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Her fearless follow-up to Special Topics in Calamity Physics is a thrilling cinematic journey
In This Issue Meet JaSON mott
His haunting debut inspires a new TV series
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americaâ€™s book review
paperback picks PENGUIN.COM
The Bone Bed
Tom Clancy’s Endwar: The Missing
Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta finds that danger and suspicion have penetrated her closest circles. Her niece speaks in riddles. Her lead investigator and FBI forensic psychologist husband have secrets of their own. Feeling alone and betrayed, Scarpetta is tempted by someone from her past as she tracks a killer both cunning and cruel.
While on a recon mission over Russia, Joint Strike Force pilot Major Stephanie Halverson is shot down. Hers is the first in a series of events that lead to a deadly cabal once thought to be destroyed. But they are back—and stronger than ever...
An unexpected visit from his friend and periodic lover, CIA assistant director Holly Barker, draws Stone Barrington into a dangerous game of murder and vengeance, against an enemy with plans bigger than they could ever imagine...
9780425266298 • $9.99
9780451414380 • $9.99
As Maddy grows closer to her new boss, a Russian oil tycoon, she discovers that he is out to shape the future of Russia on a massive scale, using the secret of the mythical empire of Shambhala in a quest that will lead Maddy on a violent odyssey across Europe and to the far edge of the Black Sea.
9780425261361 • $9.99
9780451415660 • $9.99
The Art of Stealing Time
Caravan of Thieves
For the Love of Magic
Gwen and her two Wiccan moms kidnap a mortal woman. Gregory Faa is tempted to just let Gwen disappear in Summerland until he realizes that she’s being pursued by a squad of goons and death’s minions. But Gwen can’t give in to her heart’s demand to trust Gregory, despite the fact that he’s as handsome as the day is long—and the days in Summerland last centuries…
Rollie Waters is only partly surprised when officials mention one name: Dan Waters. U.S. government money has gone missing, and they think Rollie’s father took it. The only way to find Dan is to trace the frail tendrils of truth scattered among Rollie’s childhood memories. To do that, he’ll have to go deep into the undercover identity of a lifetime: his own.
Mitro is now the epitome of malevolence, and perpetrator of one of the most shocking killing sprees known to man. No one escaped the bloodshed, including his lifemate, Arabejila. Now, between Dax and Mitro, a violent game has begun—one that has marked Riley Parker, the last descendant of Arabejila, as the reward.
Shocked and deeply shaken that his wife really has left him, Titus sets out to win her back. But his plan backfires when he discovers that dealing with demons is far less threatening than the little secret his very mortal wife has been keeping from him.
9780451417435 • $7.99
9780451419255 • $9.99
9780515151565 • $7.99
9780515153217 • $7.99
New York Times bestselling author Beth Kery’s scorching new novel
of a man and a woman bound by the scandalous secrets of the past—and by the sexual hunger that still fuels their uncontrollable desires… Out-of-control party girl and wealthy socialite Elise Martin has come to Chicago to prove to herself and the rest of the world that her life is truly worthwhile. But she never dreamed she’d find herself at the erotic mercy of the dynamic and wealthy Lucien Lenault, her girlhood crush, an irresistible enigma who renders women powerless and vulnerable...not to mention wholly insatiable. But Elise isn’t just any woman. She’s used to playing with fire, and for her, discovering Lucien’s secrets is all part of the game. What brought Lucien to Chicago with a new name and a new identity? Who is Ian Noble, the provocative new stranger in Lucien’s shadow? And why has Lucien taken to following him in the night? As the two of them get deeper into a dangerous sexual dance, Lucien can’t help but wonder if the exquisite firestorm that Elise has ignited could not only expose his secrets, but draw him dangerously close to the edge and leave both their futures in ashes.
A Penguin Group (USA) Company
9780425269350 • $16
September 2013 B o o k Pa g e . c o m
12 jason mott Meet the author of The Returned
Pessl’s new novel, Night Film, is a cinematic mystery that reveals our darker selves.
13 Jamie ford A bittersweet quest for home
16 Christian Fiction Weathering hardships with grace
18 Mitchell S. Jackson It all starts with the title
22 Required reading School’s in session for two debuts
26 spotlight: writing Three guides for aspiring authors
28 Holly Goldberg Sloan A brilliant girl finds a place to belong
31 Sandra Boynton Meet the author-illustrator of Frog Trouble
columns 04 04 05 06 08 09 09 11 12
Lifestyles cooking library reads Whodunit Romance audio well read book clubs the author enabler
Cover photo of Marisha Pessl © David Schulze Cover illustrations © iStock.com/FMNG
A new chapter
reviews 19 Fiction
The Returned by Jason Mott
Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink
Moonrise by Cassandra King The Maid’s Version by Daniel Woodrell Burial Rites by Hannah Kent Enon by Paul Harding After Her by Joyce Maynard The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon Subtle Bodies by Norman Rush Lookaway, Lookaway by Wilton Barnhardt The Road from Gap Creek by Robert Morgan The Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally Someone by Alice McDermott Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat
Wilson by A. Scott Berg Sister Mother Husband Dog by Delia Ephron The Dark Path by David Schickler Miss Anne in Harlem by Carla Kaplan I Kiss Your Hands Many Times by Marianne Szegedy-Maszák Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward
30 CHILDREN’S top pick:
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
Xander’s Panda Party by Linda Sue Park Sure Signs of Crazy by Karen Harrington If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan More Than This by Patrick Ness
This month we bid a fond farewell to Alice Fitzgibbon, who has served as the BookPage customer service manager since 1995. “My job has been easy because I work with librarians, and librarians are the nicest people on the planet,” says Alice, who is leaving her position to begin a well-deserved retirement. With her newfound free time, she plans to take classes, travel, spend more time at the gym, enjoy her three grandchildren— and, of course, devote more time to reading. An eclectic reader who counts Richard Ford and Ron Rash among her favorite writers, Alice says she has particularly enjoyed being at BookPage “because I’ve been exposed to so many different kinds of books.” We are grateful to Alice for her contributions to BookPage, and we look forward to hearing about her next great read.
Michael A. Zibart
Lynn L. Green
Elizabeth Grace Herbert
Angela J. Bowman
BookPage is a selection guide for new books. Our editors evaluate and select for review the best books published each month in a variety of categories. Only books we highly recommend are featured.
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Beginning with this issue, you can consult BookPage every month to find out which books librarians across the country are recommending. The Library Reads list (on page 5) spotlights the top 10 books published this month that librarians love. Don’t miss it!
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a m e r i c a’ s b o o k r e v i e w
by joanna brichetto
b y s y b i l P RATT
Take great photos
Outside the box
In The Unforgettable Photograph (Workman, $16.95, 336 pages, ISBN 9780761169239) by George Lange, there are practical tips aplenty (228, by the publisher’s own count) on how to enlarge your current focus and achieve a wider range of angles for creating stunning images of all the people you love, in all the places you care about most. Hundreds of masterful photos surprise, inspire and fascinate, and are organized around six key ideas. The how-tos in this volume are not so much technical as philosophical, urging photographers to celebrate life—not just document it—through their photos.
Now that summer’s over, it’s back-to-reality time, back to allout busy. But if sending the kids off with a packed lunch is on your daily agenda, there’s good news. J.M. Hirsch, having “logged several years in the lunch box trenches” and having blogged about the slog, shares his tricks, tips, recipes, ideas and, most importantly, his emphasis on getting beyond old notions of what lunch should be (take a hike, PB&J) in Beating the Lunch Box Blues (Atria, $18, 208 pages, ISBN 9781476726724), his easy-to-follow, creatively organized take on on-thego lunches, with an intro by Rachael
be difficult to identify a more comprehensive way of learning about the history of civilization than by making your way systematically through this tome, in which every featured grain (Furniture), shard (Ceramics and Glass), facet (Silver and Jewelry), thread (Carpets and Textiles) or gear (Clocks) of the world’s great productions is laid out with stylistic discernment and cross-cultural integrity.
Top Pick in Lifestyles
The abiding principle for Lange is intimacy: We are touched by photographs insofar as we are able to feel the guiding force of each picture. In addition to its photography application, this book might also provide a good introduction for any budding human being (or photographer) to the ways in which love brings people together.
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At $50, the new edition of Miller’s Antiques Encyclopedia (Octopus Books, 592 pages, ISBN 9781845337698) is a steal. Open this sumptuous volume to any spread, and your grateful eye and antiquing heart will be seized by a half-dozen or so photographs of the most exquisite examples of the entire range of antiques to be found—and, with the help of this book, perhaps even acquired—on the planet. Judith Miller’s expertise is unsurpassed, and she knows how to transmit knowledge and experience with a graceful clarity and economical elegance in keeping with the thousands of artifacts she explicates. But this genuinely great tome offers more than its pragmatic value for collectors. In recent decades, academic history departments have been veering toward a deeper appreciation of material culture as the foundation of all historical currents and values. With this in mind, it would
Doodle books are a win-win for parents and kids. Parents know they keep kids busy, stimulate imagination, build creative skills and require no batteries, and kids know doodle books are 100 percent fun. Imagine page after page of unfinished, cartoony illustrations to complete with your own scribbles, colors and stream-of-consciousness drollery any old way you wish. Well, here’s a nifty twist: Photo Doodles: 200 Pictures for You to Complete by ViiiZ (a graphic design studio based in Paris). That’s right—photographs rather than drawings are the canvas for creativity. The photos are kidfriendly—think kittens, gingerbread cookies, a rollercoaster—and in subtle grayscale with plenty of room for adding colorful flair. Short prompts will get kids going. For example, “Who’s looking in the mirror?” floats above a series of blank, ornate frames. Add fish to the sea; draw what’s inside a mailing crate; write a newspaper headline; decorate snack packaging and so on. The paper is thick enough to accommodate washable markers, but colored pencils, crayons and any pen or pencil will do just fine. All ages and levels of artistic ability are welcome.
Photo Doodles By ViiiZ
Quirk $12.95, 160 pages ISBN 9781594746529
crafts & hobbies
Ray. The format is super-lunchpreparer-friendly, with hundreds of delicious suggestions for new healthy, happy combos, accompanied by “show and tell” photos that make their prep a breeze. Plus, Hirsch adds 30 recipes for quickly doable dinners designed to provide killer lunchable leftovers, e.g., Speedy Beef Stew morphs into tasty Empanadas and/or a Stew Grinder. Note: All these midday meals are great for grownups, too!
Rustic, gutsy, simple Amy Thielen grew up in the Midwest, trained as a professional cook, did a “culinary tour of duty” working under some of New York’s greatest chefs, then moved back to her beloved roots on the edge of the Plains. Now she’s distilled her deep appreciation for the food of the Midwest into The New Midwestern Table (Clarkson Potter, $35, 400 pages, ISBN 9780307954879). Believing that the best, most iconic dishes are passed down hand to hand, generation to generation, she’s collected 200 recipes that celebrate the regional traditions that waves of immigrants have brought, and still bring, to the American heartland. Though a few recipes are from restaurant chefs, most of them come from Amy’s own experience of Midwestern home cooking, tweaked to fit modern tastes, and she sets every one in a fascinating, often per-
sonal, context. She’s dubbed this food “regular, nononsense eating,” but you’ll find tempting new treasures here—Smoked Whitefish Brandade, a fabulous fusion called BooyaPozole Community Stew, Classic Duck in Wild Rice, Milk Cooked Vegetables and warm Persimmon Pudding topped with clouds of whipped cream.
Top pick in cookbooks The subtitle of Liz Neumark’s exuberant new cookbook, Sylvia’s Table, promises “Fresh, Seasonal Recipes from Our Farm to Your Family,” but there’s more to the concept. Neumark wants families not just to eat together, but to cook together and gain a real appreciation of what good food is and where it comes from. It’s a book for grownups who can share the hundreds of recipes that come from Neumark’s personal collection, from her hugely successful New York City catering company, from professional colleagues and from friends with their own kids and grandkids. Seven years ago, Neumark created Katchkie Farm in the Hudson Valley, where she runs the Sylvia Center, a place where children can find “the joy in being with fresh food”; she also works to bring that joy to children in New York’s inner city. Neumark encourages a kind of easy cooking that’s built around the seasons—Roasted Beet Soup, served hot or cold; Hearty Winter Beef Stew; Down-on-the-Farm Pasta Salads or Omelets that showcase what’s fresh at the moment; Butternut Squash Bread Pudding; and Homemade Apple Roll-Ups. Springing up among the recipes are lots of short essays that inform, entertain and spark your imagination.
SYLVIA’S TABLE By Liz Neumark
Knopf $35, 448 pages ISBN 9780307595133 eBook available
Selected from nominations made by library staff across the country, here are the 10 books that librarians can’t wait to share with readers in September.
By Rainbow Rowell
St. Martin’s, $18.99, ISBN 9781250030955
A teen girl is torn between the safety of writing fan fiction and the vulnerability that comes with joining the real world in this romantic, witty tale.
2. How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny
Minotaur, $25.99, ISBN 9780312655471 As the holiday season approaches, the search for a missing woman draws Chief Inspector Gamache to the small town of Three Pines. BookPage review on page 6.
A rising star in paranormal romance
Hunters of the supernatural, the Execution Underground is an elite group tasked with protecting humanity… but what happens when danger collides with desire?
3. Night Film by Marisha Pessl
“Newcomer Ballenger offers an extremely promising high-voltage start to her series about superheroes and their adversaries.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
Random House, $28, ISBN 9781400067886 When the daughter of a cult film director dies in a suspicious accident, investigative journalist Scott McGrath is determined to uncover the truth. BookPage interview on page 14.
4. Help for the Haunted by John Searles
Morrow, $26.99, ISBN 9780060779634 After her parents are murdered, teenager Sylvie Mason must find the courage to explore her family’s many secrets—including the strange sounds coming from their basement.
5. The Returned by Jason Mott
Coming August 27.
Harlequin MIRA, $24.95, ISBN 9780778315339 When the dead begin to return to their homes in cities around the world, a small Southern town feels the effects. BookPage Meet the Author on page 12; review on page 19.
6. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
Little, Brown, $26, ISBN 9780316243919 This literary debut, inspired by the true story of a woman executed for murder in Iceland in 1829, brings this remote time and place to brilliant life. BookPage review on page 20.
7. Margot by Jillian Cantor
Riverhead, $16, ISBN 9781594486432 What if Anne Frank’s older sister, Margot, had survived the Holocaust? YA author Cantor ponders that question with sensitivity and insight in her adult fiction debut.
8. Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford
9. Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink
Crown, $27, ISBN 9780307718969 In the days after Hurricane Katrina, 45 people died inside New Orleans’ Memorial Medical Center. Fink recounts these dramatic events with accuracy and heart. BookPage review on page 25.
10. A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout
Scribner, $27, ISBN 9781451645606 While working as a novice journalist in Mogadishu, Lindhout and her companion were captured and held for ransom for more than a year. This harrowing memoir explains how she survived. LibraryReads is a new recommendation program that highlights librarians’ favorite books published this month. For more information, visit libraryreads.org.
Find KAIT BALLENGER’s debut novella alongside New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter in
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Ballantine, $26, ISBN 9780345522023 In a follow-up to the bestseller Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Ford tells the story of a Depression-era Seattle boy searching for his missing mother. BookPage interview on page 13.
A deathbed confession. A conspiracy revealed. A long-hidden mystery solved.
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D AVID O . S TEWART
“[An] impressive debut. Eschewing wild fantasies of many conspiracy thrillers, a plausible version of history that works as both fiction and speculative inquiry.” —Publishers Weekly
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.— America’s Independent Publisher
Begin reading at kensingtonbooks.com • davidostewart.com
Whodunit by Bruce Tierney
Separation of church and Quirke If a magical incantation were to switch all the place names in Benjamin Black’s suspenseful new novel, Holy Orders (Holt, $26, 304 pages, ISBN 9780805094404), from Dublin and Inishowen to Barcelona or Avignon, and swap the surnames from Flynne and O’Connell to Schwartz or Yamazaki, you’d still know within 20 pages that you were reading a novel set in Ireland. It is something about the brooding tone, the competing influences of the church and the bottle, the relentless bad weather and the pervasive atmosphere of despair. Whatever the secret, Holy Orders has it in spades. Early on, a long-standing character from the Quirke series is killed off, his battered body discovered in a Dublin canal by a trysting couple. Medical examiner Quirke is summoned to the scene, and he realizes with a start, “I know this person.” His investigation quickly lands him in conflict with the organization that, behind the scenes, essentially runs 1950s Ireland: the Catholic Church. Quirke and the Church have had an ongoing adversarial relationship since his youth, much of which was spent in a priest-run orphanage. This latest case will do nothing but add fuel to that particular fire in ways neither he nor the reader will anticipate. Troubling and thought-provoking on many levels, Holy Orders is one of those rare mysteries that truly transcends the genre.
MISSING AND UNKNOWN While we are on the subject of “troubling and thought-provoking,” those words would apply equally well to Pierre Lemaitre’s Alex (MacLehose Press/Quercus, $24.95, 384 pages, ISBN 9781623650001), a peculiar tale of a kidnapping that is anything but what it appears to be. The title character, Alex Prévost, is snatched, seemingly at random, from a Parisian side street. Her abductor trusses her up, dumps her into the back of a nondescript tradesman’s van and spirits her away to an abandoned warehouse. Well, not entirely abandoned: There are rats—a multitude of hungry, redeyed rats. And with each hour that
passes, the rats grow hungrier and bolder. Investigating the crime is Camille Verhoeven, a police inspector whose diminutive stature belies his oversize investigator’s brain. But even a brilliant investigator needs clues. Early on, there isn’t the slightest indication of the identity of the abductee, and there is only the word of a witness to suggest that the crime even took place at all. And then, inexplicably, the clues that do appear suggest that the kidnapped woman is not entirely the hapless victim she first seemed; indeed, she may be quite the predator in her own right—or not. And that is the beauty of Alex: You don’t really
know until the jarring conclusion. Lemaitre’s American debut is clever, deliciously twisted and truly not to be missed.
PHISHING REVENGE By now everyone has heard of the ubiquitous Nigerian Internet scams in which a mark is emailed by someone claiming to have access to a fortune he (or occasionally she) needs assistance in retrieving. The mark is offered a huge chunk of change for his help in what promises to be a simple banking transaction; needless to say, the huge chunk of change actually moves out of the mark’s bank account, not into it. The name for this scam, 419, serves as the title of Will Ferguson’s riveting global tale of one woman’s revenge on the scammers who precipitated her father’s financial ruin and suicide. What sets 419 (Pintail, $16, 432 pages, ISBN 9780143188728) apart from the typical sting novel is that it is told from the perspectives of all the players: the family of the mark; the police investigating the suicide; the Nigerian Internet wizards who troll chatrooms and blogs in search of likely marks; and the wealthy Lagos crime bosses who take a big piece of every ill-gotten dollar
funneled through their city. Surprisingly, the reader is led relentlessly toward a certain sympathy for each of the factions involved, a testament to Ferguson’s prodigious skills as a storyteller. Oh, and follow the money—where it ends up is beyond startling!
TOP PICK IN MYSTERY Louise Penny’s 2012 novel The Beautiful Mystery ended as something of a cliffhanger, with Sûreté du Québec Chief Inspector Armand Gamache left to preside over a seriously gutted homicide department, and his right-hand man, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, left to battle addiction demons on his own. There will be some resolution to these issues and more in Penny’s latest Gamache novel, How the Light Gets In, but not necessarily in the way you might think—or for that matter, in the way you might hope! Gamache’s investigation into a murder will take him once again to the small, snow-covered Québec village of Three Pines, where the last remaining member of a once-famous family of quintuplets planned to visit before someone broke into her Montreal home and clubbed her to death. This would be a worthy plotline in and of itself, but it quickly becomes subsumed in something larger, with repercussions that will be felt all the way up the Provincial hierarchy and beyond. Ambitiously plotted, sensitively staffed and beautifully written, How the Light Gets In handily elevates Penny’s already lofty bar.
HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN By Louise Penny
Minotaur $25.99, 416 pages ISBN 9780312655471 Audio, eBook available
FROM NEW YORK TIMES A ND USA TODAY BEST SELLING AUTHOR
K E R R E LY N
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“Can’t wait for the next book in the series!” —Lynsay sands “Mixing paranormal romance with humor, sparks clearly has a style all her own.” —USA Today’s Happily ever after blog
Win free prizes, get exclusive content, and more — scan with a QR App now! AvonRomance.com
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b y c h r i s t i e r i d g way
Dangerous to love Nancy Bush takes readers on a thrill ride in Nowhere Safe (Zebra, $7.99, 384 pages, ISBN 9781420125030), her danger-filled novel of suspense spiced with romance. There’s a killer leaving bodies in public places in Detective September Rafferty’s town. Is it, as some say, the work of a vigilante who has a sixth sense about sexual predators and orchestrates their deaths? There is also a long list of missing women, leading September and her fellow detectives to believe that there could be yet another predator on a deadly hunt. At the same time, September is navigating her newfound romance with handsome businessman Jake Westerly. She loves him, she’s sure of that,
but maybe they’re moving too fast, especially considering the fact that Jake is still getting calls from his seriously unstable ex-girlfriend. Could the volatile woman be an actual threat to Jake or September? The suspense threads are masterfully woven in this gritty, chilling tale.
His Love is eternaL…
A forbidden passion The romance is super-steamy and supernatural in Kait Ballenger’s Twilight Hunter (HQN, $7.99, 384 pages, ISBN 9780373777389). In an imaginative world where humans are largely unaware of the other kinds of beings around them, half-werewolf, half-human Jace McCannon works for the Execution Underground, an international network of hunters out to stop paranormal criminals. As he tracks down a werewolf that is serially attacking and murdering young women, he crosses paths with the beautiful Frankie Amato—who reveals her werewolf identity but doesn’t disclose that she’s also the local pack’s leader. As more murders occur, Jace and Frankie join forces to stop the evil at work in their city. But this causes friction within the pack and among Jace’s friends and Execution
Underground colleagues, who distrust the new alliance. Still, Jace and Frankie persevere, until Jace learns secrets about himself that threaten his growing bond with Frankie and put both of their lives in danger. A sadistic, bloodthirsty villain makes this read as scary as it is exciting.
Top pick in romance Anne Stuart offers a delicious blend of danger, deception and passion in Never Kiss a Rake. In Victorian England, Bryony Russell’s father dies after purportedly embezzling from his shipping company, leaving Bryony and her two sisters in financial and social ruin. Certain her father would never have done such a thing, Bryony endeavors to uncover the truth. Her first step is getting hired as a housekeeper for her father’s partner, the charming yet cynical Earl of Kilmartyn, Adrian Bruton. While she finds the earl handsome, Bryony knows not to trust him—or his equally beautiful but mean-spirited wife, who openly declares that the new housekeeper’s facial scars (from a childhood illness) have rendered her ugly. Bryony is unsurprised—she’s heard a similar sentiment from her mother—and she remains dogged about finding evidence against her employer. But several brushes with death make her wonder if Adrian is trying to get rid of her—as well as his wife, who mysteriously goes missing. Still, a reluctant attraction between Bryony and the earl begins to smolder and then flame. He makes her feel beautiful—but is it a ruse, or real? Clever banter, an evil bad guy and sizzling sexual tension round out another Stuart winner.
Never Kiss a Rake By Anne Stuart
Montlake $12.95, 276 pages ISBN 9781477807323 Audio, eBook available
by sukey howard
by robert Weibezahl
Power and glory They didn’t come from privilege or prep school; the nine young men in the University of Washington scull who won gold in the 1936 Olympics, infuriating the Führer while the home crowd cheered, were the sons of farmers, loggers and longshoremen. And they came to epitomize American grit and grace. In The Boys in the Boat (Penguin Audio, $49.95, 14.5 hours, ISBN 9781611761696), who they were, how they became one of the greatest rowing teams ever, the challenges they faced and the victories they fought for become more than just an exciting sports story. Daniel James Brown’s strong, cinematic narrative puts it all in fascinating historical context: Seattle in the dark days of the Depression; Berlin, transformed by Joseph Goebbels
and Leni Riefenstahl to conceal Nazi brutality. Joe Rantz, an oarsman with an especially difficult background, is the emotional magnet, but his valiant compatriots, coaches and mentors get their due and our admiration. If you can get through Edward Herrmann’s absorbing performance without shedding tears of joy, you’re a lot tougher than I am.
The Shanghai Sleeper
Top Pick in Audio Still Foolin’ ’Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys?, Billy Crystal’s new memoir, is everything you’d expect from this acclaimed actor, writer, producer, film director and world-class comedian. Though the book is a great read, this audio version, performed by Crystal himself, is even better. His timing is perfect; he laughs, ad-libs a little and even chokes up as he talks about how much his wife of 43 years means to him. Now, 65 and astounded that he could have turned from “a hip, cool baby boomer into a Diane Arbus photograph,” Crystal muses on life, love, fatherhood, the ins and outs of his fabulous career, his beloved Yankees and the slippery slide down the geriatric slope. Outrageously public about his privates (and everyone else’s), his stand-up schtick on senior sex alone is worth the price of admission. But be careful! Listening while driving, treading on a treadmill or stirring up a stir-fry could be hazardous to life and limb—this is unredacted, laugh-out-loud humor, Billy Crystal at his bravura best.
still foolin’ ’em By Billy Crystal
Macmillan Audio $29.99, 8 hours ISBN 9781427229502
What a difference a year makes— or so suggests British critic Kevin Jackson in Constellation of Genius: 1922: Modernism Year One. That was the year both James Joyce’s Ulysses and T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land were published; after that, Jackson says, art and literature were never quite the same. But those tent poles of the modernist movement were not the only avant-garde artistic rumblings in 1922—indeed, as this cleverly compiled book shows, the established cultural landscape was subject to a remarkable number of seismic shifts during this single 12-month period. As he readily acknowledges, Jackson is not the first to identify 1922 as Year One of a new era. That distinction goes to Ezra Pound, the American poet and provocateur who, not coincidentally, played an important role in both the publication of The Waste Land (Eliot dedicated the book to him) and, to a lesser extent, the promotion of Joyce’s iconoclastic writing. The interconnections between these three men, as well as a panoply of others, form the story that Jackson tells with a year-long date book that details what was going on among the men and women who came to be viewed as modernists. There are the usual suspects: Virginia Woolf stews over the greater popularity of Katherine Mansfield. D.H. Lawrence embarks on the trip that will take him to Australia, Mexico and the United States and greatly shape his late work. Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned is published, and Hemingway hangs out with Gertrude Stein. André Breton begins to formulate the artistic precepts that would come to be called Surrealism. And the creativity extends beyond the world of literature—composers such as Stravinsky, Hindemith and Falla figure into the story, as do theater prophets such as Cocteau, Brecht and O’Neill, and artists such as Duchamp, Matisse and Man Ray. Particularly interesting are episodes where Jackson extends his purview beyond the ambitions and achievements of those who no doubt saw themselves as “high” artists, and reports instead on those visionaries of popular culture who had lasting influence. Charlie
Chaplin and Buster Keaton made their first featurelength movies in 1922, and Walt Disney incorporated his first production company. Reader’s Digest and the BBC were founded that year, and Babe Ruth signed a three-year contract with the Yankees for $52,000 a year. The political balance was shifting, too. Ireland was awash with blood as it wrested independence from the British, and Egypt gained formal independence from Britain, as well. Mussolini rose to power; Hirohito was appointed Prince Regent of Japan; and an unknown named Hitler made some noise for the first time. Gandhi was imprisoned, and Lenin grew increasing ill. For good measure, we learn that Marcel Proust, Alexander Graham Bell and Ernest Shackleton would all die before the year was out. Undeniably, Jackson has pulled together a vast amount of research and analysis in assembling this remarkable chronicle of a remarkable year—in fact, so much research that the footnotes claim almost as much space as the main text. Reading all these addenda slows the reader down; they often do little more than preserve the peripheral research that Jackson could not bring himself to discard, and can be skimmed or skipped with impunity. With Constellation of Genius, Jackson underscores the singular extent to which 1922 signaled the passing of the old and the arrival of the new. Bookended by the publication of what he calls “the sun and moon of modernist writing,” it certainly was an annus mirabilis, a year of wonders whose influence still resonates almost 100 years on.
Constellation OF GENIUS By Kevin Jackson
FSG $30, 448 pages ISBN 9780374128982 eBook available
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It’s reassuring when a thriller is told in the first person—you know the narrator will make it out alive. The unnamed narrator—whom I grew to care about—of Charles McCarry’s latest, The Shanghai Factor (HighBridge Audio, $34.95, 9 hours, ISBN 9781622310135), is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, from a “good” family and Ivy League schools, who speaks passable Mandarin. He’s in Shanghai as a sleeper for a shadowy U.S. intelligence agency, waiting for something to wake him up. When Mei, a beautiful young Chinese woman with unaccented Bostonian English, crashes into him on her bicycle, he’s sure it’s a setup, but that makes their intense sensual relationship over the next two years all the more exciting. After our guy in Shanghai worms his way
into a large firm that may be a front for Guoanbu (China’s CIA), he’s called back to D.C. and told to act as a double agent, turning the probable Guoanbu operatives who are trying to turn him. It’s complicated and of the moment and, in McCarry’s masterful hands, becomes a fascinating study of spy tradecraft, where no one is as he or she seems and deception is the norm. No highspeed chases, no trendy technology; this is an intricately plotted tale of believable espionage that, read by Stephen Bowlby, becomes an intriguing audio.
1922: The sun and the moon of modernism
A spellbinding and stunning debut,
THE RETURNED is an unforgettable story that marks the arrival of an important new voice in contemporary fiction.
Imagine your entire life turned upside down. “White-hot debut.”
Is it a miracle? Or a sign of the end?
—Entertainment Weekly, Top 10 Summer Must List
“Exceptional.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Breathtaking.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Eloquent.” —Booklist, starred review
“Masterly.” —Library Journal, starred review
Pick up your copy today!
columns New paperback releases for reading groups
A CONTROVERSIAL GENIUS You don’t have to be tech savvy to enjoy Steve Jobs (Simon & Schuster, $20, 656 pages, ISBN 9781451648546), the fascinating biography by Walter Isaacson that is out in paperback this month, two years after the release of the bestselling hardcover. Jobs, who grew up in California, got his start at Atari in the early 1970s and co-founded Apple in 1976. He spent nine years there, resigned, and then helped transform Pixar into a maker of blockbusters before returning to Apple in 1997. Isaacson’s account of Jobs’ remarkable rise is colorful, lively and thorough. He covers all the hot topics—Jobs’ contentious relationship with Bill Gates,
his difficult personality, his many achievements with Apple (iTunes, iPad, iPhone, the list goes on). Jobs, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2011, selected Isaacson as his biographer and sat down for more than 40 interviews with the author. Jobs reportedly held nothing back in his talks with Isaacson and urged other interviewees to do the same. The resulting biography provides an indepth look at a true visionary. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon returns with Telegraph Avenue (Harper Perennial, $16.99, 496 pages, ISBN 9780061493355), a funny, compassionate novel about race, friendship and family. Archy Stallings, a black bassist from Oakland, co-owns a used record store called Brokeland with his white buddy, Nat Jaffe. Old friends and music connoisseurs, they run the shop in the face of rapidly changing times. Their spouses, Gwen and Aviva, also work together—as midwives. The lives of the foursome take an unexpected turn when wealthy former football star Gibson Goode announces his
by julie hale
plans to build a mall near Brokeland, which could mean the end of the shop. To make matters worse, Gwen and Aviva become enmeshed in a controversy that threatens their practice—and their relationship. The unexpected arrival of Archy’s illegitimate son, Titus, ensures that things will never be the same around Brokeland. Telegraph Avenue is classic Chabon—probing, humorous, packed with pop culture references and deeply authentic.
TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS Zadie Smith’s intriguing fourth novel, NW, follows a quartet of friends in their 30s who grew up in a housing project in northwest London. Leah has a status-quo life that includes a hairdresser husband and a position at a nonprofit. Her best friend, Keisha, who’s Jamaican, is a highly successful corporate lawyer. Despite a rich husband, two kids and a gorgeous house, she feels a sense of emptiness that ultimately proves destructive. Former drug addict Felix comes from a broken home but has hopes for the future thanks to a new relationship. And then there’s Nathan. When they were young, both Leah and Keisha fancied him, but Nathan is now involved in drugs and other questionable doings. Over the course of a weekend, the stories of the four friends converge, and the result is unforgettable. Moving from one character to the next, and adjusting prose styles accordingly, Smith shapes the separate stories and perspectives of the foursome into a fascinating whole. In this complex tale of restless, searching 30-somethings, she brings modern London to life in her own inimitable way.
NW By Zadie Smith
Penguin $16, 416 pages ISBN 9780143123934
Fall into Great Reads! New from the author of When We Were Strangers “From the sun-baked cobblestones of Naples to a crowded boardinghouse in Cleveland to a grand vaudeville hall in Chicago, Pamela Schoenewaldt brings to vivid life a compelling, richly detailed world.” —Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train The New York Times bestseller is now in paperback! “[Mike Greenberg] has beautifully pulled off the three female voices in this novel…with tremendous wisdom and insight.” —Jane Green, New York Times-bestselling author
A moving novel about a love that lasts forever. “Georgia Bockoven knows the secret to stirring readers’ feelings.” —Sacramento Bee
A spicy mystery about love, friendship and home cooking in Singapore “A delicious debut! Aunty Lee’s Delights is no mere whodunnit— it sparkles with insight into the traditions and moral complexities of modern Singapore. Rosie Lee is a terrifically original heroine.” —Louise Penny, author of The Beautiful Mystery
PERFECT FOR BOOK CLUBS @WilliamMorrowPB
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PLAY IT TO THE BEAT
meet JASON MOTT
© RANDY SKIDMORE
the title of your new book? Q: What’s
How would you describe the book in one sentence?
columns THE author enabler by Sam Barry
Practical advice on writing & publishing for aspiring authors
Q: What inspired you to write this novel?
Q: What advice would you have for someone coping with loss?
Q: What do you hope readers will take away from this story? Q: What are the three qualities you admire most in others?
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Q: W ords to live by?
THE RETURNED Jason Mott, who lives in southeastern North Carolina, has published two poetry collections and was nominated for the 2009 Pushcart Prize. His first novel, The Returned (Harlequin MIRA, $24.95, 352 pages, ISBN 9780778315339), is the compelling story of what might happen if deceased loved ones began returning to their families. The novel is being adapted as an ABC TV series produced by Brad Pitt. Read a review of The Returned on page 19.
Dear Author Enabler, Last year I self-published a book, Forget Not—The Winter of Discontent, which was well received. It made $800, but that did not cover my expenses. It’s about my husband, who served as a Marine in the Korean War, but the book also covers other military campaigns, with the last chapter featuring more than 100 comments and stories from other veterans—so its scope is wide ranging. I’ve been interviewed on local television and had one book signing. I am currently at work on a sequel, The War Path, which covers subjects not in the original. How do I proceed from here? How do I get an agent for the second book? Dorothy P. Campbell Brewster, New York First off, congratulations! You wrote and published a book on an important subject. It got some publicity, and you sold some copies. This is all great. Teaming up with a literary agent just might be your best next step. Agents are always looking for talented new authors, but the good ones are inundated with queries from relatively unknown authors. You’ll need to be patient and resourceful. One resource for finding agents is AgentQuery.com. There are many other ways to find one, though. Start by researching agent websites. Look for a good match (agents who represent books similar to yours), and carefully follow the query instructions posted on their site. It may seem daunting, but no one said getting published is easy. One sort-of shortcut for meeting agents is attending writer conferences and workshops, many of which facilitate agent introductions with something similar to speed dating or arranged one-on-one appointments. Or if you have a good relationship with an author or someone in the publishing industry (booksellers included), ask him or her for help getting your foot in the door. Another route is to approach smaller publishers directly, without an agent. Smaller publishing houses—like Counterpoint Press and Bellevue Literary Press—are sometimes more open to taking
a risk on a fresh voice. Also, there are many publishers, especially in the eBook world, that are experimenting with new forms of partnerships with authors. The Rock Bottom Remainders published our interactive eBook Hard Listening with Coliloquy, an interactive eBook publisher. Byliner partners with authors to create shorter fiction and nonfiction in a digital format, which it sells via subscription. Plympton has focused on reviving serialized fiction, both classic and new, in a digital format. Untreed Reads is an eBook publisher that emphasizes independent authors and publishers.
AVOIDING AGENTS Dear Author Enabler, I hope to skip trying to get an agent, if possible. I want to try contacting editors/publishing houses directly. When I write to an editor, how long should I wait before moving on to the next one on my list? Would it be a problem to query more than one at the same time? Charles North Atlanta, Georgia Since you’ve already decided to do without an agent, I won’t give you my usual spiel about how hard it is to get an editor at a publishing house to look at your work without an agent. (It is, though.) As I said in my answer to Dorothy (above), you may have the best chance with smaller publishers, who aren’t as inundated with submissions and might be willing to take a chance on first-time or unknown authors. You can query more than one editor at a time, but just be sure to send your proposal to companies that publish books similar to yours— don’t, for instance, submit your idea for a novel to a press that only publishes nonfiction. Once you’ve sent the query, allow a decent amount of time for an editor to respond. If a typical response time is not indicated on their website, you can expect to wait anywhere between one and three months when dealing with busy people who get lots of queries. Send your questions about writing and publishing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
jamie ford By amy scribner
© laurence kim
A Seattle orphan explores his past
amie Ford conducted his interview with BookPage while crouched on the floor of the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, seeking good cell reception and a pocket of quiet. While he briefly worried he might look like a homeless person lying on the floor of an international airport, he more or less embraces the whirlwind that comes with life on the bestseller list. is performing in a series of concerts around the Pacific Northwest. When he catches up with her, he finds out the brutal truth about his past and what happened to his mother all those years ago. Liu Song is a singularly strong character whose story lingers after the book ends. Ford doesn’t know any other kind of woman. “I gravitate toward stronger females,” he says. “I married an alpha female, and we’re raising “I gravitate alpha daughters. My grandtoward mother on my stronger Caucasian side females. I was a Southern woman who married an cussed like alpha female a sailor and and we’re chewed snuff.” Ford’s faraising alpha ther’s family daughters.” is of Chinese heritage, and his paternal grandmother, Yin Yin, was so strong-willed, he says, that she renamed Ford’s cousin just because she wanted to. “My cousin Stephanie didn’t know her name was Delores until she was 16 and went to get her driver’s license,” he says. “That was just Yin Yin.” Ford and his wife have four daughters and two sons between them—“We’re a Brady Bunch family”—three of whom still live at home. He is, admittedly and happily, outnumbered by strong women. “Once a month I go to the store and buy tampons and Ben & Jerry’s,” he says. “It’s my offering to the gods.” The backdrop of show business in Songs of Willow Frost also comes from Ford’s own family. His grandfather was a Hollywood bit actor and martial arts instructor. If William and Liu Song are the novel’s main characters, Seattle plays a close third. Ford paints an amazingly vivid picture of a long-gone place and time, a city
that smelled of “seaweed drying on the mudflats of Puget Sound,” inhabited by men standing in line for free soup and bread. It is a lovingly and beautifully rendered portrait of his hometown (Ford lives in Montana now), but he isn’t blind to Seattle’s quirks and pretentions. “The first things you think about—traffic, Starbucks, Amazon—are things that aren’t always great stuff,” he said. “It’s the land of Whole Foods and utility kilts. I shop at Whole Foods— I bring my own bags. They’re just made out of baby seal skins. I think it’s the most literate place in America, and it’s very polyethnic. But it’s also a city that’s freighted— it’s the passive-aggressive capital of America.” Having set two novels in Seattle, he may branch out in the future so he doesn’t get pegged as a one-town guy. “I don’t want to be like Woody Allen—every movie set in New York City,” he says. In fact, he had another novel already written after Hotel on the Corner, but he ultimately shelved what he called “an angst-filled second novel that I was really second-guessing. It stirred my well of self-doubt.” He decided it was filled with what he deems “performance writing”— writing for other writers or critics. “That very inward-looking writing, I blanch when I see it,” he says. “No one needs to read a 14-page sentence. It seems indulgent to me, that black belt-level literary stuff. I just want to disappear into the story. Luckily, there’s room for all appetites.” Ford is part of a men’s book group.
If that sounds daunting for the other members, think again. “I’m just one of the guys there. It’s better for all concerned,” he says. “Several of the guys are English literature majors and their reading taste is far above mine.” Ford gathers himself as his flight time nears, cheerfully noting one small perk of spending time on the floor of an airport. “I think I’ve collected $1.75 in change,” he said. “I’m halfway to a Starbucks.”
Songs of Willow Frost
By Jamie Ford
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“I’m grateful in all kinds of ways,” Ford says. “I could spend less time in airports and be happy, but it’s a good problem to have.” The author of 2009’s fantastic debut Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (which has sold more than a million copies) is now beginning the road show to promote his second novel, Songs of Willow Frost, a similarly sadness-tinged story also set in historic Seattle. When we talked, he was on his way to speak at an Asian-Pacific American conference in Washington, D.C., but some of his favorite travels are more off the beaten path. He joined a discussion with a homeless book group in Madison, Wisconsin, and another group at a women’s prison in rural Washington state. “Readers are readers,” he says, in a casual way that makes him sound less like a successful author and more like someone you’d want to have a beer with. In the haunting Songs of Willow Frost, Ford tells the story of William Eng, a young Chinese-American orphan in 1930s Seattle, a time that was high on joblessness and low on hope. William lives in an orphanage run by strict nuns (were there any other kind then?) since his sick mother, Liu Song, was taken from their small Chinatown apartment. When the head nun takes a group of boys to see a movie, William is convinced the delicately beautiful actress on the screen is his mother. “[S]he wasn’t just wearing makeup, she was Chinese like Anna May Wong, the only Oriental star he’d ever seen. Her distinctive looks and honeyed voice drew wolf whistles from the older boys, which drew reprimands from Sister Briganti, who cursed in Latin and Italian. But as William stared at the flickering screen, he was stunned silent, mouth agape, popcorn spilling. The singer was introduced as Willow Frost—a stage name, William almost said out loud, it had to be.” William runs away from the orphanage to find Willow Frost, who
Ballantine, $26, 352 pages ISBN 9780345522023, audio, eBook available
Deep focus on a shadowy filmmaker
fter the soaring critical and commercial success of her first novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, it took Marisha Pessl quite a while to settle into the creation of her moody, boldly ambitious new novel Night Film.
No, it wasn’t anxiety about the so-called sophomore jinx, Pessl says during a call to her writing studio. On the phone, Pessl is friendly, even buoyant, laughing frequently, in contrast to the brooding atmosphere of her new novel. “I had taken time off because I was traveling a lot, and it took some time to get back into that limber, almost athletic, writer’s mentality,” she says. Pessl, who is 35, also got divorced and, after “a long 10 years downtown,” moved to a quiet, tree-lined street on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The disruption and delay, she now thinks, were essential to the psychological underpinnings of Night Film. “So much time had gone by since I had written Special Topics that in a sense I had no memory of how I had done it,” says Pessl, who grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, and wrote her first novel in 2004 while working as a financial consultant. Special Topics in Calamity Physics earned her a reported $500,000 deal with Viking, became a bestseller when it was published in 2006 and created a stir in literary circles. “I had plotted Special Topics in a very detailed way, but with Night Film [I decided] to leave things to the subconscious rather than stage-manage everything,” she says.
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By Marisha Pessl
Random House, $28, 624 pages ISBN 9781400067886, audio, eBook available
“Setting out on this really uncertain, dark journey, as terrifying as that was, helped me get to a total feeling of dislocation, which I hope parallels Scott’s experience.” Scott McGrath is the novel’s central character. As the book opens, his life is in disarray. Once a prominent investigative journalist, his career has very publicly crashed and burned after he made outrageous accusations and a not-so-veiled threat against the elusive cult filmmaker Stanislas Cordova. As a result, his wife has left him in a bitter divorce, taking with her McGrath’s beloved daughter, Sam. Not long after, McGrath learns that Cordova’s 24-year-old daughter Ashley has been found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. McGrath sets out to solve the mystery of Ashley’s death, but ends up on a risky and very different sort of journey in pursuit of an entirely different magnitude of truth. “I love the conceit of a mystery,” Pessl says. “There’s something about that journey that we take when we try to get to the bottom of something that is so fulfilling. It’s that sense of being a truth seeker. I love being a seeker, an adventurer, always asking the question that no one wants to ask, looking behind the curtain when everyone tells me to stop. That’s just my nature. I have this instinctual curiosity about people and events and my environment. And for Night Film, working within that enigma, I wanted to create a dark journey that kept getting darker and darker, where the characters lost all sense of the real world.” While Scott McGrath is the main seeker and central character of the novel, Stanislas Cordova is the reclusive, artistically driven, magnetizing mystery-figure of the book. He is a sort of black hole with great gravitational pull on each of the characters, but he never actually appears in the action of the story. “I started conceiving Cordova after I watched a ‘60 Minutes’ interview with Mark Zuckerberg,” Pessl
recalls. “He was talking about Facebook and the idea of total world transparency. I remember thinking to myself, why is that necessarily a good thing? There’s nothing wrong with hidden recesses. There’s nothing wrong with those sides of ourselves we will only reveal in a dark room. Total transparency is actually ridding human beings of the multifaceted nature of ourselves. “I think of Cordova’s work as being compelling because his art gives people the opportunity to have the opposite of transparency—to be opaque, to be unknown, to be inexplicable, to be strange, quoteunquote, to be outside the norm. I liked the idea of creating a pop culture figure who was shadowy and who let people explore their darker selves.” In one of the most riveting sections of the novel, McGrath and his compatriots—an aspiring actress named Nora and a slacker named Hopper, each with their own reasons for seeking the truth about Ashley’s death—sneak onto the grounds of The Peak, Cordova’s massive estate in the mountains north of New York. McGrath becomes separated from the others and is soon blundering around in the dark, terrified, among the sets of Cordova’s psychologically disturbing cult movies. “I know the plots of all 15 of Cordova’s films,” Pessl says, “I know many of their scenes and I cast all the characters prior to actually writing Night Film.” She adds, laughing, that her mom (her “first, right-hand reader” and lifelong literary influence) “finally said, ‘I think Random House is waiting for you to write a novel, not direct 15 films and start a movement.’ I became somewhat obsessed with Cordova’s work and with making it real.” The boldest and most enthralling
© David Schultze
Interview by Alden Mudge
way that Pessl makes Cordova—and other aspects of the novel—real is her use of graphics. Night Film includes eerily real-looking screenshots from websites, news reports about the Cordovas, reproductions of police reports, postcards and period photographs. Pessl conceived of the novel’s visualizations, then worked with Kennedy Monk, a design agency in London, to bring them to life. “They were so fun. We literally cast some of the characters and made sure each illustration was shadowy enough that it wasn’t intruding upon the reader’s imagination,” she explains. “Today we learn from so many different sources, we expect to draw from a multitude of voices to form our conclusions. I wanted to have a visual archive that was very tangible for readers. I wanted to have the feeling that even though Ashley wasn’t present and even though her father wasn’t present, what they’d left in terms of imagery was so vibrant, it was as if they were there.” While the characters and images of Night Film emerged with seeming ease and power from Pessl’s subconscious, she says she struggled with the novel’s pacing. “For me it is really easy to write internal thoughts, but it’s more difficult for me to move characters in space.” She never used to like to show her writing to anyone, except perhaps her mother, until the writing was complete. For her second novel, however, she “wanted to have a lot
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of eyes reading it. Even though it’s a long book, I wanted it to be a fast read. I didn’t want anything to drag, and I didn’t want anything purposeless in there.” Pessl says she has never written from her personal point of view, and, laughing, she assures the interviewer that she comes from a close and happy family. “We don’t have any of the dark secrets I write about. But for each character and each voice, I have located those places in myself where I am very much in alignment, and I just tap into that. It’s like slipping into someone’s shoes and their overcoat and feeling like them. “Cordova is a much more extreme character than I am, but in the past I have grappled with how much to give my art, to what extreme I can take my writing. When I am in the process of writing a novel, I become very embroiled in that world. It’s such a captivating experience Pessl created that it’s easy to get lost. So some a body of of the things work for that Cordova her fictional grapples with in terms of his art director, and his family, including I have experithe plots and enced in some ways, too.” casts of his Night Film 15 films. opens with a quote, supposedly from Stanislas Cordova, which begins, “Mortal fear is as crucial a thing to our lives as love.” Asked at the end of the conversation if she subscribes to that view, Pessl says, “I do. I think we find mortal fear in different ways. But if we’re not risking anything and we’re not putting ourselves on the line, then we are not living life as fully as we can. I think it’s an underlying human thing to stay safe and comfortable. But pushing myself and being bold, and making mistakes and walking to the edge of my talent and experience to see if I can be better is how I want to live—both as a writer and as a person. The process of coming to that realization is definitely reflected in Night Film. I think fear is healthy, and uncertainty is something we should welcome. Because when we figure out what’s beyond that, we have grown.” In a way that many of her fans, new and old, will appreciate, Pessl has grown as a novelist in Night Film.
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So does Reid!
By melissa brown
Stories of faith, hope and love
elief in a higher power has been part of the human experience across time and cultures, and it can permeate fiction as well. In a small town or during a world war, within both romantic attachments and friendships, Christian faith forms the framework and the core of these inspirational stories.
Set in Holland during World War II, Snow on the Tulips (Thomas Nelson, $15.99, 336 pages, ISBN 9781401689100) finds Cornelia de Vries and her 20-year-old brother, Johan, swept up in the action as Dutch Resistance fighters push back against Nazi occupation. Cornelia has sworn to keep Johan from being rounded up to fight for Hitler, but protecting him becomes more difficult when the conflict enters her home in the form of a half-dead Resistance fighter named Gerrit. He’s a threat to their carefully constructed neutrality—and to her heart, long shuttered since her husband’s death on their wedding night. In an adventurous tale that reads like a movie script, Liz Tolsma weaves faith in seamlessly, moving the reader with her characters’ convictions to create a captivating debut novel. Their heartfelt prayers show that faith can grow even in times of unspeakable hardship and fear.
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The first in a planned trilogy, Jessica Dotta’s Born of Persuasion (Tyndale, $13.99, 448 pages, ISBN 9781414375557) blends all things Gothic and romantic into a winding tale of intrigue in early 19th-century England. The fortunes of young Julia Elliston, orphaned after her mother’s suicide, depend upon the charity of men. Some may be villains and others saints—but the novel is slow to reveal who is which. Julia’s position in society is fragile, and her naiveté and vulnerability contrast sharply with the novel’s foreboding setting and the hazy motives of those she meets, includ-
ing her mysterious guardian and the brooding, charismatic Mr. Macy, who seems to know all but shares little. Julia has been betrothed since childhood to Edward, who complicates matters further when he takes orders to become a vicar—Julia’s father was a well-known and ardent atheist who passed his beliefs on to his daughter. Though verbose at times, Dotta’s
style is clearly influenced by the Brontës, and manages to keep the reader engaged through every twist and turn.
A Southern journey Competition for oil-drilling rights collides with an eclectic artists colony’s vow to hold onto their land in Sweet Olive (Zondervan, $15.99, 352 pages, ISBN 9780310330547), a Southern tale by Louisiana author Judy Christie. Camille Gardner finds herself exiled (in a manner of speaking) to Sweet Olive, Louisiana, after botching a previous job for the oil company owned by her uncle. It’s painfully near the town where her father left her and her mother behind years before, never to return—a fact that brings this old hurt to the surface. Christie writes in an inviting, colloquial style, full of great turns of phrase that make her characters’ speech feel true to life. It’s Camille’s job to get these artists to sign over the rights to drill on their land, but once she meets them and sees their work, she’s drawn in. As Camille falls
for the beauty around her—and the lawyer who opposes her at every turn—the journey leads her somewhere surprising.
A love that lasts A sweet story of enduring love and faithfulness, Forever Friday (WaterBrook, $14.99, 288 pages, ISBN 9780307732217) by Timothy Lewis shares the unique romance of Pearl
“Huck” Huckabee and Gabe Alexander. For decades, Gabe sent his beloved a weekly postcard inscribed with a simple poem extolling his devotion. Lewis, a playwright, paints a convincing portrait of the couple, and their voices are spot-on and beautiful. Seeing their relationship evolve on paper is almost like watching it unfold in real life. Hope and faith are the hinges of all their plans, from the night they meet and fall instantly in love in 1926 and through the years as they grow old together. The narrative moves between Huck and Gabe’s relationship at different stages and 2006, when Adam Colby discovers the postcards while handling their estate sale. Colby studies the archive, hoping to find healing after his divorce. As he immerses himself in their story, he begins to find his way. While the religious thread of the story is kept in the background, the love between Huck and Gabe is the heart of Forever Friday, and their steadfastness, though fictional, will inspire.
With her signature plot twists combined with gentle Amish romance, bestselling author
SUZANNE W OODS FISHER invites you back to Stoney Ridge for a fresh story of simple pleasures despite the complexity of life.
“I devoured The Letters in one sitting. Suzanne Woods Fisher weaves a cast of authentic characters, real-life problems, and a beautiful setting into a sweet and satisfying story. I can’t wait for the second in the series!” —LESLIE GOULD, Christy Award–winning and bestselling author of Adoring Addie
ose Schrock is a simple woman with a simple plan. Determined to find a way to support her family and pay off her late husband’s debts, she sets to work to convert part of her Amish farmhouse into an inn. Not everyone is happy with Rose’s big idea, but her friend and neighbor, Galen King, supports the decision and helps with the conversion. Rose could never imagine the changes that await her own family—and her heart—at the Inn at Eagle Hill.
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Did you The name game know that BookPage ere’s a confession: It’s tough, close to noway-no-how, for me to write something is now on without first giving it a name. Why? the Kindle Names have always helped my couldn’t afford—a title that ideas cohere (or at least transform my work. Let’s Newsstand? from inchoate to an emerging form). typecast keep it real, you’d be hardBy mitchell S. Jackson
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Names have made me think about the pressing thing or things I want to say, and have helped me consider my reader: What do they need from the language, the characters, the story? That being said, my novel has seen a few name changes. The first name I gave it was Luminous Days (there’s even a tattoo on my forearm to honor it). Not too long after I’d been released from prison, the place where I wrote the first few words of what I envisioned then as a fictionalized version of my life story, I happened upon a profile of James Salter in my local newspaper. Days later, I bought and began to read Salter’s famous novel A Sport and a Pastime, which begins, “September. It seems these luminous days will never end.” When I read that line way back when, I was struck by the word luminous. For one, the title fit what I believed was the base hope of my characters—a brighter future. For two, no one I knew used the word, and because of that it had the air of intelligent diction and was writerly (it meant everything to me back then to sound like a writer). Even when I didn’t know what literary fiction was, I didn’t want—or rather,
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The Residue Years
By Mitchell S. Jackson
Bloomsbury, $26, 352 pages ISBN 9781620400289, eBook available
pressed to find an urban fiction/street lit book called Luminous Days. That title would’ve made the finish line if I hadn’t scrapped my initial idea of using a single first-person narrative. The new title was Letters to the Dead and Convicted, and the idea was that the narrator would tell his story through letters, some to a friend who was murdered and others to a fictionalized version of the godfather of crack cocaine, Freeway Rick Ross. I was so psyched about my idea that I tracked down the real Freeway Rick Ross in federal prison and persuaded him to correspond with me. But yep, you guessed it, after drafting a few chapters of letters, I abandoned the idea. I didn’t have the skill to pull off an epistolary novel. So there I was, not only titleless, but also unsettled on how I’d tell the story. Then one day in 2008 I was on a plane reading a GQ article on designer Marc Jacobs. In the article, Lucy Kaylin wrote that Jacobs “forges tight, obsessive relationships with people who can handle his compulsive need to share the residue years of therapy.” I must have read that line a gazillion times before I underlined it, sat back in my seat and smiled to myself. There was my title waving its hand at me, a giant neon hand. The word residue was freighted in what I have come to call my former life. I know a thing or two about drug addiction, and a thing or two about small-time drug dealing as well. To be more specific, my mother struggled for two decades with drug addiction, and me, well, I peddled dope off and on for close to one of those decades. Back then, when a smoker (that’s one of the things we called an addict) would get down to the last of their crack, they’d scrape the
© Charlotte M. Wales
behind the book
resin out of the pipe in the hope of procuring one last blast. Because of that, the word residue symbolized a sense of desperation, how addiction could fell a human being, symbolized the part I played in dozens, maybe hundreds, reaching that low. The other major reason why the title seemed fitting was because of my mother’s struggle. Her struggle is why the title includes the word years instead of days. Though they say addicts live day by day, it seemed such a slight to measure a battle of two-plus decades in that increment. Or maybe what I mean to say is, I wanted to emphasize how the days made years, and those years were an era, the most affecting of our lives. Let me end with one last conceit. Soon after my novel became forevermore The Residue Years, I realized how I would tell the story, a story I had discovered was not mine, but ours: my mother’s and mine. It was then that it occurred to me to divide the novel between two characters. It’s been the story of a mother and son’s—of Champ and Grace’s—notto-be-forgotten era ever since. Mitchell S. Jackson was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. In The Residue Years, his autobiographical debut, he portrays another side of a town known for bicycles and yuppies with the story of Champ and Grace, a mother and son whose struggles with drugs threaten their close relationship. Jackson, who has an MFA in creative writing, currently lives in Brooklyn.
fiction The Maid’s Version By Daniel Woodrell
When the lost are found Review By thane tierney
What if people, long-dead people, started reappearing all over the world? Not as zombies, but just as they were when they left? The first one, quite rightly, would be regarded as a miracle. The first few hundred, an anomaly. A few thousand turns into a trend. And beyond that, it becomes a problem. In The Returned, award-winning poet Jason Mott drops us into the small-town lives of Harold and Lucille Hargrave, just as they find out that their 8-year-old son, who died in 1966, has come back from the beyond. Lucille is religious and accepting of this new stranger, while Harold is skeptical and distant, at least initially. Still, at first they present a united front against Agent Martin Bellamy of the International Bureau of the Returned. After all, he’s got two strikes against him: He’s from New York, and he works for a quasi-governmental agency, neither of which plays well in the North Carolina town of Arcadia. By Jason Mott Mott captures the complex awkwardness of their early meetings with a Harlequin MIRA, $24.95, 352 pages poet’s ear for nuance. While the Hargraves wrestle with integrating these ISBN 9780778315339, audio, eBook available two new interlopers into their lives, Southern hospitality is strained to DEBUT FICTION the breaking point. And what starts as an intensely personal circumstance quickly morphs into a civic one, as Arcadia struggles to cope with the ever-increasing influx of the Returned into a town that has gone largely untouched by time. Tensions flare as a loosely organized militia known as the True Living Movement attempts to take the law into their own hands, dispatching the Returned back to the graves from which they came. Standing in their path is an equally improvised coalition of the local Baptist church (represented here by the conflicted pastor Robert Peters), the International Bureau of the Returned and the U.S. government, whose emergency management skills seem not to have improved much since the days of Hurricane Katrina. As the drama plays out, the sense that things aren’t going to end well is palpable. The Returned takes us on a journey into our own hearts and souls, exploring shared grief over absent loved ones and posing questions that are troubling on a variety of levels: How would you react if you were confronted by the sudden reappearance of a deceased loved one? How would it affect your faith, or lack thereof? And when political necessity comes in conflict with personal responsibility, which side would you find yourself on? In his debut novel, Mott has thrust us into a “Twilight Zone” parallel universe whose door is unlocked with the key of his own remarkable imagination. What happens when one crosses the threshold is up to the reader almost as much as the storyteller.
Moonrise Maiden Lane Press $26.95, 400 pages ISBN 9781940210001
Sightseers once ventured deep into the Blue Ridge Mountains to gaze upon Moonrise, a house that seemed to spring from its lush gardens. But since the death of Emmet Justice’s first wife, Rosalyn, not quite a year ago, her family estate has fallen into disrepair. It’s not a place Emmet wants to visit, but his
the home and the secrets it holds have left her questioning not only her insistence on visiting, but also Rosalyn’s untimely death. Rosalyn careened off a mountain road during a mysterious visit to the property. Does Emmet know more than he’s saying about his first wife’s death? In Moonrise, the latest novel by best-selling author Cassandra King, the memories, if not the spirit, of Emmet’s late wife haunt all who knew her (and some who didn’t). Tempers flare in the summer heat, and the secrets in these mountains keep fires burning hot even on the coolest evenings. The characters and landscape will draw readers in as Helen tries to untangle the mysteries of this enchanting novel. —Carla Jean Whitley
Added to the list of things one shouldn’t judge a book by: page count. Daniel Woodrell’s ninth novel, and his first since 2006’s Winter’s Bone (which became an awardwinning feature film in 2010), is less than 200 pages long. But thanks to Woodrell’s rich storytelling, this slim novel has the feel of an epic. The story centers on a real-life incident—the explosion of a Missouri dance hall in 1929—reimagined as fiction. One by one, in alternating and sometimes overlapping scenes, those who survived the blast recall those who were lost in it. Adding another few layers of intrigue and perspective, the novel is narrated by Alek, a young man remembering the story as he heard it one summer in 1965 from his grandmother, Alma, whose sister was among those killed in the disaster. Alma fascinates and scares her grandson equally: She’s a stern, reserved woman with a “pinched, hostile nature,” “dark obsessions” and a “primal need for revenge,” Alek says. Her story is essentially a ghost story, and it has a strong hold on the boy. She doles it out slowly, in bits and pieces, with many satisfying digressions. “She would at times leave the public horror and give me her quiet account of the sad and criminal love affair that took her sister Ruby away from us all,” Alek recalls. The novel has the feel of someone going through an old family photo album, dredging up odd facts and anecdotes about this or that person. The mystery at the center of this storytelling mosaic is, of course, just what caused the dance hall to explode: Who is responsible? And why? And how is it that the truth has not come out, even after all these years? By the time we learn the answer, or at least Alma’s answer, it feels somehow both inevitable and entirely unexpected. But it’s not the mystery that keeps the story moving. It’s the gossip. As ever, Woodrell is a master of expos-
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By Cassandra King
second wife, Helen—who has been obsessed with Moonrise since first hearing about it—insists. And so the newlyweds travel from their South Florida home to Highlands, North Carolina, the mountain town where Emmet, Rosalyn and their close-knit group of friends had summered for years. Helen is immediately the odd woman out; although Emmet is crazy about his new bride, his friends—particularly the women—are skeptical. Kit and Tansy, Rosalyn’s best friends, are convinced that Helen has latched onto the handsome, wealthy TV journalist because of the lifestyle he offers, and they’re eager to make Emmet aware. But the friends’ judgment is only one of Helen’s worries. Although she was determined to get to Moonrise,
Little, Brown $25, 176 pages ISBN 9780316205856 Audio, eBook available
reviews ing to daylight the darkest corners of the human psyche. His miniature portraits of the local characters, even those that are only a page or two long, make the town vivid and real, and the result is a larger sense of loss. We know these people, not just the main players but the rest of the town; any one of them could have been at the heart of the story. This small book holds a wide world. —Becky Ohlsen
Burial Rites By Hannah Kent
Little, Brown $26, 336 pages ISBN 9780316243919 Audio, eBook available
Iceland might be a swinging place now, but it wasn’t so in the 1820s. People lived on farmsteads that
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FICTION only survived through endless toil. Everything was filthy; the country was chilly even in summer; and society was ruled by a joyless, punitive piety. The death penalty consisted of being separated from your head via order of His Majesty in Denmark. Such is the setting for Australian writer Hannah Kent’s dark but humane first novel, Burial Rites. Agnes Magnúsdøttir is a pauper and serving woman who’s been arrested and condemned to death for the murder of her employer and lover, Natan, a man looked upon by the country folk as a shady character—his very name is a play on the name Satan, it’s said. To be fair, he is miserably cruel. He hits Agnes and never considers her as anything more than a comfort woman. He has a baby with another woman and sleeps with the other serving girl. But Agnes, who narrates much of the otherwise third-person narrative, remains in love with Natan. So why would she murder him? And if she didn’t kill him, why doesn’t she proclaim her innocence? Because there are no prisons in their region of Iceland, Agnes is sent to live with the family of a district officer. This isn’t as comfortable as it sounds, for the family at the farm at Kornså are only a tad less poor than other local farmers. The officer’s consumptive wife, Margrét, resents Agnes’ invasion of her home, until her own natural goodness and maternal instincts take over. But the younger daughter loathes Agnes, while the older is strangely drawn to her almost from the beginning. Added to the mix is the callow assistant reverend, nicknamed Tøti, whom Agnes calls upon to be her confessor and who quickly becomes fascinated with her. Kent has a sturdy grasp of place and history, as well as a talent for creating memorable characters— from Margrét’s family to their eternally pregnant and gossipy neighbor and the uncertain and smitten young priest. And, of course, Agnes. In this day and age, it’s not politically correct to admire a woman who’s in thrall to a brute like Natan, but there’s no doubt of Agnes’ strength of character, her wisdom and practicality (in things other than love) and her essential, vulnerable humanity. Based on a true story, Burial Rites gives us a vivid portrayal of a distant time and land that still somehow feels familiar. —Arlene McKanic
Enon By Paul Harding
Random House $26, 256 pages ISBN 9781400069439 Audio, eBook available
“I had a daughter and she died.” With those chilling words, Paul Harding’s new novel launches readers on a harrowing journey into the mind of a father wrecked with grief over the death of his teenage daughter in a bicycling accident. Kate’s death quickly fractures Charlie Crosby’s already shaky marriage, and his wife flees the Massachusetts town that gives the novel its title to return to her family. Alone, Charlie spirals into an ever deeper despair, and Harding fully inhabits his psyche to paint a bleak portrait of nearly unremitting grief. Fueled by drugs and tortured by sleeplessness, Charlie spends his nights wandering through Enon’s cemetery, struggling to summon memories of his daughter—or as he says, “trying to follow her into the country of the dead in order to fetch her back.” Even nature, in the form of a hurricane, is congruent with Charlie’s profound sadness. Relief comes intermittently through the judicious use of flashbacks, as Harding gently reveals Charlie’s relationship with Kate, his only child. We see them feeding birds from their hands and exploring the colorfully named landmarks of Enon, like Wild Man’s Meadow and Peters’s Pulpit. In these seemingly inconsequential moments, we understand the strength of the bond between father and daughter and the poignancy of a life ended violently and prematurely. Charlie realizes that Kate’s “short and happy life was the greatest joy in my own,” while understanding, paradoxically, that the same joy “was the measure and source of my grief.” Charlie is the grandson of the main character of Harding’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Tinkers, who makes a brief appearance here. The stories are, however, also connected by a shared appreciation for the culture and history of small New England towns and a fascination with the natural world, as well as Harding’s
affinity for dense, yet lyrical, prose. Enon is a novel that is chiseled out of profound darkness. But Harding’s sensitivity in telling this difficult story makes reading it a rewarding, if sometimes painful, experience. —Harvey Freedenberg
Visit BookPage.com for a Q&A with Paul Harding.
After Her By Joyce Maynard
Morrow $25.99, 320 pages ISBN 9780062257390 Audio, eBook available
From best-selling author Joyce Maynard—a writer who shot to international fame after the release of her memoir detailing her affair with J.D. Salinger—comes a riveting mystery, After Her. Inspired by the true-life story of the Mount Tamalpais Trailside Killer, Maynard’s thriller follows what happens when a predatory serial killer strikes in the backyard of two young girls, whose father happens to be the lead detective on the case. In the summer of 1979, Rachel Toricelli and her younger sister Patty spend their days concocting elaborate fantasies and playing inventive games on the mountain behind their Marin County home— for in the wake of their parents’ recent divorce, there is little to no parental guidance during their summer vacation. Their mother, a quiet poet, spends most of her time chain-smoking and reading in her bedroom. Their father, Dino—a suave homicide detective who could make the most stoic woman blush— sporadically swoops in to take the girls out to dinner in North Beach. The girls miss their charming father desperately. Then the first murder takes place almost literally in their backyard. As more young girls are raped and strangled, the killer is dubbed the Sunset Strangler, and Dino becomes the lead detective on the case. The girls begin to see their father mostly on their neighbors’ television screens as he gives end-
FICTION The Bone Season
less press conferences. As a result of her father’s “stardom,” Rachel finds herself elevated to the popular girl group, where she gossips, dates and leaves her younger sister behind, and Maynard cleverly juxtaposes these quieter coming-of-age dilemmas with the hunt for the killer. Maynard skillfully draws out the hunt for the Sunset Strangler, keeping readers’ attention despite the somewhat literary pace. In fact, it is the last few chapters of the book, which follow the adult Rachel, that make this story so intriguing. Readers will hang on to Maynard’s final words in order to find out what became of the Sunset Strangler, the secrets of Dino’s past and how Rachel finally resolves her haunting obsession. After Her perfectly captures the essence of California in the late 1970s, as a young woman explores her sexuality, her ties to her family and ultimately, how her own innocence was shattered.
By Samantha Shannon
Bloomsbury $24, 480 pages ISBN 9781620401392 Audio, eBook available
One can forgive publishing execs if all they saw was franchise potential in The Bone Season (the first in a projected seven-book series). After all, recent Oxford graduate Samantha Shannon’s debut features a young, resourceful female protagonist—19-year-old Paige Mahoney— who lives in a dystopian future rife with supernatural elements. And for much of the book, Paige is enslaved to an imposing non-human male, yielding a relationship that is both conflict-laden and conflicted. Evaluated just for its echoes of
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other successful book and movie franchises, The Bone Season looks like a melting pot of moneymaking ingredients. But it wouldn’t be fair to judge The Bone Season just because it’s pitch-friendly. Shannon’s novel is an impressive feat of world-building, which rests on her inventive supernatural beings. These creatures’ complexity is more reminiscent of Sheri S. Tepper’s classic True Game series than of any contemporary teen-focused fantasy. The Bone Season is set in a dystopian future that itself is the result of an alternate history that diverged dramatically from our own with an explosion of clairvoyant abilities in the Victorian era. The subsequent reaction against those exhibiting such “unnatural” traits has resulted in London (and several other cities) being controlled by a security force called Scion. As a result, life in 2059 London is a pretty dark place for most clairvoyants, though Paige Mahoney counts herself as an excep-
tion. A dreamwalker who works for one of the bosses of Scion London’s criminal underworld, Paige rejoices in her relative freedom and flouting of the authorities, who deem her tainted by her ability. Then she gets caught. The rest of the book deals with Paige’s efforts to escape her captors, the powerful Rephaim. To do so, she must learn more about them, in particular her keeper, Warden. For readers, the challenge lies in ingesting a complex, multi-sourced flow of information—navigating the details of taxonomy, setting and plot with enough attention left over to bond with the characters and simply enjoy the story. The most exciting thing about Shannon’s ambitious debut lies not in how closely it aligns with the works—and thus earning potential—of Collins, Meyer, Clare, et al., but in the near certainty that the author’s command over her world will only improve. And with that mastery, the series has the potential
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required reading feature by liz atwood
Lessons on mean mamas and helicopter parenting
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chool is back in session. After the homeroom bell rings, grab one (or both) of these novels and enjoy a quick, humorous tutorial on how not to act while educating the next generation. Debut authors Gill Hornby and Lacy Crawford deliver a welcome dose of playground escapism.
British author Gill Hornby got the idea for her first novel, The Hive (Little, Brown, $26, 352 pages, ISBN 9780316234795), while reading Rosalind Wiseman’s Queen Bees and Wannabes, a nonfiction book that Tina Fey used as the basis for her hit movie Mean Girls. In The Hive, Hornby observes that teenage girls aren’t the only catty females at school: Their mothers can be worse. The children who attend the upscale British academy of St. Ambrose have started another school year, and their mothers are busy creating their schoolyard cliques and dramas to rival those of their children. Top mum Beatrice rules her minions with daily text invites for her famous workouts, which take place after the school drop-off. Will you be invited to Bea’s group run, her Pilates session or maybe, just maybe, the elusive power walk? Then actual catastrophe strikes at St. Ambrose. The headmaster informs the parents that they do not have funds to complete construction of the new library. Here, the plot gets a bit cliché: Moms mobilize with Bundt cakes, lunch ladders and other fundraising events, but are too preoccupied to be bothered with their children. Still, Hornby, the sister of author Nick Hornby, is a perceptive writer, using her comedic talents to investigate the minds of these women even as she exploits their ridiculousness. The Hive does just that—with a healthy serving of
British humor thrown in for our reading pleasure. This is a book that might make any mother of school-age children just a little bit nervous.
A gatekeeper’s story Lacy Crawford’s Early Decision (Morrow, $25.99, 304 pages, ISBN 9780062240613) is the story of five Chicago high school seniors, their college essaywriting process and their well-paid essay consultant, Anne. What makes this novel so fascinating is that Crawford has dramatized her personal experience in the college admissions world. For 15 years, she helped teenagers perfect their essays, gaining access to a network of megarich parents who relied on her to help their children earn acceptance to some of the best schools in the country. Crawford expertly fictionalizes some of the crazy and vicious behavior exhibited by parents who claim they only want what is best for their child. Readers will be rooting for all five young adults—four wealthy, one from a working-class background, all relatable—to find their own voices and their own paths. This is a winner of a novel. Part comedy, part exposé, it can open the door to debate about the intensity of the college application process. Early Decision should be required reading for every parent of a child who is embarking on the college admissions journey.
reviews to become one that inspires others. The Bone Season is a delicious appetizer. Now we wait for the main course. —Michael Burgin
Subtle Bodies By Norman Rush
Knopf $26.95, 256 pages ISBN 9781400042500 eBook available
The phrase subtle bodies refers to the part of ourselves that is not our physical form but rather our consciousness, spirit, the essence of what makes us who we are. In his third and long-awaited novel of the same name, Norman Rush explores what happens when a group of college friends reunite for the funeral of one of their own, forcing them to examine the core experiences of who they once were and how their lives have changed over the ensuing decades. Subtle Bodies takes place just before the outbreak of the second Iraq War and is set in motion by the death of Douglas, the charismatic ringleader of a group of college friends who continued to live together for several years after graduation. Doug’s unique brand of humor unified the group, and their communal life was a kind of highly self-conscious performance art filled with private jokes and even a secret language. Four of the now 40-something men are summoned to Doug’s Hudson River Valley estate to take part in an elaborate memorial service. Once a seamless community of acolytes following the direction of their self-appointed leader, they now struggle to find ways to connect. Ned, who is planning the coordination of a large antiwar demonstration in California, comes to New York begrudgingly, questioning the very significance of the group. Can what seemed essential at age 20 still be relevant at age 40? His wife, Nina, follows him in hot pursuit. After years of childlessness, the couple is at a critical point in trying to get pregnant, and she is reluctant to let Ned go, even for a weekend. Subtle Bodies is told by Ned and
FICTION Nina in alternating chapters, with Ned struggling to understand just what made Doug so influential and Nina’s wisecracking irreverence for her husband’s mentor. In fact, it is her tart commentary and the way she gently pokes fun at what the group once held sacred that give this novel much of its quirky charm. Subtle Bodies is the first of Rush’s novels not set in Africa. It is also shorter by half than either Mating or Mortals. But Rush’s sharp observations of human foibles and his singular take on marriage and sex will be familiar to fans of his earlier work. A concise, humorous novel about what we discard and what we keep as we age, Subtle Bodies will both delight and make you think. — L a u r e n B u ff e r d
Lookaway, Lookaway By Wilton Barnhardt
St. Martin’s $25.99, 368 pages ISBN 9781250020833 Audio, eBook available
In his fourth book, Lookaway, Lookaway, novelist Wilton Barnhardt sticks with what he knows. A professor at North Carolina State University and native of the state, Barnhardt is well equipped to bring the manicured, yet scandalous, world of Southern high society to life. The result is an effervescent novel best described in terms of the characters that populate it. The story hinges on the Johnston family’s unflinching, poised, perfectly mannered matriarch, Jerene. Her husband, Joseph “Duke” Johnston, is a non-practicing lawyer and onetime rising political star in Charlotte, who now devotes most of his brainpower to an obsession with an obscure Civil War battle. Jerene’s brother Gaston, the author of a popular series of commercial novels, pines after a decidedly more highbrow reputation. He feels like a sell-out, and loses himself in bourbon at the local country club. The Johnston children are as much at sea as the adults. Annie, the eldest, continually tries to subvert the notion of a good old-fashioned debutante. Bo, a preacher, feels out of place both on the pulpit and in
FICTION his complicated marriage. The third, Joshua, is disenfranchised within his family by his homosexuality, which goes unacknowledged even after the most unceremonious of comingouts. The baby, Jerilyn, begins as the natural heir to her mother’s legacy, but is shoved off course by a trauma that is, true to Johnston form, quickly swept under the rug. As family members attempt to reconcile an antebellum past with their messy present, they grapple with evolving notions of legacy, race, class and personal identity. Their storylines circle one another, held in the same orbit by the unrelenting centripetal force that is Jerene. She manages the public relations for her family, rarely letting her humanity show even in the most raw and devastating scenarios. As the task of keeping the historic family name in good standing becomes too daunting even for her, the novel boils to its explosive conclusion. —Clare Swanson
The Road from Gap Creek By Robert Morgan
Algonquin $25.95, 336 pages ISBN 9781616201616 Audio, eBook available
Writing a sequel to a popular novel is a risk, especially when the first one was a national bestseller, like Robert Morgan’s Gap Creek, an Oprah Book Club selection. The Road from Gap Creek will please this gifted storyteller’s legions of fans—as well as those who missed Gap Creek when it was published in 1999. The books need not be read in chronological order. On the contrary, the plaintive and plainspoken poetry infused in both novels allows them to stand alone as separate stories about the same family: Hank
and Julie Richards and their four children. While Gap Creek was narrated by the family’s matriarch, Julie, The Road from Gap Creek is safely in the hands of her youngest daughter, Annie, who has inherited her mother’s indomitable spirit and courage in the face of an endless stream of adversity. After beginning their married life in South Carolina in Gap Creek, the Richards family has returned home to North Carolina, where the duality of incredible beauty and abject poverty continues to define Appalachian life. From the first pages, Morgan tugs readers into the pathos of a personal tragedy experienced by countless families during the World War II era, heralded by the arrival of a telegram at the family’s doorstep. Still, Morgan does not linger long on grief; instead, by chapter two the story has skipped back to happier days, with the arrival of the family dog, Old Pat, a wise and lovable German Shepherd who is devoted to
Annie’s brother Troy. For teenage Annie, a talented actress in her high school’s theater productions, the allure of life beyond the sleepy and God-fearing Green River community is tempting. Still, her family ties and loyalty are stronger than her dramatic ambitions, and thus, she finds herself post-high school working as a store clerk in a nearby town to help support her struggling Great Depression-era family. Unlike her parents, who plunged into an early and turbulent marriage, the cautious Annie is stubbornly unwilling to acknowledge her lifelong attraction to the devout and idealistic young Muir. Morgan has crafted another painfully luminous portrait of rural American family life: honest, captivating and resplendent in all its messy glory. Readers will find themselves bereft upon saying goodbye to the Richards clan—and hopeful that Morgan might consider a trilogy. —Karen Ann Cullotta
#1 New York Times bestselling author
takes you back in time with two unforgettable and masterfully emotional stories.
Once, the sea took everything he loved… “A classic beauty-and-the-beast love story that will stay in your heart long after you’ve turned the last page.” —New York Times bestselling author Kristin Hannah on The Lightkeeper r e a d m o r e at b o o k pa g e . c o m
The Lightkeeper, available August 27
She seeks a home. He seeks redemption. What they find is each other. “At once beautiful, tender, poignant and full of meaning, The Drifter is a rare, powerful read.” —RT Book Reviews
The Drifter, available September 24
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reviews The Daughters of Mars By Thomas Keneally
Atria $28, 528 pages ISBN 9781476734613 Audio, eBook available
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If Thomas Keneally’s expansive and brilliant novel The Daughters of Mars doesn’t remind you of an Australian version of “Downton Abbey,” I don’t know what would. This isn’t to disparage either work—especially not one from the author of Schindler’s List—but the similarities jump out from the opening pages. We have two sisters who don’t get along. We get the soldier with half his face blown off; the manor house converted into a hospital; the Spanish flu sweeping off otherwise young and healthy people; the upstanding bloke thrown in jail for no good reason and the faithful woman who’s willing to do whatever it takes to get him out; the deaths of loved characters that make you gasp for their sheer unfairness. In The Daughters of Mars, the Durance sisters—chilly Naomi and somewhat more biddable Sally— sign on as army nurses at the beginning of World War I. We follow them on the long boat trip from Australia to the Mediterranean, where they nurse the soldiers coming in from the disaster at Gallipoli and endure the torpedoing of their hospital ship, the Archimedes. The sinking, depicted with hair-raising vividness by Keneally, will impact the sisters, their friends and lovers for the remainder of the war. For one thing, Naomi and Sally (who, it should be said, are not the daughters of an earl but of a dairy farmer from the Australian bush) finally begin to deal with a sad secret they thought they’d left behind in Australia. Given the devastating nature of what was then known as the “war to end all wars,” Keneally’s touch is surprisingly nimble. He gives us only glimpses of the horror, but that’s sometimes enough. What he’s interested in are the ways the war affects the life choices of those who are caught up in it, and how ordinary folks rarely know they’re living through—or even making—history. The Daughters of Mars is a mas-
FICTION terpiece that is sure to rank among Keneally’s best works. —Arlene McKanic
reader to take a closer look at his or her own days.
Picoult and A. Manette Ansay. —Deborah Donovan
—Carla Jean Whitley
Claire of the Sea Light Someone By Alice McDermott
FSG $25, 240 pages ISBN 9780374281090 Audio, eBook available
“Who’s going to love me?” Marie asks her brother Gabe in the hours after her first heartbreak. The girl has seen sad times already in her 1930s Brooklyn neighborhood: a girl who tumbles down a set of stairs to her death, a blind man left to umpire ball games for the neighborhood boys. But as her first love leaves her behind, Marie is confronted for the first time with the sorrow of an anonymous, unspectacular existence. As Alice McDermott’s Someone skips across Marie’s life, the reader peers into such intimate moments as her first kiss, her first boyfriend, her first day working at a funeral home, the first time she meets her husband in the bedroom—moments that shape Marie into the woman she will become. The nonlinear story unfolds much like life itself: rambling in different directions, not always making it clear where you’re headed or why you’re along for the ride. The Brooklyn neighborhood is nearly as much a character in Marie’s life as are its inhabitants. As a young woman, she refuses to even seek work outside of its boundaries. But as the neighborhood falls into disrepair, Gabe proves to be the child who is reluctant to leave. McDermott is a three-time Pulitzer finalist and winner of a National Book Award. This, her first novel in seven years, is sure to be a welcome escape for those who have missed her lyrical voice and fine attention to detail. Marie and Gabe’s relationship echoes the closeness, contentiousness and theological discussions of the namesake siblings in J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey. Much like those in that beloved novel, McDermott’s characters are more concerned with the daily, ordinary act of living. The result is a thoughtful, heartfelt tale that prompts the
Necessary Lies By Diane Chamberlain
St. Martin’s $26.99, 352 pages ISBN 9781250010698 Audio, eBook available
By Edwidge Danticat
Knopf $25.95, 256 pages ISBN 9780307271792 eBook available
From 1929 until 1975, North Carolina sterilized more than 7,000 of its citizens, targeting inmates in mental institutions, epileptics and others whose sterilization was considered “for the public good.” Diane Chamberlain has based her latest novel on this controversial procedure, the Eugenics Sterilization Program. It is 1960, and Jane Forrester has just been hired as a social worker for the Department of Public Welfare and is newly married to Robert, a pediatrician. They live in a wealthy neighborhood in Raleigh. Ivy Hart is a 15-year-old who lives in a small tenant house on a tobacco farm in rural Grace County. Her father died when she was small; her mother was committed to a mental hospital; and her older sister, Mary Ella, left school at 14 when she became pregnant with baby William. Mary Ella, labeled “feebleminded,” has been sterilized without her knowledge, told she was hospitalized for an appendectomy. In the alternating voices of Jane and Ivy, we learn how Jane becomes immersed in the Hart family’s dire circumstances, raising doubts in the minds of both her boss and her husband that she’s tough enough for the job. Robert is embarrassed by the fact that Jane is working rather than fitting into the Junior League role embraced by the wives of his colleagues, but he’s especially bothered by her sincere attachment to these poor families, which is starting to make her question the Eugenics Department’s plans for the Harts. Chamberlain weaves an element of suspense throughout this emotional story as these differing views eventually collide in a powerful denouement. Necessary Lies is a poignant and perceptive novel zeroing in on a hidden social issue—reminiscent of the work of Jodi
A portrait of Haiti derived from facts alone would be grim. It is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, suffers from catastrophic deforestation and is frequently visited by the United States military. In 2010, an earthquake added insult to perennial injury. Edwidge Danticat’s new novel, Claire of the Sea Light, offers a somewhat different picture. Deforestation rates a mention. And yes, the justice system is corrupt or nonexistent. But her portrait of Haiti’s people makes for a crucial difference. The living is decidedly not easy, but there’s summertime here in spades. Claire is a young girl whose mother died while delivering her. Her father, adoring but unfit, makes the painful decision to offer her to a woman whose own daughter has died in a traffic accident as comical as it was tragic. In a parallel storyline, the local schoolmaster’s son, who joined the “dyaspora” to Miami, returns home and must face having raped his household’s servant girl and fathered a son by her. What’s more, his one true love was actually a man who fell to bullets long before. Somehow, Danticat’s sweet touch makes this bad medicine go down. Her prose is simple and concrete, her characters vivid and warm. There is a timelessness about this tale that elevates it almost to parable. It recalls other novels of the Caribbean, from The Old Man and the Sea to A House for Mr. Biswas. Almost 20 years after Breath, Eyes, Memory and Krik? Krak!, Danticat has become the Naipaul of her generation. Though Danticat resides in Miami, this novel’s strongest character is the one who stays behind. Her reasoning? “She liked her ghosts nearby.” —Kenneth Champeon
NONFICTION able account of a truly thoughtful and forward-looking president who deserves more from history than he has yet received. This is a marvelous corrective. —Edward Morris
Five Days at Memorial
Desperate choices Review by John Slania
If you had to decide whether a person should live or die, what would you do? This is the central theme of Five Days at Memorial, a gripping account of how doctors, nurses and their patients at one New Orleans hospital endured unbearable conditions after Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005. Flooding, loss of electricity, sweltering heat, dwindling medical supplies and anarchy in the streets were among the issues confronting doctors and nurses at Memorial Medical Center. The situation eventually deteriorated far enough that some hospital workers were placed in the unenviable position of deciding whether to let critically ill patients suffer, or hasten their deaths. They chose to administer morphine and other drugs, ending the lives of at least 18 patients. Five Days at Memorial chronicles the events leading up to these deaths, and the ensuing criminal investigation and trial of those deemed responsible. In the five days after the hurricane devastated the city, the By Sheri Fink hospital’s power failed, as did its generators. The lack of air conditioning Crown, $27, 560 pages added to patients’ suffering. Delays on the part of the corporation that ISBN 9780307718969, audio, eBook available owned the hospital slowed an evacuation, as did confusion among the various local, state and federal agencies trying to manage the crisis. So current events there lay the severely ill, without medication or hope of rescue. For some doctors and nurses, euthanasia seemed the only choice. The original story that became Five Days at Memorial was co-published in the New York Times and ProPublica, and won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. Journalist Sheri Fink is a dogged researcher, a thorough interviewer and a gifted writer who turns nonfiction into lively prose. The characters she writes about are real, but their unbelievable circumstances make the book read like a work of fiction. Readers will come away with a greater understanding of the difficult circumstances residents of New Orleans faced during Katrina, and will also confront important moral and ethical questions. Fink asks us to consider: If we had been there during those dark, desperate days at Memorial, would we have made a different choice?
Wilson By A. Scott Berg
Putnam $40, 832 pages ISBN 9780399159213 Audio, eBook available
Born in Virginia in 1856 to a Presbyterian minister of modest means, Thomas Woodrow Wilson first flowered as an academic. He joined the faculty of Princeton University in 1890, became one of the school’s most beloved professors and was elevated to its presidency 12 years later. Throughout this period of intensive teaching and public lecturing, he published a torrent of magazine articles and books on government and history. It did not take long for New Jersey’s power brokers
frage, Wilson nonetheless turned his back on black Americans, permitting the Postal Service and Treasury Department to segregate the races. A. Scott Berg understandably devotes most of his new biography to Wilson’s evolution from the man who “kept us out of war” in his first term of office to his fullfledged engagement in WWI during his second term. Always viewing himself as a peacemaker—and with good reason—he was nonetheless ruthlessly efficient when it came to raising troops, building war industries, turning the country in favor of war and punishing war opponents, including Debs, whose prison term he steadfastly refused to commute after the war. After spending six months in Europe trying to establish the League of Nations and minimize the rancor and disruption caused by the war, Wilson was outraged to discover he couldn’t sell the League or terms of peace to his own Senate. Wilson is an epic, meticulously documented and immensely read-
By Delia Ephron
Blue Rider Press $25.95, 240 pages ISBN 9780399166556 Audio, eBook available
Sister Mother Husband Dog is a breezy and irresistible collection of essays from Delia Ephron. According to a family joke, Delia “shared half a brain” with her late, famous sister Nora, and there are undeniable likenesses in their work. Like Nora’s essay collections, the topics addressed in Delia’s book are wonderfully wide ranging and amusing. One essay memorably begins, “I don’t care about the weather. I care only what the weather is going to do to my hair.” If you are of an Ephron sensibility—you’ve watched When Harry Met Sally . . . and Julie & Julia, or you’ve picked up I Feel Bad About My Neck or Hanging Up—this book will give you more of what you love best. More great one-liners: “When the conversation turns to dogs, you know the party is five minutes from being over.” More delightfully random tangents, about famous New York danishes, for example. More outrageous stories about the family. However, unlike Nora’s essays, some of Delia’s flatly refuse a tidy resolution. For instance, consider Delia’s comment when writing about her mother in “Why I Can’t Write About My Mother”: “What I’m writing—my intention to get a grip on her—keeps spinning out of control. . . . I keep trying to make this essay ‘neat,’ bend it to my will, make it track, but I can’t.” These more complex topics, which also include Nora’s death, balance the lighter pieces about dog shows and technological difficulties. Sometimes after finishing one of the more complicated essays, I found myself marveling at Ephron’s ability to circuitously connect a
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to recognize in Wilson the radiant raw material of a first-rate politician. Wilson’s aspirations ranged elsewhere, too. He was a romantic. First he fell in love with a cousin who gently rejected him, despite a barrage of pleas, flowers and love letters. Then came his equally passionate courtship of and marriage to Ellen Axson, to whom he remained devoted until her death in 1914. Devastated by her loss, he nonetheless found love again with the widow Edith Bolling Galt, who became his wife, closest confidant and heart’s joy until his death in 1924. Elected governor of New Jersey in 1910, Wilson had only two years to work his wonders on the Garden State before being snatched away to run for president. Despite his newness to politics, he triumphed over the incumbent William Howard Taft, former president Theodore Roosevelt and the high-profile Socialist Party candidate Eugene Debs. Generally progressive in his outlook and a vocal supporter of women’s suf-
Sister Mother Husband Dog
writing By joelle herr
Advice from the experts
riting well takes a lot of practice—and a little guidance from professionals can go a long way. Here are three new books brimming with insights and instructions for writers of all kinds. Memoirs are as popular as ever, but for those who aspire to tell their stories, starting off with a blank computer screen can be quite daunting. Enter Beth Kep hart, author of five memoirs and a teacher of creative nonfiction at the University of Pennsylvania. If you can’t enroll in her class, at least you can read her new book, Handling the Truth (Gotham, $16, 272 pages, ISBN 9781592408153). Kephart describes a memoir as “a strut and a confession, a whisper in the ear, a scream,” with a creative process that is different from writing fiction. She presents the countless questions that memoirists must ponder: Who are you? Where have you been? What do you believe in? What is the sound of your voice? An extensive appendix featuring more than 75 recommended memoirs makes this a must-read for anyone seeking their own truth, written or not.
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LESS IS MORE
Although short-form writing has been around for millennia (think haiku), it’s no longer just for poets and ad writers. With attention spans waning and Tweets limited to a mere 140 characters, writing efficiently has become an essential skill. Lucky for us, Roy Peter Clark has written How to Write Short (Little, Brown, $20, 272 pages, ISBN 9780316204354). Clark’s succinct (naturally), snappy chapters feature writing exercises to get unwieldy writers practicing what he’s preaching. The first section introduces the concept of short writing, with examples and tips galore. For instance: Start paying attention to short writing that is typically overlooked, like the predictions contained within fortune cookies. The second section concentrates
on writing short “with a purpose.” In other words, once you know how to write short, you need to know why—which often involves getting a point across, so Clark’s tips on how to sell an idea or craft the perfect headline will come in handy. This engaging tome is packed with sage advice for communicating in the digital age.
HOW NOT TO WRITE You know bad writing when you see it—dangling modifiers, mixed metaphors, affected dialogue and seemingly ubiquitous clichés, the ineradicable cockroach-like pests of the written word. Wretched Writing (Perigee, $15, 224 pages,
ISBN 9780399159244) isn’t your typical writing guide in that it dishes up examples of what you shouldn’t do, whether you’re posting a status update or tapping out the next Great American Novel. This compendium of “crimes against the English language” highlights several felonies committed by Irish writer Amanda McKittrick Ros—often considered one of the worst published novelists of all time—but right alongside hers are the missteps of Jane Austen, Jonathan Franzen and other literary greats. The types of atrocities include alliteration, obsessive; romance, unromantic; and simply words, wrong. Featured under anatomy, problematic is this head-scratcher: “She sat huddled in a chair, covering her ears with crossed legs.” Though perfect for quick reference, this writing guide is also a thoroughly amusing pageturner, a statement I once would have filed under impossibilities.
reviews series of unlikely dots, thus forming a memorable and original constellation—something that only the very best essays do well. The voice of Delia’s father echoes through the collection, though he is not mentioned in the title by name. She tells us of their family dinners. “That’s a great line!” he’d yell to his daughters. “Write it down!” And readers like me are so very happy that the Ephron women obeyed the command, took a sidelong look around and grabbed a pen. — K e l ly B l e w e t t
The Dark Path By David Schickler Riverhead $27.95, 336 pages ISBN 9781594486456 eBook available
David Schickler’s memoir, The Dark Path, is about a lifelong balancing act between God and sex. Does one cancel out the other? It opens with 10-year-old David staring at a pretty girl at Mass, a scene that emblematizes his twin obsessions. Religion comes naturally to David, who as a child is drawn to the quiet suburban woods behind his house, and to a dark path through the trees where he talks to God. But more earthly forms of love appeal just as much, as the young David charmingly inquires of each new crush, “Are you my wife?” (Luckily, not out loud.) What begins as a cute story of boyish tension soon deepens into actual conflict. Witnessing the casual cruelty of teenage sex sends David careening toward the Church, especially during his college years at Georgetown. But the Jesuit brotherhood contains its own hypocrisies, and David is left stranded with neither God nor girlfriend to sustain him. The scenes depicting how his spiritual crisis leads to physical and mental collapse are searing and honest. We witness a loving heart laid waste by the collapse of its belief system. Although this may sound grim, Schickler’s deft hand with dialogue, scene and humor maintains a light touch, and provides an interesting
NONFICTION contrast to the dark night of the soul he undergoes. You can sense his screenwriter’s eye in the scenes set at the boarding school in Vermont where he goes to teach and has a nervous breakdown—his depiction of his students responding to him crying in class is priceless. So this is a comic memoir, and yet its great strength is the simplicity and gentleness of the heart under examination. The balancing act between God and sex is mirrored by the equilibrium the book maintains between humor and despair. With The Dark Path, Schickler has written a spiritual memoir about love as the common denominator between religious and earthly passions. —Catherine Hollis
Miss Anne in Harlem By Carla Kaplan
Harper $28.99, 544 pages ISBN 9780060882389 eBook available
The Harlem Renaissance produced art, literature and music that tried to reflect the diversity of black experience. A persistent influence, though one mostly ignored by history, was that of white women. Acting as patrons of the arts, creating work under racially ambiguous pseudonyms or promoting interracial marriage, white women were very much a part of the scene. With Miss Anne in Harlem, author Carla Kaplan has given them their due. “Miss Anne” was a dismissive generalization meant to encompass all white women, who were often caricatured as matrons seeking an illicit thrill by mingling with black men. But many of the women Kaplan profiles had much larger goals in mind, from personal fame to planetary change. Charlotte Osgood Mason used her wealth and influence to promote the work of Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, but placed demands on both that ultimately proved destructive to the partnerships. Mason sent Hurston out to gather folklore but enjoined her against using the research in her own work; she also required expense accounting for
NONFICTION every sanitary napkin Hurston used. Some of Hurston’s letters to Mason are self-deprecating to the point of parody, but Mason never took the hint. Fannie Hurst wrote a bestseller, Imitation of Life, that told parallel stories of women “passing,” for white in one case and male in the other. The book was reviled in the black press, to Hurst’s consternation; the character who passes for white does so without regret, which understandably left black readers cold, but it may have been Hurst’s way of exploring her own life as a Jew, and the fact that she was only considered white when in the company of black people. Kaplan’s research is extensive, and the sheer volume of information here can be overwhelming. It’s worth exploring, though, not just for the fascinating stories of the women themselves, but also for the far more vivid picture we now have of 1920s Harlem. “Miss Anne” was heroic and confounding and anything but dull. Kudos to Kaplan for rescuing her from obscurity. —Heather Seggel
I Kiss Your Hands Many Times By Marianne Szegedy-Maszák
Spiegel & Grau $27, 400 pages ISBN 9780385524858 Audio, eBook available
Men We Reaped By Jesmyn Ward
Bloomsbury $26, 272 pages ISBN 9781608195213 eBook available
After a drunk driver killed Jesmyn Ward’s younger brother, Joshua, in a horrific car accident, the court sentenced the driver, who was white,
to five years in jail for leaving the scene of an accident, but declined to charge him with vehicular manslaughter. Ward, in disbelief, thought to herself, “This is what my brother’s life is worth in Mississippi. Five years.” In fact, the driver served only two years before being released. Bewilderment, pain, rage and resentment flow through the bones of Men We Reaped, Ward’s memoir of growing up poor and black in a rural Mississippi still bathed in the waters of hatred, prejudice and racism. She weaves a tale of loss that begins with her father, who left the family behind to follow his own desires. Other losses quickly followed, and she recounts the stories of five young men—friends, a cousin, her beloved brother—who died between 2000 and 2004, from some combination of drugs, suicide, murder, accident and bad luck. A poignant memorial to Roger Eric Daniels III, Demond Dedeaux, Charles Joseph (C.J.) Martin, Ronald Wayne Lizana and Joshua Adam Dedeaux, Ward’s book also underscores a harsh
truth: Poverty often cripples black men, causing them either to fall into destructive behaviors or to flee from it, leaving their families in the process. Such absences mar her own family, and Ward stands up to tell the stories. “Men’s bodies litter my family’s history,” she writes. “The pain of the women they left behind pulls them from the beyond, makes them appear as ghosts.” Searingly honest and brutal, Ward holds nothing back as she strives to find her way in a community that she both loves and hates. There are no platitudes for her as she comes to terms with her losses: “Grief doesn’t fade. Grief scabs over like my scars and pulls into new, painful configurations as it knits. . . . We are never free from the feeling that something is wrong with us, not with the world that made this mess.” In Men We Reaped, she makes her readers feel that pain, too; but more than that, she makes us understand that these men mattered—that their lives were worth something after all. —Henry L. Carrigan Jr.
NEW FROM AC2 BOOKS
onest prices provide both investors and consumers with reliable economic signals. Our economic prosperity and job growth depend on them. But a corrupt economic system does not want honest prices. The US Federal Reserve, central banks, and other sectors of government have created a system of “liar loans” and false prices. In effect, the regulators on whom we depend have become dis-regulators. Free Prices Now! examines the complexities of this issue with a lively and clear writing style that makes it easy for anyone to understand.
“In Free Prices Now! Hunter Lewis shows why ending the Federal Reserve’s control over the monetary system is key to restoring prosperity and raising living standards for all Americans, and also lays out a roadmap to ending the Federal Reserve’s destructive power over the American economy.” —RON PAUL, former chairman of House Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and former GOP presidential candidate
hen private interests need a political favor, or when politicians need money, they know whom to call. This is crony capitalism—the system that prevailed in Russia after the fall of Communism—and it is increasingly America’s system as well. If we are going to solve our current economic problems, we will need to eliminate crony capitalism and restore an honest economy. Crony Capitalism in America offers solutions. It adresses in clear and simple terms what is wrong and what needs to be done about it.
“Exhaustively researched and powerfully written, Crony Capitalism in America will be an instant classic. It rips back the curtain on the competitioncrushing practices that emerge when political and corporate cronies align.” —PETER SCHWEIZER, president of the Government Accountability Institute and author of the New York Times bestseller Throw Them All Out AC2 books are available from leading booksellers everywhere and at AgainstCronyCapitalism.org | “The Real Problem with the Economy”
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Like most children, Marianne Szegedy-Maszák was vaguely familiar with her parents’ background as she was growing up, but didn’t know or understand many details. As in many immigrant homes, the adults discussed those details in what American-born Marianne regarded as “secret” languages—in her family’s case, mostly in Hungarian. After her parents and other beloved older relatives died, SzegedyMaszák decided to delve more deeply into the unknowns, aided by a cache of letters from her father to her mother during their difficult courtship. And what a rich story she tells in I Kiss Your Hands Many Times: Aladár and Hanna SzegedyMaszák and their families were people of extraordinary sophisti-
cation and stamina who survived persecution by both Nazis and Communists. Hanna was a member of a hugely wealthy clan descended from pioneering Jewish industrialist Manfred Weiss, the Andrew Carnegie of Hungary. Most of the family converted to Christianity, but that didn’t help them with the Nazis and their vicious Hungarian allies. They survived, but in a way that aroused great resentment among fellow Hungarians: A Himmler aide forced them to sign over their fortune to the Nazis in exchange for being allowed to escape. Unwelcome in Hungary after the war, most went to the U.S., where they again thrived. Aladár was a Christian, a highly regarded diplomat, who resisted Hungary’s alliance with Germany and tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a separate peace with the Allies. When the Germans invaded, he was sent to Dachau. After liberation, he rose from concentration camp prisoner to Hungarian ambassador to the U.S. in an astonishingly short time. Then came the Communist coup in Hungary. Aladár tried mightily to persuade the U.S. to intervene, failed again, and spent the rest of his life in exile. Their daughter tells their stories with beautiful sensitivity. She is loving but clear-eyed about their flaws and troubles. Her parents lived in middle-class comfort in Washington, D.C., but her father in particular was broken by his political and personal tragedies. Marianne grew up in a household darkened by his depression. Yet through it all, his deep love for his wife endured. Their daughter’s fine memoir highlights a largely forgotten chapter of the Holocaust and honors their memory.
holly goldberg sloan
A kooky kid finds a new family
ome people have lucky numbers; others have lucky stars. Holly Goldberg Sloan credits her career change, and her subsequent success as an author of children’s books, to something a little different: a lucky shrimp. Alas, said shellfish wasn’t so felicitous for Sloan’s husband. But for her, it touched off a life-changing transition from screenwriter (numerous feature films, including Angels in the Outfield ) to author (2011’s I’ll Be There, and now Counting by 7s). In a phone call from her Santa Monica, California, home, Sloan told BookPage the story of how her first book came to be: “My friend asked us to go on a trip, and didn’t give a lot of specifics. It turned out we went to a vegetarian yoga resort, which was totally cool with me, but my husband isn’t a vegetarian and doesn’t do yoga. The first night, I asked if they had meat or protein of any kind. They were able to get a limited amount of shrimp, so he ordered that.” Then, gastrointestinal disaster struck—and between her husband being out of commission for a week and the resort’s no-Internet-or-TV policy, Sloan found she had some time to kill. “It was really serendipitous,” she says. “If I hadn’t gone on a crazy vacation in Mexico, where I was on my own and my husband was in a stone hut, sick . . . I wouldn’t have had so much time on my hands, and started writing a book.” Fortunately, Sloan’s husband was not harmed during the writing of her brilliant second book, Counting
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Counting By 7s
By Holly Goldberg Sloan
Dial, $16.99, 384 pages ISBN 9780803738553, eBook available Ages 10 and up
by 7s, which draws readers into the singular world of eccentric 12-yearold Willow Chance. Willow applies her prodigious intelligence to her hobbies: a thriving and varied backyard garden, and the diagnosis of medical conditions. “I am particularly drawn to skin disorders,” Willow explains with a seriousness that is at once amusing and endearing, “which I photograph only if the subject (and one of my parents) isn’t looking.” She also counts by sevens to establish a soothing sense of order. “It’s an escape technique,” Willow says. But when her parents, with whom she has a loving relationship, are killed in a car accident, Willow’s pain cannot be organized or soothed away. Even worse, the policemen who gave her the terrible news are asking about next of kin—and she has none, save a grandmother with dementia. Then a lie spoken out of compassion—a new friend, Mai, tells the police her family has known Willow’s for a long time, and can thus take her in—offers a temporary reprieve. It also segues into a memorable story of kindness among friends and strangers, the dangers and rewards of taking risks, and ultimately an exploration of the meaning of family. Sloan’s gift for storytelling is evident: Her characters are sometimes kooky, but not too; trust is earned and happiness tentatively blooms, but not so quickly as to seem unlikely; and Willow’s sorrow isn’t smoothed over, but rather recognized as an addition to her new, unpredictable existence. If anything might seem improbable to readers, Sloan says, it’s probably Willow’s preternatural poise and smarts. “I know that some people will read the book and think it’s not possible, that Willow seems to have superhuman powers,” she says. “But they just haven’t been around a kid like that. If you’ve been around highly gifted kids, some of them do seem to have superpowers, and corresponding confidence. Those kids spend more time with adults . . . but because they’re more
comfortable with adults, they become outcasts in their own peer group.” Sloan says she’s “always been interested in those kinds of kids,” not least because she was sometimes one of them, which she drew on when creating this story. For example, during one year in elementary school, she left her classroom twice weekly to visit a nearby college campus, where “the psychology department was conducting an experiment rewarding gifted children.” Sloan says, “It was so strange, Sloan has and it made me feel like an created a outsider.” In story where Counting by 7s, Willow leaves the line class for regular between visits with youth and her school’s counselor, Dell adulthood Duke—somemoves back thing that further sets her and forth. apart from her peers, too. In addition, Sloan’s father’s job as a consultant to the Peace Corps meant her family had a new address every few years, so she was the new kid in class many times. “I had a peripatetic childhood that in many ways informs who I am today, and influences my writing because I very much identify with outsiders,” she says. And, she adds, “You can approach that in two ways: Be Willow-esque and retreat to live in your own head, which is a great place to live on some levels, or throw yourself into the situation. Mai . . . throws herself into the world and makes as many connections as she can, while Willow does the opposite until she’s forced to do something else.” But it’s not just Willow who must learn to behave differently; the adults in Counting by 7s have some growing and changing to do, too. For example, Dell Duke has long
© Gary A. Rosen
INTERVIEW B y l i n d a m . c a s t e l l i t T o
categorized the kids he counsels (as misfits, oddballs, geniuses, etc.), but Willow and her friends defy his descriptions. And Mai’s mother’s routines are upended, which makes her cranky—but also leaves her more open to the unexpected. Sloan says that aspect of the book struck a chord with one of its first readers: “I gave it to a precocious 11-year-old, and she said her favorite character was [taxi driver] Juan, by far. She said she liked him because Willow made him change without even trying. And I know what she’s saying—she’s very attracted to the idea that she could be doing this in the adult world, too.” It’s easy to imagine that readers— whether kids, adults, young-at-heart adults or precocious kids—will find themselves taken with, even inspired by, Counting by 7s. Sloan has created a story where the line between youth and adulthood moves back and forth, often more than once in a single day—and where kids and adults “have relationships that are real and go both directions,” she says. The book is a moving, often funny reminder that such relationships are worth cultivating, and that being open to new people and experiences—however strange or difficult they may seem—can lead to wonderful things. After all, look what happened when Sloan and her husband went on that vaguely described vacation, and her husband ate that fateful, tainted crustacean! “I’m hoping that today my husband also thinks it was a lucky shrimp,” Sloan says. “But I don’t ask.”
yeeee-hah! yeeee-hah! GoesCountry! Country! Goes
ang on to to yer yerhat, hat,Cowboy! Cowboy!With Withthree threeGold Gold albums and ang on albums and a a Grammy nominationto toher hercredit, credit,Sandra SandraBoynton Boynton brings you Grammy nomination brings you FROG TROUBLE, TROUBLE,aaterrific terrificillustrated illustratedSongbook Songbook and new and CDCD of of new and original Country Countrysongs! songs! and wildly original And And whoa, whoa,Nelly! Nelly! Look who-all’s who-all’sperforming: performing: I’ve Got a Dog I’ve Dog
Heartache HeartacheSong Song
Dwight wight Yoakam D oakam
kkaceY aceYm musgraves usgraves
Beautiful BeautifulBaby Baby
BraD raD P PaisleY B aisleY
DDarius ucker ariusrr ucker
End of of aa Summer Summer Storm End Storm
Alligator AlligatorStroll Stroll
alison lison krauss a krauss
JJosh turner osh turner
rYan Yan aDams r aDams
llinDa eDer inDa eDer
When Pigs Fly When Pigs Fly
Deepest Blue Deepest Blue
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“Country music is so many things. It’s “Country music isfiddle so many things.back It’s twang, gumption, and banjo, twang, fiddletrucks and banjo, back porches,gumption, wide horizons, and dogs porches, wide horizons, trucks and dogs and cowboys, the heart of America.” and cowboys, the heart —Sandy Boyntonof America.” —Sandy Boynton
WORKMAN is a registered trademark of Workman Publishing Co., Inc.
And more! And more!
children’s books Rose Under Fire
Enduring the horrors of WWII Review by Deborah Hopkinson
Elizabeth Wein’s previous WWII novel, Code Name Verity—which garnered multiple awards, including a 2013 Michael L. Printz Honor—is a singular reading experience. The story of Verity, a spy caught behind enemy lines, is intense, suspenseful and authentic. In this companion novel, Wein revisits the topic of women pilots in the war, and readers who loved Code Name Verity won’t be disappointed: Rose Under Fire is equally good. It might even be better. Eighteen-year-old American pilot and amateur poet Rose Justice has pulled some strings to land a spot with Great Britain’s Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). As the daughter of a flight school director, she has been flying since she was 12, and after three months with ATA, she can deliver new and repaired Spitfire fighter planes to airfields without batting an eyelash. But even Rose is surprised to learn that the death of a fellow ATA pilot might have been the result of an attempt to “tip” or ram a German By Elizabeth Wein V-1 flying bomb out of the sky. However, when given the chance, she Hyperion, $17.99, 368 pages can’t resist trying the same thing—an incident with disastrous conseISBN 9781423183099, audio, eBook available quences. Rose is captured in enemy territory and imprisoned in RavensAges 14 and up brück, a Nazi concentration camp for women that holds many political teen prisoners and “Rabbits,” victims of heinous medical experiments. Although the harrowing story of what happens to Rose and the other Ravensbrück women is fictionalized, Wein says in her author’s note, “I didn’t make up Ravensbrück. I didn’t make up anything about Ravensbrück.” But we, as readers, already sense this. It is impossible to read Wein and not understand that paying witness to the truth is essential to what she does. Wein, an avid flyer herself, is a powerful, compelling storyteller whose work, like that of Suzanne Collins, will no doubt fly off the young adult shelves and find an eager general audience. As we near the 75th anniversary of the start of World War II in 2014, the timing couldn’t be better to remind ourselves that there are still hard aspects left to tell and to learn.
Xander’s Panda Party
r e a d m o r e at b o o k pa g e . c o m
By Linda Sue Park
Illustrated by Matt Phelan Clarion $16.99, 40 pages ISBN 9780547558653 eBook available Ages 4 to 8
Poor Xander the panda really wants to throw a panda party at the zoo where he lives, but he’s the only panda there. After he decides to invite all the bears instead, he soon comes to realize that Koala is not actually a bear. So, he invites all the mammals, but Rhinoceros won’t attend without the bird who always sits atop his horn. And so it goes until eventually Xander, ever-patient party planner extraordinaire, invites the entire zoo to the big shebang. Linda Sue Park’s rhyming text rolls right off the tongue, making this one
a wonderful read-aloud. It’s hard, I’m sure, to do rhyming picture books well; some are insufferably sing-songy and threaten to put everyone to sleep, but we’re in good hands with Park. There are internal rhymes in many sentence constructions (“Xander planned a bear affair”), as well as rhyming lines (“Xander sat and chewed bamboo. He changed his plans and point of view”). Mixing up her meters and rhythms a bit, Park keeps the story from ever getting dull. Also delightful are Matt Phelan’s soft ink and watercolor illustrations. Anyone who enjoyed his illustrations for Alice Schertle’s Very Hairy Bear (2007) will be happy to see more Phelan bears here, as well as lots of other creatures. Phelan conveys humor via Xander’s frustration in trying to get this party right—and his immense patience in putting up with all the demands placed upon him. Park closes with a lengthy author’s note about pandas, their classifica-
tion, their threat of extinction and more. She even throws in a note about the oxpecker, a bird with a symbiotic relationship to rhinos, which explains our grumpy yet devoted rhino. This is a sweet and tender story about true blue friends. Don’t miss the party.
mother tried to drown her and her twin brother when they were 2 (only Sarah survived) and now lives in a mental institution; her academic father drowns his sorrows every night with a bottle of booze. Now that summer has arrived in Texas, she has the added worries of completing the upcoming family tree project in seventh grade and trying to find a boy to French kiss so she can keep up with her girl pals. Summer also brings a teacher’s challenge: Write letters to a favorite book character. Sarah selects Atticus from To Kill a Mockingbird, and her correspondence becomes a way to help make sense of the world around her. Realistic but without more intensity than middle grade readers can handle, Sarah’s pitchperfect narration captures her frustration in trying to communicate with her distant father (“He is hard, frozen ice cream and I am a weak spoon.”) and the realization that she not only wants, but also needs to meet her mother. But life isn’t all hard ice cream. Sometimes it’s as sweet and warm as apple pie, just like the ones Sarah’s elderly neighbor shares with her. In the midst of this summer of great changes (physical and emotional alike), Sarah discovers her first taste of love with her babysitter’s younger brother, who shares her fondness for delectable vocabulary and can keep her darkest secrets. Like Atticus, this determined girl faces her challenges with bravery. Have some tissues ready as you come to the bittersweet but never saccharine ending of Karen Harrington’s first novel for young readers. This is a story with sure signs of brilliance. —Angela Leeper
—J u l i e D a n i e l s o n
Sure Signs of Crazy By Karen Harrington
Little, Brown $17, 288 pages ISBN 9780316210584 eBook available Ages 9 to 12
If You Could Be Mine By Sara Farizan
Algonquin $16.95, 256 pages ISBN 9781616202514 Audio, eBook available Ages 14 and up
It’s only natural that 12-yearold Sarah Nelson would look for signs that she’s going crazy. Sarah’s
A confession: I picked up If You Could Be Mine knowing only that it was about two teenage girls in love in Tehran. While homosexual-
meet SANDRA BOYNTON the title of your Q: What’s new book?
More Than This
ity is a crime in Iran, transsexuals are tolerated if not enthusiastically embraced, so one of the girls contemplates sex change surgery for the chance to love without risk of death. I assumed the book would be grim and possibly preachy—how else could you tell a story with so much at stake? Thankfully, I could not have been more wrong. If You Could Be Mine is at once dazzling and funny and heartbreaking and wise. Sahar and Nasrin have been best friends—and girlfriends—since early childhood. When Nasrin’s parents arrange a marriage for her, A girl Sahar considers changing her considers gender in order extreme to try to stop the wedding. The lengths people she meets for love in at a transgender Farizan’s support group question her debut. motivation, but reluctantly offer their help. When one who comes to meet her at an underground gay bar is openly hostile to the crowd—it’s not just elitism but Muslim law that separates gay and transgender people—Sahar’s gay cousin Ali intervenes. When the woman explains she came to deliver hormones to Sahar, “Ali looks at me like I have just told him I have killed Britney Spears, Madonna, and Lady Gaga.” Things only get more difficult from there. Sahar’s relationship with Nasrin suffers as the wedding approaches, and at home she tries to wake her widowed father from a five-year period of mourning and detachment. Eventually she begins to carve out a new life for herself, and a new relationship with Nasrin. This is Sara Farizan’s first novel, and what a debut it is. The Iran revealed through the eyes of her teenaged characters is a place of oppression and great risk, but the Ayatollahs are viewed as little more than cranky grandfathers. The West is regarded with a mix of awe at the freedom allowed there and disgust that it is so unappreciated. Sahar and Nasrin’s circumstances differ from those of most Americans in drastic ways, but their love, heartbreak and redemption will resonate with anyone. If You Could Be Mine is a beautiful, compassionate, mustread novel.
Seth drowns in a furious ocean, his body battered by freezing waves and sharp rocks. But as his consciousness gradually returns, he finds himself in a world that’s both foreign and eerily familiar. It appears to be a long-abandoned version of his childhood hometown, the British village full of painful memories that his family left eight years ago to start a new life far away. Strangest of all, this alternate, desolate world seems to respond directly to Seth’s thoughts, putting everything from supplies to companions in front of him just as he needs them. As Seth and two other mismatched teens band together to avoid a terrifying menace, all three are haunted by frighteningly realistic dreams of their previous lives. Issues of forbidden love, unwavering friendship, complex family dynamics, the difference between childhood and adulthood, violent abuse and teen suicide dovetail as the three survivors gradually figure out where they really are . . . and what they might be able to do about it. Artsy, creepy and full of psychological suspense, More Than This from Carnegie Medal-winning author Patrick Ness combines the science-fiction/thriller aspects of Robison Wells’ Variant with the surreal, trauma-induced alternate realities of Andrew Smith’s The Marbury Lens. As readers familiar with the Chaos Walking trilogy know, Ness specializes in writing post-apocalyptic worlds where things are rarely as they seem. When the truth—or what might be the truth—is finally revealed, the answers are both fitting and surprising. The dizzying ending brings the characters to the narrow edge between inevitable outcomes and hope for second chances—and challenges readers to form their own conclusions.
—J i l l R a t z a n
By Patrick Ness
Candlewick $19.99, 480 pages ISBN 9780763662585 Audio, eBook available Ages 14 and up
would you describe Q: How the book?
has been the biggest influence on your work? Q: Who
was your favorite subject in school? Why? Q: What
was your childhood hero? Q: Who
Q: What books did you enjoy as a child?
one thing would you like to learn to do? Q: What
message would you like to send to children? Q: What
Sandra Boynton first made a splash as a greeting card designer (millions sold) and has written and illustrated an untold number of children’s books, including the ever-popular Moo Baa La La La and The Going to Bed Book. She brings her unique style to country music in Frog Trouble (Workman, $16.95, 70 pages, ISBN 9780761171768), which includes a CD with 12 songs, written by Boynton and performed by some of country’s biggest stars.
r e a d m o r e at b o o k pa g e . c o m
By the editors of Merriam-Webster
ON THE AIR Dear Editor: My local news station breaks up its show into several sections, all containing the suffix -cast: weathercast, sportscast, and my favorite, healthcast. Did all these words come from the word broadcast? And where did broadcast come from? R. D. Boston, Massachusetts The original meaning of broadcast is “cast or scattered in all directions,” an adjective describing a method of sowing seeds. This agricultural sense first appeared in 1767. The verb broadcast, meaning “to scatter or sow (as seed) over a broad area,” appeared in 1813. A figurative use of the verb in the sense “to make widely known” appeared in 1829. The most recent senses of broadcast dealing with radio and television developed in the 1920s and are a natural extension of its earlier uses. All of the words you mention are derived from broadcast, with the exception of the first. The word weathercast, believe it or not, goes
all the way back to 1866. It seems to have been formed originally from the -cast of forecast rather than broadcast, as forecast has been applied to the weather at least since the 18th century.
PLUS ÇA CHANGE Dear Editor: I was reading something recently in which the author described the situation of a group of people and said that it could turn into their own Brumaire. What is a Brumaire? S. R. Eden, North Carolina Brumaire was the name of the second month of the French Revolutionary Calendar, which was used in France from 1793 to 1806. The month Brumaire corresponds with the period from October 22 to November 20. The passage you read was a reference to the Coup of 18-19 Brumaire, a coup d’etat that took place in France in the year 1799. The result of the coup was the overthrow of the French Directory and the establish-
ment of the Consulate with Napoleon as First Consul. To propose that a situation could become a Brumaire is to suggest the potential for dramatic change.
THE BIG PICTURE Dear Editor: I know paparazzi is Italian, but I’m wondering if you can tell us any more about exactly how the word originated. S. P. Houston, Texas Paparazzi is the plural of the less commonly seen paparazzo. On the immediate origin of paparazzo there is complete agreement—it was the surname of one of four paparazzilike photographers in Federico Fellini’s film La dolce vita in 1959. The word was already in use as a generic noun for such photographers by the time the film was finished and was picked up by Italian journalists. The origin of the word was being discussed in an Italian linguistics journal as early as 1961. Its first recorded use in English was in 1966.
Opinions divide on where Fellini got the word. Fellini is reported to have said that it came from the libretto of an opera. A series of articles that appeared in an Italian journal, however, claimed that Paparazzo was the name of a hotelkeeper in George Gissing’s By the Ionian Sea (1901), which Fellini was thought to have read in Italian translation at the time of the movie’s production. A completely different origin was presented by the photojournalist Ron Galella, who in a 1974 book on Jacqueline Onassis claimed that he wrote a letter to Fellini asking him about the origin of the word. According to Galella, Fellini replied that paparazzo was the nickname of a classmate and meant in his native dialect “buzzing insect.” Even if Galella did write to Fellini, though, the director was not beyond pulling someone’s leg on a matter like this.
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