America’s BoOK Review
Associate publisher Julia Steele Editor Lynn L. Green Nonfiction Editor MiChelle Jones
7 Michael Lewis Lessons on fatherhood from the best-selling author of Moneyball
INTERVIEWS 20 Jim Lynch On border crossing and bird-watching
FEATURES 5 Jane Green Meet the author of Dune Road
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
8 Father’s Day The perfect books for—and by—dads 9 Family Exploring not-so-picture-perfect families 14 Behind the Book The story behind one father’s
22 The City & the City by China Miéville
25 Cece Bell Meet the author-illustrator
Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea
26 Eileen Spinelli On pigs, princesses and inspiration
Far Bright Star by Robert Olmstead
You or Someone Like You by Chandler Burr
Sisters & Husbands by Connie Briscoe
The Late, Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow
REVIEWS Fiction 5 Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
by Margot Berwin
The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith
S U B S C R I B E
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Wildflower by Mark Seal American Passage by Vincent J. Cannato
16 My Father’s Tears by John Updike
The Language of Things by Deyan Sudjic
The Thing Around Your Neck
23 Down Around Midnight by Robert Sabbag
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
24 Soul Survivor by Bruce and Andrea Leininger
April & Oliver by Tess Callahan
24 Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure
it’s AUDIO month!
by Matthew Algeo
28 So Long as Men Can Breathe by Clinton Heylin 28 Fixing My Gaze by Susan R. Barry 30 Kissinger by Alistair Horne
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6 We Two by Gillian Gill 6
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18 Travel Recommendations for this summer’s family
Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire
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16 Well Read Exploring modern India with Man
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THE BEST IN NEW BOOKS Publisher Michael A. Zibart
The queen of the spoken word shares her secrets
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Cover photo: Michael Lewis and daughter Quinn on the beach in Spain © Tabitha Soren.
buzz girl ➥ Our publishing
insider gets the skinny on tomorrow’s bestsellers June marks the official start of the beach reading season, but we’re already looking ahead to fall, with new books by Mitch Albom, Margaret Atwood and Stephen King on the horizon.
➥ mitch’s pitch A priest, a rabbi and a best-selling author walk into a book . . . nope, it’s not a joke, it’s the summary of the forthcoming novel by Tuesdays with Morrie author Mitch Albom. Hyperion will publish Have a Little Faith on September 22 and promises to tug hard on those heartstrings. “It all mitch albom started with the question: How does a nonreligious person like me do a eulogy?” explained the writer and former sports journalist.
the disaster has shaped, facing new life forms and a changing climate. The book will also include a CD of hymns that inspired it.
➥ king’s new stand?
Since then, the books have been turned into comics and become cult favorites, but there’s been little news on the trilogy’s final volume—until now. On July 28, readers can pick up Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein #3: Dead or Alive (Bantam Dell). Fun fact: the Frankenstein concept began as a TV project.
LAURELL K. HAMILTON
➥ mitchell alert
When a vampire serial killer sends Anita Blake a grisly souvenir from Las Vegas, she has to warn the local authorities. Only it’s worse than she thought. Eleven victims have already been slain—paranormal style.
NEW IN HARDCOVER AND NOW IN PAPERBACK:
Members of Penguin Group (USA) penguin.com
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We hear that literary luminary David Stephen King fans will be spending a Mitchell will publish his fifth novel with lot of time reading this NovemRandom House in June 2010. ber, when Simon & Schuster Mitchell is known for his adpublishes the 1,200-page Unventurous works, but the new der the Dome. King revealed in book, which is set in Japan, a recent Entertainment Weekly is rumored to be even more column that the novel has been ambitious than Cloud Atlas. a work-in-progress for 25 years. Though born in England, The book is an epic story with Mitchell worked as a teacher a huge cast to rival that of the in Japan for a number of years King classic The Stand, and and became intrigued by its takes place in and around a history—his second novel, small Maine town that is sud- stephen king Number9Dream, was narrated denly cut off from the rest of by a 20-year-old Japanese boy. brave new world the world by an invisible force field. FamSame pub date, very different book: ilies are separated and lives are at stake as vamps won’t die unlike Albom, Canadian novelist Mar- the world tries to figure out what’s hapAnother popular vampire franchise garet Atwood won’t be aiming for the pened and why. has been licensed for the small screen. heartstrings with her latest novel. The Racier than Twilight and edgier than the Year of the Flood is another “dystopic turow on the case Southern Vampire series (which became masterpiece” from the author—accordScott Turow will publish a sequel to the HBO series “True Blood”), Laurell ing to Doubleday, who will publish the the bestseller Presumed Innocent in May K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake, Vampire book September 22. In the wake of a 2010. Innocent (Grand Central)will reHunter novels have a place of their own natural disaster, two women make their unite Rusty Sabich and Tomy Molto (if in readers’ hearts. In 2010, they’ll be way through the strange new world that you can reunite deadly adversar- making headway on their TV screens as ies, that is) after Rusty’s wife dies well, when IFC tv will air a made-for-TV mysteriously. This will be the movie starring the heroine. first Turow novel not published DOT COM in hardcover by Farrar, Straus, & good sports Giroux, who discovered the auThe Manning men—that’s Peyton, thor in the late 1970s. Eli, and their father Archie, for those of you who don’t watch football—have For up-to-the-minute news on what’s start series plans to share some of their life lessons next from your favorite authors, check Just when you thought you’d with children. The trio has signed a conout the shiny new blog from the editors seen the last of Tim LaHaye, tract with Scholastic to write a children’s of BookPage, The Book Case. the author of the Left Behind picture book to be published in Septembooks will return in Fall 2010 ber. This will be the first book for the with the first in a new trilogy Mannings, who rank among football’s chronicling the end of days. In most recognized faces. Peyton and Eli Endgame (Zondervan), written are both Super Bowl-winning quarterwith Craig Parshall, the rapture backs, while dad Archie played for the is brought about by a nuclear New Orleans Saints. event. Since our mid-April launch, we’ve star reader posted news on forthcoming books from yes doctor Actress Julia Roberts is planning a the likes of Barbara Kingsolver and Dan Count author Dean Koontz project with a literary among the many who have link. The Georgia Brown, written about a few of the more been inspired by Mary Shel- native has optioned interesting articles to come through the ley’s classic, Frankenstein. Back Kate Jacobs’ The BookPage mailroom, announced award in 2005, Koontz collaborated Friday Night Knitting winners, shared stories from our literary with two sci-fi writers—Kev- Club for Universal travels—and, oh yes, held a contest or in J. Anderson and Ed Gor- Pictures, and plans to two for our readers. And that’s just the man—to launch a series that star in and produce explored the modern-day life the film. It’s a long beginning! Don’t miss another day: visit of Dr. Frankenstein, who has way from license to julia roberts bookpage.wordpress.com or add The mastered the art of eternal screen, but we think Book Case to your RSS reader. youth and is on a quest to cre- this project is a good bet for the former ate a perfect race of monsters. Pretty Woman.
#1 New York Times bestselling author
THE AUTHOR ENABLERS
Two kids who changed R&B By Edward Morris It is no exaggeration to say that Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller reshaped American culture with their songs—tunes such as “Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots,” “Charlie Brown,” “Poison Ivy,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Kansas City,” “Searchin’” and the Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton/Elvis Presley hit that serves as the book’s title, “Hound Dog.” Individually—and before either had reached his teens— these two Jewish white boys, Leiber from Baltimore and Stoller from Queens, New York, developed a passion for rootsy, hard-bitten black music. After they joined forces in 1950, they found themselves creating the kind of songs that transcended race, an effort that would eventually earn them a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Leiber and Stoller tell their story in alternating segments ranging from a paragraph to a few pages. While this might seem to be a disjointed approach, it actually works quite well since the personalities and voices of the two men are so distinct. Stoller, who still writes music for Leiber’s lyrics, emerges as the more restrained and domesticated of the two. Early on, Leiber was drawn to fast cars and easy women, a combination that once led to tragedy when he crashed his Jaguar on a slick Hound Dog mountain road, killing one of the two call girls riding with By Jerry Leiber and him. Stoller and his wife narrowly averted tragedy themselves Mike Stoller in 1956 when the ship on which they were returning to New Simon & Schuster York, the Andrea Doria, sank off the coast of Nantucket. $25, 336 pages Leiber and Stoller recall, sometimes with glee, sometimes ISBN 9781416559382 annoyance, rubbing shoulders with many of the most prominent figures in show business, including Presley, Peggy Lee, producer Phil Spector, actor Ben Gazzara and novelist Norman Mailer (who on one occasion tried to choke Leiber). All in all, theirs is a rich slice of life for both music fans and cultural historians. “Thanks to Elvis and a host of other white boys,” says Leiber, “rhythm & blues . . . morphed into rock and roll. . . . Unconsciously, we were the avant-garde of a movement that we didn’t even know was a movement or had an avant-garde.” o Edward Morris reviews from Nashville.
We know how frustrating it can be to get the word out about a new book, especially when you don’t have the marketing muscle BY SAM BARRY & of a conventional publisher behind you. Thanks for sharing your story with us, KATHI KAMEN GOLDMARK because it is good for other authors who are considering self-publishing to be aware that it can be tough to get the attention of media and booksellers. There’s a wonderful book (first published in 2003 but available in a new edition) that is filled with excellent advice: Publicize Your Book by Jacqueline Duval. We highly recommend it for detailed suggestions and ideas on do-it-yourself book publicity. Dear Author Enablers, I have long wanted to write about my unique but painful childhood. To make the story appeal to readers, I need a happier ending and would need to fictionalize the latter part. My concern is the legal problems with the persons who caused me harm being exposed in the story. Do I need to talk to a lawyer? I am determined to write the story. Evelyn Staley, North Carolina
J.A. Scheffer Long Island, New York It is not necessary to have your work copyrighted before submitting to agents and publishers, as you cannot copyright an idea, but only the exact words as written—and we guarantee that some of those words will change in the process of having a book published. It is acceptable to submit to more than one agent and publisher at a time, as long as you are honest with everyone about doing so. Think of it in terms of highschool dating: it’s OK to play the field as long as you haven’t promised anyone to go steady. But once you’ve accepted that date to the prom and you’re wearing their ID bracelet, it’s really bad form to ditch your date if a better offer comes along. If you offer an exclusive look, make it for a limited time and don’t sneak around. Literary Market Place is your best all around source for listings of agents and publishers. As for being wary, there’s no need to be paranoid, but keep your eyes open. Your real concern here is getting attention for your work, and that’s hard enough. o
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Bob Bickmeyer Troy, Michigan
Dear Author Enablers: I am near completing a first novel and am wondering if it is advisable to get it officially copyrighted before submitting it to agents and/or publishers. I would also like to know whether it is acceptable to submit to more than one publisher or agent at a time, as I have heard it can take months to get a response. Lastly, and I am sure you’ve answered this a thousand times, what is the best resource for finding agents and publishers and is there anything of which I should be wary?
From the author of The Paper Bag Christmas comes an emotional novel about the fears, joys, and foibles of being an imperfect parent, and the truths passed on from one generation to the next.
—Jason Wright, New York Times bestselling author of Recovering Charles
Dear Author Enablers, I’ve written Laughter In Real Life, which is chock-full of true humor. The only two agents who read my book loved it, but could not induce a publisher to read it. I then self-published it and sold almost 100 copies, but have not successfully promoted it. I’ve taken it to local bookstores that were not interested. Copies were sent to local clubs, columnists, Jay Leno and Oprah Winfrey, but nary a bite. What is the best way to promote it?
You would not be the first author whose work is informed by painful experience. Sam’s writing is itself a painful experience. But seriously—if you fictionalize your book (by which we mean using your imagination to create characters, names and plot), you have more freedom to turn your memories into a well-paced and engaging story. If you decide you must write a memoir, you have to stick to the truth, but you can change the names and disguise the location. As for legal concerns, you don’t need a lawyer until you have a publisher, at which point the publisher’s legal department will review the manuscript and let you know if further action is required. And while we’re on the subject, what do you call a lawyer gone bad?*
Before he becomes a father, August Witte must learn what it means to be a son.
“No book has ever inspired me more to be a better father, son, and husband…. Simply put, THE NINE LESSONS is a book every father and son should read.”
No laughing matter
* A senator. 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.
Another cultural offering from Lisa See By Deborah Donovan Lisa See’s previous work has highlighted the lives of women in China from the 17th century to the present. Her latest novel opens in 1937 Shanghai, then shifts to the U.S., where See focuses her unique lens on the poverty and prejudice experienced by Chinese Americans until the late 1950s. Pearl and May Chin, 21 and 18 years old, are working as models in Shanghai when their lives are dramatically uprooted: their father’s gambling debts have forced him to sell them into marriage to Chinese-American husbands. As they plan to elude this unacceptable fate, Japanese bombs begin falling on Shanghai; in their attempt to escape, Pearl is brutally raped by soldiers and hospitalized. Their misfortunes continue after landing at Angel Island (“the Ellis Island of the West”), where the sisters are interrogated for months. Pearl realizes they are hopelessly stranded: “China is lost to the Japanese, May’s pregnant, and we have no money and no family.” The only officially married woman of the two, Pearl takes May’s place as mother of Joy, the baby born shortly before they leave for Los Angeles to meet their husbands. See astutely blends the struggle of this extended Shanghai Girls family with actual historical events: their attempts at distin- By Lisa See guishing themselves as non-Japanese during the war, their Random House reactions from afar as the Red Army pushes across China $25, 336 pages and the ensuing McCarthy-era bids at labeling them Com- ISBN 9781400067114 Also available on audio munists. Throughout her compelling family saga, See underlines the importance of ancient traditions for her characters, especially Pearl, whose motherin-law instills “Chinese” into her “as surely as the flavor of ginger seeps into soup.” When Joy returns from her first college year in 1956 calling her family “wrong and backward,” it is Pearl who reacts most strongly, while May is the one who has adapted L.A.’s Hollywood mores quite easily. But as the novel ends, May tells Pearl, “Whenever our hair is white, we’ll still have our sister love.” Satisfying on so many levels, See’s latest is above all a confirmation of unbreakable family bonds, as two Shanghai girls survive seemingly insurmountable setbacks, both at home and abroad. o Deborah Donovan writes from La Veta, Colorado.
Jane Green © CHRIS LLOYD
Women behaving badly
Jane Green is a former British newspaper columnist who broke into the ranks of international bestsellers with her second book, Jemima J. Her latest novel is Dune Road (Viking, $25.95, 352 pages, ISBN 9780670020867), a frank and funny story about life in an exclusive beach town. Green and her husband, Ian Warburg, live in Connecticut with their blended family of six children.
JUNE 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
By Jillian Quint At the start of the fifth novel by PEN/Faulkner Award-winner Kate Christensen, successful New York therapist Josie finds herself flirting with a man who is significantly younger—and decidedly not her husband. She drinks wine, throws her head back in hysterics and, as she watches herself deftly play out the calculations of seduction, becomes increasingly convinced that something in her life must change: she must leave her passionless marriage despite fears that it will traumatize her family. In a surprisingly comic turn of events, however, Josie’s decision barely fazes her academic husband and adopted daughter Wendy, a resentful and perpetually bored preteen who Christensen crafts with wickedly clever punch. After all, as Wendy puts it: “Parents split up. It happens to everyone.” Josie is prepared to move out of her apartment and rebuild her life when she calls her college friend Raquel, a Los Angeles rock star who is being vilified by the press for stealing a much younger man away from his pregnant girlfriend. Raquel suggests they sneak away to Mexico City to regroup, and Josie, despite her best efforts at responsibility, can’t see a reason not to. Once there, the pair embarks on a journey of renewed friendship and sexual awakening, as well as substance abuse, paparazzi avoidance and other forms of “trouble” few Trouble 40-year-old women encounter. Josie takes up with a local art- By Kate Christensen ist and Raquel balances the line between self-discovery and Doubleday self-destruction. $26, 320 pages Trouble is a smart and sexy look at the way libido plays into ISBN 9780385527309 the female midlife crisis, and many of Christensen’s observations in the novel’s first half sparkle with acerbic wit. She loses steam, however, as the women traipse through Mexico City, and readers may find themselves wishing Josie had stayed in Manhattan to hash it out with her cruelly bemused husband. Still, it’s refreshing to read about middle-aged women who are given not only agency, but also vivacity and desire. o Jillian Quint is an editor at a publishing house in New York. She lives in Brooklyn.
Power couple, royal struggle
A larger-than-life African adventure
By Faye Jones As the future Queen of England, Princess Victoria was the most eligible bride in Europe. She saw marriage as “the most important business transaction of her life.” Her cousin Prince Albert was raised to make a good marriage, and there was no better marriage prospect than Victoria. Romantic love had little to do with it. Still, somehow these two did make a happy marriage. Gillian Gill brings a fresh perspective on the well-told story of Albert and Victoria in We Two. By looking at them as not only husband and wife, but as co-rulers and often rivals for power, she portrays the pair, often seen as old-fashioned, more like a modern power couple. This pair who put a name and image to their age didn’t always fit the stereotype. Albert was ambitious and believed he would be king in actuality if not in name. With Victoria’s first pregnancy, his dream seemed to be coming true. He took over the reins of the government, but had to be cautious because the English people did not want a foreignborn ruler. They were loyal to Victoria; they tolerated Albert. By the time of Albert’s death, Gill shows that there were serious power struggles going on within the marriage. We Two The childbearing years were (finally) over for Victoria; she By Gillian Gill now had the energy to renew her interest in affairs of state. Ballantine Furthermore, that interest had been whetted as she took on $35, 464 pages the role of wartime queen during the Crimean War. Letters ISBN 9780345484055 show that she was beginning to assert herself more in family affairs as well. Who knows what story we would tell if Albert had shared the other 40 years of Victoria’s reign? Albert’s early death solidified the myth of their perfect marriage and that myth would domesticate Albert’s reputation. He had wanted to be “the Eminent Victorian” and certainly had the brains, drive and administrative skill to make a mark on history. But after his death, Victoria stole the spotlight from her husband as she excessively mourned him, sealing his fate. This is one of the sad ironies of the prince’s life: that a man who hoped to put his stamp on history is mostly known for his marriage. o Faye Jones is dean of learning services at Nashville State Technical College.
By Maude McDaniel Everything about Africa seems outsized—the landscape, the beauty, the dangers, the passions. Wildflower, the story of some of the greatest African nature films and, more especially of those who made them, is outsized as well. The “wildflower,” Joan Root, herself beautiful as a Hollywood heroine, helped produce ground-breaking documentaries like The Year of the Wildebeest and Mysterious Castles of Clay (a 1978 Oscar nominee) in the 1970s. She was extraordinarily sensitive to the destructive times she lived in and uniquely gifted in her quiet ability to do everything possible to reverse, or at least, restrict the damage. Born in 1936 to a white Kenyan settler, Joan grew up “in the arms of the wild.” (As a baby, she was kidnapped by a big red monkey who surrendered her for a banana.) After finishing school in Switzerland, she returned to Kenya to help her parents run a photo-safari business, where she met and married Alan Root, a free spirit whose daredevil dominance complemented Joan’s overly controlled inner depths. Mark Seal’s empathetic account, expanded from an article in Vanity Fair, sees her as one of the world’s two “greatest wildlife filmmakers” of their time. The other was her Wildflower husband, whom she enabled in all ways, good and bad. With Alan’s spark and physical hubris shepherded by Joan’s By Mark Seal astounding ability to plan and participate in the filming Random House $26, 240 pages without turning a hair, they produced film after film. ISBN 9781400067367 For 28 years they appeared to have the perfect marriage, except for the occasional dalliance on Alan’s part. Joan’s ability to live with this seems outsized too, but she put herself heart and soul into protecting the precious ecosystem in Kenya against the depredations of an international flower business. Joan put her safety into the hands of a young local, which turned out to be a mistake. Shot to death by assailants who invaded her property, she died at the age of 69. This absorbing biography will assure her place in the list of individuals who deserve appreciation for their willingness to put themselves on the line (and in the line of fire) for the natural world and its treasures. o Maude McDaniel writes from Maryland.
JUNE 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
A sizzling new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author
The sexy Corwin cousins will need more than a little luck to defeat this family curse!
Coming in October www.HQNBooks.com
Both available now! 978-0-373-77331-2
6 09_092_BookPage_LuckyStreak.indd 1
3/24/09 12:55:24 PM
As Michael Lewis learns, every dad has his day
“The thing that most surprised me about fatherhood the first time around was how long it took before I felt about my child what I was expected to feel,” he writes. “Clutching Quinn after she exited the womb, I was able to generate tenderness and a bit of theoretical affection, but after that, for a good six weeks, the best I could manage was detached amusement. The worst was hatred. I distinctly remember standing on a balcony with Quinn squawking in my arms and wondering what I would do if it wasn’t against the law to hurl her off it.” Lewis eventually came to love all three of his children fiercely, of course, but admits it wasn’t instantaneous. He theorizes that society has something to do with the fact that more parents don’t acknowledge the hardships of raising a family. “All you have to do is look around to see that, at least in the middle-class and above, anxiety about being a bad parent has reached epic proportions,” he said. “There were these enormous social pressures I felt: when I really wanted to do x, the world insisted I do y, so I did y, but I was pissed off about it.” Home Game is intensely honest, and Lewis admits to a bit of nerves now that the book is actually being published. “Writing the [Slate] columns over the years . . . was purgative,” he says. “It was therapy. Although I was really, really happy to dash off the articles, now I feel somewhat ambivalent about it.” And how about his wife, who spends much of the book either pregnant, in labor or in tears? “I think she knows readers will see through whatever I wrote and just feel pity and sympathy for her for being married to me,” Lewis speculates. “Really, though, she really liked that I was getting it down on paper, because you don’t remember so much of it after. We also were both shocked by how many bad things happen that we never knew existed.” For all his confessional writing, Lewis clearly relishes being a dad. In one of the most poignant passages of the book, he details a night he spent camping with his daughter. Many hot dogs and frustrated attempts to set up camp later, Lewis and daughter Quinn call it a night. She awakens at 4:12 a.m. with an urgent thought. “‘Daddy, I just want to say how much fun I had with you today,’ she says. Actual tears well up in my eyes. ‘I had fun with you, too,’ I say. ‘Can we go back to sleep?’ ‘Yes, Daddy.’” After two daughters, Lewis assumed his family was complete. Not so. His wife felt someone was missing. Not long after, son Walker was born. “Perhaps the only wise moment I had in this process was to be totally aware I had absolutely no say in how many kids we would have and when we would have them,” he said. Being a writer, Lewis travels often for book tours and speaking engagements. He takes his children with him as often as possible. “I try to work them into my work life as much as I can,” he said. “Eventually, if you take care of your kids, you’ll love them, but the trick is if you can really like them. I really like my kids.” As far as writing about Quinn, Dixie and Walker, though, Lewis says he’s through. “I’m done,” he says, “certainly done in the sense that I’m not going to follow their journeys through adolescence with a pen and paper.” o Amy Scribner and family live in Olympia, Washington.
“All you have to do is look
around to see that anxiety
about being a bad parent has reached epic proportions.”
Home Game By Michael Lewis Norton $23.95, 208 pages ISBN 9780393069013 Also available on audio
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By Amy Scribner s a first-time mother trying to make sense of a colicky newborn—one who seemingly needed only a few minutes of sleep every 24 hours—only one thing saved me from running screaming from the house. It was Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott, a hilarious, self-deprecating memoir chronicling her experience as a new mom. I read it obsessively, dog-earing certain pages and taking solace in the fact that another mother, somewhere, sometime, had found parenting a newborn as frustrating, stressful and draining as I did. If only Home Game had been around then. Michael Lewis, probably best known for his sharply reported look at the finances of major league baseball, Moneyball, now focuses his keen wit and sharp observations on his own family. Married to former MTV reporter Tabitha Soren (who took our cover photo), and the father of three young children, he knows the challenges of parenthood and isn’t afraid to talk about them. Unabashedly frank, hilarious and sweetly sentimental (“I am addicted to my wife,” he admits at one point), Home Game is divided into three MICHAEL LEWIS parts—one for each of his children. Lewis spoke with BookPage from his home in Berkeley, California, where he’d just returned from a family vacation to South Beach, Miami. Family vacation, yes. Family-friendly vacation, not entirely. “My nine- and six-year-old girls, this was more exposed flesh than they’ve ever seen in their lives,” Lewis says of the notoriously scantily clad (and surgically enhanced) South Beach crowd. “There was a man in a gold thong. There was a topless beach. Both girls were saying, ‘Don’t look Daddy! Don’t look!’ It was hard not to. These (breasts) were like looking at the seventh wonder of the world. In Berkeley, all the boobs go down to the navels.” Such is the life of Michael Lewis, Family Man—an ordinary guy with an extraordinary job, one that has allowed him to write bestsellers about the business of sports and the insanity of Wall Street (Liar’s Poker), and now, about his own life. “It’s a little weird—I don’t know how to put this—normally, there’s a subject, a kind of substance to what I’ve written,” Lewis says. “Now it’s air—it’s just my life.” Much of Home Game is drawn from several years’ worth of columns Lewis wrote for Slate called “Dad Again.” It’s a somewhat daring and in many ways groundbreaking book about what it’s like to be a father in modern America. Lewis is incredibly candid throughout, writing about his wife’s bout with postpartum panic disorder, his incredibly awkward vasectomy and the secret so many parents share but rarely talk about:
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This season’s best reads for the dad in your life By Howard Shirley atherhood is fascinating, frustrating, frightening and funny—and the wise man appreciates all four aspects. As another Father’s Day rolls around, five books offer insight and interest for fathers of all ages—as well as mothers, sons and daughters, too.
Fathers, sons and the game of golf At the same time that boys turn into young men, their fathers often reach their own turning points. The boy of 16 is learning what sort of man he may become; the father in his 40s is discovering the difference between the man he thought he’d be and the man he is. In his latest book, A Son of the Game: A Story of Golf, Going Home, and Sharing Life’s Lessons (Algonquin, $24.95, 292 pages, ISBN 9781565125063), golf writer and journalist James Dodson weaves together both these journeys, wrapped in a story of homecoming and the love of an ancient game. The tale begins as Dodson, disillusioned with golf journalism, returns to Pinehurst, North Carolina, “the home of golf in America,” to bid goodbye to a dying friend. Set amid the pine-covered sand hills between the mountains and the sea, Pinehurst is a home of sorts to Dodson, a place where he first learned the game of golf from his own father. When an opportunity to join a small regional newspaper arises, Dodson ponders it as a cure for his jaded soul—but worries how his family will respond, in particular his teenage son, Jack. There is conflict for both, but as father and son build a connection on the golf course, the “Pinehurst cure” leads them to a better understanding of themselves and each other. A Son of the Game is a magical memoir of midlife crisis, teenage uncertainty and the power of a legacy gently handed down. Whether you love the game of golf or can’t tell a sand wedge from a six iron, Dodson’s book will put the spell of Pinehurst on your heart—a spell that is simply the call of home.
From one dad to another Children do not become teenagers overnight, and dads are not 40 in an instant. Fatherhood stretches for many years, and is experienced by men in many different ways.
New from Axios Press Martin Green portrays Gandhi as a flawed man who aspired to perfection, reducing him to human scale without diminishing his greatness. “Gandhi helps us understand why Vaclav Havel, Al Gore, and many more find him relevant . . . [his is] a New Age voice that speaks to us about the 21st century.” Lloyd Rudolph, University of Chicago $15 (softcover) • ISBN 978-1-60419-012-0
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“Harold Nicolson scans history for personality, and arranges his book as a gallery of portraits bathed in the warm glow of idiosyncrasy. The result is an entertainment written in a witty and amusing fashion, a lively account of 18th century despots and philosophes that cleverly undermines its title by emphasizing the eccentric, the ironic, and the downright perverse.” Time Magazine
The Book of Dads: Essays on the Joys, Perils and Humiliations of Fatherhood (HarperPerennial, $14.99, 304 pages, ISBN 9780061711558), edited by Ben George, collects essays and memories about fatherhood from an assortment of writers, including Clyde Edgerton and Rick Bragg. Some of the accounts are pure humor, others are poignant, but all offer a fascinating record of ideas, attitudes and approaches to fatherhood. One wishes the collection were somewhat broader—the authors seem to share similar ideologies, with very little diversity in their views—but the essays themselves are well written and fascinating to read.
Lessons for survival A consistent theme in the previous books is how fathers prepare their children to survive in life. Norman Ollestad’s Crazy for the Storm: A Memoir of Survival (Ecco, $25.99, 288 pages, ISBN 9780061766725) recounts the author’s experience of his own father’s unconventional approach to parenting, and how it led to the boy’s ability to survive in a situation his father had not planned—the crash of their chartered Cessna into a mountainside. Ollestad cuts back and forth between his travels with his surfer father, his life with his mother and her abusive boyfriend, and his fight for life as the lone survivor of the plane crash. It is a story of both a father’s successes and his failures, and is as much about surviving the actions of child-like adults as about the dangerous descent down the ice-covered mountain. At times beautiful, at times heart-wrenching, Crazy for the Storm is a commanding read—a tale that proves the power of the human spirit can rise against any challenge, and a father’s legacy can be larger than he imagines. Norman Ollestad didn’t have Hawke’s Green Beret Survival Manual (Running Press, $22.95, 632 pages, ISBN 9780762433582) during his mountain ordeal, but he lived the most important part of it: “Never quit!” It is Myke Hawke’s first rule of survival, and his book tells how to apply it in the worst possible situations. Hawke served as a Green Beret for 25 years, rising from enlisted man to officer. His specialty: survival. Hawke’s book is full of techniques and instructions on everything from building shelters to identifying edible plants. And his advice covers situations from surviving the wilderness to dangerous urban environments—including gangs, riots, even a nuclear aftermath—and includes a strong dose of expert philosophy on the nature of survival. Hawke doesn’t just study survival, he has lived it, both as a soldier and as a 14-year-old boy abandoned to the winter streets of urban Virginia. Hawke is a survivor—and if you take his advice, when worse comes to worse, you can be too.
$15 (softcover) • ISBN 978-1-60419-011-3
The best of ESPN
With its intense, brilliant descriptions of Mediterranean life and culture, this memoir is fi lled with sensual seascapes, rich beauty, and tremendous poignancy. “No person, place, or thing can ever quite remain the same for us after we have seen, smelled, tasted, heard, and felt it through the senses of Lawrence Durrell.” Saturday Review
Lastly, fatherhood isn’t all about seriousness or survival. It’s also about having fun. And if your father is the type for whom “fun” means “sports,” you could do worse than to give him The ESPN Mighty Book of Sports Knowledge (ESPN Books, $25, 224 pages, ISBN 9780345511775) edited by Steve Wulf. Instead of a collection of stats, this book is a delightful hodgepodge of trivia, essays and tips—like how to throw a Whiffle ball and strategies for winning Rock, Paper, Scissors. There are also accounts of great sports moments, lists of best (and worst) sports movies, and such essential items as a tour of Donovan McNabb’s locker. The contributors range from athletes to coaches, and the stories stretch from the poignant to the peculiar (like the time a lacrosse team fielded a sixfoot-five-inch, 600-pound goalie). Fathers and kids (and like-minded mothers) will enjoy this crazy little mix of knowledge. After all, where else can you learn legendary basketball coach John Wooden’s rules for putting on socks? That’s the sort of stuff a father loves to pass on—especially if it drives a kid nuts. o Howard Shirley is a writer who is surviving fatherhood in Franklin, Tennessee.
$12 (softcover) • ISBN 978-1-60419-009-0
Good Behavior is an amusing, cultured, and thoroughly readable account of the history of culture, civility, and manners. Endlessly fascinating, this history of civilized behavior—and rudeness and bad manners—is a literary delight. “This book is as thoughtful and thought-evoking a piece of work as I have read . . . really beautiful prose.” G.M. Young, Sunday Times $12 (softcover) • ISBN 978-1-60419-010-6 Available from leading booksellers everywhere
Books to help you think through your personal values
Real life with real fathers By Joanna Brichetto ather’s Day is not always a Hallmark moment. The reality of family life is usually far from perfection; for some it is farther than others. Take these three authors: children of fathers gone for good, for bad or just gone, and all left with a legacy of regret, guilt, shame or uncertainty. Each book records the drama of adult children struggling to determine who their fathers really were, and at the same time, by the very act of writing, who they are, themselves. In Either You’re In or You’re In the Way (Harper, $26.99, 304 pages, ISBN 9780061763144), twin brothers Logan and Noah Miller chronicle their own wild ride of a filmic tribute to their father. The boys were blue-collar to the bone, living from odd job (roofer, bouncer) to even odder job (Abercrombie & Fitch model), trying to make enough to support themselves and their chronically homeless alcoholic dad. But when Mr. Miller suddenly dies during a routine stay in a jail cell, alone and ill, the twins vow to take his story to the world: to make a movie that will help redeem the suffering of a good man. They have never been to film school, written a script, shot a scene, nor have a single contact in the biz, yet within a year, they manage to write, fund, act in and produce a feature film. Despite ridiculous odds, the twins assemble an Academy Awardwinning cast and crew with Ed Harris in the lead role. Perversely, it is thanks to the horror of the father’s end that his sons turn tragedy into a triumph of his own making. Either You’re In or You’re In the Way is told in a careening, no-nonsense, seat-of-the-pants style that is no doubt similar to the way the twins actually lived it. By the way, the boys’ movie, Touching Home, has already garnered accolades at a prestigious film festival, and is now making its way to wider audiences.
“If you like Nicholas Sparks, you will love Will North— he is a strong, vivid writer with a romantic’s heart.” —Patricia Gaffney, New York Times bestselling author of mad dash
Paternity pursuit Then there is the age-old Oedipal story of a boy who literally doesn’t know who his father is. In Go Ask Your Father: One Man’s Obsession with Finding His Origins Through DNA Testing (Bantam, $25, 240 pages, ISBN 9780553805512) Lennard J. Davis, an English professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, doggedly pursues answers to complicated questions, questions that several key players hoped would never be asked. After a lifetime of ignoring a persistent “underlying murmur” that his dad was not, in fact, his biological father, Davis investigates every possible clue to uncover the truth. What follows is a mix of memoir, genealogical mystery and a concise history of artificial insemination and DNA testing. “Obsession” is an apt word to describe Davis’ pursuit, yet there is no guarantee that even this level of exhausting and exhaustive research will produce all the right answers. Who was his real father: the man he called Dad, his ne’er-do-well uncle, an anonymous sperm donor, or perhaps most shocking, his mother’s gynecologist? Which man would he prefer turn out to be so? And what does being a “real” father mean? Do genetics truly define us, and if so, to what degree? Toward the end of Go Ask Your Father, one particular family photo speaks a thousand inscrutable words in response.
Newly divorced Andrew Stratton takes a trip to Boscastle, England, where he channels his pain into a course on building stone walls. Becoming enamored with the Cornish town’s charming and quirky inhabitants, he falls for Nicola, an artist with her own troubled past. WAtEr, StoNE, HEArt is a moving and bittersweet novel of love, loss, and the power of nature to alter the very fabric of our lives. SHAyE ArEHEArt BookS
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Danzy Senna’s Where Did You Sleep Last Night? A Personal History (Farrar, Straus, $23, 208 pages, ISBN 9780374289157) is a completely different exploration of personal identity. The 1968 wedding of her parents—a blue-blood Boston Brahmin mother and a Southern black father—would seem a match made in civil rights heaven, but the eight-year union and violent divorce turn out to be domestic hell. As the product of two clashing cultures and colors, Senna is shaped by the labels forced upon her by her own parents, and by the problematic reception America grants a child of mixed-race heritage. It is no accident that both of her novels, Caucasia and Symptomatic, involve a female, biracial protagonist, but now this acclaimed writer hopes to dig beneath fiction for fact. She focuses on her father: a man whose past is anything but clear, even to himself. He is abusive, alcoholic, brilliant, beautiful, drifting, maddening and mysterious. Senna travels South on the trail of contradictory rumors and legal records, negotiating this alien landscape wherein the very nature and definition of family are called into question. Ultimately, her search leads to a reframing of identity for four generations, including her infant son, and the exposure of a complex middle ground of meaning, far from black and white. o Joanna Brichetto writes from Nashville.
Audio narrator brings stories to life with versatile ‘voice of the century’ By Jay MacDonald s the unmistakable voice of Dorothy Gilman’s Mrs. Pollifax, Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody, Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon and the characters in more than 400 other titles, Barbara Rosenblat’s credentials as queen of the audiobook speak for themselves. The only woman to win six Audie Awards, this multitalented, transatlantic character actress, singer and dancer has been on a wildly successful verbal run since she first heard her own voice on her uncle’s tape recorder as a child. “It was like a Proustean moment. My life changed at that moment,” she recalls. “It’s like looking at your reflection in a mirror for the first time and seeing what you look like.”
An award-winning reader who gives voice to characters from Amelia Peabody to Bridget Jones BARBARA ROSENBLAT
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Rosenblat admits that in her role as an audio narrator, she’s a stickler for preparation and reads her scripts “down to the letter.” “Even if a book is not sterling, a good audio can elevate substandard material,” she says. “It’s movies for the ears.” Rosenblat has created memorable audio performances of such diverse titles as Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary, Amistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series and Larry McMurtry’s Terms of Endearment. Little wonder she’s won 40 Golden Earphone awards from AudioFile magazine and been named its Voice of the Century. Born in London to Holocaust survivors, the precocious Rosenblat grew up in New York City, the perfect incubator for her often-spontaneous, Annie-like public performances in city parks and street corners. Later, when she enrolled at City College in Harlem, she fell in with the musical comedy society and discovered a new medium for her vocal gifts: radio. “I had a weekly radio show for three years called ‘Front Row Center.’ I got to see and review Broadway shows, interviewed people and played clips from different cast albums,” she recalls. Bitten by the acting bug, Rosenblat nevertheless took her father’s advice and earned certificates to teach English, theater and speech in New York City schools. She barely had time to use them. “The first job I got was playing Yenta in a three-city dinner theater tour of Fiddler on the Roof in Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio,” she says. “I had more fun than a bucket full of bunnies.” Versatility—and that marvelous, mellifluous voice—have kept Rosenblat in demand ever since, for a wide range of performing roles. On Broadway, she originated the part of Mrs. Medlock in the Tony Award-winning The Secret Garden and appeared in Eric Bogosian’s Talk Radio with Liev Schreiber. Her screen credits include Little Shop of Horrors, Reds, “Guiding Light,” “Law and Order SVU” and a number of BBC productions. She provided the world-weary voice of Sal, the office manager, for those NPR car guys in the animated series “Click and Clack’s As the Wrench Turns,” and even voiced a Teutonic transsexual dope fiend in the classic videogame “Grand Theft Auto.” Last year, friends convinced her to audition for the singing, dancing role of Gertrude Stein in 27 Rue de Fleurus. She nailed it off-Broadway. Still, audiobooks are where her star shines brightest. She often gets so into a performance that tissues have become a studio staple. “I just did Anne Frank Remembered and at the end of it, we were all a mess, not a dry eye in the house,” she says. “On the other hand, when I recorded Sue Townsend’s The Queen and I, which is one of the funniest books I’ve ever done, I remember sitting in the studio with tissues all over the place, laughing myself hysterical.” Rosenblat credits her “phonographic memory” with the ability to create and recreate a sometimes-unwieldy cast of characters. She’s up for another Audie this year for Katie MacAlister’s supernatural comedy Fire Me Up, in which she not only performs as libidinous guardian Aisling Grey, but her drowsy Newfoundland dog, Jim. Does she ever carry accents home with her? “No, but when I go back to England, I get straight back into the Brit thing. The same is true when I get in with a mix of Europeans; (with German accent) I will start to pick up little bits of what they’re doing and I can’t stop myself!” she chuckles. “I’ve had people say to me, Stop mocking! and I say, it’s not mocking, it’s research. I’m flexing. This is my gym; New York City is my gym. The New York subway is a microcosm of the world.” o 10 Jay MacDonald writes quietly from Austin, Texas, but occasionally moves his lips.
THE SPOKEN WORD
Contaminated waste, wasted lives When Commissario Guido Brunetti sat across from Franca Marinello at an elegant dinner party at the home of Count Falier, his titled father-in-law, he had no idea that this charming woman, married to a much older, wheeler-dealer businessman, would become a major figure in one of his nastier cases. At the time, he just enjoyed their shared love of Cicero and Virgil and wondered at her mangled face-lift. That same day, an officer working for a special environmental branch of the Carabinierie had come to see Brunetti about a murder, probably linked to the illegal transport of toxic waste from the garbagefilled, Camora-controlled South to areas in the Veneto. About Face (BBC Audiobooks, $29.95, BY SUKEY HOWARD 12 hours unabridged, ISBN 9781602835665), ably read by David Colacci, Donna Leon’s 18th novel starring Commissario Brunetti, the gently determined detective with a passion for justice, begins with these two disparate threads. And when it ends, Leon has skillfully twisted them into in a nuanced tale of corruption, contamination and coercion. As always, she’s combined a good Italian police procedural (well, Brunetti would probably call it a non-procedural), set in the real Venice tourists never see, with cogent commentary on contemporary problems.
A darker shade of noir Even though there’s a lot of violent action and fast dialogue, a mesmerizing torpor hangs over Nobody Move (Macmillan Audio, $24.95, 4.5 hours unabridged, ISBN 9781427206893), Denis Johnson’s homage to noir pulp fiction. Will Patton’s narration is so true to the mood, so evocative, that you’ll feel like you’ve smoked a pack of Camels and swallowed a fifth of cheap vodka by the time it’s all over. There are no good guys here, no wisecracking private investigator with a shapely secretary, just a pack of lowlifes heading lower. Right after Jimmy, a compulsive, small-time gambler in hock to some very unpleasant dudes, shoots the enforcer in the leg, he meets a dazzling, alcoholic divorcee, who’s just been dumped by her lawyer husband and framed for embezzling $2.3 million. This not-very-dynamic duo, hoping to get their hands on the dirty dough, end up in the hands of the bad guys and everyone, almost, gets hurt. If you’re a fan of this hard-boiled genre that can’t help poking fun at itself, Johnson’s grim, gritty, darkly funny walk on the wild side will be right up your alley.
Laugh therapy To lighten your load, elevate your spirit and escape the daily grind—just listen to the knock-knock and light bulb jokes, really good “bad” Unitarian, lawyer, blonde and dog jokes in Even More Pretty Good Jokes (HighBridge Audio, $24.95, 1.75 hours unabridged, ISBN 9781598878752). This collection includes the best selections from four “A Prairie Home Companion” joke shows, recorded live in St. Paul. All are told (and sung) by the show’s usual suspects, along with special guests including Roy Blount Jr. Guaranteed to generate giggles, chortles, smiles and grins.
Sukey’s favorite Way before movies, big-screen celebrities, TV, YouTube and Twitter, there were superstars. And Charles Dickens was the unrivaled literary superstar of his day, with a vast audience who waited with more than bated breath for every installment of every book and who battled for tickets to his public readings. When Dickens died in 1870, he left his final novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, unfinished and his fans hungry for a finale. The Last Dickens (Random House Audio, $39.95, 13 hours unabridged, ISBN 9780739344286), Matthew Pearl’s third and, I think, best period novel, plunges us into that era and turns the mystery of “The Mystery” into a terrific historical thriller-diller, replete with duplicitous rogues, murderous opium traders, book-pirating rascals (a big deal at that time), cutthroat publishers, fevered chases, fervent romance, an all-American hero and a remarkably accurate, well-documented portrait of Dickens and his entourage. In turn, Paul Michael’s faultlessly paced, pitch-perfect reading, with a range of convincing voices and accents, turns the book into exciting audio entertainment. o
Moving Stories from Today’s Best Authors
Li st e n t o on e ! r e m m u s s i th
“Come Sunday grips your heart from the ﬁrst page and doesn’t let go.” —Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants READ BY JENNIfER wILTSIE
“Rich in mystery, intrigue, and suspense, Sarah’s Key made me wonder and weep.” —The Roanoke Times READ BY POLLY STONE
“Best historical novelist: I say wilbur Smith.” —Stephen King
“A rare accomplishment —a compelling, fast-paced thriller written with a masterful literary touch.” —Jeffery Deaver READ BY ScOTT SOwERS
READ BY SIMON VANcE
AvAilAble wherever books Are sold, And for downloAd from www.macmillanaudio.com
Adventures in the garden of life
The further adventures of Leo Demidov
By Carla Jean Whitley Lila Nova needs some beauty in her life. After an ugly divorce and a move to a lonely, characterless studio apartment, Lila wanders into a New York City market and begins to transform her barren home with a tropical plant—a bird of paradise. Lila’s impulse buy becomes a source of therapy, a relief from a life filled with so much that’s ugly: the divorce, a cutthroat advertising career and a boss who’s a pervert. With her newfound love of plants fresh on her mind, Lila encounters a Laundromat filled with tropical flowers, so lush and verdant that it feels more like a greenhouse than a place to clean your clothes. The curious owner, Armand, teaches Lila about the mythical nine plants of desire. Each plant is a key to the things people most desire—fortune, immortality, love and so on—and that’s something Armand has learned first-hand. He owns the plants and credits them with his quirky Laundromat’s success. But when his plants are stolen, Lila takes a chance and travels to Mexico with Armand, prepared to unearth the mythical nine plants—and herself. First-time novelist Margot Berwin’s descriptions are Hothouse Flower as luxurious as the tropical plants themselves in Hothouse and the Nine Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire. When she describes a Plants of Desire character, Berwin writes in such sensuous detail as to bring the person to life, as though you hold not a page but a stage By Margot Berwin Pantheon with live actors. 288 pages That’s to be expected from a woman who has written scin- $24, ISBN 9780307377845 tillating essays for Nerve.com, a saucy website dedicated to Also available on audio sex and culture. But while the characters in Hothouse Flower find plenty of reasons to sweat in paradise, it’s Berwin’s very real love of plants that focuses the novel. Berwin combines her gardening knowledge with adept storytelling to weave together a tale of romance, adventure and intrigue that will enchant readers, green thumbed or not. o Carla Jean Whitley writes from Birmingham, Alabama, where she has never grown more than potted herbs and ferns.
By Tasha Alexander Crime fiction fans everywhere were delighted last year when Tom Rob Smith’s first thriller, Child 44, made the long-list for the Man Booker Prize. His follow-up, The Secret Speech, is a sequel to his acclaimed debut, continuing the adventures of Leo Demidov. Khrushchev has come to power, and he makes a speech—in theory, a secret speech—that reveals the corruption and horror of Stalin’s brutal reign and leads to the release of scores of prisoners from the country’s gulags. Demidov had worked as a State Security agent and does not have a spotless past, but he’s moved on, taking a post running a homicide unit and trying to be a decent man. He loves his wife, is devoted to the daughters he adopted (after sending their parents to their deaths) and wants an ordinary life. But escaping from what he’s done isn’t so easy, especially once he’s in the sights of people whose families suffered under Stalin. Fraera, the leader of a vicious gang, has demanded the release of her husband, a priest who was put in prison by Demidov, but it’s clear her mission is also to cause Demidov deep psychological suffering. She’s fixated on revenge. When she kidnaps one of Demidov’s daughters, the desperate fa- The Secret ther sets off on a breathtaking race to save the girl, moving Speech from Moscow to Siberia to Budapest, facing the demons of By Tom Rob Smith his past at every turn. Grand Central Smith writes action relentlessly and fills The Secret Speech $24.99, 416 pages with vibrant descriptions of the post-Stalin Soviet Union ISBN 9780446402408 without once letting his breakneck pace slip. The brutal vio- Also available on audio lence and drab mood paint a realistic picture of a bleak era. Smith also continues to develop his wonderfully complex protagonist and torments him like few other authors could, making the reader worry about him on every page. Demidov has to face his past guilt head-on, a particularly difficult task when he goes into the prisons where those he’s arrested have spent years in agony. Meticulously plotted and deliciously complicated, Smith’s sophomore effort doesn’t disappoint. o Tasha Alexander is the author of A Fatal Waltz. She lives in Chicago.
Tune into Andrew Clements’ School Stories!
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The newest school saga!
Read by Gabra Zackman New York Times bestselling author and former teacher Andrew Clements presents a new classroom experience. Extra Credit provides young listeners with cross-cultural awareness that is more important than ever in today’s global world.
Inspire family and classroom discussion!
Now available on audio!
Read by Keith Nobbs “Keith Nobbs captures the realism and humor of Clements’ story, creating a believable setting and breathing life into all the characters.” —Audiofile, on Room One
Also available on audio by Andrew Clements:
Listen to free excerpts from these titles at Audio.SimonandSchuster.com
THE LANDRY NEWS Read by Zoe Kazan
This perennial beloved classic by Andrew Clements is now available on audio. Listeners will learn just how powerful the written word can be!
WHODUNIT? Trouble on a Manhattan subway
Mystery of the month
Having reviewed Andrew Grant’s debut novel, Even, last month, it seems only natural to review the latest from Grant’s older brother, Lee Child, this month: Gone Tomorrow (Delacorte, $27, 432 pages, ISBN 9780385340571). Iconic hero Jack Reacher is no stranger to terrorism. He knows all the signs of a potential suicide bomber, a 12-point checklist he memorized courtesy of an Israeli army captain. It is the middle of the night, on a mostly empty subway car, and the woman sitting across from Reacher matches the checklist: overdressed for the weather, hand thrust deeply into her purse, nervous demeanor, pointedly avoiding eye contact. Reacher cautiously approaches her, in hopes of defusing the situation, but the woman does something even Reacher could not have predicted: she pulls a .357-caliber Magnum out of her purse, tucks BY BRUCE TIERNEY it below her chin, and squeezes the trigger. The woman, it turns out, had been employed at the Pentagon, senior enough to have access to sensitive files . . . files with classified information about a certain high-profile politician who once served in the elite Army Delta Force, specializing in covert operations in places where U.S. soldiers were distinctly not supposed to be. The plot thickens, and Reacher finds himself at odds with a pair of lethal Afghanis, a crew of Eastern European thugs, the NYPD and a trio of government agents whose work is so secret that they don’t even have to show their badges. Gone Tomorrow, like all the Reacher novels, is a nonstop page-turner, best read in one edge-of-the-seat sitting.
It is with heavy heart that we bid a fond adieu to Inspector Javier Falcon, now onstage in his fourth and final appearance in Robert Wilson’s The Ignorance of Blood (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 432 pages, ISBN 9780151012459). For those of you not familiar with the series, Falcon appeared first in The Blind Man of Seville, which was short-listed for the Golden Dagger Award for best crime novel of 2003. His second novel, published in the U.S. as The Vanished Hands, won a Gumshoe Award, as well as the coveted BookPage Tip of the Ice Pick Award, and I am happy to say that Wilson will join the elite ranks of two-time Ice Pick winners with this latest work. As The Ignorance of Blood opens, Falcon is still on the trail of the terrorist bombers who deftly eluded capture in his last book, The Hidden Assassins. It appears now that the so-called terrorist attack may have been a cover for something even more dastardly, and a seemingly random car crash propels Falcon into the center of an investigation that may extend tendrils into his ongoing case. Apparently he is making some inroads, as he is repeatedly (and anonymously) warned off the case, accompanied by dire personal threats if he does not comply. If he knuckles under, however, the bad guys will not be brought to justice, and more importantly, there will be no story. So Falcon presses onward, until the unthinkable happens: the son of his longtime girlfriend is kidnapped. Clearly this is a punishment, not a ransom vehicle, and Falcon must make the choice as to whether to continue his investigation and possibly sacrifice the life of a child he has come to know and love. The Ignorance of Blood is perhaps the most intensely personal of the Falcon series since The Blind Man of Seville. Falcon is faced with a “Sophie’s Choice” decision; whichever way he goes, his life will be forever changed. In the closing of my last review of a Wilson book, I said: “The Vanished Hands is a book to be read slowly and savored, like a fine Spanish rioja. That said, it is next to impossible to put down.” I would like to modify that just a bit: “The Ignorance of Blood is a book to be read slowly and savored, with a fine Spanish rioja. . . .” o —BRUCE TIERNEY
On the run After the hard-driving Jack Reacher, Phillip Margolin’s protagonist Charlie March seems positively laid-back by comparison. Never one to stand and fight when running is an option, Charlie took his money and ran a dozen years back, one step ahead of the Portland district attorney, who would have loved to indict him for the murder of a wealthy Oregon businessman. Like the title of Margolin’s book, Charlie is a Fugitive (Harper, $26.99, 352 pages, ISBN 9780061236235) living out his days in the sunny People’s Republic of Batanga. All is not sunshine and light for Charlie, however: he has been conducting an illicit affair with the wife of his benefactor, the President-For-Life (rumored to be a practicing cannibal) of the tiny African kleptocracy, and there is a good chance that he has been found out. It is time, once again, to take the money and run. Only there’s no money left. Enter Martha Brice of World News, who is willing to put up $75,000 for the rights to an exclusive interview and book deal with Charlie Marsh. It means that Charlie will have to return to the U.S. and face charges, but all in all, it’s better than whatever awaits him in Batanga (i.e., the sort of torture that makes waterboarding seem like a bubble bath). Stateside once again, Charlie faces the daunting task of proving his innocence, all the while trying to stay out of the clutches of a Batangan hit man. Great pace, clever plot, amusing and sorta sympathetic characters—all followed by a surprise ending. What more can you ask for?
Twenty-three heart-pumping new tales of suspense in one explosive volume!
Crisis of conscience
On sale now! 978-0-7783-2723-3 • $24.95
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Some kids don’t deliberately set out to torment their parents; it just seems to work out that way. It is a vein that George Pelecanos has mined before, and he returns to it with the sobering The Way Home (Little, Brown, $24.99, 336 pages, ISBN 9780316156493). Christopher Flynn had one of those hovering-at-the-edge-of-criminality childhoods: alienating his father, making a lame apologist of his mother and ultimately winding up in Pine Ridge, a juvenile detention center. Pine Ridge turned out to be what Chris needed, though; nowadays he seems to have turned his life around. He works for his father’s carpet business, and the men have come to something of an armed truce with regard to the bad years. Then Chris faces an epic moral dilemma: he and his partner Ben discover a briefcase full of cash under the floor where they are installing wall-towall. Chris takes the high road: “Zip up the bag and put it back in that hole.” His partner is none too happy with Chris’s decision, but grudgingly accepts it, and they finish the job. Shortly thereafter, things start to get out of hand: first, the owner complains about the carpet job, which, upon inspection by Flynn Senior, is seriously subpar; then Ben (and the money) go missing. And then the guys who put the money there show up, and go ballistic when their cash is nowhere to be found. Somehow, Chris must find the money—and Ben. With The Way Home, Pelecanos has once again crafted a genre-transcending novel of rage and redemption guaranteed to appeal to a broadspectrum audience. o
BEHIND THE BOOK
Moving mountains for some father-son bonding
as 81. One Texan spent three weeks pushing a peanut to the summit of one peak with his nose. There have been gunfights and cannibalism, avalanches and helicopter crashes. Together the peaks have killed more climbers than Everest. They also were powerful enough to convince a stay-at-home dad with a pot belly that he had a chance to summit them all. My wife of 17 years was generally supportive of my Fourteeners quest, but, worried about my safety, insisted on one big catch: I could never hike alone. Unfortunately, I knew no one who was remotely interested in joining me on climbs of more than four dozen 14,000-foot mountains in the three-month climbing season between Memorial Day and Labor Day. I tried bribing friends, neighbors and friends of friends with free booze and car washes in exchange for their company on a mountain hike. No dice. So I followed the lead of lonely and desperate people all over the world and sought help on the Internet. At a fledgling website, I found other people just as addicted to altitude. The result: several times a week, I would put the kids to bed, drive through the night to a wilderness trailhead, and sleep in a tent with a total stranger with hopes of summiting a peak the next day. My man-dates turned out to be my favorite part of climbing the Fourteeners. I ended up hiking with, among others, an ex-drag racer trying to perform a handstand on the top of every Fourteener summit; the lead oboe player in a Hebrew salsa band; a 21-year-old college student who survived a 400-foot fall that killed his father; a man so shaky around heights that he chain-smoked Marlboros on ridgetops to calm his nerves; a widower at age 38 who turned to hiking to ease his grief; and, best of all, my oldest son. Along the way I learned about the gold rushes, hangings, wildlife and geology of one of the world’s great ranges, the Rocky Mountains. I lost 15 pounds but gained some wisdom. The best lesson of all, though, came when I discovered that age, like summit height, was just a number. o Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mark Obmascik lives in Denver with his family. © MERRILL SCHWERIN
By Mark Obmascik fter years of being told to sit up straight, turn down the music and try, just try, to stop texting friends for a few waking moments, my pubescent son finally found a way to get even. He challenged me to climb a 14,000-foot mountain with him. At his Colorado summer camp, my son Cass had tripped during a hike of Pikes Peak and slashed his shin to the bone. Strange thing was, he didn’t even care about the 10 surgical staples in his leg. All he talked about was the awe of watching the sunrise from the top of the same mountain that, more than a century earlier, had inspired Katharine Lee Bates to write “America the Beautiful.” Now he was inspired, too. It was thrilling to see my 12-year-old so excited about something besides consumer electronics. It was terrifying to realize that he expected to repeat the experience with me. I saw his request as proof that love was truly blind. After all, I was fat, 44 and in the market for a vasectomy. My mortgage was half-gone, but so was my hair. Jon Krakauer was something to read, not try. Eons ago—back when my inseam had more inches than my waistline—I had hiked a few peaks. Then I got married, had three kids and started working to meet the responsibilities and obligations that came with the change of life. I liked to eat, not exercise. The best days of my body were so far behind me that there was no way I could ever get my MARK behind up a mountain. OBMASCIK Then my son asked me, “Please?” I could not resist. Thus was born my book, Halfway to Heaven: My White-knuckled—and Knuckleheaded—Quest for the Rocky Mountain High (Free Press, $26, 288 pages, ISBN 9781416566991). Cass and I tried and failed to summit another 14,000-foot mountain, but I came away grateful for the hours alone with a son far beyond the range of any cell phone, Xbox or Facebook account. I was hooked. I learned my home state of Colorado has 54 peaks higher than 14,000 feet—more than any other state or province in North America. Every year more than 500,000 people try to climb a Fourteener, but fewer than 1,300 have ever reported standing atop them all. Colorado’s Fourteeners have been summited by skiers and snowboarders, racers and amputees, dogs, cats, cockatiels, monkeys and horses, people as young as one and as old
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New York Times Bestselling Author
returns with a passionate new novel of secrets abounding on a Texas ranch….
And don’t miss the paperback release of FEARLESS. Both available now wherever books are sold!
14 09_120_BookPage_Heartless.indd 1
4/7/09 4:03:45 PM
New York Times Bestseller!
Reporter tracks a vicious killer in Connelly’s latest thriller
© TERRILL LEE LANKFORD
Connelly near “the loneliest road in America,” a path through the Nevada desert featured in his new novel, The Scarecrow.
NOW IN PAPERBACK!
The ultimate beach read In order to save her beloved Nantucket home, 65-year-old Nan takes out an ad offering rooms for rent, with views of the water and access to the beach. Slowly, people begin moving in, ﬁlling her house with noise, laughter, and tears— until an unexpected visitor turns all their lives upside down.
“A refreshing summertime getaway.” —Chicago Sun-Times
NEW IN HARDCOVER
(continued from front flap)
isn’t as perfect as she’d thought. Ties to friends and family are further reaching than she had realized—and more crucial than ever before.
Praise for Jane Green’s Previous BesTsellers
On Sale June 16th!
returns with a timely novel about old flames,
Warm, witty, and gloriously observed, Dune
Road is Jane Green at her best, full of brilliant
insights into the challenges that come with
“Smart and complex.”
of Highfield, Dune Road tells the story of Kit Hargrove, whose divorce has granted her a new
“Green’s many fans will revel in her interwoven plots.”
lease on life. No longer a Wall Street widow with
the requisite diamond studs and Persian rugs, Kit revels in her clapboard Cape with the sea green
shutters and sprawling impatiens. Her kids are
—New Orleans Times-Picayune
content, her ex cooperative, her friends steadfast,
“A total bon-bon.”
and each morning she wakes up unable to
believe how lucky she is to have landed the job of her dreams: assisting the blockbuster novelist
“Think The Big Chill with lots of tea and posher accents.”
ten previous novels as Jane Green, several of
—The Times (of London)
A mysterious tragedy drove this famous writer into seclusion decades ago, and few besides Kit are granted access to his house at the top of Dune Road, with its breathtaking
which were New York Times bestsellers. A native
views of Long Island Sound. But all that is about
Londoner, she lives in Connecticut with her hus-
to change. At a rare appearance at the local
band and their blended family of six children.
bookstore, McClore meets Kit’s new friend Tracy, whose weakness for older men rivals her powers of self-reinvention. Are the secret visits of her boss’s new muse as innocent as Kit would like to believe? When a figure from her mother’s
art direction: roseanne J. serra
Jacket design and illustration © 2009 karen greenberg
past emerges with equally cryptic intentions
author photograph: ian warburg
By Michael Connelly Little, Brown, $27.99, 448 pages ISBN 9780316166300 Also available on audio
just as the bear financial market is upending her best friend’s life, Kit discovers that her blissfully constructed idyll—and the gorgeous man who
has walked into it with creamy white roses—
A member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, N.Y. 10014 www.penguin.com
new friendships, and lives reclaimed
Set in Connecticut’s tony Gold Coast town
—The Washington Post
forging a new life.
JANe GReeN WARBURG has written
The New York Times bestselling author
“Green’s writing is deliciously witty.”
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do it? I’m not sure.” As The Scarecrow opens, McEvoy’s career is in flux: thanks to the double whammy of his large paycheck and the L.A. Times’ plummeting fortunes, he is about to be given the heave-ho. Asked to stay on for a brief period to train his replacement, McEvoy faces a conundrum: on the one hand, he would love to leave his boss twisting in the wind, but he is working on an article that might well garner him the Pulitzer Prize, and he’d really like to stick around long enough to see it in print. His story focuses on Alonzo Winslow, a 16-year-old journeyman felon charged with rape and murder. It takes McEvoy next to no time to deduce that Winslow’s so-called confession is bogus, which begs the bigger question: if this fledgling thug isn’t the killer, then who is the Scarecrow? And how can one write about this stuff without giving real-life villains usable ideas? “I think you always MICHAEL CONNELLY have to have some responsibility when you write up the bad guys,” Connelly says. “For example, I never give every step in a crime because I don’t want the books to be a primer for anybody. Most of the time, unfortunately, I am not plowing new ground. The bad guy in The Scarecrow may be unique, but the use of the Internet for nefarious deeds is nothing new. This socalled Craigslist Killer would be a case in point. The real thing is always much worse in reality than anything I put into fiction.” A longtime cinema fan, Connelly has had only one of his books made into a movie thus far, the 2002 Clint Eastwood adaptation of Blood Work. It makes one wonder how Hollywood can pass over such intelligent and action-packed novels in favor of, say, a remake of Bewitched. “Hey, I liked Bewitched,” Connelly says with a laugh. “Seriously, though, I don’t think my books lend themselves to being made into movies, because so much of what happens in the book is in the head of the protagonist. You could do it with voice-overs, but Hollywood doesn’t like voice-overs.” Asked if he has ever considered doing a Hitchcockian cameo role in a film of his work, Connelly says, “I visited the set of Blood Work a couple of times, but Clint Eastwood never offered me a role as an extra, and I never really thought much about it. Then Eastwood directed Dennis Lehane’s Mystic River, and toward the end of the movie, Dennis was in a great cameo in the parade scene, alongside the mayor, no less! Dennis is a friend of mine, and I have given him a good deal of grief about that.” Speaking of cameo appearances, the McEvoy character has made several, in books featuring longtime Connelly stalwarts Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller. “The idea was that all my books would be part of one big mosaic of time and place. So I consciously look for places to cross-pollinate,” Connelly says. “I needed to have a reporter in The Brass Verdict so I made him Jack McEvoy because I knew I would be writing about him next and it sort of set the table for the next book. I wish there was a device for tracking all of this. I could use one.” Connelly is not one to rest on his laurels. Indeed, it seems he is not one to rest at all; his next book, 9 Dragons, featuring L.A. cop Harry Bosch, is due out in the fall. o
JUNE 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
By Bruce Tierney ichael Connelly’s new book, The Scarecrow, hits bookstores this month, having garnered pre-release acclaim from every quarter. It is Connelly’s first novel to feature reporter Jack McEvoy since the runaway bestseller The Poet in 1996. Of all of the characters in Connelly books over the years, McEvoy has the trajectory that most closely resembles Connelly’s own: reporter for a small-town newspaper, a move to the Los Angeles Times, a successful book deal, fame and fortune; analogous events, albeit in a slightly different order. I recently had the opportunity to interview Connelly via a crackly Tokyo-to-Florida cell phone connection. In addition to having read most of his books over the years, I did some research and learned that Connelly once lived in Raymond Chandler’s old apartment, a factoid I thought worth pursuing. “Ah, you must have visited Wikipedia,” Connelly began, with a knowing chuckle. “As so often happens with the Internet, they got the germ of the story right, but they missed out on the details.” Connelly says he was inspired to start writing mysteries after seeing Robert Altman’s film The Long Goodbye, in which Elliott Gould stars as the Chandler detective Philip Marlowe. “When I moved to L.A., I thought it would be cool to live in the apartment where Marlowe/Gould had lived in the movie,” he says. The apartment wasn’t available at the time, but years later it became vacant and Connelly moved in. “On the plus side, it had a great view overlooking L.A., and I could walk to the Hollywood Bowl to see the Rolling Stones. On, the minus side, it wasn’t air-conditioned, and it always smelled a bit like a gas leak,” Connelly recalls. Connelly’s character, Jack McEvoy, lives in a Craftsman home south of Sunset, and does his writing from the pressroom of the Los Angeles Times. This is a room with which Connelly is intimately familiar from his years as a crime reporter, and one of his aims in writing The Scarecrow was to focus on the sad decline of newspapers like the Times. The real-life closing in February of the Rocky Mountain News, the site of McEvoy’s previous posting, forced the recall of The Scarecrow manuscript so Connelly could make last-minute changes to the book. As more newspapers around the country shut down, Connelly says, “I think what is lost is a community center, a place of news and ideas and debate. It will be splintered among websites and blogs. Perhaps more important is the loss of a watchdog. Who will keep an eye on the small stuff? Who will uncover the small corruptions that lead to the big ones? Will the bloggers do it? Will websites
(continued on back flap) VIKING
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A master’s parting gift By Harvey Freedenberg There’s a palpable sadness attached to the fact that, barring the discovery of unpublished work, this will the final volume of new short stories from John Updike, who died in January. Should that be the case, we can be thankful for a satisfying farewell gift that puts Updike’s unequaled talents on full display. In a real sense, My Father’s Tears brings Updike’s career full circle. Several of the stories are set in fictional proxies for his hometown of Shillington, Pennsylvania, and nearby Reading. Two (“The Walk with Elizanne” and “The Road Home”) offer different perspectives on a protagonist’s return trips home after 50 years, while the title story tells of a young man who leaves the area to make his way in the world. At least three other stories are redolent with the particularity that can flow only from autobiography skillfully transmuted by the gift of imagination. “The Guardians” and “Kinderszenen” sensitively depict young boys living in claustrophobic, Depression-era households with both parents and grandparents. Befitting a collection of work consisting (with one exception) of stories published in the most recent decade My Father’s Tears of Updike’s career, the themes of aging and memory, in all By John Updike Knopf their poignancy, predominate. With stories set in Morocco, India and Spain, the collection $25.95, 304 pages isn’t monochromatic, either geographically or thematically. ISBN 9780307271563 Also available on audio “Varieties of Religious Experience,” recounts in chilling detail the events of 9/11 from the viewpoints of a man watching the collapse of the Twin Towers from the safety of a nearby apartment, a hijacker, an office worker who leaps to his death as the building collapses beneath him, and a passenger on one of the doomed planes. All of the stories are distinguished by the hallmarks of Updike’s style: a graceful, almost liquid prose, a keenly observant eye and an unfailing ability to penetrate life’s mundane surface to test the currents flowing beneath it. These 18 tales from an American literary giant remind us of what we’ve lost and how much we have for which to be grateful. o Harvey Freedenberg writes from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Stories of migration and struggle
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By Lauren Bufferd With two prize-winning novels behind her, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has become a formidable voice in contemporary West African literature. She is a true storyteller with a gift for language and a literary style that is almost imperceptible; it is only after reading at a breathless pace that we become aware of Adichie’s subtle craftsmanship. Most of the 12 stories in The Thing Around Your Neck focus on men and women who travel between Africa and the United States. Nigeria is the place where most of Adichie’s characters live, leave and long to return, while the U.S. is a place of promise, new beginnings and ultimate disappointments. The title story depicts a Nigerian girl who immigrates to the U.S. and quickly finds herself suffering from a suffocating sense of loneliness. Even after she falls in love with an American, she feels the pull of her homeland, and a death in the family threatens the fragile sense of place she has established. In “Imitation,” a wife and mother finds her comfortable life in Philadelphia threatened when she hears that her husband has brought his girlfriend to live in their Lagos home. Both stories suggest that there is no sense of permanence for an immigrant. The majority of Adichie’s subjects are young women who The Thing Around must reach beyond their social class at moments of crisis. In Your Neck “A Private Moment,” a Christian medical student seeks shelter By Chimamanda with a poor Muslim woman during a religious riot and ofNgozi Adichie fers her medical assistance. In “The Arranged Marriage,” an Knopf assimilated husband forbids his sheltered wife, newly arrived $24.95, 240 pages from Lagos, to make familiar dishes from home. ISBN 9780307271075 If there is a fault in this collection, it is that some of the immigration stories seem a little too formulaic. The more successful stories are the ones where the fixed points of the immigration narrative are abandoned and the action flows in a more unexpected way. In “The Headstrong Historian,” Adichie pays homage to Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, putting a provocative spin on one of Africa’s most celebrated novels about the influences of colonialism. Adichie has been called the literary daughter of Achebe and this fine collection shows how a daughter can continue the legacy of the father. o 16 Lauren Bufferd writes from Nashville.
Well Read Adiga’s colorful tour of modern India As a worthy follow-up to his Man Booker Prize-winning The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga has shaped a collection of evocative short stories into a kind of novelistic portrait of modern India. Between the Assassinations—its title refers to the political murders of Indira Gandhi in 1984 and her son Rajiv in 1991, which supply the time parameters for the stories—is set in a small city called Kittur, on the Malabar Coast, in the southern part of the subcontinent. Using the conceit of a six-day tour of the city as a framing device, Adiga introduces a kaleidoscopic array of characters from all walks of life, and their individual stories speak to the complexities of an Indian society defined by caste, religion, endemic corruption and the great chasm between wealth and poverty. While the subtleties of Indian social classes and subclasses may be lost on most Western readers, Adiga manages to convey the way these hair-fine distinctions define and control an individual’s destiny. Thoreau’s remark about most men leading lives of quiet desperation is BY ROBERT never far from mind as we read about the daily lives of WEIBEZAHL Kittur’s colorful denizens—be they a comical schoolmaster, an ambitious homeless boy or a disillusioned journalist. And yet, for all the misery and want in these people’s daily existences, the stories still brim with a wry, fatalistic humor that keeps them from tipping over the brink of total hopelessness. The stories connect only at the most fleeting of junctures, mostly coincidences of places in the teeming city where the classes mingle, such as the commercial district on Umbrella Street, the wealthy enclave of Rose Lane or the adult movie house, “Angel Talkies.” Some of the stories have children at their center: a Muslim boy who runs errands for a teashop briefly falls under the dangerous sway of a foreigner who treats him with respect, the half-caste son of a wealthy Brahmin doctor and his Hoyka wife sets off an explosive at his Jesuit school in an undisguised effort to exert his confused identity, a young girl
Today’s India is at a crossroads in the Booker Prize winner’s brilliant collection of linked stories. and her little brother travel across the city to secure some heroin for their addict father. At the other end of the age spectrum, an older Brahmin woman, forced to work as Between the a maid because her family never had the dowry needed Assassinations for her to marry, perpetrates a small, unnoticed (and By Aravind Adiga quite poignant) act of defiance against her oppressors. A Free Press 55-year-old Communist questions everything about the $24, 352 pages life he has given over to the relentless pursuit of social ISBN 9781439152928 equality when he is spurned by a young girl whom he Also available on audio believes he is helping. In a central story—which first appeared in The New Yorker as “The Elephant”— Chenayya, a young man who earns a few rupees a day delivering back-breaking items with his cycle-cart, asks, “Don’t you see that something is wrong with this world . . . When an elephant gets to lounge downhill doing virtually no work at all, and a human being has to pull such a heavy cart?” This question of inequity, this casual disregard for human life, is at the heart of everyday existence in Kittur (and, by implication, India). Even the rich and educated have their quotidian gripes and allow petty social conventions and hidebound traditions to dictate the way they live. It is a world where it is nearly impossible to move beyond the life prescribed for you at birth. “Maybe if she sinned enough in this life, she would be sent back as a Christian in the next one,” ponders the browbeaten Brahmin maid, who, like all the citizens in this collection of stories, accepts her fate with a resignation that can be frustrating for an American reader reared on Horatio Alger myths and hard pressed to imagine what it would be like to be dealt such a irrevocable fate. Yet Adiga’s uncompromising gifts as a writer do open a window for us and help us understand what life is like in such an economically skewed society. Not for a moment do we question whether Adiga is being honest about his native land. There is nothing in these stories that seems exaggerated for dramatic purposes; every character rings true, his or her dilemma, while specific to time and place, is driven by recognizable, universal human reactions. Like Mahfouz’s Cairo or Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Adiga’s Kittur distills a complex emotional world into an unforgettable microcosm. With Between the Assassinations this young Indian writer solidifies his reputation as a major new talent on the world’s literary stage. o
Coming to America: a new perspective on Ellis Island
Read reviews online at www.bookpage.com
into a museum in 1990, now attracting two million visitors a year. Rather than tug at heartstrings about the great melting pot experience, American Passage focuses instead on delivering a well-written and thoroughly researched text about the workings of a uniquely historical bureaucracy, the development and reform of early immigration law, the sociopolitical impulses that fueled a teeming era—and a strange little island
whose place in our history is now only a faraway memory. o Martin Brady writes from Nashville.
American Passage By Vincent J. Cannato Harper $27.99, 496 pages ISBN 9780060742737
NEW FROM #1 NEW YORK TIMES–BESTSELLING AUTHOR
THE ELECTRIFYING NEW FBI THRILLER
Riveting . . .
An expertly paced plot builds to a breathtaking conclusion.” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
© Charles Bush
G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS A member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
JUNE 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
By Martin Brady Journalist/historian Vincent J. Cannato’s American Passage: The History of Ellis Island is about an uncertain chapter in America’s past, one most people might automatically deem unfair or at least depressing. But, as the saying goes: it is what it is. When put into its proper context, as Cannato surehandedly does, Ellis Island’s desultory existence emerges as a functional, if flawed, reality of its time, when millions of immigrants sought wholesale entry into the U.S. The huddled masses yearning to be free certainly figure into Cannato’s narrative, but they’re only the pawns in the game. We don’t get to them for a while anyway, as the author first offers an overview of New York Harbor’s island system, plus background on what was formerly known as Gibbet Island, used as a place for hanging pirates in the early 19th century and later as a munitions depot. Immigration was handled loosely back then, but as the influx of Europeans to the Land of Liberty increased heading toward the 20th century, so did point-of-entry corruption and exploitation, not to mention Anglo-Saxon xenophobia and nativist fears about diseased, lunatic, criminal and poverty-stricken aliens infiltrating the shores. (On the other hand, big business was licking its chops at the prospect of cheap labor. Sound familiar?) Indeed, 12 million immigrants washed through Ellis Island’s portals from 1892 to 1924, and Cannato trenchantly outlines the political, administrative and public policy ideas behind its operation, while also introducing readers to a host of government officials heretofore little-known, such as longtime Ellis Island commissioner William Williams, who was a stickler when it came to “tightening the sieve that would strain out larger numbers of undesirable immigrants.” There are sad stories about Ellis Island, some recounted here. Some folks were sent back from whence they came, some died in detention, sometimes families were split up. But much of the anecdotal reportage only seems to reinforce with some logic the notion that, faced with an onslaught of potential new citizens, any government might want to rightfully process them systematically. (And by the way, Cannato says Ellis Island officials did not change people’s names; they hardly had time enough to deal with all the human bodies and the appropriate settlement issues. Most immigrants who changed their names did so later on of their own accord or at the urging of relatives or friends.) After World War I, and with immigration on the decline, the U.S. turned to the so-called consulate system for screening newcomers, which rendered Ellis Island generally irrelevant, though it continued to function through the years as a detention center, including during World War II and the Cold War. In the 1950s, it went up for sale. Finding no takers at the government’s asking price, and after a few more decades of federal indecision, it finally was remade
Get your family packing Venturing afar or staying close to home
By Angela Leeper efore you’ve tired of lugging another noodle to the pool or hearing “I’m bored” from your children (or spouse!), it’s time to start planning your family’s summer vacation. Several new guidebooks can help you choose a destination that appeals to the whole family. Together these books present a variety of vacation options, whether your family is ready to splurge or needs to cut back this year.
No place like home Don’t let the plunging economy or the stress of a long trip keep your family from going on vacation this summer. Matt Wixon’s The Great American Staycation: How to Make a Vacation at Home Fun for the Whole Family (Adams Media, $9.95, 224 pages, ISBN 9781605506562) shows singles, couples and families how to downsize a vacation without skimping on enjoyment. Instead of heading across the country, get to know your own town and surrounding communities, Wixon urges. Grouping staycations in categories ranging from outdoors and adventure to “the pampered life” and “especially for kids,” he explains how to find local activities and make the most of them on a fixed budget. (Readers may want to combine this title with the next book, The 10 Best of Everything, for more staycation themes and ideas.) While Wixon offers plenty of ideas for getting away, he also contends that sometimes a staycation is more about taking time for one’s self, which is often overlooked during the hectic routines of day-to-day life. Spending time on a new hobby, splurging on a massage or finally eating at that fancy restaurant in town may be more energizing and fulfilling than a jaunt. The “Staycation Rules” (plan ahead, create mental distance and stay positive) are words of wisdom for both a backyard afternoon and a family road trip.
Just the best For busy families (and who doesn’t have one?) it’s often the little things that matter, such as an outing to a playground or a favorite restaurant. Susan Magsamen’s The 10 Best of Everything Families: An Ultimate Guide for Travelers (National Geographic, $21.95, 480 pages, ISBN 9781426203947) uses annotated “10 Best” lists to suggest travel ideas that stem from the exploration and amusement that begin at home. The book starts with the 10 best parks and playgrounds, farms and markets, ice cream spots and food specialties (from barbeque and pecan pie to quesadillas and salmon candy) for each region. Is your family interested in skiing, music festivals, stargazing or civil rights landmarks? They’re all included here. Some lists, such as family art camps, cooking programs and service opportunities, offer unique experiences for family bonding. If it’s the time of year that’s more important to your family, there are even 10 Best Easter, fireworks, fall foliage, Eid-al-Fitr and more celebration lists. An inviting layout with attractive color photographs, sidebars with trivia and helpful information and accompanying children’s book suggestions and web links make this guidebook easy, inspirational and fun to use. The concluding chapters offer tips on planning and documenting whatever best family trip you choose.
Traveling with children JUNE 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
A summer vacation often means heading into a big city. In typical Fodor fashion, with detailed reviews of hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues, and plenty of maps to navigate the city, the nearly pocket-sized Fodor’s Family New York City with Kids (Random House, $10.95, 240 pages, ISBN 9781400008858) describes attractions and amenities with children’s interests and needs in mind. For instance, this guide reveals that the Metropolitan Museum of Art allows strollers, distributes free backpack carriers and features a Family Audio Guide and hands-on programs specifically for children. Hotel and restaurant “Family Matters” tips steer parents to sites with family-friendly appeal and conveniences and suggest fun foods to try or simple meals for picky eaters. Following the same format is Fodor’s Family San Francisco with Kids (224 pages, ISBN 9781400008872), which offers a list of quick meals, fun stores, playgrounds, public bathrooms, ice cream places (for children to stay energized) and good coffee (for parents to stay energized) along the waterfront and within each major neighborhood. Both guides also recommend free attractions in these costly cities, attractions based on common children’s pastimes (e.g., dinosaurs, princesses 18 and techno gadgets) and indoor “home base” locales when bad weather strikes. Extra
features you won’t find in the travel guides for grownups include “Treasure Maps” of movie locations and family games to play while traveling or waiting in line. The Fodor’s Family series also includes Boston with Kids (224 pages, ISBN 9781400008865) and Washington, D.C., with Kids (208 pages, ISBN 9781400008889).
Vacation pictures On the heels of Very New Orleans, Very Charleston and Very California comes Diana Hollingsworth Gessler’s Very Washington, D.C.: A Celebration of the History and Culture of America’s Capital City (Algonquin, $15.95, 168 pages, ISBN 9781565125827). With bright and beautiful watercolor sketches and hand lettering, this guidebook complements the text-filled Fodor’s and the like with its gorgeous views of Washington. Divided into geographic locations, it begins with an overview of the city’s planning and early history and a tour of Capitol Hill and environs. It continues through the museums on the Mall, the memorials, downtown, Georgetown and outlying neighborhoods, nearby Alexandria and George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate. Also included is information on famous Washingtonians, festivals, universities and exclusive restaurants. What’s found here that you may not get in any other guides are rich descriptions and illustrations of Abraham Lincoln’s possessions at the time of his assassination, a traditional meal eaten by George Washington at Gadsby’s Tavern, examples of artifacts from the International Spy Museum and other unique Washington delights. The appendix includes contact information for each point of interest and also works as a checklist of sites to visit. Whether your family actually makes it to the nation’s capital or not, you’ll find that Very Washington, D.C. is a tour in itself. o Angela Leeper is an educational consultant and freelance writer in Wake Forest, North Carolina.
A walking tour of L.A., really In her previous book, architectural historian Judith Paine McBrien guided readers through Chicago; she heads west in the follow-up, Pocket Guide to Los Angeles Architecture (Norton, $22.95, 144 pages, ISBN 9780393731903), illustrated with line drawings by John F. DeSalvo. McBrien manages to pack her concise descriptions of each building/site with a surprising amount of information, including architect, background, specifics and function. These are not bland guidebook entries; McBrien infuses a tiny bit of criticism into each, commenting on whether a building “works,” referencing what once sat on the site, and mixing in literary, film (of course!) and other cultural references. She includes starchitect projects such as Frank Gehry’s stainless steel-clad Disney Concert Hall and an arts high school by Coop Himmelb(l)au, while also paying homage to older structures, including the beautifully restored (and still in use) Union Station. The railroad station opened 70 years ago this spring and is a magnificent blending of Art Deco and regionally influenced Native American and Spanish Revival styles, complete with fountain- and tile-filled courtyards. McBrien adds a Hollywood-themed side trip featuring Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (you have to see the old-school glamour of the palm tree- and deck chair-surrounded pool) and the distinctive round Capitol Records tower. But, we are talking about L.A., so the Pocket Guide to Los Angeles Architecture also has itineraries for those equipped with wheels, including sights such as the Hollywood Bowl and the iconic Hollywood sign. Rather than focusing on movie star dwellings, McBrien highlights the Getty Villa, and the homes of architects Charles and Ray Eames, and Rudolph Schindler. Indices of architects and buildings, and a glossary of architectural terms conclude the book. McBrien makes it clear that despite a lot of bad press—and lingering problems common to large U.S. cities—Los Angeles has a lot to offer the visitor interested in architecture and urban renewal. And, though the concept of walking tours of this city in particular may seem counterintuitive, they are not only possible, but also the best way to see some parts of the city. o —MICHELLE JONES
This month’s top publisher picks Sorrow Wood
Real Life & Liars
Raymond L. Atkins
The world’s most powerful terrorist must be stopped—at any cost.
Who killed the promiscuous woman who reputedly engaged in bizarre sexual rites at Sorrow Wood?
If all happy families are alike, then Kristina Riggle’s Zielinski family is one of a kind. For them happiness always seems just out of reach. But this weekend everything changes...
War Games: Kill Zone Vicki Hinze
Avon HC 9781934755631 $24.95
PB 9781934755617 $7.95
PB 9780061706288 $13.99
J. M. Windle
Intense, Provocative, Believable... If you’ve never been to Afghanistan, Veiled Freedom will put you there so vividly...it’s fiction, but just barely.
Imagine a world where there are special dogs whose only task in life is to lead their masters back to the path of God’s love. The Guardians is such a story; it tells of two shelties named DJ and Maggie who have the ability to speak, but their unusual talent is a closely guarded secret. Visit www.lovingeyesarewatching.com
Tyndale PB 9781414314754 $13.99
Let Sleeping Dogs Die Liz Wolfe Skye Donovan is back. This time she’s sniffing out the murderer of the owner of The Pet Place. Medallion Press
New Dawn Rising
PB 9781434376633 $16.99
Brain Warp Gil Snider
An edge-of-your-seat medical thriller laced with political intrigue, heart-stopping suspense and unforgettable characters.
Captain Arano Lakeland and his wife, Alayna, must save Rystoria from the threat of a Bromidian totalitarian regime.
PB 9781933836959 $15.95
PB 9781583484722 $17.95
PB 9781934755655 $7.95
The Elegance of the Hedgehog Muriel Barbery;
read by Barbara Rosenblat and Cassandra Morris
An enchanting New York Times and international bestseller about life, art, literature, philosophy, culture, class, privilege and power, seen through the eyes of a 54-year old French concierge and a precocious but troubled CD 9781598879254 $29.95 12-year-old girl. HighBridge Audio
Where readers discover their next great book
Release dates for some of the guaranteed blockbusters hitting shelves in June:
Die for You By Lisa Unger Crown, $24, ISBN 9780307393975
When a loving husband disappears without a trace, Unger’s new heroine will stop at nothing to find him.
Relentless By Dean Koontz Bantam, $27, ISBN 9780553807141
A vengeful book reviewer wreaks havoc on an author’s life in the latest from Koontz.
The Angel’s Game By Carlos Ruiz Zafon Doubleday, $26.95 ISBN 9780385528702
A dazzling novel set in Barcelona from the best-selling author of The Shadow of the Wind.
Swimsuit By James Patterson and Maxine Paetro Little, Brown, $27.99 ISBN 9780316018777
A supermodel goes missing after a tropical photo shoot in Patterson’s latest page-turner.
JUNE 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
She disappeared without a trace… leaving her son to untangle a legacy of lies.
Pick up your copy today!
On the border
A hapless guard looks north for love, and more By Alden Mudge ho says you can’t judge a book by its cover? The startling image of flocking birds that wraps around Jim Lynch’s rambunctious second novel, Border Songs, is a near-perfect analogue for the setting, subject and narrative energy of the story inside. The image comes from a recent painting by Walton Ford, Lynch says during a call from his home in Olympia, Washington. Lynch lives there with his wife, who teaches English as a second language, and their 16-year-old daughter. The watery environs near his home inspired Lynch’s well-regarded first novel, The Highest Tide, whose pint-sized 13-year-old narrator relates the outsized adventures of a formative summer at the water’s edge. Lynch composed Border Songs, set along the U.S.-Canada border in Washington state, in a “mini private-eye office”—complete with a frosted glass door, but minus Internet or phone service—in one of the oldest office buildings in Olympia. Lynch says setting and a sense of place are important hallmarks of both his novels. “To write about western Washington and not have the kind jim lynch of lushness [represented in the painting] seems almost impossible to do,” he adds, then notes that his publisher thinks the book cover will “be one of those what the hell!? kinds of covers that you just have to pick up.” And why not? Viewed from a certain angle, the cover even mirrors the deft comedic exaggeration that makes Border Songs such a lively read. Nowhere is that quality more evident than in the character of Brandon Vanderkool, the hulking, sweet-souled, rookie U.S. Border Patrol agent who is the protagonist of Border Songs and who just happens to have some very unusual abilities. “I didn’t start out to make a six-feet-eight dyslexic 23-yearold guy who is into landscape art and who is really into birds the central character of the book,” Lynch says. “I actually started out on a kind of writer’s dare. My protagonist in The Highest Tide is just four-feet-eight, and I’m a short guy myself, so I was thinking, OK, I can write tall. I’m going to make this guy six-feet-eight. The more I thought about it, the more it amused me to have a character who was unusually tall. Then I started giving him abilities that matched the extremeness of his size.” Brandon, it seems, has always been the weird Harold of the small farming community along the Washington-British Columbia border where he grew up and now patrols amid post-9/11 border tensions. But, in one of the wonderful comic twists of the novel, the same strange affinities with birds and art that alienated him from his classmates during his youth, now make Brandon unwittingly—and uncannily—successful as a Border Patrol agent. With every wrong turn or seeming blunder, he ends up apprehending a drug smuggler or undocumented
“It struck me that here was
this little-known battlefront in the war on drugs with great comic potential.”
Border Songs www.MIRABooks.com www.DianeChamberlain.com
alien, exciting the interest of superiors and congressional committees, the surprise of his father, a local dairy farmer, and the bemused envy of fellow officers. Alas, no similar happy twist of fate immediately lifts Brandon’s quest for the heart of Madeleine Rousseau, the girl from 50 or so feet across the border who had been one of Brandon’s rare childhood friends but is now a rookie girl-gone-bad in the British Columbia pot-exporting business. “I’m either drawn to or fascinated with reckless women,” Lynch says. “All of my characters are trying to squeeze more out of life. But Madeleine is trying to find something well outside the norm. She’s in trouble and she’s gone awry and Brandon senses that, although he’s clueless about what to do about it.” Around the charged relationship between Brandon and Madeleine, Lynch populates his story with a motley, engaging, vividly drawn assemblage of Border Patrol agents, national politicians, local dairy farmers, parents, children, Canadian pot dealers, illegal aliens and even a few potential terrorists. Lynch spent 15 years working as a reporter, including a stint as a political reporter in Washington, D.C., and he tells his story with remarkably clear prose punctuated by a sort of well-informed wink at the ridiculous attitudes on both sides of the border. “When I was at the The Oregonian I went up and hung out in the pot cafes in British Columbia and wrote about their whole marijuana culture,” Lynch says, highlighting the wellsprings of the novel. “They would tell me that the whole problem with America is that we’re euphoria-phobic. They have a guy who calls himself the Prince of Pot and who likes to get arrested smoking huge joints out in front of police stations. The self-righteous audaciousness of that struck me as a fun contrast to our drug czar, get-tough-on-marijuana policy,” he says. “When I was riding around with the Border Patrol I kept noticing all the birds. Border guards spend so much time spitting sunflower seeds, chewing tobacco and moseying around doing nothing that I thought having a birding Border Patrol guard would actually make sense . . . . [Besides,] the border guards weren’t catching a lot of illegals—your basic job-seeking illegals. But they were intercepting huge amounts of BC [British Columbia] bud. They would take me into the rooms where they stored these huge bags of marijuana and they were like teenagers with the big buds in their hands, aping for the camera,” Lynch recalls. “It was just goofy and it struck me that here was this little-known battlefront in the war on terror and the war on drugs with great comic potential.” Lynch concludes, “We go through these absurd cycles from hyper paranoia about the border to forgetting it’s even there to ramping up and getting tough on Canada as a potential menace. To me there’s a nonsensical dynamic to the way we guard our border with our peaceful neighbors to the north, and a certain absurdity to the way we wage our war on drugs and our war on terror. If that seeps through to the reader as I describe life on the border, so much the better.” Lynch’s provocative critique of U.S. border policies does indeed seep through Border Songs, but, thankfully, it wafts on the breeze of a warm-hearted guffaw. o Alden Mudge writes from Berkeley, California. © CORTNEY KELLEY
By Jim Lynch Knopf $25.95, 304 pages ISBN 9780307271174
Book clubs New paperbacks for reading groups Dear American Airlines By Jonathan Miles Miles, who writes about books for Men’s Journal and serves as cocktail columnist for the New York Times, offers a funny, poignant first novel about reaching middle age. Benjamin Ford is a struggling poet and translator who hopes to reconcile with his alienated daughter by flying to Los Angeles from New York for her wedding. When his flight is cancelled, Bennie finds himself stranded in O’Hare International Airport with hundreds of other disgruntled travelers. As he comes to the realization that he’ll miss his daughter’s Mariner wedding, Bennie composes a complaint letter to the air- $13.95, 192 pages ISBN 9780547237909 line—a missive that turns out to be far more than a simple plea for a refund. With irony, intelligence and humor, Bennie writes about his own life in the letter, detailing regrets, mistakes, wasted time— the works. His failures as a writer and the damage wrought by his alcoholism are all recounted with a sense of melancholy and hard-won maturity. Bennie also writes about his troubled parents—a suicidal mother and a father who was a prisoner of the Nazis—both of whom left their mark on his life. As it turns out, Bennie’s letter writing is a cathartic project. When airline flights finally recommence, he has come to grips with his personal history and actually feels a sense of hope. Miles, a sharp, stylish author, has created a complex novel from a simple premise. This is a compassionate, often hilarious book about laying the past to rest and moving forward into the future. A reading group guide is available at MarinerReadersGuides.com.
“A quietly bold debut, full of heart.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
The Art of Racing in the Rain By Garth Stein Stein’s heartwarming third novel has a unique twist: its narrator is none other than a remarkably articulate, timelessly wise lab-terrier mix named Enzo. That’s right—this tale is delivered from a dog’s point of view, a trick the author executes with exceptional believability. The dog’s owner, Denny Swift— a down-on-his-luck race car driver—is trying to create a career for himself on the professional circuit. The two cross paths for the first time on a farm on the outskirts of Seattle and become inseparable. Smart, loyal and long suffering—all the things a Harper good dog should be—Enzo bears witness to the milestones in $14.99, 336 pages Denny’s life, including his marriage to Eve, and the birth of ISBN 9780061537967 their daughter, Zoë. When Denny invests his savings in an attempt to launch his racing career, Enzo takes to watching videotapes of his old races and longs for the power of speech so he can advise his master. Indeed, Denny needs all the help he can get as he hazards his life on the racetrack. Providing humorous and sympathetic commentary on his owner’s misadventures, Enzo is an unforgettable narrator. This is a spirited story of friendship and love—a book with heart. A reading group guide is available at HarperCollins.com.
The Girl Who Stopped Swimming
“Gin Phillips has a remarkable ear for dialogue and a tenderhearted eye for detail; you can hear the pecans and hickory nuts falling from the trees and feel the stillness of a hot summer night.” —Los Angeles Times “The Well and the Mine doesn’t just give you characters who’ll stay with you—it gives you a whole world.” —Fannie Flagg, author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
Perfect for book clubs! Looking to connect with the author? Gin Phillips is available to speak with your reading group. For details contact Leslie.Schwartz@us.penguingroup.com.
Available Now from
A Member of Penguin Group (USA) penguin.com
JUNE 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
By Joshilyn Jackson Set in Florida, this modern-day Southern Gothic drama features a picture-perfect middle-class family whose lives are turned upside down by the appearance of a ghost. Laurel, a successful quilt artist, discovers the specter in her room one night. It’s the ghost of a young girl—her neighbor, Molly— and it leads her to the family’s swimming pool, where the body of Molly herself is floating. For Laurel, a return to normal life with her husband, David, a designer of video games, and their teenage daughter, Shelby, is unthinkable after this discovery. Grand Central Although the police are convinced Molly’s death was an ac- $13.99, 336 pages cidental drowning, Shelby becomes implicated in the tragedy, ISBN 9780446697828 along with her friend Bet. To make matters worse, Laurel’s free-spirited sister, an actress named Thalia, comes for visit. New tensions arise as the two sisters—different as night and day—clash. Thalia has some unpleasant family secrets to share with Laurel, who has become convinced that David is cheating on her. With Thalia’s help, though, Laurel is able to find out the facts about the drowning— facts more shocking than she ever imagined. Jackson, an actress and a Southerner, develops and controls multiple plotlines with great skill. This is a wonderfully nuanced portrait of a Southern family whose idyllic existence is shattered overnight. A reading group guide is included in the book. o —JULIE HALE
In a 1930s Alabama coal-mining town, a shocking act of violence sets in motion a chain of events that forces Tess Moore and her family to look beyond their own door and learn the value of kindness, charity, and the hope that we can give each other during times of hardship.
All in the family By Karen Ann Cullotta Readers will savor the bittersweet taste of first love with a twist of darkness in Tess Callahan’s debut novel. After all, these tortured souls are kissing cousins—literally. While not related by blood, April and Oliver share the same beloved grandmother and grew up climbing trees and skinning knees together. The story begins when tragedy strikes this fractured family, tossing April and Oliver together again after years of estrangement. A former musical child prodigy, Oliver has abandoned the piano and enrolled in law school, arriving back in New York with an ethereal blonde, Bernadette. True to her name, Oliver’s fiancée is saint-like, the antithesis of her wild child nemesis, the irrepressible April. While the juxtaposition of the vodka-swilling, mini-skirt clad bartender (April) with the wholesome, schoolteacher ingénue (Bernadette) could become cliché in the hands of a less talented writer, Callahan’s immense gift for storytelling is brimming with truth. Through twists and turns, the young women forge a tenuous friendship that is doomed to fail, but April & Oliver is noble in its intentions, nonetheless. The plot is poised on a complex love triangle, but when By Tess Callahan April’s attraction to bad boys takes a dangerous, violent turn, Grand Central she is rescued by the engaged couple, whose wedding plans $23.99, 336 pages ISBN 9780446540599 are unfolding alongside a funeral and the specter of domestic violence. Battered, bruised and broken, April is on a fast track to nowhere, unmoored by a seemingly never-ending string of tragedies in her life. And Oliver, while outwardly successful, is equally fragile, possessed by the twin demons of desire and dread. There are no easy answers for April and Oliver, nor for the novel’s peripheral yet equally poignant characters like Nana, the fiery family matriarch; Al, the womanizing, but good-hearted sportswriter; and even T.J., April’s tormented ex-boyfriend. Some secrets should never be shared, and in the end, it is Callahan’s grace and restraint that is sure to win her legions of readers, beguiled by her prose and yearning for her next book. o Karen Ann Cullotta writes from Chicago.
Breaching invisible borders
JUNE 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
By Jedediah Berry The City & The City is a murder mystery, old-fashioned in its way, narrated by a toughtalking police investigator and layered with all the shadow and menace of a film noir. China Miéville, known for such sprawling and often innovative fantasies as Perdido Street Station and Iron Council, turns to a leaner approach in this novel, hanging his story on prose that is at once precise, mordant and vivid. The result is a tightly plotted, thoroughly engaging read, at turns beguiling and revelatory. The most original aspect of the book is its setting. The two cities of the title, Besźel and Ul Qoma, are vastly dissimilar places, each with its own language, culture and forms of political unrest. Ul Qoma is undergoing an economic boom while Besźel decays in a slump. Though the two cities are located in different countries, they share a common past and— this is the extraordinary conceit that drives the narrative— they occupy the same geographical space. Residents of one city are strictly prohibited from interacting with residents of the other, even though they walk the same streets. Failing to “unsee” the other city and its citizens is a crime; to actually have dealings with them is “Breach,” something rather worse than illegal border-crossing. Complications arise when Inspector Tyador Borlú is called The City upon to investigate the murder of a young woman whose body is discovered in his home city of Besźel. The problem & The City is that the murder seems to have taken place in Ul Qoma. If By China Miéville the murder is an instance of Breach, then the crime is outside Del Rey of Borlú’s jurisdiction, and responsibility lies with a power $26, 336 pages ISBN 9780345497512 more dangerous and enigmatic than his police squad. Borlú is unable to leave the case alone, however, and to continue his investigation he must travel to Ul Qoma, where he is ensnared in a conspiracy involving the government, a forbidden book, an archaeological site and the cities’ ancient past. The paradox of his situation—to seek truth in a place which demands that one willfully ignore a part of what is real—allows Miéville to construct a fascinating and original hybrid of fantasy and crime fiction. o 22 Jedediah Berry is the author of a novel, The Manual of Detection.
ROMANCE Exotic locales, emotional offerings It’s the first vacation month of the summer and these romantic titles will take you away . . . no matter how close to home you stay. Deep Down (MIRA, $7.99, 352 pages, ISBN 9780778326458) by Karen Harper takes the reader to the woods of Kentucky where heroine Jessie Lockwood’s mother is missing. Though Jesse is a Ph.D., her mother is a simple Appalachian country woman involved in the counting of endangered ginseng plants—which are prized for their special qualities, especially in the Asian marketplace. Returning home to help in the search, Jessie reunites with old friends, who may now be enemies of her mother. Assisting her is the local sheriff, Drew Webb, the man Jessie loved and lost a dozen years before. Can these BY christie ridgway two reconcile what once tore them apart while solving the puzzles that continue to crop up in their tiny town? More mystery than romance, the backdrop of the “sang” (ginseng) trade is intriguing and the suspects are as thick as the surrounding woods.
Hanky read Harriet Evans’ The Love of Her Life (Downtown Press, $15, 448 pages, ISBN 9781439113158) is a heart-tugging tale of love timed wrong. Three years before, Londoner Kate Miller had a great job, the perfect fiancé and friends who loved her. Then, just as she’s planning her wedding, her good life explodes in her face. She flees to her mother and stepfather in New York, and only braves a return to her old stomping grounds when her father becomes seriously ill. Kate has to face past tragedies, past loves and old friends in order to truly move on with her life. The story unspools in a page-turning fashion and Kate is easy to care about—and cry for. Peopled with well-rounded characters and compelling dilemmas, the story will have readers sighing, hoping and finally smiling. A read both entertaining and emotional; tissues at hand highly recommended.
Magic man Fans of historical romance have a sexy and fun offering this month from Sabrina Jeffries. The fifth in her Regency-set School for Heiresses series, Don’t Bargain with the Devil (Pocket, $7.99, 384 pages, ISBN 9781416560814) has the finishing school agog when a world-famous magician, Diego Montalvo, moves next door. Rumor has it that he plans a scandalous pleasure garden on the property and heroine Lucy Seton, once a student and now a teacher at the school, will not have it! She’s determined to discover if the gossip is true—and if it is, to do what she must to prevent any damage to the school’s reputation. However, Diego isn’t eager to quell Lucy’s fears. Instead, he cultivates her curiosity in order to determine if she’s the long-lost granddaughter of a Spanish marqués he’s been hired to find. Diego and Lucy uncover something unexpected though—an attraction that takes them from England to Spain and from desire to love. Including hidden family relationships, a sensual hero and an intrepid heroine, this story is briskly paced and spiked with passion.
Striking sensuality The erotic and eerie combine in Emma Holly’s Kissing Midnight (Berkley Sensation, $7.99, 320 pages, ISBN 9780425223390), an installment of the Fitz Clare Chronicles. In 1930s London, Edmund Fitz Clare is keeping something big from his children and the young woman, Estelle Berenger, who has come to live with them. Edmund’s a shape-shifting vampire and he’s sworn that his secret won’t affect or harm the happy family that he’s built. But as his children reach adulthood he finds it harder to keep his vow, and keep away from the lovely Estelle. She’s been in love with Edmund since she was a teenager and now she senses that he’s not immune to her either. His defenses battered by desire, Edmund reaches for Estelle just as a vampire from a rival bloodline becomes his enemy. While that vampire works to turn his son against him, Edmund and Estelle fall more deeply in love. But a commitment to each other doesn’t forestall the gathering danger. The book ends with a cliffhanger and a question as to whether the bond of the hero and heroine can survive the trial to come. Holly’s writing brims with sexy scenes and haunting emotion, and readers will clamor for next month’s subsequent installment in the series. o Christie Ridgway writes contemporary romance from Southern California. Her latest release, Dirty Sexy Knitting, is on the shelves this month.
Surviving the crash
By Linda M. Castellitto “A world drowning in objects,” the title of the introduction to Deyan Sudjic’s The Language of Things: Understanding the World of Desirable Objects, is an apt description of the things-filled lives so many of us lead. It’s timely, too: rather than reveling in our objects, he explains, we’re feeling overwhelmed by them. How did it get this way? What makes one object more desirable than another? Sudjic, director of the Design Museum in London, intelligently and thoroughly explores the emotional and thought processes behind our appreciation of and craving for beautifully designed objects. In doing so, he provides a history of the people and innovations that have been instrumental in shaping our tastes and environment. He turns his curator’s eye on everything from cars to computers to banknotes, and offers analyses of the evolution of objects’ roles as status indicators. For example, thanks to the advent of high-end computers, iPhones, BlackBerries and the like, the fountain pen is not as attractive a status object as it once was—but the watch is. Why? Because it’s jewelry, which has a “long history of addressing the emotional and tactile interaction between people and things.” Sudjic also examines how designer archetypes (the chair, lamp, certain The Language types of architecture, etc.) frequently are re-imagined and of Things addresses the role of fashion in design and vice versa. By Deyan Sudjic One of the most interesting parts of the book is his expliNorton cation of design vs. art, where he writes of the “taint of util- $24.95, 224 pages ity.” Or: art is art because it is useless, whereas design solves a ISBN 9780393070811 problem and/or performs a function . . . but price “can have the effect of making a useful object useless” because something might be too pricey to use in everyday life. The Language of Things is filled with such moments of clarity, including Sudjic’s warning that, although design offers us a way of understanding the world, “We find ourselves seduced into constantly searching for the fleeting high of a new possession, a new purchase, and a fascination with the new.” An excellent point—and one of many in this insightful book, which is, of course, nicely designed. o Linda M. Castellitto is surrounded by designers in North Carolina.
By John T. Slania The pace of Down Around Midnight builds quickly, as author Robert Sabbag describes being a passenger on a small commercial airliner that crashes in the woods on Cape Cod. He writes of the incredible force he experiences as the plane hits the trees, ripping his seat from the fuselage and propelling him forward onto the deck of the cabin. He shares his view of remote darkness, the strong smell of leaking jet fuel and the eerie silence after the plane skids to a halt in the foggy woods. He relates the stinging physical pain and the heart-pounding fear as he and the other survivors struggle to escape, alarmed that they might catch fire along with the fuel-soaked aircraft. The sights, sounds, smells and other sensations of the crash are the hook of Down Around Midnight. What follows is Sabbag’s personal journey of recovery—both physical and emotional— and his quest, 28 years after the crash, to talk to fellow survivors. Remarkably, the June 17, 1979, crash of Air New England Flight 248 claimed only one life: the pilot’s. Nine passengers and the co-pilot lived, and Sabbag uses his training as a journalist to track down some of them almost three decades later. He finds the young woman who braved the dark woods to find help, the medical student who pulled passengers from the Down Around wreckage and the Harvard quarterback who tended to the se- Midnight verely injured co-pilot. Their memories of the crash and their reflections on their psychological recovery make for a fascinat- By Robert Sabbag ing examination of how people cope with the aftermath of a Viking $25.95, 224 pages traumatic experience. ISBN 9780670021024 The only disappointment is that Sabbag, by choice, doesn’t pursue interviews with some survivors, including the co-pilot and three sisters seriously injured in the crash. He also passes on an interview with the pilot’s wife. One can sympathize with Sabbag’s decision based on his sensitivities as a fellow survivor. But as a journalist, he fails to seek all sides of the story; as a result, Down Around Midnight doesn’t close with the same flourish as its energetic beginning. Still, this survivor’s tale should hold the attention of both the seasoned air traveler and the reluctant voyager who has a fear of flying. o John T. Slania is a journalism professor at Loyola University in Chicago.
All’s fair in love and matrimony in the wildly romantic new Brides of Fortune trilogy from acclaimed author
JUNE 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
THE BRIDES OF FORTUNE
“A rising star of the Regency arena.” —Publishers Weekly
THE CONFESSIONS OF A DUCHESS • 978-0-373-77377-0 • JUNE THE SCANDALS OF AN INNOCENT • 978-0-373-77389-3 • JULY THE UNDOING OF A LADY • 978-0-373-77395-4 • AUGUST
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Odd case of war and remembrance
A backseat view of history
By Alison Hood Two-year-old James Leininger was a happy, contented toddler with doting parents. Andrea and Bruce Leininger had just settled themselves and their son into a new home in Louisiana, and life was peaceful—until late one night when they were jolted from sleep by James’s bloodcurdling screams. Rushing to his room, Andrea saw her son in the grip of a terrifying nightmare, “kicking frantically at his covers and screaming bloody murder.” For two months this scenario would repeat until finally, one night, as James’ weary parents again witnessed him “kicking and clawing . . . like he was trying to kick his way out of a coffin,” they heard him scream “Airplane crash! Plane on fire! Little man can’t get out!” The Leiningers’ truly eerie tale of their son’s night terrors is chronicled in Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot, a strange story that makes a plausible case for the existence of past lives. While there have been many books, from silly to sensational, written about reincarnation and past-life memories, the Leiningers’ account is a straightforward, no-nonsense one. Bruce Leininger’s initial reaction to his son’s uncanny knowledge of and fascination with old airplanes—and the boy’s chilling assertion that he himself Soul Survivor was the “little man” in the burning plane—was “bullshit!” By Bruce and But the nightmares would not go away, and the Leiningers Andrea Leininger methodically, with the help of the Internet, began an intenCentral sive investigation that led them to the ship Natoma Bay and Grand $24.99, 272 pages the association of military men who had fought alongside ISBN 9780446509336 fighter pilot James Huston. From the first clues from young James about his past-life name, his memories of the crash and his war buddies, the Japanese planes and the Natoma, the Leiningers systematically verified and put the pieces together, with the help of Huston’s fellow (surviving) shipmates and family, into an undeniable catalog of facts that rocked their solid Christian beliefs. Soul Survivor presents strong evidence for reincarnation and demonstrates how the knowledge that life might be infinite can help to heal the fear and pain of human mortality. o Alison Hood is currently enjoying this lifetime as a writer living in California.
By Roger Bishop Harry Truman liked to drive and once said, “I like roads. I like to move.” So it seemed natural that in the summer of 1953, after serving almost eight years as president (he had been vice president for only 82 days when FDR died), private citizen Truman would drive himself and his wife Bess from their Independence, Missouri, home to New York City and back. Public radio reporter Matthew Algeo retraces their route in Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip. During their nearly 2,500-mile roundtrip, the Trumans stayed almost exclusively in family-owned motels or with friends, ate in local restaurants and tried to travel incognito. Such a trip would be impossible today; at the time, former presidents did not have Secret Service protection. Though their itinerary was not made public and the president’s popularity was at an all-time low when he left office, well-wishers and reporters often appeared when the couple stopped, asking for photos or autographs. Algeo interviewed people who met the Trumans and researched accounts of their travels in local newspapers and other sources. At times, he tells of his own experiences re- Harry Truman’s tracing their trip, noting, for example, that only one of the Excellent mom-and-pop businesses the Trumans are known to have patronized is still in business and owned by the same family. Adventure But Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure is more than a trav- By Matthew Algeo elogue. Algeo adroitly gives us relevant background about Chicago Review Press Truman’s personal and public life, especially his presidency, $24.95, 256 pages and explains the trip within the context of the 1950s—roads ISBN 9781556527777 were often in poor condition; cars did not have seat belts, air conditioning or air bags—and American history generally. Among many examples of the latter is the story of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. This very readable book takes us back to a country quite different in many ways from today. Readers will almost feel like they’re sitting in the back seat of that 1953 Chrysler, enjoying the trip. o Roger Bishop recently road tripped to New Mexico to visit his grandson.
Independent Voices for an Independent World Bedtime with Rollo the NightSpryte™
The Wed Plan: The Ultimate Planner
Got monsters? Kids afraid of the dark? There’s no need to fear, Rollo the NightSpryte is here! Order through AtlasBooks, mention “bedtime special,” and receive a free plush toy.
This ultimate wedding planner comes with a detailed twelve-month timeline, checklists, and agenda to record important information, including budgeting, addresses, telephone numbers, and a journal to keep track of gifts.
JUNE 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
The Intrigue of the Possible
Get Off the Dime
Do you have questions like: Why am I here? What happens when I die? The author provides information about thirteen unusual, but credible, individuals whose works or lives he has encountered.
Who really pays for healthcare and how do we finally improve cost and quality? Dr. Potarazu sounds a clarion call to action for anyone who pays for health care, employer or employee.
Summer’s Distant Echoes
Eight years have passed since Summer and Destiny’s parents were brutally gunned down. When the things you hold dear to your heart are taken away, what do you do?
Tony Korfman takes you into the major Las Vegas strip casinos where he has played, while providing laughout-loud situations that have had poker pros immediately seeking therapy.
Available at your favorite bookstore, online at www.atlasbooks.com or by calling 1-800-BOOKLOG.
CHILDREN’S BOOKS Where troubles melt like lemon drops
MEET Cece Bell
By Robin Smith According to my records, I have read The Wizard of Oz 17 times. That’s a conservative estimate and doesn’t count the number of times I heard the book read aloud when I was a child. I have defended L. Frank Baum’s work from detractors who find it didactic or flat, and I have watched the eyes of more than 300 second-graders as they absorb the story of Dorothy and her adventures. Grace Lin’s latest book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, is part Chinese legend, part Zen storytelling, part feminist-inspired folktale and many parts Oz. My list of “things that are just like Oz” includes: a girl on a journey for a magical being, a friend who needs help, a brick road, cliffhanger chapter endings, old-fashioned full-color illustrations and a dramatic tone. But, despite my long list, Lin’s adventure story reads like an homage to Oz rather than a story derived from it. Our heroine, Minli, spends her family’s hard-earned money on a goldfish that is supposed to change their fortune. Ma is the keeper of the money, and she complains constantly about her family’s impoverished state. The stories of the talking goldfish inspire Minli to set out on a jour- Where the ney to Never-Ending Mountain, where she will ask the Old Mountain Meets Man in the Moon for help. the Moon Following the traditions of the hero myth, Lin portrays Minli as she travels far from home, carrying items that end By Grace Lin up being important for her survival. She meets a magical Little, Brown 288 pages and beloved dragon companion who helps her see what is $16.99, ISBN 9780316114271 really important. She meets and overcomes challenges and Ages 8 to 12 has to complete her mission alone. And, in the end, Minli learns what she is supposed to learn. Every character in the story changes and grows during the time that Minli is away. My future second-graders are going to love Minli and her stories when I read this book to them next year. They will see the similarities to Oz, but that will only make the story better for them. Suspenseful without being scary, complex without being complicated, this spirited tale of self-discovery and fate has a little something for every reader. o Robin Smith shares Oz and other stories with her second-grade class in Nashville.
For Junebug, all the world’s a stage
The endearing story of a tiny dog with big plans, Itty Bitty (Candlewick, $9.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9780763636166) is the seventh children’s book by Cece Bell, who also wrote and illustrated the Sock Monkey books (Sock Monkey Rides Again, etc.). She lives in Christiansburg, Virginia, with her husband Tom and two sons.
JUNE 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
By Sharon Verbeten Twelve-year-old June Olivia Cantrell—aka Junebug—is like many other tweens. She’s a dreamer, slightly insecure and she often feels invisible, especially next to her older drama queen sister, Stella. She’s not a leading lady . . . yet, but hey, one can always dream. Junebug’s life has always revolved around the Blue Moon— the playhouse founded by her father. It’s a serious playhouse where, these days, tragedies rule the stage. But even though Junebug knows the show must go on, this summer is a little different than most. She’s finding herself, to quote the Chekhov play The Seagull up next at the Blue Moon, “in mourning for my life.” Here’s how Junebug sees it—her parents are still happily married; she’s got the lead role in the Blue Moon’s latest production and she doesn’t have to worry about anyone getting in her space. But here’s how it is—her parents are separated (with dad fawning over the new actress); she’s just a prop girl (albeit proudly taking her star turn as the unseen “thunder” in The Tempest) and now she’s got a young know-it-all kid—an understudy of sorts—following her around, learning the ropes. Here’s How I See Alas, alack—Junebug is not content to be simply a be- It —Here’s How It Is hind-the-scenes player, so she takes charge and speaks out, By Heather Henson wondering “how you’re supposed to know when the acting Atheneum stops and the real person begins.” Soon, an unexpected de- $16.99, 288 pages nouement has surprising results for Junebug, who comes a ISBN 9781416949015 Ages 9 to 12 bit closer to matching her dreams with reality. With chapters that open with Junebug’s dreamy visions, countered by her tragic-comic reality, the well-paced novel traces her summer of discontent. Age-appropriate dialogue and a likeable ensemble cast are set against a backdrop of the theater—creating a perfect stage for this tale of finding one’s way amid an unscripted life. Even reluctant readers will keep turning pages to see if all’s well that ends well. o Sharon Verbeten is a freelance writer and former children’s librarian who made her acting debut as a rock in a grade school play.
CHILDREN’S BOOKS Finding hope and humor in a pig’s royal adventure BY LINDA M. CASTELLITTO ileen Spinelli is not afraid of commitment. She has belonged to the same Wednesday-morning book group for 20 years. And, since the age of six, she’s been committed to the idea of working with words for a living. “I fell in love with books and words as a child,” she says. “As I grew older, I wanted to be a poet and wear big hats and long dresses like Edna St. Vincent Millay.” Although the author wasn’t wearing dramatic attire when she spoke with BookPage from her home near Philadelphia (where she lives with her husband, author Jerry Spinelli), she did share tidbits from her bibliophilic childhood.
“My best friend Gladys and I—she was eight, I was six—would walk to our town library and spend the day. It had swings, we’d bring a lunch, and take the allotted 10 books home in shopping EILEEN bags,” she says. “The library was my amusement park, my mall— SPINELLI it’s where we went for fun. I grew up in that little world of books.” Sixty years and 50 books (plus six children and 17 grandchildren) later, the author has created her own world of literature, including the new picture book Princess Pig (Knopf, $16.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9780375845710), which tells the story of an accidental porcine princess. One day, a hearty gust of wind yanks a “princess” sash from a parade participant and deposits it in Pig’s pen. She takes the sash as a sign—deciding that she is, in fact, Princess Pig—and sets about living the life of a royal. But as the obligations pile up (she must spend hours in the sun posing for a portrait, and she can’t roll in the mud anymore), Pig realizes her new role is a difficult one that’s alienating her from her friends. Ultimately, she tosses aside her teacup crown and cavorts with her barnyard pals once again, happy in the knowledge that a non-princess Pig is a good thing to be. The author says, “I try to write about things I’m already interested in, or want to know more about.” Princess Pig was sparked by a combination of imagination plus
reality (in the form of a documentary Spinelli watched about the royal family). “They work very hard—princesses have a lot of work to do, sometimes five appearances a day,” she says. “And I wanted to show it’s OK to be a pig, or a princess . . . it’s OK to be whoever you are.” That message is shored up by Tim Bowers’ artwork, full-page illustrations that demonstrate his intuition and skill: the animals’ faces are expressive—hilarious, adorable and kind. Each page bears detailed, appealing art that meshes with the characters’ vivid personae and the book’s engaging rhythm. Spinelli says of that rhythm, “Writing a picture book is a lot like writing a poem. Language is very important to me, and a lot of my picture books are really poems.” Spinelli’s first book, 1981’s The Giggle and Cry Book, was a poetry collection, in fact, and numerous picture books and chapter books (including the Lizzie Logan series) have followed. “Every book has a different voice and calls for a different mode of writing,” she says. “I don’t set out to do one or the other, it’s more, how am I going to do this particular idea? The more you do it, the more you have a feel for what works.” Good information for aspiring writers, to be sure, and Spinelli hasn’t stopped trying new things, either: her first collaboration with husband Jerry, Today I Will: A Year of Quotes, Notes, and Promises to Myself, is due out in October. “It was great working separately and then coming together and critiquing, but not great being in the same room working on the same book,” she says with a laugh. “I’m really pleased with how it turned out.” Attentive readers may be wondering how Spinelli’s childhood friendship with Gladys turned out. That story, too, has a happy ending: the girls lost touch when Spinelli’s family moved to a new town, but several years ago, the women reunited at their beloved library. “That children’s department is now a storage room,” Spinelli says. “The places where the stacks were, and Mrs. Armstrong’s desk—it’s so tiny! But to me, it was the biggest place in the world.” o Linda M. Castellitto is pretty sure her cat is a princess.
Lessons from a supersized pet
Picky kitty beats a sweet retreat
“The library was my amusement park, my mall—it’s where we went for fun.”
JUNE 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
By Ellen Trachtenberg Never underestimate your mom. When she threatens to buy you a blue whale if you don’t clean up your room, she means business. If you second-guess her about having a blue whale delivered overnight—after all, they are the biggest animals in the world— she’ll show you who’s boss. And before you know it, you have a sizable dilemma on your hands, because whales make rather difficult pets. That’s the comical and cautionary tale behind Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem, marking the impressive debut of author Mac Barnett. After Billy shirks his chores one too many times, he wakes to find the large aquatic mammal at his doorstep, delivered by who else but Fed Up: Delivering Punishment Worldwide. He tries to go about his day, towing the whale to school on the back of his bike, squeezing him into the classroom and defending his new pet against the playground bully. It’s exhausting, to say the least, and his troubles don’t end when he returns home. As Billy drags himself up- Billy Twitters and His stairs, his father pulls out a copy of the Blue Whale Own- Blue Whale Problem er’s Manual, complete with instructions on washing and By Mac Barnett waxing your whale, not to mention feeding him. “The manual says they eat krill—tiny shrimps things that Illustrated by Adam Rex they find by gulping ten-thousand-gallon mouthfuls of Hyperion 40 pages seawater.” But where will Billy find that much seawater? $16.99, ISBN 9780786849581 He heads to the sea, of course, tossing water into the Ages 3 to 7 beast’s mouth by the bucketful. That’s when he has a revelation that might just give him an insider’s perspective on his blue whale problem. This picture book, with its oversized humor and gentle lesson about responsibility, will surely find an enthusiastic audience. Fantastic illustrations by Adam Rex burst from each page and his sympathetic depiction of the nonchalant whale is completely charming. In 26 the midst of the hilarity are plenty of facts about blue whales that readers will have no trouble digesting. Needless to say, it’s a whale of a tale with a new twist. o
By Robin Smith Leo is a new cat owner who knows nothing about felines. He is especially clueless about how to feed his fluffy kitten. At least he knows enough to give her a perfectly serviceable name—Sugar. Leo has a slice of chocolate layer cake left over from his birthday and offers it to the hungry Sugar. To Leo’s surprise, Sugar simply stares at Leo and refuses the delicious treat. Leo and the confederacy of dunces who live in his apartment building try to reason with the recalcitrant kitty. Ezra the plumber tells Leo that “my dad always told me to drink my milk or I wouldn’t grow up big and strong.” Sugar doesn’t buy that line. Leo collects other pearls of adult wisdom that will seem unpleasantly familiar to the child reader. Leo exhorts, “You are not leaving this table until you eat up Sugar Would Not Eat It all that cake!” And of course, what book about children and food would be complete without, “Just four By Emily Jenkins Illustrated by Giselle Potter bites. Four bites and then you can be done”? Poor Leo. Poor Sugar. Will Sugar starve? Will Leo Schwartz & Wade $16.99, 40 page ever figure out how to handle his kitty? Such drama! Reading Sugar Would Not Eat It to a group of picky ISBN 9780375836039 Ages 4 to 8 seven- and eight-year-olds was a treat. By the end, they were smacking their foreheads and predicting what the adults would say next to Leo and Sugar. They were calling out suggestions and laughing at the kinds of things adults say to get them to eat their supper. Potter’s flat, mixed-media paintings are the perfect foil for this hilarious tale. Picture the adults, exhausted from their efforts to force-feed a cat, collapsed on the floor and counters of a retro green kitchen while Sugar bounds away from the dreaded cake. And who couldn’t love Harriet, the elderly lady downstairs, sitting on her lawn chair, wearing knee-highs and white pumps? These details might be lost on the young reader, but they offer a bonus for the adult who will be reading this one again and again. Picky eaters with a sly sense of humor will ask for a second helping. o
CHILDREN’S BOOKS On opposite sides of the mountain
That’s what (vampire) friends are for
By Ellen Trachtenberg Ivy June Mosely and Catherine Combs are both from Kentucky, but their lifestyles are worlds apart. The two seventh-grade students have agreed to take part in an exchange program; the girls will visit each other for two weeks at a time and record their impressions in their journals. In the skillful hands of veteran author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, author of the Newbery Award-winning Shiloh and an astonishing 135 other books, Faith, Hope, and Ivy June unfolds with poetic restraint and unexpected discoveries. As the story opens, we meet Ivy June as she prepares to leave her home in mountainous and old-timey Thunder Creek for a stay with Catherine and her family in a posh suburb of Lexington. She moved in with her grandparents, Mammaw and Papaw, after her own home became too crowded. There’s no running water in most Thunder Creek homes and life tends to be led hand-to-mouth. The town relies on its coal mines, and Ivy June worries for the safety of her beloved Papaw as he returns home each night exhausted and covered in coal dust. Miles away in Lexington, Catherine awaits Ivy June’s arrival. Catherine’s family takes great pains to welcome Ivy Faith, Hope, and June and to hide their own apprehensions and prejudices. Ivy June After a tour of Catherine’s lovely, spacious home—the airconditioning and multiple bathrooms make a big impres- By Phyllis Reynolds sion—the girls begin to form a friendship, though fragile Naylor at times, based on their commonalities and an intentional Delacorte $16.99, 288 pages downplaying of their differences. Their view of each other’s ISBN 9780385736152 standard of living becomes especially dramatic when Cath- Ages 9 to 12 erine comes to Thunder Creek, trekking over the hills and bathing outside in a tin tub. As they engage in their shared journey, the girls can’t help but be forever changed by it. But how will these changes affect their lives going forward? Each has expectations and fears, each has to contend with their family’s preconceived notions about life on the other side, and each has to come to terms with the idea that certain stereotypes will inevitably affect their experience. In the end, it’s a shared devotion to their respective families that will enable a bond to form, particularly in the face of loss and a newfound appreciation for the gifts of their own daily lives. o Ellen Trachtenberg is the author of The Best Children’s Literature: A Parent’s Guide.
By Angela Leeper They’re not charming or sexy. The undead members that make up The Reformed Vampire Support Group, by Australian author Catherine Jinks, are bored, apathetic, unattractive whiners prone to headaches, eye bleeds and nausea. Rather than spread their “infection” among more of the living, they curb their addiction and sustain themselves with specially bred guinea pigs (easy to clean up and dispose of) and supplements. Narrator and Sydney native Nina used to be a party girl until she was fanged 51 years ago at the age of 15. Now she spends her time holed up in her faded bedroom, writing romanticized novels of vampire super-heroine Zadia Bloodstone. Former musician Dave, physician Sanford, arthritic Gladys, Internet scammer Horace and the rest of the motley group pick up odd jobs when they can (a vampire still has to pay the rent). Even their Tuesday night, AA-like support group has become mundane until fellow member Casimir (directly and indirectly responsible for most of the group’s fangings) turns up staked in his coffin. Now the ragtag bunch must really support each other, as they solve the mystery of Casimir’s killer and protect them- The Reformed selves from a potential vampire slayer. They receive more Vampire Support help from Nina’s elderly chain-smoking mother, idealistic Group Father Ramon and unlikely strays they meet along the way. Because vampires are dead to the world during the day (lit- By Catherine Jinks erally and figuratively), these humans are needed to take care Houghton Mifflin $17, 368 pages of daytime necessities and fill in the gaps of Nina’s narrative. ISBN 9780152066093 Through the adventurous twists and turns of saving her- Ages 13 and up self from vampire haters, Nina discovers justice, friendship and maybe even romance. She begins to emerge from the depression, lethargy and victimization of vampirism (also symptoms of adolescence) to find life (er, death) worth living. With this budding heroine in her own right at the forefront, this ensemble of eccentric characters gives a wry spin to the ever-popular vampire tale. o As a child, Angela Leeper slept with a blanket around her neck to ward off vampires.
Seeing her future with a dashing prince
An Interview with the author of The Obama Story, T.S. Lee Why did you write a manga biography of President Barack Obama? President Obama’s life story is so relatable to people all across America and other parts of the world. The success of his own books and books written about him were so great that I t hought it a sha me t here wasn’t a title out there specifically for children to read and learn from. President Obama’s childhood is what made him the man he is today. The struggles he f ac ed a s a c h i ld have st reng t hened h is dream and ultimately, made it come true. I want children around the world to know and learn from his stor y. I want them to have a role model that is real and to realize that their $14.95, Paperback, 204 pages, May ‘09 dreams are attainable. Manga is the best form to reach children. They are excited by the colors and the layout and all the while, they are learning. I understand this is the first title in the "The Great Hero Series". Can you tell me more about that? Sure. My team and I prepared this series over two years ago. We research and gather material on the candidates who we feel qualify as good role models for kids. Fortunately, this year, we found the proper publisher and will have published 50 Great Hero books by 2011. The series will include Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther K ing Jr., Bill Gates, Charles Darwin and many others. Do you have anything to say to your readers? I hope this manga urges children to pursue their dreams and to never stop dreaming. The Darwin Story $14.95, Paperback, 211 pages, June ‘09 The Bill Gates Story $14.95, Paperback, 182 pages, July ‘09
JUNE 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
By Norah Piehl “Life would have been much easier if I believed in fairy tales,” remarks Fortunata at the beginning of Fortune’s Folly. Unfortunately, life for Fortunata and her father has been far too hard of late; since his wife’s death, Fortunata’s father, formerly a prizewinning shoemaker, has completely lost his talent and is now only able to make ill-fitting shoes in preposterous designs. Forced to flee their home city after the enterprising Fortunata outsmarts and infuriates a powerful man, Fortunata and her father fall in with a traveling performance troupe. From the group’s clever fortune-teller, Fortunata learns the art of prognostication, which, she discovers, has infinitely more to do with observation and careful guesswork than with supernatural powers. Fortunata soon develops her own reputation as a skilled fortune-teller, a skill that will be sorely tested in the city of Doma. There she is enlisted to predict a future path for Prince Leonato, a handsome but unconfident youth. Fortunata concocts a dangerous, romantic, wildly unlikely future for Leonato—only to learn that if these events Fortune’s Folly don’t come true, Fortunata’s beloved father will be put to By Deva Fagan death. Can Fortunata take destiny into her own hands— Holt, $17.99, 272 pages and maybe find love (and a little magic) along the way? ISBN 9780805087420 In her debut novel, Deva Fagan cleverly slips elements Ages 10 and up of several beloved fairy tales, from “Cinderella” to “Rapunzel,” into her story, playfully turning these old motifs on their heads. Although the novel’s basic plot (girl meets unattainable boy, the two fall in love, complications ensue, love conquers all) might seem a little like a fairy tale itself, Fortunata’s pragmatic outlook and slyly witty narration make the novel thoroughly modern. This tough, creative, fearless heroine will give readers someone to root for— whether they believe in fairy tales or not. o Norah Piehl is a writer and editor who lives near Boston.
A Great Role Model Can Change a Child's Future
Shakespeare, he’s in the alley By Diann Blakely Published on the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s sonnets, So Long As Men Can Breathe is Christopher Heylin’s riveting account of the tangled publication history of one of our literature’s most famous, and infamously mysterious, volumes. Heylin begins by defining “booklegs,” essentially bootlegs, arguing that the Sonnets are in fact the most well known “booklegs” of all. He then makes an extended comparison between Shakespeare and Dylan. Why all the Bob Dylan references? It’s difficult to think of a musician as “bootlegged” as Dylan, for whom Heylin has served as biographer (Behind the Shades) and discographer (Revolution in the Air). Indeed, a Renaissance man in his own right, Heylin applies his encyclopedic mental database of the ways and means of bootlegging with a scholarly but entirely unstuffy zeal, revealing in the bargain commonsensical answers to the questions the sonnets have provoked for centuries: Who was Thomas Thorpe? “Mr. W. H.?” The “Onlie Begetter?” The “Fair Youth” and the “Dark Lady”? What hand did Shakespeare actually play in his sonnets’ arrangement and publication? In Renaissance showbiz, as in today’s music business, So Long as Men most monies accrued to the publishers, not the artists them- Can Breathe selves. Shakespeare, an astute businessman, owned part of By Clinton Heylin the Globe Theatre and its productions, and as a result, by Da Capo 1609, when the Sonnets appeared, he was the most success- $24, 304 pages ful playwright in London. While he couldn’t prevent pirated ISBN 9780306818059 editions of his work—the “bad quartos,” for example—evidence points to Shakespeare’s enabling such piracy in the case of the Sonnets, a crux that Bardists have long sought to solve with interpretations of their notoriously baffling preface. (Heylin believes it was written by Thorpe, a man whose ambitions, if not talents, rivaled Shakespeare’s.) Every imaginable (for me) question raised by every subsequent edition of the Sonnets is taken on by Heylin, and answered with passion and substance. What finer anniversary present could their author have asked, except, of course, the fulfillment of his wish that they be read—even misread—“so long as men can breathe?” Heylin makes a successful case that Shakespeare knew what the world’s reply would be even as he dipped his quill. o Diann Blakely has been short-listed for the Georgia Author of the Year Award for her most recent collection of poems, Cities of Flesh and the Dead (Elixir Press).
Seeing what she was missing
JUNE 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
By Eliza McGraw “Stereo Sue” sounds like the handle of a fast-talking disc jockey, but Susan Barry, author of Fixing My Gaze: A Scientist’s Journey Into Seeing in Three Dimensions, is actually a neuroscience professor. On top of that, she is probably her own most famous experiment. Oliver Sacks, author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat, wrote an article called “Stereo Sue” for the New Yorker, and also introduces this book. Barry was born with crossed eyes, and the vision centers in her brain compensated by allowing her to see without double vision. Her condition—seeing, essentially, in two dimensions—is called stereoblindness. It was not until Barry was in her late 40s that she undertook the developmental optometry that taught her, through perseverance, to see in three dimensions. In Fixing My Gaze, she chronicles this process with plenty of illustrations and scientific terms, explaining each phrase for her lay readers. A complete glossary also helps readers understand some of the necessary language. Filled with clear diagrams that illustrate the difference between how the stereoblind and normally sighted people see, Fixing My Gaze introduces readers to a rare but interesting disability. It is also a testament both to human physiology and spirit that permits someone to live with—and then change— Fixing My Gaze a uniquely altered view of the world. As Barry writes, “What a magnificent feeling it is to take control of your own vision By Susan R. Barry Basic and solve your own problems.” $26, 272 pages My own seven-year-old son is currently working with a ISBN 9780465009138 developmental optometrist to help him with his “tracking.” He does not naturally see from left to right, or top to bottom. Instead, his eyes jump all over the page. His reading tutor recommended vision therapy, and we hope it will help him as it helped Barry. This book opens up the possibility that people can change their physical limitations, and that it is never to late to try. o 28 Eliza McGraw writes from Washington, D.C.
COOKING Where’s the beef? Whether meat is the star of your dinners or just a bit player, there’s a new cookbook made to order. If you’re among the many health-, wealth- and environmentally-concerned who are reducing their meat intake, Almost Meatless (Ten Speed, $22.50, 208 pages, ISBN 9781580089616), Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond’s “manual for commonsense moderation,” has the perspective you need. Joy and Tara serve up more than 60 recipes, proving that a little robustly flavored meat, especially non-factory-farmed, can go a long way and that more can be made out of less—a big plus right now. Zestfully sauced Eggplant and Chicken Puttanesca Stacks can feed up to six people with just two chicken breasts, and there’s BY SYBIL PRATT only half a pound of fish in nifty, thrifty Corn and Cod Cakes. Beefed-Up Bean Chili and Chimichurri Fajitas are also great ways to incorporate a little meat with lots of other ingredients. You’ll find tips for buying organic and humanely raised meat and poultry, and you might be inspired to transform many of your family favorites into “almost meatless” meals too. Confirmed carnivores have their day, their book, chapter and verse from Stanley, Evan, Mark and David Lobel, “America’s master butchers.” No false modesty here, Lobel’s Meat Bible (Chronicle, $40, 320 pages, ISBN 9780811858267) claims to have “all you need to know about meat and poultry” and it’s hard to refute these renowned New Yorkers who have been in the business for five generations and in their swanky Upper East Side butcher shop for more than 50 years. They pride themselves on handling only the highest quality meat and providing their customers with only the highest quality advice. Now, all that quality info is included in the Meat Bible. The Lobels want you to know what you’re looking for when you shop, and they offer a detailed description of every cut available, how to care for what you buy, and, the best part, how to cook it all to perfection. The 150 recipes—some simple, some superbly sumptuous—will gratify and satisfy carnivores, omnivores and locovores alike.
Daddy’s Day specials I know men do more than grill, but they sure seem to love it. Here’s a selection of this season’s outdoor cookbooks, sure to fire up papa and all the folks he cooks for. Two small, spiral-bound books, 25 Essentials: Techniques for Grilling (Harvard Common Press, $12.95, 128 pages, ISBN 9781558323929) and 25 Essentials: Techniques for Smoking (ISBN 9781558323933), both by Ardie A. Davis, the founder of Greasehouse University and bestower of the coveted Ph.B., now overseen by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, provide the solid basics, build confidence and offer a nice roster of recipes for those new to the smoke and flames and a good refresher course for veterans. Adam Perry Lang trained with the haute of the haute, but left the fancy French kitchens behind when he fell in love with barbecue and proved that an urban Yankee could hold his own with the Southern big boys. Serious Barbecue: Smoke, Char, Baste, and Brush Your Way to Great Outdoor Cooking (Hyperion, $35, 400 pages, ISBN 9781401323066) will inspire backyard pit bosses to new heights. Whether it’s pork, beef, lamb, chicken or turkey, Lang is into deep flavor and recipes that accentuate the best qualities of every cut, whether high-priced or budget. His book includes more than 130 super-detailed recipes, all seasoned with luscious four-color photos. In Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book (Potter, $24.99, 256 pages, ISBN 9780307408112), Chris Lilly, world-champion pit master, husband of Big Bob’s great-granddaughter and one of the Southern big boys for sure, shares the recipes from this legendary Alabama establishment that’s been serving up great BBQ since 1925 and demystifies the secrets of low- and slow-cooking. A great guide for your great guy. o
The Tao of Estip
Searching for Pancho Villa
By Ian Schwartz It only takes a few pages of Luis Alberto Urrea’s thoroughly enjoyable Into the Beautiful North to start you wondering whether this book will break or warm your heart. When drug dealers set their sights on the tiny Mexican village of Tres Camarones, it looks like no one can stop them. After all, there are no young or even middle-aged men left in town. They all have gone north to the United States. But 19-year-old Nayeli, a pretty, adventurous young woman who works in the town’s lone Internet café cum taco shop, has a plan. After a special viewing of “The Magnificent Seven” at the town’s cinema—made possible by the combined efforts of the mayor, Nayeli’s Aunt Irma, and the theater owner, idolaters of Yul Brenner and “Estip” McQueen, respectively— Nayeli decides to journey to the U.S. and recruit her own warriors. If she can find her father in Illinois or resume her flirtation with the blond missionary surfer who lives in San Diego while she’s there, so much the better. So with Aunt Irma’s blessing and funding, Nayeli and three friends board a bus to Tijuana, where they hope to find a way across the border. Tijuana proves to be a revelation for the country quartet, in much the same way pre- Into the Beautiful Giuliani Times Square was for Midwesterners wandering North through the heart of New York City at midnight. With the help of some new friends, they slip across the By Luis Alberto Urrea border into the U.S., kicking off a memorable road trip. Little, Brown $24.99, 352 pages Nayeli and her friends are on a quest, and whether you’re ISBN 978031602570 Odysseus trying to make it home or a naïve group from the sticks, no quest is complete without setbacks, lost innocence, love and the delightful the addition of the odd misfit or two. Urrea, a Pulitzer Prize finalist and best-selling author, administers lumps to both the U.S. and Mexico, while allowing his fondness for each nation to clearly shine through. So which is it, will this novel break or warm your heart? A little of both, of course, much like the shared history of both countries. o Ian Schwartz writes from San Diego.
By Linda White In this stark, intense work, Robert Olmstead, the award-winning author of six previous novels (most recently Coal Black Horse), has given us a harrowing landscape where survival is a daily struggle. To become complacent is to die. The beginning of the novel is tense and foreboding, as we meet Napoleon Childs, a grizzled and jaded soldier more in tune with horses than with his fellow soldiers. It is 1916—the last days of the cavalry—and Childs is the veteran of many battles. Childs and his men have set up headquarters in the desert of Mexico to search for Pancho Villa. It’s a mostly green crew of recruits, all there for different reasons. What happens to them and to him is horrific and stunning. Childs’ narration brings you into up-to-the-minute action, while still capturing the beauty of the landscape and the people he meets. For some inexplicable reason, Childs is not killed, but left as a witness to what has happened. Through Childs’ descriptive eye, we see and experience everything around him, making this novel a riveting read. Childs tells us: “Soon all hell would break loose and this would be a no good place. The next actions would be motion undefined. Action requiring response. Action lurching Far Bright Star off in directions beyond prediction. Knowing when to act By Robert Olmstead yourself. And even then the odds unknown and changing Algonquin so suddenly it would take a thousand patterns reconfigur- $23.95, 207 pages ISBN 9781565125926 ing in an instant and an instant and an instant.” Olmstead encourages us to consider what war is, why men go to war, and what is next for Childs. Was it all worth it? Would he trade it for something else? As Childs follows the far bright star home, we don’t get straight answers, but in the end we know him well enough that we can guess what he would do. After all, this is one of the reasons we read books—to transport us somewhere in time or space, to enter into the thoughts or world of another. And Olmstead has certainly succeeded on that score. This is a book that will stay with you. o Linda White is a writer and publicist living in St. Paul, Minnesota.
From New York Times bestselling author DOROTHEA BENTON FRANK
New in Hardcover On Sale June 30, 2009
Now available in paperback!
At long last, the sequel to her bestselling debut novel, Sullivan’s Island Go to www.harpercollins.com/dorotheabentonfrank for exclusive content including sneak peeks, video, and a message from Dottie!
Imprints of HarperCollinsPublishers
JUNE 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
Spend your summer out on the Island…
A year in the life of Henry Kissinger, foreign policy advisor By Anne Bartlett Some passions die hard. If you’re old enough to recognize the names Le Duc Tho, Salvador Allende and Anatoly Dobrynin without resorting to Wikipedia, you already know what you think of Henry Kissinger. But younger people have no such preconceptions—and the passage of 35 years is probably long enough to open even most older minds about the man who dominated U.S. diplomacy in the early 1970s.
Alistair Horne, a veteran historian whose more recent works have focused on France, believes we’re now at a point when Kissinger’s record can be seen more objectively. Horne has known Kissinger since 1980, and the former secretary of state approached him in 2004 to write his official life. Horne counter-offered: thus, Kissinger: 1973, The Crucial Year. Like other “years” that have recently at-
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Atlantis Unleashed Poseidon’s warriors swore an oath 11,000 years ago to protect humanity from those who stalked the night. Now those powerful forces are uniting. So are two souls who are all that stand between justice and the eternal darkness: a warrior prince and a woman of science.
The Border Lord’s Bride When two strangers enter into a marriage arranged by King James and the fates, the Highland heiress and her border lord find that the price to be paid is higher than they can imagine. And it’s even more dangerous than the passion—and betrayal—that could consume them.
Death and Honor In 1943, Argentina Marine pilotturned-agent Cletus Frade is setting up an OSS-operated airline. But before Frade can get airborne, two interwoven German operations must be grounded. And for Frade—whose father was killed by the Nazis—the mission is about to get personal.
The Dirty Secrets Club A string of high-profile murdersuicides has San Francisco rattled. Forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett soon discovers that all the suicides were A-listers with lots of money and plenty to hide. When Jo gets invited to join the club, she finds herself trapped in a nightmare from her past.
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ROMANTIC SUSPENSE FICTION
Dirty Sexy Knitting A series of near-death accidents causes Cassandra Riley to drop her knitting and run straight into the arms of the one man she’s avoided most. When a mud slide entraps the couple and puts their lives at risk, Gabe is forced to make a decision that may change their lives forever.
In Good Faith When a family is slaughtered, two teens are accused, and it’s up to prosecutor Joe Dillard to convict them. But a young woman is free because the boys are afraid to implicate her. Joe risks everything—including the safety of his family and his own good faith— to bring the guilty woman to justice.
Salvation In Death Ancient church rituals meet cuttingedge crime-solving in the latest novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series. In the year 2060, sophisticated investigative tools can help catch a killer. But there are some questions even the most advanced technologies can’t answer.
Sunburn As the dictator Franco teeters on the edge of overthrow, the lives of two very different couples are entwined. Into this potent mix comes a young American seeking his missing lover. Soon, loyalty will be tested and blood shed as Spain prepares for revolution. None of them will ever be the same.
tracted writers (1848 springs to mind), 1973 was indeed a doozy. Detente with the Soviet Union and China was in full swing. The U.S. and North Vietnam agreed to a treaty that ended direct American involvement in the Vietnam War, leading to a Nobel Peace Prize for Kissinger and Le Duc Tho. Chilean President Allende was overthrown in a military coup. The Yom Kippur War and subsequent oil embargo began a new era in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Overshadowing everything at home was the Watergate crisis, which both empowered and stymied Kissinger. He was promoted from national security advisor to secretary of state at a time when Nixon, a foreign policy strategic master prone to jealousy of his underling, was in political and personal collapse. As Horne makes clear, Kissinger was a product of the Cold War generation, and he saw literally every issue through the prism of relations with the Soviets. He failed again and again to heed warnings that Egypt was about to attack Israel, and he initially underestimated President Anwar Sadat’s abilities. But he quickly seized the opportunity to push the Soviets out of the Middle East and make the U.S. the key mediator in the conflict, with mixed consequences that persist today. Vietnam emerges as Kissinger’s worst failure, though only in part through his own actions. Horne argues that Watergate’s most serious foreign policy impact was to limit the U.S. ability to respond to flagrant North Vietnamese treaty violations, as a Congress hostile to Nixon refused military funding. If a book on foreign affairs can have lighter moments, they come in Horne’s description of Kissinger’s calamitous “Year of Europe” initiative, which ran aground on British pique, French obstructionism and German Ostpolitik. More seriously, the latest evidence described by Horne suggests that the decision by Kissinger and his top colleagues to respond to what they saw as a Soviet provocation in the Middle East with a DEFCON 3 alert of the U.S. military was an overreaction—the most dangerous point in the Cold War since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Although Horne is an authorized biographer with full access to Kissinger and his voluminous archives, he is not a hagiographer. He scrupulously goes through the arguments of Kissinger’s critics on the left and the right, and examines the evidence, including newly available Soviet records. He comes to a generally favorable conclusion, but provides readers with enough facts and fair analysis to make up their own minds. o Anne Bartlett is a journalist in Washington, D.C.
Kissinger By Alistair Horne Simon & Schuster $30, 480 pages ISBN 9780743272834
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Book clubs for the Hollywood elite
The bonds of marriage and sisterhood
By Becky Ohlsen The first novel by Chandler Burr, New York Times perfume critic and the author of three books of nonfiction, is bound to generate chatter—not only because it features cameos by practically everyone in the New York publishing world (from David Remnick to Claudia Roth Pierpont) and several from Hollywood (Bryan Singer), but also because of the delicate subject at the center of its plot. Narrator Anne Rosenbaum is an immediately fascinating character, sharp-tongued and well read. She’s an Englishwoman happily married to a Jewish studio executive, Howard Rosenbaum. Anne is mostly isolated from the film world until, one day, someone in the industry asks her to compile a reading list. As things do in Hollywood, this catches on, and soon Anne is leading book clubs of directors and screenwriters from her back garden. Variety profiles her; “Talk of the Town” chimes in, too. Anne’s unlikely rise to fame drives the book, and Burr has loads of fun with it. The first half of the novel is fast, witty and often hilarious, filled with delight in the power of language. There’s a wonderful dinner-table treatise on the lack of a comma between independent clauses in an article in The New Yorker; these things matter to Anne, and because of that, they begin to matter to others. What jams up the gears is something that happens when You or Someone Anne and Howard’s teenage son, Sam, takes a two-week trip Like You to Israel. Anne isn’t Jewish, and so according to Israel neither By Chandler Burr is Sam; his rejection from a yeshiva throws Howard unexpect- Ecco edly into crisis. Racial and religious identity, once peripheral, $25.99, 336 pages becomes a direct threat to Anne’s marriage. As her husband ISBN 9780061715655 pulls away, Anne uses the massive and efficient Hollywood gossip machine to communicate with him through the book clubs. Toward the end of the novel, Anne (and hence the story) gets bogged down in argument, and the humor of the first half shifts toward poignancy. But it’s a gentle shift, not jarring, and it serves to underscore Burr’s point: that ideas have more power over our lives than we realize, and that literature is our best hope for finding our way. o Becky Ohlsen is a freelance writer in Portland, Oregon.
By Arlene McKanic Sisters & Husbands, the long awaited sequel to Sisters & Lovers, opens with our heroine getting cold feet the day before her wedding. Beverly Jordan’s problem isn’t with her fiancé, Julian, a smart, loving, computer animator with whom she’s deeply in love. The reason for her skittishness is the apparent collapse of her sisters’ marriages, especially that of her older sister Evelyn, whose long marriage to Kevin has inexplicably gone south. Beverly’s other sister, Charmaine, is in such a power struggle with her spoiled stepdaughter over the attentions of her husband, Tyrone, that their marriage, too, is shaky. With role models like these, one shouldn’t be surprised if the cold feet of a woman hours away from her wedding turn to blocks of ice. Despite all the angst, Connie Briscoe writes with good humor, a lightness of touch and, best of all, a deep understanding of her characters; and it doesn’t hurt that there’s a delicious, jaw-dropping twist about half way through the novel. The sisters are good women, kind, sensible and empathetic, though Briscoe doesn’t hesitate to show their flaws. Beverly can be gullible; Evelyn, who likes to show off her affluence with things like Fendi handbags, has taken her marriage for granted; and Charmaine can be catty, though her compassion for her stepdaughter, husband, and son is what allows Sisters & Husbands them to hang together as a family. The sisters aren’t above sniping at each other, though their bond, in the end, is un- By Connie Briscoe breakable. Briscoe surrounds them with equally believable Grand Central characters that the reader grows to care for—with the excep- $24.99, 288 pages ISBN 9780446534895 tion of one miscreant who turns out to be dispensable anyway. The Jordan sisters’ parents are solid and hardworking and their kids are smart and well-behaved even through all the trauma. Though Charmaine and Evelyn’s husbands are exasperating, they, too, have their reasons: Kevin’s going through one of those midlife crises, and Tyrone is guilt-ridden over his divorce from his daughter’s mother and the fact that he doesn’t see her that often. Sisters & Husbands celebrates the sometimes-overstretched ties of modern family life. o Arlene McKanic is a freelance writer who lives in Jamaica, New York.
Insights from the afterlife
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By Amy Scribner By the time we meet Molly Divine Marx in the opening pages of The Late, Lamented Molly Marx, she is dead. But that by no means detracts from the many charms of Sally Koslow’s wonderful new novel. We join Molly as she peers down on her family and friends from “the Duration,” willing one determined police detective to solve the mystery of her sudden death. The suspects are many. Molly may have had a great life in New York City—adorable young daughter, great friends, loving parents and a fiercely loyal twin sister—but she also had Barry, a narcissistic plastic surgeon husband who cheated on her with alarming regularity. One mistress in particular seems off-kilter enough to do Molly real harm. And then there was Luke, with whom she had a whirlwind affair and a bumpy breakup. A lovesick Luke insisted he and Molly were meant to be together, but she firmly rebuffed him, determined to make a fresh start with Barry. Although Molly narrates from the heavens, this is not “The Lovely Bones: The Middle-Aged Years.” Koslow provides only the sketchiest glimpses of the afterlife, wisely focusing instead on Molly’s cosmic voyeurism into happenings back on Earth. And like anyone would if given the chance, Molly takes full advantage of her newfound gift. The Late, She peeks in on her preschool-aged daughter, watches her Lamented Molly husband flirt his way through the Upper West Side, and Marx averts her eyes demurely when her best friend gets lucky. But in the months after her death, police are no closer By Sally Koslow to figuring out how Molly ended up in the Hudson River. Ballantine Molly begins to wonder whether she—and her loved ones $25, 320 pages ISBN 9780345506207 back home—will be stuck floating in limbo forever. Also available on audio Former editor-in-chief of McCall’s magazine, Koslow made her fiction debut with the novel Little Pink Slips—very Manhattan-magazine-editor-in-Manolos fabulous, but also light as a feather. This novel goes deeper, filled with remarkable clarity about how to embrace life while you can. o Amy Scribner writes from Olympia, Washington.
It’s all Greek
By the editors of Merriam-Webster
Lay of the land Dear Editor: Now that the weather is warm and I’m back out working in my yard and gardens, I am wondering about the word landscape. I understand land, but what does scape mean? Is it a word? L. O. Scarborough, Maine Scape is indeed a word that means “a view or picture of a scene,” but it developed later as a shortening of landscape, so it doesn’t get us very far in answering your question. When you refer to landscape, you are thinking of the practice of beautifying a parcel of land, but the first use of the word referred to a painting that represented a view of natural scenery. The word landscape is appropriately enough a loan from the language of the Dutch, who pioneered in making landscape a distinct genre of painting in the 17th century. Landscape comes from the Dutch word landschap, from land plus the suffix -schap, meaning “-ship.” Traditionally, views of natural scenery in a painting were no more than background to the portrait or episode of mythology or history that occupied the foreground. But the figures got smaller and of less significance, and the natural scene became the true subject of painting in the works of artists such as Jacob van Ruisdael and Meindert Hobbema. In the 18th century, the meaning of landscape was extended from a painted view of scenery to the landforms themselves, a usage that still remains common. The verb to landscape, meaning “to modify or ornament (a natural landscape) by altering the plant cover” came into use in
IT’S A MYSTERY
the early 20th century. The element -scape has detached itself from landscape and become something like a suffix, forming words such as seascape, streetscape, cityscape and moonscape.
Seeing the light Dear Editor: I have a question about the everyday word window. Does the word wind have anything to do with window, or is that just a coincidence? M. S. Tracy, California A window is a commonplace item to us, but to the ancient inhabitants of cold regions around the world, a window in a dwelling was a practical feature only when glass had become available to provide light and a view while sealing the opening from the weather. Consequently, in English and other tongues of northern Europe, words for window developed relatively late. A metaphor common to several northern European languages equated the window in a dwelling with the human or animal eye, both being means of seeing out. In Old English, window was eagduru, literally eye-door, or eagthyrel, literally eyehole. The latter survived into early Middle English as eie thurl, but was soon supplanted by windowe. A product of the connection you made, windowe was borrowed from Old Norse vindauga, literally wind eye. Windowe in turn competed for a while with fenestre, a borrowing from the Old French descendant of Latin fenestra, but the French loan died out in early Modern English, leaving us with window as our usual word.
Dear Editor: Can you tell me where the word hypochondria comes from? Y. D. Silver Springs, Maryland A hypochondriac’s ailment is deemed to be mental rather than physical, but etymologically hypochondria has nothing to do with the head. The ancient Greek noun chondros meant cartilage, and the adjective hypochondrios meant “located under the cartilage of the breastbone and the ribs.” Formed from this adjective was the plural noun hypochondria, designating the area of the abdomen below the rib cartilage and above the navel. In Greek medical doctrine the spleen and kidneys, located in this part of the abdomen, secreted black bile, or melancholy, an excess of which caused low spirits, and the ancient physician Galen characterized depression as hypochondriakon nosema, “the ailment of the upper abdominal organs.” The English adjective hypochondriac, borrowed from Greek through French, was used in the 17th century to mean “suffering from depression,” and later in the century the noun hypochondria came into use. The narrowing of hypochondria to morbid concern about one’s health—in more formal medical terminology hypocondriasis—dates from the late 18th and 19th centuries. 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.
ACROSS 1. President in Murphy’s Law 8. The Death of ____, Murphy’s mentor 10. Martini accompaniment 11. Put six feet under 12. Murphy needs to ____ low in 18-Across 13. What Murphy becomes to two children 15. Will Ferrell played one (2 wds.) 18. For the ____ Mike, Murphy investigates the garment industry 19. Prefix meaning not 21. Hair goo 22. Has a liking for, as Murphy is ____ ____ Gus and Sid 25. U.S. theater award 26. ____ of Endearment 30. These make one taller 32. Tin 33. Cabinet for knickknacks 35. Extraterrestrial, for short
S O L U T I O N
36. America, or where Murphy escapes to 39. Murphy’s competition for Daniel 41. Murphy’s voice has one 42. Green areas (abbr.) 43. Murphy finds herself in these straits 45. Hawaiian necklace 46. 7th note in the “do, re, me” scale 47. Murphy’s Gus and Sid are this 50. Gus and Sid call Daniel, the ____ 52. Murphy leaves Ireland’s____ to hit the American coast 54. Iron 55. How Murphy lets off steam? 57. Article 58. A policewoman in Murphy’s time 60. Parents motto: “Do ____ ____ say, not ____ ____ do” 61. First state to give women the vote 62. Short for road course 63. Sneaky, as Murphy’s villains are 65. Be dejected or unhappy 68. The boy in Murphy’s care 71. Pigpen 72. What Daniel is accused of taking 74. Bus lady Parks 75. Canadian continent, for short 77. Murphy listens to his music in Central Park 78. Cunning plans, what Murphy uses 79. Murphy fears Monk Eastman and his ____
DOWN 1. Murphy’s first name 2. Advertising award 3. Capital of Ukraine or chicken dish
4. Hospital drip 5. Animated movie, Finding ____ 6. Superlative suffix 7. Time of Murphy books 8. Murphy’s playwright friend ____ O’Hare 9. Belonging to Ms. DeGeneres 11. To ____ or not to ____ 14. Kills, slang 16. Self-esteem 17. In In Like ____, Murphy investi - gates psychic sisters 20. Frequently, poetic 23. Oldest baseball assn. 24. Do or ____, Murphy’s way to mystery solving 26. Murphy dislikes Gus and Sid’s ____ coffee 27. Time periods 28. Adam’s or a “baby back” one 29. Curly, Larry and ____ 31. Last name of Murphy’s policeman/ beau 33. Short for the rank of 31-Down 34. Murphy is a spinster at 23 years ____ 37. Meshes for straining 38. Psychiatrist in Murphy’s time 40. To help 44. What prison is supposed to do to convicts 47. Do not pass this, do not collect $200 48. Military branch 49. Not nay 51. Author of Karp/Ciampi books (initials)
53. Masculine pronoun 56. To follow and watch as Murphy does 57. City jail where Murphy’s criminals go, The ____ 59. Bind with rope 61. What spiders spin 64. A Redgrave 66. Gold (Sp.)
67. More in music 68. Secret Service (abbr.) 69. Leather tool 70. Like “Mayday! ” 71. Sink or hang down 73. Green Mtn. boy or Vermont furniture maker (initials) 76. Farming
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