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2010

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nordic noir

Swedish mystery master tracks a conspiracy page 12

You’re hired

The best advice for job seekers page 28

Escape

Plan your

with the best new guides for

World travelers House Rules Jodi Picoult captures a teen’s search for justice page 5

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Joe Hill on his hellish new thriller

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Devil with a heart of gold

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this month’s cover story

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world travel

Taking a trip abroad in 2010? Read all about the best guides here.

contents march 2010

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features 05

joe hill Meet the author of Horns

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behind the book Heidi Darrow on her buzzed-about debut novel

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henning mankell This Swedish author’s growing popularity is no mystery

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07 interview

chang-rae lee

The latest novel from the best-selling author of Aloft and A Gesture Life focuses on the madness—and mercy—of wartime

Making a difficult decision about eldercare

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women’s history Celebrating the feminine mystique

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careers Tips for the job hunt and more

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Zoe fitzgerald carter

screen stars Just in time for the Oscars

departments 03 04

buzz girl the author enablers Saving the world, one author at a time

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Well read John Banville’s The Infinities

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Lifestyles

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A gardener’s delight

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whodunit?

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audio

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romance Children’s books Oliver Jeffers, Polly Horvath, teen reading and more

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book clubs This month’s best paperback releases

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science fiction


buzz girl fiancé. But current buzz reveals that “Big Love” star Ginnifer Goodwin is now in the running for the lead role. We’re on pins and needles to hear who will be cast as Dex, the dreamy fiancé, and Darcy, Rachel’s love-to-hate-her best friend.

quindlen’s latest

Our publishing insider gets the skinny on tomorrow’s bestsellers back baby back

chick lit on the big screen Emily Giffin fans rejoice! Not only does the novelist have a new book coming in May (Heart of the Matter), her best-selling debut, Something Borrowed, is being adapted for the silver screen. Actress Hilary Swank’s production company bought the rights to Something Borrowed (and its sequel, Something Blue) in 2009, and production on the first film is slated to begin as early as this summer. Originally, the word was that Swank herself would star as Rachel, the self-confessed good girl who falls for her best friend’s

ARIANA FRANKLIN

Frey writes for teens a star gives back Disclaimer: We don’t take every celebrity memoir seriously (Paris Hilton’s Confessions of an Heiress, anyone?). But when we heard that Ballantine bought the rights to a book from actress Ashley Judd, we took notice. Judd’s spring 2011 memoir will recall both painful childhood memories and explore her humanitarian work as a global judd ambassador for PSI (Population Services International)/Youth AIDS. An added bonus? The book’s foreword will be written by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, co-author of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. In a press release, Judd commented: “I hope that this book will be a call to action as well as a memoir. . . . By sharing my own story along with those of the beautiful and resilient people I’ve met in the most desperate places, I want to show how the change we seek in the world must start within us.” A noble cause, indeed.

something to smile(y) about A new release from Pulitzer Prize-winner Jane Smiley is always a big deal, and Private Life, her first novel since 2007’s Ten Days in the Hills, is no exception. The book,

If you read James Frey’s muchcontested memoir, A Million Little Pieces, or his novel, Bright Shiny Morning, and thought to yourself, This guy should be writing young adult books!—well, you were way ahead of us. But indeed, Frey and a co-writer, Jobie Hughes, signed a deal last summer with HarperCollins for their young adult science fiction novel I Am Number Four, the first in a projected six-book series. According to the New York Times, I Am Number Four is about “a group of nine alien teenagers on a planet called Lorien, which is attacked by a hostile race from another planet. The nine and their guardfrey ians evacuate to Earth, where three are killed. The protagonist, a Lorien boy named John Smith, hides in Paradise, Ohio, disguised as a human, trying to evade his predators and knowing he is next on their list.”

the wait is on Good and bad news for Outlander fans: Diana Gabaldon recently sold the eighth book in the saga to her current publisher, Delacorte; the bad news? It won’t be published until 2013. But then, Gabaldon fans are used to waiting for a new installment. 600 pages weren’t written in a day, after all!

GRAVE GOODS When a fire at Glastonbury Abbey reveals two skeletons, rumor has it they may belong to King Arthur and Queen Guinevere. Adelia Aguilar is sent to examine the skeletons, while the investigation into the abbey fire will be overseen by the Bishop of St. Albans, father of Adelia’s daughter. Trouble is, someone at Glastonbury doesn’t want either mystery solved, and is prepared to kill to prevent it.

NOW IN PAPERBACK

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Now better known for his standalone successes like Shutter Island, Mystic River and The Given Day, Dennis Lehane made his fiction debut in a more lehane conventional manner—writing a stellar detective series. Boston PIs Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro hit the scene in 1994’s Shamus Award-winning novel A Drink Before the War. The two started as friends, then began a rocky romance that hit more than a couple of bumps over the five-book series. Now Lehane has sold a sixth (and final) KenzieGennaro book to Morrow for publication in 2011—the first novel in the series since 1999’s Prayers for Rain. We have gotten scads of emails over the years asking whether Lehane would ever return to the series, so we think this should be welcome news for our readers!

Writer and columnist Anna Quindlen seems to move between fact and fiction with ease, juxtaposing nonfiction like A Short Guide to a Happy Life with moving novels like Black and Blue. On April 27, Random House will publish Every Last One, Quindlen’s sixth novel (and her first since 2006’s Rise and Shine). Little is known about the new book yet, but we’re eagerly awaiting our advance copies.

which will be published by Knopf on May 4, is a departure from Smiley’s previous work—a historical, sweeping saga that spans the life of an American woman from the 1880s to World War II. Margaret Mayfield marries late, but she also marries up: Captain Andrew Jackson Jefferson Early is an influential person in their small Missouri town, one who is both a military officer and a brilliant scientist/astronomer. Though Margaret realizes soon after their marriage that Andrew is more interested in his work than his wife, they stay together—until the start of World War II reveals a dark side to her husband’s scientific work. Be sure to look for coverage in the May issue of BookPage!

New York Times bestselling author of The Serpent’s Tale

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FICTION

A change of plans By Trisha Ping Lionel Shriver’s anticipated follow-up to The Post-Birthday World tackles a tricky subject: health care in the United States. Not exactly the most engaging topic for a novel—but then neither is school violence, which Shriver managed to make into a gripping page-turner (2003’s We Need to Talk About Kevin). Though So Much for That does occasionally groan under the weight of its heavy subject, overall it is a thought-provoking novel that goes beyond the managed care/private insurer debate to explore the ways we face and respond to illness in people we love. Shep Knacker (Shriver has a fondness for Dickensian names) has sold his business to fund a retirement escape to a tropical island. With hundreds of thousands in the Merrill-Lynch account, Shep thinks he and his family are all set—until his wife Glynis comes home one day with a cancer diagnosis. But they are insured, so Shep trusts that the treatments will be paid for and Glynis will be cured. It isn’t long before their premiums and Glynis’ body are both maxed out, leaving the disillusioned Shep to watch their retirement fund dwindle and wonder whether a dream should be sacrificed to fight a battle that may not be won. So Much for That showcases Shriver’s deep under- So Much for That standing of family dynamics. One of the most moving By Lionel Shriver relationships in the novel develops between Glynis and Harper Flicka, the daughter of Shep’s best friend. Each is facing $25.99, 448 pages death, but due to the cheerful jargon and “we’ll beat this” ISBN 9780061458583 philosophy of the medical establishment (ably lampooned Also available on audio by Shriver), no one they meet will acknowledge that fact. Near the end of the book, Shep has his first honest discussion with Glynis’ doctor and discovers just how much extra time their nest egg bought his wife. It’s a poignant moment that highlights the limits of even the most modern science in the battle against death, while acknowledging our human need for hope against the odds. Though So Much for That might not be the best introduction to Shriver, it is a wry, astutely observed book that delivers all the way up to the unexpected conclusion. o

THis Month on Bookpage.com You’ll find these exciting interviews, features and reviews only on our website, BookPage.com. • ALAN BRADLEY talks about his second mystery starring 11-yearold poison expert Flavia de Luce, The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag • SAM LIPSYTE discusses The Ask, his fourth novel following the 2005 underground hit Home Land • Newbery winner LAURA AMY SCHLITZ on her newest work of fiction for middle-grade readers, The Night Fairy

MARCH 2010 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

• DANIELLE TRUSSONI shares the incredible story behind her first novel, Angelology, which crosses centuries and continents

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• Reviews of the latest from Kevin Henkes, Peter Bognanni, Gabrielle Burton, Erin Hart, Brian Jacques and more

THE AUTHOR ENABLERS Now you’re talking Dear Author Enablers, I have a natural flair for dialogue as opposed to exposition and narration. I won third place in the 2008 Writer’s Digest Stage-Play contest and was one of 10 finalists in the Tennessee Williams One-Act Play Contest. I’m told my dialogue sparks interest in readers, but only my dialogue. Are there novels that are comprised exclusively of dialogue that have been bestsellers? S.R. Anzalone Bronx, New York There are several famous examples of novels written mostly in dialogue: The Awkward Age by Henry James, Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway and Point Counter Point by Aldous Huxley come to mind. William Gaddis is well known for usBY SAM BARRY & ing this technique. And Sam and I carry on KATHI KAMEN GOLDMARK most of our conversations in dialogue. So you are following an established tradition. However, we think you should consider a writing group or adult-education class in which you can develop your narrative and descriptive skills. Even if you choose to continue writing only in dialogue, developing these additional skills will enhance your abilities and confidence as a writer. Dear Author Enablers, I work for the public library and have been considering freelance writing to supplement my income. I’ve read about websites such as Examiner.com, Textbroker.com and Myams.net, which promise to establish you as a writer and pay you for articles. How legitimate are these websites, and are they really the proper way to establish oneself as a freelance writer? Teresa Vosper Escalon, California We asked Evan Karp, San Francisco’s “Literary Culture Examiner” for Examiner. com, to give our readers an insider’s perspective on the website that recruits “citizen journalists” to create its content: “The claim that [Examiner] columns—or blogs—can establish you as a writer has some legitimacy. It all depends on what you put into it and how you make use of your resources. I had no experience in any kind of journalism and had only previously published three articles when I applied to Examiner.com; now I contribute regularly to the San Francisco Chronicle. This is a result of the networking the column made possible. Of course, the networking is only worth as much as the caliber you bring to the site. The majority of Examiners are neither good writers nor serious about what they’re doing, which limits the site’s credibility. But if you’re starting out, it is a way to establish a body of work: I have 70 articles to my credit and a significant presence on the web. I’ve received almost 12,000 hits in four months—not bad for a beginner! Ultimately I recommend this path, but you’ve got to do the work.” If you’re considering a website that offers opportunities to untested writers, we recommend three steps: research the site thoroughly so you understand the potential rewards (or lack thereof), focus your writing to meet the specific needs of the site and don’t expect a get-rich-quick payoff. If you’re more interested in building a body of published writing than in earning a paycheck, you may find the risk worth the reward. Dear Author Enablers, My grandson has high hopes of publishing his memoir. He is 30 years old and suffers from OCD, alcoholism and drug addiction. He writes about these afflictions in the hope that he can save some young person a trip down the rabbit hole. Self-publishing is costly, agents are expensive and questionable with this kind of book. We know we need to take certain steps to get him published, but don’t know what to do first. Betty Hoffman Fond du Lac, Wisconsin

Discover your next great book on BookPage.com

Is your grandson in a writing group or class, or has he ever attended a writer’s conference? We think these settings can be great resources for beginning writers. After he’s had some experience in a group, his librarian or local bookseller can help him find a book that will lead him through the process of writing a book proposal and/ or finding an agent or publisher. There are many excellent ones out there, but one that we like is Putting Your Passion Into Print by Arielle Eckstut and David Sterry. o With more than 25 years of experience, Kathi Kamen Goldmark and Sam Barry have the inside scoop on writing and publishing. Email your questions (along with name and hometown) to authorenabler@aol.com or visit the Author Enablers blog at BookPage.com.


Breaking the rules Review by Amy Scribner In House Rules, Jodi Picoult explores one of the more polarizing and confounding issues facing parents today: Are childhood vaccines somehow linked to the hauntingly frequent diagnoses of autism in today’s kids? And what does our society need to do to accommodate this growing group of people who communicate differently, if at all? Jacob Hunt looks like any other teenager, but once he starts talking it becomes clear that he’s not, as parents of children with autism often say, “neurotypical.” Dismal at understanding the social cues that guide human interaction, he doesn’t understand why kids at his high school don’t want to hear about his vast, gory knowledge of forensic science. He’s highly sensitive to unexpected situations, the sound of crumpling paper and the color orange. He’s mystified when local cops don’t appreciate him showing up at crime scenes (his mom gave him a police scanner as a well-meaning but misguided birthday gift) to point out all the clues they’ve missed. Jacob’s diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome—and his involvement in local crimes—has made his family outcasts in their own small New England town. “I just don’t get the social hints that other people do,” Jacob says. “So if I’m talking to someone in class and he says, ‘Man, is it one o’clock already?’ I look at the clock and tell him that yes, it is one o’clock already, when in reality he is trying to find a polite way to get away from me. I don’t House Rules understand why people never say what they mean.” Jacob’s By Jodi Picoult only friend is his social skills tutor, Jess, a student at the local Atria college. But when Jess turns up dead, all clues point to Jacob. $28, 544 pages Even his mother, who has devoted her life to every therapy ISBN 9780743296434 and supplement that can improve Jacob’s quality of life, is Also available on audio left wondering whether her son is capable of snapping. Picoult is at her razor-sharp best with House Rules. It’s both a tender look at the depths of a mother’s love and a searing examination of how we treat those who are different, and whether we expect them to play by the same rules. o Amy Scribner writes from Olympia, Washington.

MEET

Joe Hill

© SHANE LEONARD

WOMEN’S FICTION

REAL-LIFE MYSTERIES

Tales worthy of the great detective

Three years after the release of his critically acclaimed first novel, Heart-Shaped Box, Joe Hill returns with Horns (Morrow, $25.99, 384 pages, ISBN 9780061147951), a devilish new thriller that seethes with secrets and revenge. Hill lives in Exeter, New Hampshire.

MARCH 2010 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

Review by Edward Morris Sherlock Holmes knew two things to be true: that noticing small, seemingly inconsequential details can lead one to larger discoveries, and that real life spawns situations more curious than mere fiction can. These concepts are the thematic backbone of The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, David Grann’s collection of 12 previously published articles concerning the weird and the wonderful in human conduct. In each case, Grann brings a reporter’s eye and investigative tenacity to his subject. He is, in essence, both the probing Holmes and his dutiful note-taker, Dr. Watson. Suitably enough, in his opening chapter, Grann takes the reader into the rarefied world of Sherlock Holmes scholars and enthusiasts who treat Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s imaginary detective as if he had actually existed. Perhaps the most brilliant of these was Richard Lancelyn Green. Fascinated by the figure of Holmes since childhood, Green became an acknowledged expert on Doyle’s life and methods. He was trying desperately to prevent a treasury of Doyle’s papers from being auctioned off when, on the morning of March 27, 2004, police broke through the locked door of his London residence and “found the body of Green lying on his bed, surrounded by Sherlock Holmes books and posters, The Devil and with a cord wrapped around his neck. He had been gar- Sherlock Holmes roted.” Murder or an elaborate suicide? By David Grann Grann, a staff writer for The New Yorker and author of Doubleday The Lost City of Z, also chronicles another mysterious death $26.95, 352 pages in Poland and a novel that seems to bear on it. He examines ISBN 9780385517928 the detective work that led to the prosecution of a man in Also available on audio Texas for killing his children in a house fire, comes face to face with leaders of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang and hangs out with a purported Haitian torturer. Then there are his tales of obsession—the adult Frenchman who repeatedly passed himself off as a child; the relentless searchers for giant squids; and the generations of “sand hogs” who keep New York’s water flowing. The author’s dramatic pacing and attention to colorful details would make Dr. Watson proud. No doubt the persnickety Holmes would approve, too. o Edward Morris reviews from Nashville

5


MEMOIR

The evolution of a family Review by Pete Croatto The death of Roger Rosenblatt’s daughter Amy at age 38 was completely unexpected. She collapsed on the treadmill at home, felled by a heart abnormality that affects less than two thousandths of one percent of the population. Statistics are of little comfort to Amy’s hard-working surgeon husband, Harris, who was left with three young kids: Jessie, 6, Sammy, 4, and infant James. Rosenblatt and his wife of 46 years, Ginny, decided to lend a hand, moving from Long Island to Bethesda, where they took up residence in their son-in-law’s guest bedroom. Their commitment was real. Roger scaled back his workload considerably; Ginny got back into a matronly rhythm that impressed her friends. In Making Toast, an understated yet gripping memoir, acclaimed writer Rosenblatt recalls a period of loss, adjustment and memories as they became parents for the second time. Better known as “Boppo” to his grandkids, Rosenblatt doesn’t ask for sympathy or tears. He chronicles his new life as expert toast-maker and guardian/playmate/professor with a mixture of wonder and love. What makes the book so absorbing is the way Rosenblatt interrupts his short chronicles—the slim book has no chapters—with a thunderbolt observation or statement. Making Toast Ginny remarks that she feels like she’s now living Amy’s life; Roger initially eschews therapy because “we will never By Roger Rosenblatt feel right again. No analysis or therapy will change that.” Ecco $21.99, 176 pages One section consists of the following: “Ginny has a chok- ISBN 9780061825934 ing fit at breakfast. It lasts only seconds, but Jessie freezes. Also available on audio Sammy runs from the room.” Rosenblatt puts a life-altering event in simple, clear terms. By employing restraint (which, considering the circumstances, had to be excruciating), he reveals volumes about the power of family without wallowing in sentiment and self-help hooey. The big points come across loud and clear, including the following: A close family may suffer more, as Rosenblatt writes, but that closeness allows everyone to return to doing the simple, necessary things. Like making toast. o Pete Croatto is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey.

Well Read What fools these mortals be Might the gods of antiquity live among us still? John Banville, who won the Man Booker Prize for his last novel, The Sea, considers that possibility in his entrancing new book, The Infinities. In a narrative of almost discomfiting lushness and awe-inspiring powers of observation, Banville constructs a glimmering world that hovers between the lives of humans and the manipulations of the playful Olympian gods, exploring deep and ageless themes of love, loss and the meaning of time. Set in a rambling country house with the appropriately Shakespearean name Arden, the story is narrated by no less an entity than Hermes, the messenger, who lingers among mere mortals as astute witness and occasional interceder. The Godley family has gathered at Arden to keep vigil over its dying patriarch, Adam (every character’s name is larded with unapologetic symbolism and/or wit), a theoretical mathematician who blew away the world’s conception of time and space with equations that push beyond the infinities. Adam’s son, also called Adam, reBY ROBERT grets that the opportunity to reach a rapprochement with WEIBEZAHL his father, now in a coma, has forever passed. Petra, the 19-year-old daughter the dying man favored, lives in her own altered reality. The mother, Ursula, has found solace in drink. Young Adam’s actress wife, Helen, is bored by the sluggish passage of time in the country. It is a scenario worthy of Chekhov. Enter some visitors, both earthly and divine, to shake things up. First among them is Roddy Wagstaff, a handsome intellectual dilettante with a pallid personality, who is ostensibly courting Petra but, in fact, is lobbying to be Adam’s official biographer. Roddy’s unwelcome presence proves a minor inconvenience, though, in comparison with the arrival of Benny Grace. This slovenly guest, Hermes tells us, is a god incarnate, and his appearance at Arden is more than mere disruption; it is unsettling. Benny, who has a past association with the dying man, has an ulterior motive that all in the household can sense, but none can pin down. Meanwhile, a third uninvited intruder loiters unseen— Hermes’ mischievous, sex-crazed father, Zeus.

In John Banville’s new novel, the gods are uninvited guests at an Irish country house.

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The proceedings, rife with misunderstanding and apprehension, unfold at a languid, though never boring The Infinities pace, as Hermes both observes from a cool remove and By John Banville drifts freely into the heads of the characters to penetrate Knopf their thoughts. A charming guide into this netherworld, $25.95, 288 pages the messenger god freely takes the human form of a lout- ISBN 9780307272799 ish cowman to spark a little romance and invades forgot- Also available on audio ten corners of the house or the surrounding woods to divulge these mortals’ secrets. Set in a world that by and large suggests our own, the novel really dwells in a realm out of time. Though tangible, Arden is a dreamscape complete with a mystical well, its house, as Helen contemplates with unwitting insight, a strange manifestation: “At this angle the place looks crazier than ever, all slopes and recesses and peculiarly shaped windows; it is, she sees, more like a church than a house, but a church in some backward, primitive place where religion has decayed into a cult and the priests have had to allow the churchgoers to worship the old gods alongside the new one.” Playing on Adam’s monumental feat in the unlocking of the infinities, Banville has great fun casually distorting history. We are told that Mary Queen of Scots had Elizabeth I beheaded, that Darwin’s theory of evolution never subsumed Wallace’s, that Cesare Borgia was a peace-loving man and that Oppenheimer never managed to build the atomic bomb. With enviable erudition, this internationally esteemed Irish writer draws on such a rich source of history and intellectual thought that The Infinities begs for a second—or even third—reading. The prose is ever luminescent, each word clearly set down on the page with great care and thought. And yet the brilliance of Banville’s writing rests in something other than its sophisticated intellect or its narrative poetry. What keeps us reading is this magical writer’s superlative gift for limning the essence of our own humanity in all its ungodly imperfection. o


INTERVIEW

Mercy and madness

Chang-rae Lee explores human reactions to disaster Interview by Eliza Borné lthough much of Chang-rae Lee’s fourth novel takes graphical paper about his father for a seminar in college. place during the Korean War and after the armistice in “The story as he told it was just a few sentences,” Lee says. 1953, the author insists that The Surrendered is not a “But that story always haunted me and had always stayed with war story. “It’s a book about historical traumas and how those me.” In conceiving of The Surrendered, Lee never intended to traumas exhibit themselves and find expression in individual incorporate the train scene, although he realized in the middle people,” he tells BookPage from his home in Princeton, New of writing that it would fit nicely into the events of June’s life. Jersey. “So I completely fictionalized all the details that you read Clocking in at nearly 500 pages there. It didn’t have any before. But the and spanning six decades across four basic thrust of that chapter is wandercontinents, this riveting and hearting as a refugee and really traumatic wrenching narrative is alternately loss of family. That’s something that I told from three points of view, shiftthought was absolutely right for June.” ing back and forth from past to presWith this scene, and with many othent. The novel combines compelling ers, Lee does not let the reader off easy; character stories with devastating and there are no neat, uplifting endings for timeless social commentary. June, Hector or Sylvie. However, one of My conversation with Lee occurred the story’s most resounding motifs is shortly after a massive earthquake mercy—not the typical kind of mercy, struck Haiti, and it was difficult not to as light and hope and forgiveness, aldwell on the book’s relevance to this though there is some of that, but rather contemporary disaster. Lee agrees that mercy as necessity or expedience. “It’s the tragic stories from Haiti are realso the mercy of delusion and allulated to the central theme of The Sursion,” Lee explains. rendered: “What happens to someone Although Lee did not consider merCHANG-RAE LEE after an experience with mass conflict cy as a theme when he was writing The and traumatic violence?” Surrendered, he agrees that it is a foIn his three previous novels, Native cal point of the book. “I think it’s just Speaker, A Gesture Life and Aloft, Lee natural outgrowth of what’s left after “It’s a book that ends in awe asuch has established himself as a storyteller intense and gratuitous heartbreak of the immigrant experience in Amerand misery,” he says. “One of the things of life and all that life is. Not that I was trying to answer for myself ica—and the alienation that goes with it. The Surrendered, it seems, reprein this book is not just how people put sents a departure. “My previous books their lives back together in the day-toreally judging it one way or have been focused on someone’s place day [‘they don’t do it very well,’ Lee says in a society or culture,” he says. “I as an aside], but also what can they the other. Just agape.” think this book is much more intermorally hang on to? And emotionally ested in the individual in a conditionhang on to? What kind of humane moality—and the conditionality being, of ment or act can lead them out of this course, violence and war.” very dark hole that they’re all in?” Lee, who teaches creative writing at Princeton University and Readers learn how mercy can arise in the midst of horror has two daughters (ages nine and 12), admits he’s glad that “this in one of the book’s most viscerally painful scenes, when Sylone is out and done.” He says, “This book certainly took a long vie’s missionary parents are tortured by Japanese officers in time. That was frustrating to me . . . although my wife someManchuria. “Mercy was the only true deliverance,” Lee writes. times thinks I wouldn’t write any faster even if I didn’t have a “There was nothing more exaltedly human, more beautiful to teaching job.” behold.” When the book opens, 11-year-old June Han is fleeing KoAs June, Hector and Sylvie journey through the trauma of rea with her younger brother and sister. Hector Brennan is an war and its aftermath, it is natural to question Lee’s purpose in American GI who takes June to an orphanage after her siblings writing The Surrendered. Is it a warning about the repercusdie in a tragic accident. The wife of a missionary, Sylvie Tanner sions of mass violence? A meditation on the power of human helps run the orphanage, and she entrances June and Hector to resilience? the point of obsession. The novel moves between scenes at the The author’s answer rings true to the reader’s experience. “It’s orphanage in Korea and in later decades when Hector and June absolutely both,” Lee says. “Like an alternating current, it’s alreunite in New Jersey. The two eventually make a pilgrimage to ways alternating between the two. As a reader of this book and Solferino, Italy, the site of a battle that haunted Sylvie. as a writer of this book, I can’t reside comfortably in either idea In one early passage in Korea, June’s brother is dismembered for very long. To switch metaphors, you’re constantly buffeted on the roof of a moving train. This scene was inspired by Lee’s by these opposing winds.” father, who lost his younger brother in a similar accident during Lee pauses, then evokes the book’s final scene, at the end of the Korean War. Lee, who came to the June’s life. “It’s a book that ends in awe of life and all that life is,” U.S. as a three-year-old and now conhe says. “Not really judging it one way or the other. Just agape. siders his connection to Korea “more Saying: wow. Look at these people and how they’ve expressed familial than personal,” was startled to themselves.” learn of this event while writing a bioIf that answer is unsatisfying to readers who crave unequivocally happy endings, consider a line from Hector’s father: “They tell us stories not to live by but to change.” Epic and tragic, moving and lyrical, The Surrendered is not only literature that enThe Surrendered thralls, it is a novel that will make you reflect on the world in By Chang-rae Lee which you live—and inspire dreams of peaceful change. As Lee Riverhead says, “What a wonderful world it would be if a novel like mine $26.95, 480 pages could not be written, because there’s no reference. That would ISBN 9781594489761 Also available on audio be amazing.” o

Secrets can scandalize. Secrets can shock. Secrets can kill.

© DAVID BURNETT

A

$7.99 978-006-189506-7

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BESTSELLER WATCH Release dates for some of the guaranteed blockbusters hitting shelves in March:

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Hush By Kate White Harper, $24.99, ISBN 9780061576614 White takes a break from her Bailey Weggins series in this standalone thriller about a one-night stand gone very wrong.

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Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang

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Think Twice By Lisa Scottoline St. Martin’s, $26.99 ISBN 9780312380755 An evil identical twin takes over her sister’s life in Scottoline’s latest thrill ride.

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Deception By Jonathan Kellerman Ballantine, $28, ISBN 9780345505675 Alex Delaware is on the case to solve a grisly prep school murder in Kellerman’s second novel of 2010.

MARCH 2010 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

By Chelsea Handler Grand Central, $25.99 ISBN 9780446552448 A third collection of laugh-outloud essays from E!’s resident funny woman, the host of “Chelsea Lately.”

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ESSAYS

New collection by a master of the form Review by John T. Slania Most journalists strive to write the “definitive piece,” an article so thoroughly researched and reported that it becomes the standard for a particular subject. John McPhee has been writing definitive pieces most of his life, and he offers us a sampling in his new book, Silk Parachute. After reading an essay by McPhee, you feel you have gained a deep understanding of the topic. Consider “Spin Right and Shoot Left,” an essay about lacrosse, in which McPhee covers not only the history of the game, but all its rules and strategies. When you’ve finished reading, you feel ready to pick up a lacrosse stick and run onto the field. The experience is similar with “Checkpoints,” about fact-checking at The New Yorker. The essay leaves you impressed with the editors’ attention to detail and gives you an insider’s look at magazine publishing. Many of the essays in Silk Parachute have appeared previously in The New Yorker, where McPhee has been a staff writer since 1965. Over those 45 years, he has written hundreds of essays, many of which have been compiled in one Silk Parachute of his 28 books. His body of work includes Annals of the By John McPhee Former World, his authoritative book on geology that won Farrar, Straus him the Pulitzer Prize in 1999. $25, 240 pages Clearly, McPhee is a master of his trade, so it shouldn’t ISBN 9780374263737 be surprising that he’s accustomed to writing the definitive piece. Yet Silk Parachute also offers a personal side of this accomplished author. In the book’s title essay, McPhee recounts his boyhood memories of his 99-year-old mother, while in “Season on the Chalk,” he relates travels with his family along the English Channel. “Nowheres” is an account of his life in Princeton, New Jersey, where he was born, and where he now resides. Silk Parachute offers an eclectic sampling from an accomplished author who is as comfortable writing about the intricacies of impersonal topics as he is sharing the intimacies of his personal life. o John T. Slania is a journalism professor at Loyola University in Chicago.

WRITING

MARCH 2010 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

An examined life worth living

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Review by Linda Stankard Phyllis Theroux’s captivating new work, The Journal Keeper, is a multi-dimensional pleasure. It brings to mind Norman Rockwell’s Triple Self-Portrait, in which Rockwell shows us three images of himself: from the back as he works, in the mirror where he is observing his own face and on the canvas where he is rendering an interpretation of his image. Likewise, in The Journal Keeper, Theroux also offers us a multilayered view of herself that is at once whimsical and profound. She is the writer simply writing, chronicling her life as it is lived, offering her observations, thoughts and reflections: “Yesterday afternoon, the sun shattered a jug of hydrangeas into shards of light on my dining room table. It was there for anyone to look at but I only did so in passing, the way a king glances casually out the carriage window at his kingdom.” She is the spiritually awakened writer, looking back over a lifetime of journal-keeping and realizing “a hand much larger and more knowing” was often guiding her pen across the page. She is the writer writing about writing: “It is like drilling for oil, having the faith that it is down there. But beyond or beneath that faith is the commitment to dig, whether the oil is there or not.” She is the The Journal writer/teacher, encouraging others to keep their own per- Keeper sonal “ship’s log.” And because mothers and daughters so often reflect By Phyllis Theroux each other, Theroux’s relationship with her aging moth- Atlantic Monthly Press $24, 304 pages er adds yet another dimension to the narrative. On her ISBN 9780802118974 mother’s 85th birthday, contemplating the loss she must inevitably face, she writes, “She is such a continual gift, when I imagine her gone I cannot quite see myself there.” Theroux’s account tenderly paints a portrait of her remarkable mother in her final years, displaying her own gifts as a caregiver and best friend in the process. But whatever her subject—growing old, spiritual growth, life in a small town, her students and teaching life, even a new romantic passion (at 64! Break out the old Beatles record!)—Theroux is able to reach deep inside and step outside herself with inspiring aplomb. o Linda Stankard lives multi-dimensionally in Rockland County, New York.

LIFESTYLES Start small, reap big March is an ideal time to dream about the garden. In my area, we’ve been pummeled by more snow and ice and bitter rain than we’ve seen in many a year, so cultivating a little plot of ground sounds delectable, in every sense of the word. More people than ever are growing food at home: The National Gardening Association estimates home food gardening increased by almost 20 percent from 2008 to 2009. But gardening is not without challenges, so to heighten the odds of a winning season—even for the, um, greenest newcomer—veteran garden writer Barbara Pleasant gives us Starter Vegetable Gardens: 24 No-Fail Plans for Small Organic Gardens (Storey, $19.95, 192 pages, ISBN 9781603425292). The book begins with three basic plans so foolproof they include BY JOANNA three-year schedules for fuBRICHETTO ture expansion. The first, Easy-Care Bag Garden, is a gem. No digging required: Just lay a bag of topsoil flat on the ground, slit it open and insert seeds—runner beans here, basil seeds there, add two tomato seedlings and so forth, as per the handy color diagram. Like every plan, this one gives a list of plants and materials, instructions on how to prepare for planting and tips for precisely what to do during each season. Other plans include a border garden, a front-yard garden, Family Food Factory Gardens, herb gardens and specialty themes. The book also includes a guide to choosing varieties of vegetables and herbs.

Greener pastures Meadow gardens might sound dauntingly difficult or even dangerous to those wishing to avoid “neglected yard” complaints from the neighbors. However, John Greenlee makes a compelling case in The American Meadow Garden (Timber Press, $34.95, 280 pages, ISBN 9780881928716) that the transformation from an ordinary lawn to an extraordinary meadow garden is both desirable and doable. Maintaining a traditional lawn can have ugly consequences: pollution, fossil fuel consumption, the destruction of beneficial insects and more environmental ills. Plus, lawns can cost a fortune. Meadow gardens, however, are environmentally sustainable, welcoming to wildlife, comparatively easy and cheap to maintain and far more beautiful. Grasses, grass-like plants and flowering perennials can replace lawn turf in endless combinations. Do you need running grasses or clumping grasses? Grasses to border a path, or to be the path itself? How about a place for the kids to play, or an area dedicated to entertaining? Greenlee, aka the Grass Guru, provides ample information, ideas and resources to accommodate any need. Recommended plants are minutely described and tagged according to function: groundcover, filler, background, accent or lawn. And awardwinning garden photographer Saxon Holt provides the book’s many exquisite photographs—each one an argument in itself for converting lawn to meadow.

Grow your own The Kitchen Garden (DK, $22.95, 352 pages, ISBN 9780756650148), by Alan Buckingham, approaches food gardening in a handy monthly format, telling gardeners exactly what to do each month and why: what pests and diseases to look for, when to prune, what to plant, when to feed and weed, etc. Thankfully, these directions are paired with plenty of color photos, so we see what is expected of us and how it might look when we actually do it. The calendrical tips are somewhat generalized for a large country with many different temperate zones and micro-climates, but can easily be adjusted to fit local needs. The book’s cover promises “a complete practical guide to planting, cultivating, and harvesting fruits and vegetables,” so the monthly guide is not a stand-alone manual. It also includes the basics of site assessment, layout, rotation, tools and materials, a troubleshooting guide and a crop planner with details and tips on the most popular fruits, herbs and vegetables. Along the way are pictorial how-tos for all sorts of tasks and tricks, from making a compost bin to planting peas in plastic guttering. The Kitchen Garden is a compact, picture-packed guide for the casual gardener hoping to grow a thing or two, as well as the more ambitious gardener hoping to provide a family with homegrown food year-round. o Joanna Brichetto has elaborate spring plans for her Nashville garden.


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BEHIND THE BOOK

A child’s second chance

Debut novelist takes inspiration from a shocking headline By Heidi W. Durrow started writing The Girl Who Fell from the Sky after reading a haunting news story about a young mother—recently depressed and despondent—who led her kids to her building’s rooftop, and apparently pushed the children off and then jumped. Reporters interviewed neighbors and friends who spoke of the young mother’s fierce devotion to her children. She’d had a recent setback, but no one could have guessed that the loving mother could do such a thing. No one could put the pieces of her story together to make sense of the reason why. I became obsessed with the miracle of that horrible tragedy: One of the children, the girl, had survived! I searched the news for more information about her, but all I found were the barest facts of her biography: her name, her age and a photo that must have been a couple of years old. It was sad to think that the whole story of her life was now this tragedy. In follow-up articles, I learned that the girl would make a complete recovery. After a few more weeks in the hospital, she would be healed. But then what? I had so many questions: How would the girl grow up? How would she deal with the legacy of her past? What would her survival look like? I hoped that she would be able to create a normal life for herself. I hoped that she would still know how to love and be loved. So I decided heidi w. durrow to imagine a future for her. I wanted to give her a voice. I wrote the rooftop scene first. That’s when I understood the reason the girl’s story resonated with me. It had something to do with my own. No, I’m not the survivor of a fall, and I haven’t lived through a deadly family tragedy. (I always mention that up front at readings so people don’t feel like they have to treat me gently.) But what I learned writing that scene was that I wanted to write a mother-daughter story. I wanted to write a story about how a girl learns to be a woman without the help of her mother

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Heidi W. Durrow received writer Barbara Kingsolver’s 2008 Bellwether Prize for Literature of Social Change for The Girl Who Fell From the Sky (Algonquin, $22.95, 256 pages, ISBN 9781565126800), her first novel. She is a graduate of Stanford University, Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and Yale Law School.

FICTION

DEBUT FICTION

Sins of the father—and mother

Trouble in the English countryside

Review by Becky Ohlsen It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what is so compelling about Gabrielle Zevin’s new novel. Merely summarizing the plot doesn’t do the book justice—it’s far more gripping than you’d expect from a family drama about the consequences of falling deeper and deeper into credit card debt. The real force of the novel, aside from Zevin’s elegant, no-wordswasted prose, comes from her complicated, multifaceted characters, who have an astonishing capacity for extremes of both generous and selfish behavior. Zevin has written a number of young adult novels, but the problems she tackles in The Hole We’re In are solidly planted in the adult world, even if the hardest-hit victims are children. Roger Pomeroy is an evangelical patriarch who, at 42, decides that what he needs is to quit his job and return to school full-time. Roger’s wife, Georgia, takes a second job, but without Roger’s salary, and with the wedding of their eldest daughter, Helen, coming up, the family is financially strapped. Unable to pay the bills, Georgia hides them in drawers, pretending everything is fine. When her credit cards are maxed out, she applies for new ones in her children’s names, with dire results. Meanwhile, Roger outdoes himself by carrying on an affair with his academic ad- The Hole We’re In visor. Both parents, and their demanding oldest daughter, By Gabrielle Zevin naturally feel their behavior is entirely justified. Sadly, the one who ends up paying most for her family’s Grove $14, 288 pages overextension is the youngest daughter, Patsy. Early in the ISBN 9780802119230 book, Patsy is banished to her crazy grandmother’s house; she thinks it’s because she was dating a black man, but the real reason is far more sinister and unfair. What she realizes there encapsulates the book’s strongest theme: “For the last 14 days, she’d gone without television, privacy, and regular meals, and consequently she’d had plenty of time for the prayer and reflection that her father believed her to so desperately need. So she’d prayed and reflected and what she’d come to was this: people did what they could live with; all sin was relative.” If this all sounds incredibly depressing, fear not: Though Patsy’s parents left her a terrible legacy, she’s a tough cookie, and the story allows her the kind of redemption money can’t buy. o 10 Becky Ohlsen is a freelance writer in Portland, Oregon. MARCH 2010 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

to guide her. I think it’s a reality so many women can relate to—whether a mother has passed away, or just isn’t available emotionally. And sometimes a mother just doesn’t know how to help a child navigate an unfamiliar world. I named my character Rachel. And then I started to fill in the details of her biography. I couldn’t draw on the real girl’s story. I didn’t know it. So I wrote what I knew, as the old saying goes. I am half Danish and half African-American, and Rachel became a biracial/bicultural girl newly transplanted to a mostly black community after the accident. Her story let me write a story exploring race and identity. I didn’t know when I started to write the book that the nation would soon be talking about the same things with the election of our first biracial African-American president. The final thread that made the book come together was the character Brick. He’s not anyone I know or have known, but I absolutely adore him. A tragedy needs a witness, and Brick became Rachel’s. Many years have passed since I read that news story. And I still think of the real girl. What happened to her? My character Rachel is about the same age at the end of the book as the real girl might be now. I imagined Rachel growing up to be a heroic and loving young woman—I would like to believe that the real young woman is too. 

Review by Linda White In her first novel, Helen Simonson has created a charming and engaging story of the hazards of English country life. The residents of the village of Edgecombe St. Mary are realistic and sharply defined, including Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired), who at first appears to be a curmudgeon but turns out to have a heart of gold. We meet Major Pettigrew as he has been told of his only brother’s demise. This shock brings him in close contact with Mrs. Ali, the proprietor of the village shop. As they get to know each other, Major Pettigrew begins to feel more warmly toward Mrs. Ali than he would have thought possible after the death of his wife six years earlier. Along the way, they both must deal with mean gossip and the expectations of their families. In getting to know Mrs. Ali better, Major Pettigrew becomes acquainted with her nephew, Abdul Wahid, a stoic man in a difficult situation—and suddenly, Major Pettigrew’s life becomes rather complicated. Before long, he has bigger things to worry about than reuniting a pair of guns that had been his father’s. He finds his very way of life threatened by a new building development and literally has a life-or-death situation on his hands when Abdul Major Pettigrew’s Wahid reaches his breaking point. Last Stand Major Pettigrew will have you rooting for the English By Helen Simonson countryside, hissing at the nasty American business of Random House carving it up and longing to give his financier son Roger a $25, 368 pages box on the ears for his impertinence and self-absorption. ISBN 9781400068937 By the end, it is possible that even Roger has grown up Also available on audio a little, and certainly Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali have learned what is really important. Well-researched and authentic (Simonson spent her teenage years in West Sussex), each note in this novel rings true and takes the reader on a lovely vacation to the pastoral English countryside. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand succeeds in showing the depth behind the veneer; it explores the rift not only between generations, but between cultures, and delves deeply into the notion of progress and home. You’ll laugh, you’ll wipe away a tear or two and you certainly will enjoy time spent with Major Pettigrew.  Linda White is a writer and editor in St. Paul, Minnesota.


“This over-the-top thriller will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very end!” – Romantic Times Book Reviews for Conspiracy in Kiev

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When You’re Broken, God Meets You in Thin Places Brave, moving, and poignant. An important story, honestly and beautifully told, of pain transformed into hope. The world is in great need of courageous voices like DeMuth’s. – Tosca Lee, author In her moving spiritual memoir, Mary DeMuth reflects on the “thin places” of her life - places where she was acutely aware of God’s presence. Through her own story, DeMuth invites you to discover new ways to experience a God who is ready to break through any ordinary day or extraordinary pain and offer you a glimpse of eternity.

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INTERVIEW

MARCH 2010 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

More dark fun with Flavia

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Review by Arlene McKanic “But Flavia can’t be dead!” this reviewer thought as she read the first page of Alan Bradley’s latest novel starring the 11-year-old sleuth-cumtoxicologist, Flavia de Luce. Further reading reveals that of course she’s not dead, but only pretending to be. Like any other lonely and somewhat neglected child, Flavia wonders what her hateful sisters and distracted, widowed father would make of her death. Her conclusion: not much. The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag picks up where 2009’s The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie left off, and like the first book, this one mines the vein of human sadness that exists alongside the fun and skullduggery. Along with Flavia’s isolation— she may not be the only living child in Bishop’s Lacey, but it feels like she is— Bradley’s far-reaching examination of the consequences of terrible grief and guilt add depth and poignancy to the book. As Flavia lies in the cemetery contemplating her own demise, she hears weeping and goes to find a woman, Nialla, stretched out on a nearby grave. She turns out to be the assistant of Rupert Porson, a famous puppet master. He’s also a brute, especially to his many lovers, of whom Nialla is the latest. Soon there’s a murder at one of the puppet shows Porson puts on for the town, and Flavia goes to work, armed only with her chemistry set, her beat-up old bicycle and her preternatural intelligence. It’s almost as if the Flavia books are the reminiscences of an eccentric pensioner, for it’s hard to see even a brilliant 11-year-old fully understanding all the grown-up tribulations (adultery, among other things) she encounters in the crimes she solves. But there’s also humor, as when Flavia injects a box of chocolates with swamp gas to show up her sister, or in the amazement of the town police when they find—again!—that she’s one step ahead of them. It’s both the humor and the pathos that keep Flavia from being annoying and unbelievable, like Charles Wallace Murry, the smugly infallible boy genius from Madeleine L’Engle’s classic, A Wrinkle in Time. The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag, for all its tragedy, is still a delight from the inimitable Alan Bradley. o Arlene McKanic writes from Jamaica, New York.

Two worlds

Swedish crime novelist unravels a global mystery Interview by Jay MacDonald t the age of 62, Henning Mankell recently bought Roslin is tracked and detained as a person of interest by the a pair of ice skates for the first time since he was a Chinese. Her amateur investigation leads her to Hong, a comyoung boy growing up in northern Sweden. The mitted Maoist who acts as her escort in Beijing, and ultimately occasion: a winter blizzard that virtually isolated his northern to Hong’s brother Ya Ru, an ultra-wealthy developer with big residence. The temporary loss of telephone service might plans for Africa. Mankell has lived “one foot in snow, one foot in sand” since concern others, but for Mankell, it was bliss to be suddenly 1986, when he became director of Teatro Avenida in the Motransported back to the natural quietude of his youth. zambican capital of Maputo. He In his latest mystery, The Man traces the novel’s origin to a news from Beijing, the best-selling author story 10 years ago about Chinese of Swedish crime fiction revisits his construction foremen mistreating past in a different way. His heroine, African workers while building a Birgitta Roslin, is a college radical new Chinese-funded government turned principled judge who finds building in Maputo. herself swept up in worldwide in“When I heard about that, I starttrigue. Mankell’s father had been a ed to really reflect on the idea of Chijudge as well, in the tiny hamlet of na in Africa,” Mankell says. The Man Sveg. “It is the first time I have used a from Beijing explores the irony that judge as a character in a book,” ManChina, once the victim of colonialkell says by phone from Sweden. ism, now seems intent on colonial The Man from Beijing represents expansion. another first—it’s also Mankell’s “China has one enormous dofirst hardcover release from Random mestic problem, and that is what to House’s Knopf imprint, after a string do with all of the hundreds of milof successful paperbacks featuring HENNING MANKELL lions of peasants that they really do Swedish detective Kurt Wallander. not use. I read just the other day that “Mankell has become an iconic China has rented land in Kenya to brand for Vintage Crime/Black Lizard “When you stand at a move some one million peasants to with paperback sales in excess of half Africa. What I try to say in this book a million copies,” says Paul Bogaards, distance, you can see things is, we have to be very careful about Knopf’s executive director of publicwhat is happening in Africa. There is ity. “The Man from Beijing was actua risk that something bad is happenally the first hardcover on offer to us more clearly,” says Mankell, ing now.” at Knopf. Of course, we immediately Mankell, who has written many leapt at the chance to publish Mankell who spends half his of his Swedish-set novels, including here.” most of the Wallander series, while Mankell’s new suspense novel must time in Mozambique. residing in Mozambique, likes the have been especially appealing to perspective that Africa affords his Knopf after the blockbuster success of fiction. Stieg Larsson, the late Swedish crime “I believe in distance,” he says. “As a painter stands very close writer whose Millennium Trilogy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc.) has struck publishing gold in the U.S. But, as Bogaards as he’s painting, occasionally he steps backward to have a look notes, deconstructing the mania for Nordic crime fiction leads and then he goes closer and continues to paint. I believe this to a chicken-or-the-egg question about who launched the trend. distance I have to Europe has made me a better European in “I think it’s important to note that Mankell is very much a way. When you stand at a distance, you can see things more a pioneer in the genre and that much of our fascination with clearly than if you do not have that distance.” He has watched with equal clarity the boom in Nordic mysSwedish crime fiction turns on his work,” Bogaards says. “Mankell preceded Larsson—indeed, he seeded interest for American teries, which extends beyond his work and the Larsson books readers—and Larsson’s success in the States and around the to Karin Fossum’s award-winning The Indian Bride, Hakan Nesser’s Inspector Van Veeteren series and a host of others. world is a tribute to Mankell’s iconic detective, Wallander.” “You remember 30 years ago there was a Swedish tennis No matter who came first, it’s indisputable, as Bogaards notes, that Mankell “really is one of the best crime novelists at player named Bjorn Borg? We never had had a really good tenwork today,” and this talent is on display in his new standalone nis player before that, but after him, there came a hell of a lot of really good tennis players: Mats Wilander, Stefan Edberg, etc.,” suspense novel. The Man from Beijing opens in January 2006 with a grue- Mankell says. “I believe that nothing succeeds like success.” Mankell’s publisher is betting he’s right on target with that some discovery: 19 residents of the remote Swedish village of Hesjovallen, most of them members of the Andren family, have assessment and plans to ride the wave as long as it lasts. A been brutally and inexplicably massacred. Judge Roslin, whose second Knopf hardcover, The Troubled Man, is already in the mother grew up in the village, finds a diary kept by Jan Andren, works, says Bogaards, who predicts significant readership an ancestor who describes his immigration to America and his gains for Mankell as the fascination role as a foreman during the construction of the transcontinen- with Nordic noir continues. o tal railway. Jay MacDonald writes from snowCut to 1863. Three Chinese brothers, San, Wu and Guo Si, free Florida. flee their village for America, only to be forced into virtual slavery to build that selfsame railway. Ultimately, San repatriates to China, where he marries and bears children, including a son The Man from Beijing who would become a leader of the Communist Party. By Henning Mankell Back in Hesjovallen, Roslin finds a single red ribbon at the Knopf crime scene that leads her to suspect that the killer was a lone $25.95, 384 pages Chinese man who passed through town on that deadly night. ISBN 9780307271860 Also available on audio When she follows her suspicions to Beijing, the tables turn as

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© ULLA MONTAN

MYSTERY


WHODUNIT? In deep with Doc Ford

Mystery of the month

For those unfamiliar with Randy Wayne White’s Doc Ford series, forget all those reviews you have read about other Florida mystery protagonists being the “spiritual successor to John D. MacDonald’s legendary Travis McGee.” Because the only—and I mean the only—one able to make that claim is Marion “Doc” Ford, resident marine-biologist-slash-adventurer of Dinkin’s Bay, Florida. White’s writing style is in no way derivative of MacDonald’s, and Doc Ford is no McGee clone, but I guarantee if McGee and Ford were to meet in person, they would hit it off famously. The latest installment in the popular series, Deep Shadow (Putnam, $25.95, 368 pages, ISBN 9780399156267), unfolds like an episode of the hit TV show “24,” basically playing out in real time; it takes nearly as long BY BRUCE TIERNEY to read the book as for the entire story to go down. As Deep Shadow opens, Ford finds himself a somewhat unenthusiastic participant in what he perceives as a harebrained scheme to salvage legendary lost Cuban gold. The legend: Shortly before Castro took over control of Cuba in 1959, the previous president, Fulgencio Batista, made good his escape. It was not an unmitigated success, however, as the airplane carrying a significant portion of Batista’s ill-gotten gains disappeared, thus fueling the dreams of fortune hunters for the next 50 years. Ford’s friend Arlis Futch believes he knows the plane’s whereabouts and mounts a small expedition to retrieve it from a remote Florida lake; what neither counts on is the arrival of a pair of highly unreformed criminals with a nose (actually two noses) for gold. Taut and stressfully paced, Deep Shadow is one of those “read-till-you-drop” books—not for the faint of heart or anyone who is having trouble sleeping!

When someone with the writing chops of Michael Connelly says “Jo Nesbø is my new favorite thriller writer and Harry Hole is my new hero,” you don’t have to agree with him, but you do have to pay attention. I, for one, happen to agree with him: Harry Hole is one of the most compellingly flawed protagonists in contemporary suspense fiction, in the august company of such luminaries as Ken Bruen’s blackout-prone alcoholic detective Jack Taylor, Andrew Vachss’ singular (and singularly named) outlaw Burke and Ian Rankin’s introspective/depressive cop John Rebus. In Hole’s latest adventure, The Devil’s Star (Harper, $25.99, 464 pages, ISBN 9780061133978), the Oslo detective finds himself once again pitted against arch-adversary Tom Waaler, a golden-boy colleague who can seemingly do no wrong—except that Harry is convinced past any reasonable doubt that Waaler is a career criminal and a cop killer. Problem is, Harry is a bit of a lush, and nobody else gives his theories an ounce of credence. And then the homicides start, a series of killings with an odd similarity: A tiny red diamond in the shape of a pentagram accompanies each victim. Oh, and guess who gets paired with Harry Hole to investigate the murders? Righty-o, none other than the aforementioned Mr. Waaler, and a difficult task it is to ascertain which one is more annoyed by the arrangement. The situation quickly approaches critical mass, and not in any way you might predict (or at least not in any way that I predicted, and I am fairly adept at that sort of thing after so many years of practice). A year ago, I reviewed Jo Nesbø’s Nemesis and noted: “High tension, lightning pace, a flawed but ultimately sympathetic protagonist: Nemesis has it all.” Ditto that for The Devil’s Star, and let’s up the ante with a couple of masterful twists and a killer ending (literally)! o —BRUCE TIERNEY

Ghostwriting The Serialist (Simon & Schuster, $15, 352 pages, ISBN 9781439158487) is David Gordon’s debut novel, and an auspicious one it is. If you are a fan of what used to be called “pulp novels,” The Serialist should be right up your alley. The protagonist, a hack writer by the name of Harry Bloch, has been writing under a variety of colorful pseudonyms (Tom Stanks, J. Duke Johnson, Sybilline Lorindo-Gold) in any cheesy genre you might care to mention: vampire novels, soft-core pornographic science fiction, an advice column in a skin magazine and a mystery series featuring a half-Ethiopian Jew, half-Native American anti-hero by the name of Mordechai Jones (“the ghetto sheriff”). Now Harry has been hired to recount the exploits of one Darian Clay, a serial killer on death row who was a big fan of Bloch in his Thomas Stanks guise; if all works out, it promises to be Bloch’s first book under his own name. On the surface this would seem to be a fairly straightforward proposition, but hey, this is a mystery after all, so surprises abound (for instance, just as Clay’s last appeal falls on deaf judicial ears, a couple more murders very much in his style take place, displaying certain hallmarks no copycat killer could know—go figure). Terrific characters, a game (if somewhat reluctant) protagonist and clever dialogue make The Serialist a really excellent debut just itching for a sequel.

Top cop in a meth Mecca Sharing debut honors for March is Ken Mercer, whose Slow Fire (Minotaur, $25.99, 352 pages, ISBN 9780312558352) follows the checkered career of a disgraced cop. Will Magowan, once the star of the LAPD narcotics division, was summarily dismissed after becoming addicted to heroin. There was a reason for his addiction, though: In order to convince the perps that he was not a cop, he had to use drugs in front of them, or suffer the deadly consequences; it was a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation, and it ended badly indeed. So it is a major surprise when Magowan opens his mail one morning and finds a letter from Haydenville, California, a town he has never heard of. Moreover, they are offering him a job: Haydenville Police Chief. He can scarcely refuse; he is fresh out of rehab, it has been close to two years since he last worked and he has been reduced to living in a small travel trailer in “the ragged edge of the county.” Naturally, bucolic little Haydenville turns out not to be the picture postcard village the Chamber of Commerce would like to portray; instead, it is methamphetamine Mecca, so who better to clean it up than a reformed druggie cop? Slow Fire is without a doubt violent (two people die rather graphically on Magowan’s first day on the job), but exceptionally well-paced and carefully plotted, another fine debut (and, we hope, the beginning of a fine new series).o

The chill begins February 23 wherever books are sold!

www.MIRABooks.com www.JTEllison.com

Visit www.JTEllisonEBook.com to get your FREE full-length Taylor Jackson e-book!

MARCH 2010 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

Homicide detective Taylor Jackson thinks she’s seen it all—until a new murderer, nicknamed The Conductor, begins meticulously honing his craft in Nashville. Can Taylor catch the perfect killer?

13


TRAVEL

Planning a vacation? A new crop of guidebooks lets you dream big and travel far

Feature by Deanna Larson ravel guides have come a long way from Baedeker. Packed with GPS information, interactive features and online updates, the new breed of guidebook is more essential than ever, whether for a quick getaway or the trip of a lifetime.

T

Picture perfect Helping travelers get the most out of every dollar—and turning every traveler into a “temporary local”—is Rick Steves, whose empire now includes maps, DVDs and travel bags as well as guidebooks, a feature-packed website and television, radio and podcast programs. His nerdy cheerfulness makes for a nice traveling companion in his new Snapshot guides, excerpted from his full-sized guides to locations all over Europe, from Rick Steves’ Snapshot Stockholm (Avalon Travel, $7.95, 112 pages ISBN 9781598806496) to Rick Steves’ Snapshot Scotland ($11.95, 192 pages, ISBN 9781598804959). Full of the expertise, intelligence and flavor of his programs, these handy compact guides provide “a tour guide in your pocket,” with advice on “Planning Your Time” and “Orientation” followed by tips on getting around, finding affordable restaurants and comfortable budget hotels, brief background and history on landmarks and sights, essential phrases and other “practicalities” for approaching the city or region. Steves’ advice is always useful and can be refreshingly quirky, too, from dealing with the “Steely Marisa” at Trattoria Gianni in Vernazza, Italy, with its “super scenic” rooms but strict check-in time, to touring the Erotic Art Museum in Berlin, apparently worth a

MARCH 2010 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

In living color

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Travelers looking for reliable information and expert advice in a traditional format will appreciate Frommer’s guides to countries and cities around the world. Updated every year, the guides feature fast facts and in-depth historical and cultural information about each city, region or country, along with the A-Z of planning a trip—and now the guides have gone full-color! Suggested itineraries, transportation advice and tips on health and safety, gay and lesbian travel and travel with children are included, as well as detailed listings for cultural attractions, nightlife, shopping, accommodations and restaurants in all price ranges, complete with directions, hours, nearby public transportation and insider reviews. The city guides, like Frommer’s Paris (Frommer’s, $19.99, 432 pages, ISBN 9780470470671), include nifty sightseeing categories like “The Best Splurge Hotels,” “Most Unforgettable Dining Experiences” and “Paris After Dark.” Mini-sightseeing itineraries of one, two or three days in each city are perfect for those on a layover or strapped for time. Color photos, foldout maps, a brief phrase guide, index and resources including websites make these guides well worth their weight in checked luggage. o —DEANNA LARSON

stop for its historically significant exhibit on a pioneer of sex education in the 1950s. Small black-and-white photos and charming hand-drawn maps round out solid information for budget travelers that ensures an easy, less expensive yet meaningful travel experience.

Ready to go Not lighter in weight, but certainly lighter in spirit, the new Lonely Planet Discover guides are a carnival of colors in an eye-catching design, making it easier than ever to just hop a plane and go. Each Discover guide—about half the length of Lonely Planet’s groundbreaking country guides—begins with a “Top 25 Experiences” section and a variety of expert itineraries. The Thailand guide features a “jet-setter” jaunt, while Discover Japan (Lonely Planet, $24.99, 400 pages, ISBN 9781741799965) has a five-day “just the highlights” trip from Tokyo to Kyoto, perfect for firsttime visitors. Color-coded sections on each country’s major regions feature full-color maps, insider tips and a “Things to Know Before You Go” section that includes trip planning inspiration from websites, books, music and movies (a nice touch). “The Best . . .” sections feature the unbeatable experiences you should have before you leave, and “If You Like . . .” sidebars offer excellent alternatives to the tourist traps, like four less-visited but beautiful temples beyond Nanzen-ji in Kyoto. Travelers who need in-depth cultural information and lots of listings will want to stick to the classic Lonely Planet guides, but those looking for a speedy, fun and memorable immersion into another country—whether Australia, Ireland or Italy—will find these guidebooks are just the ticket.

First things first Living up to their subtitle, “Everything you need to know before you go,” the recently relaunched Rough Guide First-Time series is an essential planning tool for first-time travelers anywhere in the world. The scrappy tone and youthful zest of Rough Guides are aimed toward the young backpacker, but the thoroughly researched tips and advice will prove indispensible for adventurers of any age. Each guide includes an introduction to the basics, from budgeting, inoculations and packing to what to do when you land, plus enough political and cultural context to help ease culture shock. For example, the Rough Guide First-Time Asia (Rough Guides, $18.99, 416 pages, ISBN 9781848364745) weighs in on “special tourist pricing” and suggests steering clear of big cities during elections as well as Muslim countries during Ramadan, as visitors “might not get the hospitality they were hoping for” when people are fasting all day for a month. While they are not sightseeing guides per se, the guides do contain a “Things Not to Miss” color photo section with sights, attractions and suggested itineraries and route maps, but the best feature remains the beenthere tips (if you have big feet, bring extra shoes to Asia as you won’t be able to buy them in stores) and hardwon advice contributed by readers. The guides also offer assorted tips on topics likes adventuring with children,

gay and lesbian travel, finding a job with a work visa, couch-surfing, avoiding Dengue Fever, treating Delhi Belly and the pitfalls of romance while traveling in pairs. “You better pray you meet twins going in the same direction,” the authors write, “because your friend isn’t going to want to hang around while you fall in love.”

New perspectives Moon Travel Guides was founded in Berkeley, California, in the early 1970s as a collective of world travelers and writers, and this scruffy independent spirit is still evident in their Spotlight guides. Each lightweight and inexpensive book features a city or region pulled from their more extensive Handbooks or Outdoors guides, without the introductory information or index. The paper feels recycled, and the black-and-white layout and pictures are a bit drab, but they offer just the right combination of practical advice and intellectual viewpoint, with each book reflecting the distinctive voice of its individual writers. Guides such as Moon Spotlight Havana (Avalon Travel, $11.95, 240 pages, ISBN 9781598805406) cover the basics from history, climate and sights to transportation, accommodations, eating, entertainment, recreation and safety. From Ljubljana to Angkor Wat, travelers looking for an uncommon experience full of political and cultural awareness will find a friend in these guides.

On the road Those confident enough to get behind the wheel, rather than toting a backpack, will love Back Roads, the car travel guides in DK’s lavishly illustrated Eyewitness Travel series. Travelers who long to escape the crowds for some little village or hamlet or cove will adore these mapped itineraries for three-to-four-day road trips through Spain, France, Italy, Great Britain and Ireland. The expertly designed journeys blend just the right amount of adventure, company and cultural submersion. Venture into the medieval villages, waterfalls and ancient mountain range of the nearly undiscovered area of Matarraña with Back Roads Spain (DK Travel, $25, 264 pages, ISBN 9780756659189); take a drive along the rugged and dramatic coast of Brittany; enjoy a meandering journey through the hills and valleys of Chianti, Italy; take a trip into the remote abbeys, hilltop castles and charming villages of the British Cotswolds; or amble at your leisure through Ireland’s Glens of Antrim. Each guide features multiple itineraries for each country and includes historical and cultural highlights of the area, suggested detours including wine and walking tours, antiquing and shopping, and highly edited suggestions for hotels, B&Bs, cafes and country inns in all price ranges. The pull-out maps, detailed directions and websites, phone numbers and postal codes that can be plugged into a GPS or smart phone are worth the cost of the guide alone. This series is a must for any traveler looking for a different approach to these familiar vacation destinations. o Deanna Larson writes from Nashville.


• • • • • • •

Full color throughout, including maps Highlights the best a destination has to offer Lots of itineraries and ‘best of’ lists East-to-use tools make planning a trip simpler than ever Caters to all budgets Country guides: $24.99, available March 2010 Discover Europe: $27.99, available May 2010


FICTION

AMERICAN HISTORY

Joining the circus

Soldiers for their new country

Review by Arlene McKanic What if one morning your hard-working, loving, sensible father woke up and decided he wanted to run away with the circus? And then you had to tell your mother about it? This is only the beginning of Frank Delaney’s passionate bildungsroman—for there is worse to come. The coming-of-age story told by Benedict McCarthy is not only especially tough, it’s still haunting him in his old age. And if he’s telling it now, after being born in Ireland around 1914, he’s an elderly chap indeed. Speaking of 1914, Delaney’s interweaving of Ben’s radical loss of innocence with Ireland’s own maturation is a touch of brilliance. The action takes place mostly in 1932, an election year. The McCarthys—Harry, Louise and Ben—live in a bucolic near-paradise in southwest Ireland. They love and respect one another, and one gets the feeling that if “The Catastrophe” (as they call the circus-disappearance-act) hadn’t happened, Ben would have never left home. Traveling circuses and vaudeville troupes are fairly common and provide much-needed entertainment for hardworking folk like the McCarthys. Harry begins to attend Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show, whose eponymous star is a beautiful, much younger woman with a shady background, Venetia Kelly’s though its shadiness isn’t all of her own doing. He falls Traveling Show insanely, adolescently in love with her, and the betrayed Louise tasks their son with bringing him back at all costs. By Frank Delaney Random House The results are even more catastrophic. $26, 448 pages The book’s complicated plot takes in such elements as ISBN 9781400067831 embezzlement, murder, blackmail, Celtic myth, real-life fig- Also available on audio ures like Eamon de Valera—who helps Ben in his quest to set his world aright—and a bitterly snarky ventriloquist’s dummy named Blarney. Delaney, once a judge for the Booker Prize, writes with a beauty, compassion and depth that reminds one of William Trevor. He also has a peculiarly Catholic belief in forgiveness and atonement, and there is much in this story to forgive and atone for. Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Circus is an inventive, amazing work.  Arlene McKanic writes from Jamaica, New York.

Review by Martin Brady In The Long Way Home, journalist David Laskin sets out to tell the stories of 12 immigrant men who served in the U.S. armed forces during World War I. Like half a million other non-native combatants fighting for Uncle Sam in “the war to end all wars,” Laskin’s dozen—three Jews, four Italians, two Poles, an Irishman, a Norwegian and a Slovak—were relatively new to America, having endured Ellis Island during the great wave of U.S. immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Still struggling to establish themselves in an alien land where they spoke little English, where low-level employment was the norm and where they were looked on with some suspicion, these plucky fellows embraced the U.S. mission in Europe and distinguished themselves with honor. Three died in France, two won the Congressional Medal of Honor and all fought in major engagements, including the breaking of the Hindenburg Line and the taking of the Argonne Forest. Laskin’s thorough research into these lives encompassed digging into letters, diaries, battlefield reports and the National Archives and, whenever possible, conducting interviews with family members, including a face-to-face sit-down in 2006 with one of his subjects, Tony Pierro, who lived to be 111. The Long Way A marvelous craftsman, Laskin interweaves the soldiers’ Home personal profiles into a greater context, which positions his work equally as a history that deftly covers the background By David Laskin of the war and all its contemporary political ramifications, Harper and also as a keen piece of social reflection on the role of $26.99, 416 pages ISBN 9780061233333 the immigrant in shaping the fabric of American society. Also available on audio Laskin’s work also proves invaluable for readers interested in World War I military operations, as he follows the 12 men into battle, offering detailed accounts of their experiences and bravery on the front lines. A concluding chapter summarizes the postwar lives of those who survived, all of whom returned to America to live relatively quiet and productive lives, fully committed to the new homeland for which they fought. o Martin Brady writes from Nashville.

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CURRENT EVENTS

A waking nightmare in the jungle Review by Anne Bartlett During the years they were held hostage by leftist guerrillas in the Colombian jungle, American military contractors Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes and Keith Stansell would talk about selling the rights to their story to moviemaker Oliver Stone if they ever got out alive. But the chronicle of their captivity has more the feel of a John Huston movie, with its mix of tragedy, intrigue, black comedy and, ultimately, heroism. The three men were employees of a Northrop Grumman subsidiary, assigned to flights over the jungle to spot cocaine laboratories. Their plane crashed in early 2003, and they were quickly captured by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia’s (FARC) guerrilla army. In Law of the Jungle, longtime Latin America newspaper correspondent John Otis weaves their story with the misadventures of a group of Colombian soldiers sent to rescue them and the wider context of Colombia’s long struggle with political violence, corruption and drug trafficking. Few emerge with much credit in this even-handed book: American corporations ignore warnings about aircraft problems; U.S. officials in Washington distracted by the Iraq war pay little attention to the hostages’ plight; Colombian Law of the Jungle government and military officials are alternately inept and By John Otis criminal; the guerrillas are brutal and staggeringly ignorant. Morrow Through it all, the hostages endure. Some of the book’s $25.99, 368 pages most fascinating passages describe their lives in jungle ISBN 9780061671807 camps, where they were held with politicians, soldiers and police officers who had also been kidnapped. The only prisoner who managed to escape was a police officer who provided information that led to a breakthrough for rescue efforts. Despite years of neglect and setbacks, the outcome was a triumph. The hostages were rescued in mid-2008 by a bold Colombian intelligence trick, carried out almost flawlessly and recounted by Otis with verve. By then, Oliver Stone had publicly called the FARC “heroic,” though he said the kidnappings went “too far.” o Anne Bartlett is a journalist in Washington, D.C.


INTERVIEW

A dying wish

Daughter faces the dilemma of her mother’s final choice

A

Owner of a lonely heart Review by Rebecca Steinitz We all have lonely moments, but for several years in her 30s, Emily White was persistently, deeply and inescapably lonely, despite a successful career and nearby family and friends. Unable to stem her loneliness, she decided to investigate it. The result is Lonely: A Memoir (Harper, $25.99, 352 pages, ISBN 9780061765904), in which White intersperses her own story with a thorough examination of the research on loneliness—which was not easy to compile. Loneliness is a fairly recent field of study, and White combed academic and Internet sources, called doctors and psychologists around the world and advertised on Craigslist for lonely people willing to be interviewed.  Luckily, she was tenacious in her quest, and she is thorough and clear in her explanations and analysis. Loneliness, it turns out, is distinguished more by a perceived absence of intimacy than the literal absence of other people. While some people seem to be genetically programmed for loneliness, childhood isolation and adult losses are frequently the catalysts for chronic loneliness (which is qualitatively different from the situational loneliness most of us experience at some point). Loneliness has fairly dramatic negative effects on physical as well as mental health, and its prevalence is increasing, to the point of becoming a public health problem. At the same time, cultural and commercial representations of social life and friendship have made it an increasingly shameful and stigmatized condition. The most effective treatments for loneliness involve active support and guidance for learning how to reach out and connect. White is just as clear-eyed as she tells the story of her own retreat into alienation and her ultimate re-emergence into an intimate relationship, if not a full social life. Sometimes her story fits her research; her parents’ divorce when her two much older sisters were almost out of the house clearly helped spur her lifelong sense of loneliness. At other points, she is less convincing, as when she insists that the stress of coming out of the closet in her 30s and a history of depression had little to do with her loneliness. Still, despite the occasional stumble,  Lonely  is a useful overview of an important and under-discussed issue. o Rebecca Steinitz is a writer in Arlington, Massachusetts.

MARCH 2010 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

Interview By Rebecca Bain ttitudes toward assisted suicide for the terminally ill show up, the different ways that they show up. The whole histoare seldom lukewarm—people either believe strongly ries that we have in our families oftentimes emerge and intensify, that this course of action should be sanctioned or, just and alliances and animosities and old regrets get reactivated and as strongly, that no one has the right to end another’s life, even ratcheted up in these situations.” for medical reasons and at that person’s request. Zoe FitzGerald Part of the impact of Carter’s book comes from her juxtapoCarter firmly believed in an individual’s right to take this difsition of chapters; she weaves her past into her memoir, giving ficult step until her own mother decided it was time to die. the reader a more satisfying context to use as a contrast with the The anguish Carter felt, her conflicting present. It becomes a reminder that an emotions and the upheaval it caused imperfect childhood often becomes irin her family are painstakingly chronrelevant when a parent is dying. Musicled in her first book, a memoir titled ing on why this was important for her Imperfect Endings: A Daughter’s Tale to bring out in her book, Carter says a of Life and Death. relationship with a dying family mem“It really was an incredibly difficult ber differs from any that has preceded it. year,” says Carter, speaking from the “When you’re with somebody who’s home in Berkeley, California, that she dying, you really do love them in this shares with her husband and their two very pure way. You just love them and daughters. “I felt like my life had been you’re there for them. It’s very healing. derailed, and it was death and dying 24 A lot of my anger and pain around my hours a day. I started feeling very isomother’s decision really dropped away lated from my husband and children at the end.” because I felt like the predominant Despite the gravity of the subject emotional event in my life was not matter, there are sections of Imperfect with them. It was with this maddening, Endings that are quite funny. The visit ZOE FITZGERALD CARTER endless, difficult discussion with my from the “Exit Guide” from the Hemmother which at some point I realized lock Society is one such example: Cartwas only going to end when she died.” er’s snobbish mother cannot bring her“A lot of my anger and There was never any doubt about self to allow this man to orchestrate her whether Carter’s mother was termidemise, not because she is bothered by nally ill. Twenty years earlier, she had pain around my mother’s “getting gassed,” but because he’s a good been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and ol’ boy from Tulsa named Bud. This is, she was already dependent on aroundas Carter writes, a serious social handidecision dropped away the-clock assistance for the smallest of cap: “My mother is a solid Washington tasks. It was obvious that she would Democrat, a liberal even, but she’s also a at the end.” soon be unable to get out of bed at all. cultural and intellectual snob, and this Her pain was increasingly resistant to man is definitely not a member of the drugs. So why did Carter refuse to go tribe.” along with her mother’s decision? In the end, Carter’s mother (at the suggestion of her doctor) “I live in Berkeley, and there are people who’ve read this book decides to refuse all food and water until her body ceases to funcand they say, what was your problem? Why didn’t you just help tion. It is this action that sways Carter to accept her mother’s her kill herself? You should have helped her go, it was what she choice of death and brings her to her mother’s bedside for the wanted. And I don’t know if it’s because they haven’t experienced final time. anything like this or it’s all about politics and assisted suicide “I mean she didn’t eat, day after day after day. This was not a should be legal, end of story. I think it’s probably because people ‘dark night of the soul’ kind of moment where she took a bunch have this idea—oh yeah, if I get sick, take me out back and shoot of pills and killed herself. This was something she talked about me. But I think when they get down to it, it’s a lot more compliand thought about for a year and then persisted in, day after day cated than that.” at the end. . . . I saw her absolute commitment and unblinking It certainly proved complicated for Carter and her two sisters. strength during that fasting time.” While none of them wanted their mother to cease to be a living, One cannot help but wonder, with all Carter went through, breathing part of their lives, their responses to her decision to end whether she would ever put her own family through such an orher life were quite different. Her sister Hannah became Carter’s deal. She says yes, but only if her daughters agreed that it was the lifeline, the only person who shared her conflicting emotions. right thing to do and were comfortable with the decision. Katherine, the oldest sister, basically checked out of the whole “I do believe assisted suicide should be legal, but you have to scenario, saying their mother’s decision to die, her constant shiftrecognize that nobody wants to do it. Nobody wants to be in a ing of her “death date,” her demands that her daughters be by place where they feel that is the best option. It’s not easy. And her side when she died, were all a shameless bid for attention— there is a price you pay for it. I do feel like there’s a price my sisters which Katherine refused to give her. It was important to Carter and I paid emotionally and psychologically by participating in that this division among the sisters be my mother’s death. I think it’s a tricky issue.” chronicled in Imperfect Endings. But, as Carter says, it was a privilege to be by her mother’s side “I do think when a parent dies that when she ended her years of pain, although it’s not a topic she what happens among the siblings, if brings up at cocktail parties or the school’s PTO. there are siblings, is a really big part of “People are uncomfortable talking about death. People think the story: who shows up, who doesn’t it’s all just a big downer, and it’s scary and awful. I don’t think it’s all just scary and awful. I think there’s something very lifeaffirming about going through a death with somebody. There’s Imperfect Endings nothing like death to remind you of one of the most profound By Zoe FitzGerald Carter things about life, which is that it doesn’t go on forever. That sense Simon & Schuster of gratitude for being alive and awareness of the gift of life is a $25, 272 pages wonderful thing to experience.” o ISBN 9781439148242 Also available on audio Rebecca Bain is a writer in Nashville.

MEMOIR

17


FICTION

Life, underground By Dennis Lythgoe Sebastian Faulks, an experienced journalist and novelist best known for Birdsong and On Green Dolphin Street, writes in a style that is always sophisticated and sometimes satirical, but he never fails to draw in readers looking for a good story. In A Week in December, Faulks brings the story to his hometown (though he lives in London, he has rarely written about the city before now) and chooses a familiar vehicle for his novel—the exploration of the lives of a number of diverse characters at a specific moment in time. It is the week before Christmas 2007, and the reader is introduced to several interesting people who have nothing in common save their shared mode of daily transportation—a London tube train whose driver guides a Circle Line train in a daily loop. Faulks brilliantly creates a pattern—symbolic of modern urban life—in which seven fascinating characters struggle with climactic problems in deeply creative ways. It should not be said that the author inspires a rush of fast reading, the kind of book one cannot put down; instead he utilizes a more careful approach that allows for thoughtful analysis and depth. Each character is richly diverse—solid proof of the author’s admirable gift for creating fiction— A Week in and they come to life in different ways. How could a hedge December fund manager find ties to a professional football player? By Sebastian Faulks How could an underworked lawyer given to speculation Doubleday involve himself with a superficially successful book re- $27.95, 400 pages viewer? What about a student who finds himself trapped ISBN 9780385532914 in discussion of Islamist theory with a schoolboy hooked on reality TV? And how will the charismatic driver of the tube train, a young woman looking for love, fit into Faulks’ puzzle? The answers just might be that none of these characters need the others to solve their problems, but their situations mirror those of many who will read this book and use it to re-examine their own unique predicaments in an outrageously modern, ever-interconnected society. o Dennis Lythgoe is a writer who has lived in Boston and Salt Lake City.

HISTORICAL FICTION

Searching for a lost brother

MARCH 2010 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

Review by Michael Lee At its core, Walking to Gatlinburg is a story about 17-year-old Morgan Kinneson, who leaves his home in Vermont in 1864, a sad and terrible time in America, and heads south to find his missing brother, Pilgrim. In the hands of Howard Frank Mosher, a somewhat formulaic plot becomes something original and unconventional. Over the course of his journey, young Morgan meets, fights and loves a cast of characters—including a woman who lives in a tree and an elephant named Caliph—that in lesser hands could be perceived as over the top. But Mosher has an uncanny ability to render both character and setting highly believable. His eye for detail, especially in describing the Great Smoky Mountains, is reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy’s rendering of the greater Southwest, and his dialects sound spot-on to this reviewer’s ear. There is also a mystical quality to Morgan’s odyssey, seen in the constant depictions of runes that act as both guide and symbol throughout the novel. Very early on in the story, a dangerous group of killers are on Morgan’s trail for befriending a black man named Jesse, who helped slaves run away to Canada. Morgan knows in his heart that his brother is still alive, somewhere in the South; but in his quest to Walking to find Pilgrim, he must now also defend himself against these Gatlinburg deadly men, who pop up at the most inconvenient times. What is so satisfying about Walking to Gatlinburg is that By Howard Frank it can be read on so many levels. It is a wonderful adventure Mosher story, full of intrigue and plot twists, and it is the story of a Shaye Areheart 352 pages young man coming of age, through many trials and travails. $25, ISBN 9780307450678 And finally, it is a story of love—not only the brotherly love Morgan has for Pilgrim, but the love he develops for his country and its people, in all their variations. Mosher is a rare storyteller, able to both instruct and entertain, and he brings all his talents to this unforgettable and unique novel. o 18 Michael Lee is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

THE SPOKEN WORD Altering Eden James Rollins likes to find the seeds for his action-adventures in reality, do his homework well and then, as he puts it, juice it up. In his latest, Altar of Eden (HarperAudio, $39.99, 11 hours unabridged, ISBN 9780061841996), a standalone departure from his super-selling Sigma Force series, narrated with the right pace and pitch by Paula Christensen, he mixes recent history and cutting-edge work in fractals, genetics, animal intelligence, the human-animal bond and alarming attempts at modifying human performance to produce better soldiers, with a down-anddirty, edge-of-your-seat, nail-biter of a thrillerdiller. When Baghdad fell in 2003, the looting of the zoo and its hidden labs BY SUKEY HOWARD seemed minor. Six years later, research veterinarian Lorna Polk is asked to investigate the extraordinary animals found in the hold of a wrecked trawler off the Louisiana coast. They’re all genetic throwbacks, including a jaguar cub with the dentition of a saber-tooth tiger, and all have an unusual level of intelligence and the ability to communicate with each other telepathically. By the time the dots connect, Lorna and company have been through deadly attacks by a group of malevolent mercenaries (think Blackwater and beyond), lethal disease and mind-bending discoveries, mixed with blossoming romance and hope for happier times. All in all, for suspense fans, Altar of Eden is great fun.

Dunne’s last good-bye Dominick Dunne died this past summer, but not without finishing his last book and having his last say about the moneyed upper crust of society that he’d observed, dissected and, in his own way, been part of for so long. Too Much Money (Random House Audio, $40, 9.5 hours unabridged, ISBN 9780375405877), read in tandem by Ann Marie Lee and Nicholas Hormann, is such a thinly veiled roman à clef that it can easily be taken as Dunne’s farewell. I had the pleasure of knowing him—not well, but enough to know that he wrote with considered intention—and it’s clear that what he admits to in the book (being wholly wrong about Chandra Levy and Gary Condit, among other far more personal things) and the wrongs he still wants to right (Lily Safra’s part in her husband’s death) were intensely important to him. But Dunne’s special catty-chatty style, his natural ability to spin a tale and dish the dirt and his talent for getting into society’s inner sanctums all ensure a good story with operatic gestures and a touch of redemption. How sad that Gus Bailey, Dunne’s alter ego, won’t be back to take us into his world of monetary excess and social politesse.

Audio of the month Is it really possible that a low-tech—actually no-tech—simple list can change and influence outcomes in our high-tech, super-complex world? The answer is a resounding YES! And in his latest book, The Checklist Manifesto (Macmillan Audio, $29.99, 6.5 hours unabridged, ISBN 9781427208989), straightforwardly narrated by John Bedford Lloyd, Atul Gawande—one of those wonderfully multitalented men who is a surgeon, New Yorker staff writer and MacArthur Fellow— explains why and how a “stupid little list” can help even the most highly skilled and trained avoid failure and achieve consistent success. Gawande draws many of his intriguing examples from surgery, his own specialty, but also offers compelling examples from construction, venture capital and aviation (a standard checklist helped make Capt. Sullenberger’s safe landing on the icy waters of the Hudson River a reality). Surgeons and medical teams have been slow to embrace checklists but, as Gawande demonstrates, the evidence is as simple and convincing as the checklists themselves: A surgical checklist used in eight very different hospitals around the world, from Seattle to rural Tanzania, significantly lowered post-op infection rates, saving lives and millions of dollars. Ours is an age of extreme complexity where an inept error, simply overlooking a small step, can lead to disaster. Yet admitting that more than one set of expert eyes is necessary seems difficult for many. I only hope this “manifesto” makes it easier. o


New York Times Bestselling Author

Jill Marie Landis

Heart of Stone – Book 1 in the Irish Angel Series Finally free to pursue her dreams, Laura Foster is trying hard not to fall in love. She knows that the Reverend Brand McCormick’s reputation would be shattered if her former life is discovered. But it’s not only Laura’s history that threatens to bring Brand down—it’s his own.

Available Now! Also available in Mass Market.

Bestselling Author

DiAnn Mills A Woman Called Sage

Sage Morrow has lost everything she loved. Now, she is a Colorado bounty hunter determined to track down and bring killers to justice … and it’s personal. But when the tables are turned, will Sage become the one who is hunted?

Available May, 2010!

Deep in the heart of Africa, two American lives are about to change forever. Blood Ransom – Book 1 in the Mission Hope Series Deep in the heart of Africa, two American lives are about to change forever. Natalie Sinclair and Dr. Chad Talcott want to make a difference in underdeveloped African villages … but they didn’t count on risking their lives or becoming involved in the modern-day slave trade.

Available April, 2010!

JillMarieLandis.com

from Author Lisa Harris

DiAnnMills.com

LisaHarriswrites.com


1 F

antastic F ICT ION by abulous AUTHORS The Hellion and the Highlander By Lynsay Sands $7.99, 9780061344794

Lady Averill helped save his life, and Kade Stewart is truly grateful, but he could never subject such a sweet and gentle lady to the rough life of a Stewart laird’s bride. When she braves an unexpected danger by his side, Averill will prove to Kade that their scorching passion would be heaven indeed.

The Marriage Ring By Cathy Maxwell

$7.99, 9780061771927

The woman who wears Richard Lynsted’s ring will be genteel, dainty and well-bred. This eliminates Grace MacEachin on all three counts. A hellion of the first order, the alluring, infuriating woman would be nothing more than a passing temptation to an upstanding gentleman like Richard—if it weren’t for the fact that he finds her irrestible.

Rogue Forces By Dale Brown

$9.99, 9780061560880 In Rogue Forces, Dale Brown, the New York Times best-selling master of thrilling action, explores the frightening possibility that the corporations we now rely on to fight our battles are becoming too powerful for America’s good.

City of War By Neil Russell

$7.99, 9780061721687 His enemies are the most dangerous people in the world, so are his friends. Rail Black, the sole heir to a media empire, is larger than life, richer than almost anyone, and living in opulent seclusion in Beverly Hills. His “curse” is a need for excitement coupled with an oversized sense of justice. Now he helps people without options— and billionaires play by different rules.

All the Colors of Darkness By Peter Robinson MARCH 2010 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

$7.99, 9780061362941

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The body hanging from a tree appears to Detective Inspector Annie Cabbot to be a suicide. Further investigation into the death of the set designer for the local theater company, leads to the corpse of his older, wealthier lover. Suddenly the case demands the attention of Chief Inspector Alan Banks, a man who will not be frightened away by the machinations within the shadow world of secret government.

The Vampire and the Virgin By Kerrelyn Sparks $7.99, 9780061667862

FBI psychologist Olivia Sotiris escapes to a small Greek island, looking for a break from her sometimes all-too-dangerous life. Robby needs to cool off, too, since all he can think about is revenge—until he meets Olivia, the beauty with a tempting smile. When a deadly criminal tracks her down, Robby will have to save her life—along with giving her a first time she’ll never forget.

www.harpercollins.com

ROMANCE High on love March’s bluster can be kept at bay with four sizzling reads that include everything from western legends to the reanimated dead. Snuggle under a blanket and escape to times and places where lovers meet and endings are happy. From the first page, danger drives the suspenseful plot in Pamela Clare’s Naked Edge (Berkley Sensation, $7.99, 400 pages, ISBN 9780425219768). Navajo journalist Kat James meets handsome park ranger Gabe Rossiter when he saves her life while hiking. Fate conspires to throw them together again when he’s one of the law enforcement officers involved in the raid of a sweat lodge. While their attraction is immediate, Kat makes it clear she’s saving herself for a man who wants to be a husband and have kids. That’s not what risk-taker Gabe plans for after a tragic and hurtful past romance. BY christie ridgway But when death comes to someone close to Kat, followed by threats on her life, he can’t stay away. Appointing himself her personal bodyguard puts them both in danger as they investigate recent events on sacred Native American land. Fast-paced, with fiery love scenes as well as interesting glimpses of both extreme mountain sports and Navajo culture, this romance will keep readers’ hearts pumping.

Dark fears A female cop, a Cajun soldier, a mad doctor and a team of zombies keep the action moving in Bianca D’Arc’s Once Bitten, Twice Dead (Brava, $14, 320 pages, ISBN 9780758247292). Police officer Sarah Petit is out on a call when the “drunks” she encounters reveal themselves to be something much more dangerous. Though she’s able to call for backup, the creatures manage to do damage, including biting her. She thinks she’s going to die . . . and she should. When she wakes up, she discovers a Green Beret by her bedside, Captain Xavier Beauvoir, who has an incredible story to tell. A team of military scientists accidentally created a substance that reanimated dead soldiers, who then started attacking others. A few victims survived, like Xavier and Sarah, to discover they have remarkable healing abilities. The “zombies” and their unscrupulous makers need to be stopped, and Xavier wants Sarah to join the team. As partners, they spend their nights investigating the latest violent outbreak and their days exploring an explosive attraction. This story offers earthy love scenes, scary bad guys and a premise that will leave readers grabbing flashlights before venturing into the dark.

A Duke’s dilemma A warm woman who gave up her heart’s desire upon her mother’s death and a cold man who believes marriage is a duty and love a myth meet in An Impossible Attraction (HQN, $7.99, 432 pages, ISBN 9780373774609) by Brenda Joyce. The two chance upon each other just as Alexandra Bolton’s drunken father has insisted she save the family by marrying the local elderly squire. But how can she, when she feels this tempestuous passion for Stephen, the Duke of Clarewood? The powerful peer is not willing to make her decision an easy one, and he presents quite another kind of proposal to the beautiful but impoverished woman. It takes passion and tears for the cold and autocratic Stephen to discover that he doesn’t always get what he wants—but what he does get might be better than he ever dreamed. Dramatic emotions and wrenching choices keep the pages turning in this satisfying historical novel.

Golden dreams Former lovers reunite in an appealing western romance, Montana Legacy (Grand Central, $6.99, 304 pages, ISBN 9780446548618) by R.C. Ryan. The first in a trilogy, this story sets up the legend of missing gold and introduces the three cousins now working the Lost Nugget ranch. Though the enterprise is successful, the family patriarch has recently died and Jesse McCord must come to grips with the return of his two cousins. He’s further surprised when Amy Parrish, the woman he’d loved with all his heart, returns to town. Though her father has sworn an enmity to the McCords, his animosity didn’t stop Jesse from pursuing Amy before and it won’t this time either. Amy doesn’t understand how their former love fell away, but her feelings for Jesse and her curiosity about that long-missing treasure keep drawing her back to his ranch. And when they finally succumb to their feelings, they are faced with new threats trying to keep them apart. The modern ranch setting combined with the Old West legend create a captivating start to a new series. o Christie Ridgway writes contemporary romance from her home in Southern California.


AMERICAN HISTORY

Forensic pioneers follow the trail of a silent killer Review by Brian Corrigan Fans of television’s “CSI” and its myriad spin-offs will no doubt find much of morbid interest in Deborah Blum’s The Poisoner’s Handbook, a lushly detailed account of how the discipline and profession of forensic science emerged from the “poison playground” of 1920s New York to become an indispensable argumentative tool in the modern-day crime-fighter’s arsenal. In particular, Blum focuses on the turbulent lives and trailblazing careers of the city’s chief medical examiner, Charles Norris, and his trusty toxicologist, Alexander Gettler. Through their diligence, persistence and selfless devotion to the cause, Norris and Gettler laid the intellectual groundwork for a new—and potentially invaluable—field of study in the span of a few short decades. All the while, the pair waged an uphill battle against popular (and political) scientific ignorance and faced resistance, often fierce, from clueless city-hall bureaucrats and budget-cutters. Known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning work as a journalist and science writer, Blum displays a remarkable gift for narrative storytelling in The Poisoner’s Handbook, weaving together, from seemingly disparate elements, an old-fashioned tale of suspense that is as readable as it is densely informative. Each chapter of the book takes its title from a particular periodic element or compound, introducing the reader to these lethal substances in the kind of vivid language novelists often utilize to introduce their main characters. While the pages are populated with plenty of human villains, these killer compounds are the book’s real antagonists. Whether used as a murder weapon or ingested accidentally, each poses a unique and complex puzzle for Norris and Gettler, prompting the pair to devise ever more cunning procedures for the detection, in human tissue, of lethal quantities and trace amounts alike. They work tirelessly, selflessly, even courageously at fine-tuning and

Visualize whirled peas

Brian Corrigan lives and writes in Florence, Alabama.

The Poisoner’s Handbook By Deborah Blum Penguin Press $25.95, 336 pages ISBN 9781594202438 Also available on audio

Want to be featured in the next Virgin River novel? Tell Robyn Carr and MIRA Books in 100 words or less why you deserve to be a character, and you could win a guest appearance in one of her upcoming Virgin River novels.

Enter at www.beinvirginriver.com

Look for all three new Virgin River novels on sale now!

MARCH 2010 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

If William Blake could see heaven in a grain of sand, then we can’t fault Jack Bowen for trying to find philosophical truths in bumper stickers. A philosophy teacher (with a cat named Plato), Bowen never takes himself or his subject too seriously in If You Can Read This: The Philosophy of Bumper Stickers (Random House, $14, 240 pages, ISBN 9780812981056). But Bowen does have a larger point to make: Those pithy, opinionated and sometimes hilarious slogans on car bumpers and windshields can reflect deeply held beliefs with long philosophical roots. From “Humpty Dumpty Was Pushed” to “Practice Random Acts of Kindness,” Bowen offers explanations, historical context and philosophical musings on some of the most popular stickers. So remember: “Even People Who Believe Everything Is Predestined Look Before They Cross the Street.” o

perfecting their craft, using their own meager salaries to cover laboratory expenses and generally learning as they go—at times from their own deadly mistakes. The Poisoner’s Handbook is that rare nonfiction book that has something for everyone, whether you are a true-crime aficionado, a political-history buff, a science geek or simply a fan of well-written narrative suspense. o

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER. Contest opens on 1/11/2010 at 12:01 AM (ET) and closes on 4/9/2010 at 11:59 PM (ET). Enter online at www.beinvirginriver.com. Open to legal residents of the U.S. and Canada (excluding Quebec) who have reached the age of majority at time of entry. Void where prohibited by law. Three prizes are available to be won: (i) one Grand Prize consisting of a character named after the winner to be written in one of Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series books, a personalized message/dedication from Robyn Carr, and five signed copies of the book (ARV $40.00 USD); (ii) one Second Prize consisting of $100.00 USD and signed copies of ten books from the Virgin River series (ARV $180.00 USD); and (iii) one Third Prize consisting of signed copies of ten books from theVirgin River series (ARV $80.00 USD). Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Official Rules available online at www.beinvirginriver.com. Sponsor: Harlequin Enterprises Limited.

21 10_030_BookPage_CarrContest.indd 1

1/26/10 11:57:33 AM


LITERARY HISTORY

WOMEN’S HISTORY

Female voices through the years

MARCH 2010 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

Jane Austen’s enduring appeal

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Do you, dear reader, dither over Mr. Darcy? Enthuse about the archness of Emma? Wail about the likes of Willoughby? If so, you just might be a Janeite. If that’s the case—and even if not—there is much to divert and please in Claire Harman’s well-blended biography and cultural commentary, Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World (Holt, $26, 304 pages, ISBN 9780805082586). Harman, an awardwinning biographer, turns her sharp scholarly eye, acutely sensible prose and considerable wit on the life of the “divine Jane” in this gem of a book, tracing Austen’s early years and literary pursuits through to the presentday cult of Austenmania. There is, nearly 200 years on, still much mystery surrounding Jane Austen’s life. Though she left behind, upon her death in July 1817 at age 41, various papers, manuscripts and correspondences, much of that catalog was destroyed, lost or sold off. This biography-history fills in many blanks, brimming with entertaining anecdotes and quotes, robust scholarship and ironic humor. Harman’s research exhaustively mines the materials and memorabilia contained in the body of institutions, trusts and Austenian scholarship as well as Austen’s own surviving letters, in which she declares that “tho’ I like praise as well as anybody, I like . . . Pewter too.” This pointed statement, though brief, gives insight into Jane, the hard-headed businesswoman— a characteristic most definitely not universally acknowledged in James Edward Austen-Leigh’s rather saccharine 19th-century biography of his famous aunt. Harman insightfully portrays Jane, the writer and published author; tracks Jane’s rising fame and readership against the broad historical backdrop of the 18th and 19th centuries; identifies the trends of Austenian literary consumption and criticism (Mark Twain was not a fan); follows the “canonization” of all things Austen in print, theater and film; and finally, with tongue firmly placed in cheek, explicates how Jane Austen became a 21st-century brand through the power of TV and film— a phenomenon helped not a little by the memorable vision of Colin Firth in a clinging wet shirt. o —ALISON HOOD

Breaking through barriers, despite the obstacles Feature by Faye Jones omen’s History Month gives us the opportunity to re-examine what we thought we knew about women’s participation in historical events. What is apparent in these selections is the constant battle for women to make meaningful, acknowledged contributions in the face of hostility, ridicule and neglect. What is also sadly obvious is that women’s accomplishments have often been minimized or hidden from the pages of the “official” historical accounts. But the books here show us that there is much to learn about the contributions of women throughout history— and much to be thankful for, too.

W

In the line of fire Women have served in the military in a myriad of roles—from the factory and office workers who freed men to fight in WWI to pilots in WWII to active combat soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. They faced dangers as they nursed soldiers near the front lines in all wars. Yet often their worst enemy was not the official one, but their own country, hesitating to grant them the status and benefits they deserved. Evelyn M. Monahan and Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee provide a number of examples of this discrimination in A Few Good Women (Knopf, $32.50, 512 pages, ISBN 9781400044344). In 1942, three members of the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps survived the sinking of their ship by a German torpedo. Having lost all their belongings, they suffered a further blow when they were told that since the WAAC had no official standing, the U.S. government would not pay for their losses. Women were “with the military but not in it.” They received none of the benefits that men received, such as insurance or even protection under the Geneva Convention if they were captured. Some barriers just seem strange now: Female ferry pilots could not fly past the age of 35 “to avoid the irrationality of women when they enter and go through the menopause.” Other issues, such as sexual harassment and rape, still haunt our military today. It is clear that women were willing to endure their lack of status and societal distrust to join the military. But why? For many, it was both basic patriotism and the hope for excitement and adventure. As one WWII pilot said: “[I learned I] could fly with the men and still remain a lady. I gained much confidence in myself that has served me well all this time.” These stories can serve as inspiration for young women today, and Monahan and NeidelGreenlee deserve credit for telling them.

Lab partners Like military women, female scientists are often missing in the pages of the history books. They are so absent, in fact, that one might be forgiven for thinking that until recent times, there simply weren’t women scientists—Madame Curie being the singular exception. In The Madame Curie Complex (Feminist Press, $16.95, 352 pages, ISBN 9781558616134), Julie Des Jardins examines the careers of women scientists from Curie to Jane Goodall. Most of them probably won’t be familiar to readers, but they should be, not only for their scientific contributions, but for the ways in which their work was marginalized and made more difficult than it had to be. Female scientists faced innumerable institutional and soci-

etal barriers. For women in the early 20th century, even finding a college that would allow them to study at an advanced level was not an easy option. Nepotistic rules at many universities meant that, for scientific couples, the husband received the tenured position while the wife toiled as a lab assistant or an untenured, temporary instructor. Married women scientists were also expected to keep house and raise children. These barriers put them behind on the career path when compared to many male scientists. For example, “Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Gerty Cori was fifty-one when she was finally promoted to full professor; physics laureate Maria Goeppert Mayer wasn’t hired with pay and tenure until she was fifty-three.” Despite these obstacles, some women persevered and succeeded. But as Des Jardins makes clear, this is only a partial victory, for there are many lost and forgotten women whose contributions to science will never be known.

Warrior queens Talk about being written out of history: According to Jack Weatherford and The Secret History of the Mongol Queens (Crown, $26, 336 pages, ISBN 9780307407153), in the 13th century, an unknown person cut out a section of The Secret History of the Mongols, the record of Genghis Khan, leaving only a hint of what had been there regarding the contributions of women: “Let us reward our female offspring.” However, if a censor chose to omit the deeds of these women, Weatherford, through careful scholarship and lively narrative, has filled in many of the details. One such descendant, Queen Manduhai, refused all her suitors. Instead, she rescued the male child with the best link to Genghis Khan and raised him to be a ruler. She led battles, but she also learned from the mistakes of her predecessors, realizing how difficult it was to conquer a wide territory. Instead, she sought to trade with China when she could, but raid the country when she couldn’t. The Great Wall is a testament to how much the Chinese both respected and feared her.

A lady traveler Louisa Catherine Adams moved to St. Petersburg with her husband, John Quincy Adams, when he received a diplomatic appointment to the royal court and managed her household alone for more than a year when he was called away to Paris to help negotiate the end of the War of 1812. Then in 1815, she received a letter instructing her to meet him in Paris. She and her young son undertook the 2,000-mile journey through a Europe that had been devastated by war and the reappearance of Napoleon. In Mrs. Adams in Winter (Farrar, Straus, $27, 384 pages, ISBN 9780374215811), Michael O’Brien uses this journey to present a biography of a woman who was always in the process of crossing borders. Born an American in London and raised for a time in Paris, she would never quite fit in with her home country, where she was accused of not being American enough to be First Lady and was never quite understood by her husband and her in-laws, the famous John and Abigail Adams. O’Brien also tells a fascinating tale of what it was like to travel in that time period, an account that will lead readers to admire Adams’ determination and strength. o Faye Jones is dean of learning resources at Nashville State Community College.


CHILDREN’S BOOKS Family journey sets the stage for Horvath’s sequel Interview by Deborah Hopkinson pening a new novel by Polly Horvath is a bit like going on proposes that the family travel across country to visit her. Jane is an adventure—on each page something new and unex- delighted by this turn of events. “Finally, I think, an adventure. pected unfolds. And that’s part of the reason Horvath is Ned had promised me nothing but adventures when we got to one of the literary stars in the universe of children’s literature. The Canada, but this is the first whiff I’ve caught of them.” They set off on a journey that, after some twists and turns, author of the National Book Award-winning The Canning Season (2003), Horvath also received a Newbery Honor for Everything eventually lands them on a ranch in Nevada, with Ned’s aging mother, Dorothy. And it is here that on a Waffle (2001), while The Trolls the real journeys actually begin. (1999) was a National Book Award Northward to the Moon is a finalist. Horvath’s books have often story about families that somebeen chosen as Best Books of the times work well—and sometimes Year and Editors’ Choices, along with don’t. It’s also a book that explores several other honors. the challenges different generations Horvath makes her home on Vanface. At Dorothy’s Nevada ranch, couver Island in British Columbia Jane develops a crush on a ranch with her husband and two daughters. hand, and her little sister Maya While her creative process includes forms a deep bond with her stepa daily writing schedule, along with grandmother. Ned and his siblings, long walks in the rainforest and on and Dorothy herself, must grapple nearby beaches, the inspiration for with difficult life decisions after her recent books about the Fielding Dorothy suffers a broken hip in a family came to her in an unusual riding accident. place: the bathtub. When things come to a head at “I was reading a Country Living POLLY HORVATH AND FRIEND dinner one night, Dorothy bursts magazine in the tub,” Horvath explains with a laugh, “and an article by the poet Mary Oliver sucked out, “I’ll admit I may have to move somewhere where someone me in. It led me to read her poems and some of her essays in which will assist me . . . but I don’t have to put up with you all planning she talks about being a poor poet. And so the character of Jane’s it behind my back like I’m senile. . . . Sometimes I wish I’d had gerbils instead when the mothering instinct came over me.” mother, Felicity [also a poor poet], took off before Jane did.” “What mothering instinct?” whispers one of her daughters. Jane Fielding is the eldest daughter in a quirky family that inHorvath believes the family issues in Northward to the Moon cludes sister Maya and two little brothers, Max and Hershel. Jane’s mother comes into strong focus in the first book, My One Hun- will be very familiar to children today. “Especially as people are dred Adventures, set during Jane’s 12th summer at the family’s living a lot longer, dealing with aging grandparents is a part of children’s lives,” she says. home on a beach in Massachusetts. Will there be another book about Jane Fielding’s adventures? But it is Jane’s relationship with her recently acquired stepfather, Ned, which Horvath explores more fully in her new novel, Horvath, who has been writing since she was eight, is definitely Northward to the Moon (Schwartz & Wade, $17.99, 256 pages, planning on it. “I began wanting to do to nine books about a character, from ISBN 9780375861109, ages 10 to 13). As Jane sees it, she and Ned childhood to 90s. The voice that came to me was “have our own subset built on the understanding of that of a 91-year-old lady looking back on her life, adventures and the lure of outlaw life.” and I’m intrigued by the idea of taking someone “Writing is kind of interesting,” muses the author, through a life.” who doesn’t outline her award-winning books, but Based on the first two books about Jane Fielding, rather discovers the story along with her characters. readers will have a lot to look forward to from this “The character that surfaced in this book was Ned.” original and talented writer in the years ahead. As Northward to the Moon begins, the family has In the meantime, Horvath is embarking on her lived in Saskatchewan almost a year. But things are own adventures this spring: a national book tour to about to change. Ned has just been fired from his job meet her readers in person. o teaching French at the local school. The reason? Well, he doesn’t speak French. Deborah Hopkinson’s latest book is The Humblebee Ned has been a wanderer almost all his life. When Hunter, inspired by the life of Charles Darwin. he gets a call about a dying friend from his past, he

O

REVIEW By Sharon Verbeten Melody Brooks is smart, very smart. And she knows what she wants to say most of the time. Trouble is, she can’t—she literally cannot speak. “It’s no wonder everybody thinks I’m retarded. . . . I hate that word, by the way.” Diagnosed with cerebral palsy and wheelchair-bound, 10-year-old Melody can’t walk or talk, but her mind is filled with words, sounds, colors, phrases, music and just about everything else she’s ever seen or heard—though it doesn’t do her much good stored silently inside. “It’s like I live in a cage with no door and no key. And I have no way to tell someone how to get me out,” Melody thinks. Told through the eyes, ears and mind of Melody, Out of My Mind (Atheneum, $16.99, 304 pages, ISBN 9781416971702, ages 10 and up) is loosely based on the experiences of the author’s daughter. It’s a startlingly candid, pull-no-punches account of a life that is often frustrating but also uplifting.

While schoolmates and even some teachers dismiss her, Melody is never underestimated by family and close friends. The book crescendos to two major events in Melody’s life—both of which have life-changing results. Hopefully the novel will be life-changing for readers as well. It’s hard to put down Melody’s tale in all its rawness and honesty. The chapters are fast-paced; events are brilliantly described. And while Melody is the star, Sharon Draper also vividly draws the characters who interact with her. But don’t peg this as a gloom-and-doom book about a girl with special needs. By the end of the book, readers will not only triumph with Melody, they will also unequivocally gain a deeper insight into what the word “disabled” really means. A must for middle-grade readers, Out of My Mind should launch great discussions in families and classrooms. o Freelance writer Sharon Verbeten lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where she faces her own joys and challenges in raising a special-needs child

L e t t e r s to God a novel by Patrick Doughtie anD John Perry

tyler, a nine-year-old boy, is stricken with incurable brain cancer and begins to write letters to god. he turns his suffering into spiritual lessons for his widowed mother, his embittered adolescent brother, and a troubled postman. this story of hope will help readers from all walks work toward greater understanding of god’s presence and care.

available now! hoPe is contagious

letterstogodtheMovie.com

MARCH 2010 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

Finding her voice

Based on the Major Motion Picture

23


MEET

CHILDREN’S BOOKS A less-than-purrfect collaborator Review by Alice Cary Chester’s Masterpiece is my new favorite picture book! It’s funny and creative, and never have I been so entertained by a book before the very first page. Even the title page and copyright page are hilarious—and be sure to read every last word! The opening pages are where all the action starts, with a note to readers from author/ illustrator Mélanie Watt’s cat, Chester: “I am thrilled to announce that Mélanie Watt will NO longer be writing or illustrating children’s books because of a toothache and some technical difficulties. So, I will now gladly replace her! C. P.S. I hid Mélanie’s art supplies and computer mouse.” Chester has hijacked the book, it turns out, and he continues his hijinks throughout, working with a red magic marker to create comical writing and drawings on every page. Chester and Mélanie communicate (argue) on each spread, with Chester writing in red and Mélanie commenting on yellow post-it notes. On the opening page, Mélanie’s post-it demands: “Chester!!! I need to make this book. Now tell me where all my stuff is this instant!!!” Chester responds by telling her to stop writing the notes, and by revving up his Chester’s audience: “Readers, are you ready for the best, most ORIGI- Masterpiece NAL story you have ever read in your entire 9 lives?” By Mélanie Watt The back-and-forth dialogue between Chester and Watts Kids Can Press continues nonstop, and with the help of the red magic $18.95, 32 pages marker, it’s always easy to tell which art and words Chester ISBN 9781554535668 Ages 4 to 8 has created, and what comes from the hand of the human. Meanwhile, the dialogue is also a meaningful discussion of what it takes to create a book: choices about genre, setting, heroes, villains and endings. This repartee mirrors in an exaggerated way what sometimes goes on between writer and editor, with Mélanie chiding that Chester’s second attempt has “the same kind of rude, unhappy ending” as his first draft, while Chester rolls on the floor with his eyes closed, pronouncing, “It’s artistic expression!” Chester’s Masterpiece is indeed a wonderful example of creative artistic expression, and it’s a must-have for any number of readers: fun-loving kids, young students of art and writing, cat lovers in general and, really, anyone with a sense of humor. Head to a bookstore and tell them Chester sent you. o Alice Cary writes from Groton, Massachusetts.

MARCH 2010 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

A dugout view of home-run history

24

Author and artist Oliver Jeffers grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and now lives in New York. He has written and illustrated five critically acclaimed picture books, including The Incredible Book-Eating Boy and How to Catch a Star. Jeffers’ sixth book, The Heart and the Bottle (Philomel, $17.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9780399254529), tells the story of a young girl who puts her heart away for safekeeping.

Review by James Neal Webb Louis May is in a situation that many young readers will find unfortunately familiar. His parents have divorced, and now he’s living in a new town, with a new school, no friends and a stepmother and stepbrother whom he doesn’t like very much. What makes Louis’ story unique is its time and place; in Wes Tooke’s debut novel for middleschoolers, Lucky: Maris, Mantle, and My Best Summer Ever, the year is 1961, the place is New York City and the backdrop is the most famous home-run chase in history. Louis loves baseball—he knows all the teams, their players and their stats, and he especially loves the New York Yankees. He only wishes he could play the game as well as his stepbrother Bryce, who joins in with the other kids in mocking him when he inevitably strikes out or muffs a grounder. Life takes a dramatic turn when Louis’ father takes him along with a business client to a Yankees game and a lucky catch lands him a job as a Yankees bat boy! In the weeks and months that follow, Louis must somehow improve his unhappy home life, while at the same time work a job that puts him smack in the middle of Roger Maris’ and Mickey Mantle’s race to break Babe Ruth’s record. Along the way, he’ll need to deal with both his avantgarde mother and her more traditional replacement, face Lucky down bullies and aggressive reporters, and maybe improve By Wes Tooke Simon & Schuster his baseball skills a bit. Lucky succeeds both as a story about a kid learning to $15.99, 192 pages deal with the world on his own (and growing up in the ISBN 9781416986638 Ages 8 and up process) and as an insightful look into the players involved in one of the most dramatic sports stories of our time. If you have a child who’s into sports—or into well-written books, for that matter—then put a copy of Lucky into their hands. It just might beat catching a home-run ball. o James Neal Webb is a Boston Red Sox fan who doesn’t usually read books about the Yankees, but in this case he’s happy to make an exception.


TEEN SCENE Living by a warrior’s code

Getting it right, finally

Review by Angela Leeper Like last year’s critically acclaimed Marcelo in the Real World, Francisco X. Stork’s The Last Summer of the Death Warriors is the story of a teen faced with difficult choices before the start of a new school year. Kicked out of his foster home and recently orphaned, 17-year-old Pancho Sanchez has one more chance at St. Anthony’s, an orphanage in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Unable to find a construction job for the season, he becomes the aide to fellow resident Daniel Quentin, known as D.Q., who is dying from a type of brain cancer known as diffuse pontine glioma. The immediate allusions to Don Quixote give depth to the quiet steadiness of the novel. D.Q. has another round of treatment, which he knows he can bear because it will give him one more opportunity to confess his heart to Marisol, a young worker at Casa Esperanza, his outpatient home. And he’ll even endure the two-week recovery period with the bipolar mother who turned him over to St. Anthony’s as a child—if afterwards he can be legally emancipated, allowing him to die where he chooses and to follow the tenets of his Death Warrior Manifesto, a declaration to “love life at all times and in all The Last Summer circumstances.” (“‘Life Warrior’ is probably more accu- of the Death rate because the manifesto is about life,” admits D.Q., “but Warriors ‘Death Warrior’ is more mysterious-sounding.”) Their journey out of town provides the angry, depressed By Francisco X. Stork Pancho with a way to avenge the death of his mentally Scholastic challenged older sister after the police, claiming she died $17.99, 352 pages ISBN 9780545151337 of natural causes, filed away the case. He is also a boxing Ages 14 and up fan, and the author takes great care jabbing boxing imagery into the Hispanic teen’s own fight for life. Like his literary predecessor, Pancho’s observations of D.Q. illuminate his friend’s idealism and his attempts to claim love in spite of the disease attacking his body and mind. In an unflinching ending, Pancho must decide between carrying out a certain death sentence or finding faith and his place in humanity—and becoming a true Death Warrior. o Angela Leeper is a librarian at the University of Richmond.

Review by Norah Piehl There’s something you should know: You probably won’t like Samantha Kingston very much, at least not the first time you meet her. But by the time you’ve met her for the third, or fourth, or seventh time, you might start thinking about Samantha a little bit differently. Because she sure starts to see herself that way. If you’ve seen the movie Groundhog Day, you’ll be familiar with the basic structure of Lauren Oliver’s debut novel, Before I Fall. Samantha relives the same day seven times. She is the only one who’s aware that her life is stuck on repeat—everyone else just keeps living life, moving forward, unaware that for Samantha at least, there’s no such thing as tomorrow. Before I Fall takes a darker, more serious tone than the Bill Murray comedy, however—because what prompts Samantha’s string of “do-overs” is her own death in a car accident. For so long, Samantha was one of the queen bees, someone who, by her own admission, “just followed along” in the wake of her beautiful, charismatic and sometimes mean friends. But what might happen if she makes different choices—if she takes another look at the boy she’s writ- Before I Fall ten off, or reaches out to the outcast, or challenges her best By Lauren Oliver friends’ cruelty? And what will flash before her eyes in the HarperTeen moments before she dies? Samantha hopes it will be the best $17.99, 480 pages moments of her life—but what if, instead, her final hours ISBN 9780061726804 are replayed ad infinitum, giving her the chance to make the Ages 14 and up right choices, to make amends, even to save someone else’s life, if not her own? It’s remarkable that Oliver can plot the same day seven times and make each retelling engaging. But Before I Fall is not just a fascinating piece of storytelling; it’s also a thought-provoking commentary on the unintended, and sometimes profound, consequences of even the smallest actions or remarks, and a powerful testimony to people’s ability to make real, meaningful changes in their own behavior and outlook—changes that can deeply affect others’ lives as well. o Norah Piehl is a freelance writer and editor in the Boston area.

A son’s quest for the truth

The market for teen books just continues to grow, and though we can’t cover them all in these pages, we want to let our loyal readers know about a few new titles in some of the hottest teen series out there. From the hills of Hollywood to the private grounds of elite schools, there are plenty of books set in the exclusive world of privilege and money. Scandal (Simon & Schuster, $9.99, 240 pages, ISBN 9781416984702), by Kate Brian (latest in the long-running Private series), reunites readers with Reed Brennan as she returns to the prestigious—and dangerous—Easton Academy. Meanwhile, those who enjoy stories about the fabulously rich and famous will be happy to know about Jen Calonita’s Broadway Lights (Poppy, $16.99, 384 pages, ISBN 9780316030656), the newest title in her Secrets of My Hollywood Life series. And of course, don’t forget about Lauren Conrad’s sequel to L.A. Candy, Sweet Little Lies (Harper, $17.99, 320 pages, ISBN 9780061767609). For those whose tastes run more toward the scary or supernatural, there’s a wealth of exciting new titles, like Lisa McMann’s Gone (Simon Pulse, $16.99, 224 pages, ISBN 9781416979180)—third in the series that began with 2008’s Wake, about a girl who unwillingly experiences other people’s dreams—or the chilling post-zombie-apocalypse story The Dead-Tossed Waves (Delacorte, $17.99, 416 pages, ISBN 9780385736848) by Carrie Ryan, sequel to last year’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth. And on March 16th, L.J. Smith will release The Return: Shadow Souls (HarperTeen, $17.99, 608 pages, ISBN 9780061720819), the latest in the Vampire Diaries series, now the basis for the TV show of the same name. Finally (and also on March 16th), the last book in Garth Nix’s Keys to the Kingdom series will be released. Lord Sunday (Scholastic, $17.99, 336 pages, ISBN 9780439700900) will follow 12-year-old Arthur Penhaligon as he comes to the end of his quest for the seven Keys that began with 2003’s Mister Monday. Teens who love fantasy and adventure won’t want to miss any of the books in this exciting series! o —KATE PRITCHARD

Review by Dean Schneider Living in upstate New York with a name like Mohammed Sami Sabiri, Sami has always felt like an outsider—the school nerd, a member of his school’s “leper colony” and the subject of constant taunting. His father fled Iran as a young man because of the secret police and has worked hard to fit into his community, where the Sabiris have become a respected family: original members of the Meadowville subdivision, father on the golf club’s planning committee, mother in the Ladies’ Invitational golf tournament. They send Sami to one of the most elite private boys’ academies in upstate New York. But Sami feels he doesn’t know his father, and when Mr. Sabiri takes a mysterious trip to Toronto, he begins to wonder if his father is having an affair. So he starts to do a little undercover investigation of his father’s email messages and online accounts. Before he gets too far, the FBI storms the Sabiris’ residence, arrests Mr. Sabiri and confiscates all records that seem to incriminate him as part of a terrorist cell led by one Tariq Hasan. The fact that Mr. Sabiri is the research director at Shelton Laboratories, where anthrax, Borderline smallpox and other viruses are stored, escalates the hyste- By Allan Stratton ria about potential cross-border biological attacks. HarperTeen But is Arman Sabiri a terrorist or a victim of a latter-day $16.99, 304 pages witch hunt, akin to the Salem Witch Trials, the Holocaust ISBN 9780061451119 and the McCarthy hearings that Sami’s history teacher, Ages 12 and up Mr. Bernstein, has been discussing in class? In the context of a thrilling suspense story, Stratton explores the many ways people are separated from each other—the yearning of people like the Sabiris to simply fit in, the distance that secrets create and the evil dance of persecutor and victim, whether the Nazis, the KKK or the bullies at school who torment Sami and maneuver the firing of Mr. Bernstein. All is not what it seems with Mr. Sabiri, and Sami’s quest to clear his father’s name will carry readers along for an exciting ride. o 25 Dean Schneider teaches middle school English in Nashville. MARCH 2010 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

Rich, beautiful . . . and bloodthirsty


FANTASY

Witchy woes in Kim Harrison’s latest Review by Leslie Moïse Rachel Morgan thinks of herself as a good person, but ever since she quit her job and started a business with two friends, circumstances have nudged her to blur the distinctions between good and evil. When it becomes necessary, she twists a curse, using black magic to help others or save herself. Her friends and enemies include vampires, werewolves, gargoyles, pixies, fairies and elves. Sometimes Rachel has trouble deciding whom she can trust. Sometimes that includes herself. In Black Magic Sanction, Kim Harrison’s eighth novel featuring Rachel, the sexy witch must confront a charming ex-boyfriend who once again betrays her. This time Nick hands her over to a coven of so-called white witches determined to imprison Rachel forever. The coven considers a lobotomy justifiable punishment for Rachel’s use of black magic, no matter how well-intended her motives. They also have no objection to using white magic in deadly combinations in order to bring Rachel into custody. Trapped between them and her long-time enemy, the rich, powerful elf Trent Kalamack, Rachel needs all her skill and her friends’ support if she hopes to survive. The presence of her long-time crush, Pierce, a black magic witch, complicates things even more. Written with Harrison’s trademark blend of humor juxtaposed with peril, sensuality and magic, Black Magic Sanc- Black Magic tion is sure to please both long-term fans and newcomers Sanction to the series. Harrison provides enough background to keep new readers from getting lost, without spoiling twists from By Kim Harrison Eos her earlier books. $25.99, 496 pages The character of Rachel remains one of the series’ many ISBN 9780061138034 strengths. As she learns to deal with increasing amounts of power, she also develops trust in herself. Rachel remains vulnerable, however, especially in her personal life. She is still tempted by danger, often in the form of treacherous men like Nick, Pierce and Trent. Though sometimes considered an airhead, Rachel uses her wits and fighting skills as well as spells to defend herself and those she loves. No wonder her friends, and Harrison’s growing number of fans, stand by Rachel so faithfully. o Leslie Moïse, biblio-omnivore and novelist, lives and writes in Louisville, Kentucky.

FICTION

Up in the air

MARCH 2010 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

Review by Lauren Bufferd Do we look up at an airplane now the same way we did before September 11, 2001? I would hazard a guess of “no,” and the protagonist of James Hynes’ Next certainly doesn’t. Over the novel’s eight-hour trajectory, Kevin Quinn spends a large amount of time either in a plane, at an airport or watching planes in the air, and his fear of terrorist action is the low-level buzz that hums behind all of his past complaints and future plans. Like Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and Ian McEwan’s Saturday, Next follows the events of a single day and relies on a subtle interplay of memory, trauma and thought. Kevin is flying to a job interview in Austin, Texas, in the midst of an international terrorism scare. Frustrated by his current relationship and tired of his dead-end job, he dares to make a midlife change. On the flight, he sits next to Kelly, a beautiful young woman; he becomes obsessed, and decides to follow her after their flight lands. Traipsing around Austin’s muggy streets gives Kevin plenty of time to rail against his current condition and ponder previous love affairs and former jobs. Though Kevin’s self-absorption is annoying at times, Hynes’ witty wordplay keeps the book moving along briskly. The novel’s pace shifts into higher gear, however, after a freak accident involving the lovely Kelly, a dog leash and a Hooters dirigible. When a kindly Latina surgeon stops Next to help Kevin, the reader expects redemption, or at least a By James Hynes Reagan Arthur/Little, Brown happy ending. But the final third of the book shifts radically in plot $23.99, 320 pages and tone as Kevin is thrust into a situation unlike any he ISBN 9780316051927 has experienced before. The plot, which up to now has been humorous if slightly off-putting, grows more profound, the memories that float to the surface deeper, more revealing. The reader hangs on breathlessly as Kevin’s thoughts swerve from past to present and beyond, reconciling what came before with whatever is to come in a seamless flow. Next may be Hynes’ best book—and one that reveals his gifts as a serious novelist. o 26 Lauren Bufferd writes from Nashville.

Book clubs New paperbacks for reading groups Little Bee By Chris Cleave Cleave’s much-praised second novel has an unforgettable central character—a 16-year-old Nigerian orphan named Little Bee. After escaping from a mass slaughter in her village, Little Bee encounters a married couple on the beach, a crossing of paths that changes the lives of everyone involved. The couple, Andrew and Sarah, are journalists from England who are trying to rekindle their marriage with a holiday. What transpires between them and Little Bee on the beach is one of the novel’s many horrifying yet oddly transportive events. When Simon & Schuster Little Bee enters England covertly, she ends up in an immigra- $14, 304 pages ISBN 9781416589648 tion center but soon runs away, pinning her hopes on tracking down Andrew and Sarah. And find them she does, in the suburbs of London, where a new chapter in Little Bee’s life soon unfolds—one that draws upon the horrible events back home even as it offers strange possibilities for the future. Courageous, resourceful and smart, Little Bee makes for a first-class narrator. Her impressions of European culture bring humor to a novel of many moods. Cleave, who writes for the Guardian, clearly has a broad understanding of international politics and a deep sympathy for immigrants and exiles, both of which he brings to bear on this compelling narrative. His skills as a novelist have earned him comparisons to master storytellers such as Ian McEwan and John Banville, and Little Bee makes it easy to see why. A reading group guide is included in the book.

Whitethorn Woods By Maeve Binchy Set in the Irish village of Rossmore—a quaint hamlet threatened by progress—Binchy’s latest novel explores the tension that exists between long-standing tradition and fastmoving change. The possibility of highway construction not far from Whitethorn Woods, where Rossmore’s beloved shrine, St. Ann’s Well, is located, causes controversy among the town’s residents. Some welcome the possibilities offered by development, while others are concerned about main- Anchor taining the shrine, which is believed to be a source of divine $14.95, 368 pages power. Father Brian Flynn, a local curate, is not sure which ISBN 9780307455239 side he’s on and finds himself embroiled in the town’s conflict. Meanwhile, the stories of the villagers unfold around him. In her 60s, Vera discovers love unexpectedly—on an outing for younger people. James, a flourishing antiques dealer, has a dying wife. Neddy Nolan, the community half-wit, turns out to be more complex than people thought. In the end, he may have a solution to the town’s difficulties. Life in Rossmore is filled with hope and heartbreak, and Binchy depicts it all with wonderful detail from the perspectives of a variety of fascinating characters. Skillfully connecting the townspeople’s stories into a multilayered narrative, she has created a delightful novel that her many readers are sure to love. A reading group guide is available at randomhouse.com.

The Believers By Zoë Heller Set in New York City in 2002, Heller’s perceptive third novel explores the disintegration of the well-to-do Litvinoff family. Although they came of age in the 1960s, Audrey and Joel Litvinoff have traded in their happy-go-lucky liberalism for a more refined lifestyle. Joel is a reputable lawyer, and Audrey is the mother of their two now-grown daughters. The Litvinoffs also have an adopted son named Lenny, a drug addict who’s an expert at using people. When Joel has Harper a stroke while working in court, he ends up in the hospital, $14.99, 368 pages and his room is where some of the novel’s central events and ISBN 9780061430213 revelations unfold. Audrey hopes for Joel’s recovery even as she learns terrible secrets about him. Her discontented daughters are also struggling. Personally unfulfilled, Rosa surprises the family by turning to Orthodox Judaism for answers. Karla, an unhappily married social worker, finds herself drawn to an Egyptian immigrant who operates a newsstand. The Litvinoffs, as Heller portrays them, are the quasi-dysfunctional family. A very contemporary—and very human—clan, they’re fueled mostly by the wrong motivations. Heller refuses to whitewash her characters or embroider reality, and her fearlessness in this regard is part of what makes The Believers so darkly fascinating. It’s a chilling portrait of a family on the edge. A reading group guide is included in the book. o —JULIE HALE


PSYCHOLOGY

Listening to what our choices tell us about ourselves

The Art of Choosing By Sheena Iyengar Twelve $25.99, 352 pages ISBN 9780446504102 Also available on audio

Signet, $9.99, 9780451229328

Berkley, $9.99, 9780425233306

Berkley, $9.99, 9780425233290

Berkley, $7.99, 9780425234907

ROMANCE/SUSPENSE FICTION

THRILLER

THRILLER

Big Jack Someone is pursuing missing gems from a decades-old heist, someone who’s willing to kill for them. NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas will attempt to track down the diamonds once and for all—and stopthe danger anddeath that have surroundedthemfor years.

Dead Silence Whena Minnesota teenis kidnapped, Doc Ford is given an ultimatum, and only36hours toact. But there’s something about the boy that his captors don’t know. He has secrets, as do the other players in this deadly game. The past is about to catch up with all of them with catastrophic results.

Long Lost Myron Bolitar’s old flame Terese Collins is in Paris and needs his help. Inher debt, Myronmakes thetrip, and learns of a decade-old secret: Terese once had a daughter who died in a car accident, but that daughter may be alive—and tied to a sinister plot with shocking global implications.

Corsair For five novels, Clive Cussler has brought readers intothe worldof the Oregon, a seemingly dilapidated ship packed with cutting edge technology andcaptainedby thedaringJuan Cabrillo. Now, the Oregon andits crew face their biggest challenge yet—a danger tornfromtoday’sheadlines.

Master of Fire A beautiful chemist, Giada Shepherd, is animmortal witchchargedwithsaving thelifeof LoganMacRoy, themortal son of a vampire. Passionately attracted to Giada, Loganhasnoideathat sexwould turnhimintoa vampire. As a killer sets deadlytrapsfor them,theymust relyon thetruthandthepower of love.

THRILLER

ROMANCE

THRILLER

The Moses Stone AnEnglishcouplediscoversaclaytablet coveredinancientwriting.Onedaylater, they are dead. Called in to investigate, detective Chris Bronson follows clues that plungehimintoamysterythat has goneunsolvedsincebiblical timesandis far moredangerous thanhecouldever haveimagined.

Provocative in Pearls After two years, Grayson Bridlington has located his missing bride Verity Thompson. Coerced into marrying the Earl by her duplicitous cousin, Verity fledLondon for the countryside. Now, they must make the most of an arrangedmarriage—evenif it means surrenderingtotheir shareddesire.

The Silver Bear HecallshimselfColumbus.Somecall him the Silver Bear—one of the deadliest assassins intheworld. Now,as hetracks a powerful politician with presidential aspirations,thefragmentedpiecesof his ownlifebegintopoint toaterribletruth that will unmake everything he is and put himright inthecrosshairs.

Jove, $7.99, 9780515147636

Jove, $7.99, 9780515147629

PARANORMAL

Onyx , $9.99, 9780451412874

Join the editors of BookPage at The Book Case, a blog with daily updates on what’s new in the world of books. You’ll find commentary on new releases, books coming soon, award-winners, contests and much more. Find us under the “blogs” tab at BookPage.com.

Heather Seggel reads and writes in Ukiah, California.

PAPERBACK PICKS

Berkley, $7.99, 9780425233351

A BLOG FOR BOOKLOVERS

“metaphorical multilingualism,” or understanding that goes beyond mere tolerance. She manifests it in her own work by writing with “sighted” language despite being blind since early childhood, and she encourages others to take a step outside what they might consider normal in order to enlarge their own views on life. Read The Art of Choosing, and be prepared to see the options life presents you through new eyes. o

MARCH 2010 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

Review by Heather Seggel Coke or Pepsi. Bush or Gore. Sink or swim. If asked to select from any of these pairs, you might assume taste, political affiliation and basic human nature would influence your respective choices. But in Sheena Iyengar’s view, it’s more likely that emotional ties to a brand, the randomness of where a name appears on a ballot and the notion that survival is still possible are what swayed you in one direction or another. And Iyengar should know. A professor at Columbia University and innovator in the study of choice, her work has been cited by many authors; you’ll probably find that you’ve heard of at least one of her studies before, such as the “jam study.” Iyengar and her research team set up an experiment in a Draeger’s supermarket in which they let customers sample from either six or 24 flavors of gourmet jam. Thirty percent of those who sampled from the smaller batch bought a jar of jam, but only 3 percent who sampled from the larger group made a purchase. The moral? Sometimes less to choose from leads to more in terms of sales; too many choices may dissuade us from making any choice at all. In The Art of Choosing, Iyengar recounts her studies and observations with an emphasis on helping us to be more thoughtful and better-informed when faced with decisions. Sometimes that’s just a matter of knowing you have choices; at other times, eliminating multiple options is the key to wise decisions. “Unlike captive animals,” she writes, “. . . we have the ability to create choice by altering our interpretations of the world.” So can we filter out bias and rely only on our core values to make decisions? The book’s studies and hypothetical questions draw from psychology, economics, medicine, philosophy and other fields to show how often choice is an issue; this grabbag approach keeps the writing from bogging down in any one topic while still making points effectively. Iyengar’s wit and engaging writing style ease the reader through chapters on harder choices, from taking a loved one off life support to the paradox inherent in American life: that freedom of choice should make us happy, but having too many options is overwhelming and often leads to depression. These and other hard choices— even “Sophie’s Choice”—are thoughtfully explored. She also offers a description of her parents’ arranged marriage as an example of freedom from choice. Iyengar hopes that understanding the thinking behind our choices may lead us to

27


CAREERS

The best new guides for landing a job you’ll love By Stephanie Gerber ow more than ever, finding a job is itself a full-time job. With unemployment topping 10 percent, the job market is a tough nut to crack. We’ve found four books that will help you hear those magic words—“you’re hired!” Whether you’re a recent college grad, recovering from a layoff or looking to change fields, these books can help you turn the page and find a fulfilling career.

N

The Age Equalizer Robin Ryan, author of 60 Seconds & You’re Hired!, brings 20 years of experience, as well as feedback from hundreds of decision makers, to her latest book, Over 40 & You’re Hired!: Secrets to Landing a Great Job (Penguin, $15, 256 pages, ISBN 9780143116981). Target audience: The older job seeker. Recent U.S. Labor Department reports have shown that those with the longest period of unemployment—an average of eight months—are age 45 and older. Ryan’s tips are specifically geared to the more experienced over-40 audience, and her advice is relevant regardless of whether you’ve been laid off, want to change careers or are looking for a promotion. Best advice: Be prepared to counter employer concerns about your age. Ryan identifies 12 possible problem areas, including lower productivity, an old-fashioned management style and inability to use new technology, and gives specific solutions to address and alleviate each concern. Biggest surprise: A dated appearance can sabotage your job chances. How you look offers employers a clue on how up-to-date you are and gives insight into your attitude. A modern look, without being too trendy, is important, along with showing lots of positive energy and enthusiasm. Ryan advises hiring a makeover expert if needed.

The Preparation Pro

MARCH 2010 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

Harvey Mackay shares a wealth of business wisdom on getting and keeping a job you love in Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door: Job Search Secrets No One Else Will Tell You (Portfolio, $25.95, 352 pages, ISBN 9781591843214). The author of the best-selling Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive brings fun and wit to the tedious work of job searching. Target audience: Mackay says his book is relevant “whether you’re 21, 51, or 71.” And since Mackay says the average person will have at least three career changes and 10 different jobs by age 38, chances are you will need his advice at some point in your career. Best advice: Prepare extensively for every job interview. The Mackay 44 Interview Prep Checklist covers all the bases, and the Mackay 22, a list of post-interview questions, helps you record your memories of the interview while it’s still fresh. Biggest surprise: While the majority of the book is focused on finding your next job, Mackay gives great advice on keeping your current job and even on handling the “getting canned” conversation. Don’t miss his 7 Danger Signals that you may soon be out of a job. Danger Signal #1: “It’s not your bad breath

TOP SHELF The Day of the Lord Louis Diedricks An enlightening new perspective on what is described within the Book of Revelation for the tribulation period during the upcoming days of Apocalypse. Be prepared for a soul shocking experience. Mill City Press

Here intelligence comes in. Let him who has the mind for it calculate the number of the beast, for it is a man’s number, and his number is 666.

REVELATION 13:18

What if everything you knew about the Antichrist was wrong? And what if he was alive and amongst us right now?

You would have difficulty locating someone who didn’t have at least a basic understanding of what the number 666 means. Countless theologians and scholars have studied the biblical prophesy in depth and have correlated the data to the best of their ability—but you may be surprised to know that it was all based on a flawed assumption. It has recently come to light that a scribe in ancient times made an innocent but profound clerical error: 666 is the wrong number! Because of this very recent discovery, an accurate text about the time of the apocalypse using all of the available data to give us a clear picture of the Antichrist and the end times has never been written. Until now.

Louis Diedricks has spent years cross-referencing the book of Revelation with other apocalyptic references, and it is his learned deduction that the signs of the Apocalypse are practically upon us. With the understanding that the signs of the Apocalypse are metaphors rather than literal descriptions, and with a profound awareness of the technological capabilities of our time and what that might mean within the framework of Scripture, Diedricks guides us step-by-step down the windy road of the end of times prophesy. Using the correct number—616—and a brilliantly innovative way of interpreting that number, he uses all available data to lead the question of the Antichrist’s identity to its logical conclusion. He is alive, he is among us, and it is time to prepare ourselves for what is coming. This book will prove to be an invaluable resource to anyone who wants to understand the difficulties of the very near future and who the players are.

US $13.95

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PB 9781936198054 $13.95 www.louisdiedricks.com

keeping you on the outskirts: Suddenly your boss invites your second-in-command to meetings you usually attend . . . but forgets to ask you.”

The Life Coach Career guru Donald Asher has updated his job search bible How to Get Any Job: Life Launch and Re-Launch for Everyone Under 30 (Ten Speed, $15.99, 240 pages, ISBN 9781580089470), now available in a new second edition. Target audience: Perfect for every soon-to-be college grad who hasn’t thought beyond finding paid employment in order to get out of his parents’ house. The author, who has made more than $1 million rewriting executive resumes, has some unexpected advice: Stop working on your resume and start by figuring out your passion. He advises college students to quit worrying about just getting a job and instead focus on life planning. Best advice: Finding the right career is a process of self-discovery. Asher takes the reader through a series of activities, including listing the top five world issues you’re concerned about and every job ever held by everyone in your extended family, to help you discover your values, interests and potential career areas. He advocates going beyond choosing a college major by contemplating what will make you happy. Biggest surprise: Asher’s advice can seem pushy. He recommends calling leads once a day for 100 days and says the biggest problem for job seekers is not being aggressive enough.

The Individualist Elizabeth Wagele and Ingrid Stabb use the Enneagram Personality Assessment to help career changers find the best job fit in The Career Within You: How to Find the Perfect Job for Your Personality (HarperOne, $17.99, 368 pages, ISBN 9780061718618). Target audience: People looking to get more joy from their job—either in their current position or in the next phase of life. Those with some work experience to draw from will be better able to complete the book’s self-assessments and understand how to apply the lessons on the job. Best advice: Use your own unique talents and strengths to find the right job. The fast and easy Enneagram (“any-a-gram”) selfassessment test, similar to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, reveals how strongly an individual leans toward one of nine personality types: Reformer, Helper, Achiever, Individualist, Investigator, Loyalist, Enthusiast, Challenger or Peacemaker. In-depth chapters then help you understand your type, including strengths you bring to the job, what you need in the workplace in order to be happy and what areas you may need to work on. Each chapter ends by helping you prioritize your strengths and determine which careers may be a good fit for your type. Biggest surprise: The accuracy of the personality types can truly be an eye-opener. My type (Observer) felt like a perfect fit, and it was easy to identify the types of my spouse and friends. Also surprising: how much information is available at the authors’ website, www.careerwithinyou.com. o Marketing executive Stephanie Gerber is pondering post-maternity leave career plans.

A Banner Handbook for Homeschoolers

The Guardians: Loving Eyes are Watching

Elinor Miller This 250-page handbook contains “A Myriad of Math Measures®”, “Creative and Constructive Activities for Inclement Days®”, “The Big Sit®,” detailed information for science and history topics and other unique materials to intrigue children and adults alike.

Richard Williams

PB 9781440153235 $20 eBook 9781440153242 $6 www.seepub.com

Sage Education Enterprises

Imagine a world where special dogs lead their masters back to the path of God’s love. The Guardians is such a story; it tells of two shelties who have the ability to speak, but their unusual talent is a closely guarded secret. AuthorHouse

PB 9781434376633 $12.99 www.lovingeyesarewatching.com

Chester the Chesapeake: Summertime Barbara Ebel, MD A    bored dog?  Not if Chester can help it!  In this second book of Chester’s series, Chester asks his goofy brother Russell for help. Together they PB 9781449515911 $12.95 show the new www.chesterthechesapeake.com dog the joys of summer.  Available at Amazon.com CreateSpace


MEMOIR

The healing powers of simple food Review by Rebecca Bain Comfort food—even the words are warming and evocative, and most of us have familiar foodstuffs to which we turn when times get rough. However, when Paula Butturini’s husband, John Tagliabue, was shot by a sniper while covering events in Romania for the New York Times in 1989, Butturini knew that comfort food was only part of what would be necessary to help him recover. So the couple returned to Rome, where they had spent their happiest times together. In a new memoir, Keeping the Feast, she recounts the terrible struggle both had to regain some normalcy in their lives, and the role that food played in their recovery. While it took two years for Tagliabue’s physical injuries to heal, it was the devastating clinical depression into which he fell afterward that nearly destroyed the couple. For years, Butturini’s husband was so depressed he often couldn’t speak. Once an outgoing, compassionate man, he became a shell of his former self, isolating himself from everyone but his wife and the psychiatrist he saw several times each week. Antidepressant drugs had no effect on his problem; for months on end, he only got worse, bedeviled by crippling anxiety attacks, uncontrollable crying and morbid Keeping the Feast introspection. At her wit’s end, Butturini turned to the best cure she By Paula Butturini knew: “Just the magic of honest food—fresh and whole- Riverhead 272 pages some—simply prepared and eaten together three times a $25.95, ISBN 9781594488979 day, from ingredients that Italians have largely been eating Also available on audio for millennia. Italy still celebrates one of the most primordial rituals of the human community, the daily sharing of food and fellowship around a family table; what better place to take ourselves to heal?” Butturini’s gratitude at having food as a lifeline to cling to is evident on every page of Keeping the Feast. It is a celebration of the human spirit, persevering in the face of overwhelming obstacles, and a paean to the restorative ability of food to bring comfort and peace to our souls as well as our bodies. o Rebecca Bain is a freelance writer and editor in Nashville.

SCIENCE

The frontiers of our brave new world

All day, every day Latin music and Latin dance have a special pizzazz and vibrancy. That goes for Latin cooking as well, especially as practiced by Daisy Martinez, Latina cook extraordinaire and one of the hottest new stars on the Food Network. Daisy: Morning, Noon and Night (Atria, $30, 336 pages, ISBN 9781439157534) gives you the recipes and quick expertise that will earn you olés galore. Daisy augments her own family food memories with dishes she and her family enjoyed while traveling in Spain and South and Central America, dishes that showcase the fabulous mosaic of flavors found in the very varied cuisines of these countries. Daisy begins at the beginning, with some great takes on that oh-so-necessary morning meal. Orange-almond-scented Torrijos, aka Spanish French toast, or comforting Breakfast Polenta are super ways to start the day. For lunch, make a big pot of BY SYBIL PRATT Peruvian Beef Noodle Soup, then serve up Braised Chicken with Coconut Milk and Curry, a Puerto Rican and Dominican dinner standby. Latin-accented cocktail parties, dinner parties and grand buffets get their due, too, made all the easier with menu and prep schedules. Señora Martinez has a warm, intimate style, with suggestions for substitutions and descriptions of ingredients that may not be familiar. And she’s added great header notes and tales of her travels. Gracias, Daisy!

The passionate baker Committed bakers are a breed apart, delighting in precise details and exacting in the execution of their craft. I’m an occasional baker who needs an inspirational kick, but who’s always thrilled with both the end results and the process. John Barricelli, a third-generation baker with the best training and credentials, host of PBS’s “Everyday Baking from Everyday Food” and owner of the SoNo Baking Company & Café, provides that irresistible impetus to whip out the baking ingredients, plus 150 inspirational recipes written for the home baker in The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook (Potter, $35, 288 pages, ISBN 9780307449450). His breads, cakes, cookies, cobblers, crisps, tarts, trifles, scones and savories have their roots in traditional European and American favorites and range in style from the classics, like dense, super-fudgy brownies and Strawberry Shortcake, to the more modern, such as a flourless White Chocolate Mousse Roulade. Barricelli shares his secrets gladly, peppering his excellent instructions with “technique tips,” tricks he’s picked up that ensure the best results. And he offers his list of must-have items for the basic baker’s pantry, plus all the storage info you need to keep your creations in tiptop condition, should you not gobble them up on the day they’re made. This is a fine source for either the novice who needs encouragement or the veteran who wants new variations.

At home with Rachel Rachel Allen, a TV cooking star in Ireland and England, has an easy, comfortable way with food that’s showcased in Favorite Food at Home (Morrow, $24.99, 224 pages, ISBN 9780061809279), her American debut. With full-page, full-color photos throughout, including many of Rachel’s pretty face and her adorable children, it’s an attractive addition to the finding-joy-in-feeding-friends-and-familyat-home genre. She’s not heavy on local, seasonal or sustainable; she just wants you to make food that satisfies and pleases, that brings everyone together at the table without much muss or fuss. Although Rachel was brought up in Dublin and lives in Ballymaloe, her cooking is not “Irish”—though you might try the rich Porter Cake for St. Patrick’s Day. Some of her dishes have international accents, from asparagus-studded Risotto Verde to Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Lemon and Pomegranate Couscous to Thai Pork with Coconut Coriander Sauce, and many are innovative takes on the familiar, like Spicy Salmon Cakes, Duck, Lentil and Cabbage Salad, or Roast Leg of Lamb with Garlic, Rosemary and Olive Paste. Separate chapters feature picnic fare, foolproof food for kids, edible 29 gifts and an array of comforting sweets. Real food for all occasions. o

MARCH 2010 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

Review by Ruth Douillette Remember the textbook diagram of the atom? That’s so last century. Today there is no way to depict the latest discoveries in astrophysics—like dark matter, for example, which makes its presence known only by the effect it exerts upon the visible elements in the cosmos. Although there is no visual evidence of this mysterious force, scientists now believe that nearly 90 percent of the universe is comprised of the stuff. Thankfully, Anil Ananthaswamy, consulting editor for New Scientist, has a way of making you “see” even the invisible, taking readers to the distant edges of the cosmos while keeping them grounded with clear scientific explanations. For his new book, The Edge of Physics, Ananthaswamy traveled to 10 disparate locations across the globe to watch scientists perform cutting-edge experiments, determined to discover another piece of the puzzle of the universe. In a comfortable narrative style, he describes the places he visits and the scientists who remain single-mindedly focused on their tasks. Scientists in the South Pole drill two kilometers into the Antarctic ice to lower optical devices deep into the hole, hoping to catch signs of neutrinos as they pass through the earth on their journey through space; a similar experiment goes on in Siberia’s Lake Baikal. South Africa challenges The Edge of Australia for the privilege of building the world’s largest Physics radio telescope in the extensive Karoo. From the top of Ha- By Anil Ananthaswamy waii’s Mauna Kea to Switzerland’s Large Hadron Collider HMH and more, Ananthaswamy paints a vivid picture of scien- $25, 336 pages ISBN 9780618884681 tific investigations in harsh working conditions. The physics is there too, of course, interspersed throughout the narrative: neutrinos, bosons, fermions, string theory, space-time and more. Even with textbook definitions firmly in mind—the book includes a helpful glossary—the lay imagination struggles to grasp such foreign concepts. Having some prior knowledge of physics would be useful, but even for readers who don’t know a neutrino from Adam, these interesting tales of human endeavor make The Edge of Physics a trip worth taking. o Ruth Douillette is an essayist and photographer.

COOKING


FILM

Movie masters, on both sides of the camera Feature by Martin Brady hat is it about movies? Well, just about everything. They are popular entertainment, a universal vehicle for storytelling, a reflection of society, a window into the past, a source of iconic imagery and, finally, lastingly accessible documents of our times. Books about movies and movie stars only extend and inform our fascination, and just in time for Oscar season, a new crop offers both challenging and lighter reading guaranteed to engage film fans.

W

Star power Originally published in Great Britain, the Faber & Faber Great Stars series presents minibiographies of some of Hollywood’s greatest stars. Noted film historian and lexicographer David Thomson is the author of the first four entries in the series. Each paperback is named for its subject—Gary Cooper (ISBN 9780865479326), Humphrey Bogart (ISBN 9780865479333), Bette Davis (ISBN 9780865479319) and Ingrid Bergman (ISBN 9780865479340). Each is priced at $14, with the compact coverage tapping out at 130 pages. In this case, brevity might be the soul of wit, presuming that Thomson’s somewhat affected insider’s tone and penchant for titillating sidebars—Davis’ abortions, the size of Cooper’s manhood, Bergman’s affairs and failures as a mother, Bogart’s harridan of a third wife—don’t distract the reader too much from the coverage of his subjects’ early lives, career development and greatest on-screen efforts. As to the latter, Thomson is solid in his assessments, and each key film is well placed into its unavoidably gossipy but often very eventful production context. Each volume features the star’s filmography, plus a smattering of black-and-white archival photos researched by Lucy Gray.

The director’s chair

MARCH 2010 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com

Actors and actresses may draw the public’s obsessive attention, but the great guiding genius in filmmaking is the director, and two new coffeetable books offer riveting rundowns—in both bounteous pictures and incisive text—of the lives and careers of essential masters. Federico Fellini: The Films (Rizzoli, $75, 320 pages, ISBN 9780847832699) offers a keenly detailed narrative by Italian film critic, screenwriter, playwright, actor and Fellini biographer Tullio Kezich. With its rich selection of photos, mainly from the archives of the Fondazione Federico Fellini, this volume soars in its analysis of the man, his movies (often autobiographical in inspiration, focused on societal

30

extremes and, in his later period, politically aware) and the vibrancy of his personalized filmmaking culture. Coincidentally—or maybe not so—Fellini shared many traits with legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa: Both fortuitously avoided service in World War II, both were accomplished graphic artists (a skill that factored directly into their cinematic visions), both worked extensively and very consciously with a veritable family of performers and technical talents, and both, quite ironically, spent their later years making TV commercials. Furthermore, and perhaps most amazingly, both stayed married to one woman their entire adult lives. Akira Kurosawa: Master of Cinema (Rizzoli, $75, 304 pages, ISBN 9780847833191) shares with its sister volume the same reverent regard for its subject: his dogged devotion to his craft, his unique position as an important postwar commentator and his huge influence on later filmmakers. Film historian Peter Cowie’s thorough, erudite coverage accompanies some 200 photographs, mostly black-and-white (Kurosawa’s predominant milieu), though striking color shots from the auteur’s later films are well represented. Introductory essays by Martin Scorsese and Kurosawa expert Donald Richie help set the stage for the book’s pictorial and verbal one-two punch, exposing and explaining the director’s thematic approach to the human condition, Japanese society in particular and the traditions of the ancient samurai that infuse his best-known works. Both books argue forcefully for the rediscovery by younger generations of the vast scope and power of these artists’ great achievements.

Up in lights Finally, for the more determined movie fan, we have Ira M. Resnick’s Starstruck: Vintage Movie Posters from Classic Hollywood (Abbeville, $65, 272 pages, ISBN 9780789210197). Long an aficionado of movie posters and other ephemera, Resnick followed up a Tinseltown stint as a photographer by founding the Motion Picture Arts Gallery in Manhattan and launching his more lasting career as a collector and dealer. This volume features nearly 300 glorious examples of promotional movie artwork and stills from Resnick’s impressive personal collection, with the items spanning from 1912 to 1962. Resnick’s text incorporates his personal story along with profiles of marquee film stars, important directors and history-making movies. The ubiquitous Scorsese, who many years before was Resnick’s instructor at NYU’s film school, contributes the introduction. o

MYSTERY

FICTION

Revenge and redemption

A family’s second chance

Review by Michael Alec Rose Too much historical fiction relies on the tragedy of history’s grand sweep overwhelming little lives. Instead, Robert Goddard flips the switch and subordinates historical events to the fates of his protagonists in Long Time Coming (Bantam, $15, 432 pages, ISBN 9780385343619). Governments and armies may determine history; but Goddard keeps firmly in our minds that it is individuals who suffer and occasionally even survive it. Humphrey Bogart’s famously ironic “hill of beans” line in Casablanca comes to mind. Goddard’s heroes and villains in Long Time Coming may not be quite as colorful in their parting shots, but they are every bit as compelling. In this case, the war is World War II, the place London (and later, Antwerp), the time shifting between 1940 and 1976. Two disturbing historical facts set the scene: First, Ireland remained stubbornly neutral during the war; and second, in the years leading up to the war, a handful of Belgian merchants—mainly Jewish—made a killing (the wording is, alas, all too accurate) from the brutal diamond mines in the Congo. The historical data in question would be easy fodder for (respectively) anti-Irish sentiment and anti-Semitism, as they are at certain points in this novel. But the author refuses to make his complex case pliable to any straightforward ethical assessment. Goddard cares only for how this particular person experiences this crisis and is transformed or destroyed by it, according to character and luck. The Englishman Eldritch Swan—long thought dead—spent 36 years in an Irish prison. Now he and his nephew Stephen must find proof that a set of Picassos was forged. Why is this eccentric undertaking so crucial? How do private passions give meaning to the enormities of history? Shakespeare knew the answer. So did Dickens and Conrad. Now the knowledge has passed to fearless weavers of intimate histories like Robert Goddard. o

Review by Carla Jean Whitley Jesse Bennett’s life changes dramatically during the summer she’s 13. It’s a difficult age for anyone. But life becomes especially difficult for Jesse when she returns home one day to find neighbors gathered outside her house in the British city of Hull. Her mother has attempted suicide, and after she returns from a stay in a mental institution, the family moves to the nearby seaside town of Midham. It’s a chance for her mother to start anew in the fresh country air, and Jesse also seizes the chance to recreate herself. She has always been an outcast at school, but in Midham that changes. While waiting for her father outside the town coop on a rainy day, Jesse meets Amanda, a beautiful, older and clearly popular girl. When Amanda invites Jesse to stand under her umbrella, Jesse is immediately taken with her. She’s even more excited when she meets Tracey, a girl in her own grade, and realizes that the two are sisters, granting Jesse regular access to Amanda. Another Life Altogether (Spiegel & Grau, $26, 416 pages, ISBN 9780385530040) reveals Jesse’s struggle with the challenges of being a teenager: dealing with her parents— particularly dramatic, given her mother’s mental illness; fitting in at school; and coming to terms with her sexuality. And Jesse is often lost to a fantasy world where she and Amanda are romantically involved—a desire she can’t admit, for fear that such a revelation would cost her the social standing she has worked so hard to achieve. With the release of Another Life Altogether, author Elaine Beale turns from the murder mystery genre of her first effort (1997’s Murder in the Castro, now out of print) to an exploration of psychological development. Though there’s plenty of action in the novel, it is Beale’s examination of Jesse’s relationship with a cast of quirky family members and classmates that propels the worthy story forward. o


SENSE OF WONDER A new cast of characters This month’s selections feature characters not often found in the pages of fantasy or science fiction: morally uncertain kings and heroes of unusual religions and ethnicities. How do you write an original fantasy novel about kings and orphans, knights and witches? If you are Liane Merciel, for starters you make the king a morally conflicted, fratricidal usurper and the orphan a sickly infant. The River Kings’ Road (Pocket, $26, 384 pages, ISBN 9781439159118) seamlessly weaves together a story of two kingdoms always on the brink of war, seen through the eyes and actions of Brys Tarnell, a dubious mercenary, and Odosse, a new mother. Odosse tries to save the heir to the kingdom after Leferic, the king’s brother, makes an unholy alliance with a monstrous witch to have his brother murBY SEAN MELICAN dered. Leferic is a bookish, not bloodthirsty, monarch who believes that his actions, however immoral, are necessary to preserve the realm. When the witch reveals her true colors, it is only the blessed knight Sir Kellan who possesses the ability to defeat her. But Kellan’s might and magic depend on devoting himself wholly to his goddess—body and soul—and his faith is tested by his desires for his friend and companion Bitharn. While this is surely only the first in a series, it is a remarkable book that condenses well-defined characters, a complex world and lessons in ethics into so few pages.

Stories from a fantasy legend Peter S. Beagle’s short fiction, collected in Mirror Kingdoms: The Best of Peter S. Beagle (Subterranean Press, $40, 456 pages, ISBN 9781596062917), is a lesson in how to tell timeless stories with heart, wit and grace. It begins with a superb and superbly moving story of unrequited love, “Professor Gottesman and the Indian Rhinoceros,” and ends with the “The Rabbis’ Hobby,” in which an old rabbi and a boy on the eve of his Bar Mitzvah will discover that death cannot end a father’s love. In between are wonderful stories, including one featuring a dybbuk disguised as an angel and the painter it seeks, whose first words to it are, “I can’t see my model. If you wouldn’t mind moving just a bit?” Another brings together two soldiers on the opposite sides of the Berlin Wall, the ghost of a woman and her son, and explores the possibility of redemption. A third features two brothers whose unique abilities to unmake history explain the contradictions in the Bible. There are 13 more heart-rending stories of redemption, many featuring unashamedly Jewish heroes—a group that receives short shrift in too many fantasy novels. These are stories to soften the hearts of even the most jaded reader.

FICTION

Struggles in suburbia Review by Stephenie Harrison Tim and Kate Welch may not have it all, but they’ve got more than most. Tim is a high school history teacher, while Kate stays at home looking after their two young sons, organizing play dates and struggling to keep her sanity. All this changes when Kate is offered a high-flying job and Tim quits work to be a stay-at-home dad. As if this role reversal weren’t enough to shake up their suburban lives, Anna Brody, an alluring and beautiful socialite, moves into the most coveted brownstone in their Brooklyn Heights neighborhood and sets her sights on Tim and Kate. Initially flattered by her attentions, it isn’t long before the imperceptible cracks in Tim and Kate’s marriage begin to widen, and they realize that climbing the social ladder while rubbing elbows with Anna comes at a high cost. If while reading Peter Hedges’ latest novel, The Heights, you feel the book has a certain cinematic quality, you’ll be forgiven, since Hedges is the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of such hits as About A Boy and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (adapted from his own novel). But don’t let his celluloid prowess dissuade you from picking up The Heights, as Hedges has a knack for taking everyday life and making it fascinating. In alternating chapters, Tim and Kate gradually The Heights reveal their story, which helps maintain the momentum of By Peter Hedges the narrative and is sure to keep readers glued to the page as Dutton we watch them in their valiant struggles to survive. $25.95, 304 pages The Heights is a no-holds-barred exposé of suburbia and ISBN 9780525951131 the strains of marriage and childrearing, but Hedges deftly Also available on audio transforms this weighty subject matter into an addictive blend of melodrama carefully balanced with comedy; it takes real skill to inject levity into the Welches’ narrative, without ever becoming glib or insensitive, and thankfully Hedges is up to the task. His writing helps elevate a relatively simple story, creating a novel that is devilishly delightful. Given past precedence, it wouldn’t be surprising if The Heights one day graces a theater near you, but this is definitely one book you’ll want to read before seeing the movie. o Stephenie Harrison writes from Nashville.

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Many books are good, some are great, but few are truly important. Add to this last category The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Orbit, $13.99, 432 pages, ISBN 9780316043915), N.K. Jemisin’s debut novel. The first in a trilogy, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms features Yeine Darr, whose mother had abandoned her life of privilege to live in her lover’s barbarian tribe and raise their daughter. When her mother dies, Yeine is called to return to Sky, the royal palace and home of the world’s rulers, the Arameri, to compete with a brother and sister for the chance to rule her native kingdoms. She does not expect to win, but does expect to solve the mystery of her mother’s death before she gets herself killed. The Arameri have enslaved the two remaining gods, Bright Itempas and the Nightlord, two of the three world-creating deities, and their various children, and they use them to control the kingdoms. Wonderfully filled with family secrets, brutal betrayals, a remarkable romance and the mystery of a mother’s love, the book rises above others of its type not only by creating a complex world and mythology, but by populating the former with characters of many different skin colors. In this reviewer’s opinion, this is the must-read fantasy of the year. o In alphabetical order, Sean Melican is a chemist, father, husband and writer.

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WORDNOOK

By the editors of Merriam-Webster

Simple name for a sweet treat Dear Editor: I have always wondered how pound cake got its name. Is it because eating it causes you to put on the pounds? B. W. Hershey, Pennsylvania Eating pound cake may very well cause you to put on some weight, but that is not the reason for its seemingly cautionary name. The name comes from the original recipe calling for a pound of each of the principal ingredients: flour, butter and sugar. The recipe can, of course, be made with more or less than a pound of each ingredient, but the proportions stay the same. The earliest recorded use of the name pound cake, in a recipe from 1747, calls for a dozen eggs in addition to the pound of flour, butter and sugar.

Collected clippings Dear Editor: Where did we get the word wig for a fake head of hair? H. C. Cumberland, Maryland In the early 16th century, it was fashionable for men and women to wear a headpiece of artificial hair called a periwig. This word developed

from the earlier perwyke, a modification of the Middle French perruque, from Old Italian perruea, meaning “head of hair.” Periwig became simply wig through what etymologists call “clipping” or “truncation.” These terms denote primarily the process whereby an appreciable chunk of a word is omitted, leaving what is sometimes called a “stump word.” When the end of a word is lopped off, the process is called “back-clipping”: thus examination is docked to give exam. Less common in English are “fore-clippings,” in which the beginning of a word is dropped, as with wig. Very occasionally we see a sort of fore-and-aft clipping, as when flu was derived from influenza. A clipping’s status is most established when many speakers no longer know what the earlier and longer form of the word was. Thus hack, meaning a cab, has for most speakers cut its historical ties with hackney, which originally designated a kind of horse. The same may be said of pants (from pantaloons), cinema (from cinematograph) and many others. Status as a completely independent word is further enhanced when the phonetic substance of the word is also altered, as when perambulator (“baby carriage”) yielded pram, not peram, and geneva gave rise to gin. The status of a clipping is more provisional when speakers can generally tell you right off what word it was clipped from. Gym, lab, ad and mike are all very familiar words and must be considered part of the standard language,

but most people who know the words can tell you where they come from, and that makes their shorter offspring seem somewhat more informal.

Getting warmer Dear Editor: Can you tell me where the word lukewarm comes from, and why luke isn’t used in any other context? J. P. New Haven, Connecticut The word lukewarm has been around since at least the 14th century. It was formed from a combination of the Middle English adjectives luke and warm. Luke itself had the identical meaning, “moderately warm,” so you can see that lukewarm has a sort of built-in redundancy. Exactly how luke originated isn’t known, but it is probably a relative of the Old High German word lao, which, again, meant “moderately warm.” It may be that luke was combined with warm to create a word that would distinguish a moderately warm substance from a somewhat warmer one, although that isn’t clear. Please send correspondence regarding Word Nook to: Language Research Service P.O. Box 281 Springfield, MA 01102


BookPage March 2010