave her Chicago suburb and her job at a local dance studio
Two touching modern fairy tales that won’t let go of your heart— from the bestselling author of the Fool’s Gold romances.
to return to her career on Broadway. Then an attractive distraction arrives in the guise of advertising executive Tomás Garcia and his adorable 5-year-old daughter. Determined to reform his workaholic ways, Tomás begins showing up at Yazmine’s dance class with his little girl. Over pizza and park swings, Yaz and Tomás forge a friendship. Knowing the lovely dance instructor plans to leave town, Tomás tries to ignore his budding feelings; he wants a woman focused on family. But when his daughter needs a temporary nanny and Yaz steps in, they only draw closer and their desire for each other grows. Can they set aside old dreams for new beginnings? His Perfect Partner is a sweet romance sure to tug at readers’ heartstrings.
On sale now!
An FBI profiler finds herself in the crosshairs of a killer in Such a Pretty Girl (Avon, $7.99, 384 pages, ISBN 9780062655820). Grace Sinclair seems to have it all—beauty, brains and a bestselling mystery series. But her latest murder case is deeply unsettling, and not just because the victims look like her. Grace must team up with special agent Gavin Walker, with whom she shared a passionate one-night stand that Gavin has never been able to get out of his head. Despite
Pick up your copy today! Also available. SusanMallery.com • Harlequin.com
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their history, the pair works well together while trying to solve the identity of the serial murderer. When it becomes clear that Grace is in danger, Gavin sticks closer to her side and rekindles the fire between them. But Grace has a habit of keeping her distance, and Gavin doesn’t know if he can convince her to let him in. Will he have time to do so with a vicious predator on their heels? Full of chills and thrills, Such a Pretty Girl is a perfect Halloween read for romance lovers.
TOP PICK IN ROMANCE Elizabeth Camden weaves a tale of love and intrigue in New York City circa 1903 in A Dangerous Legacy (Bethany House, $15.99, 352 pages, ISBN 9780764218811). Lucy Drake, telegraph operator for the Associated Press, has more than the latest news on her mind. While she transcribes stories that come across the wires, she’s also entangled in a lawsuit over a lucrative family invention. But then Sir Colin Beckwith, head of the rival Reuters news service, enters her life. Their mutual attraction is undeniable—yet a future between them appears impossible, as Colin must marry an heiress in order to save his ancestral home. Still, he endeavors to help the American beauty with her troubles, leading them to uncover a potentially deadly plot. Their escape takes them into the bowels of the city, but not before the pair’s investigation touches upon the subjects of homing pigeons, the Panama Canal and plumbing in high-rise buildings. Readers will root for these two characters in a kissesonly romance that is as highly interesting as it is entertaining.
Breaking into blossom This year marks the 90th anniversary of the birth of James Wright, an important American poet you quite possibly have never read. This relative anonymity outside academia may stem in part from Wright’s early death in 1980 at age 52. Jonathan Blunk’s absorbing new critical biography, James Wright: A Life in Poetry (FSG, $40, 512 pages, ISBN 9780374178598), should go a long way in correcting that state of near neglect. Offering an unabashed appreciation of Wright’s poetry but also an evenhanded assessment of the poet’s tortured life, Blunk’s impressive study is as compelling as Wright’s own story. Born and raised in Martins Ferry, Ohio, a coal and steel town on the Ohio River, Wright was not your standard-issue product of impoverished, blue-collar America. Blunk examines how the poet would spend his entire life pushing against his own miserable past. Desperate to escape the fate that geography and family lineage could have ordained for him, young Wright immersed himself in books and developed a love of language and poetry that would provide the tools for his art. He left Martins Ferry right out of high school, determined to never look back, and yet, as Blunk emphasizes, that indelible place and its implications would provide the raw material for most of Wright’s work, and certainly sits at the center of his greatest poems. Wright’s life followed a familiar path for an upwardly mobile young man of his postwar generation. He joined the Army, attended college on the GI Bill, then married a Martins Ferry girl (the marriage was doomed from the start, but produced two sons). At Kenyon College, he studied with John Crowe Ransom and became good friends with classmate Edgar (E.L)
Doctorow. Graduate school at the University of Washington fortuitously placed him under the tutelage of Theodore Roethke—another great poet of the common man—who had an enduring impact on Wright’s life and work. Wright possessed, by all accounts, a brilliant mind. But it was a troubled one as well. Like many of the literary men whom he admired or associated with, he developed a dependency on alcohol, which exacerbated his depressive and obsessive nature. These propensities were no better exhibited than in the two-year, long-distance correspondence he carried out with a female student whom he idealized into a muse. Wright’s talents were duly recognized—he won the career-igniting Yale Younger Poets Prize and was published in Poetry Magazine, The New Yorker and many other eminent literary journals while in his 20s, later winning a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1972. He was a passionate, often fondly remembered teacher. Yet his demons would dog him throughout his truncated life. He tried many times to “quit” poetry, and we can be thankful that he never succeeded in achieving that aim. For This absorbing the community of American study corrects poets, Blunk poet James writes, Wright’s Wright’s state premature death from of neglect. cancer was “a loss so sudden and unsettling that over the next few years many dozens of elegies appeared in magazines and books. Few American poets have been memorialized in verse as movingly or as often.” Such tributes seem especially appropriate because Wright’s work, as Blunk shows with admiring scholarship, is itself often hauntingly elegiac in tone and content, rooted in a past that cannot be shed but only pushed away, ever to return.
meet ANNIE SPENCE
the title of your new book? Q: What’s
© ALICIA GBUR
WELL READ BY ROBERT WEIBEZAHL
Q: Describe the book in one sentence.
three books that should be in every library. Q: Name
Q: Where is your favorite place to read?
is one thing you would like to learn to do? Q: What
Q: If you were a character in a book, who would you be?
Q: Words to live by?
DEAR FAHRENHEIT 451 A librarian for more than a decade, Annie Spence has developed a deep and abiding love for books. In her hilarious Dear Fahrenheit 451 (Flatiron, $19.99, 288 pages, ISBN 9781250106490), she pens letters to some of the books she’s met, loved and loathed in her life as a librarian and avid reader, from oddities hidden in the stacks to prize-winning novels. Spence lives in Detroit with her husband and son.
JOHN GREEN INTERVIEW BY LINDA M. CASTELLITTO
© MARINA WATERS
John Green’s promise to readers: You are not alone
fter his 2012 novel—the hugely popular, critically acclaimed YA hit The Fault in Our Stars—grew to a global phenomenon, John Green discovered that returning to writing was not an easy task. But with Turtles All the Way Down, he found a subject very close to his heart— and brain.
The Fault in Our Stars sold 45 million copies worldwide, was translated into 50-plus languages and was made into a movie. In 2014, the year the movie debuted, Green was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the world by Time magazine. Thrilling stuff—but not surprisingly, it became a hard act for Green to follow. “For a long time after The Fault in Our Stars came out, I wasn’t able to find pleasure in writing, to find an escape from my brain,” Green says in a call to his Indianapolis home, where he lives with his wife and two children. “When I was writing . . . it was hard not to feel the audience looking over my shoulder.” But Green kept creating and communicating with fans (affectionately called nerdfighters) in other ways, like the two popular
TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN
By John Green
Dutton, $19.99, 304 pages ISBN 9780525555360, audio, eBook available Ages 12 and up
video blog series (“VlogBrothers” and “Crash Course”) he hosts with his brother, Hank, and VidCon, a conference for online video creators and aficionados that the two co-founded in 2010. And eventually, writing “did start to feel like the release it had always been,” and soon he was crafting what would become Turtles All the Way Down. “When I started working on the book intensely, it was almost impossible for me to write about anything else,” Green says. Perhaps most importantly, Green felt like he “didn’t have a choice” in the subject matter. The main character, 16-year-old Aza Holmes, struggles daily with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)—which has affected Green’s life since childhood. “As Aza says in the book, illness is supposed to be story told in past tense—you’re supposed to share your story of how you conquered your demons. That’s not my story,” Green says. “It’s more something I’ve lived with for a long time. It can be so hard to reconcile that, in part because there are such strong cultural voices saying [that] any kind of chronic illness is a weakness, a failure. And that’s just not true.” It absolutely isn’t, but it’s something Aza contends with, despite having a caring mom and best friend, Daisy. Aza usually tries to handle everything by herself, so it’s hard to pull herself out of spirals of intrusive thoughts—which cause her to turn her focus inward and to feel anxious, which leads to feeling bad about herself. It’s exhausting and seemingly endless. The spiral motif that’s central to Aza’s story is first referenced in the book’s title, which refers to the
philosophical paradox that the Earth is flat and balanced on the back of a giant turtle, which is atop another turtle, and so on and so on. That notion of a neverending stack of turtles provides an artful, memorable way “You’re to envision a supposed to line of reasonshare your ing that goes story of how on and on you conquered without end, your demons. spiraling down with no relief That’s not my or escape— story.” and nicely parallels Aza’s OCD-induced thought spirals that make her feel powerless, out of control and disconnected from her own sense of self. “OCD can be super isolating, in part because it’s happening within you, so it’s almost impossible to express it in a way to help other people understand,” Green says. “[OCD] can be so consuming that it’s really difficult to even understand there’s a world outside of yourself.” And sometimes, finding the right treatment can feel impossible, especially if there’s shame and secretiveness involved. “I always felt tremendously embarrassed about my obsessive thought spirals,” Green says. “It’s really difficult to feel something weird about [yourself] that’s sort of disgusting or reprehensible, that you can’t shake.” He adds, “Aza hates being like this, and for much of the book,
she really cannot see that she’s not alone.” Green also has a bone to pick with the notion that OCD can be an advantage to an investigator. “That’s one thing I’ve always found so strange about the narrative of the obsessive detective,” Green says, referring to a popular trope in literature, film and TV. “In my experience, OCD comes with no superpowers and has made me a terrible detective! When I’m sick, I have no awareness of the world outside myself at all. How could I possibly look at someone’s shirt and figure out what they do for a living? I know that’s not everyone’s experience, but it doesn’t make sense to me at all. I’m just not a very good detective.” Is Aza? We won’t spoil it, but Green definitely has great fun with the sleuthing aspects of his story. In his trademark style, he also includes lots of fascinating things readers will be inspired to learn more about—from facts about the tuatara (a New Zealand reptile) to hilariously deep dives into Star Wars lore. There’s also plenty of poetry to learn about and enjoy. Green has always had a knack for crafting phrases that inspire and beg to be shared. Here, he goes a step further, with characters who write poetry and share their favorite poems. Green says that in writing about OCD, “I really wanted to try to
give form or structure to this thing I have trouble accessing via my senses, and one of my favorite ways writers have done this over the centuries is [through] poetry. It’s a way of sense-ifying the ineffable.” But Green acknowledges that this is only one experience and only one way of representing mental illness. “I don’t want to project Aza’s or my experience on everyone,” Green says. “When you talk about mental health problems, there’s a huge diversity of experiences. . . . I do know the vast majority is treatable, and that there’s real, legitimate cause for hope—that despair is a lie your brain is telling you.” Of course, he adds, “Not any one treatment works for everyone.” This push and pull, this engaging with the outside world while trying to manage the tempest within—it’s all part of living with OCD. But in that outside world, Green says, there are people who want to understand, learn and help. This is one of the main points he wanted to make with Aza’s story: that she doesn’t have to shoulder this burden in isolation. In preparation for the publication of Turtles All the Way Down, Green will sign 200,000 pieces of paper, to be inserted and bound into as many copies of his new book (which will have a total first printing of 1.5 million). Ever heard of an Electro Jog? Green’s got one, and he loves it. The straightforward machine has one job: to vibrate sheets of paper into a nice, neat stack. “It works incredibly well,” Green says. “Would that we all felt the clarity of purpose of the Electro Jog.” With the release of Turtles All the Way Down, Green’s relationship with his audience will shift and change anew. In fact, on the day Green spoke with BookPage, he wasn’t just signing page after page—the final manuscript was sent to the printer, too. “For the last several years, the book’s been only in my mind, to a large degree, and [now] it isn’t,” Green says. “There’s a bit of a sense of loss in that, and also excitement and nervousness now that it belongs to its readers.”
Sometimes you have to lose your way to find yourself. “A touching story of resilience, hope and, above all, forgiveness.” —Marilyn Brant,
New York Times bestselling author
“Highly recommended.” —Kate Moretti,
New York Times bestselling author
8/15/17 12:22 PM
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A pioneer’s difficult journey
rmistead Maupin finished writing his bold memoir, Logical Family, months ago. He couldn’t have foreseen just how relevant his searing reflections on growing up in the deeply conservative, racially divided South would be.
In Logical Family, Maupin, a longtime LGBTQ rights advocate and the author of the groundbreaking series Tales of the City, lays bare his own struggles with self-acceptance and making peace with his past. BookPage spoke with Maupin by phone the day after the violence in Charlottesville that stemmed from protests surrounding Confederate statues. “It was horrifying to see that much hate made visible,” Maupin, 73, says from his home in San Francisco. “When I was a boy, I got into a fight with my best friend, Eddie, because Eddie was a Yankee. He disapproved of the statues. He said, ‘You lost the war and you were fighting for slavery—why should you have a monument?’ It’s taken 50 years for this to come back up again. Stop tormenting our African-American citizens this way and stop celebrating what should be a public shame.” Just as he is in conversation, Maupin is unflinchingly outspoken in Logical Family. The book title is based on a term he coined 10 years
By Armistead Maupin
Harper, $27.99, 304 pages ISBN 9780062391223, audio, eBook available
ago in his novel Michael Tolliver Lives. “[Logical family] is the family that makes sense to you; the family that supports you and loves you unconditionally,” he says. “How many people gripe about having to go home for Christmas and sit with some Trumpy old aunt—yes, I said Trumpy—and bite your tongue? I’ve stopped trying to win the approval of my family. Gay people have spent way too long being good little boys and girls and not relying on the strength of their real families.” Logical Family opens with Maupin as a young boy in Raleigh, North Carolina. His father was an unapologetic racist who proudly displayed furniture made by “slaves in our family,” and his mother was a Southern belle. In this environment, Maupin developed strong conservative beliefs, at one point even working for notorious segregationist Jesse Helms. “I was trying to please my father,” Maupin says. “Even though he was teaching me some terrible things that I had to unlearn, on the other hand he had a ribald sense of humor and loved to tell stories.” Given his upbringing, Maupin was deeply conflicted about his homosexuality and remained a virgin until his mid-20s. “Thank God that sex came along and saved me,” he says. “You can’t roll around in the dark in the bathhouse and not bump into somebody who’s nothing like you, but very much the same because tenderness and sweetness and passion are all the same.” Maupin speaks matter-of-factly about his relationship with his biological family, without a trace of bitterness or regret. Regret, it turns out, is not something he has much use for. “I’m sorry that I was a virgin for so long. That’s my real regret!” he laughs. “I missed the opportunity for youthful lust.
The real honest answer is we have to go through what we have to go through. I’m just glad we got through to the other side.” A generous portion of Maupin’s memoir is devoted to his time serving in the Navy, stationed in Saigon during the Vietnam War. “I found whole stacks of letters from me to my mom during that time,” he tells me. “It was fascinating to reread and research my own history. To be perfectly honest, writing is never a whole lot of fun. To be “The thing done writing I feared was is fun. Writing the thing that is a process of slow, tedious ultimately self-doubt.” brought me Maupin also the most joy.” recounts writing the Tales of the City column in the 1970s for the San Francisco Chronicle, which became the basis for his pioneering book and TV series featuring a transgender character. The column was a sensation in a city that was at the heart of the gay rights movement. But Maupin is modest about his role in helping move our society toward acceptance of people who are gay, bisexual and transgender. “I’m very proud of my role in changing people minds, but there are others who have done much more in changing laws,” he says. “The best thing I’ve done in my life is help gay people change their minds about themselves. To find their own dignity and their own voice, to grow impatient with their
© CHRISTOPHER TURNER
INTERVIEW BY AMY SCRIBNER
own oppression. It just started out as fun, telling stories about my own self-discovery. But you dig as deep as you can in your own heart, and you come up with something others will get. For years I lived in terror of expressing anything in regards to myself being gay. The thing I feared was the thing that ultimately brought me the most joy in my life.” To complement the memoir, a documentary, The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin, directed by Jennifer M. Kroot, came out this spring. Maupin had previously admired Kroot’s work on a 2014 documentary about George Takei. “Any illusion you’ve ever had about your personal beauty is shattered when you see yourself on screen,” Maupin says with a laugh. “But I trusted her. I could open up to her in a way I might not have with other people. I said yes on the spot.” Maupin has found his own family, and he has delivered a generous, deeply satisfying memoir. “I made an effort at poignancy and humor and honesty,” he says. “I always like to take people on a roller-coaster ride. Make them cry one minute and belly laugh the next. That’s the most satisfying thing in the world. Humor is healing.”
HALLOWEEN BY ELEANOR MACBREALE
Trick or treat: fact or fiction?
Lore, a television series is on its way to Amazon.
hen it comes to things that go bump in the night, are you a straightshooting skeptic who wants the evidence behind the enigmas, or do you revel in tales of the supernatural? Whatever you fancy, we’ve got a grab bag of five new Halloween-appropriate reads. Leave the lamp on!
Our favorite mortician is back to tell us all about corpses! In From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death (Norton, $24.95, 272 pages, ISBN 9780393249897), Caitlin Doughty, the bestselling author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, explores the variety of ways cultures around the world deal with their dead. As she travels across the globe, stopping everywhere from Bolivia to Japan, Colorado to Spain, Doughty is a respectful observer of all that unfolds, even when confronted with death rites that appear strange to eyes accustomed to the Western practices of burial and cremation. In a remote region of Indonesia, families make sure their loved ones are never forgotten by regularly visiting their graves, retrieving the body to be washed and redressed, and filling them in on the latest goings-on. In the U.S., a move-
ment to normalize more natural ways of handling the dead—sans chemicals, sans coffin—has gained traction. Yet each tradition from every culture Doughty observes is an expression of respect—what may seem ghoulish to one is the ultimate form of love for another.
THE SPIRIT REALM In the mid-1800s, the Spiritualism movement and the belief in communication beyond the grave gripped American minds. In a time when technology—like telegrams and photography—was rapidly creating miracles, the ability to communicate with the dead didn’t seem too far-fetched. The Civil War further fanned the flames of Spiritualism, as grief-stricken families sought to speak to their loved ones one last time. But as the excitement of Spiritualism swept the nation, William Mumler was dubious. So when a self-portrait he took while alone in a photography studio showed a girl sitting beside him, he assumed it was a technical error. But then he realized that he recognized the girl in the photo. It was his cousin, who had died 12 years prior. Thus begins the bizarre story of
photography, ghosts, grief and lies that plays out in Peter Manseau’s fascinating The Apparitionists (HMH, $27, 352 pages, ISBN 9780544745971). Mumler, aided by his wife, who called herself a healing medium, went on to create a business based on these “spirit photographs,” even taking a photo of the widowed Mary Todd Lincoln that showed her dead husband’s hands lovingly resting on her shoulders. In the battle between science and Spiritualism, science eventually won. But the desire to peek beyond the veil of the living may never die.
MONSTER MASH Aaron Mahnke’s “Lore” is one of the most popular podcasts out there. Of course, entertainment with a supernatural or mythological bent has always drawn listeners, but Mahnke’s talent and appeal come from his desire to put stories about creatures such as the wendigo and haunted dolls in context. He caters to both the Mulder and the Scully inside us all by presenting these fantastical tales alongside impeccable historical research. The first of a planned trilogy, The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures (Del Rey, $28, 320 pages, ISBN 9781524797966) follows a very similar format to the podcast—for fans, these stories may be a bit too familiar, but the uninitiated will find much to explore. Pick almost any mythical monster, and you’ll find it via organized chapters: For records of vampires, try “The Dead Returned”; you’ll find skin-crawling historical tales of doppelgängers in “Our Other Halves”; and if you’re into specters, try “Beyond the Veil.” Mahnke’s tongue-incheek asides make these tales great fun, and the book is wonderfully designed with Edward Gorey-inspired pencil illustrations. And for fans who just can’t get enough
A CHILL IN THE AIR Literary horror fans know that there are few authors as deft at marrying pulse-pounding action and a sense of inescapable dread than Joe Hill. Fans of his masterful thrillers NOS4A2 and The Fireman will find plenty to love in his new collection of four short novels, Strange Weather (Morrow, $27.99, 448 pages, ISBN 9780062663115). The unifying theme here is the sheer terror that the unapologetic forces of nature can instill in us, but Hill cleverly sets the detached whims of the weather against the calculated, deliberate actions of sinister individuals. In “Loaded,” a shooter attacks a shopping mall while a wildfire propelled by wind decimates thousands of acres outside. “Rain” follows a group of survivors in Boulder, Colorado, after an apocalyptic rainfall of “needle-sharp amber glass . . . hard as quartz.” With each story spanning around 100 pages, this is the perfect collection to split up into a few satisfying chunks as we creep closer to Allhallows Eve.
THE WOMAN IN WHITE “Just because you can’t see a thing doesn’t mean she isn’t there.” But who is she, and what is she? When she was alive, she was Emma Rose, an Irish immigrant who found her way to a small logging town in Northern California. But even now, after her death, she still feels like Emma, though she’s more of a spectator now—taking in the church bells each morning, the seals on the shore and the scent of wildflowers on Evergreen Hill. Emma has been lingering in her mortal home known as the Lambry House for 100 years, and she’s determined to remain there (much to the horror of the home’s new residents), even when a supernatural hunter comes to forcibly scrape her out. M Dressler paints a moving, chilly portrait of a woman’s afterlife in The Last to See Me (Skyhorse, $22.99, 272 pages, ISBN 9781510720671), perfect for fans of Lauren Oliver’s quietly haunting ghost story Rooms.
SHORT STORIES BY JULIE HALE
Fast times, short fiction
o doubt about it, we’re living in an accelerated era, a time when technology expedites everything from buying groceries to getting the news. Pushing boundaries and mixing genres, the authors of five new collections of short fiction capture the nature of the here and now, and speculate about tomorrow. If you’re wondering what the world is coming to, these writers can give you a hint.
T.C. Boyle published his first work of fiction 38 years ago and has since earned the status of literary legend. His bemused yet compassionate view of the human condition is on full display in The Relive Box and Other Stories (Ecco, $25.99, 272 pages, ISBN 9780062673398), a timely collection that explores the decline of nature and the takeover of technology. In the title story, an addictive device that allows users to watch their pasts unfold comes between single dad Wes and his teenage daughter, Katie. In “Are We Not Men?” Roy and Connie decide to have a baby after 12 years of marriage, at a time when genetic editing enables couples to choose the traits of their children. A few of the narratives (the tale of an ant invasion, for instance) seem to come straight from “The Twilight Zone,” but Boyle balances these strange situations with poignant portrayals of the people caught up in them. Boyle is a master mood-mixer, and this funny-scarysad collection is filled with stories to be savored.
21ST-CENTURY FAIRY TALES “Brides never fare well in stories. Stories can sense happiness and snuff it out like a candle,” writes Carmen Maria Machado in the first story of her electrifying debut, Her Body and Other Parties (Graywolf, $16, 248 pages, ISBN 9781555977887). These foreboding words serve as a setup for what’s to come in this edgy, erotic collection. Throughout eight stories,
Machado uses allusions to folktales and myths along with elements of magic realism and fantasy to explore the inner lives of women. In “The Husband Stitch,” the narrator wears a ribbon around her neck that’s off-limits to her partner. Its purpose is revealed in a scene of offhand horror that brings to mind the brutality of the Brothers Grimm. In “Inventory,” a woman takes stock of her past as she flees a
story that includes powerful scenes of combat. “A Junket in the City of Light” is a brilliant sendup of the movie industry that follows Rory, a would-be star, as he promotes his first film. In some way big or small, a typewriter features in each of the 17 stories. It’s an appropriate symbol for narratives that are all about communication and connection. Given the intelligence Hanks brings to the craft of acting,
deadly virus. “Especially Heinous” is a creepy re-envisioning of the TV series “Law & Order: SVU” that features a demon and a pair of clones. Machado moves from the surreal to the real and back again with incredible ease. This spellbinding collection marks the arrival of an impressive new writer.
it makes sense that he would have a knack for storytelling. Filled with warmth, comedy and wisdom, this companionable collection is as appealing as its author.
TOM HANKS, FICTION WRITER With his delightful Uncommon Type: Some Stories (Knopf, $26.95, 416 pages, ISBN 9781101946152), beloved actor Tom Hanks takes on the role of writer and proves to be a natural. Hanks isn’t just dabbling here—he can really write. A tale of romance gone awry, “Three Exhausting Weeks” is the hilarious chronicle of an incompatible couple whose relationship quickly runs its course. Virgil and Bud, a pair of World War II veterans, reminisce on the phone in “Christmas Eve 1953,” a moving, nostalgic
SHORTS THAT RUN DEEP National Book Award-winning author James McBride delivers his first short-story collection with Five-Carat Soul (Riverhead, $27, 320 pages, ISBN 9780735216693). In this wonderfully varied batch of stories (none of which have been published before), McBride moves between eras and characters without missing a beat. “The Under Graham Railroad Box Car Set” is the story of “the most valuable toy in the world”—a train designed for the son of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that has made its way through history and landed in the hands of the enigmatic Spurgeon Hart. “The Five-Carat Soul Bottom Bone Band” is an extended
narrative that could provide the foundation for a novel. Set in a beleaguered black section of Pittsburgh during the Vietnam era, it’s a beautifully wrought coming-of-age tale narrated by a boy named Butter. Throughout the book, McBride effortlessly adapts different voices and perspectives, from a cranky, hooded guard who prepares people for the afterlife (“The Moaning Bench”) to a Union Army soldier who rescues an orphan (“Father Abe”). With this multifaceted volume, McBride proves once again that he’s a writer of remarkable range and facility.
A CAREER COLLECTION Stretching across nearly three decades, Jeffrey Eugenides’ first collection of stories, Fresh Complaint (FSG, $27, 304 pages, ISBN 9780374203061), tracks his rise as a writer and offers a fascinating look at the development of his genius. In novels like the Pulitzer Prize-winning Middlesex (2002) and The Marriage Plot (2011), Eugenides explored the fluidity of gender and the dynamics of relationships in ways that were perceptive, compelling and original. Fans will find more of the same in this satisfying collection. “The Oracular Vulva,” first published in The New Yorker in 1999, features tormented sexologist Peter Luce, who’s conducting research in Indonesia. “Baster” (1995) tells the story of middle-aged Tomasina and her unorthodox approach to getting pregnant (yes, a baster is involved). A new story, “Complainers,” is the plaintive tale of two longtime female friends, one of whom is stricken with dementia. Throughout, Eugenides demonstrates his unfailing expertise as a chronicler of the routines and rituals, motivations and aspirations that comprise the human condition. This retrospective volume is a welcome addition to his body of work.
T PI OP CK
By Sarah Miller
Where the water takes her
Morrow $25.99, 384 pages ISBN 9780062685346 Audio, eBook available HISTORICAL FICTION
REVIEW BY ALDEN MUDGE
In the wake of her dazzling Pulitzer Prize winner, A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan’s deftly plotted new novel, Manhattan Beach, is a surprise. Where A Visit is a stylistically adventurous exploration of the American punk rock music scene that adopts a form of storytelling somewhere between a novel and a collection of short stories, Manhattan Beach is a big, twisty, traditional novel set during the Depression and World War II. As the novel opens, 11-year-old Anna Kerrigan accompanies her father, Eddie, a Brooklyn dockworker and small-time bagman, on a mysterious visit to Dexter Styles’ Manhattan Beach mansion. Styles has one foot in the legitimate business world and the other in the underBy Jennifer Egan world. Until her father’s visit with Styles, Anna has been his constant Scribner, $28, 448 pages companion; after the visit, her father becomes more distant and more ISBN 9781476716732, audio, eBook available a denizen of late nights in faraway places. After several years, Eddie simply disappears. One strand of the remainder of the novel concerns HISTORICAL FICTION Anna’s poignant efforts to discover the fate of her father, which eventually brings her deeper into the orbit of the elusive Styles. At the same time, Anna becomes the sole supporter for her mother and her disabled sister. She finds wartime work in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. There she becomes fascinated by the deep-sea divers who work underwater to repair war ships, a profession closed to women. But because this is wartime and there is a shortage of men, Anna manages through sheer determination and grit to take on this treacherous work and to develop a skill that will later help in her search for her father. Egan writes with great skill and illustrative power. Particularly beautiful are her descriptions of the sea and its mesmerizing effects on her characters. In her afterword, Egan describes the vast amount of research she did on the World War II-era Brooklyn Navy Yard, and it shows. Her portrayals of life in the yard and the perils and mechanics of the work of divers are marvels to behold. own The Talisman (with Peter Straub), it is a triumph of two voices blending wonderfully to take us By Stephen King into a dark and all-too-real dream. and Owen King All the women in the AppalaScribner chian town of Dooling (and around $32.50, 720 pages the world) are falling asleep and reISBN 9781501163401 Audio, eBook available fusing to wake up. Once sleep takes them, their bodies are covered by SUSPENSE a mysterious, fluffy coating, and if they are disturbed, they awaken as Collaborative novels can be homicidal maniacs. This developtricky propositions, even for writers ment naturally sows chaos, inciting as accomplished as the father-son riots across the nation and sending men into a frenzy. In Dooling, duo of Stephen and Owen King. Each author’s stylistic and thematic though, there’s something differconcerns can stick out in jarring ent: Evie, an enigmatic woman with strange abilities, seems unways, creating a mashup far less seamless than either author peraffected by the sleeping sickness. haps would like. Sleeping Beauties Some men think she’s a monster, is not one of those novels. In the others a savior, but whatever side grand tradition of team-ups like they take in a world without women, Dooling is transformed into a Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s powder keg. Good Omens and Stephen King’s
Sleeping Beauties traffics in some very potent themes, from the obvious question of what an all-male society would devolve into to less obvious concerns like the politics of a women’s prison and the evolution of sexuality during the aging process. None of these issues, though, are dealt with cheaply or crudely. The book wields the best attributes of each author—Stephen’s ability to ratchet up tension, Owen’s wit and their joint gifts for character detail— with a deftness that makes it feel like the work of a single hybrid imagination. In the authors’ hands, the themes and characters of Sleeping Beauties become powerful fictional case studies, holding the mirror up to our own powder keg of a society in unforgettable and often unnerving ways. —MATTHEW JACKSON
Readers who grew up cherishing the stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder will find much to savor in Caroline: Little House, Revisited, the third novel from Sarah Miller. Authorized by the Little House Heritage Trust and researched with letters, memoirs and other family records, Caroline recounts the events of the Little House on the Prairie series through the eyes of Caroline Ingalls, better known as “Ma.” The story begins as the Ingalls family prepares to depart the “little house in the big woods” in Pepin, Wisconsin, to stake a claim in Kansas. Caroline, who has just discovered she is pregnant with a third child, is less enthusiastic than her husband, Charles, about leaving their extended family and taking their two small daughters— Mary, 5, and Laura, 3—into the region popularly known as “Indian Territory.” But she dutifully stitches and waxes the canvas wagon cover, packs her beloved china shepherdess into her trunk and completes the other myriad practical preparations for the long and difficult journey. When the family reaches their new home, more trials await that will test their bravery and skills. One of the greatest charms of the Little House series—at least, for this reader—was the meticulous depiction of the chores, pleasures and challenges of everyday pioneer life (pig-bladder balloons!). Caroline follows in this tradition, as Miller explains everything from the intricacies of building a log house to the preparations for a new baby (Caroline carefully stitches a layer of waxed fabric to the inside of her bodice as a type of early brassiere). Life on the frontier had many dangers, and through Caroline’s eyes, the stakes of the story feel higher. In the original series, Laura’s fears could always be calmed by the right
reviews word from Ma or Pa. By contrast, Caroline knows that a lapse in judgment can have fatal consequences, and the reader feels this weight. Miller also introduces an adult element through the relationship between Caroline and Charles, which she depicts as a passionate and supportive partnership. Full of lyrical descriptions of the wild beauty of the Kansas countryside, Caroline is a well-researched and thoughtful look at the inner life of one of America’s most famous frontier women. —T R I S H A P I N G
HERE IN BERLIN By Cristina García Counterpoint $26, 224 pages ISBN 9781619029590 Audio, eBook available LITERARY FICTION
It’s an old but effective technique: the use of oral histories—interviews with witnesses to past events—to paint a picture of an era through multiple perspectives. Cristina García (Dreaming in Cuban) employs this technique to great effect in Here in Berlin, a quilt of a novel that creates a hypnotic portrait of the former East German city during and after World War II. A Cuban-American writer known as the Visitor returns to Germany after leaving 31 years ago to find stories about “the human fallout from Cuba’s long association with the Soviet bloc.” What follows are brief chapters in which residents of Berlin, including World War II survivors now living in nursing homes, share their stories. Among them are Ernesto, a former night watchman of a Cuban electric-fan factory who spent five months as a POW on a German submarine, and one of the few female lawyers in Germany after the war, whose job was to defend clients on trial for war crimes. These histories range from grimly humorous (such as the story about the Ministry of Culture official whose superiors asked him to invent a dance craze that would
FICTION “give the West a (managed) run for its money” and learned an “unexpurgated mambo” from a Cuban agent) to chilling (an unrepentant former Nazi criminal boasts about his wartime actions). If some of the histories are sketchy, most provide a powerful evocation of the continuing effect of the Nazi era on Berlin’s inhabitants. As the Visitor states at the end of the novel, there is “poetry in the listening.” And that’s what Here in Berlin is: a poetic pastiche of rationalizations and regrets, and a testament to the challenge of reconciling a difficult past. —MICHAEL MAGRAS
Visit BookPage.com to read a Q&A with Cristina García.
THE NINTH HOUR By Alice McDermott
FSG $26, 256 pages ISBN 9780374280147 Audio, eBook available HISTORICAL FICTION
Alice McDermott’s seven previous novels, including the 1998 National Book Award winner, Charming Billy, have portrayed with acute perception the many aspects of the Irish-American experience. Her latest is a beautifully crafted depiction of a cloister of nuns in early 20th-century Brooklyn as they move in and out of the lives of a young Irish widow and her daughter. The novel opens as Sister St. Saviour, a Little Nursing Sister of the Sick Poor, is on her way back to the convent after spending the afternoon collecting alms at the neighborhood Woolworth’s. She is summoned by police to a tenement apartment—the scene of a fire caused by the apparent suicide of a young Irish immigrant. She uses the influence she’s gained from 37 years of service to have the man buried in the nearest Catholic cemetery, and then tends to the widow, Annie, who is expecting a baby the following summer. Annie is quickly brought into the fold of the Sisters of the Sick Poor
and given a job in the convent’s laundry under the tutelage of Sister Illuminata, who sees godliness in every clean sheet she washes, every black tunic she irons. And when the baby, Sally, is born, the young Sister Jeanne gladly takes over her care while Annie works nearby. As the years go by, Annie ventures into a relationship with a married man, a fact not hidden from the Sisters but somehow condoned. And Sally, who is comfortable with the daily life of the convent and her ministrations to the sick as she accompanies Sister Jeanne on her daily rounds, gradually begins to visualize becoming a nun herself. McDermott illuminates every day scenes with such precise, unadorned descriptions that the reader feels he or she is there, hidden in the background. The agony of the sick in body or mind, the guilt over ignoring church doctrine, the power of love to erase loneliness—each is treated with McDermott’s exquisite language, tinged with her signature wit. Her latest is highly recommended—a novel to savor and to share. —DEBORAH DONOVAN
THE POWER By Naomi Alderman Little, Brown $26, 400 pages ISBN 9780316547611 eBook available
If the best speculative fiction offers up new ways to see our culture, then Naomi Alderman’s The Power (winner of the U.K.’s Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction) is destined to be a classic. Imagine a world where women are physically more powerful than men. Then just when you are comfortable with that—or maybe think, hey, it’s about time—imagine everything that could go wrong. The Power tells the disconcerting story of what occurs after a genetic mutation gives teenage girls the power of electricity. At first, they just shock each other for fun, but they quickly learn to harness
it, first to protect themselves, then to maim or even kill. The power is transmitted to older women, and eventually, all baby girls are born with a so-called skein of electricity that runs beneath their collarbones like an extra muscle. Alderman explores the power’s trajectory through the lives of three women: Roxy, the daughter of a British mobster; Margot, an American mayor with political aspirations; and finally Mother Eve. Raised in a series of foster homes, Eve, born Alison, uses the power to free herself from an abusive stepfather and reinvents herself as the charismatic matriarch of a female-centric religion. A young Nigerian photojournalist, Tunde, follows the power from country to country, risking his life and offering the important perspective of an outsider. Speculative fiction has long been a genre where gender roles can be explored—think of The Handmaid’s Tale or even back to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland. But Alderman goes beyond her predecessors with a narrative that wonders how long before absolute power corrupts absolutely. Alderman is both a novelist and a co-creator of a smartphone audio adventure app called Zombies, Run!, and it may be this expertise in the world of gaming that brings such a fearlessly creative approach to her storytelling. Both a page-turning thriller and timely exploration of gender roles, censorship and repressive political regimes, The Power is a must-read for today’s times. —LAUREN BUFFERD
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THE RULES OF MAGIC By Alice Hoffman
Simon & Schuster $27.99, 384 pages ISBN 9781501137471 Audio, eBook available POPULAR FICTION
In Alice Hoffman’s 1995 novel, Practical Magic, sisters Sally and
FICTION Gillian share a strong sibling bond and a complicated relationship with magic. Their story is rooted in family history and a legend that includes witchcraft, feuds and rejection dating back 200 years. In The Rules of Magic, Hoffman’s prequel to Practical Magic, we learn about the family’s more recent history: the backstory of Aunt Frances and Aunt Jet, Sally and Gillian’s mysterious guardians. Young Franny is redheaded and feisty; she loves science and looks for logical explanations for everything, even their bizarre family traits that can’t be explained. Bridget, called Jet, is shy and so beautiful that boys are literally willing to die to be with her. Their brother, Vincent, is a mysterious heartbreaker, tormented by visions of the future and carrying more secrets than his sisters can imagine. The three siblings are tied together by blood, magic and a curse that dooms any romantic partner they ever love. Their story is set in the 1960s, and Hoffman weaves cultural and historical references into the novel. It’s the summer solstice meets the “Summer of Love”; spells and potions and superstition rub elbows with riots and music festivals and bellbottoms. Hoffman handles this commingling beautifully, and the fact that her fantasy is grounded in reality makes it feel grittier and more tangible. The Rules of Magic fills in the blanks for Practical Magic fans, but it works perfectly as a standalone as well. It’s clear why Hoffman is a favorite for fantasy readers: She creates interesting mythologies; she’s able to weave magic into the modern world; and she alludes to the magical properties of herbs and everyday items without overexplaining them and overcomplicating her narratives. The Rules of Magic is ostensibly about three family members who find all their love stories star-crossed. But the devotion that draws them together as a family forms a bond that proves indestructible and may ultimately be the key to finally breaking the curse that’s haunted their family for generations.
The Holocaust is one of the darkest chapters in human history, and yet the stories that are born of it seem to be the most extraordinary examples of love and life. Emanuel Bergmann’s first novel, The Trick, which begins soon after the end of World War I, is no exception. For Rabbi Laibl Goldenhirsch and his wife, Rifka, there is another reason to celebrate the return of peace to Prague—the birth of their son, Moshe. The new child briefly provides a respite from an otherwise unexciting postwar life. However, things take a turn as Rifka’s health deteriorates, leaving Moshe to deal with an abusive, depressed and drunk rabbi of a father. Everything changes for Moshe when a neighbor takes him to a traveling circus as a cheerful distraction. So transformed is Moshe by what he sees that he wants nothing more than to become part of the troupe. With the determination of a child who is not yet unnerved by the possibility of failure, Moshe sets out in search of the circus, leaving his father, his city and his religion and changing his destiny from that of the many who stay behind. Decades later in Los Angeles, a young boy named Max Cohn takes a similar leap of faith to keep his parents from divorcing. His answer comes in the form of an old vinyl record of love spells by the Great Zabbatini, a magician who can make anything possible. And just like that, Bergmann expertly collides Moshe’s and Max’s universes. They may face two very different realities, but they share the tenacity to change their futures. The tragedy of the past weaves together with humor, love and a belief in the impossible in The Trick.
—C A R R I E R O L LWA G E N
THE TRICK By Emanuel Bergmann
Atria $26, 384 pages ISBN 9781501155826 Audio, eBook available DEBUT FICTION
SCI-FI & FANTASY BY SAVANNA WALKER
Writ large and small
he mainstreaming of science fiction and fantasy has given writers the freedom to experiment, to change how these stories are told and who gets to stand at the forefront of them.
James Bradley’s Clade (Titan, $14.95, 320 pages, ISBN 9781785654145) marries narrative devices more commonly found in literary fiction to one of the newest subgenres of sci-fi—climate change fiction or “cli-fi.” Beginning with scientist Adam and his artist wife, Ellie, Clade follows the pair and their descendants through the changing ecological and political climate. Each chapter jumps forward in time and switches perspectives, stitching together a narrative of small, lyrical stories that only rarely intersect with the cataclysmic events erupting the world over. Bradley captures how lives can be tinged with a sense of change happening too slowly for one individual to track—his characters are left with only a low whine of anxiety, a sense of things slipping away in their peripheral vision. The jumps in time between chapters make the increasingly dire situation on Earth even more alarming; the reader begins each section not knowing how much time has passed or which characters are missing due to catastrophe or disease or without any explanation at all. Bleak and hopeful in equal measure, Clade is a striking paradox of a book—a soothing tale of the coming apocalypse. As opposed to Clade’s ever-expanding family tree, The Tiger’s Daughter by K Arsenault Rivera (Tor, $15.99, 528 pages, ISBN 9780765392534) concerns itself with only two main characters. But while Bradley’s novel feels like a collection of impeccably constructed haiku, Rivera’s sweeping
fantasy debut is like an epic poem from a bygone age. Rivera wisely takes her time in the initial pages of The Tiger’s Daughter, sparing the reader tedious passages of exposition. Shizuka is the heir to the Hokkaran Empire, whereas Shefali grew up among her mother’s nomadic Qorin people. As Shefali and Shizuka move from initial distrust to hesitant acceptance, each learns about the other’s respective culture. Through references to the histories of their mothers, who fought against the same dangers that now threaten their daughters, Rivera implies an entire universe teeming with stories. The Tiger’s Daughter is the rare introduction to a series that tells a complete story within the first installment, largely due to the complexity of its two leads. Both glory in their abilities and struggle with the resulting sense of isolation. Arrogant, ferociously loyal Shizuka is a dueling prodigy, but she worries she’ll never equal her mother’s legacy. And some of the novel’s most breathtaking passages spring from Shefali’s increasingly frantic attempts to cling to her humanity beneath her quiet, stoic exterior. In a genre saturated with deconstructionist takes on epic fantasy, it is immensely satisfying to read Rivera’s debut, which wholeheartedly embraces its epic scale while effortlessly showcasing the diversity the genre has so often lacked. An adventure that aches with romance, written with easy, lyrical confidence, The Tiger’s Daughter gives the reader the incontrovertible sense that it will be a new fantasy classic.
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TEXAS BLOOD By Roger D. Hodge
The trials of a complex president
REVIEW BY DEBORAH HOPKINSON
Move over, Hamilton! Might there be room for a Broadway musical about Ulysses S. Grant? There’s certainly a vast treasure-trove of material in Grant, a stupendous new biography by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow, whose book Alexander Hamilton inspired the hit musical. Grant is a larger-than-life figure, and Chernow has no difficulty crafting a fascinating and immensely readable (and immense) book. The author is aided by the existence of 32 volumes (comprised of 50,000 documents) of Grant’s papers, as well as Grant’s own memoirs, which he wrote while dying of throat cancer, spurred by a determination to provide for his wife, Julia. Grant’s life was marked by sometimes bitter failures and hard-won accomplishments. By sheer grit, he managed to succeed in his couBy Ron Chernow rageous final endeavor, penning what Chernow calls “the foremost Penguin Press, $40, 1,104 pages ISBN 9781594204876, audio, eBook available military memoir in the English language.” Chernow’s biography is replete with fascinating details and insightBIOGRAPHY ful political analysis, a combination that brings Grant and his time to life. Grant played a key role in post-Civil War politics, battling Andrew Johnson in order to uphold the terms of surrender he’d negotiated with Robert E. Lee at Appomattox. Later, Grant came to believe Lee harbored a fantasy that his “defeated cause would rise anew.” (Lee, Chernow tells us, testified in Congress against suffrage for former slaves. As for Johnson, Chernow says, “No American president has ever held such openly racist views.”) Grant sought instead to preserve the Union and safeguard the rights of those freed from slavery. He supported federal funds for African-American education and counted Frederick Douglass as an ally in the effort to stop the atrocities of the Ku Klux Klan. While Chernow’s biography may be hefty, it is also uncommonly compelling and timely. Perhaps a Broadway adaptation wouldn’t be such a bad idea. . . . In the meantime, put Grant on your must-read list.
A SECRET SISTERHOOD By Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney
HMH $27, 352 pages ISBN 9780544883734 Audio, eBook available LITERATURE
When we think of the writing lives of iconic female authors Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë, we imagine them going it alone, Austen at her tiny table, her sister and mother bustling around her, and Brontë stuck in her father’s spare parsonage, with siblings for company. But those images tell only part of the story, write Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire
Sweeney, who detail the writerly friendships that sustained Austen and Brontë, as well as George Eliot and Virginia Woolf, in A Secret Sisterhood. Drawing on a wealth of letters, Midorikawa and Sweeney reveal long friendships that were glossed over or even suppressed by descendants and biographers. For Austen, that friend was Anne Sharp, governess to Austen’s niece and an amateur playwright. Brontë first encountered lifelong friends Mary Taylor (who later wrote a feminist novel) and Ellen Nussey in boarding school, creating a middle school friendship triangle. Later, Brontë and Taylor studied French in Belgium, a transformative experience. Eliot grew an epistolary friendship with blockbuster author Harriet Beecher Stowe; the two never met, but
they corresponded intermittently for decades after Stowe wrote an admiring letter to Eliot. And as for Woolf, a friendship with short-story writer Katherine Mansfield was fraught, but lasted until Mansfield’s untimely death. In their approachable style, Midorikawa and Sweeney illuminate these novelists as each struggles to write and publish in an era hostile to women and cope with both anonymity and fame. We also get a sense of the relationships among these four: Brontë complained about Austen to Eliot’s partner, while Eliot herself was a great admirer of Austen. Woolf, in turn, revered Eliot. A Secret Sisterhood is bookended by a lovely foreword from Margaret Atwood and an epilogue noting other female literary friendships. —SARAH M�CRAW CROW
Knopf $28.95, 368 pages ISBN 9780307961402 eBook available HISTORY
Roger D. Hodge couldn’t get out of Texas fast enough. After a boyhood spent doing the things that a South Texas kid from a ranching family does—working with livestock, hell-raising in Mexico—he drove off to college at 18 and didn’t look back. He never planned to become what he calls a “professional Texan.” But it’s not easy to extract your homeland from your heart. The legendary Texas borderland ranch culture is fading, and Hodge takes an unsparing look at how it developed, what it meant and how it’s dying in Texas Blood. Texas Blood, a title that refers to the blood of Hodge’s ancestors and the blood of Southwestern violence, is a heady, sometimes humorous mélange of family history, memoir, research and travelogue. In the course of the book, Hodge retraces his forebears’ path south from Missouri, drives pretty much the entirety of the Rio Grande Valley, interviews border patrol agents and his grandma, hangs out with Mexican-American pilgrims at the Cristo Rey shrine and explains why Cormac McCarthy’s novels are more realistic than not. Hodge’s first Texas ancestor, Perry Wilson, was a typical mid-19th-century roamer, making perilous journeys to California and Arizona as well as Texas. Wilson’s descendants stuck around the general vicinity of Del Rio, Texas. Hodge illustrates what their lives were like with contemporaneous books, letters and diaries, the most moving stories coming from ordinary settlers. Border history is savage. Everyone was killing everyone: Spanish versus Native Americans, Comanches versus American settlers, scalp bounty hunters versus
NONFICTION anyone they could pretend was a Native American. But people like the Wilson-Hodge clan worked incredibly hard and built a community worth remembering in a beautifully austere land. —ANNE BARTLETT
Visit BookPage.com to read a Q&A with Roger D. Hodge.
THE STATE OF AFFAIRS By Esther Perel
Harper $26.99, 336 pages ISBN 9780062322586 Audio, eBook available RELATIONSHIPS
Without infidelity as a theme, there would be a precipitous decline in the number of novels and movies produced, not to mention the utter destruction of country music and much of the legal profession. Whether or not one has personally been unfaithful to a romantic partner, one almost certainly knows people who have been. As a practicing therapist for more than 30 years, Esther Perel’s goal in The State of Affairs is to go beyond the standard victim-versus-victimizer model of adultery and explore its infinite complexities—the better to salvage something even slightly worthwhile from the experience, preferably for both partners. One reason infidelity is so catastrophic, Perel says, is that we are culturally groomed to believe marriage should provide us everything we need emotionally, including sex, offspring, friendship, stability, inspiration and refuge. When it falls short, as it almost always does for at least one of the partners, it can open the door to straying. “Not only can an affair destroy a marriage,” Perel writes, “it has the power to unravel an entire social fabric.” But infidelity, she points out, is not all that easy to define. Depending on the aggrieved partner’s standards, it can range from
flirtation or viewing pornography to maintaining a furtive, long-term romantic relationship. To illustrate how varied the “cheating” scene is, she explores the stories of dozens of couples she has counseled. Among the conclusions she reaches are that you can’t adultery-proof a marriage, that complete honesty in trying to mend the ravages of adultery can sometimes do more harm than good, and that infidelity isn’t always caused by marital dissatisfaction. Sometimes it just happens. —EDWARD MORRIS
THIS BLESSED EARTH By Ted Genoways
Norton $26.95, 240 pages ISBN 9780393292572 Audio, eBook available AGRICULTURE
When perusing the endless variety of foods lining the shelves of grocery stores, it’s easy to forget where it all comes from. This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm by Ted Genoways offers insight into the farming process, which has experienced significant changes over the years. Genoways follows Nebraska farmer Rick Hammond and his family over the course of a year, providing an in-depth look at the obstacles farmers face today, including climate change, dwindling underground water supplies, oil and gas pipeline encroachment, market price fluctuations and the always unpredictable weather. There are also successes, such as President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline in 2015—but the challenges seem to outweigh the triumphs. A Nebraska native, Genoways tells the story with genuine honesty and historical awareness, explaining how the “American farm underwent a period of unmatched innovation in the early twentieth century” with the introduction of gas-powered tractors and harvest-
WILD AMERICA BY KEITH HERRELL
Taming the wilderness
h, the American wild: teeming with animals roaming free, right? Two new books might change your thinking on that, as well as the role of humans and government.
In American Wolf (Crown, $28, 320 pages, ISBN 9781101902783), Nate Blakeslee gives us a tale of survival and obsession, replete with impressive detail gleaned from numerous interviews, diaries and personal observations. His account mostly takes place in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park, where wolves were reintroduced starting in 1995 after becoming nearly extinct in the United States by the 1920s. As the wolves go about the unending business of survival, they become the objects of obsession for cattle ranchers, trophy hunters and people who rise before dawn to get a glimpse of the skilled predators. All of this plays out against a background of political, bureaucratic and court battles as opposing interests clash, with the wolves caught in the middle. Wisely—and compellingly— Blakeslee focuses much of the narrative on one particular wolf, an alpha female known as O-Six. While she becomes a media star thanks to interviews given by park personnel, Blakeslee goes behind the scenes to give readers a richly detailed look at the complicated dynamics of pack life (and death) in the Rockies, all while avoiding the cuddly tone of a Disney-esque documentary. He also takes care not to fawn over heroes or superficially target villains in an account that, like the wolves themselves, has many shades of gray.
ECOLOGICAL CONUNDRUM While the reintroduction of wolves brought with it a number
of challenges, it was practically a walk in the park compared with the sad dilemma presented by America’s wild horses, also known as mustangs. While not native to the United States (Spanish conquistadors brought them here), there are thousands of mustangs in the West, living on hardscrabble land almost exclusively owned by the federal government. As David Philipps recounts in Wild Horse Country (Norton, $27.95, 368 pages, ISBN 9780393247138), their current situation is deeply troubling and marked by helicopter-aided roundups, segregation of horses by sex in longterm holding ranches where they await adoption that rarely comes and, in the worst cases, sale to slaughterhouses. There are (again) multiple competing interests, and the federal Bureau of Land Management is tasked with keeping the horses’ numbers down in response to demands by cattle ranchers. Even so, the mustangs’ numbers continue to grow as every “solution” is met with fierce opposition. Philipps tells the horses’ story in entertaining fashion, with side trips to prehistoric times, the world of Western pulp novels and the life of an early animal-rights activist bent on dynamiting slaughterhouses. Philipps also indulges in some old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting, getting to the bottom of modern-day slaughterhouse rumors and even confronting a U.S. Cabinet member. And he offers up a solution of his own that makes just enough sense to ensure it won’t be adopted.
reviews ing combines. But big corporations have now taken over, forcing cross-pollination “to produce robust seed corn” and promoting pesticide-heavy crops, which are more resistant and have higher yields. Genoways delivers a close-up look at what farmers face today and their efforts to accomplish their goals. —BECKY LIBOUREL DIAMOND
MAN OF THE HOUR By Jennet Conant
Simon & Schuster $30, 608 pages ISBN 9781476730882 Audio, eBook available BIOGRAPHY
Photo copyright © David Magnus/REX/Shutterstock
Jennet Conant’s latest book, Man of the Hour: James B. Conant,
978-1-62354-526-0 HC $30.00
guaranteed to raise a smile.
NONFICTION Warrior Scientist, is a magisterial biography of one of the 20th century’s most influential men: her own grandfather. James B. Conant, a brilliant scientist, had a career that was so varied and vital to our country that this book could easily have been called “Man of Many Hours.” To say that James realized an impressive array of achievements is to damn him with faint praise. An outstanding research chemist at Harvard, he was crucial to understanding the structure of chlorophyll. In recognition of his vision and talent, he was selected as the president of Harvard soon after turning 40. What would have been the capstone achievement for most people turned out to be a steppingstone for James. Appointed by Eisenhower as the high commissioner to Germany, he ushered West Germany into NATO. Later, after sputnik, he became a powerful voice for strengthening the public school system. But James is perhaps most famous for his work on the Manhattan Project. It is likely that the Project would have failed without his steady and wise presence, but his most famous achievement haunted him. Postwar, James was horrified by the threat of nuclear proliferation, and he argued strongly against developing the hydrogen bomb. The politics of the time—McCarthyism, Stalin’s aggression, Truman’s inexperience—doomed his ideas, but one wonders what the world would be like now if James had been heeded. Jennet Conant has written about her grandfather before, in her earlier books 109 East Palace and Tuxedo Park. But while there is genuine pride in her grandfather, she never allows it to cloud her judgment. Jennet can be quite critical of her subject, especially when detailing the devastating impact his prolonged absences had upon his wife and sons. In other words, she brings to her task the same objectivity, thoroughness and interest that her grandfather brought to his. Insightful and rich in detail, this book is a fitting tribute to a remarkable man.
Roz Chast would like to introduce you to her most fascinating friend. But first, let her get you up to speed so you won’t embarrass yourself. The friend in question—New York City—may not seem so welcoming if you don’t know what those “West Side Story things” are (fire escapes) or that 25 West 43rd Street is an entirely different place than 25 East 43rd Street. So that you may be worthy of making acquaintance with her beloved hometown, veteran New Yorker cartoonist Chast offers a wry and entertaining guide that also conveys the actual information you need on your first visit to Manhattan. Illustrated with Chast’s energetic, sketchy cartoons and occasional family photographs, Going into Town began as a tutorial for her suburb-raised daughter as she headed off to college with little idea of what a “block” was, let alone how to navigate the city’s subway system. Chast expanded it to include guidebook staples— how to find food, housing and entertainment—presented with a slightly twisted, New York sense of humor. Here you’ll learn practical things, like how the city’s grid of streets and avenues work, and gain insider knowledge, like why it’s wise to avoid boarding empty subway cars, no matter how invitingly spacious they seem. (Hint: That smell may be the least of your worries.) Fans of Chast’s bestselling memoir, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, will recognize and enjoy the unique blend of affection and sarcasm that Chast brings to her work while getting to know one of the world’s most famous cities.
Sarah Perry woke up in the middle of one 1994 night, startled by her mother’s screams. What could be a child’s worst nightmare becomes Sarah’s reality: As the 12-year-old listens, helpless in her room, Crystal Perry is being stabbed to death on the other side of the wall. The murder cleaves Sarah’s childhood into before and after. Before, she and her mother shared the sort of close relationship single mothers and their only children sometimes find. Sarah knew her father, but her parents split when she was young. Sarah was a self-described weird kid, the sort of girl who would lose herself in a book and her own writing. After her mother’s murder, Sarah finds herself in a near constant battle with rage. The person she loves most gone, and now she is left to wonder whether any of the men in her life is the murderer. Sarah feels lost; she can no longer write, and she can no longer trust the people around her. As police investigate Crystal’s murder, Sarah wonders if she can even trust her own memory of that night. In After the Eclipse, Sarah recounts her journey to understand her own experience and who her mother was. The book, like her childhood, is split into two parts: her memories, and her efforts to move forward. After the Eclipse is a thoroughly researched account of Crystal Perry’s death and the efforts to bring her murderer to justice, yet this is so much more than a typical true crime tale. Sarah Perry has created a captivating and emotionally raw account of the event that changed her life and how it shaped her.
—SHEILA M. TRASK
—CARLA JEAN WHITLEY
GOING INTO TOWN By Roz Chast
Bloomsbury $28, 176 pages ISBN 9781620403211 eBook available TRAVEL
AFTER THE ECLIPSE By Sarah Perry
HMH $27, 368 pages ISBN 9780544302655 Audio, eBook available MEMOIR
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A stunning story of a single day
REVIEW BY JILL RATZAN
It’s a regular summer’s day for Adam Thorn. It begins with picking up gardening supplies for his mother (even though his brother, Marty, ran over her chrysanthemums). Later, he’s off to run with his cross-country team, and then he clocks in at what he calls the Evil International Mega-Conglomerate warehouse. After that it’s a brief stop to see his best friend, Angela, followed by his boyfriend, Linus. That evening, Adam helps at his preacher father’s evangelical church and ends the night at a going-away party for Enzo, an ex for whom Adam still yearns. Adam’s day alternates between the mundane and the extraordinary: Angela and Marty both have revelations to share; Linus needs more from Adam than his heart is ready to give; and Adam’s tenuous truce with his father may be coming to an end. But as Adam’s day progresses, so does someone else’s: that of a mysterious presence who might be the ghost of a murdered girl—or perhaps the embodiment of an By Patrick Ness HarperTeen, $17.99, 288 pages ancient water queen. Adam’s story and that of the drowned spirit run ISBN 9780062403193, audio, eBook available parallel for a time, but when they overlap, both could find some kind Ages 14 and up of release. Drawing inspiration from Judy Blume’s Forever . . . and Virginia FICTION Woolf’s classic circadian novel Mrs. Dalloway, this new novel from Carnegie Medal winning-author Patrick Ness features diverse characters, unique religious perspectives (Adam’s father’s strict rules don’t hold a monopoly on spirituality) and just enough honest talk about sex to make it a good choice for older teen readers.
THE NOWHERE GIRLS By Amy Reed
Simon Pulse $17.99, 416 pages ISBN 9781481481731 eBook available Ages 14 and up FICTION
The small town of Prescott, Oregon, has a dark history of assault that it likes to keep hidden. But in The Nowhere Girls, three young women have had enough of the predators roaming the halls of their high school. Grace Salter, Rosina Suarez and Erin DeLillo sit at what everybody in the Prescott High lunchroom knows is the weirdo table. Grace is the new girl who just moved to town because her preacher mom is too liberal and radical. Rosina is the queer, punk girl in a conser-
vative, Mexican-American family. And Erin, though a genius, deals with the social struggles of her extreme Asperger’s every single day. Together, they anonymously organize the Nowhere Girls in order to push back against the overt sexism, victim blaming, slut shaming and outright rape culture running rampant at Prescott. Their first move: withholding sex of any kind from the boys at their school. And as the Nowhere Girls continue to meet and grow in numbers, they begin to find strength in their own voices, take control of their own bodies and discover that they are far stronger and more capable than they’d ever been allowed to imagine. Borrowing from the ancient Greek play Lysistrata, author Amy Reed crafts a powerful, moving and nuanced set of characters who experience the same abuse that far too many girls suffer. Reed’s The Nowhere Girls shows readers the power each woman possess-
help in banishing their darkness. At the center are three cousins— Beatriz, Joaquin and Daniel. When Daniel, the eldest cousin and saint, breaks the cardinal rule (you can help the pilgrims once, but not twice), he runs off into the desert to await his dismal fate. But generations of curses and darkness will not keep the Soria cousins from saving one of their own. While reminiscent of Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits, a classic of magical realism, there are elements of storytelling here that feel unique to Stiefvater: unusual metaphors, sharp prose, unexpected humor and a deft ability to mesh the eerie and fanciful into one seamless description. Thoughtfully paced with intriguing characters, ill-fated romance and complicated family relationships, All the Crooked Saints will satiate fans who are always eager for new Stiefvater work, while bringing new ones into the fold. — K I M B E R LY G I A R R A T A N O
es—and she lets her characters serve as examples of how young people can take care of each other while simultaneously demanding and effecting real change in their communities. —J U S T I N B A R I S I C H
ALL THE CROOKED SAINTS By Maggie Stiefvater
Scholastic $18.99, 320 pages ISBN 9780545930802 Audio, eBook available Ages 14 and up FANTASY
Maggie Stiefvater returns with her matchless style in a standalone novel set in the Colorado Desert in 1962. Bicho Raro is a mystical ranch where the Soria family has resided for generations, performing miracles for pilgrims who seek
978-1-58089-806-5 HC $17.99
In an exclusive world, Julia is the exception. On sale October 3
reviews T PI OP CK
When wishes become action REVIEW BY ALICE CARY
What can be done in the face of racism and hatred? Newbery edal-winning author Katherine Applegate deftly explores this quesM tion in her stellar new novel, Wishtree. A 10-year-old Muslim girl named Samar and her parents move into a house in a suburban neighborhood, hoping for a new life. Samar has wary eyes and a shy smile, with “the look of someone who has seen too much.” Even so, she is quietly hopeful, tying her written wish on a large red oak wishing tree in front of her house, as people have done for decades. “I wish for a friend,” she whispers, and the tree listens. But the next-door neighbors aren’t friendly. A teenager carves the word “LEAVE” into the tree’s trunk. Someone throws eggs at Samar’s house. A car races by whose occupants shout, “Muslims get out!” FinalBy Katherine Applegate ly, the “wishtree,” named Red, can stand silent no longer. It’s time to act. Feiwel & Friends, $16.99, 224 pages Using an oak tree as a narrator is a huge creative risk, but AppleISBN 9781250043221, audio, eBook available gate carries out this feat with literary bravado, elevating her tale to an Ages 8 to 12 unforgettable, timeless fable in the process. Red has not only carefully watched the world for over 200 years but is also very funny. “I could MIDDLE GRADE write a book,” Red muses, wryly adding, “In fact, I could be a book.” This neighborhood story has a marvelous animal and human cast, including a pair of policemen who investigate the tree vandalism and the tree’s owner, Francesca, who wants to cut the oak down. Helping Red in the quest for neighborhood peace is a menagerie of animals that find shelter in the wise old tree and whose interactions add another layer to this story about the pleasures and difficulties of living in harmony. Wishtree is a page-turning, magical read that packs a lot into its pages. This gentle yet powerful book is suitable for all ages, from young to old, and its message remains more vital than ever.
AFTER THE FALL By Dan Santat
Roaring Brook $17.99, 40 pages ISBN 9781626726826 Ages 4 to 8 PICTURE BOOK
In this contemporary and sensitive twist on the classic “Humpty Dumpty” rhyme, Dan Santat offers a story about persistence in the face of anxiety. On the title-page spread, we see delicate Humpty midfall. He loves to watch birds but has taken an inadvertent dive from his favorite bird-watching spot. “It was just an accident,” he tells us. “But it changed my life.” The fall, despite being put back together again at Kings County Hospital, leaves him anxious and afraid of heights. He
misses his favorite pastime and misses the birds, but worry and apprehension debilitate him. His solution is to build a bird out of paper. When his soaring creation gets stuck atop the wall, Humpty decides to climb it once again. His triumphant arrival at the top is encouraging and altogether heartening, as Humpty tells us that perhaps now we won’t think of him as “that egg who was famous for falling.” But in an unexpected twist, Santat wraps up the story with an exuberant surprise, a moment of exhilarating freedom. In this tale about resilience in the face of adversity and refusing to let worry get in the way of life, Santat avoids heavy-handedness and communicates a lot with color, light and perspective. The final two spreads showing Humpty’s liberation are breathtaking. A good egg. A very good egg. —J U L I E D A N I E L S O N
ROBINSON By Peter Sís
Scholastic $17.99, 48 pages ISBN 9780545731669 eBook available Ages 4 to 8 PICTURE BOOK
There’s a lot to love about Peter Sís’ autobiographical picture book, an adventure story that pays tribute to the enduring imagination of children. Told from the point of view of Sís as a young boy, the story first draws readers into the grand, creative play of a group of friends. Peter and his four best buds love adventure, and they particularly love to engage in pirate play. When their school announces a costume party, they are sure they’ll all show up dressed as pirates. But Peter’s mother has a better
idea: She sews him a Robinson Crusoe costume. After all, he’s the hero of Peter’s favorite book. When all his friends point and laugh at his costume, Peter goes home and collapses into bed, where he has a detailed dream about sailing to and exploring an island. Here the story shifts dramatically to the boy’s solitary play. His friends may show up in his bedroom later to apologize, but it’s during Peter’s imaginative solo adventure that he finds healing and courage, making this story a tribute not only to Daniel Defoe’s classic novel but also to the resilience of children. Sís’ palette is especially stunning. The illustrations expand to full-bleed spreads upon the boy’s arrival at the island, and the colors shift from primarily earth-toned hues to rich blues and greens. It’s simply gorgeous. “I feel stronger now and brave,” the boy thinks as he learns to survive on the mysterious island, with shadows lurking, animals appearing and flora and fauna flourishing. Robinson is an unforgettable journey and a feast for the eyes. —J U L I E D A N I E L S O N
THE PURLOINING OF PRINCE OLEOMARGARINE By Mark Twain and Philip Stead Illustrated by Erin Stead
Doubleday $24.99, 160 pages ISBN 9780553523225 Audio, eBook available Ages 8 to 12 PICTURE BOOK
When Mark Twain’s daughters begged for a bedtime story in a hotel in Paris in 1879, he began a fairy tale about a poor boy named Johnny. Later he jotted down 16 pages of notes, only to leave the project unfinished. Fast forward to 2014, when Doubleday acquired the rights to the story, working with the Mark Twain House and Museum and the Mark Twain Papers. The publisher turned to husband-andwife team Philip and Erin Stead, the author and illustrator of the
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reviews Caldecott Medal-winning A Sick Day for Amos McGee. The result of this years-in-the-making, grand collaboration is the highly unusual, lively The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine. The story rolls right along, focusing on dirt-poor Johnny (and his pet chicken, named Pestilence and Famine), who, after a series of misfortunes, shows kindness to an old beggar woman. As for the titular princely hero, he only makes a brief appearance near the end, as a demanding, narcissistic young man holding a band of poor outcasts hostage in a cave. There’s also a king and queen and a menagerie of talking animals, including an elephant that will remind fans of the Steads’ Amos McGee pachyderm. Erin’s trademark illustrations combine a variety of techniques (wood carving, ink, pencil and laser cutting) in muted colors to convey sadness, humor and immediacy, serving to pace the lengthy tale perfectly. Not surprisingly, both pictures and words hold magic here. How could Philip pay homage to Twain while crafting his own tale? The solution: Philip interrupts chapters with imagined exchanges between himself and Twain, as they sit, sip tea and argue plot points. Somehow the whole thing works beautifully, providing readers with an intriguing look at the creative process. This is a noteworthy publishing treat, one best shared and read aloud. Readers can imagine Twain sitting back, nodding his head and smiling as he admires this new, deeply imaginative rendition. —ALICE CARY
THE STARS BENEATH OUR FEET By David Barclay Moore
Knopf $16.99, 304 pages ISBN 9781524701246 Audio, eBook available Ages 10 and up MIDDLE GRADE
In David Barclay Moore’s page-turning debut novel, The Stars Beneath Our Feet, Wallace
CHILDREN’S “Lolly” Rachpaul isn’t even a teenager yet, but growing up in the projects of New York City has stripped him of anything resembling a normal childhood. Every day is a battle to keep away from the neighborhood gangs and to avoid the fate of his older brother, Jermaine. Jermaine’s shooting death just a few months earlier has added a level of anger and frustration to Lolly’s life that he doesn’t quite know how to handle. Thankfully, the adage “it takes a village” holds true on the streets of Harlem, as Lolly finds that the community he resents also provides a sort of respite from reality. Mr. Ali, the after-school counselor, provides a space for Lolly to pursue his ultimate Lego obsession with the construction of a giant make-believe city. In the process, Lolly gets stuck with Big Rose, the strangest girl in the after-school program. But the two have more in common than they think and end up being each other’s silent cheerleaders. Despite the best intentions from family, friends and the community, Lolly ultimately must learn that the power of choice lies in his own hands and no one else’s. Will he choose wisely to pave his own path out of the projects, or will he succumb to his brother’s unfortunate destiny? Moore leaves us wondering until the very end. —CHIKA GUJARATHI
CHASING AUGUSTUS By Kimberly Newton Fusco Knopf $16.99, 336 pages ISBN 9780385754019 eBook available Ages 8 to 12 MIDDLE GRADE
Watch out for Rosie, who is whip-smart but as mean as the snakes she tries to catch. During the summer before sixth grade, Rosie is as gruff and gritty as her grandfather and the town where they live. Rosie’s lawyer mother abandoned her as a baby, and life with Rosie’s dad was good until
he had a serious stroke a year ago, leaving him so severely disabled that Rosie can’t bear to visit him in the rehab hospital. Rosie’s gnarly but loving grandpa stepped in, taking over her father’s doughnut store to try to eke out a living. Rosie has little to be happy about in Chasing Augustus, Kimberly Newton Fusco’s spirited novel. Her grades have tanked, and her foremost goal is trying to find her misbehaving dog, Augustus, whom her mother gave away when her father had his stroke. For Rosie, losing Augustus was the crowning blow: “When you lose your dog, there’s a hole in your heart as big as the sun. Your head aches all the time and you are so empty inside because you are half the girl you used to be.” Rosie will do anything to find him, even break the law, and she’s pretty sure her dog is living on a farm with a woman known as Swanson, a town outcast who doesn’t speak and is rumored to shoot squirrels. Helping in Rosie’s quest to find her dog—and herself—is a cast of quirky characters, including a withdrawn foster child named Philippe, an annoying chatterbox named Cynthia and a gifted sixthgrade teacher, Mr. Peterson, who challenges Rosie to open her heart and her mind. There are no easy answers for Rosie, but through her own determination and with the help of a trusted few, she learns to find her way. —ALICE CARY
MY BRIGADISTA YEAR By Katherine Paterson
Candlewick $15.99, 160 pages ISBN 9780763695088 Audio available Ages 10 to 14 MIDDLE GRADE
A new novel from Katherine Paterson about a fascinating, little-known chapter in Cuban history is reason to celebrate. Paterson—a Library of Congress “Living Legend” and two-time winner of both the Newbery Medal and the National Book Award—doesn’t dis-
appoint with her first novel since her husband’s death in 2013. It’s 1961, and 13-year-old Lora lives with her family in an apartment in Havana. Upon hearing about Fidel Castro’s campaign to make the nation literate in one year, Lora ignores her parents’ concerns and joins an army of young volunteer teachers (more than 250,000) heading into the remote countryside. There Lora and the other “brigadistas” live and work alongside poor families in primitive conditions. Lora gains self-confidence as she learns to love several families, experiencing the challenges and rewards of teaching both children and adults, all while facing grave danger. Paterson seamlessly brings this tale to life, skillfully weaving in just enough historical detail to give curious readers a sense of the complex historical factors at play (Cubans’ delight and the United States’ displeasure at the fall of Baptista’s corrupt regime), with a helpful timeline of Cuban history. Castro’s bold campaign worked, making Cuba the first illiteracy-free country in the Western Hemisphere. “We did it, we did it, we did it!” Lora and the brigadistas sing upon their triumphant return to Havana. Lora notes: “We were like an army of sharpened pencils marching into the center of the capital.” Lora’s brigadista year transformed her life forever, as it did for many actual participants (one of whom is Paterson’s friend). In a wonderful epilogue written years later, after Lora becomes a doctor, she notes: “My country is not perfect, but, then, is yours? . . . No, we are not perfect, but we do have a literate, educated population. We do have doctors.” She adds that many doctors and nurses are heading to West Africa to care for Ebola victims. As always, Paterson eloquently delivers a fascinating slice of history, then gives her readers important points to ponder, making My Brigadista Year a gloriously timeless story. —ALICE CARY
Visit BookPage.com to read a Q&A with Katherine Paterson.
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LA LA LA With vibrant illustrations from Jaime Kim, Kate DiCamillo’s nearly wordless picture book, La La La (Candlewick, $17.99, 72 pages, ISBN 9780763658335, ages 4 to 8), is the story of a girl whose simple song has the power to connect her to the world. Born and raised in South Korea, Kim now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.
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