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America’s BoOK Review

elmore leonard

‘Road Dogs’ brings back favorite characters

team of outcasts Small town unites for love of the game

graduation

Hope for job-seekers

memorial day

Remembering heroes

Life with

MOM

Our Mother’s Day selections explore the unbreakable bond, one book at a time

May 2009


America’s BoOK Review

CONTENTS ON THE COVER

Associate publisher Julia Steele Editor Lynn L. Green Nonfiction Editor MiChelle Jones fiction Editor Abby Plesser web Editor Trisha Ping Contributing Editor Sukey Howard Contributor Roger Bishop Children’s books Allison Hammond Advertising Sales Julia Steele Angela J. Bowman Production Manager Penny Childress Production Designer Karen Trotter Elley SUBSCRIPTION MANAGER Elizabeth Grace Herbert Customer Service Alice Fitzgibbon ONLINE SERVICES manager Scott Grissom

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Colson Whitehead

10 Mother’s Day Valuable lessons from—and for—

THE BEST IN NEW BOOKS Publisher Michael A. Zibart

may 2009

Mom

INTERVIEWS 7 Elmore Leonard The famed crime writer explains why he’ll never retire

21 Reif Larsen Buddhism, cartography and adventure are all in a day’s work for this young writer

22 Christopher Gardner On continuing the pursuit of “happyness”

FEATURES 14 Memorial Day Paying tribute to America’s heroes

28 Cynthia Rylant Retelling Greek myths 29 One More Time, Mom? This month’s best books to read together

29 Sophie Blackall Meet the author-illustrator

Gibson 26 I Do Not Come to You by Chance by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani 30

The Four Corners of the Sky by Michael Malone

Fiction

31

Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty

4 The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

31

The Red Wolf Conspiracy by Robert V.S. Redick

5 The Last Child by John Hart

31

The Stalin Epigram by Robert Littell

8 The Winter Vault by Anne Michaels

Nonfiction

12

Vanessa and Virgina by Susan Sellers

14 Censoring an Iranian Love Story by Shahriar

5 Outcasts United by Warren St. John 12

Eiffel’s Tower by Jill Jonnes

Mandanipour 18

14

The Protest Singer by Alec Wilkinson

Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg

20

16

Go Down Together by Jeff Guinn

Sunnyside by Glen David Gold

18

Charmed by Audrey Hepburn by Mark Shaw

18

The Cocktail Dress by Laird Borrelli-Persson

Graduation

24 The Girls from Ames by Jeffrey Zaslow 24 Chasing Icarus by Gavin Mortimer 25 Impeached by David O. Stewart 30 Abigail and John by Edith Gelles

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Buzz Girl The Author Enablers Book Clubs Whodunit? Romance Bestseller Watch Audio Cooking

Cover photo by Clay McLachlan / Aurora © for one-time use only in connection with the publication of Life with Mother, reviewed on page 10.


buzz girl ➥ Our publishing

insider gets the skinny on tomorrow’s bestsellers This spring it seems that the big book deals have been going to celebrities—whether we love them, or just love to hate them. But don’t worry, there are still a few notable returns from reader favorites.

➥ second ‘wife’? Audrey Niffenegger found mainstream success with her very first novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife, back in 2003. The book went on to sell more than 1.3 million copies in the U.S. alone, and a film version starring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana will be released this year—and so will a audrey second Niffenegger niffenegger novel. Her Fearful Symmetry fetched $4.8 million from Scribner in a recent multiday auction. Niffenegger completed the manuscript before trying to sell it, and buzz from bidders was positive. Her agent, Joe Regal, describes it as “a brilliant book that is a step forward for Audrey as a writer.” In late September, the public can judge.

but former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich is cashing a six-figure check from Objective Entertainment to tell readers all about “the dark side of politics” this October. Color us not interested.

➥ roth rides again Philip Roth certainly isn’t resting on his (considerable) laurels. The 76-yearold author has been writing at an almost James Patterson-like pace over the last few years, and he will be launching his 31st book in 2010. Nemesis (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) is set during a WWIIera polio epidemic, and explores the effect it has on one New Jersey family.

curly-haired glory? Yes, says the band, which is publishing its first official book this October. Bon Jovi: When We Were Beautiful (Collins) is “an honest, unposed and unscripted portrait” that includes exclusive photos and reminiscences from all four band members.

JEN LANCASTER

➥ on conroy After years away from the publishing game, Pat Conroy has returned in a big way. His new novel, South of Broad, will be published in August, and he just sold a memoir to editor Nan Talese at Doubleday for at least $1 million. No pub date has been set, but the book’s tentative title is The Death of Santini.

➥ more from gore

Ransom my heart

PRETTY IN PLAID A Life, a Witch, and a Wardrobe, or, the Wonder Years Before the Condescending, Egomanical, Self-Centered Smart Ass Phase In this hilarious and touching memoir, Jen Lancaster uses fashion icons of her youth to reveal how she developed the hubris that perpetually gets her into trouble.

jennsylvania.com NEW IN HARDCOVER

A Member of Penguin Group (USA) penguin.com

$24.95/9780451226808

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Al Gore hasn’t finished writing about the climate crisis. During the three years since An Inconvenient Truth, Gore has been guff from griffin researching the situation and attending In November, comedian Kathy Grif“Solutions Summits” with fin joins the hordes of overscientists, engineers and policy exposed celebrities who swear experts. The result is a new book, there’s more to reveal about Our Choice (Rodale), which their lives than we see on their will be released November 3 reality TV shows. We have to and focuses on how saving the admit the title for this one is planet should be a factor in the a winner: Official Book Club dark side push to create new jobs and He may not have gotten paid for as- Selection. But will it pick up stimulate our economy. signing someone to Obama’s Senate seat, enough readers to earn out Gore says the book will be the $2 million-plus printed on recycled paper with advance from pub- kathy griffin vegetable-based, low-VOC ink, lisher Ballantine? and will be carbon neutral. All WINNERS’ CIRCLE proceeds will be donated to the Alliance off the charts for Climate Protection. “Jeopardy!” record-holder Ken Jennings will be further dale does milne More than 3,700 readers entered the “Heart cataloging his knowledge in a The Trustees of the Pooh Properties and Soul” Sweepstakes Knopf sponsored in new book. Maphead, a book has finally authorized a sequel to A.A. our February issue, but only one of them that charts the history of geog- Milne’s classic The House at Pooh Corner, could win a basket of Irish goodies and a copy raphy and map-making, was more than 80 years after its publication. of Maeve Binchy’s new novel, Heart and Soul: sold to Scribner for publication But the biggest news Blanche Sweeney of Hazlet, New Jersey. sometime next year. about Return to the Ten runners up—Allison Catalano, Jean Hundred Acre Wood Diehl, Lois Fleischman, Al Foreman, Susan just jess (Dutton Children’s, Karkoska, Laurie Murray, Betsy O’Connell, October) is that the He was a National Book Natalie Voldstad, Martha Wesley and Sharon Award finalist for the imagi- audio version will be Westafer—received copies of the novel. native 9/11 novel The Zero, performed by Gramand got an Edgar Award for my Award-winning its follow-up, Citizen Vince. So reader Jim Dale, the we’re wondering what kind of British actor whose Another 3,500 readers threw their hats in the jim dale recognition Jess Walter will get renditions of J.K. ring for a chance to win gift certificates to Saks for the three new books he just Rowling’s Harry PotFifth Avenue in the “Ransom My Heart” Sweepsold to Ecco: two novels and a ter series made him a favorite among austakes sponsored by HarperCollins. Three winbook of short stories. The first, dio aficionados. Dale commented, “I am ners were selected to receive the cards, and have The Financial Lives of the Po- honored to be giving a voice to the newest a matching donation to Greenpeace made in ets, should be eligible for award adventures of Pooh and his friends.” their name. nominations sometime this First prize, a $500 gift card, went to Tracy fall. here’s Howie Hemmer of Crownsville, Maryland. Second prize, a $200 gift card went to Patricia Elliott Popular TV game show host, comedibon rocks on an and actor (remember “St. Elsewhere”?) of Pensacola, Florida. Third prize, an $100 gift card, went to Robert Lockwood of Montclair, From the “things to make Howie Mandel has sold a memoir about New Jersey. you feel old” department: Has his struggles with OCD and ADHD, and Congratulations to all the winners!  it really been 25 years since his 30-year showbiz career, to Bantam Bon Jovi took the stage in their Dell, for publication in late 2009. 

Luck o’ the Irish

New York Times bestselling author

3


MYSTERY

Pint-sized sleuth has a taste for poison By Arlene McKanic This reviewer was half-hoping that Flavia De Luce, the brilliant toxicologist of Alan Bradley’s delicious new mystery, would be a cheerful murderess on the other end of the age spectrum from the old ladies in Arsenic and Old Lace. But no, save getting mild revenge on a tormentor, 11-year-old Flavia uses her knowledge of poisons for good. For example, to find out why that red-headed chap dropped dead in her father’s cucumber patch, right beneath her bedroom window. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is set in post-World War II Britain, a time of a certain dinginess, in a great country estate where the sad and widowed Mr. De Luce lives with his three daughters and his stamp collection. As Flavia tries to determine what’s causing the strange events around her home, Bradley delights the reader with lots of twists, turns and red herrings—and heaps of English atmosphere. There are unkind older sisters and dotty spinsterish librarians and a devoted, war-wounded factotum. The eventual villain is delightfully creepy and sadistic enough for you to want him thrown in the slammer for a long time—in a movie version, he’d be played by David Thewlis. At the center of it The Sweetness at the all is precocious, funny, slightly annoying Flavia, with her mousy brown braids and knack for getting out of tight Bottom of the Pie spots (it helps to be little). Amid all the fun, Bradley al- By Alan Bradley lows moments of poignancy. Caught in one of those tight Delacorte spots, Flavia believes no one in her Britishly undemonstra- $23, 384 pages tive family loves her. Maybe her mother loved her once, ISBN 9780385342308 but the restless Harriet left Flavia when she was a year old Also available on audio and disappeared on one of her adventures. Though Flavia narrates the story, the voice seems too adult for even a very bright child. The reader can easily imagine this as a tale recounted by a jolly, eccentric old lady, maybe a retired Oxford don, to a cub reporter from The Guardian. But it matters not. Readers will want more, much more, of Flavia de Luce! o Arlene McKanic picks her poison in Jamaica, New York.

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THE AUTHOR ENABLERS That’s what friends are for Dear Author Enablers, My first novel was published recently by a very small house. I am working on another, due to come out in late spring. How does a neophyte obtain jacket endorsements from famous authors and trade publications? Mary Mueller Pettisville, Ohio We’re going to reveal a big publishing secret—people buy those endorsements (or “blurbs”) from a clearinghouse in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Say you want a Scott Turow blurb—you pay this clearinghouse, and Scott gets a cut. We kid of course. There are several ways to go about getting endorsements from fellow authors, but it almost always BY SAM BARRY & helps if you have some kind of personal connection. Like most of us, authors get KATHI KAMEN GOLDMARK a kick out of reading their friends’ books, and many are honored to be asked to provide endorsements for people—and work— that they love. So where does that put the first-timer with no fancy connections? You’ll have to work harder, with longer lead time built in, to get the blurbs of your dreams. Unless you, the author, have a Rolodex filled with personal friends who are bestselling writers, at most publishing companies it’s the editor who gets endorsements. An editor usually starts with other authors in his or her stable, seeking endorsements from those whose books are similar to yours. For example, as exciting as it might be to get a quote from famous children’s author Tomie dePaola, your editor wouldn’t seek him out to endorse a psychological thriller about vampire dogs. By sticking solidly within your genre, the editor sees to it that the endorsements provide a helpful marketing tool meant to attract potential buyers. If your publisher is unable to seek endorsements on your behalf, then it’s up to you. This is where writers who make a point of becoming part of their local writing communities have an advantage. Is there an independent bookstore hosting regular events and book signings? Go. Meet people. Get to know the owners. Don’t be a pest, but let people know you are about to have a book published. Is there a writers’ conference nearby? Go. If you can’t afford the tuition, volunteer to help out. Meet people. It won’t happen overnight, but after a while you’ll find that you are part of a thriving community of readers and writers—and you’ll have met some established authors. Many cities have active chapters of organizations like the Women’s National Book Association, groups that provide regular gatherings and networking opportunities. Go. Meet people. You can also send out galleys with polite requests for endorsements. Write to the authors in care of their publishers and allow plenty of lead time. Don’t take it hard if an author says no—many have a policy of not reading other people’s work when they are writing—but it’s possible that you’ll catch someone at just the right time, and with just the right captivating manuscript, to get that endorsement. Most publishers also send advance editions to industry magazines such as Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, a few months prior to publication. If your publisher doesn’t offer in-house publicity support, then you’ll have to do this part yourself, too. Dear Author Enablers, A publisher has requested I send my entire manuscript after having read the first three chapters. They will consider it “on speculation.” Do I need an agent and would any agent really be interested in a writer in such an early career stage? Kathy Neary West Chester, Pennsylvania That’s weird. Is “on speculation” the publisher’s wording, or yours? We think they mean, “we would like to consider publishing your book, assuming the whole story lives up to the promise of the first three chapters.” They’re not making any promises, and neither are you. You’ll want to have agent representation in place, if and when the time to negotiate a contract rolls around. The closer you get to an offer, the easier it will be to get an agent interested. Our two cents: don’t sign anything without having a literary agent on board—but until then it seems like you’re doing fine on your own. Start doing some homework now. Which agents represent the company’s other successful authors? (A quick look at the acknowledgment pages will give you some clues.) If you don’t have an agent in mind, start looking in Literary Market Place. o With more than 25 years experience in the industry, Kathi Kamen Goldmark and Sam Barry have the inside scoop on writing and publishing. Email your questions (along with your name and hometown) to AuthorEnabler@aol.com.


NONFICTION

The New York Times bestseller

Soccer fields of dreams

AMY DICKINSON

By Anne Bartlett The residents of Clarkston, Georgia (population: 7,100; 13 miles east of Atlanta), are the involuntary participants in a tricky sociological experiment. Take a small, conservative suburb, resettle refugees from more than 50 trouble-plagued countries in its low-rent apartment complexes, and see what happens. Initial misunderstanding and tension are inevitable. But then what? Regardless of locale, teenage boys want to make friends and play games. If they’re from outside the United States, they’re likely to gravitate to soccer, that most international of sports. So it is in Clarkston, where an energetic young Jordanian woman, Luma Mufleh, has created and coached a somewhat rackety youth team called the Fugees (“re-fugees”). In Outcasts United, New York Times reporter Warren St. John (Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer) follows Mufleh and her team of Africans, Arabs, Eastern Europeans, etc., through their 2006 season. He uses it as an effective framework for exploring the internal globalization of the United States, as the players learn to live with each other, more affluent teams, and Outcasts United the town’s sometimes-resentful American-born residents. The Fugees are actually three teams, split by age into un- By Warren St. John der-13s, under-15s and under-17s. The older boys are more Spiegel & Grau self-sufficient, so St. John focuses on the first two groups. $24.95, 320 pages During the course of the season, one struggles mightily, ISBN 9780385522038 while one becomes more cohesive. Mufleh, dedicated, tough, Also available on audio occasionally rigid, has her own stumbles, but overall provides a remarkable degree of support to traumatized boys who have known little but dislocation and discrimination. St. John interweaves the games with the backstories of several players. Though they start in different countries, their stories seem tragically similar. We learn about the mothers who have brought their families out of ethnic massacres to refugee camps, then to the alleged promised land of the U.S. They find themselves working night shifts in hotels and poultry plants while worrying that their children are losing their traditional values in crime-ridden neighborhoods. One of the book’s strengths is its honesty. The outcome is not all positive. Progress is fitful. Apparent allies renege on promises. Even talented players lose games. Yet, somehow, they persevere. Clarkston adapts. o

A candid memoir filled with honesty and small-town values from Amy Dickinson, author of the syndicated advice column “Ask Amy” “Dickinson’s irresistible memoir reads like a letter from an upbeat best friend.” —Publishers Weekly

“A delicious memoir [filled] with wit and originality.” —Adriana Trigiani

Watch the trailer and much more at

THEMIGHTYQUEENSOFFREEVILLE.COM Look for Amy’s advice column in the Chicago Tribune’s Live section and online at chicagotribune.com/askamy Also available as a Hyperion Audio and eBook

MAY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

By Edward Morris Johnny Merrimon, the central figure in John Hart’s The Last Child, is a lineal descendant and spiritual soul mate of Huck Finn and Holden Caulfield. Like them, this 13-yearold survivor is resilient, endlessly resourceful and determined to do the right thing in a world that settles for moral shortcuts. Johnny’s self-imposed mission is to find his twin sister, Alyssa, who went missing a year earlier, presumably kidnapped. Her disappearance has shredded his once idyllic family. Now his father is also gone, driven away by guilt— so Johnny’s mother supposes—for having failed to pick up Alyssa when he was supposed to. Bereft by this double loss, Johnny’s ethereally beautiful mother, Katherine, has fallen into drugs, alcohol and the brutal arms of her former suitor, Ken Holloway, one of the richest men in (mythical) Raven County, North Carolina, where the narrative unfolds. Police detective Clyde Hunt is just as obsessed as Johnny with finding Alyssa. His single-minded pursuit of the case has already cost him his wife and is threatening to snap his already frayed ties to his son. To complicate matters, he is becoming increasingly attracted to Katherine. Reduced to The Last Child a summary, the story sounds like a soap opera. But it’s not. By John Hart Here, the interior struggles far outweigh the interpersonal Minotaur $24.95, 384 pages encounters. 9780312359324 Constitutionally a loner, Johnny resorts to every device ISBN Also available on audio he can think of—from Christian prayer to Indian rituals to door-to-door canvassing—in his unrelenting search for his sister. At the same time, he’s scheming feverishly to protect his mother. He becomes a footloose avenger, a truth-seeking creature of the night, fearful only of failing those he loves. If, like Huck Finn, he risks going to hell for doing his duty, then so be it. Hart knows how sensitive boys feel and think behind those tough, smirking masks and with what ferocity they cling to their causes. Johnny is innocence and experience in perfect balance. o Edward Morris reviews from Nashville.

uctions

All-consuming search for a missing twin

© Brasco Prod

SUSPENSE

MAKES THE MISTAKES SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO.

5


Well Read

Iain Pears’ peerless historical intrigue

By Robert Weibezahl At 600 pages, Iain Pears’ new book may seem daunting, if not excessive in length, for what is, in essence, a historical mystery. But as anyone who has read his dazzling (and even longer) An Instance of the Fingerpost knows, Pears is one of the true masters of the “impossible to put down” narrative. From the first page of Stone’s Fall (Spiegel & Grau, $27.95, 608 pages, ISBN 9780385522847), the reader is immersed in a remarkably well-plotted story, rich in detail, elegantly told. The Stone of the title is William John Stone, a London industrialist who plummets to his death from the window of his London townhouse one night in 1909. A methodical, fabulously successful, self-made man, Stone was decidedly not the suicidal type, and his suspicious death has been ruled accidental. Enter Matthew Braddock, a young BY ROBERT journalist—and the first of three narrators in the novel—who has been hired WEIBEZAHL by Stone’s widow, purportedly to write a biography of the great man, but really to find out the identity of a child that Stone fathered but never acknowledged until leaving the mysterious heir a sizeable legacy in his will. The widow, Elizabeth, a beautiful and fascinating woman significantly younger than her husband, becomes the lynchpin of a marvelously entangled plot that stretches back 40 years. As he begins to investigate, Braddock—like most men who encounter her—cannot help but fall under Elizabeth’s spell. But as he digs deeper, Braddock discovers Elizabeth is a woman with a less than respectable past. Braddock’s fruitless search for the missing heir, meanwhile, leads him deep into the details of Stone’s far-flung business dealings, a many tentacled fortune built on the manufacture and sale of warships and armaments. With the First World War just a few years away, Europe’s nations are quietly stockpiling weaponry, and Stone has been the beneficiary of the continent’s collective anxiety. Braddock is led up many a blind alley, sometimes intentionally, as he encounters a nefarious cast of unlikely erstwhile associates of the solidly bourgeois dead man, including

a psychic, a communist agitator and a British spy. It is this undercover agent, Henry Cort, who picks up the second third of the story, taking it back to Paris, 1890, when Stone first met Elizabeth and, along with Cort, played a central role in rescuing the British banking system from the brink of collapse. Cort, like everyone in this book, has his own motives, and it is he who will belatedly provide the key document that resolves the mystery. Stone’s Venetian account eventually ties all the seemingly fractured details of his life together, revealing not only the source his wealth and the identity of the mystery child, but also the circumstances behind his inexplicable death. With a series of plot masterstrokes, Pears reintroduces characters from hundreds of pages before, and everything crystallizes into a perfect, if utterly shocking, conclusion. Much as An Instance of the Fingerpost expertly exploited the political turmoil of Restoration England to propel its ingenious plot, Stone’s Fall beautifully captures a latter-day Europe, on the cusp of modernity, yet still rooted in the nationalistic obstinacy that would lead to not one horrific war, but two. Stone alone among the characters embodies a coming trans-nationalism, what we today call globalism, with a business acumen that puts profit before everything else. Or so it would seem, until we hear his own side of the story, and witness in his love for Elizabeth—as well as some of the other surprising choices he makes—an unexpected humanity. Still, to his death, Stone’s raison d’être remains first and foremost money, and the wise contemporary reader can’t help but catch the cautionary irony found in the words of Henry Cort: “Belief is as good as reality, where money is concerned.” Despite its girth, Stone’s Fall is a book that thoughtful readers will want to pick up this summer. It is a completely rewarding work of fiction, an entertainment with substance. Even after a highly satisfying finish with all the loose ends neatly tied, I was sorry that it had to end. o

A young journalist searches for a

tycoon’s missing heir in this rewarding new mystery.

Read Robert Weibezahl’s most recent short story, “Identity Theft,” at www.BeattoaPulp.com.

FROM N ew York Times Bestselling auth OR

MEG CABOT

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Meg Cabot

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You’re cordially invited to the wedding of the century…


INTERVIEW

Leonard’s three-peat

NOW IN PAPERBACK

Lovable losers resurface in ‘Road Dogs’

Miss Julia is back and ready for a fight

By Jay MacDonald mong crime novelists past and present, Elmore Leonard between the three into the spin cycle. is a prime number, a talent so simple and elemental Leonard has occasionally revisited characters in the past, inthat it refuses to be divided by comparison to others. cluding Raylin Givens (Rum Punch) and Harry Arno (Pronto) in Whether he’s hanging with mobsters in Miami Beach, dream- Riding the Rap and Chili Palmer (Get Shorty) in Be Cool. ers in Detroit or hustlers in Hollywood, his every dark comedy “I had no reservations bringing back these three characters. I really takes place in Leonard Land, a closed universe popu- felt that I hadn’t done quite enough with them,” he says. “I was lated by lovable cons, ex-cons and anxious to use them because I know soon-to-be-cons whose dialogue is them. They have personalities of so spot-on that you hear it rather their own and I could make them than read it. The one character you’ll talk, that’s the main thing.” never find in Leonard Land is the But he hit a small snag when it author himself. Leonard works hard came to Cundo Rey. “I wanted to use to stay out of the frame and allow his him, so I had to open LaBrava to see characters to take over, moving and what happened to him and I went, grooving to their own unpredictoh God, he’s dead!” Leonard chuckable beat. les. “He’s not pronounced dead, but “When I start a book, I never Joe LaBrava shoots him in the chest know how it’s going to end. I never three times. So I just have the emerknow what’s going to happen,” gency squad pick him up and say, Leonard admits. “I don’t have a com‘Hey, he’s still breathing!’ That took puter. I write in longhand and then I care of that.” put it on a typewriter, then I rewrite Then there was the Clooney facthat, and rewrite it and rewrite it. It tor. Since the success of Steven Sotakes about four pages to get one derbergh’s film version of Out of clean page. I just start writing and Sight, it’s become virtually imposkeep going.” sible to separate Foley from ClooThe one thing Leonard won’t tolney—not that Leonard minds. “I erate is fancy prose. As he states in loved the casting. In fact, I wonhis 10 Rules of Writing: “If it sounds dered, can I do another Foley picELMORE LEONARD like writing, I rewrite it.” turing Clooney? And I had no probAt 83, with 30 novels to his credit lem,” he says. in a career that spans more than half It may prove a bigger obstacle a century, Leonard remains up to his should a film version of Road Dogs splendid tricks. In his latest, Road come up for discussion, as it almost Dogs, he takes characters from three certainly will. “Universal owns those previous novels and combines them characters now, so we either have to into a whole that is greater—and sell this to them or get an agreement funnier—than the sum of its parts. that allows us to go somewhere else. Road Dogs also serves as something And they don’t want to do that; they of a Leonard Land retrospective, don’t like things to slip out of their with shout-outs to everyone from hands,” the author says. the hanging judge in Maximum Bob Leonard got his start, and perhaps to Miami Beach bookie Harry Arno in Pronto to the otherworld- his fascination for fringe dwellers, in the 1950s, writing Westerns ly possibilities of Touch. on the side while holding down a “real” job in advertising. When The “road dogs” in question are Jack Foley, the charming the market for Westerns dried up, he switched to crime. “I would bank robber played to perfection by George Clooney in the film read John D. MacDonald’s stories in Cosmopolitan and different version of Out of Sight, and his prison wingman Cundo Rey, places and think, that’s what I should be doing,” he recalls. His the millionaire Cuban hustler/go-go dancing Cat Prince from early attempts fell somewhere between the giants of the genre. LaBrava. Both are facing years behind bars in Florida’s Glades “The book that changed my style somewhat was The Friends of Correctional until Cundo secures the services of a hot young Eddie Coyle by George Higgins. I think that’s the best crime book female attorney. She manages to spring Jack first, with Cundo’s ever written. It’s about bank robbers and the guy who supplies release to follow in two weeks. clean guns for every job,” Leonard says. “What I learned is, I was Since Cundo paid Jack’s $30,000 legal fees, Foley agrees to already using a lot of dialogue, moving the story with dialogue, crash at one of his oceanfront homes in Venice, California, and but I wasn’t getting into scenes as quickly. I was setting up scenes keep an eye on Dawn Navarro, the professional psychic from and then getting the characters talking, instead of getting them Riding the Rap, who has been Cundo’s lady in waiting for sev- talking first. (Afterward) editors would complain, ‘I don’t know en years. It takes little effort for Dawn to seduce Jack, but he’s what’s going on here, these two people are talking,’ and I would cautious when she attempts to enlist say, just stay with it, you’ll find out where they are.” him in a scheme to steal Cundo’s offLeonard’s books have become increasingly verbal ever since. the-books fortune. The plot starts Where other crime writers mourned the coming of the cell phone perking when Cundo arrives home as the loss of a suspense tool (“Where’s a pay phone?!”), Leonard a day early, throwing the dynamics loved it. His characters in Road Dog may spend more time yakking on their mobiles than actually speaking face-to-face. Leonard and his wife Christine, longtime residents of the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills, have five children and nine Road Dogs grandchildren. Though he’s still in top form, he’s inevitably asked By Elmore Leonard if he plans to retire anytime soon. Morrow “No, there is nothing else I want to do,” he says. “I have no $26.99, 272 pages reason to quit. I’d be bored.” o ISBN 9780061733147 Jay MacDonald writes from Austin, Texas. Also available on audio © DERMOT CLEARY

A

“I had no reservations

bringing back these characters. I was anxious to use them

Sleepy Abbotsville

is abuzz over the mayor’s plans to replace the old courthouse with luxury condos—and Miss Julia may have to air a few of the town’s not-so-well-kept secrets to save the day.

because I know them.”

—Publishers Weekly NEW FROM VIKING:

Miss Julia Delivers the Goods

Penguin Books www.penguin.com www.vpbookclub.com

MAY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

“Ross has a gift for elevating such everyday matters as marital strife and the hazards of middle age to high comedy, while painting her beautifully drawn characters with wit and sympathy.”

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FICTION

After the waters pass By Leslie Budewitz Set aside your spring chores and cancel the rest of your plans when you pick up The Winter Vault. Thirteen years after her first novel, Fugitive Pieces, Canadian writer Anne Michaels unfolds the unforgettable story of Avery and Jean, who meet near land flooded by the St. Lawrence Seaway project. After their marriage, they live in Egypt, where Avery is an engineer responsible for rescuing the temples at Abu Simbel from the floodwaters of the Nile, as part of the Aswan High Dam construction in the mid-1960s. In both projects, lives and memories are uprooted with the landscape as entire communities are relocated. Michaels uses the structure of the novel to portray this displacement and this dislocation, juxtaposing water against desert, flow against flood, showing some of the ways people respond to emotional and physical dislocation. In Egypt, Avery works with old sandstone and modern plans, while Jean observes the locals and tries to understand their lives. When their first child dies in utero, their relationship breaks. Their loss is the stone in the river that a Nubian friend describes as the one that splits the waters. Back in Canada, Avery does not know how to help Jean— or himself—grieve, and leaves her. She becomes involved with Lucjan, an older man who survived the war as a Jew- The Winter Vault ish orphan in Warsaw, and is now known as the Caveman because of the paintings he creates on Toronto fences late at By Anne Michaels night. He draws Jean, and they become lovers. It is Lucjan’s Knopf $25, 352 pages stories—and his challenges—that help Jean start to return ISBN 9780307270825 to life. A year after their daughter’s death, Jean and Avery Also available on audio meet, unplanned, at her grave, and begin to walk back to each other. Michaels is the author of three books of poetry, and her phrases and images echo back and forth through the novel. The title refers to the buildings where bodies wait until the ground thaws and graves can be dug, a metaphor for the temporary holding place we all visit in our lives, but rarely name. The Winter Vault requires close reading, but when you finish, you’ll want to turn back and read it all again. o Leslie Budewitz lives and writes near Flathead Lake in western Montana.

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Book clubs New paperbacks for reading groups The Lazarus Project By Aleksandar Hemon Nominated for the 2008 National Book Award, this is the third work of fiction from Aleksandar Hemon, a gifted Bosnian writer who has lived in the U.S. since 1992. In this innovative novel, he focuses on the real-life murder of a young Jewish immigrant named Lazarus Averbuch. Averbuch, who came from Eastern Europe, was shot by George Shippy, chief of the Chicago police, in 1908. The details about the murder are murky, although Shippy insisted that Averbuch was a violent anarchist. From this incident, Hemon fast-forwards to Riverhead present-day Chicago, where Vladimir Brik, a Bosnian trans- $16, 304 pages ISBN 9781594483752 plant, lives and works as a writer. When Brik gets financial backing to go to Europe and learn more about Averbuch, he embarks on the journey of a lifetime. Accompanied by Rora, a Bosnian photographer whose images are featured throughout the narrative, Brik makes some surprising discoveries about himself and his past. Hemon skillfully weaves these narrative strands together to form an unforgettable work. Beautifully written and smartly constructed, it’s a poignant, often funny look at the ways in which the past informs the present. Hemon’s pleasurably complex novel—a wonderful blend of history and fiction—will challenge and reward readers.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society By Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows Starting in 1946, the letters that make up this cleverly constructed novel provide a vivid snapshot of England after World War II. The book’s first entry comes from a young author named Juliet Ashton, who sends a note to her publisher saying that she’s tired of writing about the war. But when Dawsey Adams, a farmer in Guernsey, comes across Juliet’s name in a book and urges his neighbors to contact her with stories about the German occupation, her attachment to the conflict seems destined to continue. The letters written to Juliet from the warm-hearted, eccentric inhabitants of Guernsey recount various wartime events—some horrific, some Dial humorous—that occurred while the Nazis occupied the Eng- $14, 304 pages lish Channel island, including the birth of the unlikely book ISBN 9780385341004 club known as the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Tackling works by William Shakespeare, the Brontë sisters and Jane Austen, the society provided fellowship in a time of incredible adversity. Each letter in the novel is the work of an individual, fully formed character, and each contributes a layer of complexity to the narrative. Mary Ann Shaffer was a bookseller, editor and librarian who died in 2008; her niece, children’s book author Annie Barrows, helped her finish the book. Together, they crafted a novel that pays tribute to the healing power of art and the endurance of the human heart. Already a book club favorite in hardcover, it’s sure to win many more readers with this new paperback edition. A reading group guide is included in the book.

Testimony By Anita Shreve A fast-paced novel with a provocative plot, Anita Shreve’s latest book focuses on a tragic scandal at a high-status private school in Vermont. When a sex tape implicating a freshman girl and three members of the boys’ basketball team surfaces, controversy rocks the Avery Academy—a place where the students are growing up faster than their parents realize. The shocking videotape—which features school sports star Silas Quinney—has far-reaching effects, resulting in a meaningless death and the destruction of three families. Mike Bordwin, Back Bay the institution’s headmaster, recounts the initial scandal, but $14.99, 352 pages the narrative soon shifts to include the perspectives of the ISBN 9780316067348 students, their parents and other individuals whose lives are affected by the tape. Through the skillful use of varied points of view, Shreve is able to examine events from all angles, and her development of this prep-school cast of characters gives the story flavor and authenticity. The best-selling author of 14 novels, including The Pilot’s Wife, an Oprah’s Book Club selection, Shreve has crafted a resonant and suspenseful work of literary fiction. This is a rich examination of modern moral codes cloaked in the guise of a thriller—a gripping novel that will strike a chord with readers. A reading group guide is included in the book. o —JULIE HALE


THE BELOVED SOUTHERN STORYTELLER Rick Bragg IS BACK WITH THE THIRD PART OF HIS BESTSELLING FAMILY SAGA Beginning with All Over but the Shoutin’, Rick Bragg’s grand memoir of his mother, and continuing with the unforgettable tale of his grandfather in Ava’s Man, Rick Bragg gave us a unique glimpse into the Southern family that shaped this Pulitzer–Prize winning writer. Now, in The Prince of Frogtown, Bragg takes us on a mesmerizing journey back in time to the lush Alabama landscape of his youth with a compelling portrait of his father.

“Nothing less than a triumph.” —The Tennessean “This book is powerful.... Bragg is a storyteller on a par with Pat Conroy.” —Denver Post “Rick Bragg has made of the dark shadow in his life a figure of flesh and blood, passion and tragedy, and a father, at last, whose memory he can live with. And that is no small thing for any man to do.” —The New York Times Book Review

Find out more at VintageBooks.com

Win signed copies of all three bestsellers! Send in your answer to the question below: What was the Bragg family’s hometown?

Enter online at www.bookpage.com. Winners will be selected at random from entries received by June 15. Five winners will receive signed editions of The Prince of Frogtown, Ava’s Man, and All Over but the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg.


MOTHER’S DAY

Supermoms and others Celebrating and reinventing motherhood

By Linda M. Castellitto other’s Day is coming up, and these books are great for those who want to give or receive something more exciting than a greeting card. Memoirs about unconventional moms, artistic explorations of the mother-child bond and a new take on midlife make excellent food for thought— and crafting and design guides will inspire new creativity. These books celebrate motherhood in its many guises and, no matter what kind of mother you have (or are), offer something for everyone. Ayelet Waldman, author of the Mommy-Track Mysteries series and two novels, is also known for her essays, including a New York Times piece in which she said she loved her husband more than her children. In a subsequent “Oprah” appearance, she emphasized that her love for husband Michael Chabon doesn’t negate her love for her children and that it’s OK to find motherhood frustrating and guilt-inducing. In Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace (Doubleday, $24.95, 224 pages, ISBN 9780385527934), Waldman calls for an end to unreasonable “supermom” expectations via well-written essays framed with political and historical context. While her style may be too over-the-top for some, she asks an important question: “Can’t we just try to give each other a break?”

M

Dreams from their mothers

MAY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

In Not Becoming My Mother: And Other Things She Taught Me Along the Way (Penguin Press, $19.95, 128 pages, ISBN 9781594202162), Ruth Reichl, memoirist and editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine, reveals that, the year her late mother would’ve turned 100, she decided to open a box of her mother’s diaries and letters. Reichl felt she had to, as recompense for using oft-hilarious stories about her mother (so-called “Mim Tales”) in her books. The result is a finely crafted recounting of her mother’s struggles as a woman who, although smart and accomplished, felt marriage was the only road to being acceptable. Nonetheless, Reichl writes, “Mom showed me that it is never too late to find out how to [be happy].” Hollywood agent Sam Haskell grew up in Mississippi, where his mother Mary’s guidance laid the foundation for his entertainment career. Promises I Made My Mother (Ballantine, $24, 272 pages, ISBN 9780345506559), with a foreword by Ray Romano (one of Haskell’s clients), includes chapters based on her advice, including “Always Seek Understanding” and “(Don’t Be Afraid to) Stand in the Light.” It worked: 10 Haskell went from the mailroom to Worldwide Head of TV at William Morris and created the “Mississippi Ris-

ing” benefit for Hurricane Katrina survivors, building strong relationships all the while.

Here’s looking at her From New Jersey to Mumbai, LIFE with Mother (Time Inc., $17.95, 96 pages, ISBN 9781603200578) captures all sorts of moments in motherhood. This photographic tribute offers images of mothers and children at play, on the way to school, at milestone ceremonies and more. Famous moms (including Shirley MacLaine and Diana, Princess of Wales) share the pages with not-so-famous ones, and text and quotes add dimension. Readers will smile at the book’s final, hopeful image: Michelle Obama and daughter Sasha, exuberant, at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The Artist’s Mother: The Greatest Painters Pay Tribute to the Women Who Rocked Their Cradles (Overlook, $25, 144 pages, ISBN 9781590201459) takes a fineart-inspired approach to the mother-child bond. National Book Award winner and New Yorker staff writer Judith Thurman notes in the introduction, “A mother’s gift is, ultimately, the example of steady, impartial discernment that each of us needs to create a self-portrait. And in whatever style they painted their mothers, the artists on these pages gratefully returned that deep gaze.” Indeed, these portraits—a museum-worthy collection including works by Constable, Picasso, Kahlo, Cassatt, Warhol, and, of course, Whistler—can only be the result of astute observation. Each entry includes insight about the painters’ and mothers’ lives, too.

Like a new woman “Are you really going out like that?” is a question no one enjoys hearing. Longtime stylist Sherrie Mathieson is here to help with Steal This Style: Mothers and Daughters Swap Wardrobe Secrets (Clarkson Potter, $22.95, 256 pages, ISBN 9780307406767). The “Never Cool” images are groan-inducing, but the “Forever Cool” photos depict women who look stylish and comfortable. Mathieson’s voice is friendly and respectful, and she honors the women’s taste by, say, preserving a jacket-shape but recommending a different color. This is a useful guide for women who want a clothing makeover. For a full life makeover, Suzanne Braun Levine recommends setting new goals and enjoying one’s “second adulthood” in 50 is the New Fifty: 10 Life Lessons for Women in Second Adulthood (Viking, $25.95, 224 pages, ISBN 9780670020683). As the first managing editor of Ms. and a contributing editor to More, Levine knows her topic. She writes of the Fertile Void

(a sort of emotional menopause) and Horizontal Role Models (women who have been there, done that) as important aspects of this exciting time. These terms explain commonalities among women, and the 10 lessons provide ways to consider and change individual situations. 50 is the New Fifty is an illuminating read for women of all ages.

Hi, Mom! Doree Shafrir and Jessica Grose saw comedy in maternal email and text messages and started PostcardsFromYoMomma.com; two weeks later, the site had 100,000 unique visitors. The site is going strong, and now there’s a book based on the concept. Love, Mom: Poignant, Goofy, Brilliant Messages From Home (Hyperion, $16.95, 272 pages, ISBN 9781401323424) contains 200 missives in categories like “I Do Actually Like Your Hair!” and “I Hope You Have a Hat With Ears.” The emails are a hoot, ranging from sex-related revelations to musings on recipes. A fun read for mom-email recipients and those who send them. o Linda M. Castellitto writes from North Carolina.

For designing mothers The latest book from the Martha Stewart Living team is a DIYer’s delight. From beading to tin-punching, Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Crafts: An A-Z Guide with Detailed Instructions and Endless Inspiration (Potter Craft, $35, 416 pages, ISBN 9780307450579) means readers will never again want for a project. Each topic (e.g., Botanical Pressing) includes a history of the craft, descriptions of tools and supplies, and projects (autumn-leaf curtain, pansy coasters, seaweed cards). Photos offer inspiration, and mini-tutorials should help prevent missteps. A crafting-table must-have. Mothers-to-be can harness the nesting instinct with the aptly named Feathering the Nest: Tracy Hutson’s EarthFriendly Guide to Decorating Your Baby’s Room (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $29.95, 168 pages, ISBN 9781584797456) by “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” design star Tracy Hutson. Mouth-watering photos of wonderfully appointed rooms are accompanied by expert advice on everything from refinishing furniture to choosing a mattress. There are how-tos, color palettes and sourcing details for four styles (vintage, contemporary, traditional and international). Eco-friendly options are on-point, and the final chapter—featuring the nursery in Hutson’s home—demonstrates that her book will help readers create a space that’s both kind to the Earth and welcoming to baby. o —LINDA M. CASTELLITTO


“No one does Amish-based inspirationals better than Lewis.” —B

Journey into the Secret World of the Amish When her mother’s secret threatens to destroy their peaceful Amish family, will Grace’s search for the truth lead to more heartache or the love and redemption she longs for? The Secret by Beverly Lewis SEASONS OF GRACE #1

www.bethanyhouse.com Available at your bookstore or by calling 1-866-241-6733.


Colson Whitehead

© ERIN PATRICE O’BRIEN

MEET

FICTION

Sisters in genius By Kristy Kiernan Virginia Woolf may have overshadowed her sister, the painter Vanessa Bell, in popular cultural history, but Vanessa was a talented artist, wife, lover and mother in her own right. In her novel Vanessa and Virginia, author Susan Sellers—co-editor of the Cambridge University Press edition of Woolf’s works—artfully presents Vanessa, not as a frame to further explore and enhance her more famous sister, but through a full and authentic portrait of a woman whose life has been shaped by tragedy as well as a creative freedom remarkable for her time. Sellers crafts her novel in short vignettes, beginning with cohesive and specific memories of the sisters’ childhood, and eventually becoming more abstract and dreamy as the girls age. The sisters survived the deaths of several family members and went on to create unconventional lives as founders of the famed Bloomsbury Group, a collective of artists, critics, economists and writers. Those meetings are not explored head-on in Vanessa and Virginia, but many of the relationships they spawned are, including the open marriage of Vanessa and art critic Clive Bell. Vanessa’s subsequent love affairs with painters Roger Fry and Duncan Grant are responsible for many of the novel’s most poignant passages. While Vanessa and Virginia remain devoted to each other Vanessa and through tragedies, romances and depressions, sibling rivalry Virginia is never under the surface for long. As their individual careers rise and fall, Sellers never flinches in maintaining obvi- By Susan Sellers ous tension in their relationship. While a working knowl- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 224 pages edge of the sisters’ lives might enhance and deepen the $23, ISBN 9780151014743 reading experience, it is by no means necessary, and that in itself is no small achievement. Houses, lovers, wars and even children come and go, but the two constants in Vanessa’s life—Virginia and art—remain. Even after Virginia fills her pockets with stones and wades into the water, Vanessa seems to absorb her sister, rather than let her go, and it is, perhaps, that extra bit of strength that enables her to continue to paint, to create and, ultimately, to survive. o Kristy Kiernan is the author of the novel Matters of Faith.

HISTORY

MAY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

Eiffel’s blend of engineering and art

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The critically acclaimed author of three previous novels, including the Pulitzer Prize finalist John Henry Days, Colson Whitehead delivers a wise and funny look at coming of age in his latest, Sag Harbor (Doubleday, $24.95, 288 pages, ISBN 9780385527651), set in the Long Island beach community where he spent summers as a child.

By James Summerville The Paris World’s Fair of 1889, held to mark the centennial of the French Revolution, also looked to the future. Gustave Eiffel’s Tour en Fer was and remains an engineering marvel, in part because the builder had only minimal technical training in engineering and architecture. What he possessed can’t be fully explained, as genius cannot be. But in Eiffel’s Tower, Jill Jonnes (Empires of Light, Conquering Gotham) presents an engaging story of a great engineer, one with an “attractive boldness, impetuosity, and natural courage.” His triumphant creation marked the beginning of the age of technology. Eiffel “loved designing and erecting gigantic practical structures,” Jonnes writes. His career as a builder of railroad bridges had demonstrated his meta-cognitive skills in mathematics and logistics. In winning the commission for the fair’s centerpiece, he stood against the arts and cultural establishment of his day, who reviled the proposed tower. Jonnes’ account of its construction is thrilling. Eiffel’s plans sometimes depended on measurements with a margin of error no greater than one-tenth of a millimeter. His cranes hoisted large plates of metal high into the sky, and each level depended on the solidity and integrity of those below it. The builders worked their hammers and stoked their forges hundreds Eiffel’s Tower of feet above the ground in the icy winds of Paris winters, driven by a fiendish schedule so the tower would be ready By Jill Jonnes when the fair opened. At 984 feet it was done, on March 31, Viking $27.95, 368 pages 1889, then and forever a symbol of French grandeur. ISBN 9780670020607 Returning throughout to the tower, Jonnes tells the rest of the story of the Paris exposition through the lives of others drawn there dreaming big dreams. William (“Buffalo Bill”) Cody took his Wild West Show to the fair, and Parisians overflowed the stands. James McNeill Whistler’s exhibit enjoyed a brief adulation, while Paul Gauguin’s exhibits garnered less enthusiasm. As the years passed, other lives revolved around the great structure, including the soldiers determined to raise the tricolor above Paris when the Nazis were defeated. That moving story fittingly closes this absorbing, wonderfully crafted and well-told tale. o James Summerville writes from Dickson, Tennessee.


© Chris Watt

om r f e l a s n o w No

The delightful new novel in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series finds Precious Ramotswe in need of her own formidable detection talents!

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MEMORIAL DAY

Remembering those who fought our nation’s wars By John T. Slania he true impact of war is often lost in the numbers. It is only when a human face is introduced that we fully understand what it means to go to war. In a month when our country memorializes its war heroes, these four books help humanize the war experience in a powerful way.

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Picturing War

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World War II: The Definitive Visual History (DK, $40, 360 Pages, ISBN 9780756642785) leads the reader on a chronological journey through World War II. An oversized book filled with hundreds of photographs, graphics and maps, it begins with the unsettled political landscape following World War I and the circumstances that enabled Hitler and Mussolini to gain power. It chronicles key battles, such as Guadalcanal, D-Day and Iwo Jima, and the bombing of Hiroshima. It also explores the aftermath of the war, including the rebuilding of Germany and Japan and the growth of Communism. But it is the photographs and personal stories that are truly gripping. The key figures—Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin and Eisenhower—are well represented. So, too, are images and stories of the common man, from the foot soldier to the concentration camp survivor. World War II is a worthy book for the shelves of the serious student of war, or for the coffee table of any reader who seeks a comprehensive history of the world’s greatest conflict. In Mark Faram’s Faces of War: The Untold Story of Edward Steichen’s WWII Photographers (Berkley, $29.95, 256 pages, ISBN 9780425221402), we are treated to the war photography of Edward Steichen, a veteran art and commercial photographer who did some of his most memorable work while in the U.S. Navy. Steichen gained fame shooting fashion and celebrity photographs for Vogue and Vanity Fair, but at the outset of World War II, the 62-year-old enlisted in the Navy. He was named a lieutenant commander and led a team of photographers in capturing images aboard ships and aircraft carriers in the Pacific Theater. Steichen captured images of men at war, and also at leisure in the belly of naval vessels. The black-and-white photographs are striking considering that

14

despite the tight and often tense conditions aboard Navy ships, Steichen was able to find dramatic lighting and place his subjects at ease. Steichen created simple, but profound images that changed the art and craft of war photography.

Lives forever changed The subjects of A More Unbending Battle: The Harlem Hellfighter’s Struggle for Freedom in WWI and Equality at Home (Basic, $27.50, 304 pages, ISBN 9780465003174) also had a dramatic impact on the history of war. They were the members of the U.S. 369th Infantry, the first African-American regiment to serve in World War I, better known as the Harlem Hellfighters. Author Peter Nelson relates that these men distinguished themselves from most other black soldiers, who were relegated to supply duties, and earned a chance to fight in the trenches in Europe. But they were unable to overcome their country’s segregationist tendencies, and fought with the French and not with white U.S. soldiers. Despite this slight, the Harlem Hellfighters served with distinction and became one of the most feared fighting units in the war. Soldiers Once: My Brother and the Lost Dreams of America’s Veterans (Da Capo, $25, 224 pages, ISBN 9780306817885) is Catherine Whitney’s book-length essay recalling the tragic life of her brother, a Vietnam veteran, and the United States’ continued involvement in war. The story begins on the day before September 11, 2001, when Whitney buries her 53-year-old brother, Jim Schuler. He served three tours in Vietnam, but as he aged, his life unraveled. As Whitney searches for answers to her brother’s experience with post-traumatic stress syndrome, she reflects on the costs of war for a new generation of soldiers sent to fight wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Soldiers Once is part memoir, part meditation and a thoughtful look at the impact of war. o John T. Slania is a journalism professor at Loyola University in Chicago. His late father, Gerard Slania, earned the Silver Star and Bronze Star Medal as a soldier in World War II.

BIOGRAPHY

WORLD FICTION

To Pete Seeger, on his 90th birthday

Love story offers glimpse of today’s Iran

As Alec Wilkinson demonstrates in this profile of America’s most durable folksinger, a person would have to be terrified of the First Amendment to regard Pete Seeger as a menace to the nation’s health. His songs—whether aimed at children, civil rights marchers or war protesters—plead only for fairness. That makes him about as subversive as the Golden Rule. Indeed, his most radical element is that he’s never ceased singing for his causes. Wilkinson, a New Yorker writer, says the self-effacing Seeger agreed to cooperate for this book only after declaring, “Too much has been written about me, and at too great length. What’s needed is a book that can be read in one sitting.” Thus, The Protest Singer: An Intimate Portrait of Pete Seeger (Knopf, $22.95, 176 pages, ISBN 9780307269959), published to coincide with Seeger’s 90th birthday, is a fine balance between the author’s personal glimpses of Seeger as he labors and relaxes on his homestead in Beacon, New York, and the more mundane facts taken from other chroniclers. Sweetening the narrative are 30 photos, as well as a transcript of Seeger’s 1955 testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee. That encounter, in which he refused to answer questions the way his interrogators demanded, earned him a one-year jail sentence for contempt of Congress. The verdict was eventually overturned. Wilkinson takes Seeger through his return to network television via the Smothers Brothers, his crusade for cleaning up his beloved Hudson River, his Kennedy Center Honor and his exaltation by Bruce Springsteen in The Seeger Sessions album. But real Seeger fans will want to know more. How did his children respond to his notoriety and absences? How did he fend off fear, anger and cynicism? Did his songwriting royalties make him wealthy, and, if so, how did he use that wealth? Ninety remarkable years just can’t be conveyed in one thin book—or properly appreciated in one sitting. o —EDWARD MORRIS

By Lauren Bufferd What do we really know about life in Iran? Scanning newspaper headlines and CNN crawlers may bring us up to the moment, but literature opens a door that no amount of accumulated sound bites can. Censoring an Iranian Love Story, a new novel by Shahriar Mandanipour and his first translated into English, is part political allegory, part love story. Its unique perspective will dazzle and amuse, but also deepen the reader’s understanding of a complex country. Censoring tells the story of a well-known Iranian writer, with, coincidentally, the same name as the author, who is determined to write a bewitching and evocative love story set in modern-day Iran. While this may seem like nothing special to the Western reader, in Iran, authors must submit their writing to a censorship board before publication. Mandanipour has spent years manipulating his stories to please the all-powerful censor at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance whose eagle eye is alert to any hint of political misconduct or sinful behavior. In Mandanipour’s imagined manuscript, proud Dara and beautiful Sara, whose names simultaneously recall schoolbook characters and the Iranian version of Barbie Censoring an and Ken, are forbidden to be alone together. Their secret Iranian Love Story love affair is conducted in opaque emails and encoded notes placed in library books. Their love story runs parallel By Shahriar to Mandanipour’s ongoing struggle with the censor, which Mandanipour reads almost like a thriller. Censoring includes scenes that Knopf can never appear in the final manuscript, as well as sentenc- $25, 304 pages 9780307269782 es and words crossed out, suggesting that authors become ISBN Also available on audio their own harshest critics under censorship. Several fictional characters from Iranian literature appear in the novel, as do references to Kafka, Orwell and, unexpectedly, Danielle Steel, adding a healthy dose of absurdity. In fact, the remarkable thing about Censoring is how funny it is—not just the bitter humor of irony, but the wit of a literate, broad-minded, slightly cheeky author sharing some hard-earned wisdom. o Lauren Bufferd writes from Nashville.


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BIOGRAPHY

The violent lives and deaths of legendary partners in crime By Alison Hood Bonnie Parker, gun-toting girlfriend of trigger-happy Clyde Barrow, didn’t smoke cigars; she wrote poetry. The title of investigative journalist Jeff Guinn’s latest book, Go Down Together, is taken from one of Parker’s poems, the haunting “The End of the Line,” in which she predicts death at the hands of “the laws.” Guinn, who has previously written fictional musings about Santa and Mrs. Claus, now takes on a more nitty-gritty top-

ic: the desperate, violent and short lives of Bonnie and Clyde. This meticulously researched and cleanly written narrative, which draws upon family memoirs, letters, diaries, historical documents, interviews and the most definitive books done by Barrow historians to date, effectively strips away the romantic fancies fed to the American public about Bonnie and Clyde over the last 75 years, especially those

New from #1 New York Times–bestselling author

John Sandford Danger stalks Lucas Davenport all too close to home. . . .

“You know life is good when you have a new Lucas Davenport thriller to escape into.” —Chicago Tribune

“John Sandford has risen to the heights of his profession.”

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© john EarlE

MAY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

—The Washington Post

in the 1967 movie starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. Guinn’s superior investigation of his subject, focused through an objective lens, blends almost seamlessly with skillful pacing and appropriately placed tension—storytelling at its best. Clyde and Bonnie were both from the wrong side of the tracks in Dallas: poor, uneducated and trying to survive, along with their extended families, the devastation of the Depression years. Before they met at a party on January 5, 1930, Bonnie was unemployed and hoping for fame and glory as a poet, or as a Broadway starlet. Then she met Clyde, well-dressed but not tall or particularly handsome, someone who “liked making all the decisions.” Petite, feisty Bonnie fell immediately in love and the attraction was mutual. Clyde, who barely had a high school education, started out with odd jobs, supplemented his meager income with stealing chickens, then, influenced by his big brother, Buck, graduated into car theft (the Ford V-8 was his favorite, and he even sent Henry Ford a complimentary letter extolling the virtues of the car). From 1930 to 1934, Bonnie and Clyde, with the help of other ne’er-do-wells who comprised the ever-shifting Barrow gang, inexpertly robbed small businesses, banks and eluded the law, shooting their way (although Bonnie never fired a shot) to the open road and yet another heist. They zigzagged around the South, always returning to their families in Texas, and lived mostly in the cars they stole, camping in the countryside or staying at motor courts. Their lives were harried, cramped and tense. The media loved them and the public—with many people seeing the couple as latter-day Robin Hoods who were getting the jump on rich, corrupt bankers—did too. Guinn clearly explicates Bonnie and Clyde’s journey into crime and mayhem. Included is an excellent overview of Depression-era America and an interesting look at the U.S. law enforcement system in the 1930s—especially illustrated by how the posse that brought the lovers down was formed. Guinn takes us through the bad decisions, robberies, car chases and ill-judged shooting sprees to the inevitable end of these outlaw lovers, who died in a brutal barrage of bullets on a lonely Louisiana dirt road on May 23, 1934. It was as poet Bonnie had predicted: “Some day they’ll go down together . . . to a few it’ll be grief—to the law a relief— but it’s death for Bonnie and Clyde.” o Alison Hood writes from Marin County, California.

Go Down Together By Jeff Guinn Simon & Schuster $27, 468 pages ISBN 9781416557067

johnsandford.org also available from Penguin audio. also available as an e-book.

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WHODUNIT? Female Ranger is out for revenge

Mystery of the month

When you think of the Texas Rangers, what comes to mind? For me, it is the consummate rugged outdoorsman: leathery skin, taciturn demeanor, the signature cowboy hat, and of course, the pervasive manliness. Like Sam Elliot or Clint Eastwood, for instance. Save for the cowboy hat, fifth-generation Ranger Caitlin Strong bears exactly no resemblance to my carefully crafted mental image. She is youngish, feisty and attractive—and decidedly female. As Jon Land’s Strong Enough to Die (Forge, $24.95, 352 pages, ISBN 9780765312587) opens in 2004, Strong lies pinned in a crossfire that she should have been savvy enough to avoid, helplessly watching her partner bleed out. The partner dies; Strong survives, but the ordeal effectively ends her career in the Rangers. Five years BY BRUCE TIERNEY later, further woes have marked her life: her husband, a computer consultant in Iraq, has been killed on the job—and there’s Cort Wesley Masters, a man with a plan to pay back Strong with interest for stealing five years of his life after her erroneous testimony put him in jail. Then the unthinkable happens: her “dead” husband turns up quite alive in a rehab hospital, unable to remember his name or anything about his past, but his disfigurements clearly indicate protracted and inventive torture. With the support of her old boss and mentor, Strong dons her Rangers uniform once more, and sets off in search of answers. A fast-paced page-turner of the first order, Strong Enough to Die leaves readers with a good possibility for a sequel.

I have said repeatedly that Europeans are coming on strong in the mystery genre, and readers should watch out for major talents such as Karin Fossum, Jo Nesbo and Arnaldur Indridason, to name a few. Oddly, the smallish country of Sweden has produced an inordinate number of fine suspense novelists in recent years: Henning Mankell, Asa Larsson, Ake Edwardson and the winner of this month’s coveted Tip of the Ice Pick award, Hakan Nesser. His taut new suspense novel, Woman with Birthmark (Pantheon, $23.95, 336 pages, ISBN 9780375425042), has a premise unlike any in recent memory. A young woman, transfixed by her mother’s deathbed confession—a lurid tale of rape and blackmail—finds herself plotting a holy mission to right a series of heinous wrongs that dates back a generation. Using her small inheritance, she alters her appearance and for all intents and purposes disappears from the face of the planet. When she resurfaces, it is as the angel of death, a grim reaper who precedes each murder with a series of phone calls, each with the same unsettling music playing in the background. Music from another era, a happier time, but unsettling nonetheless. Police inspector Van Veeteren is charged with bringing the young woman to justice, but the evidence is at best contradictory, and at worst, downright baffling. In a country famous for its fish, red herrings abound, and Van Veeteren goes off on one fool’s errand after another, seemingly never any closer to his prey. Meanwhile, one after another falls victim to the executioner: two bullets to the heart, two to the groin. The only common link seems to be the phone calls that presage each murder. As is always the case with the Van Veeteren novels, which now number four (translated into English), the plot development is spot-on, the characters sympathetic and well drawn (even the villainess), and the denouement richly satisfying. o —BRUCE TIERNEY

Across the border to solve a crime Adrian McKinty is back with an unusual and innovative new thriller, Fifty Grand (Holt, $25, 320 pages, ISBN 9780805089004). Detective Mercado has entered the country illegally, in the same manner as thousands of Mexicans before her: in the company of a “coyote” and his SUV-load of human contraband. Between the illegals and freedom stand Ray and Bob, two armed men with a pickup truck and seriously bad attitudes. Drawing on her police training, Mercado neutralizes the threat swiftly and lethally, an abnormally violent welcome to a new country. She has no choice, since she carries a secret she cannot afford to have exposed: Mercado is in fact not Mexican, but Cuban, on a clandestine mission to investigate, and perhaps avenge, the death of her father in tony Fairview, Colorado, six months before. So now she will pose as a maid, working for a housekeeping service to the rich and famous, in order to gain access to the homes of the people she believes to be responsible for her father’s death. Mercado is supposed to be in Mexico City looking into college courses; if she doesn’t return within a week to her authoritarian homeland, her relatives will be arrested, likely charged with complicity in getting her out of the country. As with McKinty’s previous books, Fifty Grand crackles with tension, surprising the reader again and again until its riveting conclusion (which, as a matter of possible interest, happens at the beginning of the book).

The war the world dreaded has been unleashed...

Man on the run

Two Americans on a dinner date in Beijing must work together to escape a country gone mad… even if that means taking drastic action.

THE DARKNESS COMES

APRIL 28. www.MIRABooks.com

WILL YOU BE READY?

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Fans of spy novels will be familiar with the subgenre of the disenfranchised spook—the guy disavowed by his handlers, his government and everyone he ever thought of as a friend, as he races against time to bring to a halt the evil machinations of the nefarious Dr. Whoever. This vein has been mined endlessly (Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Identity jumps to mind), although rarely as well as in Andrew Grant’s debut novel, Even (Minotaur, $24.95, 352 pages, ISBN 9780312540265). When David Trevellyan sees a body in a New York alley, he knows better than to become involved. Still, the guy may be alive, so Trevellyan steps into the alley to get a closer look. Moments later, the cops arrive, guns drawn—Trevellyan has been set up. It should be an easy fix, though; all he has to do is get in touch with British Royal Navy Intelligence, for whom Trevellyan works as an undercover operative, and they will vouch for him. But that is not to be. They hang him out to dry, and it is up to him to clear his name before he’s put away for good. It will be noted in every review of this book that author Andrew Grant is the younger brother of Lee Child, creator of the iconic loner hero, Jack Reacher. There are comparisons to be drawn, but David Trevellyan is very much his own man. Perhaps a more apt comparison would be to James Bond, although Trevellyan doesn’t have access to nearly as many good toys. From a personality perspective, though, he is both as violent and as humor-driven as his “double-O” predecessor, and never more than a page or two away from the next action sequence. o

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WOMEN’S FICTION

Comfort reading from Elizabeth Berg By Carrie Rollwagen When your mood runs more toward cozy than chic, turn to Elizabeth Berg, an author with a great talent for comfort. Home Safe, her latest novel, is a perfect antidote to everyday chaos. Here we meet Helen Ames, a novelist and recent widow struggling to adjust to the untimely death of her husband, the declining health of her parents, and her daughter Tessa’s desire to be taken seriously as an adult. Helen’s husband sheltered his wife from life’s difficulties, and Helen embraced, even clung to, her position as caretaker. After his death, she discovers that her provider mysteriously spent the bulk of their savings, and she is suddenly forced to navigate the course of her life. For a woman so used to drifting with the current, the change is difficult. Fortunately, in the hands of a pro like Berg, “tender” doesn’t translate to “weak,” and we can identify with Helen even as she is reluctant to make brave decisions about her future. The conversations between Helen and her daughter are so Home Safe authentic they can feel uncomfortable to read. Berg’s trademark musings about life are particularly effective coming By Elizabeth Berg House through Helen, a character who is constantly sharing helpful Random $25, 272 pages anecdotes that charm her readers and annoy her daughter. ISBN 9781400065110 Plot twists and tricky relationships are sure to keep readers Also available on audio interested, but Berg’s goal isn’t to force us through an emotional wringer. It’s no surprise to readers of Berg’s previous works that Home Safe ends on a pleasant note, but getting to the destination is a joy, and walking Helen’s path for a few hours helps us better understand our own. Reading this new effort from Berg is like listening to a favorite storyteller. We may predict where her voice will rise and fall, and the story and characters may feel familiar, but joining in the story is a pleasure, a comfort in a world too often filled with hardship. o Carrie Rollwagen has uncomfortable conversations with her own mother in Birmingham, Alabama.

STYLE

MAY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

Never out of fashion

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Another book about Audrey Hepburn? Enough already, you may be thinking. Well, not so fast. Charmed by Audrey: Life on the Set of ‘Sabrina’ (Insight Editions, $18.95, 128 pages, ISBN 9781933784878) is delightful, starting with the cover shot of Hepburn wearing a white shirt—and little else—in a pose that’s both provocative and playful. That photo and all the others in the book were among the “lost” negatives from a photo shoot by LIFE photographer Mark Shaw. In 1953, Shaw was new to the masthead and Hepburn was working on her second film. In Sabrina, she would be equally captivating on-screen and off, if these photos are anything to go by: we see Hepburn taking direction from Billy Wilder, eating breakfast with William Holden et al., conferring with Edith Head. During the weeks Shaw spent shadowing Hepburn, he captured her rare blend of being perfectly suited for her time—looking smashing in full-skirted dresses, for example—and a symbol of timeless glamour. But some of the best images show Hepburn getting glamorous: dressed in black sweater, slacks and espadrilles, with a crisp white shirt as a jacket, she sits crossed-legged under an egg-shaped chrome hair-dryer, smoking a cigarette through a holder, à la Holly Golightly. Hepburn strikes a pose as that beloved character, wearing the iconic Givenchy, on the jacket of Laird Borrelli-Persson’s The Cocktail Dress (Collins Design, $21.99, 112 pages, ISBN 9780061536137). The book starts with an informative essay summarizing trends and styles from the 1920s, when the cocktail dress first became a wardrobe staple, to the present, punctuated and followed by a parade of stunning dresses. Vintage images—16-year-old Twiggy in a pink sleeveless mini-dress worn with translucent white tights, silver shoes and ginormous ball earrings; Louise Brooks all silky and shimmery in Jazz Age satin and fringe; Marilyn Monroe “poured into an inky cocktail number”—are paired with newer ones to prove the “bite-sized taste of seduction” has never gone out of style. A photo index at book’s end includes more morsels about designers, models and styles. o —MICHELLE JONES

ROMANCE Getting warmer We’ve only just begun the season of warmer weather, but the romance genre never shies away from turning up the heat. Weddings, warriors, ancient artifacts and sharp-clawed adventure share the spotlight this month. Romance returns to its classic roots in Vision in White (Berkley, $16, 352 pages, ISBN 9780425227510), the first of a new quartet by best-selling author Nora Roberts. The premise is delightful: four childhood friends have banded together in a wedding business. In the debut offering, heroine “Mac” Elliot loves capturing perfect moments with her camera, in part as a defense against her chaotic and imperfect childhood. She’s not inclined to let anyone except her longtime pals and partners get close, until Carter Maguire stumbles into her life and— literally—falls at her feet. Who can BY christie ridgway explain why love strikes? Roberts shows us how it sparks and grows as Mac learns to trust in Carter and Carter learns to trust that Mac will come to see the future he wants to be theirs. Romantic and wistful, sexy and stylish, this story is another winner for Roberts and will have readers clamoring for the next book in the bride quartet.

Noble adventurer The Virgin’s Secret (Avon, $7.99, 384 pages, ISBN 9780061449475) by Victoria Alexander is the sparkling start to a new series about three adventurous brothers finding danger and romance as they search for a mythic city. In this story, Nathaniel Harrington, the youngest of the three aristocratic Harrington brothers, spies a mysterious woman at his sister’s coming-out ball in Victorian London. After years exploring exotic places and uncovering ancient treasures, he finds London is just as exciting when the same beautiful woman— Gabriella Montini—is discovered later that night searching his family’s library. Brave Gabriella doesn’t hesitate to state her purpose: to find proof that the Harringtons stole an important artifact from her now-dead brother. Though innocent of the alleged crime, the Harringtons can’t help but be interested in the orphaned young woman and her intriguing tale. Nathaniel joins forces with Gabriella to seek the missing artifact’s whereabouts—and finds something much more precious . . . a love to last a lifetime. Starring a charming hero and an intrepid heroine, this lively romance will surely captivate readers, and the continuing mystery will whet their curiosity for the next book in the series.

More than a man Christine Feehan offers a tale of stark sensuality in Burning Wild (Jove, $7.99, 480 pages, ISBN 9780515146233). Billionaire and leopard-shifter Jake Bannaconni seems to meet Emma Reynolds through capricious circumstances . . . only to discover they may be fated mates. After a tragic car accident leaves Jake to raise his infant son alone, he takes in Emma Reynolds, newly widowed and pregnant, as his housekeeper and nanny. But after more than two years together, Emma begins to mean much more to Jake, an alpha male with a capital “A.” Though she seems to have all the softness that Jake lacks, Emma is coming into her own strength and it’s that power which gives their romance its burning edge. The special skills of both Jake and Emma will be necessary to protect them as Jake’s family threatens the life that they are building together. Readers who enjoy their romance with a bite will appreciate the wild flavor of this story. The love scenes are blistering, the stakes are high, and paranormal doesn’t get more passionate.

Undying promise Romantic suspense is spiced with reincarnation in Sharon Sala’s The Warrior (MIRA, $7.99, 432 pages, ISBN 9780778326335). More than 500 years ago, John Nightwalker witnessed the destruction of his Native American village and the murder of his wife. He swears vengeance on the soul of the cruel man who got away . . . and has become immortal as he chases the murderer’s soul through the years since. Then Nightwalker meets Alicia Ponte, on the run from her father and in desperate need of his protection. He can’t turn from this woman, or from a new dilemma: her father is the one he seeks, and her love is something he wants as much as revenge. Will Alicia accept his heart and his uncommon history? Will they both survive the man who wants them dead? Danger, passion and a touch of the otherworldly come together in this action-packed read. o Christie Ridgway writes contemporary romance from her home in Southern California.


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FICTION

Gold’s ‘Sunnyside’ shows many sides of the Little Tramp By Ian Schwartz I was wary of Glen David Gold’s Sunnyside before I opened it. For starters, the publishers described it as a romp, too often a synonym for plotless. Secondly, it has a hat on the cover, a bowler unless I miss my guess. It’s difficult to see a hat on a book cover and not think of Milan Kundera’s classic The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which is hardly a novel you want to try and measure up to.

And finally, the head under the hat belongs to silent-screen star Charlie Chaplin, one of the best known Hollywood figures of the 20th century. Is there anything original left to write about the Little Tramp, even in fiction? As a matter of fact, there is, and Gold writes it well. But what else would you expect from the acclaimed author of Carter Beats the Devil, another fictionalized story of a larger-than-life individual?

“An effortless and immensely satisfying read.”*

MAY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

A Proper Education for Girls tells the story of Alice and Lilian Talbot, twins separated for the first time in their lives by their strict father. After a love affair comes to a tragic end, Lilian is banished to India to marry a sickly missionary. Alice is forced to remain on their father’s isolated estate and serve as curator to his collection of artifacts. The bonds of sisterhood are strong, however, and the twins embark on a dangerous plan to establish their freedom and reunite once more.

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This ambitious, super-sized novel tells the story of early Chaplin, the beginning of Hollywood as we know it and a young America getting ready to flex its muscles. Sunnyside starts shortly before America’s involvement in World War I, on a day when Chaplin is simultaneously spied in hundreds of places around the country. It is told by a young Chaplin, already a star but not yet a legend; an Adonis-like lighthouse keeper; and an overeducated ne’er-do-well. While the latter two do cross paths with Chaplin, their story is the story of a war fought by dregs and managed by idiots. We see firsthand how a bewildered and unprepared America blunders onto the road to being a superpower—mostly, it seems, by entering the war after everyone else was tired, dead or not finding enough booze overseas to stay drunk. Chaplin does not go to war. Instead he tours with archrival Mary Pickford and friend Douglas Fairbanks, raising money for the cause. We travel with Chaplin, underneath that hat with his thoughts as he blunders his way past self-doubt and contempt and into greatness. The book’s title comes from a watershed film by Chaplin—the short movie was one of Chaplin’s last before creating his own studio and going on to create longer films. (It is also the name of Washington Irving’s grand New York estate, which figures in the novel.) In Gold’s version of events, Chaplin films this movie with ambivalence. He wants desperately to kill off the Little Tramp, or at least have him evolve. He is haunted by what a writer told him during a blithely unsuccessful seduction. “Your films,” she told him, “are not as good as you are.” Her zinger confirmed his suspicions that his genius is wasted on giving the people what they want. Gold’s book does not possess a crescendo finish. Rather than a romp, you might want to call it a ramble, hopping as it does from Hollywood to Russia to France. Sunnyside ends on the brink of something great. When it ends, America begins. o Ian Schwartz writes from San Diego, on the sunny side of the country.

Sunnyside *—Janice Graham, New York Times bestselling author of The Tailor’s Daughter

“[This] delightful debut novel debunks Victorian morality with the ease and authority of A.S. Byatt and the naughty irony of Margaret Atwood.” —Valerie Martin, author of Property and Trespass Crown Publishers

CrownPublishing.com

By Glen David Gold Knopf $26.95, 576 pages ISBN 9780307270689

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BESTSELLER WATCH

Border-crossing debut

A 12-year-old mapmaker sets his sights on Washington

O

with a symbol of what tree should be,” he says. “I was initially nervous about illustrating the book because I’m a writer first and foremost and I wanted the illustrations to match the text. Originally I was going to hire someone to do it, but I realized I would drive this person crazy with all my tiny requests. Finally I said, OK, I’ll do it myself. And then I realized I could always fall back on the fact that T.S. is 12, if I didn’t do it well,” Larsen says. So much of the book flows like a dance between opposing forces. Larsen illuminates one source of this energy: “A lot of the characteristic polarities came right out of Westerns. T.S.’s mother and father typify the forces at work in the history of the American West. On the one hand, you have a nostalgic sense of the land on the part of the ranchers who work it. On the other hand, you have all these scientists and geologists who went out there and tried to grid a map of meaning on the place. I think the story of the West is very much about these two ways of seeing and ways of knowing bumping up against each other. It was interesting to see how all of this could play out in a single household.” When the subject comes up of a possible connection between his T.S. and another wandering boy named Huck Finn, Larsen says, with a touch of awe in his voice, “I feel honored even to be mentioned alongside Mark Twain. That book is one of the great, great American novels. Twain is so smart. It’s the way he tackles the world from the point of view of a relationship between a runaway slave and a boy from the country. By contrast, one of the difficulties of my own book was when I realized that T.S. has to go on ‘The Crossing’ all by himself. That’s when I discovered the historical part, with the journal of T.S.’s mother accompanying him on the trip. He’s in dialogue with his mother and his whole history. He is completing a cycle, a ‘conservation of migration’: what goes West must come back East. Likewise, it’s the perpetual motion of Twain’s book—the feeling that he’s always got his foot on the accelerator—that’s what affects me.” About T.S.’s own ordeal, Larsen meditates with characteristic generosity. “At first, I was so fully inhabiting T.S.’s voice that I found it really difficult to write about certain things, especially the death of his little brother, Layton. Early on, T.S. lacks the emotional language to talk about this, and he subjugates all of it to the sidebars. It’s like in music; when you’re improvising you hit a note and you don’t want to come back to that note until you’re ready again. The rhythm of T.S.’s voice told me when I could go there. But this changes, and the function of the marginalia shifts. Over the course of his journey, he learns how to talk more upfront about his grief, and his effort becomes part of the main text.” Larsen says, “I’m always interested in the question of whether to end a book in the head or in the heart.” But he does not say how he answers the question for himself at the end of The Selected Works. This is just as well. We don’t need a map of this book. All we need is to read it and marvel. In doing so, we gain a map of the world, a vision of our own troubled heads and hearts, a legend for our own bewildered epoch. o Michael Alec Rose is a professor at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music. © ELLIOTT HOLT

By Michael Alec Rose ne day, T.S. Spivet gets a phone call from the Smithsonian Institution, informing him that he has won a national award for his mapmaking and will be the keynote speaker at an upcoming celebration in Washington. What the Smithsonian doesn’t know is that T.S. is only 12 years old. What T.S. doesn’t know is how he’s going to get to Washington. What his rancher father and scientist mother don’t know is that he will get there, making the crossing from the family ranch in Divide, Montana, to the Mall in D.C. all on his own. He will run away from home, from the unbearable memory of his little brother Layton’s accidental death, which—unaccountably— he had a hand in. So begins Reif Larsen’s miraculous The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, a debut novel narrated by the prepubescent cartographer, filled to the very edges of each page with his hundreds of drawings and other assorted marginalia. In the center of the novel appears a book within a book, a narrative of T.S.’s ancestors written by his mother. The novel is a cabinet of wonders, an odyssey of self-discovery, a family romance, a symphony of topography, geology and American hisREIF LARSEN tory. The book hardly seems able to stay between its covers, bulging as it is with so many astonishments, so many crossings of fictional lines. It is, moreover, a genuine publishing phenomenon over which the book world (and even the film world) is buzzing with barely contained excitement. All of 28 years old, not even out of graduate school, Larsen is dazzling the industry with a precociousness not unlike that of T.S., who takes the Smithsonian by storm. BookPage spoke with Larsen at his home in Brooklyn about the spirit of the book, its sources and its structure. “I’m a practicing Zen Buddhist and I’m influenced by my readings in that tradition, such as the notion that everyone is born a perfect being and we spend most of our lives with a clouded vision trying to realize our perfection,” he says. At critical moments in the book, T.S. registers his inkling of this realization. When he makes his maps, it feels like taking down dictation from the universe. Larsen, who is finishing his M.F.A. in fiction at Columbia, is also a filmmaker and has made documentaries in the U.S., the U.K. and Africa. He has a special insight into children, having organized the U.S. tour of a band of teenaged Botswanan marimba players last year to benefit their AIDS orphanage back home. “I find myself often writing about children who have a range of extraordinary skills. They provide a lot of insight into seeing the world for how it is. My father is an art teacher and his way of teaching is to get students to see like kids again, to draw a tree as they see it instead of replacing it

Larsen’s illustrated novel is a cabinet of wonders,

Release dates for some of the guaranteed blockbusters hitting shelves in May:

5

Pygmy By Chuck Palahniuk Doubleday, $24.95, ISBN 9780385526340

Teenage terrorists are sent to the United States disguised as foreign exchange students in Palahniuk’s latest off-kilter novel.

12

Resilience By Elizabeth Edwards Broadway, $22.95, ISBN 9780767931366

The best-selling author (and political wife) shares an inspirational message on coping with adversity.

19

Gone Tomorrow By Lee Child Delacorte, $27, ISBN 9780385340571

In Child’s 13th Jack Reacher thriller, our hero confronts a possible suicide bomber on the subway in New York City.

26

The Scarecrow By Michael Connelly Little, Brown, $27.99, ISBN 9780316166300

Jack McEvoy tries to prove a teenager’s innocence as the real killer tracks his every move in Connelly’s latest.

UNIVERSITY PRESS a MAY TITLES b 9780826218377, HC, $49.95

an odyssey of self-discovery and a map of the world.

By Reif Larsen Penguin Press $27.95, 352 pages ISBN 9781594202179 Also available on audio

By John Hess

This book’s 188 color illustrations and accompanying text opens the Galápagos experience to general readers, offering insights into the habitats, plants and animals encountered there. The Plain Language of Love and Loss: A Quaker Memoir

By Beth Taylor

Beth Taylor reflects on the meaning of her older brother’s suicide at 14 and the impact it had on three generations of her family and friends.

University of Missouri Press

MAY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet

The Galápagos: Exploring Darwin’s Tapestry

9780826218452, PB, $19.95

INTERVIEW

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INTERVIEW

CAREERS

Taking the first steps toward a new life

Required reading for recent grads

By Ron Wynn uthor, entrepreneur and motivational speaker Chris Gardner became an international symbol of the will to survive in 2006. His incredible journey from homeless single father to fiscal guru was chronicled in both the best-selling memoir The Pursuit of Happyness and the blockbuster film starring Will Smith. Now, three years later, Gardner is not only a wealthy man, but a passionate social activist determined to help others achieve personal and professional success, no matter their circumstances or background. His new book, Start Where You Are: Life Lessons in Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (Amistad, $26.99, 320 pages, ISBN 9780061537110), represents the next phase in Gardner’s career, offering hope and sound advice in this tough economic climate. “I remember telling people 18 months ago when everything looked good that tough times were coming,” Gardner says by phone from his Chicago office. “I didn’t have access to any information or trends. I just saw some factors in terms of how much credit was out in the marketplace and the speculative buying. Now I’m determined to show people they can be totally broke today, and still, through the lessons in

By Joanna Brichetto ew graduates, do not despair. Although you will undoubtedly need all the creativity, energy and flexibility you can muster, the dismal job market is still a job market. And frankly, the world needs your talents now more than ever. But, before you upload a panicked résumé to Monster.com or mass email a hasty cover letter to anonymous corporations, find out what it takes to land a job for which you are truly suited: a real step along a real career path. These four new books are designed to help. You Majored in What? Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career (Viking, $25.95, 304 pages, ISBN 9780670020829) by Katherine Brooks helps new grads formulate not just a decent response to that inevitable question, but a realistic career path—no matter the major. The author, a nationally recognized career coach, debunks standard linear thinking about college majors, and opens readers to a far wider world of exciting and appropriate professional opportunities. Her systematic method maps out insights, life experiences, academic histories and other clues using graphically appealing formulas and charts. Particular attention is paid to “unplanned events and emerging conditions” that can alter circumstances at any time. As patterns and themes emerge, readers conduct small experiments to discover what they truly enjoy, and then build strategies to find a profession to match. The book concludes with lessons in storytelling, résumé writing, and interviewing, which will, one hopes, make the next step inevitable: a rewarding new job. Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview? A Crash Course in Finding, Landing, and Keeping Your First Real Job (Workman, $13.95, 227 pages, ISBN 9780761141457) by Ellen Gordon Reeves is designed to answer any and all real-life questions of the newly employable. Crash course though it may be, the book still demands readers take the time to get organized, set a timeline and plan a strategy. Strategies include informational interviews, formal and informal networking queries and, of course, the creation of pitch-perfect cover letters and résumés. The many realistic models for good and bad examples of the latter are especially helpful. Also great is the section on interviewing, where examples and what-ifs cover virtually every situation that might crop up. But Reeves’ advice does not end with the job offer: a whole chapter is dedicated to becoming a good employee and colleague. (And by they way, the answer to the nose ring question is yes, if you plan on wearing it to work. Discretion and disclosure are a delicate balance.)

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“So much of what happens in life comes as a result

MAY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

CHRIS GARDNER

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of your approach.”

this book, not only recover but eventually thrive if they are willing to do what it takes.” The book’s 44 chapters distill commonsense wisdom, presented with a zeal and enthusiasm that is evident as Gardner responds to questions. “The very first thing I tell college graduates today is that if you want to get an advanced degree, now is a good time to do it, because in many cases the job you thought you earned your [first] degree to get might not exist any longer. “But more important than that, you should find something you love and are passionate about doing. Then, assess the opportunities out there for you to do it. You might have to take a job doing something else for now, but don’t forget or abandon your long-term goal,” Gardner says. “You definitely should have a plan, and you’ve got to know the difference between who you are and what you do. Whatever job you get doesn’t define who you are. That’s defined by your values, your willingness to work hard, your ingenuity and your persistence.” Start Where You Are dispenses many other suggestions and strategies for getting where you want to be. One section is devoted to getting started in whatever field you want to pursue. Others look at avoiding past mistakes, the necessity for learning the ropes of a particular craft and even the boost that can be obtained from a spiritual approach. “If people are looking for how to get rich quick, I tell them this isn’t the right book for them,” Gardner says. “I’m talking about improving your life, and money is really the least effective way of measuring someone’s self-worth. The lessons in this book will not only help you grow and thrive as a person, they’ll help you when the tough times arrive, and enable you to understand the world’s not ending if you get laid off.” Gardner talks as much about joy, love and faith as he does ownership, empowerment and capital. Though the book contains chapters that deal strictly with financial matters, like Lesson #34 (Mo’ Money, Mo’ Options, Mo’ Problems) or Lesson #29 (Share the Wealth), he’s far more concerned with psychological and moral growth than fiscal improvement, and sees the latter as the natural byproduct of the former. “The advice that I provide is universal,” he points out. “So much of what happens in life comes as a result of your approach, and when you change that, you can change your life.” Now CEO of the investment firm Gardner Rich LLC, Gardner also tackles causes ranging from homelessness to violence against women to financial illiteracy. He is teaming with actor Will Smith again on a forthcoming project: a network reality show, though Gardner cautions, “It won’t be something sensational or exploitative. We want to do real stories and give people the opportunity for growth, change and empowerment.” Gardner and Smith are joining forces with superstar producer Mark Burnett, creator of “Survivor” and “The Apprentice,” among other shows, and he’s hopeful the program might be ready for the fall season, though he adds that details are still “in negotiations.” So for now, Gardner will continue his lectures and work, hoping that Start Where You Are will prove as transformative and inspirational as The Pursuit of Happyness. o Ron Wynn writes for the Nashville City Paper and other publications.

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Secret for success: keep it simple J.R. Parrish’s You Don’t Have to Learn the Hard Way: Making it in the Real World (BenBella, $19.95, 224 pages, ISBN 9781933771748) takes a different approach. Parrish, a self-made real estate magnate from Silicon Valley, gives teens and new graduates the benefit of his hard-won wisdom with a guide to life, personal and professional. By sharing the basic principles responsible for his own success—especially mentorship, people skills and self-discipline—he hopes to coach others to set and achieve life goals. Human relations, habits, career, love and truth are some of the crucial headings under which his secrets of success are revealed. Mini-quizzes help readers assess their own personal traits, patterns and areas for improvement. Working World 101: The New Grad’s Guide to Getting a Job (Adams Media, $13.95, 256 pages, ISBN 9781598694956) by Bridget Graham and Monique Reidy draws upon years of cumulative human resource experience to present a tight, no-nonsense howto: how to move successfully from campus to corporation. After completing a personal and professional inventory, readers are ready to hone communication skills to create a self-confident, capable, poised new product: themselves. Communication is a key theme of the guide; it drives the preparation of a résumé and cover letter, the formation of a network, choice of dress and speech and the whole interview process. A handy list of online job search sites is included, as is advice on how best to use social networking sites like Facebook and more professional networking sites like LinkedIn. The authors are especially sensitive to generational challenges between Baby Boomer employers and ever-younger employees, and are quick to suggest ways to package differences advantageously. Packaging is a common theme of all of these guides, but packaging with scrupulous attention to content (what is inside), direction (where it is headed), and intention (how it will get there). The package is, of course, the bright young thing poised to take the crummy economy by storm: you. o Joanna Brichetto writes from Nashville.


NONFICTION

TECHNOLOGY

Through thick and thin

They believed they could fly

By Rebecca Bain In his follow-up to the best-selling The Last Lecture, co-written with Randy Pausch, Wall Street Journal columnist Jeffrey Zaslow explores the friendship of 11 girls, now women in their mid-40s, who grew up together in Ames, Iowa. The Girls From Ames grew in response to a piece Zaslow wrote about the enduring bonds of women’s friendships. He received an email from Jenny Benson Litchman that gave a few details on how the girls met (three were born within a week of each other in a local hospital), what growing up together had been like, and how they still keep in almost daily contact with each other. Intrigued, Zaslow took a year’s leave from work to spend time with the “girls,” hoping, no doubt, to find the key to what has kept them so close for so many years. Instead, he discovered what many women could have told him: the friends of one’s youth are often the friends who matter the most. They are the ones with whom a million secrets have been shared, fragile dreams have been explored and countless pranks have been pulled. These are the friends who know the best and the worst about each other and, as English poet Robert Southey wrote, they are completely The Girls From persuaded of each other’s worth. Ames Still, it is extraordinary how these women (10 now, since the early death of one) have maintained such close contact By Jeffrey Zaslow with each other despite lives that have taken them all across Gotham $26, 320 pages the country (none lives in Ames today). They’ve shared the ISBN 9781592404452 joys of marriage and childbirth, the pain of divorce, the tragedy of the deaths of children, the fears surrounding breast cancer. They’ve cried oceans of tears together and laughed so hard they’ve wet their pants. Or as Cathy says in The Girls of Ames, when asked why their bond remains so strong: “We root each other to the core of who we are, rather than what defines us as adults—by careers or spouses or kids. There’s a young girl in each of us who is still full of life. When we’re together, I try to remember that.”o Rebecca Bain writes from Nashville.

By Howard Shirley When a jumbo jet roars overhead, it’s easy to forget that 100 years ago, airplanes were barely bigger than automobiles and made mostly of wood, wire and cloth. Getting off the ground was as much a feat as traveling any distance at all, while crashes were as common as bicycle wrecks. Chasing Icarus tells the story of the daring young men who took to the skies to prove that flight was here to stay. As Gavin Mortimer reports, in 1910 the world wasn’t certain these newfangled inventions had any use. Even the military didn’t know what to do with them. Just four years before World War I, the combined air forces of Europe boasted 52 airplanes; the U.S. Army had only two. Flying machines were a curiosity, and those who predicted more were treated with skepticism, if not outright derision. Chasing Icarus revolves around two major events staged to fight the skeptics. The first was an attempt to cross the Atlantic in the dirigible America, a feat most judged impossible. The second was the hosting of the International Aviation Cup and International Balloon Cup at Belmont Park, New York—the first time the competitions would be held in America. The outcome of both events would set the stage for air dominance Chasing Icarus in the century ahead. By Gavin Mortimer Mortimer weaves his story among the fates of the America, Walker the balloon racers and the aviators who wowed the crowd at $26, 320 pages Belmont. The result is a fascinating mixture of adventure, ISBN 9780802717115 friendly competition, bitter rivalry (both in the air and on the ground) and even celebrity gossip. The cast of characters is equally rich, from the conservative Wright brothers to the flamboyant English gentleman Claude Grahame-White (think Richard Branson combined with David Beckham). Throw in balloonists struggling to survive the Canadian wilderness, an American plotting to overthrow a South American government, and an actress vying with an heiress over a handsome aviator, and you have a tale worthy of a miniseries. Best of all, it’s all true. o The grandson of a pilot, Howard Shirley flew a plane (very briefly) at the age of nine. He’s wanted to fly again ever since.

From prize-winning poet Liz RosEnbERg, comes a bittersweet debut novel of love and loss, and a chance at new beginnings.

home R e pa i R

MAY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

a novel

24

What’s a woman to do when she’s left with a broken heart, two growing kids, a meddling mother, and a whole host of friends, neighbors, and pets that complicate (but also sweeten) her life?

in the end, she may discover she’s gained more than she’s lost.

a paperback Original from avon An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers

a+

Author , InsIghts & ExtrAs, MorE

a nove l

diet.” heartbreak rvival on a story of su ng hi uc to n ofte s Weekly “Engaging, —Publisher

Recommended for Reading Groups


HISTORY

After Lincoln: Johnson, partisanship and Reconstruction presidency can only be seen as a tragedy. Although Johnson’s personal rise from poverty to the White House is inspiring, his refusal to compromise with Congress on crucial aspects of Lincoln’s legacy was unfortunate. Lincoln was too good a politician to alienate Congress and too strong and compassionate a leader to accept violence and oppression toward the freedmen and the Southern Republicans. Stewart’s book splendidly illuminates an

important chapter in American history. o Roger Bishop is a retired Nashville bookseller and a frequent contributor to BookPage.

Impeached By David O. Stewart Simon & Schuster $27, 464 pages ISBN 9781416547495

Signet, $9.99, 9780451226716

Berkley, $9.99, 9780425228791

Jove, $7.99, 9780515146233

Onyx, $7.99, 9780451412713

PAPERBACK PICKS PARANORMAL

SUSPENSE

MYSTERY

Burning Alive Three races descended from ancient guardians of mankind, each possessing unique abilities in their battle to protect humanity against their eternal foes—the Synestryn. Now, one warrior must fight his own desire if he is to discover the power that lies within his one true love.

Burning Wild Shapeshifting billionaire Jake Bannaconi has spent his life in an emotional vacuum. But there is something irresistible about Emma Reynolds—something Jake can’t live without. Hiring her as his son’s nanny will keep her close, but Emma may not be what she seems.

The Taking of Pelham 123 Now a major motion picture. Four men seize a New York City subway train and hold its passengers hostage. Their escape would seem inconceivable, but only one thing is certain: these men aren’t stopping for anything.

Hot Mahogany Stone Barrington is hired to protect a former intelligence agent with a penchant for antique furniture— and a bad case of amnesia. What he’s forgotten, some will kill for. But Barton, and some shady characters, may be hiding a lot more than just a few forged antiques.

PARANORMAL

THRILLER

WESTERN

Phantom Prey After one troubled college-age student disappears and two are found slashed to death,Lucas Davenport finds himself hunting what appears to be a modernday Jack the Ripper. But Lucas has the sneaking suspicion that something else is involved—something very bad, very dark, and as elusive as a phantom.

Guardian Resolution A greedy mine owner threatens Riane Arvid is a superhuman cop from the coalition of local ranchers in the future, trapped in 2009 by the the brand new town of Resolution. Xeran, a group of murderous fanatics. Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, two Nick Wyatt is a handsome 21sthonorable gunfighters, are drawn century warrior targeted by the into a makeshift war that will Xeran. He’s the only one Riane challenge their friendship and the can turn to, but his intentions violently shifting laws of the West. are as mysterious as his origins.

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PARANORMAL Till There Was You Zachary Smith thinks he’s finished with high-maintenance women, impossible clients, and paranormal adventures. But when he walks through a doorway into a different century and meets Mary de Piaget, he knows his life isn’t going to turn out quite the way he planned.

MAY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

By Roger Bishop Andrew Johnson, the military governor of Tennessee, was chosen by the 1864 Union Party convention (a coalition of Republicans and so-called “War Democrats” opposed to the Civil War) as Abraham Lincoln’s vicepresidential running mate because he was a Southerner and a Democrat. A steadfast defender of the Union throughout the Civil War, Johnson was placed on the ticket as an expression of national unity. After the assassination of Lincoln, Johnson’s greatest challenge was the reconstruction of the nation. The most adamant Congressional opponents of slavery, the Radical Republicans, sought major changes in the secession states and in ways to assist the freed slaves. Johnson did not share their principles or their goals. With increasing bitterness, the president and the heavily Republican Congress fought over issue after issue. When Republicans increased their numbers in Congress after the 1866 elections, they decided to take the extreme measure of impeaching the president, for the first time in American history. In his magnificent Impeached: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln’s Legacy, David O. Stewart, author of the highly acclaimed Summer of 1787, provides an extraordinary narrative that brings the many key players vividly to life while at the same time exhibiting an admirable clarity in discussing issues and events. Although procedurally judicial, impeachment is a political action. Stewart excels in describing the often-complex strategies and machinations of the politicians on both sides as they use all legal, and even illegal, means to prevail. The author notes that definite conclusions are elusive, but the evidence indicates that corruption—bribery and patronage—may well have determined one of the critical moments in American history: Johnson was acquitted by a single vote in the Senate. At the heart of Stewart’s re-creation of the period is Rep. Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania. As a lawyer before the war, Stevens represented slaves and sometimes personally bought their freedom; his home had been a stop on the Underground Railroad. Stevens’ legacy includes the 14th Amendment to the Constitution as well as Reconstruction legislation. After two failed attempts to steer presidential impeachment through the House of Representatives, Stevens was successful on a third try. Although he was the logical choice to lead opposition to the president, he was frail and in poor health. He did serve on the Impeachment Committee and co-authored Article XI, the catchall article that had more support in the Senate than the other 10 Articles of Impeachment against the president. Six weeks after Johnson was acquitted, Stevens introduced five more articles of impeachment against the chief executive. Historians and writers have drawn very different lessons from this episode in history. In an excellent overview—in which he discusses myths about the trial and disagrees with Woodrow Wilson and John F. Kennedy, who were more sympathetic than he is to Johnson—Stewart concludes that Johnson’s

25


DEBUT FICTION

Through novels, discovering real life By Carla Jean Whitley No one in the tony town of Fox Glen reads for pleasure. Students dissect literature like a lab animal, as high school student Carley Wells says, and adults skim respected works in a literary version of keeping up with the Joneses. But when Carley writes in an English assignment that she’s never met a book she liked, her parents decide to “fix” their daughter and display their own commitment to the arts by commissioning a book designed to her specifications—one she’s sure to love, not just like. The irony is great; Carley’s mom Gretchen is the type of person who buys books to decorate with, not to read. Besides, Carley isn’t as ignorant as her parents and teachers believe. Although she misuses her SAT words and hates to read, Carley rewrites stories constantly. If an exchange with her best friend, Hunter Cay, doesn’t go as she’d like, she’ll re-imagine it later in a game she calls “Aftermemory.” By contrast, Hunter is so deeply enchanted by words that his daydreams are populated by writer crushes. It’s Hunter’s love of reading and a desire to pull him out of his self-loathing, drunken state that eventually convince Carley to give the author her parents hire, failed novelist Bree McEnroy, a chance. How to Buy a When Carley finally says what she means, without rely- Love of Reading ing on Aftermemory to rewrite her script, she recognizes the By Tanya Egan Gibson appealing attributes of words. And when Carley points out Dutton that the characters, not the literary devices Bree uses to mask $25.95, 352 pages her insecurities, are the point of stories, Carley is essentially ISBN 9780525951148 explaining this story. It’s not about books or reading, after all, but about people and relationships. Isn’t that what the best stories show us? In her debut novel, author Tanya Egan Gibson crafts a tale filled with nuanced characters. Though it’s populated by teenagers, like the best literature, How to Buy a Love of Reading transcends age classifications to appeal to teens and adults alike. o Carla Jean Whitley writes and reads in Birmingham, Alabama.

INTERNATIONAL FICTION

Diary of a reluctant scam artist

MAY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

By Lauren Bufferd Recent years have brought exciting new novels from Nigerian-born novelists like Helen Oyeyemi, Chris Abani and, of course, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The latest addition to that list is Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, whose strikingly accomplished new novel I Do Not Come to You by Chance takes the reader straight into the world of Nigerian 419s—the scams that begin with an email designed to deplete the savings accounts of a gullible recipient. I Do Not Come to You by Chance tells the story of Kingsley Ibe, fresh out of college with an engineering degree but unable to find a job. He tries to do everything the honest way (and the way his parents expect him to), but without a long leg, the Nigerian term for someone who knows someone who can help, he remains unemployed. This is a big problem for an opara, or elder son, who is responsible for the well-being of the family. After his father’s health takes a downward turn and his sweetheart, Ola, leaves him for a wealthier suitor, Kinsgley turns for a loan to his uncle Boniface, also known as Cash Daddy, who runs a successful empire of 419s. As the family situation grows more dire, Cash Daddy’s offers get sweeter, and before you know it, Kingsley is the #2 man, assisting Cash Daddy with large-scale scams and raking in the money. I Do Not Come to Education may be the language of success in Nigeria, You by Chance Nwaubani suggests, but it is money that does the talking. Kingsley suffers from initial attacks of conscience but soon By Adaobi Tricia he is delighted in the utter confidence and pleasure money Nwaubani brings. He wheels and deals and supports his brothers and Hyperion $15.99, 416 pages sister in a style to which they all too soon grow accustomed. ISBN 9781401323110 But accepting Cash Daddy’s charity does have consequences—eventual parental disapproval, combined with Kingsley’s loneliness, makes him question his difficult choices all over again. Nwaubani sets Kingsley’s trip down the slippery slope of corruption against the backdrop of daily life in small-town Nigeria. She never shies away from the illegality of the scams, but she is tuned in to the subtle ways that people justify their involvement in criminal activity, especially when they feel that following the rules has gotten them nowhere. It 26 is the ultimate irony that the globalization that has made the 419 scams so successful has also opened the doors to this remarkable piece of fiction. o

THE SPOKEN WORD Finding Mr. Wright If T.C. Boyle had called his latest novel, The Women (Blackstone Audio, $34.95, 18.5 hours unabridged, ISBN 9781433260636), nimbly narrated by Grover Gardner, The Man, no one would have balked. The central character, the flame that draws the loving female moths, is Frank Lloyd Wright, America’s greatest architect or, as he would have insisted, the world’s greatest architect. Flamboyant, flagrantly egotistical, boundlessly energetic, ambitious and shameless in his self-absorption, Wright is the central, centripetal character of this operatic saga staged in three acts, in reverse chronology. Boyle begins with Olgivanna Milanoff, a Montenegrin beauty, the last and longestlasting woman in Wright’s BY SUKEY HOWARD tumultuous domestic life. Then comes the mercurial, morphine-addicted Maude Miriam Noel, a fading Southern belle, who wreaked as much maniacal havoc during and after her attachment to Wright as she could manage. Mamah Borthwick Cheney, perhaps the love of his life, who was publicly excoriated for leaving her husband and children, pays dearly for living with Wright in Act III. Kitty—Wright’s first wife and mother of his six children—hovers, never making more than cameo appearances. Boyle’s exuberance, a good match for Wright’s, and his skillful blending of history and invention animate this extraordinary fictional portrait of Wright and his women.

Maimed minds, lost lives We call it post-traumatic stress disorder; during WWI, it was called shell shock or battle fatigue and many sufferers went without treatment, left to founder on the edges of society. Whatever name we use, soldiers still come back invisibly scarred, deeply disabled by war’s lasting aftereffects. Were Maisie Dobbs—the appealing private investigator, psychologist and star of Jacqueline Winspear’s best-selling series set in post-WWI England—here now, I think she’d agree that sadly little has changed for today’s returning soldiers. It’s in the midst of the mentally maimed that Maisie finds herself in Among the Mad (Macmillan, $39.95, 9 hours unabridged, ISBN 9781427206053), looking for a damaged soul who’s threatened massive harm to innocent Londoners unless the government does more for the veterans of the Great War’s trenches and mustard gas. Maisie has been called in to assist Scotland Yard as they desperately search for the would-be terrorist. But even Maisie’s considerable talents may not be enough ferret him out. Winspear creates real suspense set against the troubled social and political scene in early-1930s London and Orlagh Cassidy’s superb performance creates the voices and the mood.

Sukey’s favorite Jackson, Mississippi, in the early 1960s, when the civil rights movement was gathering momentum and the backlash was bloody, seems an odd place for a privileged white girl—a recent Ole Miss grad and editor of the Junior League newsletter—to start a secret book project collecting the stories, good and bad, of what it’s really like for the black women who work for white families, intimates but always inferiors. “Skeeter” Pheelan does just that with the determined help of the help, Aibileen and Minny, two very different African American women who have spent their lives caring for their employers and raising their children. The Help (Penguin Audio, $39.95, 18 hours unabridged, ISBN 9780143144182), Kathryn Stockett’s poignant, powerful debut novel, follows their intertwined efforts. Though it deals with very serious problems—segregation, intolerance, inhumanity—it’s above all a wonderful story, hopeful and humorous, wonderfully told, with characters you won’t want to leave. And, it’s a fabulous example of how a brilliant ensemble audio performance can make “wonderful” even better. Jenna Lamia, Bahni Turpin, Octavia Spencer and Cassandra Campbell’s pitch-perfect narration captures the time and place, the accents of each character, as well as their sorrow, anger, frustration, hate, humiliation and genuine love with an authenticity that’s hard to match. You’ll laugh and cry as these three women work together, learn to go beyond their own preconceptions, learn to trust and truly overcome. o


This month’s top publisher picks War Games: Kill Zone

Blue Collar & Proud of It

Vicki Hinze

Joe Lamacchia

The world’s most powerful terrorist must be stopped—at any cost.

The only comprehensive primer to train for, land and find fulfillment in the blue collar (and green collar) world; Joe Lamacchia offers timely solutions for a receding economy.

Medallion Press

The Ultimate Mom Maria Bailey The ultimate gift! Entertaining stories, practical ideas and compelling photographs for and about the greatest source of unconditional love—MOM! HCI

HCI PB 9780757307782 $15.95

PB 9780757307966 $14.95

PB 9781934755617 $7.95

The Price of Sanctuary

Of Men and Their Mothers

The Moment Between

Gaylon Greer

Mameve Medwed

Nicole Baart

Shelby Cervosier once led a life of privilege. Now she finds herself running for her life.

Maisie Grey has had enough. With an ex-mother-in-law from hell, an on-again/off-again boyfriend and a teenage son who shows all the signs of following in his (gulp) father’s family’s footsteps, it’s enough to make her lose it.

A breathtaking story about the emotional risks of relationships, The Moment Between explores the cost of regret, the desire for revenge and the redemptive power of forgiveness. Recommended for book groups.

Medallion Press

HC 9781605420585 $24.95

CD 9781600245763 $39.98

Avon A

PB 9780060831226 $13.99

Tyndale

PB 9781414323220 $13.99

The Secret Speech

Hedge Fund Wives

Sorrow Wood

Tom Rob Smith

Tatiana Boncompagni

Raymond L. Atkins

Tom Rob Smith follows his stunning Audie finalist Child 44 with a new heart-pounding thriller set against the turmoil of the post-Stalinist Soviet Union, again featuring both hero Leo Demidov and narrator Dennis Boutsikaris.

The author of Gilding Lily once again delivers a witty and insightful treatment of today’s woman, as she explores the sacrifices they make, the bargains they strike, the rules they follow and what happens when it all starts to fall apart.

Who killed the promiscuous woman who reputedly engaged in bizarre sexual rites at Sorrow Wood?

Hachette Audio

Avon A HC 9781934755631 $24.95

PB 9780061765261 $13.99

Memorias de un Señorito Sevillano

Memoirs of a Sevillian Master

Javier de Winthuysen

Javier de Winthuysen

The original Spanish was printed unabridged with extended research notes on the life of the Sevillan born Spanish author in Maryland, 2005. http://stores.twinthuysen.com

English version of the Spanish memoirs which closely follows the content and meaning of the original language was printed in Maryland, 2008. http://stores.twinthuysen.com

Winthuysen Foundation, Inc.

Winthuysen Foundation, Inc.

HC 9780977976706 $36

Medallion Press

The Proviso Moriah Jovan Knox Hilliard’s uncle murdered his father to marry his mother and acquire the family company. Now, Knox and his cousins Sebastian and Giselle seek justice—and find love. http://theproviso.com

B10 MediaWorx HC 9780977976706 $36

PB 9780981769615 $37.99


CHILDREN’S BOOKS Rylant’s modern take on Greek myths

New discoveries for a budding scientist

By Linda M. Castellitto or nearly 30 years, Cynthia Rylant has been telling stories for children via more than 100 much-lauded books: novels, poetry, short stories, nonfiction and picture books, two of which she illustrated. Her beloved characters include Mr. Whistle the guinea pig and Tabby the cat, and perhaps her best-known creation, 12-year-old Summer from the Newbery Award-winning Missing May. The characters in Rylant’s new book, The Beautiful Stories of Life: Six Greek Myths, Retold (Harcourt, $16, 88 pages, ISBN 9780152061845), are of a different sort: Zeus, ruler of the universe; Hades, god of the underworld; and several other gods and goddesses. The author gives us her take on these age-old stories in simply but powerfully told tales of immortal men and women who are fallible nonetheless. She corresponded (alas, not by winged messenger, but plain old email) with BookPage from her home in Lake Oswego, Oregon, where she lives with her Corgi and two cats.

By Deborah Hopkinson It’s the summer of 1899, 50 miles outside of Austin, Texas, and Calpurnia Tate’s entire family, with the exception of her eccentric grandfather, is suffering from the heat. Nicknamed Callie Vee, the 11-year-old is the only girl, smack in the middle of six brothers. She has some secret weapons to deal with the heat—a spot all her own where she can strip down to her chemise and float in the cool San Marcos River, and a plan to surreptitiously cut an inch off her hair every week so her mother won’t notice. Callie Vee loves making scientific observations, and when her favorite brother Harry gives her a notebook, she sets out to become a bona fide naturalist. In the process she finds that Grandaddy, who mostly keeps to himself in a shed called the laboratory out back, is a true kindred spirit. He not only has a copy of Mr. Darwin’s Origin of Species, but has corresponded with the great scientist himself. As Grandaddy’s partner, Callie Vee learns to become a keen observer of all around her, from plant and insect life to Harry’s courting behavior. At the same time that Callie Vee feels possibilities opening, the net of social expectations draws closer around her. Her attempts at the domestic arts aren’t going so well, even The Evolution of though she tries to meet her mother’s expectations. Calpurnia Tate is not just another “spunky heroine.” She Calpurnia Tate is sincere in her struggles to master tatting and knitting, and By Jacqueline Kelly begins to realize how hard she may have to fight to become a Holt, $16.99, 352 pages scientist. Kelly is able to show the full weight of the pressures ISBN 9780805088410 upon women in the 19th century—as well as the excitement Ages 12 and up of discovery. Her mother may find it “dangerous” when Callie Vee wanders, but by the time the year ends and 1900 begins, Calpurnia has a sign that perhaps the new century might bring her closer to the future she imagines for herself. Peppered with quotes from Darwin and timed perfectly for his bicentennial, this warm, fully realized portrait of a family has the hallmark of a classic. o Deborah Hopkinson wrote about Mr. Darwin in Who Was Charles Darwin? Her new book is Keep On! The Story of Matthew Henson, Co-Discoverer of the North Pole.

F

Where did you grow up? Were you an avid reader?

CYNTHIA RYLANT

I grew up in a coal-mining family in southern West Virginia, and actually read few books, as there was neither local library nor money. I did read tons of comic books and Nancy Drew mysteries, which I could get at the five-and-dime store.

How does the child you were inform the author you are today?

I didn’t see real children’s books—picture books, Charlotte’s Web, etc.—until I was 23 years old and happened to see a display in a shop in Huntington, West Virginia. I picked up a book, Ox-Cart Man [the Caldecott winner by Donald Hall], fell in love with it, bought it, and that was beginning: I knew I must write like that. I had never met a writer, but I started anyway. I found publishers’ addresses and I mailed off stories. When I was 24, my first story was accepted: When I Was Young in the Mountains. I have been writing ever since. Did you have another job before you became a full-time writer?

When I was 27, I went to library school because I needed the foundation of a job, though my intent was to be a writer. I figured being in a library would be a good compromise. I earned an M.L.S. at Kent State, but worked in a library for only a year. I managed to earn a living (a modest living!) writing and doing school visits, which allowed me to be an at-home mother to my son, whom I raised alone. Looking back on your career as a writer, do you see changes in yourself and your life reflected in your work?

Over the years, I’ve needed to try new things— new genres, illustrating—anything I could do to keep the work fresh and exciting. I could not bear to be a writer of only one kind of book, over and over, even if it made me rich. So, I bounce around!

MAY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

How did you become interested in Greek myths? What sort of research did you do for The Beautiful Stories of Life?

I didn’t know anything at all of mythology. I found out about the myths when I read a book about archetypes, meaning that people have personalities that “fit” those of the gods and goddesses. (We all know someone who is a Zeus, for example.) From there, I decided to read the original myths and bought a few books, such as Bulfinch’s Mythology and other basic texts. Edith Hamilton’s Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes was great, too. Why do you think the Greek myths have such enduring appeal? What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I could see—as many mythologists have noted—that buried in these strange tales were deeply human stories we all live in some way. We all feel false pride, we all trust the wrong person, we all become obsessive, we all fight for love, we all try to control fate. I wanted to tell the myths my way, from the heart, to illuminate our shared frailties and beauties. Without, of course, getting on too high of a horse . . . there’s something about myths that intimidates most people. The illustrations are lovely! Do you choose the artists you work with?

Some are chosen by the editor, with my approval, and sometimes I ask for someone specifically. I had no one in mind for The Beautiful Stories of Life, but one night, I was watching a local Oregon TV show and they did a segment on an artist named Carson Ellis. I saw her paintings and I knew she was the one. Luckily, Carson said yes! I’ve never met her even though she lives 20 minutes away. Eventually I will. What are you reading now?

28 Just the newspaper, the New York Times. Sometimes I am just tired of books, so I take a break and read the paper and watch a lot of TV! o

A spooky cure for writer’s block

By Sharon Verbeten Best-selling author Ignatius B. Grumply is in a pickle—in more ways than one. He hasn’t started the children’s book he’s been contracted to write, and he needs a quiet place to do so. Grumply’s writer’s block is resolved—or so he thinks—when he rents a creaky 32 ½-room Victorian mansion on Old Cemetery Road in Ghastly, Illinois. But an uninvited and unwelcome houseguest (young pretentious boy) makes Grumply alternately grumpy and uppity. Throw in a playful ghost (single invisible female); a demanding, yet rather accommodating, publisher (Paige Turner); and an overbearing real estate agent (Anita Sale) and the Klise sisters have crafted a delightfully fun, frolicsome and fast-paced read. Told in a series of letters back and forth among the key players, Dying to Meet You sets up playful tension against a spooky backdrop—it’s the perfect ambience for the ghost stories Grumply allegedly pens (it’s been 20 years since his last installment, but who’s counting?) The book reads like a diary, laden with hilarious exchanges, faux newspaper pages, the young boy’s handwritten notes and crafty sketches and omniscient observations by the ghost (Olive C. Spence). Punny names abound (includ- Dying to Meet You ing librarian M. Balm and attorney E. Gadds), an addition By Kate Klise sure to be enjoyed by the target audience. Even reluctant readers can embrace the easy-to-read Illustrated by M. Sarah Klise format and lighthearted ghost story—which shows some Houghton Mifflin Harcourt $15, 160 pages shades of Lemony Snicket-esque whimsy. ISBN 9780152057275 But will Grumply continue to be grumpy? Can the co- Ages 8 to 12 habitants of 43 Old Cemetery Road live in peace? Will Olive’s chicken paprikash be a dinner success? And, perhaps most importantly, does the 13th entry in the Ghost Tamer series ever get written? The award-winning Klise sisters have dubbed Dying to Meet You as Book One in an intended series—so future adventures and mayhem in the manse can be eagerly anticipated . . . if readers dare! o Former children’s librarian Sharon Verbeten lives in a house inhabited only by the squeals of an active two-year-old in De Pere, Wisconsin.


Dear ol’ Mom: celebrating that special blend of patience and love By Robin Smith hen I was a little girl, I loved Mother’s Day. I would make a card, cook breakfast and give my mother a rose plant. I have three sisters, and we would jockey for the right to give Mom the “surprise.” I look back on those days and wonder how she acted surprised when we gave her the same darn present every single year. That’s the thing about mothers—they have the unique ability to enjoy any little crumb left by their offspring, even when it is the same yellow peace rose bush from Kmart. Mother’s Day books are favorites of mine now that I am a mother of young adults. They bring me back to the 200th time I read Margaret Wise Brown’s Runaway Bunny. The picture books below might be the perfect thing for a young mother—on her way to a lifetime of crayoned cards and Kmart roses, if she’s lucky. Leonid Gore’s Mommy, Where Are You? (Simon & Schuster, $16.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9781416955054) has all the hallmarks of a book that will be read over and over again. Little Ozzy mouse wakes up and his mother isn’t there. He spends the rest of the book searching for her. This clever hide-and-seek book will keep young children guessing. Ozzy keeps thinking he sees his mother, but the turn of the page reveals something completely different. We think we see the little tail behind the rock only to discover that it is really an earthworm. That eye that looks like Mommy turns out to belong to a bunny. After a search that reduces Ozzy to hollering, he finally finds her, which will be a relief to young readers. For the very youngest listener, this, like a hearty game of peek-a-boo, does not disappoint. Another offering for the very young, Please Pick Me Up, Mama! (Beach Lane, $15.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9781416979777), by Robin Luebs, celebrates one universal behavior of toddlers. Sloppy kisses? No. Crying when frustrated? No. Wanting to be carried and then asking to be put down? Bingo! Told in short rhyming couplets, the story follows a day in the life of an adorable raccoon. From the first kiss of the day to the last whispered words of good night, we also see one dedicated and patient mother. A perfect night-night book. Kate Feiffer and Diane Goode team up in a decidedly less sweet, but still pleasing book about motherly (and fatherly) behavior in My Mom Is Trying to Ruin My Life (Paula Wiseman, $16.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9781416941002). Elementary school children will certainly identify with the embarrassing things her mother does to make her life miserable: Kissing her in public. Delivering clothes to her classroom. Talking loudly. Banning junk food. Worrying. This mother is guilty of all of them. The little girl imagines a scheme where her parents ultimately end up in jail because they are ruining her life. Goode’s comedic illustrations are the perfect foil for this over-the-top fantasy. The expressions on the little girl’s face tell the whole story of embarrassment and eventually, love and appreciation. If you know someone who wants a more thoughtful, even spiritual celebration of the wisdom of mothers, Mama Says: A Book of Love for Mothers and Sons (Blue Sky, $16.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9780439932080) by Rob D. Walker, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon, might fit the bill. The Dillons’ signature watercolors accompany the text, written in English and 12 other languages from around the world. Readers of all ages will reflect on the serious words from many mothers’ mouths. The translations, often in different alphabets, are a beauty to see as well. The afterword adds detail about the languages for any child whose curiosity has been stirred. From the Cherokee: “Mama says / Be good / Mama says / Be kind / Mama says / The rain will come / But still the sun will shine.” These gentle words accompany illustrations that show mothers watching their sons follow the maternal advice. At the end, we have the words of a Danish mother: “Mama says / Help others / And be the best you can.” Turn the page to see a lovely spread of the grown men who say, “I listened to what Mama said / And now I am a man.” The world over, mothers have a lot to say about being good and generous and loving. This gentle tribute to these universal truths will be treasured by mothers everywhere. o Robin Smith lives in Nashville where she tries to ruin the lives of her grown children in Brooklyn and Palo Alto from afar.

MEET  Sophie Blackall

W

MAY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

A native of Australia who now lives in Brooklyn, Sophie Blackall began her career as a children’s book illustrator with Ruby’s Wish in 2002 and has gone on to illustrate several other books, including Meet Wild Boars and the Ivy and Bean series. Her latest artwork appears in Wombat Walkabout (Dutton, $16.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9780525478652) written by Carol Diggory Shields.

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FICTION

Searching for family secrets By Deborah Donovan Michael Malone is a prolific writer who has won awards ranging from an Emmy to an Edgar; he favors robust casts of characters and sprawling, intricate plots—and he continues in that vein with his 10th novel, The Four Corners of the Sky. Annie Peregrine’s father Jack drops her off with his sister Sam on Annie’s seventh birthday, gives her his airplane, a Piper Warrior named King of the Sky, and then disappears. Now, on her 26th birthday, Annie travels from Annapolis, where she’s an ace flyer and instructor, to Emerald, North Carolina, where Sam still lives with Clark Goode, her longtime friend and housemate. Sam and Clark have raised Annie like a daughter, with only the rare, cryptic phone call or postcard from Jack over the years. Out of the blue, Jack calls on Annie’s birthday, tells her he’s “dying in St. Louis,” and pleads with her to fly the King of the Sky there to meet him. Annie does just that—setting in motion a bizarre cat-and-mouse chase involving an intriguing cast of characters including con-men, the Mafia, a Cuban refugee who effortlessly spouts Shakespeare, various FBI operatives and Annie’s soon-to-be-ex-husband, a pilot with a tendency toward adultery. The Four Corners As Annie, Sam and Clark have suspected all along, Jack is of the Sky more than just a “capricious” dad. He’s been charged with 11 felonies, and has three outstanding warrants, the latest for By Michael Malone absconding with a hugely valuable gold- and jewel-encrusted Sourcebooks $24.99, 560 pages statue smuggled out of Cuba. But despite his shortcomings, ISBN 9781570717444 Jack is her father, and Annie will do whatever she can to keep him out of jail. She follows him from St. Louis (where he eludes some Mafia thugs by exiting through his hotel bathroom vent) to Miami (where he hides from the FBI in the Golden Day rest home) to Key West (where Annie finally discovers the identity of her mother). Each of Malone’s characters is larger than life, and someone readers would love to encounter in the real world. Intricate relationships reveal themselves as Malone offers sporadic glimpses into the past to illuminate Annie’s murky background. Malone’s latest brims with humor and pathos—it’s an engaging, multifaceted saga touting the power of love and family to overcome all, even a lifetime of apparent neglect. o Deborah Donovan writes from La Veta, Colorado.

BIOGRAPHY

MAY 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

For better or worse, near or far

30

In this era of Twitter and texting, it’s hard to imagine the marital experience of John and Abigail Adams. Separated frequently by John’s political activity—for as long as five years, when he was advancing American interests in Europe during the Revolution—they communicated only by letter. The post was erratic, to the point that they often had no idea of each other’s circumstances for months at a time. Luckily, their bond was strong—probably both cause and effect of their copious correspondence. In Abigail & John: Portrait of a Marriage (Morrow, $26.99, 352 pages, ISBN 9780061353871) historian Edith B. Gelles becomes the latest to plumb this by now well-known epistolary archive. Abigail & John begins with Abigail Smith’s decision to marry John Adams, tracks back to the colonial origins of their families and ends with John’s death in 1826, eight years after Abigail’s demise drew 54 years of marriage to a close. In between, Gelles covers familiar moments such as Abigail’s exhortation to “Remember the Ladies!” and John’s longstanding feud and eventual reconciliation with Thomas Jefferson, but the marital bond’s strength and fruitfulness is her primary interest. Gelles offers the marriage as a model of shared endeavor and mutual support, and her depiction is largely persuasive. Their letters reveal how each was intimately involved in the activities and decisions of the other, even across miles and oceans, and how domestic events influenced political decisions, as well as vice versa. Despite the book’s double focus, Gelles, who has written two academic books about Abigail, betrays an evident preference for the wife. Abigail comes off as a paragon, and John sometimes suffers in comparison, though Gelles takes pains to explain away his shortcomings, albeit not always convincingly. Although the book itself suffers from occasionally plodding prose, it presents an engaging portrait of an exemplary marriage. o —REBECCA STEINITZ

COOKING The spa experience Most of us won’t be shelling out our dwindling greenbacks to spend a week at the Golden Door any time soon. Even when we were riding high, it was one of those deluxe destinations that always seemed a tad out of reach. But now the superspa has decided to open its embossed golden doors to mere mortals and let us in on their renowned and revered culinary secrets. In Golden Door Cooks at Home (Potter, $40, 288 pages, ISBN 9780307450791), published to commemorate the spa’s 50th birthday, Chef Dean Rucker shows us how to make his signature spa food, food that promises to leave you feeling “sated, nurtured, and above all, healthy.” Using lean proteins, whole grains and fresh vegetables as his building blocks, real food, not stripped down “replacement food,” Rucker turns out dish after dish with big, bold flavors. A spa secret he wholly recommends is “the sensible use of the BY SYBIL PRATT starter course”—try his Corn and Scallion Pancakes or Broccoli Basil Soup—so that you’ll eat a smaller main course and be doubly happy. The vegetarian mains are marvelous, not to mention Walnut-Crusted Turkey Scaloppini, Teriyaki Black Cod and Moroccan SpiceRubbed Lamb Loin. Take your taste buds on a virtual spa vacation.

Pinch pennies, not flavor Charles Mattocks, aka The Poor Chef, had more than one epiphany when he became a single dad cooking for his young son—“convenience foods” were not very nutritious and the TV cooking shows he watched were not teaching him what he needed to know. Wanting to cook “real food” that was really inexpensive, he started asking around and found that many of our favorites, like stews and long-cooked pot roasts, were created in response to economic necessity, that “economy breeds creativity.” So, Mattocks decided to put out this challenge, “come up with a meal for two or four people for under $7,” and The Poor Chef was born. The responses, gathered as he cruised the country from trailer parks to Beverly Hills, are in Eat Cheap but Eat Well (Wiley, $18.95, 208 pages, ISBN 9780470293362), Mattock’s debut cookbook, published just in time to broaden your repertoire of recession-proof recipes. Each of the 122 recipes tells you what the per-person cost is and I think you’ll be surprised and pleased: Hurry-Up Moussaka feeds four for under $5; Mom’s Jamaican Curry with Dumplings, Rice & Peas feeds four for under $7; and Beef in Beer feeds eight for under $7! Pennies are pinched while flavor flourishes.

A family affair Pat and Gina Neely know how to do it—three successful restaurants, a superpopular show on the Food Network, a product line of BBQ seasonings and sauces, a catering service and, now, their very first cookbook, called—no surprise—Down Home with the Neelys: A Southern Family Cookbook (Knopf, $27.95, 288 pages, ISBN 9780307269942). When Gina and Pat, who had been teenage sweethearts, reunited big time at their 10th high school reunion, Pat and his brothers were already on that “long and smoky road,” running two thriving restaurants that turned out some of the best ribs in Memphis. Gina joined them and her special savvy, verve and love of traditional Southern food just made it all even better. The recipes here reflect the Neely’s shared joy and delight in down-home cooking and invite their readers to take a place at the family table. Gina and Pat don’t hold back—you get the scoop on the Neely’s Barbecue Seasoning and Barbecue Sauce, the very keys to their kingdom—plus their take on Seared Okra and Tomatoes that sing “summertime in the South,” Gina’s Collard Greens, Sweet and Spicy Slaw, Barbecue Spaghetti (they serve 200 gallons a week!), Barbecued Chicken, Shrimp and Catfish, even Mama Daisy’s Banana Pudding. Gotta go, my yen for something Southern is overwhelming. o


FICTION

FANTASY

Jessica Darling grows up

Setting sail on a thrilling adventure

By Carrie Rollwagen My friends all know when I’m reading a new Megan McCafferty book: I can’t stop texting them quotes from her addictively sarcastic heroine, Jessica Darling. Candy-colored book covers often indicate saccharine heroines too focused on chasing new purses and cute guys to develop real character, but McCafferty allows Jessica to grow up, taking her from age 16 to 26 through the fivebook series that culminates in Perfect Fifths. Without getting stuck in either the Young Adult or Chick Lit category, McCafferty competes with Gossip Girl and Bridget Jones— and holds her own. For a character like Jessica, a cookie-cutter ending would be a disgrace, and luckily Perfect Fifths avoids this pitfall. Fans of Marcus Flutie, Jessica’s on-again-off-again boyfriend and, some would argue, soul mate, will be glad to see he’s back in a major way, actually narrating half the story. We find Marcus finally emerged from his monk-like meditations, and he’s as sexy and smart as ever. The adult Jessica is mellower, but she hasn’t lost her fierce wit or talent for hilarious cultural commentary. McCafferty has put her in a job suited to her talent and her quest for authentic mean- Perfect Fifths ing, assuring us about Jessica’s future without forcing her By Megan McCafferty into a sugary-sweet happily-ever-after. Years of Cinderella stories and romantic comedy kisses Crown $22, 304 pages have trained me to hope that love will prevail, and I thought ISBN 9780307346520 I needed this semi-star-crossed couple to end up together. I’m not about to spoil the ending, but it turns out what I really wanted was a well-matched conversation between Jessica and Marcus, something that readers haven’t seen since they were teenagers back in Second Helpings. In that, McCafferty certainly delivers. Jessica Darling is a smart heroine who doesn’t lose her head—or her skirt—over every possible Prince Charming. She mocks relentlessly, but she also loves wholeheartedly. McCafferty convinces readers that it’s OK to be witty and smart, and that even a hard-line cynic can be a bit of a romantic in the end. o

By Jedediah Berry Maybe some of this will sound familiar: a young boy separated from his family, gifted with a power that may save the world from a great evil; a young noblewoman betrothed to a foreign king against her will; a dangerous artifact of magnificent and mysterious power; intelligent talking animals; wizards, princes and spies engaged in a shadowy war that may doom or rescue hundreds of thousands of lives. . . . Make no mistake, the raw material of Robert V.S. Redick’s debut novel, the first of a planned trilogy, has been incorporated into countless fantasy novels. But this makes only more remarkable the fact that, page by page, The Red Wolf Conspiracy feels so vibrant, fresh and exciting. The effect is due partly to Redick’s knack for tackling the scale of the story charted in this book. The Chathrand is a 600-year-old ship the size of a city, bound for the territory of its nation’s ancient enemy on a mission of peace. And among the hundreds of passengers aboard the ship are agents of various powers, each with its own agenda, some who wish to see the peace secured, some who would profit from a new war. The narrative perspective shifts deftly among a dozen characters, from young Pazel, who suffers the indignities of The Red Wolf a ship’s tarboy while trying to locate his lost family, to Nilus Conspiracy Rotheby Rose, the half-mad captain of the Chathrand, who believes his path to glory lies in a secret pact with the emper- By Robert V. S. or. Even the fears and stratagems of an “awakened” stowaway Redick rat are presented with sympathy and depth. What emerges is Del Rey $26, 464 pages a living tapestry, always in danger of being rent by the con- ISBN 9780345508836 spiracy at the novel’s heart. And what a conspiracy it is, portrayed by Redick with a delirious love of the genre that is nothing less than infectious. When Sandor Ott, the emperor’s spymaster, declares to his associates: “Rose will captain that ship, and we shall sail with her. The game’s begun, lads. We’ll play it to the last round,” all but the most jaded of readers will be eager to watch that game unfold. o Jedediah Berry is the author of a novel, The Manual of Detection.

FICTION

Words can never hurt me?

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By Thane Tierney Not since Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich has an author captured the crushing sense of foreboding that hung over Uncle Joe’s Soviet state with the clear-eyed acuity that imbues every page of Robert Littell’s The Stalin Epigram. It’s almost like being dropped onto the surface of an alien planet, this strange world of pre-war Stalinist Russia, where poets’ words are read not only by the masses but also by the nation’s leaders, where a cutting couplet can draw real blood. Littell, best known for Cold War thrillers such as The Company and The Sisters, proves himself to be both a gentleman and a scholar in his latest novel, a spellbinding and painstakingly researched account of poet Osip Mandelstam’s most famous work, “The Stalin Epigram,” often referred to as his “sixteen-line death sentence.” Spun out in an interlocking web of narratives, including those of the poet, his wife, Stalin’s bodyguard, an Olympic weightlifter and others, the book paints a vivid, three-dimensional portrait of the emotional, political and physical carnage wrought by Mandelstam’s literary Molotov cocktail. And yet, The Stalin Epigram is also a love story, set against a richly nuanced historical backdrop in the grand The Stalin tradition of Doctor Zhivago (written, incidentally, by Man- Epigram delstam’s friend Boris Pasternak, who plays a recurring role By Robert Littell in this novel). But it’s a quintessentially Russian love story, Simon & Schuster which virtually guarantees that the rose’s thorn will outlive $26, 384 pages ISBN 9781416598640 its petals. In the words of Mandelstam’s wife, Nadezhda, “What I Also available on audio am recounting does not originate in the lobe of the brain where memory resides. It comes directly from the mind’s eye. . . . When, on occasion, I recall these awful events, they have the odor of earth at a freshly dug grave.” But even in the horrors of the Gulag, the rockiest of soils and the harshest of environments, the triumphant spirit of the poet’s tenderness can not, will not, be eradicated: “I kiss your eyes, I kiss the tears that spill from them should this letter by some miracle reach you. Still dancing.” Bravo, comrade. o Thane Tierney, a longtime fan of the Dynamo Moscow hockey team, lives in Los Angeles.

31


WORDNOOK

By the editors of Merriam-Webster

All heart

Blow-by-blow

Dear Editor: Why do we call people who show great sympathy bleeding hearts? K. A. Liberty, Missouri

Dear Editor: Where did the expression clean as a whistle originate? D. F. Churchville, Pennsylvania

First came one’s heart bleeds, used most sincerely to express anguish or sorrow or pity, beginning with Chaucer, who wrote more than 600 years ago in Troilus and Criseyde that his heartbroken hero “thought he felt his heart bleed.” The phrase is of course now used insincerely or ironically as frequently as it used sincerely. We didn’t have “bleeding heart” until the late 16th century, almost 200 years after Chaucer. Back then it referred to one’s anguished heart, not to a person, and it too was used most sincerely, as in this heartrending scene from Charles Dickens’ Dombey and Son: “Florence could do but one thing more to thank him, and to show him how she trusted in him; and she did it. Clinging to this rough creature as the last asylum of her bleeding heart, she laid her head upon his honest shoulder, and clasped him round his neck. . . .” The use of bleeding heart for a person is quite new, having been first recorded in the 1940s. It has never been intended as a compliment; its insinuation of unwarranted or excessive sympathy has always been prominent. It is probably now most familiar as a term embraced by conservatives to disparage liberals, and it is often now used like an adjective, as in bleeding-heart liberal.

IT’S A MYSTERY

We don’t know for certain, but we can tell you that it is an old expression. The earliest record we have of it in writing is from an 1828 publication titled Craven Gloss, in which it is described as “a proverbial simile.” The most popular story behind its origin is that it draws on the idea that a clean, dry whistle is needed to produce a good tone. (In support of this theory, there is also some evidence for an alternative expression, dry as a whistle.) Another suggestion is that clean refers to the smooth surface of a whistle, such as one made by stripping the bark from a willow stick. And yet another theory is that the expression refers to the clean, pure sound a whistle makes.

Poet’s revenge Dear Editor: I recently ran across the word namby-pamby in my reading, and got to wondering where it came from. Can you help me out? D. J. Brunswick, New Jersey Early in the 18th century, the verses of poet Ambrose Philips (1647-1749) were widely read and met with much admiration. Philips, now vaguely remembered

S O L U T I O N

Please send correspondence regarding Word Nook to:

Language Research Service P.O. Box 281 Springfield, MA 01102

This crossword is from Linda K. Murdock’s Mystery Lover’s Puzzle Book, published by Bellwether Books. © 2007 Linda K. Murdock.

John Sandford

ACROSS 1. Main character ____ Davenport 5. Davenport’s house in Wisconsin 8. Davenport’s backup vehicle 12. Dinner will be ready ____ minute 13. Soup company 14. Setting for Davenport, for short? 15. Mormon 16. Davenport’s main hair color 18. Hit with open palm 19. “____ Song” by Elton John in Moulin Rouge 21. Davenport’s female boss 22. Motive question 23. Main artery 26. Heroic tale, like the Davenport series 27. Corp. owner of NBC 28. Davenport’s focus in each book 29. How Davenport makes money 32. Vote 35. Male lead in “Green Acres” (initials) 37. Davenport’s strategic videos for short

and largely unread, was in his day celebrated for his pastoral poems, his poems in praise of children and his verse composed for public occasions. The charm of his poetry, however, with lines like “Dimpley damsel, sweetly smiling,” may be lost on today’s reader. Philips’ name might well be as dead as his poetry had he not managed to incur the enmity of fellow poet Alexander Pope, who was legendary for the venom in his quill. Henry Casey, a close ally of Pope, decided to publish a parody of Philips’ poetry, devising from his name “Ambrose” the rhyming pet name “Namby Pamby.” Using this baby-talk nickname as the title of his poem, Carey wrote “Namby-Pamby’s doubly mild / Once a man and twice a child / Now he pumps his little wits / All by little-tiny bits.” Pope delighted in the aptness of the contemptuous pet name and adopted “Namby Pamby” for the 1733 edition of the “The Dunciad,” his epic poem satirizing the popular authors of the day. The enduring success of “The Dunciad” did much to ensure that “Namby Pamby” would forever be associated with the weakly sentimental. Within 20 years, works that were insipidly precious or sentimental were said to be written in “Namby Pamby” style. Soon afterward namby-pamby was used to stigmatize anything or anyone pathetically weak or indecisive. 

38. Jogged 40. Fable guy? 41. Davenport facial mark 43. Not FM 44. Systems operator for short 45. Computer wafer 46. Clumps 48. Purchase order, for short 49. “Calling” of 51-Across 51. Davenport’s grade school chum and profiler, ____ Kruger 52. What killers might do to a body (2 wds.) 55. Answer to wrinkled clothes 57. In Sudden Prey bank robbers seek “an ____ for an ____” 58. Free market kind, for short 59. Davenport’s sidekick who con- siders retiring in Broken Prey 61. Davenport has 200 books of ____ 63. Sonny Bono ex 65. Ghost or Philadelphia description (2 wds.) 68. Tennis drop shot 70. Are you, taken literally? 71. Julius “Dr. J” ____ for short 72. Raw or cooked edible stalks 74. High-res. AV storage item 75. Davenport’s changeable wife? 76. Belonging to Mr. Gore 77. All the murderers to Davenport DOWN 1. Davenport goes east to help her catch vigilantes in Silent Prey 2. Cancel or reverse 3. Davenport indulged in a lot of ____ sex

4. Davenport likes to cross-country ____ 5. Hooded snake 6. Woody Guthrie’s son 7. Those in authority, Davenport’s shootings offend the top ones 8. Hobby Davenport likes to do at 5-Across 9. Solely 10. It’s in DNA 11. What Davenport suffers from 17. Davenport is likely to shoot before saying “____ and desist” 20. Davenport creates ____ playing fantasies 22. Move side to side 24. Races as a team 25. Grove of ____ , Davenport’s Gettysburg masterpiece 27. Jewel 28. Davenport’s preferred martial art 30. Due time 31. Soviet space station 33. Head security person acronym 34. Davenport’s favorite, ZZ ____ 36. Smoker’s tray 39. A dope transporter 42. War strategized by Davenport in 25-Down 44. Extracts flavor, like tea 45. Profession of 59-Across 47. Travel option Davenport hates to do 48. Small and weak 49. Famous arkist? 50. Davenport way to destroy killer’s confidence 52. Sunflower or pumpkin for one 53. Davenport will ____ rather than do nothing

54. Things often go from bad to this for Davenport 56. 100 of these tunes are listed in 59-Across 59. Davenport uses media and ____ things up 60. Worry, what Davenport will do till a case is resolved 62. Pledge

64. Ex-mayor Giuliani 66. Portland state 67. Eggs 68. Davenport sidekick ____ Capslock 69. Jurisdiction of 1-Down 72. Money substitute, for short 73. Calif. metropolis 74. Job of Davenport’s wife

May 2009 BookPage  

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