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contents fiction INDEX TO STARRED REVIEWS..............................p. 3 REVIEWS...................................................................p. 3 MYSTERY................................................................p. 16

The Kirkus Star is awarded to books of remarkable merit, as determined by the impartial editors of Kirkus.

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INDEX TO STARRED REVIEWS............................ p. 33

This Issue’s Contributors

REVIEWS................................................................. p. 33 TOP 5 FALL RELEASES: CHILDREN’S................. p. 35 TOP 5 FALL RELEASES: TEEN.............................. p. 37 5 MORE HIGHLY ANTICIPATED TITLES..............p. 39 Q&A WITH ELIZABETH LEVY AND BRUCE COVILLE.......................................... p. 46

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Renowned British author Ian McEwan returns with a subtly and sweetly subversive novel. See our starred review on p. 8.

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fiction BLASPHEMY New And Selected Stories

These titles earned the Kirkus Star: BLASPHEMY by Sherman Alexie...................................................... p. 3

Alexie, Sherman Grove (480 pp.) $27.00 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-8021-2039-7

THE MIDDLESTEINS by Jami Attenberg.......................................... p. 4 TELEGRAPH AVENUE by Michael Chabon..................................... p. 4

Sterling collection of short stories by Alexie (Ten Little Indians, 2003, etc.), a master of the form. The reader can take his or her pick of points where the blasphemy of Alexie’s title occurs in this multifaceted assemblage, for there are several solid candidates. One falls about two-thirds of the way in, when a hard-boiled newspaper editor chews out a young Indian writer who might be Alexie’s semblable. By that young man’s count, the editor had used the word “Jesus” thrice in 15 seconds: “I wasn’t a Christian and didn’t know much about the definition of blasphemy,” Alexie writes, “but it seemed like he’d committed some kind of sin.” In Alexie’s stories, someone is always committing some kind of sin, and often not particularly wittingly. One character, a bad drinker in need of help to bail out some prized pawned regalia, makes about as many errors as it’s possible to make while still remaining a fundamentally decent person; another laments that once you start looking at your loved one as though he or she is a criminal, then the love is out the door. “It’s logical,” notes Alexie, matter-of-factly. Most of Alexie’s characters in these stories—half selected and half new—are Indians, and then most of them Spokanes and other Indians of the Northwest; but within that broad categorization are endless variations and endless possibilities for misinterpretation, as when a Spokane encounters three mysterious Aleuts who sing him all the songs they’re allowed to: “All the others are just for our people,” which is to say, other Aleuts. Small wonder that when they vanish, no one knows where, why, or how. But ethnicity is not as central in some of Alexie’s stories as in others; in one of the most affecting, the misunderstandings and attendant tragedies occur between humans and donkeys. The darkness of that tale is profound, even if it allows Alexie the opportunity to bring in his beloved basketball. Longtime readers will find the collection full of familiar themes and characters, but the newer pieces are full of surprises. Whether recent or from his earliest period, these pieces show Alexie at his best: as an interpreter and observer, always funny if sometimes angry, and someone, as a cop says of one of his characters, who doesn’t “fit the profile of the neighborhood.”

THE MALICE OF FORTUNE by Michael Ennis................................ p. 6 LIVE BY NIGHT by Dennis Lehane................................................... p. 8 SWEET TOOTH by Ian McEwan...................................................... p. 8 SUTTON by J.R. Moehringer.......................................................... p. 10 PHANTOM by Jo Nesbø................................................................... p. 10 SAY YOU’RE SORRY by Michael Robotham.................................. p. 10 BUILDING STORIES by Chris Ware................................................ p. 13 HOSTAGE by Elie Wiesel................................................................. p. 14 A KILLING IN THE HILLS by Julia Keller...................................... p. 16 DEAD ANYWAY by Chris Knopf.................................................... p. 16 LIVE BY NIGHT

Dennis Lehane Morrow/ HarperCollins (416 pp.) $27.99 October 2, 2012 978-0-06-000487-3

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“From Attenberg...the deeply satisfying story of a Chicago family coming apart at the seams and weaving together at the same time.” from the middlesteins

THE MIDDLESTEINS

well in his previous novel (When the Killing’s Done, 2011). Some of the conflicts are similar as well—man versus nature, government regulation versus private enterprise—but otherwise this reads more like a novel that is a century or more old, like a long lost work from the American naturalist school of Frank Norris and Theodore Dreiser, both of whom saw mankind caught in mechanistic forces and nature as something other than the Eden of innocence so often romanticized. The novel tenuously connects the stories of two families who move, 50 years apart, to the isolation of the title island, in order to tend to a sheep ranch. For Marantha Waters, the symbolically fraught pilgrimage with her husband and daughter in 1888—on “New Year’s Day, the first day of her new life, and she was on an adventure... bound for San Miguel Island and the virginal air Will insisted would make her well again”—is one of disillusionment and determination. Even the passage of time feels like a loss of innocence: “The days fell away like the skin of a rotten fruit”; “The next day sheared away like the face of a cliff crashing into the ocean and then there was another day and another.” The ravages of the natural world (and their own moral natures) take their toll on the family, who are belatedly succeeded in the 1930s by a similar one, as newlyweds anticipate their move west as “the real life they were going into, the natural life, the life of Thoreau and Daniel Boone, simple and vigorous and pure.” Reinforcing their delusions is national press attention, which made much of their “pioneering, that is, living like the first settlers in a way that must have seemed romantic to people inured to the grid of city streets and trapped in the cycle of getting and wanting and getting all over again.” What may seem to some like paradise offers no happy endings in this fine novel.

Attenberg, Jami Grand Central Publishing (288 pp.) $24.99 | Oct. 23, 2012 978-1-4555-0721-4

From Attenberg (The Melting Season, 2010, etc.), the deeply satisfying story of a Chicago family coming apart at the seams and weaving together at the same time. Former lawyer Edie Middlestein has always been a large presence, brilliant as a lawyer, loving as a mother, shrewish as a wife. Since early childhood, food has been her private if not secret passion. The novel is organized according to Edie’s fluctuations in weight, and the descriptions of her sensual joy in the gluttony that may be killing her are often mouthwatering. Sixty-ish Edie is obese and ravaged by diabetes. When her pharmacist husband, Richard, leaves her shortly before she’s scheduled for an operation, Edie’s children are outraged. Thirty-one-year-old teacher Robin is a fearful near alcoholic who has avoided intimacy since a disastrous experience in high school. Ironically, her new self-proclaimed hatred of her father opens her to the possibility of a relationship with her geeky neighbor, Daniel, a gentle soul with a hidden but strong spine, not unlike Robin’s older brother, Benny. Benny is happily married to Rachelle, a woman of fierce protectiveness who initially denies Richard all access to his grandchildren to punish him for his desertion. Is Richard a heartless, selfish man, or is he correct that Edie left him years before he left her? A little of both. All these characters feel more than one emotion at a time, and all are more than they first seem. Edie is an overbearing matriarch in her family, but a lovable saint to the owner of her favorite Chinese restaurant. Richard is a schlemiel, except that he is capable of real love. While the novel focuses intensely on each member of the family, it also offers a panoramic, more broadly humorous, verging-on-caricature view of the Midwestern Jewish suburbia in which the Middlesteins are immersed, from the shopping centers to the synagogues. But as the Middlesteins and their friends move back and forth in time, their lives take on increasing depth individually and together. A sharp-tongued, sweet-natured masterpiece of Jewish family life.

TELEGRAPH AVENUE

Chabon, Michael Harper/HarperCollins (480 pp.) $27.99 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-06-149334-8 An end-of-an-era epic celebrating the bygone glories of vinyl records, comicbook heroes and blaxploitation flicks in a world gone digital. The novelist, his characters and the readers who will most love this book all share a passion for popular culture and an obsession with period detail. Set on the grittier side in the Bay Area of the fairly recent past (when multimedia megastores such as Tower and Virgin were themselves predators rather than casualties to online commerce), the plot involves generational relationships between two families, with parallels that are more thematically resonant than realistic. Two partners own a used record store that has become an Oakland neighborhood institution, “the church of vinyl.” One of the partners, Archy Stallings, is black, and he is estranged from his father, a broken-down former B-movie action hero, as well as from the teenage son he never knew about who has arrived in Oakland from Texas to complicate the

SAN MIGUEL

Boyle, T.C. Viking (384 pp.) $27.95 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-670-02624-1 The prolific author’s latest is historical, not only in period and subject matter, but in tone and ponderous theme. The 14th novel from Boyle returns to the Channel Islands off the coast of California, a setting which served him so 4

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“...it’s always a pleasure to see strong women go storming around as the new sheriffs in town in a world gone bad...” from the twelve

In this latest attempt to show Reacher enjoying every possible variety of conflict with his nation’s government short of outright secession, Child (The Affair, 2011, etc.) has produced two-thirds of a masterpiece.

plot. The other partner is Nat Jaffe, white and Jewish, whose wife is also partners with Archy’s wife in midwifery (a profession as threatened as selling used vinyl), and whose son develops a crush on Archy’s illegitimate son. The plot encompasses a birth and a death against the backdrop of the encroachment of a chain superstore, owned by a legendary athlete, which threatens to squash Archy and Nat’s Brokeland Records, all amid a blackmailing scheme dating back to the Black Panther heyday. Yet the warmth Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, 2000, etc.) feels toward his characters trumps the intricacies and implausibilities of the plot, as the novel straddles and blurs all sorts of borders: black and white, funk and jazz, Oakland and Berkeley, gay and straight. And the resolution justifies itself with an old musicians’ joke: “ ‘You know it’s all going to work out in the end?’ ” says one character. “ ‘No....But I guess I can probably fake it,’ ” replies another. The evocation of “Useless, by James Joyce” attests to the humor and ambition of the novel, as if this were a Joycean remix with a hipper rhythm track. (Author tour to Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, New York, Philadelphia, Portland (Ore.), Raleigh-Durham, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.)

THE TWELVE

Cronin, Justin Ballantine (640 pp.) $28.00 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-0-345-50498-2 Cronin continues the post-apocalyptic—or, better, post-viral—saga launched with 2010’s The Passage. The good citizens of Texas might like nothing better than to calve off into a republic and go to war with someone with their very own army and navy, but you wouldn’t want to wish the weird near-future world of Cronin’s latest on anyone, even if it means that Rick Perry is no longer governor. Readers of The Passage will recall that weird things have happened to humankind thanks to—sigh—a sort-of-zombie-inducing virus unleashed by, yes, sort-of-mad-scientists who were trying to create supersoldiers out of ordinary GIs. You may be forgiven for thinking of The Dirty Dozen at that point in the plot, but the “virals” in question are far badder than Telly Savalas and John Cassavetes. Enter Amy Harper Bellafonte, known Eastwood-esquely as The Girl from Nowhere, whose job it is to save humankind from its own dark devices. Amy’s chief butt-kicking sidekick is a virally compromised cutie named Alicia Donadio, “scout sniper of the Expeditionary,” who has a weirdly telepathic way of communicating with the baddies. The tale that ensues is pretty generic, in the sense that the zombie/virus/sword-andsorcery genres allow only so much variation from convention; if you’ve seen the old Showtime series Jeremiah, then you’ll have a good chunk of the plot down. Cronin serves up a largely predictable high-concept blend of The Alamo and The Andromeda Strain, but his yarn has many virtues: It’s very well-paced. It’s not very pleasant (“A strong smell of urine tanged in her nostrils, coating the membranes of her mouth and throat”), but it’s very well-written, far more so than most apocalypse novels, and that excuses any number of sins. And it’s always a pleasure to see strong women go storming around as the new sheriffs in town in a world gone bad, even if they’re sometimes compelled to drink blood to get their work done. A viral spaghetti Western; it’s not Sergio Leone—or, for that matter, Michael Crichton—but it’s a satisfying confection.

A WANTED MAN

Child, Lee Delacorte (304 pp.) $28.00 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-385-34433-3

Will Jack Reacher ever make it to that woman in Virginia he was trying to reach in Worth Dying For (2010)? Not if all hell continues to break loose in Nebraska. Shortly after an eyewitness sees three men enter a small concrete bunker outside an anonymous town and only two of them emerge, Reacher, “just a guy, hitching rides,” is picked up by a trio of corporatesales types: Alan King, Don McQueen and Karen Delfuenso. In a tour de force that runs well over a hundred pages, Child cuts back and forth between the clues county sheriff Victor Goodman and FBI agent Julia Sorenson gather concerning the unidentified man in the green coat who was stabbed to death inside that bunker and the inferences Reacher is making about his traveling companions. For one thing, it’s clear that King and McQueen know each other better than either of them knows Delfuenso; for another, a good deal of what they casually tell him about themselves isn’t true. Just when you’ve settled down expecting Child to keep up this rhythm indefinitely, he switches gears in an Iowa motel, and Reacher’s left out of danger but on his own—at least until Sorenson arrives to arrest him and the two of them form a quicksilver partnership whose terms seem to change every time Sorenson gets another phone call from the cops or the Feds. After working every change imaginable on their relationship, Child switches gears again and sends them a bang-bang assault on a hush-hush installation that shows how far into America’s heartland its enemies have penetrated. |

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“This is a dense narrative, permeated by the sights, sounds and smells of Renaissance Italy, and one that can stand shoulder to shoulder with Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose....” from the malice of fortune

CLOSE ENOUGH TO TOUCH

fiction writer. What Yunior can’t escape is what his mother and various girlfriends see as the Dominican man’s insatiable need to cheat. The narrative moves backward and forward in time, resisting the temptation to turn interconnected tales into a novel by default, but it has a depressingly unified theme: Over and over, a fiery woman walks when she learns Yunior can’t be true, and he pines fruitlessly over his loss. He’s got a lot of other baggage to deal with as well: His older brother Rafa dies of cancer; a flashback to the family’s arrival in the U.S. shows his father—who later runs off with another woman—to be a rigid, controlling, frequently brutal disciplinarian; and Yunior graduates from youthful drug use to severe health issues. These grim particulars are leavened by Díaz’s magnificent prose, an exuberant rendering of the driving rhythms and juicy Spanglish vocabulary of immigrant speech. Still, all that penitent machismo gets irksome, perhaps for the author as well, since the collection’s most moving story leaves Yunior behind for a female narrator. Yasmin works in the laundry of St. Peter’s Hospital in New Brunswick; her married lover has left his wife behind in Santo Domingo and plans to buy a house for him and Yasmin. Told in quiet, weary prose, “Otravida, Otra Vez” offers a counterpoint to Yunior’s turbulent wanderings with its gentle portrait of a woman quietly enduring as best she can. Not as ambitious as Díaz’s Pulitzer Prize winner, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007), but sharply observed and morally challenging.

Dahl, Victoria Harlequin (384 pp.) $7.99 paperback | Aug. 28, 2012 978-0-373-77688-7

Hot, contemporary “opposites attract” romance hits the emotional high notes as two struggling people find themselves and each other. Grace Barrett is forced by circumstances to accept a short-term home in Jackson Hole, Wyo., where she intends to keep to herself; not hard for the unemployed, purple-haired, prickly makeup artist who’s been exiled from Hollywood and is biding her time in the small town until a new job starts in Vancouver. Or so she thinks. Faced with her red-hot neighbor, Cole Rawlins, a born-and-bred Wyoming cowboy, Grace enters into a scorching-hot affair, determined to keep her emotions strictly off-limits. Cole is anything but the Wild West equivalent of a dumb jock, and he knows he’s playing with fire with his new city-girl neighbor. He’s spent time in Tinsel Town and experienced firsthand its shiny facade and its uglier underbelly. At first wary of Grace’s hard-edged persona, he’s still attracted to her in spite of himself, and he falls into her bed to distract himself as he heals from a potentially life-altering injury. Both Grace and Cole tell themselves—and each other—that it’s all about the sex, but it doesn’t take Cole long to figure out Grace’s diamond-hard exterior is simply a protective shell for a fragile emotional history, and he finds himself intrigued by and protective of the sensitive woman behind the hard-core image. When Grace takes a job with an area photographer that turns into an opportunity as a location scout, it opens her future in unexpected ways but sets up a collision of two worlds and confrontations from the past and the present for Grace and Cole. Rising romance star Dahl delivers with this sizzling contemporary romance. (Warning: Steamy situations and straightforward sexual descriptions are well-done and integral to the plot, but some scenes are pretty graphic for a mainstream romance.)

THE MALICE OF FORTUNE

Ennis, Michael Doubleday (400 pp.) $26.95 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-385-53631-8 In this epic novel, Ennis gives ample evidence that political and religious corruption in early-16th-century Italy makes anything vaguely analogous look like Sunnybrook Farm. At the center of this swirling unscrupulousness are several key historical figures, most notably the ruthless Duke Valentino of Romagna; his equally merciless father, Pope Alexander VI; a brilliant military engineer and draftsman named Leonardo da Vinci; and Niccolo Machiavelli, who bases his political theory of power on the machinations of the aforementioned duke. The first narrator in this labyrinthine tale is Damiata, whose son is kidnapped by his grandfather, the pope, in a raw display of power and privilege. (Perhaps it’s not necessary to mention that these are all Borgias, so in Renaissance Italy, raw displays of power are as common as segreto sauce.) Damiata is one of the “cortigiane oneste” or “honest courtesans”—or even more colloquially, a whore with the proverbial heart of gold. If political intrigue is not enough, there have also recently been some serial killings in which the victims were dismembered and decapitated. Enter Leonardo, who plots the found body parts on a map of Imola, the city in which the gruesome murders occurred, and discovers

THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE HER

Díaz, Junot Riverhead (240 pp.) $26.95 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-1-59448-736-1

From the author of Drown (1996), more tales of Dominican life in the cold, unwelcoming United States. Eight of the collection’s nine stories center on Yunior, who shares some of his creator’s back story. Brought from the Dominican Republic as a kid by his father, he grows up uneasily in New Jersey, escaping the neighborhood career options of manual labor and drug dealing to become an academic and 6

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BLACKBERRY WINTER

that the points correspond to those consistent with an Archimedean spiral. The narrative switches over to Machiavelli, who reminisces about the events of 1502 in which Italy is in turmoil, owing at least in part to the assassination of Pope Alexander’s beloved son, Juan, brother to the duke and lover of Damiata. Enlisting the help of Machiavelli in solving this murder mystery, she and Machiavelli become both lovers and fellow detectives. This is a dense narrative, permeated by the sights, sounds and smells of Renaissance Italy, and one that can stand shoulder to shoulder with Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose, with which it is sure to be compared.

Jio, Sarah Plume (320 pp.) $15.00 paperback | Sep. 25, 2012 978-0-452-29838-5 Jio’s third book combines flashbacks with a contemporary romance and mystery set against a freak late-spring snowstorm in Seattle. Newspaper reporter Claire Aldridge’s recovery from a personal setback has not gone well. She’s struggling at work, and her marriage to the love of her life, Ethan, is crumbling. As the couple appears to be heading for a breakup, Claire is given an assignment to write a feature story about a sudden snowstorm that blankets Seattle in May 2010. The story’s angle is to compare and contrast it to an identical storm that took place on the same day in 1933. While Claire works to find something interesting about the twin storms, she stumbles across the tale of a woman named Vera Ray, whose 3-year-old son, Daniel, disappeared during that 1933 storm. Vera, a decent and beautiful single mother, works at a ritzy hotel cleaning rooms, while trying to feed and clothe her little boy on pennies a day. Down to her last cent and unable to pay her rent, with no one to watch Daniel while she works, Vera leaves him alone in the apartment, but returns only to find him gone. The only clue to his disappearance is Daniel’s beloved teddy bear, found in the snow outside her apartment building. Kicked out of her apartment, she reports him missing to police, who dismiss the child as a runaway. The parallel stories of Claire, whose husband’s wealthy family owns the paper where they both work, and Vera, a down-on-her-luck beauty who stops at nothing while trying to find her child, are told in a compelling, but ultimately implausible method by former journalist Jio, who incorporates an overabundance of coincidence in this tale, all of which serve only to stretch the novel’s believability to the breaking point. Competently written, but the prose runs from saccharin to syrupy. Those willing to overlook a series of implausible coincidences and wade through spoonfuls of sugar to get to the fairy-tale ending will be rewarded. This novel will enchant Jio’s fans and make them clamor for her next offering.

WINTER OF THE WORLD

Follett, Ken Dutton (960 pp.) $36.00 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-525-95292-3 Series: The Century Trilogy, 2

Follett continues the trilogy begun with Fall of Giants (2010) with a novel that ranges across continents and family trees. It makes sense that Follett would open with an impending clash, since, after all, it’s Germany in 1933, when people are screaming about why the economy is so bad and why there are so many foreigners on the nation’s streets. The clash in question, though, is a squabble between journalist Maud von Ulrich, née Lady Maud Fitzherbert—no thinking of Brigitte Jones here—and hubby Walter, a parliamentarian headed for stormy times. Follett’s big project, it seems, is to reduce the bloody 20th century to a family saga worthy of a James Michener, and if the writing is less fluent than that master’s, he succeeds. Scrupulous in giving characters major and minor plenty of room to roam on the stage, Follett extends the genealogy of the families introduced in the first volume, taking into account the twists and turns of history: If Grigori Peshkov was a hero of the Bolshevik Revolution, his son Volodya is a dutiful soldier of the Stalin regime— dutiful, but not slavishly loyal. Indeed, most of the progeny here spend at least some of the time correcting the mistakes of their parents’ generation: Carla von Ulrich becomes a homegrown freedom fighter in Germany, which will have cliffhanger-ish implications at the very end of this installment, while Lloyd Williams, son of a parliamentarian across the Channel, struggles against both fascism and communism on the front in the Spanish Civil War. (Lloyd’s a perspicacious chap; after all, even George Orwell needed time and distance from the war to gain that perspective.) Aside from too-frequent, intrusive moments of fourth-wall-breaking didacticism—“Supplying weaponry was the main role played by the British in the French resistance”— Follett’s storytelling is unobtrusive and workmanlike, and he spins a reasonable and readable yarn that embraces dozens of characters and plenty of Big Picture history, with real historical figures bowing in now and then. Will one of them be Checkers, Richard Nixon’s dog, in volume 3? Stay tuned. An entertaining historical soap opera. |

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“Power, lust and moral ambiguity combine for an all-American explosion of fictional fireworks.” from live by night

LIVE BY NIGHT

dance teacher or her sexy neighbor—who also happens to be her eldest brother’s law partner. Dante Jefferson has a reputation as a player, so Evie knows that any relationship will be both short-lived and frowned upon by her family. Still, he’s sexy, sweet and fun, and Evie has her eyes wide open. She’ll be fine, just so long as she doesn’t fall in love. But neither Dante nor Evie is ready for the soul-searing attraction they share or the slow-building connection they feel to the town. Dante has sworn off love forever, but he’s moved by Evie’s obvious strength and resilience, as well as her emotional vulnerability when it comes to her family. Even so, the closer they get, the stronger the urge Dante has to push Evie away. When he realizes that their lighthearted entanglement has led to a fullfledged love affair, Dante bolts. But who can fight the pull of the woman he loves, the magical season he thought he hated or the pretty little town he just can’t get enough of? A sweet, heartwarming Christmas romance with engaging characters, a family-redemption arc and a winning seasonal charm that will delight most genre fans.

Lehane, Dennis Morrow/HarperCollins (416 pp.) $27.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-06-000487-3 The acclaimed mystery writer again tries his hand at historical fiction, combining period detail from the Prohibition era with the depth of character and twists of plot that have won him such a devoted readership. Though this novel serves as a sequel to The Given Day (2008), it can be read independently of Lehane’s previous historical novel and is closer in its page-turning narrative momentum to his more contemporary thrillers such as Mystic River (2001). Its protagonist is Joe Coughlin, the morally conflicted youngest son of a corrupt Boston police official (oldest brother Danny was protagonist of the previous novel and makes a cameo appearance here). One of the more compelling characters ever created by Lehane, Joe is a bright young man raised in an economically privileged Irish household who turned to crime as a teenager because “it was fun and he was good at it.” He’s the product of a loveless marriage, for whom “the hole at the center of his house had been a hole at the center of his parents and one day the hole had found the center of Joe.” Among the ways he tries to fill that hole is through love and loyalty, both of which put him at odds with the prevailing ethos of the gang bosses among whom he finds himself caught in the crossfire. He ultimately builds a bootlegging empire in Tampa, backed by a vicious gang lord whose rival had tried to kill Joe, and he falls in love with a Cuban woman whose penchant for social justice receives a boost from his illegal profits. (“Good deeds, since the dawn of time, had often followed bad money,” writes Lehane.) Neither as epic in scope nor as literarily ambitious as its predecessor, the novel builds to a powerful series of climaxes, following betrayal upon betrayal, which will satisfy Lehane’s fans and deserves to extend his readership as well. Power, lust and moral ambiguity combine for an allAmerican explosion of fictional fireworks. (Author appearances in Boston, New York and Tampa)

SWEET TOOTH

McEwan, Ian Talese/Doubleday (304 pp.) $26.95 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-0-385-53682-0 A subtly and sweetly subversive novel which seems more characteristic of its author as it becomes increasingly multilayered and labyrinthine in its masterful manipulation of the relationship(s) between fiction and truth. Both the title and the tone make this initially seem to be an uncharacteristically light and playful novel from McEwan (Atonement, 2002, etc.). Its narrator is a woman recounting her early 20s, some four decades after the fact, when she was recruited by Britain’s MI5 intelligence service to surreptitiously fund a young novelist who has shown some promise. After the two fall in love, inevitably, she must negotiate her divided loyalties, between the agency she serves and the author who has no idea that his work is being funded as an anti-Communist tool in the “soft Cold War.” Beautiful (as she recognizes such a character in a novel must be) and Cambridge-educated, Serena Frome seems perfect for the assignment of soliciting writer Tom Haley because, as one of her superiors puts it, “you love literature, you love your country.” The “Sweet Tooth” operation makes no attempt to control what its authors write and doesn’t reveal to them exactly who is funding them, but provides financial support for writers who have shown some resistance to fashionable radicalism. Though Serena’s reading tends toward “naive realism,” favoring novels where she would be “looking for a version of myself, a heroine I could slip inside as one might a pair of favourite old shoes,” the relationship between Tom’s fiction and his character, as well as the parallels between the creative inventions his job demands and those of hers, illuminate the complexities of life and art for Serena and the reader as well. “In this

A FOOL’S GOLD CHRISTMAS

Mallery, Susan Harlequin (384 pp.) $16.95 | Sep. 25, 2012 978-0-373-77702-0

Mallery’s Christmas romance brings two lonely hearts together in the enchanting, magical community of Fool’s Gold. When dancer Evie Stryker’s three brothers bring her to Fool’s Gold after a career-ending accident, she expects to stay a year at the most before escaping back into the real world. She certainly doesn’t expect to be seduced by the town, her new job as a 8

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top 5 fall releases: fiction

work the line between what people imagine and what’s actually the case can get very blurred. In fact that line is a big grey space, big enough to get lost in.” The “work” being discussed is undercover intelligence, but it could just as easily be literature. Britain’s foremost living novelist has written a book— often as drily funny as it is thoughtful—that somehow both subverts and fulfills every expectation its protagonist has for fiction.

After the dog days of summer, the book industry is ready to wow readers with some of the best books of the year. We’ve culled through our starred reviews to choose five outstanding fiction books to pay special attention to and present them here.

MAGNIFICENCE

Millet, Lydia Norton (256 pp.) $25.95 | Nov. 5, 2012 978-0-393-08170-1

Millet’s conclusion of the trilogy that includes How the Dead Dream (2008) and Ghost Lights (2011) draws a detailed map of the healing process of an adulterous wife who suddenly finds herself a widow. Susan’s husband, Hal, goes to Belize in search of Susan’s employer, T., a real estate tycoon who has gone missing. (Spoiler alert: Readers of the earlier novels who don’t want to know what happens to T. or Hal, stop reading now.) Hal’s quest is successful: T. returns to Los Angeles. But he’s alone, because Hal has been fatally knifed in a mugging. Susan is both grief- and guilt-stricken. She genuinely loved Hal but has been seeking sex with other men ever since a car accident left their daughter, Casey, a paraplegic. She believes Hal went to Belize largely to recover after discovering her infidelity. Millet’s early chapters insightfully delve into Susan’s internal anguish as she tries to come to grips with the seismic change in her life caused by Hal’s death. Her intense maternal love for Casey, who refuses the role of noble victim, is as prickly and complicated as her mourning; her capacity for experiencing extremes of selflessness and selfishness within a heartbeat is refreshingly human and recognizable. Plot machinations get a little creaky, though once Susan sells her house and coincidentally inherits a mansion full of stuffed animals from a great-uncle she barely remembers. Bringing the mansion back to life and figuring out the secret of her uncle’s legacy take over Susan’s life. The deeply honest, beautiful meditations on love, grief and guilt give way to a curlicued comic-romantic mystery complete with a secret basement and assorted eccentrics.

THE MIDDLESTEINS

PHANTOM

TELEGRAPH AVENUE

BUILDING STORIES

Jo Nesbø Knopf Oct. 2, 2012

Jami Attenberg Grand Central Oct. 23, 2012

Chris Ware Pantheon Oct.2, 2012

Michael Chabon Harper/ HarperCollins Sept. 11, 2012 SWEET TOOTH

Ian McEwan Talese/ Doubleday Nov. 13, 2012

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“...the conclusion to one of the most cleanly plotted novels in the series proves devastating for protagonist and reader alike.” from phantom

SUTTON

he does have Harry Hole: long an Oslo detective who specialized in (increasingly gruesome) serial killers, now a recovering alcoholic involved in some shadowy pursuits in Hong Kong while trying to reclaim his soul. Only the most powerful lure could bring Harry back to the dangers and temptations he faces back home, and that lure is love. Readers of earlier books (and some back story is necessary to feel the full impact of this one) will remember his doomed relationship with Rakel and the way he briefly served as a surrogate father to her son, Oleg. That innocent boy has now become a junkie and an accused murderer in a seemingly open-and-shut case, with Harry the only hope of unraveling a conspiracy that extends from a “phantom” drug lord through the police force to the government. The drug is a synthetic opiate called “violin,” three times stronger than heroin, controlled by a monopoly consortium. The murder victim (whose dying voice provides narrative counterpoint) was Oleg’s best friend and stash buddy, and his stepsister is the love of Oleg’s life. As Harry belatedly realizes, “Our brains are always willing to let emotions make decisions. Always ready to find the consoling answers our hearts need.” As all sorts of father-son implications manifest themselves, the conclusion to one of the most cleanly plotted novels in the series proves devastating for protagonist and reader alike. Hole will soon achieve an even higher stateside profile through the Martin Scorsese film of Nesbø’s novel The Snowman (2011), but those hooked by that novel or earlier ones should make their way here as quickly as they can. Where earlier novels provide a better introduction to Hole, this one best takes the full measure of the man.

Moehringer, J.R. Hyperion (352 pp.) $27.99 | Sep. 25, 2012 978-1-4013-2314-1 A “non-fiction novel” that takes us far beyond Willie Sutton’s clever one-liners about banks and deeply into his life. Born in Irish Town in Brooklyn, Willie never quite fit into his own family. His father was a taciturn blacksmith at a time when automobiles were starting to become the rage, and Willie’s brothers had an unaccountable hatred for their younger sibling. Willie was smart and sensitive but came of age during some parlous economic times and considered banks and bankers the symptom of life as a rigged game. Moehringer also depicts Willie as a hopeless romantic who falls deeply in love with Bess Endner, daughter of a rich shipyard owner. After the brief exhilaration of a robbery at the shipyard, abetted by Bess, Willie and his cronies are caught and sentenced to probation, and thus begins a life on the outside of social respectability. By the 1930s, Willie is the most famous bank robber in the country, known in part for his gentility and the way in which he approaches his craft. He’s never loud or violent but instead devoted to artful disguises and making clean and quiet getaways (hence his nickname, the Actor). Not everything works smoothly, of course, for he’s incarcerated for many years, but he ironically becomes something of a folk hero for breaking out of several prisons. His final release, at Christmas in 1969, following a 17-year stretch in the slammer, has him retracing his past in the company of a reporter and photographer. Moehringer cleverly presents the antiphonal voices of Willie in the present (i.e., at the time of his release) and Willie in the past to give a rich accounting of his life, including his love for the works of Plato, Aristotle, Lucretius, Freud, Jung and Joyce. Whatever else you can say about Willie, in prison he got an excellent education. A captivating and absorbing read.

SAY YOU’RE SORRY

Robotham, Michael Mulholland Books/Little, Brown (432 pp.) $24.99 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-316-22124-5

Australia-based writer Robotham’s insightful psychologist Joe O’Loughlin once again tackles a tough case involving crimes that, at first blush, do not seem related. Two young girls from a small English village disappear one night after attending a local funfair. Gorgeous, promiscuous Tash and quiet, athletic Piper had little in common, but became fast friends. Tash was brilliant, but underachieving. Her lower-middle-class family was troubled, and she attended a prestigious private school on scholarship, while Piper’s mismatched former-model mother and wealthy banker father lived in the area’s toniest neighborhood. While their disappearance initially sparked teams of searchers and outrage from the local citizenry, it simmered down once the police become convinced the girls were runaways. Three years later, the girls are still missing. In the meantime, O’Loughlin and his teenage daughter are trying to rebuild their fractured relationship, damaged by his estrangement from his wife. While attending a conference, police

PHANTOM

Nesbø, Jo Knopf (384 pp.) $25.95 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-307-96047-4 The internationally popular detective series by the Norwegian author builds to a blockbuster climax. The Nesbø phenomenon has transcended “next Stieg Larrson” status. In practically every comparison except books sold (and, with millions to date, Nesbø’s catching up), he’s superior to his late Swedish counterpart: more imaginative, better plotting, richer characters, stronger narrative momentum, more psychological and philosophical depth. No, he doesn’t have an androgynously attractive tattooed girl, but 10

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“A wildly ambitious jigsaw puzzle of a novel....” from nw

5 more highly a n t i c i pa t e d fiction titles

seek out the savvy profiler and ask for his help in solving a terrible double murder. As investigators wade through the blood bath of a crime scene, they learn that the home is connected to the girls’ disappearances. In fact, while the couple killed was no relation to Tash, the home in which it occurred was where she’d lived before she vanished. While police puzzle through the homicide, another body is found, but this time it’s an unidentified young woman found frozen in the ice of a nearby pond. O’Loughlin wants no part of either case but is soon sucked into helping police while racing against the clock to prevent another tragedy. Robotham’s writing ranges from insightful to superb and he has no qualms about burdening his hero, O’Loughlin, with not only a broken personal life, but also a broken body courtesy of a case of Parkinson’s, making him not only more human, but more likable. Subtle, smart, compelling and blessed with both an intelligent storyline and top-notch writing, this book will grab readers from page one and not let go until the final sentence.

Every season, there are books the publishers hold close to their vests; here are five hotly anticipated fiction books that we weren’t able to review for this issue but that readers are dying to get their hands on…

NW

Smith, Zadie Penguin Press (400 pp.) $26.95 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-594-20397-8

THE RACKETEER

THE CASUAL VACANCY

John Grisham Doubleday Oct. 23, 2012

A wildly ambitious jigsaw puzzle of a novel, one that shuffles pieces of chronology, identity, ethnicity and tone, undermining cohesion and narrative momentum as it attempts to encompass a London neighborhood that is both fixed and fluid. Many of Smith’s strengths as a writer are journalistic—a keen eye for significant detail, ear for speech inflections, appreciation for cultural signifiers and distinctions—as she demonstrated in her previous collection (Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays, 2009). Yet, she first earned renown as a novelist with her breakthrough debut (White Teeth, 2000), and her fourth novel (first in six years) finds her challenging herself and the reader like never before. The title refers to “North West London, a dinky part of it you’ve never heard of called Willesden, and... you’d be wrong to dismiss it actually because actually it’s very interesting, very ‘diverse.’ Lord, what a word.” What initially seems to be a comedy of manners, involving two women who have been lifelong friends but now feel a distance in the disparity of their social standing (the one raised poorer by a Caribbean mother has done far better than the middle-class Caucasian, ultimately turns darker with abortion, murder, drug addiction and the possibility of a suicide. Much of the drama pivots on chance encounters (or fate?), making the plot difficult to summarize and even a protagonist hard to pinpoint. Each of the book’s parts also has a very different structure, ranging from very short chapters to an extended narrative interlude to numbered sections that might be as short as a paragraph or a page. The pivotal figure in the novel goes by two different names and has no fixed identity (other than her professional achievement as a barrister), and she doesn’t begin to tell the back story that

J.K. Rowling Little, Brown Sept. 27, 2012

BACK TO BLOOD

FLIGHT BEHAVIOR

Tom Wolfe Little, Brown Oct. 23, 2012

Barbara Kingsolver Harper/ HarperCollins Nov. 6, 2012 SILENT HOUSE

Orhan Pamuk Knopf Oct. 9, 2012

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k i r ku s q & a w i t h ju n o t d í a z Pulitzer Prize -winning novelist Junot Díaz burst onto the literary scene with his short stories of the late ’90s, collected in his debut, Drown, and then startled the whole world with the 2007 publication of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which we dubbed at the time, “A compelling, sex-fueled, 21stcentury tragi-comedy with a magical twist.” Oscar Wao has gone on to become a groundbreaking moment in contemporary literature, as well as Díaz, the first Latin-American juror for the Pulitzer Prize. Here, a very candid Díaz talks about his latest story collection, which revisits old friends, hard feelings and the heartbreak of lost love. THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE HER

Junot Díaz Riverhead (224 pp.) $26.95 Sept. 11, 2012 978-1-59448-736-1

Q: This Is How You Lose Her seems less a series of moments than a sequence of interconnected events. Did you always intend for the collection to have that effect? A: From the beginning, I wanted the book to possess a certain kind of continuity, of interplay. Only at the end, when I was bolting the last stories into place, did I have any sense of whether the original dream was working, whether the emotional streams were flowing correctly across the tales, between the characters, whether the capillary connections had taken hold. Q: You’ve returned many times to Yunior, who denies from the very first page that he’s “a bad guy.” Why does this character continue to resonate with you? A: He’s the guy that, if he cleaned up his acts, would actually make for a wonderful partner. There’s a whole population of these types of people—near hits in the love arena, and they are very seductive and very problematic. But for me, Yunior allows me to dramatize certain kinds of masculine practices and worldviews that ate up a lot of the men I grew up with. Yunior is smart enough and sensitive enough to intuit that he’s a fucking mess, but he just can’t seem to pull off the courageous self-appraisal, the painful plumbing into accountability that is required to become fully mature, to become a man. Q: What’s the process like to take a universal condition— love and losing it—and insinuate that feeling into individual short stories?

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A: Each form has its affordances, the effects it can produce upon a reader more skillfully than another form. Novels are great for giving us heart-worlds. In a great poem, I always feel the indescribable pinprick when my dull-ass-ness intersects however briefly with the sublime that is the World as Language. Stories are fantastic for capturing those moments, those decisions, those people, those incidents that despite their transience, their smallness, have a disproportionate hold on our souls. Stories capture those precious mortal moments, not only as a subject, but in their form, which holds us only briefly, before throwing us back into our lives. That, to me, is the power of the story. Q: You’ve noted that great Ralph Ellison quote: “Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you.” Does the tension of this book reflect the times we live in? A: We are in shitty times again. No question. Awful, uncertain times, so thick with mendacity and cynical opportunism and partisan poison that it’s amazing young people just don’t vote everyone over the age of 25 off the fucking Island and start over. But certainly, one hopes that the precariousness of my characters’ lives will speak to the larger culture and vice versa. Q: Yunior gets caught cheating—a lot—by discoveries made in his journal. What does it say that Yunior’s writing often betrays him? A: In my experience you really can’t hide cheating. Somewhere in the partner’s subconscious, once you cross that line, a light goes off. They might not yet know that they know, but they know that something’s changed. Yunior’s problem is that he’s honest in some respects—i.e., he tells the truth in his journal—but not honest in other ways, and the discrepancies always catch up to him. On another level, love is a journey of discovery. For someone to love you fully, you have to be found out. In the end, discovery is at the heart of love, and if you don’t want to be found out, it’s probably best not to be getting into the love game, but Yunior ain’t all that smart in that respect. —By Clayton Moore

9 For the full interview, please visit kirkus.com.

P H OTO BY N IN O S U B IN

A: Fortunately for us artists, the universal arises out of the particular—thank God, otherwise, imagine the ridiculousness that would ensue—which means that the common, “we” feeling that surrounds losing love, let’s say, cannot be disentangled from a cold, industrial Jersey immigrant winter, from hospital sheets wreathed in blood. The feelings of loss, of love, might be universal, but they can only be delivered to us in unique particular vectors, needs that after one use, shatter.

Q: You’ve praised the merits of the short story over the novel. It seems like you would have the advantages of both here—the continuous flow of a connected narrative with the freedom to experiment.


“A compendium of The Paris Review’s short story hits, curated with the ambitious, aspiring writer in mind.” from object lessons

BUILDING STORIES

dominates the novel’s second half until the first half concludes (it highlights different characters). “At some point we became aware of being ‘modern,’ of changing fast,” interjects the author, who has written a novel so modern that nothing flows or fits together in the conventional sense, but whose voice remains so engaging and insights so incisive that fans will persevere to make of it what they will. Smith takes big risks here, but some might need to read this twice before all the pieces fit together, and more conventionally minded readers might abandon it in frustration.

Ware, Chris Pantheon $50.00 | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-375-42433-5 First reviewed in 8/1/12 issue A treasure trove of graphic artworks— they’re too complex to be called comics— from Ware, master of angst, alienation, sci-fi and the crowded street. At 44, Ware (The Acme Novelty Library, 2005, etc.) is old enough to remember the day when you could stick a few dollars in an envelope, send it off and have a box full of strange goodness come to your door—a mystery box, that is, with puzzles, games, gag items and maybe one or two things worth keeping. Opening the oversized box that contains the many pieces of this book is a kindred experience: It’s not quite clear what’s inside, save for brightly colored paper in various forms, from foldout poster to ultrathin, small notebook to sturdy hardcover. Each package contains a story set, as the title suggests, in or near a teeming city. How the reader reads these seems not to matter, for the box is like a river, if that’s not too mixed a metaphor, into which one steps where the current seems safest; there’s no beginning to it and no end. One thing is clear: Not many of Ware’s characters are happy, even if they live in buildings that are overstuffed, like this box, with things. One young woman, for instance, recounts, “There were whole stretches of days where I never even left the house at all...never saw or talked to another human being...I just ordered pizzas, watched TV, and read books....Of course, I went grocery shopping, and a couple of times I walked to the ‘downtown’ of the suburb and ate dinner by myself, just for variety’s sake.” That’s a humdrum existence by any measure—especially the being stuck in the suburbs part—but considering the likely fate of the little honeybee, Branford, who is the hero of one of the little books, it’s not to be dismissed. And anyway, try finding a four-room flat for $650 a month in the city these days—one in a building that, in Ware’s surreal inventory, has seen 13,246 light bulbs, 725 roasted turkeys and 158,854 lighted matches—all of which add up, one suspects, to the number of ways in which one can read this puzzling tome. A dazzling document, beautifully if most idiosyncratically drawn; in this iteration, sure to become a collector’s item, though one that begs for an easier-to-handle trade edition.

OBJECT LESSONS The Paris Review Presents The Art Of The Short Story Stein, Lorin; Stein, Sadie--Eds. Picador (368 pp.) $16.00 paperback | Oct. 2, 2012 9781-250-00598-4

A compendium of The Paris Review’s short story hits, curated with the ambitious, aspiring writer in mind. This collection showcases a handful of the literary innovations the journal has championed since its founding in 1953: There are gnomic, comic experiments by Donald Barthelme, Jorge Luis Borges and Lydia Davis, and minimalist works by Mary Robison and Raymond Carver. But the magazine’s heart is in domestic realism about the uppermiddle class, and a few of the stories collected here are classics of the form. In “Bangkok,” James Salter pits an estranged couple against each other, calibrating the dialogue to show how eagerly one wants to wound the other. Evan S. Connell’s “The Beau Monde of Mrs. Bridge” inhabits the mind of a WASP aristocrat who’s both charming and blinkered to the wider world. And Ethan Canin’s “The Palace Thief ” is a stellar exploration of morality and noblesse oblige, told through a prep school headmaster’s remembrance of a mendacious student. Each story is preceded with a brief appreciation by a well-known admirer— Sam Lipsyte introduces Robison, Dave Eggers introduces Salter, and so on. The introducers were clearly instructed to avoid high-flown encomiums and instead discuss the specifics of why each story is effective, so the book is rich with shoptalk. And though some intros ought to have spoiler alerts, most are engaging in their own right—Jeffrey Eugenides’ discussion of Denis Johnson’s “Car Crash While Hitchhiking” captures that story’s heartbreak and serves as an essay on the virtues of the form itself. As if to comfort readers who came to the book striving for literary fame, the collection closes with Dallas Wiebe’s “Night Flight to Stockholm,” a comic riff on literally giving an arm and a leg to score a Nobel Prize in literature—or just publication in The Paris Review. A smart showcase of a half-century’s worth of pathways in fiction.

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WILDERNESS

young man who seems poised to rise above his lower-middle-class station until heroin (i.e., skag) implodes him. Not long after he starts using, he’s dropped out of university and wants to quit drugs but not very badly—in one heartbreaking scene he admits to his girlfriend that he’s more interested in his relationship with heroin than with her. Shifting among various characters’ perspectives, Welsh shows how rapidly addiction sank Mark and his friends, but Welsh is no moralist, and he’s just as likely to mine their lives for humor as pathos. Desperate for consistent fixes, they pursue one harebrained scheme or other—a stint working as mules on a ferryboat goes particularly poorly—and their freewheeling banter shows that if nothing else, the drugs haven’t erased their personalities. Welsh’s themes are repetitive, and there is no reason why this book couldn’t be half as long. But it’s marked by some virtuosic set pieces. In one scene, an addict watches a group of boys drop a puppy down a garbage chute, and his distressing (and heavily metaphorical) trip into the Dumpster encapsulates the junkie’s journey with equal parts horror and comedy. And a lengthy rehab journal by Mark is a witty, fiery, joyously vulgar vision of life in detox, showing how his better self slowly emerges. But as we know from Trainspotting, such moments of redemption rarely last. Red meat for Welsh cultists, but a heavy load for anybody else.

Weller, Lance Bloomsbury (304 pp.) $25.00 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-60819-937-2 A wounded Civil War veteran reckons with thieves, racism and the torments of his past. Weller’s debut novel alternates between 1864 and 1899 to follow the life of Abel Truman, who fought for the Confederacy before moving to the Pacific Northwest. Much of the action in the Civil War chapters focuses on the Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia, a particularly bloody affair, and Weller relates the action in disarmingly visceral detail, blasted faces, spilled bowels and all. That violence is paralleled by Abel’s own unhappy past, in which his infant daughter and wife died in quick succession. In the 1899 chapters, Abel is living an isolated life with his dog before he falls afoul of a pair of thieves working their way down the Pacific Coast. The alternating chapters essentially make for two redemption stories—the first a chronicle of Abel’s awareness of the folly of racism and the futility of war, the second a tale of human capacity for not just survival, but heroism. Weller relates all this in flagrantly Faulkner-ian language, thick with nature imagery and long sentences that strive to swallow the world whole: “The sun was bright in the leafed trees, upon grass slick with caught rain, and the man-filled road was as protean and indomitable as a river flowing seaward.” Weller’s command of this style is sometimes shaky, at times obscuring plot points or overdramatizing particular moments. And the linguistic finery serves a fairly simplistic fable on kindness and brotherhood. (Abel Truman’s very name hints at how morally uncomplicated the protagonist is.) But Weller’s finer moments are marked by some spectacular sentences: He finds an unlikely beauty in the violence-torn settings, as when a bullet passes a soldier’s neck “like the first quick kiss of a shy girl.” A familiar war story, but told with verve and sturdy, biblical intonations.

HOSTAGE

Wiesel, Elie Translated by Temerson, Catherine Knopf (224 pp.) $25.95 | Aug. 24, 2012 978-0-307-59958-2 First reviewed in 6/15/12 issue Wiesel takes us on a journey through dream, memory and especially storytelling in his latest novel, which concerns Shaltiel Feigenberg, who in 1975, is captured and imprisoned for 80 hours in a basement by two captors. Feigenberg is politically unimportant and practically unknown before his capture, but soon thereafter he becomes front-page news, though his plight is reported in wildly different ways by the world press. His captors represent divergent political realities. One, Luigi, is an Italian political revolutionary with no particular animus against Jews, while the second, Ahmed, is a passionate advocate for Palestine with an intense hatred for the “Zionist cause.” Perhaps predictably, a “bad cop–good cop” dynamic develops as they tend to Feigenberg, Luigi gradually freeing him from restraints while Ahmed rails with fanatic fervor against all that Feigenberg represents to him. Luigi and Ahmed are motivated by “humanitarian” concerns—they demand that three Palestinian prisoners be freed in exchange for Feigenberg’s freedom—rather than materialistic ones. Feigenberg is mystified by his captivity, for he’s simply a professional storyteller with a special fondness for spinning his tales to children and the elderly. This forced period of darkness ironically provides him with an extended period of enlightenment, as

SKAGBOYS

Welsh, Irvine Norton (560 pp.) $26.95 | Sep. 17, 2012 978-0-393-08873-1 First reviewed in 7/15/12 issue Once more into the ditch: Welsh revisits the economically depressed, heroin-sick slums of Edinburgh in this hefty prequel to Trainspotting (1993). Much like that book, this one is a collection of episodic stories that roughly cohere as a novel, written mostly in Scottish dialect and illuminating the despair of its characters as Thatcher-era Great Britain disassembles the nation’s safety net. Again, the lead character is Mark Renton, a philosophical 14

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A love story about grief, OCD and dirt.

Find out why Christmas is the best time of year in Icicle Falls!

Rebecca Coleman tests the lines between family, loyalty and patriotism.

Lie low. Stay sweet. Be helpful.

“At last!

“A beautifully written debut about healing the past and finding the future.” —Laura Spinella, author of Beautiful Disaster

An author who writes her way straight to the heart of every woman.” —#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs

THE UNFINISHED GARDEN

HEAVEN SHOULD FALL

MERRY EX-MAS

Barbara Claypole White 978-0-7883-1412-7 Trade Paperback • Harlequin MIRA $14.95 • September

Rebecca Coleman 978-0-7783-1389-2 Trade Paperback • Harlequin MIRA $15.95 • October

Sheila Roberts 978-0-7783-1392-2 Trade Paperback • Harlequin MIRA $15.95 • November

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“Nothing in Knopf ’s reflective, quietly loopy Hamptons mysteries...will have prepared his fans for this taut, streamlined tale of a man investigating his own murder.” from dead anyway

m ys t e r y

he has time to reflect on his life—the death of his grandmother at Auschwitz, his frequently absent but observant father, his initial meeting with Blanca (the woman who eventually becomes his wife), and the growing Communist sympathies of his older brother. He begins to frame the narrative of his life in much the same way he frames the stories he makes up to entertain others. Even the Israeli government—a government that notoriously does not negotiate with terrorists—gets involved in trying to track down the elusive captive. Nobel Peace Prize winner Wiesel continues to remind us of the brilliant possibilities of the philosophical and political novel.

A KILLING IN THE HILLS

Keller, Julia Minotaur (416 pp.) $24.99 | Aug. 21, 2012 978-1-250-00348-5 First reviewed in 8/1/12 issue A tough prosecutor who’s trying to make a difference in the lives of West Virginians suddenly finds her own life in shambles. Whatever plans Bell Elkins made for herself as a child growing up near the town of Acker’s Gap ended when her older sister killed their father. From that point on, Bell was brought up in various foster homes. After intelligence and determination got her through law school, she and her husband, fellow attorney Sam Elkins, found high-paying jobs in Washington until Bell, tired of their shallow lifestyle, returned with their daughter Carla to West Virginia. When Carla, who’s changed from a delightful little girl to a sulky teen, witnesses the murder of three old men at a local fast-food joint, her love-hate relationship with Bell becomes worse, especially since she recognizes the killer as someone she saw at an alcohol- and drug-laced party she can’t mention to her mother. Bell and her longtime friend Sheriff Nick Fogelsong have been fighting a losing battle against the drug kingpin whose dealers are feasting on the misery of the poor and often-desperate population. So it’s only natural that they suspect these killings are drug-related. In addition, Bell has to decide if she wants to prosecute a mentally challenged young man accused of killing a child he often played with. Even with her own life in danger, Bell won’t back down. A fictional debut for a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, born and raised in West Virginia, whose love for the state, filled with natural beauty and deep poverty, pervades a mystery that has plenty of twists and turns and a shocking conclusion.

THOSE WE LOVE MOST

Woodruff, Lee Voice/Hyperion (320 pp.) $26.99 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-1-4013-4178-7

A year in the life of a family that suffers a tragic loss. Margaret is gardening, while ruefully reflecting on the knowledge that her husband, commercial real estate exec Roger, has been having an affair. Indeed, at that moment, Roger is in Florida, in his mistress Julia’s arms. Margaret and Roger’s daughter, Maura, is walking her three children to school when she receives an intriguing text to which she must respond. In that instant, everything changes: Her oldest son, James, his bike zigzagging in and out of school traffic, is hit by a teenage driver, Alex. James lingers for a week and then dies. Roger, whose ardor for Julia has cooled as he faces retirement and old age, must now spend more time at home as Margaret assumes their devastated daughter’s parenting and household duties. Maura’s husband, Pete, who never outgrew his college drinking habits, is struggling to accept his son’s death, but the crisis also brings home the increasing distance between him and Maura. As she gradually fights her way back from despair, Maura must cope with the guilt of knowing that at that crucial second she was distracted, taking her eye off James, she was texting another man. Exacerbating her anguish, Alex has been holding a silent nightly vigil outside her house. Told from Margaret’s, Maura’s and Roger’s vantage points, an accretion of daily details depicts how a typical upper-middle-class family in the Chicago suburbs copes with a major trauma. Woodruff does not explore the edgier areas her subject matter suggests. For the most part, the main characters resist their baser impulses, and the novel is somewhat duller as a result. Earnest and life-affirming, but a bit too tame.

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DEAD ANYWAY

Knopf, Chris Permanent Press (248 pp.) $28.00 | Sep. 15, 2012 978-1-57962-283-1 Nothing in Knopf ’s reflective, quietly loopy Hamptons mysteries starring Sam Acquillo and Jackie Swaitkowski (Ice Cap, 2012, etc.) will have prepared his fans for this taut, streamlined tale of a man investigating his own murder. The hit man who invades the Cathcarts’ upscale home in Stamford, Conn., tells Florencia Cathcart that if she doesn’t |


“Lippman...who specializes in tales of feckless parents and their luckless kids, puts a madman at the center of her latest dysfunctional family.” from and when she was good

write down the answers to five questions, he’ll kill her husband. When she complies, he shoots them both anyway. Florencia dies, but Arthur merely hovers in a coma for months. Convinced upon his return to life that his killer’s been monitoring his progress with a view to finishing him off, he persuades his neurologist sister, Evelyn, to have him declared dead. She agrees, although she’s signing on to a long list of potential charges for conspiracy and insurance fraud, and Arthur, once he’s erased from the grid, is free to assume the identity of one Alex Rimes and go after the hit man and his employer. He tires easily, he limps badly, and his vision is poor, but his skills as a freelance researcher turn out to be surprisingly useful, though he can’t imagine why anyone would order the execution of either himself or Florencia, who owned a successful insurance agency. The trail to the killers leads through a wary arrangement with a retired FBI agent, an elaborate precious-metals scam and a society party to die for before Arthur finally confronts his quarry in a sequence that manages both to satisfy readers’ bloodlust and to point toward a sequel. An absorbing update of the classic film, D.O.A., that finds its author so completely in the zone that not a word is wasted, and the story seems to unfold itself without human assistance.

girls with delicately worded ads for escorts and serves clients who include state legislators, all while presenting herself as a lobbyist for the Women’s Full Employment Network. But when another suburban madam turns up dead, Heloise realizes that the safe, comfortable life she’s crafted for herself and her beloved son, Scott, in affluent Turner’s Grove is at risk. Like Mary Cassatt, Lippman studies families with a different eye than her male contemporaries, showing the heartbreaking complexity of life with those you love. (Author appearances in Baltimore, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York and San Francisco)

THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY

Penny, Louise Minotaur (384 pp.) $25.99 | Aug. 28, 2012 978-0-312-65546-4 First reviewed in 8/1/12 issue

A prior’s murder takes Quebec’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his sidekick, Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir, inside the walls of the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loupes. The Gilbertine order, long extinct except for the two dozen brothers who live on an island apart from the rest of the world, enforces silence on its members. In the absence of speech, a raised eyebrow or averted gaze can speak intense hostility. Now someone has found a new way to communicate such hostility: by bashing Frère Mathieu, the monastery’s choirmaster and prior, over the head. Gamache and Beauvoir soon find that the order is devoted heart and soul to Gregorian chant; that its abbot, Dom Philippe, has recruited its members from among the ranks of other orders for their piety, their musical abilities and a necessary range of domestic and maintenance skills; and that an otherworldly recording the brothers had recently made of Gregorian chants has sharply polarized the community between the prior’s men, who want to exploit their unexpected success by making another recording and speaking more widely of their vocation, and the abbot’s men, who greet the prospect of a more open and worldly community with horror. Nor are conflicts limited to the holy suspects. Gamache, Beauvoir and Sûreté Chief Superintendent Sylvain Françoeur, arriving unexpectedly and unwelcome, tangle over the proper way to conduct the investigation, the responsibility for the collateral damage in Gamache’s last case (A Trick of the Light, 2011, etc.), and Beauvoir’s loyalty to his two chiefs and himself in ways quite as violent as any their hosts can provide. Elliptical and often oracular, but also remarkably penetrating and humane. The most illuminating analogies are not to other contemporary detective fiction but to The Name of the Rose and Murder in the Cathedral.

AND WHEN SHE WAS GOOD

Lippman, Laura Morrow/HarperCollins (320 pp.) $26.99 | $12.99 e-book | Aug. 14, 2012 978-0-06-170687-5 978-0-06-220161-4 e-book Lippman (The Most Dangerous Thing, 2011, etc.), who specializes in tales of feckless parents and their luckless kids, puts a madam at the center of her latest dysfunctional family. At first, nothing could be more conventional than the Lewis family saga. Helen’s father, already married with two children to his credit, knocks up her mother, Beth, a 19-yearold carhop. He moves in with Beth but hangs around his exwife Barbara enough to give Helen a half sister, Meghan, only six months younger. As Beth and Barbara tussle over worthless Hector, he focuses on tormenting Helen, telling her that she has “a nothing face,” breaking her record albums and forcing her to get a job that interferes with her schoolwork. It’s while waitressing at Il Cielo that she meets Billy, the owner’s stepson, who lures her to Baltimore with promises of marriage. Instead, he turns her out, making her earn money to feed his drug habit by doing lap dances at a local strip club. That’s where she meets Val Deluca, whose red hair matches his fiery temper. Val offers Helen a nice house and a better class of client, all for doing what she’s already doing. He also gives her the chance to be something she’d never dreamed of: a mother. That’s when Helen’s tale goes off the beaten path. Before he learns about Helen’s delicate condition, Val is jailed for murder, and Helen reinvents herself as Heloise Lewis, running the business at a level Val had never achieved. She recruits college |

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“Bernie Little may be a clever detective, but he can’t handle money and has a bad habit of destroying Porsches.” from a fistful of collars

A FISTFUL OF COLLARS

Quinn, Spencer Atria (320 pp.) $25.00 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-1-4516-6516-1

The Little Detective Agency can’t afford to turn down a case, because financial problems continue to dog them. Bernie Little may be a clever detective, but he can’t handle money and has a bad habit of destroying Porsches. Chet, a canine school dropout, is a loyal partner who thinks Bernie is the greatest. Luckily, Bernie and Chet are just picking out their latest used Porsche when they’re offered a new job. The mayor’s office of their small California town hires the pair to keep watch over Thad Perry, the star of a locally made movie that the mayor hopes will turn the area into a little Hollywood. Thad has a wildchild reputation, a drug habit and a bodyguard who’s as loyal as Chet but a lot bigger. Before Bernie’s reporter girlfriend, Suzie, moves to Washington, D.C., for a new job, she passes on a rumor that Thad has a history in the area. When people start to die, Bernie starts digging into the past to determine whether Thad is involved in crimes past or present. Dealing with three murders, blackmail, drugs, crooked cops and the need to keep Thad showing up for work every day is more than enough work for the clever pair, but they must end the carnival of crime as well. Chet, who continues as narrator in this exciting fifth installment of the series (The Dog Who Knew Too Much, 2011, etc.), often struggles to understand what the humans are up to but always gets it right in the end. (Author appearances in New England, Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, Houston, Phoenix and Chicago)

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nonfiction INTERVENTIONS A Life in War and Peace

These titles earned the Kirkus Star:

Annan, Kofi with Mousavizadeh, Nader Penguin Press (512 pp.) $36.00 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-59420-420-3

WHEN AMERICA FIRST MET CHINA by Eric Jay Dolin.............. p. 21 LIFE AFTER DEATH by Damien Echols........................................... p. 21 SHORT NIGHTS OF THE SHADOW CATCHER by Timothy Egan........................................... p. 21 MORTALITY by Christopher Hitchens.............................................p. 22 LEONARDO AND THE LAST SUPPER by Ross King..................... p. 23 FIRE IN THE ASHES by Jonathan Kozol.........................................p. 24 EVERY LOVE STORY IS A GHOST STORY by D.T. Max............... p. 25 THOMAS JEFFERSON by Jon Meacham........................................p. 26 WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS by Daniel Mendelsohn..........p. 26 A FREE MAN by Aman Sethi...........................................................p. 29 FAR FROM THE TREE by Andrew Solomon.................................... p. 30 KURT VONNEGUT by Kurt Vonnegut............................................. p. 31 MASTER OF THE MOUNTAIN by Henry Wiencek......................... p. 32 THOMAS JEFFERSON The Art of Power

Meacham, Jon Random House (800 pp.) $35.00 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-1-4000-6766-4 978-0-679-64536-8 e-book

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With the assistance of Oxford Analytica CEO Mousavizadeh (editor: The Black Book of Bosnia: The Consequences of Appeasement, 1996), former United Nations Secretary-General Annan discusses the major benchmarks of his life and career. The author, born in 1934, passes briefly over his education and early career at the World Health Organization and U.N., where he worked until his retirement in 2006, and moves rapidly into his main topic: the transformation of U.N. Peacekeeping Operations since the late 1980s and early ’90s. Since then, the idea that the U.N. Security Council can deploy military force to intervene in conflicts within sovereign nations and to protect human rights has become institutionalized. Because the transformation paralleled the progress of his own career, Annan, who was promoted to the directorate of PKO in 1993 and secretary-general in 1997, is uniquely situated to chronicle this time period in the organization, and he identifies three significant dates: 1992, after Desert Storm; 1998, after the Bosnian conflict and the Rwandan genocide; and again in 2005. First, consent of all the parties to a conflict was no longer required; then the need for self-contained fighting forces to drive military outcomes was recognized; and finally, there was the adoption of what its sponsors called “the responsibility to protect.” However, the U.N. has often lacked the means—specifically the “self-contained fighting force”—to accomplish some of its goals, so disagreement has been ongoing between nationalist interests and those who aspire to exercise the powers of a world government. Annan also discusses his roles in the U.N.’s millennial development program and its work on AIDS. An insider’s personal account based on lessons drawn from long experience. Aspects of this book complement Jacques Chirac’s autobiography, My Life in Politics (2012).

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“Citizenship, leadership and service combine in this memoir of a full political life.” from my life in politics

MOSSAD The Greatest Missions of the Israeli Secret Service

Bar-Zohar, Michael; Mishal, Nissim Ecco/HarperCollins (400 pp.) $27.99 | $14.99 e-book | Nov. 1, 2012 978-0-06-212340-4 978-0-06-212344-2 e-book

Action-packed accounts of the missions of one of the world’s most effective and mysterious intelligence services, Israel’s Mossad. Former Knesset member Bar-Zohar (Shimon Peres, 2007, etc.) and Israeli TV personality and journalist Mishal (Those Were the Years: Israel’s Jubilee, 1997, etc.) spare no detail about the gruesome killings and plots of the Israeli agency. In fact, the authors often boast about the deadliness of Mossad agents, especially former director Meir Dagan. Most of the missions included here feature unexpected twists and nearly unbelievable plotlines that rival a fast-paced thriller. For example, there is the story of Elie Cohen, a Mossad agent who posed as a Syrian expatriate who was homesick in Argentina and wanted to move back to his homeland. He threw parties and mingled with the political inner circle, all while dispatching their secrets to Israel on a daily basis. Another operation involved smuggling the unconscious body of a former Nazi leader out of Argentina by having his double check into a hospital using the target’s name. Though unquestionably exciting, many readers may find the narrative bordering on propaganda, and the last chapter is disappointing. Bar-Zohar and Mishal cobble together facts to make an unconvincing argument about how Israel should receive support to fight against the threat of Iran, cherry-picking facts to fit their position. For example, the authors write that former Iranian deputy defense minister AliReza Asgari defected to Israel in 2007, even though the debate continues about whether he actually defected or was kidnapped. Entertaining and somewhat informative, but readers should take it with a grain of salt.

BRAIN ON FIRE My Month of Madness

Cahalan, Susannah Free Press (288 pp.) $25.00 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-1-4516-2137-2

A young journalist’s descent into her own baffling medical mystery. In her debut memoir, New York Post reporter Cahalan recounts her struggle to understand an unremembered month lost to illness. Cobbled together from interviews, medical records, notebooks, journals and video footage, the author conjures the traumatic memories of her harrowing ordeal. What began as numbness in her hands and feet soon grew into something more serious, climaxing in a terrifying seizure witnessed by her boyfriend. “My arms suddenly whipped straight out in 20

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front of me, like a mummy,” she writes, “as my eyes rolled back and my body stiffened….Blood and foam began to spurt out of my mouth through clenched teeth.” The mystery thickened as doctors struggled to agree on a diagnosis. While the uncertainty proved maddening for her family members, however, it was also what bonded them together. Cahalan’s estranged parents, in particular, found a common purpose as a result of their daughter’s plight, putting her health before old hardships. After numerous tests revealed nothing, an observed increase of white blood cells in her cerebrospinal fluid eventually clued in medical professionals. Diagnosed with anti-NMDA-receptor encephalitis—a rare autoimmune disease with a cure—Cahalan and her family embarked on the long, hard road to recovery. Through the lonesomeness of her illness, a community emerged, the members of which were dedicated to returning the author to her former life as a beloved daughter, sister, lover and friend. A valiant attempt to recount a mostly forgotten experience, though the many questions that remain may prove frustrating to some readers.

MY LIFE IN POLITICS

Chirac, Jacques Translated by Spencer, Catherine Palgrave Macmillan (352 pp.) $30.00 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-0-230-34088-6 Candid memoir from France’s former two-term president. Best-known in the United States, perhaps, for his opposition to the rush to war against Iraq in 2003, Chirac offers American readers a close-up portrait of a truly old-school French politician. Born in Paris and educated in the tradition of republican leadership and service, the author rose through the ranks of French government, serving as minister of agriculture, minister of the interior, mayor of Paris, prime minister of France and, eventually, president. In addition to the accounts of his political life, many readers will be surprised to learn of Chirac’s love for poetry, his early interest in Sanskrit, his fluency in Russian (he translated Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin), his familiarity with Chinese history and his lifelong enthusiasm for African and pre-Columbian sculpture. As he demonstrates, these interests were formative in his approach to politics and to the “worsening divide between the poor countries that represent more than a third of humanity and the wealthy countries that do not adequately fulfill their responsibilities in terms of development aid.” Chirac describes the shock he experienced as a member of the G7, and he examines the development of France’s social safety net and health system as by-products of settlements of political conflicts—e.g., the May 1968 general protest, during which he helped the negotiations. Chirac also provides ample detail about the military and technological underpinnings of national power and gives unique insight on the European Union. Citizenship, leadership and service combine in this memoir of a full political life. (16-page glossy photo insert)

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WHEN AMERICA FIRST MET CHINA An Exotic History of Tea, Drugs, and Money in the Age of Sail Dolin, Eric Jay Liveright/Norton (384 pp.) $27.95 | Sep. 10, 2012 978-0-87140-433-6 First reviewed in 6/15/12 issue

The author of Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America (2010) returns with the story of America’s first voyages to the Middle Kingdom, where Americans and Chinese looked at each other with wonder, alarm and calculation. Dolin begins at the end of the American Revolution. With America’s relationship with England in ruins, the country looked to the Far East. On July 22, 1784, the Empress of China sailed into the Pearl River in China. The author, whose grasp of the intricacies of international trade is firm, proceeds confidently and skillfully through a complex narrative. He describes the beginnings of trade with China, examines the mystery of silkworms, and shows how China established Canton as the center for their trade with the West, whose residents craved silk but also tea (and serving sets). Soon, thousands of vessels—British and American—were sailing on the Pearl, and the most profitable commodity swiftly became opium. Everyone loved it, especially the English and the Chinese, and Americans profited handsomely from the trade. Dolin introduces us to some important American names— including Robert Morris, John Ledyard, John Jacob Astor, Robert Forbes, Harriet Low—and he relates the adventures of the first Chinese to come to America, who became sort of carnival attractions. The author also describes the perils of the voyage, the designs of the ships (and the rise and fall of the clipper ship) and the American involvement in the Opium War. A rich, highly readable examination of the seeds of poppies, trade, greed, grandeur and an international partnership that remains uneasy and perilous. (16 pages of color and 83 b/w illustrations; map)

LIFE AFTER DEATH

Echols, Damien Blue Rider Press (384 pp.) $26.95 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-399-16020-2 First reviewed in 7/15/12 issue Exceptional memoir by the most famous of the West Memphis Three. In 1993, Echols (Almost Home, 2005) was convicted, along with Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr., in the case of the sadistic sex murders and mutilations of three young boys in the woods around their hometown of West Memphis, Ark. The state’s case was based almost entirely on the confession wrung out of Misskelley, who, |

writes the author, had the “intellect of a child,” and who recanted soon afterward. Witnesses’ testimonies to Echols’ “demonic” character sealed the defendants’ fates. Baldwin and Misskelley each received life sentences; Echols, perceived to be the ringleader of an alleged “satanic cult,” was sentenced to death. Over the next decade, an HBO trilogy of documentaries on the case, collectively titled Paradise Lost, helped spark an international campaign to free the West Memphis Three. Johnny Depp, Eddie Vedder, Henry Rollins and Peter Jackson were among the celebrities who became personally involved in the case; thanks to their efforts, and especially those of Echols’ wife, Lorri, whom he met during his prison term, the three were released in August 2011. Those bare facts alone would make for an interesting story. However, Echols is at heart a poet and mystic, and he has written not just a quickie one-off book to capitalize on a lurid news story, but rather a work of art that occasionally bears a resemblance to the work of Jean Genet. A voracious reader all his life, Echols vividly tells his story, from his impoverished childhood in a series of shacks and mobile homes to his emergence after half a lifetime behind bars as a psychically scarred man rediscovering freedom in New York City. The author also effectively displays his intelligence and sensitivity, qualities the Arkansas criminal justice system had no interest in recognizing during Echols’ ordeal. Essential reading for anyone interested in justice or memoir. (Two 8-page full-color photo inserts. Cross-promotion with Peter Jackson’s documentary, West of Memphis)

SHORT NIGHTS OF THE SHADOW CATCHER The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis

Egan, Timothy Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (412 pp.) $28.00 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-618-96902-9 First reviewed in 7/15/12 issue

New York Times Pulitzer Prize–winning writer Egan (The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America, 2009, etc.) returns with the story of the astonishing life of Edward Curtis (1868–1952), whose photographs of American Indians now command impressive prices at auction. This is an era of excessive subtitles—but not this one: “Epic” and “immortal” are words most fitting for Curtis, whose 20-volume The North American Indian, a project that consumed most of his productive adult life, is a work of astonishing beauty and almost incomprehensible devotion. Egan begins with the story of Angelina, Chief Seattle’s daughter, who in 1896 was living in abject poverty in the city named for her father. Curtis—who’d begun a Seattle photography shop—photographed her, became intrigued with the vanishing lives of America’s Indians and devoted the ensuing decades both to the photography of indigenous people all over North America and to the writing of texts that described their culture, languages, songs and religion. Curtis scrambled all his life for funding—J.P. Morgan and President Theodore Roosevelt were both supporters, though the former

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“Certainly, Hitchens died too soon. May this moving little visit to his hospital room not be the last word from him.” from mortality

eventually took over the copyrights and sold everything to a collector during the Depression for $1,000—and spent most of his time away from home, a decision that cost him his marriage. His children, however, remained loyal, some later helping him with his project. As Egan shows, Curtis traveled nearly everywhere, living with the people he was studying, taking thousands of photographs. He nearly died on several occasions. Egan is careful to credit Curtis’ team, several of whom endured all that he did, though, gradually, he became the last man standing, and he reproduces a number of the gorgeous photographs. Lucent prose illuminates a man obscured for years in history’s shadows. (20 b/w photos. Author tour to New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Denver, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, Portland, Seattle)

TWENTYSOMETHING Why Do Young Adults Seem Stuck?

Henig, Robin Marantz; Henig, Samantha Hudson Street/Penguin (304 pp.) $25.95 | Nov. 8, 2012 978-1-59463-096-5 First reviewed in 7/1/12 issue

A mother and daughter examine the millennials, children born in the United States from 1980 through 1990. New York Times Magazine contributing writer Robin Henig (Pandora’s Baby: How the First Test Tube Babies Sparked the Reproductive Revolution, 2004, etc.) and daughter Samantha—online news editor at the same magazine—expand on a feature article by Robin that appeared in that magazine in 2010. The millennial generation has been stereotyped as lazy, unable to find meaningful jobs and much more—most of it uncomplimentary. The authors keep their primary focus on whether the millenials are really that different from Baby Boomers and other generations. In nine substantive chapters, each built around a specific issue (career choices, marriage, parenthood, friendship, etc.), the Henigs present evidence and issue a verdict about whether the millennial generation is indeed different from earlier generations. When the point of view switches from mother to daughter, a frequently refreshing change that is never confusing, the change is stated directly or a new typeface appears. Robin and Samantha do not hide all their disagreements, within the nuclear family or as collaborating authors, but they seem to agree on most of the issues. The three realms they conclude are substantially different from generations past are whether and when to become parents; whether and how to pay for education beyond high school; and sorting through a wider range of choices when reaching personal or professional crossroads. Some of the realms that apparently have not changed much include career prospects, how to stay healthy, and the importance of close friends. An examination that escapes the dangers of overgeneralization to provide provocative information presented compellingly.

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MORTALITY

Hitchens, Christopher Twelve (128 pp.) $22.99 | $12.99 e-book CD $24.98 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-4555-0275-2 | 978-1-4555-1782-4 e-book 978-1-61969-188-9 CD A jovially combative riposte to anyone who thought that death would silence master controversialist Hitchens (Hitch-22, 2010, etc.). Even as he lay—or sat or paced—dying in the unfamiliar confines of a hospital last year, the author had plenty to say about matters of life and death. Here, in pieces published in Vanity Fair to which are added rough notes and apothegms left behind in manuscript, Hitchens gives the strongest possible sense of his exhausting battle against the aggressive cancer spreading through his body. He waged that battle with customary sardonic good humor, calling the medical-industrial world into which he had been thrust “Tumortown.” More arrestingly, Hitchens conceived of the move from life to death as a sudden relocation, even a deportation, into another land: “The country has a language of its own—a lingua franca that manages to be both dull and difficult and that contains names like ondansetron, for anti-nausea medication—as well as some unsettling gestures that require a bit of getting used to.” One such gesture was the physician’s plunging of fingers into the neck to gauge whether a cancer had spread into the lymph nodes, but others were more subtle, including the hushed tones and reverences that came with the business. Hitchens, famously an atheist, visited the question of whether he should take Pascal’s wager and bet on God, concluding in the negative even as good Godfearing citizens filled his inbox with assurances that God was punishing him for his blasphemies with throat cancer. A reasonable thought, Hitchens concludes, though since he’s a writer, wouldn’t such a God have afflicted his hands first? Certainly, Hitchens died too soon. May this moving little visit to his hospital room not be the last word from him.

UNEARTHING

Moore, Alan; Jenkins, Mitch Top Shelf Productions (184 pp.) $74.95 | paper $29.95 | Dec. 12, 2012 978-1-60309-150-3 978-1-60309-151-0 paperback A comic-book legend and an acclaimed photographer team up to present a visceral biographical sketch of author and occultist Steve Moore. Alan Moore (Voice of the Fire, 2009, etc.), whose brilliant oeuvre includes Watchmen, From Hell, and V for Vendetta, has always had a penchant for using the visual medium of graphic literature in unique and innovative ways, a tradition he continues with the aid of esteemed photographer Jenkins in this bizarre but

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oddly engrossing biography/historical vignette, which originally appeared as solely text in Iain Sinclair’s anthology London: City of Disappearances (2008). A longtime friend (and sometimes mentor) of Alan Moore’s, Steve Moore (no relation) has lived his entire life in the same London house in which he was born, and it is through the lens of his life that Alan Moore presents the history of the neighborhood, Shooter’s Hill. From a Julius Caesar sortie in 55 B.C. to the bandit hordes of the 17th century to the cascade of Nazi bombs during World War II, Alan Moore juxtaposes the area’s history with Steve Moore’s development, from his awkward youth to his discovery of the I Ching to his various scholarly and authorial endeavors, which included forays into the U.K. comic-book scene and a fascination with the occult. Accompanying the narrative, which traverses freely between factual reality and bursts of mystical rhetoric and trippy dreamscapes, is a series of images that range from poignant (the grim, sepia-toned picture of Luftwaffe planes in the London sky) to bizarre (the bloody, severed head of a pig). Alan Moore has always walked a fine line between creating brilliant stories that expand the boundaries of his chosen medium to draw in an audience far larger than comicbook aficionados and presenting head-scratching mind screws that might be better appreciated in an altered state of reality. This is more an example of the latter. Alan Moore at his Mooriest: inscrutable yet compelling. (Hardcover edition limited to 1,200 copies worldwide; 300 signed and numbered hardcover copies available through publisher website for $99)

top 5 fall releases: nonfiction After the dog days of summer, the book industry is ready to wow readers with some of the best books of the year. We’ve culled through our starred reviews to choose five outstanding nonfiction books to pay special attention to and present them here. SHORT NIGHTS OF THE SHADOW CATCHER: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis

LEONARDO AND THE LAST SUPPER

THOMAS JEFFERSON: The Art of Power

Jon Meacham Random House Nov. 13, 2012

Timothy Egan Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Oct. 9, 2012

King, Ross Walker (320 pp.) $28.00 | Nov. 1, 2012 978-0-8027-1705-4

An absorbing study of a disappearing masterpiece. King (Defiant Spirits: The Modernist Revolution of the Group of Seven, 2010, etc.) tells the story of the most famous painting no one has really seen, at least since the 16th century: The Last Supper, the masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci that began deteriorating almost as soon as the paint dried. King places the painting in its political, social and artistic context, describing both the meaning of da Vinci’s work and the violent 15thcentury Italian world that spawned it. Proof that art, like life, sometimes happens when you’re making other plans, da Vinci’s greatest painting came about because his dream project—an enormous horse-and-rider sculpture honoring the father of his patron, Lodovico Sforza—was scuttled when Italy needed the bronze for war. For the next two years, da Vinci painted the scene of Jesus and his disciples on the wall of a monastery. In its masterful use of perspective, complementary color and achievement of lifelike detail, it marked a turning point for Western art. King plumbs the painting’s religious, secular, psychological and political meanings, registered in the facial expressions and hand positions, the significance of the food on the table and, most |

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FAR FROM THE TREE: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity

Andrew Solomon Scribner Nov. 13, 2012

FIRE IN THE ASHES: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America

J onathan Kozol Crown Aug. 28, 2012 EVERY LOVE STORY IS A GHOST STORY: A Life of David Foster Wallace D.T. Max

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“A fascinating exercise in futurology.” from how to create a mind

HOW TO CREATE A MIND The Secret of Human Thought Revealed

fascinatingly, the salt spilled by the betraying Judas. (And no, Dan Brown, Mary Magdalene is not in it.) Alas, da Vinci’s ignorance of the fresco technique meant the pigments did not bond to the plaster, and the paint would begin flaking within years. As early as 1582, it was described as being “in a state of total ruin.” Thankfully, King’s book is an impressive work of restoration—the author helps readers see this painting for the first time.

FIRE IN THE ASHES Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America

Kozol, Jonathan Crown (368 pp.) $27.00 | Aug. 28, 2012 978-1-4000-5246-2 First reviewed in 8/1/12 issue

The award-winning author of Death at an Early Age (1967) tells the stories of the later lives of poor children who grew up in the Bronx. Kozol (Letters to a Young Teacher, 2007, etc.) has worked with children in inner-city schools for 50 years. In this engaging, illuminating, often moving book, he recounts the lives of poor black and Latino children—many now close friends—who once lived in Manhattan’s Martinique Hotel and were relocated in the late 1980s upon the closing of that crowded and filthy shelter to Mott Haven, a poor Bronx neighborhood. As the children grew into young adulthood, Kozol kept in touch with them and their families through visits, emails and phone calls. In a series of intimate portraits, he describes the astonishing odds the children faced and how many managed, with the critical help of mentors and caring others, to achieve successful lives, both in the conventional sense of graduating from college, but above all, by becoming kind and loving human beings. There is Leonardo, recruited by a New England boarding school, where he emerged as a leader; the introspective Jeremy, who befriended a Puerto Rican poet, got through college and took a job at a Mott Haven church that is central to the lives of many; and the buoyant, winning Pineapple, whose Guatemalan parents provide the emotional security of a warm home. “I’m going to give a good life to my children,” says Lisette, 24, after her troubled brother’s suicide. “I have to do it. I’m the one who made it through.” Some children are still struggling to find their way, writes the author, but they do so with “the earnestness and elemental kindness” that he first saw in them years ago. Cleareyed, compassionate and hopeful. (Author tour to St. Louis, Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Portland, Milwaukee, and upon request)

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Kurzweil, Ray Viking (384 pp.) $27.95 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-0-670-02529-9

A pioneering developer of optical character recognition and text-tospeech software explores the possibility of creating a synthetic neocortex that could surpass the human mind. Kurzweil (The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, 2005, etc.) bases his prediction on modern insights into how the brain has evolved a hierarchical pattern-recognition structure. We perceive the bare outline of events and reconstruct memories in an ordered sequence, and our ability to fill in the blanks provides the foundation for conscious experience. “We are constantly predicting the future and hypothesizing what we will experience,” writes the author. “This expectation influences what we actually perceive.” Kurzweil estimates that at birth, the neocortex contains 300 million pattern processors connected horizontally and vertically, which allow us to connect patterns. In his opinion, it is these processors, rather than the neurons of which they are composed, that are the fundamental units of the neocortex. They allow us to fill out an increasingly complex picture of reality, enabling us to rapidly evaluate our environment and then confirm our hypothesis by checking out the details. Then we are able to respond rapidly to changes in our environment by creating new technologies. Why not create a synthetic extension of our brain using advanced computer technology? It could “contain well beyond a mere 300 million processors,” perhaps as many as a billion or a trillion. Our dependence upon search engines and other technology is a harbinger of a future in which we will not only outsource information storage, but directly enhance our mental functioning. In a parallel development, Kurzweil and other software developers are designing more advanced computers based on complex modular functioning. A fascinating exercise in futurology.

THE NEGOTIATOR My Life at the Heart of the Hostage Trade

Lopez, Ben Skyhorse Publishing (320 pp.) $24.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-61608-862-0 First reviewed in 8/1/12 issue A dissatisfied psychologist abandons the therapist’s couch for the high-pressure world of hostage negotiations. Lopez (not his real name) recounts his fascinating journey from inchoate postdoctoral candidate to international man of mystery and intrigue with all the sinewy grit you’d expect to find in a big-budget Hollywood movie. The heroes of this kinetic

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tell-all are predictably rough-and-tumble, while the villains are suitably vile. But that’s where the familiarity ends. As the author demonstrates, the real world of kidnap and ransom—or K&R as it’s known in the industry—isn’t about busting down doors with high-powered semi-automatics at the ready in the hopes of freeing a hostage. It’s actually a much subtler and nuanced discipline where the ability to understand the inner workings of a kidnapper’s mind is the greatest weapon of all. The taut narrative marches through some of Lopez’s toughest cases, starting out in Mexico City where affluent businessmen are often the targets of thugs hoping for a big payday. From there, the saga eventually lands in Kandahar, where a very different kind of kidnapper—militants with a political agenda—has been preying on hapless Westerners since the United States first invaded Afghanistan years ago. Suspense fuels each exotic locale, and even when no one is shot, the outcomes are explosive. Much of that is due to the absorbing interplay between complex bad guys and the crackerjack psychoanalyst manipulating them. No one escapes psychological scrutiny—including Lopez himself. In addition to lifting the curtain on the intricate world of K&R, the author also sheds light on his remarkable life and how his ongoing efforts to restore other people’s interrupted lives have cost him personally. Thrilling and illuminating.

5 more highly a n t i c i pat e d n o n f i c t i o n titles Every season, there are books the publishers hold close to their vests; here are five hotly anticipated nonfiction books that we weren’t able to review for this issue but that readers are dying to get their hands on… AMERICA AGAIN: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t

EVERY LOVE STORY IS A GHOST STORY A Life of David Foster Wallace

Max, D.T. Viking (336 pp.) $27.95 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-670-02592-3

A thorough, understated account of the life of the pioneering author and how his addictions and fiction intersected. Before his suicide, David Foster Wallace (1962–2008) pursued a host of paths as a writer. He was a showy ironist who drafted his Pynchon-esque debut novel, The Broom of the System (1987), while an undergraduate student at Amherst. He was a bright philosopher who wrote at length on Wittgenstein and infinity. He was a skilled (if not always factually rigorous) reporter who covered state fairs, politics and tennis with intelligence and style. But the biggest inspiration for his admirers was the compassion, wit and understanding of our media-soaked age that emerged in later novels like Infinite Jest (1996) and the posthumous The Pale King (2011). In this appropriately contemplative biography, New Yorker staff writer Max (The Family that Couldn’t Sleep: A Medical Mystery, 2006) avoids overdramatizing climactic events in Wallace’s life, though it had plenty of emotional turmoil. Wallace was hospitalized for addiction and depression multiple times, and even at his steadiest he could collapse into rages. (Max chronicles in detail Wallace’s disastrous relationship with memoirist Mary Karr.) Max emphasizes the psychological |

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ON POLITICS: A History of Political Thought: From Herodotus to the Present

 tephen Colbert S Grand Central Oct. 2, 2012

Alan Ryan Liveright/ Norton Oct. 22, 2012

THE PATRIARCH: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy

WAGING HEAVY PEACE

Neil Young Blue Rider Press Oct. 2, 2012

 avid Nasaw D Penguin Press Nov. 13, 2012 LOST AT SEA: The Jon Ronson Mysteries

Jon Ronson Riverhead Oct. 30, 2012

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“An outstanding biography that reveals an overlooked steeliness at Jefferson’s core that accounts for so much of his political success.” from thomas jefferson

tug of war within Wallace, who struggled to reconcile his suspicion of mass media with a habitual gulping down of hours of it; his high-minded pursuit of art with a need for emotional and sexual attention; and his resolve to blend entertaining fiction and dense philosophy. Max draws upon the rich trove of Wallace’s papers (he was an inveterate letter writer) and dozens of interviews, from Alcoholics Anonymous sponsors to literary contemporaries like Jonathan Franzen. Wallace’s family relationships get relatively short shrift, but it’s clear that under the veneer of a successful, brainy novelist was an eager-to-please native Midwesterner. A stellar biography of a complicated subject: Max’s portrait skillfully unites Wallace’s external and internal lives.

THOMAS JEFFERSON The Art of Power Meacham, Jon Random House (800 pp.) $35.00 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-1-4000-6766-4 978-0-679-64536-8 e-book

A Pulitzer Prize–winning biographer lauds the political genius of Thomas Jefferson. As a citizen, Jefferson became a central leader in America’s rebellion against the world’s greatest empire. As a diplomat, he mentored a similar revolution in France. As president, he doubled the size of the United States without firing a shot and established a political dynasty that stretched over four decades. These achievements and many more, Time contributing editor Meacham (American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, 2008, etc.) smoothly argues, would have been impossible if the endlessly complicated Jefferson were merely the dreamy, impractical philosopher king his detractors imagined. His portrait of our most enigmatic president intentionally highlights career episodes that illustrate Jefferson’s penchant for balancing competing interests and for compromises that, nevertheless, advanced his own political goals. Born to the Virginia aristocracy, Jefferson effectively disguised his drive for control, charming foes and enlisting allies to conduct battles on his behalf. As he accumulated power, he exercised it ruthlessly, often deviating from the ideals of limited government he had previously—and eternally—articulated. Stronger than any commitment to abstract principle, the impulse for pragmatic political maneuvering, Meacham insists, always predominated. With an insatiable hunger for information, a talent for improvisation and a desire for greatness, Jefferson coolly calculated political realities—see his midlife abandonment of any effort to abolish slavery—and, more frequently than not, emerged from struggles with opponents routed and his own authority enhanced. Through his thinking and writing, we’ve long appreciated Jefferson’s lifelong devotion to “the survival and success of democratic republicanism in America,” but Meacham’s treatment reminds us of the flesh-and-blood politician, the man of action who masterfully bent the real world in the direction of his ideals.

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An outstanding biography that reveals an overlooked steeliness at Jefferson’s core that accounts for so much of his political success. (Author tour to Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., Charlottesville, Atlanta, Nashville, Chattanooga, Jackson, St. Louis, San Francisco, Los Angeles)

WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS Essays from the Classics to Pop Culture

Mendelsohn, Daniel New York Review Books (432 pp.) $24.95 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-1-59017-607-8 978-1-59017-609-2 e-book Another top-notch collection of previously published criticism from Mendelsohn (How Beautiful It Is and How Easily It Can Be Broken, 2008, etc.). “There rarely are any real ‘barbarians,’ ” the author writes. “What others might see as declines and falls look, when seen from the bird’s-eye vantage point of history, more like shifts, adaptations, reorganizations.” This long-range perspective distinguishes Mendelsohn’s criticism from that of less erudite and measured peers. The opening section, “Spectacles,” ranges from Avatar to Mad Men with refreshing matter-of-factness, pinpointing the cultural significance of commercial forms of art without over- or understating their merits. Mendelsohn’s analysis of why Julie Taymor was precisely the wrong director for the Broadway musical Spider-Man is particularly sharp. Mendelsohn’s assessments can be negative, even dismissive, but they are not overheated or personally nasty. The near-exception is “Boys Will Be Boys,” a severe going-over of Edmund White’s memoir City Boy (2009), and even that is less a slam than a forthright statement of the differences between two generations of gay writers. Although Mendelsohn mused at length on questions of homosexual identity in The Elusive Embrace (1999), his criticism reveals an openly gay writer comfortably connected to the culture at large. He is equally acute and balanced on the memoir craze, the pleasures of Leo Lerman’s journals and “the fundamental failure of genuine good humor” in Jonathan Franzen’s work. Mendelsohn’s tendency to announce that there is a single key insight that crucially explains a given artist’s work can be irritating, but often his insight is key: Susan Sontag’s affinity with French classicism, for example, or ultra-sophisticate Noël Coward’s grounding in “the stolid values of the decidedly unsophisticated lower-middle-class.” Incisive, reflective and unfailingly stimulating. It wouldn’t hurt Mendelsohn to occasionally pass up an opportunity to remind readers he’s the smartest guy in the room, but then again, he almost always is.

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THE DAWN OF INNOVATION The First American Industrial Revolution Morris, Charles R. PublicAffairs (288 pp.) $28.99 | Oct. 23, 2012 978-1-58648-828-4 978-1-61039-049-1 e-book

In this historical overview, Morris (The Sages: Warren Buffett, George Soros, Paul Volcker, and the Maelstrom of Markets, 2009, etc.) asserts that American industry in its early days was far more concerned with growth and large-scale mass production than was Great Britain. “By comparison with eighteenth-century Britons, Americans were strivers on steroids,” he writes. To illustrate this point, the author looks at several pioneering British and American inventors and engineers and describes key innovations in a wide range of early American industries, from clock making to furniture making. In one long chapter, Morris examines the manufacturing of guns, a topic to which he returns in another chapter. The author also briefly looks at a few major post–Civil War industrial figures, including Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, both of whom he wrote about at length in The Tycoons (2005). In a closing chapter that feels a bit tacked-on, Morris discusses how the past America-Great Britain rivalry resembles and differs from the current economic relationship between the U.S. and China. The author is at his best when he focuses on the people behind the technology—e.g., Eli Whitney, who became a “talented artisan and entrepreneur,” but was, in his early career, “something of a flimflam man.” While Morris’ research is thorough, his prose is often long-winded. His account of naval warfare during the War of 1812, for example, hardly seems worthy of a 36-page blow-by-blow chronicle featuring multiple tables and illustrations. Other sections get bogged down in engineering minutiae; many of the highly detailed diagrams will be of interest to engineers, perhaps, but not to casual readers. An ambitious but overlong historical study.

MEAT EATER Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter Rinella, Steven Spiegel & Grau (272 pp.) $26.00 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-385-52981-5 First reviewed in 8/1/12 issue

TV host and outdoorsman Rinella (American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon, 2008, etc.) contemplates the hunter’s place in modern society while reliving his favorite hunting trips. Before committing to the writing life, the author made a serious attempt at carving out a career as a fur trapper like his frontier hero Daniel Boone. Even though that endeavor |

fell through, the kid who grew up bagging squirrels, muskrats and beavers would not abandon the hunt. Instead, he found other ways to devote much of his life to stalking bighorn sheep, black bears, mountain lions and the like. At one point, he even managed to successfully split his time between college and subsistence hunting. While Rinella has taken more than a few trophies along the way, his excursions into the great outdoors have mainly been about feasting on wild game at the conclusion of each hunt—and he’s eager to share. Relentlessly descriptive and endlessly evocative “tasting guides” at the close of each chapter help armchair hunters get a sense of what it might be like digging into their own heaping plate of camp meat, deer hearts or sun-dried jerky. Depending on the palate, readers will find these gamey recipes either mouthwatering or gut-wrenching, but the writing is steadfastly satisfying and clear. A passage on the purported edibility of roasted beaver tail is especially entertaining. The author wisely allows philosophical questions pertaining to the validity of hunting and the efficacy of state-enforced regulations to simmer in the background, and he effectively shows nature in all its glory. An insider’s look at hunting that devotees and nonparticipants alike should find fascinating. (Author events in New York, the Midwest, and on the West Coast)

THE END OF MEN And the Rise of Women Rosin, Hanna Riverhead (320 pp.) $27.95 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-1-59448-804-7

Atlantic senior editor Rosin (God’s Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save America, 2007), co-founder of Slate’s women’s section, DoubleX, argues that women are more likely than men to succeed in the modern workforce. The author conducted extensive interviews with women of various backgrounds, from the Midwest to Korea. She bases her argument partly on the flexibility of women and partly on the fact that employers are beginning to value characteristics stereotypically attributed to women, such as empathy. Rosin suggests that the world may be headed toward a matriarchy. It is refreshing to find optimism in a book about the gender gap, but in some cases it seems that women haven’t progressed as much as men have fallen behind. In several of the households Rosin discusses, what has made the women the main breadwinners is not just drive, but the fact that their men don’t hold steady jobs. Most of those men do not completely fulfill domestic duties either, leaving the women to work both outside and inside the home. Though she later takes up the issue of splitting household duties, Rosin glosses over it early on to paint a picture of matriarchal utopia. The author covers an impressive amount of ground about women, including the professions they dominate, how they can rise to the top, and their relationship to casual sex. Particularly interesting is Rosin’s examination of female violence. She shows that as women

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kirkus q & a with jeanne marie laskas

HIDDEN AMERICA: From Coal Miners To Cowboys, an Extraordinary Exploration of the Unseen People Who Make This Country Work

Jeanne Marie Laskas Putnam (318 pp.) $26.95 Sept. 13, 2012 978-0-399-15900-8

Jeanne Marie Laskas has been 500 feet down in a coal mine. She’s helped herd cattle in Texas, followed migrant workers during a Maine blueberry harvest and spent time with a long-haul female trucker named Sputter. These are the stories of real, everyday working Americans who labor behind the scenes to make what most of us take for granted—the power when you flick a switch, the hamburgers you grilled last weekend, the plane you took on vacation. All these things depend on the hard work of dedicated Americans who often labor under the radar, hard hours for even harder-earned pay. Laskas, director of the writing program at the University of Pittsburgh, follows these Americans in her latest book, Hidden America, which takes a closer, more personal look at what makes these people tick and how much goes into their working lives. Q: Many of these essays were initially magazine pieces, starting with the coal miners’ profile in GQ. Was this the start of the project? A: That started the whole idea for the book, that experience, that story. It was many conversations like this, that were, “I can’t believe I did not know you people were here, I can’t believe this is going on.” I was bowled over by my own naiveté about this industry that I had no idea, just like normal people have no idea, how vital it is to my economy. What was especially humiliating about it was that it was in my backyard, there were coal mines all around where I live. How do I not know about these people and how they were doing down there? It starts small, a little thought, until you start walking around with it for any length of time. You start looking around you and going, “All right, how did these vegetables get on my table? Who picked these?” This apple I’m eating, I literally had visions of fingerprints and thought, “Why are we washing apples?”…I wanted to honestly take a breather and think, “Who are these people? Who are we even talking about?”…Everything became so personal to me.

steps away, but somehow important to us. I wanted to do different regions, in terms of climate and culture, that’s why the second one I did, the next one I did was Alaska, I thought let’s go far and completely foreign to my way of living. Q: Which one was particularly challenging and difficult to do? Q: Certainly physically, Alaska was the most ridiculously hard. It was like, “OK, I’m going to go live on the moon now.” Really, it was that ridiculous way of life, it was minus 45 degrees, and I was trapped with a bunch of strangers, most of them men, for a really long time, I don’t even know how many weeks it was, probably not that many, but when you’re there 24 hours per day? You’re just gone, so gone from anything you’re familiar with or connected to… that one was just the most physically ridiculous, like being in the sea or being in a submarine. Writing wise, the one that should have been the easiest was the hardest, Sputter the Trucker. It was probably the only one I allowed myself to be a character in. I have this whole personal drama going on. I tried to write it without that, and it was so flat and dishonest, and I wrote it so many times, keeping my own story of what I was going through…I finally opened it up and said, “OK, I’m going to be a character in this one.” That one was more of a writing puzzle. All of them are puzzles. —By Molly Brown

9 Molly Brown is the features editor of Kirkus. For the full interview, please visit kirkus.com.

Q: How did you narrow down the kinds of labor and workers you wanted to feature?

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PH OTO © C. S C OT T G OL D S M IT H

A: It was an endless rabbit hole. I have a list, I can’t even tell you how long, of which ones to collect into a book. Because that’s an important question from the onset. I started compiling it as a book in my brain after I did the coal-miner one. I had certain parameters, certain needs. I wanted it to be not just a bluecollar book, not just about people who did dirty jobs for sake of getting dirty… that wasn’t my goal. My goal was to write about people who touch our lives who we don’t notice, maybe they’re a few


“A riveting look inside the human brain and its quirks.” from hallucinations

A FREE MAN A True Story of Life and Death in Delhi

gain power, they encompass the negative traits that were once only attributed to men, therefore countering the myth that a world ruled by women would be more peaceful. A great starting point for readers interested in exploring the intersecting issues of gender, family and employment.

Sethi, Aman Norton (240 pp.) $24.95 | Oct. 22, 2012 978-0-393-08890-8 First reviewed in 8/1/12 issue

HALLUCINATIONS

Sacks, Oliver Knopf (288 pp.) $26.95 | Nov. 6, 2012 978-0-307-95724-5

Acclaimed British neurologist Sacks (Neurology and Psychiatry/Columbia Univ.; The Mind’s Eye, 2010, etc.) delves into the many different sorts of hallucinations that can be generated by the human mind. The author assembles a wide range of case studies in hallucinations—seeing, hearing or otherwise perceiving things that aren’t there—and the varying brain quirks and disorders that cause them in patients who are otherwise mentally healthy. In each case, he presents a fascinating condition and then expounds on the neurological causes at work, drawing from his own work as a neurologist, as well as other case studies, letters from patients and even historical records and literature. For example, he tells the story of an elderly blind woman who “saw” strange people and animals in her room, caused by Charles Bonnet Syndrome, a condition in with the parts of the brain responsible for vision draw on memories instead of visual perceptions. In another chapter, Sacks recalls his own experimentation with drugs, describing his auditory hallucinations. He believed he heard his neighbors drop by for breakfast, and he cooked for them, “put their ham and eggs on a tray, walked into the living room—and found it completely empty.” He also tells of hallucinations in people who have undergone prolonged sensory deprivation and in those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease, migraines, epilepsy and narcolepsy, among other conditions. Although this collection of disorders feels somewhat formulaic, it’s a formula that has served Sacks well in several previous books (especially his 1985 bestseller The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat), and it’s still effective—largely because Sacks never turns exploitative, instead sketching out each illness with compassion and thoughtful prose. A riveting look inside the human brain and its quirks. (First printing of 100,000)

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A journalist ingratiates himself with a band of day laborers on the mean streets of Delhi, India. In 2005, Sethi, a young reporter eager to undertake an investigative study of Delhi’s working poor, befriended vagabond Mohammed Ashraf and his crew. Six years later, he found himself still involved in Ashraf’s life, providing him with both emotional and financial support. Although Sethi initially expressed frustration with Ashraf’s reluctance to provide a linear timeline of his life story, he soon fell under the spell cast by this streetwise raconteur. Like many others in his circle, Ashraf had run away to Delhi to escape a tempestuous home life. During times when he could find work, he painted houses and did other manual odd jobs; during times when there was either no work to be had or no work that he wanted, he drank heavily, spun tall tales and fantasized about opening his own business. Sethi excels at empathetically depicting what could come across as a miserable existence: he allows Ashraf and the other mazdoors (laborers) to share their stories without either judging them or pretending to be one of them. For all the injustices that these men face every day, the book offers ample humor. In the most poignant chapters, Sethi accompanies Ashraf’s friend to a tuberculosis hospital. The bureaucracy and despair of such an institution becomes painfully clear when Sethi portrays the panel of admitting doctors, all wearing masks and looking away from their patients. Alternately sad, defiant, carefree and understated, this journey into a world hidden in plain sight is well worth taking.

VOLCKER The Triumph of Persistence Silber, William L. Bloomsbury (352 pp.) $30.00 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-60819-070-6 First reviewed in 7/1/12 issue

From a fellow economist, an admiring biography of Paul A. Volcker. Born in 1927, Volcker attended Princeton and eventually landed in the U.S. Treasury Department as an influential policymaker. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter appointed him chairman of the Federal Reserve, making the imposing man the most visible banker anywhere; Ronald Reagan retained Volcker as chairman. In some respects, Silber (Finance and Economics/New York Univ., Stern School of Business; When Washington Shut Down Wall Street: The Great Financial Crisis of 1914 and the Origins of America’s Monetary Supremacy, 2007, etc.) delivers a conventional chronological biography light on Volcker’s

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personal life. The author focuses instead on three daring policy battles that changed the world economic order: removing the U.S. dollar from its link to the gold supply; using fresh fiscal policies to tamp down high inflation rates; and President Obama’s involving the octogenarian Volcker in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. Obama hoped, not entirely in vain, that the combination of Volcker’s brilliant mind and untarnished reputation would lead to a more secure banking system through a combination of moral suasion, executive branch regulation and congressional legislation. While Silber is admiring, he provides copious evidence that Volcker is worthy of his credibility. Without Volcker in charge at certain intervals, he writes, the American financial system might have tipped from the verge of collapse into total meltdown. Although not the first biography of Volcker, Silber’s book is the most up-to-date and blessedly free of jargon.

FAR FROM THE TREE Parents, Children and the Search for Identity

Solomon, Andrew Scribner (906 pp.) $35.00 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-0-7432-3671-3

National Book Award–winning journalist Solomon (The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, 2001, etc.) uses issues raised by disability to examine the nature of parenthood, the definition of disability and the ability to control reproduction to create designer children. More than a decade ago, when he was assigned to cover a student protest at the Lexington Center for the Deaf in Queens, N.Y., over the hiring of a CEO with normal hearing, the author began to look at medical and cultural issues raised by disability. The protesters demanded that deafness should not be considered a disability, but rather a neuro-diversity on par with ethnic diversity. Some members of the deaf community even considered cochlear implants in young children as “a genocidal attack on a vibrant community” because of the linguistic richness of sign language. Solomon also wrote a piece on child prodigies based on an interview with the Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin, and he followed with a story about the lives of dwarfs based on the experience of a friend who sought role models for her daughter. Gradually, Far from the Tree began to take shape as the author explored more deeply the question of disability. Additional chapters cover Down syndrome (a genetic disorder), autism (of unknown origin), transgenderism and more. Solomon writes about the transformative, “terrifying joy of unbearable responsibility” faced by parents who cherish severely disabled children, and he takes an in-depth look at the struggles of parents of autistic children who behave destructively. He also explores the fascinating mental lives of independently functioning autistic individuals and speculates on the possibility that geniuses such as Mozart and Einstein were at the far end of the spectrum. Throughout, Solomon reflects on his own history as a gay man who has been bullied when he didn’t conform to society’s image of masculinity. 30

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An informative and moving book that raises profound issues regarding the nature of love, the value of human life and the future of humanity.

SEWARD Lincoln’s Indispensable Man

Stahr, Walter Simon & Schuster (704 pp.) $32.50 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-1-4391-2116-0 First reviewed in 7/1/12 issue

A sympathetic, evenhanded reappraisal of President Lincoln’s secretary of state as a statesman who practiced effective preventive strategies. Stahr (John Jay, 2005) takes issue with some of the previous “hostile” criticism of his subject as being formed after the Civil War (e.g., by Gideon Welles) and thus lending an imbalanced portrait, which the present historian aims to correct. Neither Seward nor Lincoln kept a diary of events during the era, and the author often searches for answers in the historical record by returning to contemporary sources. One question was whether Seward tried to dissuade Lincoln from issuing his Emancipation Proclamation or merely questioned its timing. (Stahr comes down on the former.) Wading through the maelstrom of congressional criticism of Seward during the war, Stahr finds that he played his diplomatic cards toward England and Russia exceedingly well. Seward was able to convince Lincoln and the cabinet to surrender the two Confederate ministers bound for England aboard the Trent in November 1861, arguing that to not do so was to risk Britain’s declaring war on the U.S. Stahr considers the full life of this energetic, devoted, certainly not flawless public servant, from his one term as Whig governor of New York, to his years in the U.S. Senate and beyond. The author amply shows how his loss to Lincoln for the first Republican presidential nomination of 1860 only spelled the nation’s gain, as Seward then campaigned tirelessly for his opponent and never lagged in his devotion to the Union. A thorough, refreshing biography by an independentminded historian. (16-page b/w insert; 3 maps)

WHY HAVE KIDS? A New Mom Explores the Truth About Parenting and Happiness

Valenti, Jessica Amazon/New Harvest (256 pp.) $23.00 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-547-89261-0 First reviewed in 7/15/12 issue

A leading feminist digs into questions about parenting—why we have children, what we’re told about the parenting experience, and what happens when the reality doesn’t mesh with the fairy tale.

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“Selected and edited letters by the author of Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five and other enduringly popular novels, letters that reveal Vonnegut’s passions, annoyances, loves, losses, mind and heart.” from kurt vonnegut

With a rise in the number of women choosing to remain childless (married or not), Valenti’s (The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity Is Hurting Young Women, 2009, etc.) book is certainly timely, and she addresses her topic from cultural, personal and historical perspectives. The author, a new mom herself, wades deeply into the moral and logistical problems facing mothers, with interviews, research and her own anecdotal experiences. As mommy blogs and websites have become havens for those seeking support and answers, they have simultaneously given rise to information overload, and parents can often feel as inadequate as they do vindicated. The impression people have of motherhood often doesn’t match up with the realities that face new parents. Ideals and stereotypes leave new mothers feeling badly if they don’t feel love and warmth all the time. However, the inverse is also true. Oprah Winfrey famously stated that “moms have the toughest job in the world if you’re doing it right,” and that attitude too often translates to mothers pushing their children too hard to be successful. Valenti’s writing occasionally falls prey to bluster and hyperbole—if you question the exactitude of others’ pronouncements on pregnancy, it weakens the argument when your own pronouncements suffer the same shortcoming—but she states early on that her book is meant to anger people and incite discussions. Valenti doesn’t claim to have all the answers, but she provides the right analytical tools for mothers seeking answers that are right for them.

RISE TO GREATNESS Abraham Lincoln and America’s Most Perilous Year

Von Drehle, David Henry Holt (480 pp.) $30.00 | Dec. 11, 2012 978-0-8050-7970-8

A historian zeroes in on the year Lincoln found his footing as president and set the country on a bold new course. “Never has there been a moment in history,” said one U.S. senator, “when so much was all compressed into a little time.” Von Drehle (Triangle: The Fire that Changed America, 2003, etc.) charts the tumultuous year, month by month, to demonstrate how the momentous events of 1862 unfolded. Amid the turmoil of Civil War, the largely Republican Congress passed legislation with farreaching postwar consequences: funding a transcontinental railroad and land-grant colleges, strengthening the Army and Navy, establishing a Bureau of Agriculture, adopting new fiscal and monetary policies, outlawing slavery in the District of Columbia, instituting a draft and authorizing the enlistment of blacks in the military. For all these enterprises to flourish, though, the war still had to be won. With rumors of domestic conspiracies and coups swirling and with the allegiance of border states still tenuous, the Civil War turned savage and hard with unprecedented slaughters at places like Shiloh, Antietam and Fredericksburg. At the center |

of the storm, Von Drehle deftly places Lincoln, gradually mastering the art of war, ultimately firing the too-timid McClellan, solemnly accepting and desperately searching for a general to apply the cruel arithmetic necessary for Union victory. In 1862, Lincoln suffered the loss of a son and the near loss of another, and he watched his grieving wife become unmoored. All the while, the president maneuvered around Taney’s Supreme Court, quelled an insurrection in the Republican caucus, mediated the squabbling in his Cabinet, held off the Democrats in the midterm elections, and prepared the ground for the Emancipation Proclamation. Two years of bitter fighting remained, but Confederate armies would never again be as formidable. Meanwhile, under Lincoln’s steady hand, the Union put in place the political and military machinery that would win the war and assure a future few imagined before Fort Sumter. A thoroughly engaging examination of the irreversible changes emerging from a year when the nation’s very survival remained in doubt. (8-page insert with 16-20 b/w illustrations; 3-5 maps)

KURT VONNEGUT Letters

Vonnegut, Kurt Wakefield, Dan--Ed. Delacorte (496 pp.) $35.00 | Nov. 1, 2012 978-0-385-34375-6 978-0-345-53539-9 e-book Selected and edited letters by the author of Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five and other enduringly popular novels, letters that reveal Vonnegut’s passions, annoyances, loves, losses, mind and heart. Edited and annotated by his friend and fellow Hoosier novelist Wakefield (The Hijacking of Jesus: How the Religious Right Distorts Christianity and Promotes Prejudice and Hate, 2006, etc.), Vonnegut’s letters, arranged by decade, reveal his wit and literary style, as well as his demons. Wakefield annotates lightly and introduces each decade with a swift biography and commentary. Mostly, however, the letters stand alone—and stand tall, indeed. A letter from 1945 tells his worried parents about his experiences as a POW in Dresden during the firebombing; the final letter declines an invitation to appear at Cornell. “At 84,” wrote Vonnegut, who died in 2007, “I resemble nothing so much as an iguana, hate travel, and have nothing to say. I might as well send a spent Roman candle in my stead.” Vonnegut remained close to his many relatives, and readers can chart his personal life here—his first marriage (ended in divorce), his relationships with his children (some were adopted), his second marriage (to photographer Jill Krementz). That marriage was often difficult, and he writes bitterly about finding evidence of her infidelity. His professional growth chart is here, too—his early struggle, his time teaching at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, his rising celebrity and fame and his struggles to write later in his life. The political Vonnegut is much in evidence, as well. There are fiery letters about censorship and

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MASTER OF THE MOUNTAIN Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves

book burning and some anti-conservative rhetoric. Wakefield also includes Vonnegut’s touching letters to encourage other writers and to deal with an angry daughter. Vonnegut’s most human of hearts beats on every page. (1 or 2 b/w inserts of illustrations)

A FATHER FIRST How My Life Became Bigger than Basketball

Wade, Dwyane with Rivas, Mim Eichler Morrow/HarperCollins (320 pp.) $26.99 | $12.99 e-book | CD $24.99 Sep. 4, 2012 978-0-06-213615-2 978-0-06-213618-3 e-book 978-0-06-220514-8 CD First reviewed in 8/1/12 issue The smooth, composed memoir of a superstar NBA player juggling celebrity and fatherhood. From the opening pages, Wade’s comforting narrative voice—assisted by co-author Rivas (co-author: Becoming Dr. Q, 2011, etc.)—draws readers in, as he provides recollections from his shy childhood in the 1980s, during which his drug-addicted mother shuffled him around the gang-addled streets of South Side Chicago. He was comforted by his loving grandmother and an obsession with basketball and Michael Jordan, as well as his older sister, Tragil, who shepherded her baby brother out of harm’s way. In school, Wade’s stepbrother dominated the varsity basketball games, but an early growth spurt and a string of expert coaches allowed Wade to shine and demonstrate his burgeoning abilities on the court. His star potential blossomed at Marquette University and eventually fostered NBA celebrity status as a guard for the Miami Heat. However, his marriage to high school sweetheart Siohvaughn Funches ended in a tumultuous 2007 divorce, and a custody battle for sons Zaire and Zion became ugly. The text seamlessly alternates between Wade’s rise to athletic fame and the aftermath of a 2011 decision to award him sole custody of his two sons, a legal decision eliciting both positive (stability for his boys) and negative ramifications (Funches’ vicious accusations and relentless interference). Wade capably demonstrates the power of hard work, faith, honest fatherhood and the dedication necessary to achieve happiness and harmony from hardscrabble beginnings. A refreshing chronicle of a fervent sportsman with his head and heart in all the right places. (16-page color photo insert)

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Wiencek, Henry Farrar, Straus and Giroux (352 pp.) $30.00 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-0-374-29956-9 First reviewed in 8/1/12 issue A well-rendered yet deeply unsettling look behind the illusion of the happy slaves of Monticello. That Jefferson was riven by contradictions as both a passionate advocate of liberty and a dedicated slave owner is not new to scholars and historians. Yet Wiencek (An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America, 2003, etc.) scours the primary sources, such as Thomas Jefferson’s Farm Book, for a thoughtful reexamination of what was really going on behind the harmonious facade of the great house on the mountain. So much about Monticello was artful, full of contrivances, contraptions, inventions and labyrinths. It was an innovative and eccentric place, tricking the eye and keeping the visitor somewhat off balance. Wiencek does note some of the times when the facade was broken: “In one instance, a gentleman dining with Mr. Jefferson, looked so startled as he raised his eyes from the latter to the servant behind him, that his discovery of the resemblance was perfectly obvious to all.” Indeed, all the slaves at Monticello were related to one another, descendants of matriarch “Betty” Hemings, who had been the concubine of Martha Jefferson’s father, rendering Betty’s many children by him, including Sally, her own half siblings. Rather reluctantly, Wiencek looks at the substance behind the scandal of Sally and Jefferson’s reputed liaison and admits solid evidence. The author thoroughly examines Jefferson’s writings, such as Notes on the State of Virginia, for his problematic theories on race, miscegenation and human bondage, and he marvels at the man’s ability to justify what he called an “execrable commerce.” Slave suicides, runaways, whippings by his overseers and his furtive freeing of Sally’s two oldest children—the secrets and evasions compounded one another. Yes, Jefferson inherited slavery, but he knew better. Beautifully constructed reflections and careful sifting of Jefferson’s thoughts and deeds. (8 pages of b/w illustrations)

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children’s & teen THE TOWN MOUSE AND THE COUNTRY MOUSE

These titles earned the Kirkus Star:

Aesop Illus. by Ward, Helen Templar/Candlewick (48 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-7636-6098-7 First reviewed in 8/1/12 issue

THE TOWN MOUSE AND THE COUNTRY MOUSE by Aesop; illus. by Helen Ward..................p. 33 THE SECRET OF THE FORTUNE WOOKIEE by Tom Angleberger.......................................p. 33 THE CRIMSON CROWN by Cinda Williams Chima.....................p. 34 MY NAME IS PARVANA by Deborah Ellis...................................... p. 36 BOOT & SHOE by Marla Frazee...................................................... p. 37 DRUMMER BOY OF JOHN JOHN by Mark Greenwood; illus. by Frané Lessac......................................................................... p. 38 LEGENDS OF ZITA THE SPACEGIRL by Ben Hatke...................... p. 38 ZOMBIE MAKERS by Rebecca L. Johnson....................................... p. 39 YOU ARE STARDUST by Elin Kelsey; illus. by Soyeon Kim........... p. 39 SQUEAK, RUMBLE, WHOMP! WHOMP! WHOMP! by Wynton Marsalis; illus. by Paul Rogers..........................................................................p. 40 THOSE DARN SQUIRRELS FLY SOUTH by Adam Rubin; illus. by David Salmieri....................................................................p. 42 BOMB by Steve Sheinkin..................................................................p. 42

In this splendid retelling of Aesop’s familiar fable, a country mouse leaves his bucolic existence to sample the glitz and glam of the city, only to discover there’s absolutely no place like home. Country mouse “live[s] a quiet life among the seasons.” He is perfectly content until his “fine, sleek” town cousin comes to visit, criticizes the mud and dangerous wildlife (a sleeping fawn, in the illustration), and boasts about the city’s “rich, exotic foods.” Urging his cousin to see the wonders of the city for himself, town mouse departs, leaving country mouse discontent and with “a longing for new sights and sounds.” Country mouse hitches a ride to the city, where he discovers electric lights and towers of glass and stone. His cousin’s apartment is indeed luxurious and the food delicious, but country mouse soon yearns for the simple pleasures of home. The elegant, simple text contrasts the natural beauty of the countryside with the artificiality of the city. Sumptuous watercolor illustrations enhance the rural/urban juxtaposition with luminous close-ups of country mouse immersed in the seasonal flora and fauna of the English countryside and overwhelmed by the “noise and bustle and hum” of a 1930s-era city at Christmas. The richly detailed illustrations invite and reward close inspection. A visual stunner. (Picture book. 4-7)

THE FIRE CHRONICLE by John Stephens.......................................p. 43

THE SECRET OF THE FORTUNE WOOKIEE

THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater....................................... p. 44

Angleberger, Tom Illus. by Angleberger, Tom Amulet/Abrams (160 pp.) $12.95 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-1-4197-0392-8 Series: Origami Yoda, 3

PASSION BLUE by Victoria Strauss............................................... p. 44 DRAWING FROM THE CITY by Tejubehan.................................... p. 44

A short time ago in a middle school not far away… The forces of good have lost Dwight and Origami Yoda to Tippett Academy. McQuarrie Middle School is suddenly as boring as linoleum flooring. On the second day of the post-Dwight era, Sara, Tommy’s sorta girlfriend and Dwight’s neighbor, arrives at school with a fortune Wookiee (a |

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“Torture and treasure, treason and trust, and the triumph of true love: All come to fruition in the stirring conclusion to this epic fantasy series.” from the crimson crown

cootie catcher shaped like Chewbacca) and says Dwight has sent Chewie to help in Origami Yoda’s absence. Kids ask advice. Sara counts off their favorite movie, spells the name of their favorite Star Wars character, lifts a flap and: “Mmmrrrgggggg!”—Chewie offers sage advice. Thankfully, Han Foldo’s there to interpret, usually offering a Han Solo quote from the movies. Chewie solves several student problems as Tommy compiles a case file with stories from each, but Tommy’s also concerned that Tippett Academy seems to have drained the weird from Dwight. Will Harvey expose the fortune Wookiee as a fraud? Will Dwight return to McQuarrie? Will principal Rabbski outlaw origami and destroy what little fun there is to be had at school? Angleberger’s third in the series continues the fun but relies on knowledge of its predecessors, but unlike the movies, going back to the prequels is no hardship. A chorus of spot-on middle school voices and plenty of laughs are wrapped around this tale of friendship and seasoned with Star Wars references. The end is foreboding…all young Jedi rejoice! There will be a sequel. (Graphic hybrid fiction. 9-14)

BLINK ONCE

Busby, Cylin Bloomsbury (304 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-59990-818-2 First reviewed in 8/1/12 issue A medical thriller offers a twist that will have readers questioning reality alongside its narrator. A young man wakes up strapped to a hospital bed, unable to speak or, initially, to move. As he drifts in and out of consciousness, the details of his former life are revealed in flashbacks, dreams and conversations (he blinks and writes on a board to communicate) with a fellow patient, Olivia. His name is West, and at age 17 he was a talented dirt-bike racer until an accident left him paralyzed. Through the excruciatingly long days of his recovery, West falls in love with the knowing, sarcastic Olivia even as he acknowledges the depths of her dark side and its root cause—her irreversible ill health. As West considers whether to participate in an experimental surgery that could either kill him or let him walk again, he finds himself at odds with Olivia, who has mysteriously strong feelings of her own about the risks. Although the first-person narration lags a bit in the middle, the last third of the novel is both briskly paced and increasingly eerie as West begins to realize that things are not as they seem. This outing is a marked departure from Busby’s Date Him or Dump Him series; the twists and turns of West’s relationship with Olivia provide a cloudier and more satisfying kind of suspense. (Thriller. 12-17)

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NIGHT OF THE WHITE DEER

Bushnell, Jack Illus. by Co, Miguel Tanglewood Press (32 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 16, 2012 978-1-933718-80-4

Some say the white deer’s a star, and others say she’s made of spilled milk. Could she be real? A modern farm boy sees a white deer in their field. His brother says it’s only legend, but the boy sees the deer again. This time he walks into the fields and leaps into the Aurora-lit sky with his mysterious white companion. The boy feels the magic of the flight, and they encounter deer of several species and widely varying colors at play in the fields of night. The boy contemplates a trip through the solar system, but his deer takes him home. When the boy tells his family of his journey, his brother’s certain it was a dream. Left alone with his father, the boy learns his dad had a similar adventure as a child…and Dad wants to go along should the white deer return. Bushnell’s fourth is an original tale told as a quasi-folk tale. Unlike traditional tales though, no mystery of nature is explained, caution offered or quest fulfilled. A traditional-feeling tale from no tradition and with no specific moral is rather like a chicken without bones. That said, it’s a pleasant-enough fable, and newcomer Co’s bright and burnished illustrations enhance both magical and natural aspects, bringing to mind the works of David Diaz. A slight magical tale whose illustrations can’t quite compensate for the weak story. (Picture book. 3-6)

THE CRIMSON CROWN

Chima, Cinda Williams Hyperion (608 pp.) $18.99 | Oct. 23, 2012 978-1-4231-4433-5 Series: Seven Realms, 4

Torture and treasure, treason and trust, and the triumph of true love: All come to fruition in the stirring conclusion to this epic fantasy series. Raisa ana’Marianna has claimed the Gray Wolf throne, but her grip is tenuous: Every faction—clans, wizards, army, flatlanders—both within and without the Fells hates all the others, and each pushes Raisa to accept its preferred candidate for consort. Meanwhile, Han Alister has taken his seat on the Wizard Council at the queen’s command, but every other member secretly wants to use him or kill him. Furthermore, there are the mysterious murders of wizards, marked with Han’s old streetlord sign; all this disarray signals a weakness that encourages invading armies from the South. Together, Han and Raisa seek the long-lost Armory of the Gifted Kings as the only way to avoid reenacting a 1,000-year-old tragedy; but to wield such a weapon may well trigger an even greater catastrophe. Chima manages to resolve this impossibly tangled skein of politics, intrigue, history, prejudice and passion with style and grace. Grim scenes of shocking violence kirkus.com

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alternate with moments of tenderness and humor, and the high body count is balanced by the almost fairy-tale–romantic conclusion. While some of the depth and complexities of the supporting characters—along with the nuanced subtleties of their conflicting worldviews—are sacrificed to help demonize (or valorize) their respective positions, nothing can overshadow the cathartic satisfaction for those caught up in this sweeping saga. Simply brilliant. (Fantasy. 12 & up)

PINOCCHIO

Collodi, Carlo Translated by Brock, Geoffrey Illus. by Testa, Fulvio New York Review Books (184 pp.) $24.95 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-1-59017-588-0

t o p 5 fa l l r e l e a s e s : c h i l d r e n ’s After the dog days of summer, the book industry is ready to wow readers with some of the best books of the year. We’ve culled through our starred reviews to choose five children’s books to pay special attention to and present them here.

An old favorite—the adventures of a wooden puppet whose good heart earns him the right to be a real boy—in a newly illustrated edition of a relatively new translation. First published in Italian in the late 19th century, this childhood classic has had numerous interpretations. Today, however, most American children who know the story at all will know it from the 1939 Disney cartoon, which distorts its plot and mood and makes Pinocchio far more appealing than the original. Translator Brock gives readers Collodi’s Pinocchio: a lazy troublemaker, self-centered and distractible, who remains a wooden puppet right up until the end of his adventures. In the first 30 pages, short-tempered Geppetto has had two scratching-and-biting fights, the Talking Cricket has been smashed dead with a hammer, and Pinocchio has burned off his own feet. The violence may well not faze today’s video game–hardened readers, who will appreciate the sprightly translation. Testa’s pen, ink and watercolor illustrations appear opposite the text, filling the oversized pages. More cheerful in palette and tone than that of Roberto Innocenti’s versions (1988; 2005), this cartoonlike art lightens the overall effect. Chapter headings, repurposed as a table of contents for an unillustrated version of this translation published in 2008, have vanished, but the narrative is otherwise complete. Parents and libraries should welcome this edition, appealing and accessible for 21st-century children. (Fantasy. 8-14)

BOOT & SHOE

SQUEAK, RUMBLE, WHOMP! WHOMP! WHOMP!

Marla Frazee Beach Lane/ Simon & Schuster Oct. 2, 2012

Wynton Marsalis; illus. by Paul Rogers Candlewick Oct. 9, 2012

LEGENDS OF ZITA THE SPACE GIRL

Ben Hatke First Second/ Roaring Brook Sept. 4, 2012

THE FIRE CHRONICLE

John Stephens Knopf Oct. 10, 2012

YOU ARE STARDUST

Elin Kelsey; illus. by Soyeon Kim Owlkids Sept. 15, 2012

EARTH AND AIR Tales of Elemental Creatures Dickinson, Peter Big Mouth House (256 pp.) $17.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-61873-058-9

Twice before, Dickinson teamed up with his wife, Robin McKinley, to create short story collections centered on elemental themes; now he concludes the elemental quartet with this solo collection of earth and air stories. |

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The elements are not the only thing holding these six stories together; thematic territory here is concerned primarily with the meanings of humanity and love. Divinity and magic also weave throughout, from the earthy, lonely troll of “Troll Blood” to the small magics of an almost forgotten goddess in “Scops.” Aside from science-fiction gem “The Fifth Element,” these are all firmly fantasy, half set approximately now and two set in a somewhat indeterminate past. Opening tale “Troll Blood” is perhaps the weakest in the collection, with imaginary academics and exposition-heavy chunks; “Ridiki,” a version of Eurydice about a boy and his beloved dog, and “The Fifth Element” round out earth, while air is covered by the peculiar “Wizand” (witches as hosts to a parasite that lives in their broomsticks, with the burning of witches part of the wizand’s life cycle) and the haunting, ancient-world–based “Talaria” and “Scops.” None of the stories focus particularly on childhood or adolescence, making it hard to pin down the ideal audience. These strange, sometimes beautiful tales might find their best readership among those who think they have moved beyond YA. (Fantasy and science fiction short stories. 14 & up)

LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD

Don, Lari Illus. by Chauffrey, Célia Barefoot (32 pp.) $16.99 | paper $9.99 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-84686-766-8 978-1-84686-768-2 paperback Atmospheric illustrations—lush, dark and mysterious—will lure daring readers into this retelling of a classic tale. Done in acrylic, Chauffrey’s images hint at the ominous through small details that play with the mind. In her sinister forest, thorn-shaped leaves that resemble wolves’ teeth are juxtaposed with tear-shaped ones that mimic Red Riding Hood’s eyes. Thus the forest becomes an extension of the Wolf, hungry and watchful. Tiny brush strokes create luxurious fur for the “handsome wolf,” and the stems of the meadow flowers are as delicate as the girl’s innocence and trust. The detailed landscapes, with their intricate patterns, are evocative of classic Russian illustrations, yet Red herself suggests the pop art of Yoshitomo Nara, whose subjects are both seemingly innocuous and seductively dangerous. Interesting compositions play with space and depth in intriguing ways, as Red delves deeper into the forest, and the Wolf gulps Granny down. The latter is explicitly visible, Granny’s legs kicking the air, while the rest of her is hidden within the smug Wolf. Don’s text, true to earlier versions with a hunter rescuing Red and stones sewn into the wolf ’s belly, is clearly moralist, as the hunter receives cakes for his good deed, Granny learns to lock her door, and Red no longer talks to strangers. Gorgeously designed and packaged with a CD narrated by Imelda Staunton, this provocative telling is for young lovers of the gothic. (Picture book/fairy tale. 4-8)

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BEAR DESPAIR

Dorémus, Gaëtan Illus. by Dorémus, Gaëtan Enchanted Lion Books (32 pp.) $14.95 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-1-59270-125-4 First reviewed in 8/1/12 issue When Bear loses his beloved teddy bear, he will stop at nothing to get him back in this wordless romp. When Wolf runs off with his beloved sleeping companion, Bear sets out in furious pursuit. Wolf flings Teddy away, and angry Bear swallows him whole. The scenario is repeated as Bear confronts Lion, who tosses Teddy off a cliff, and Eagle swoops down to claim him. Lion joins Wolf in Bear’s stomach. Bear, still in hot pursuit, climbs up to Eagle’s aerie. Eagle flies off, and Bear swallows two eggs. Still in dogged pursuit, he encounters Elephant. Same scenario. At long last, Octopus finally hands over Teddy. The enstomached animals and eggs escape, and Bear happily—and finally—goes back to sleep. In this wordless tale, the French illustrator uses a storyboard format of large and small encircled scenes on a white page to tell an energetic and emotional tale. Bear resembles the titular character from “I Know an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly” as his tummy grows larger and larger, comfortably fitting all, who are often seen in cutaway views sitting and chatting with one another. Colorful drawings with overlays of swirling lines sweep by at a fast pace as the action grows increasingly frantic, mirroring Bear’s growing anxiety. A lesson to be learned: don’t mess with the teddy. An imaginative and well-designed chase. (Picture book. 2-6)

MY NAME IS PARVANA

Ellis, Deborah Groundwood (176 pp.) $16.95 | $14.95 e-book | Oct. 1, 2012 978-1-55498-297-4 978-1-55498-299-8 e-book Series: Breadwinner Quartet, 4 In a follow-up that turns the Breadwinner Trilogy into a quartet, 15-year-old Parvana is imprisoned and interrogated as a suspected terrorist in Afghanistan. When her father’s shoulder bag is searched, Parvana’s captors find little of apparent value—a notebook, pens and a chewed-up copy of To Kill a Mockingbird. Parvana refuses to talk; her interrogator doesn’t even know if she can speak. The interrogator reads aloud the words in her notebook to decide if the angry written sentiments of a teenage girl can be evidence of guilt. Parvana is stoic, her keen mind ever alert as she has to “stand and listen to her life being spouted back at her,” a life in a land where warplanes are as “common as crows,” where someone was always “tasting dirt, having their eardrums explode and seeing their world torn apart.” The interrogation, the words of the notebook and the effective third-person narration combine for a thoroughly tense and engaging portrait of a girl and her kirkus.com

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“This gem about canine siblings goes from peaceful routine to funny mayhem to erroneous bereavement—and relief.” from boot & shoe

top 5 fall releases: teen

country. This passionate volume stands on its own, though readers new to the series and to Ellis’ overall body of work will want to read every one of her fine, important novels. Readers will learn much about the war in Afghanistan even as they cheer on this feisty protagonist. (author’s note) (Fiction. 11 & up)

WEIRD

Frankel, Erin Illus. by Heaphy, Paula Free Spirit (48 pp.) $15.99 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-57542-398-2 Series: Weird, 1 One of a trio of books that present the topic of bullying from three perspectives: the bullied, the bystander and the bully. No matter what Luisa does, from wearing her favorite polka-dot boots to telling jokes at lunch, Sam declares that she is Weird! Luisa gradually stops being herself, until her mother and friends help her realize that she is wonderful the way she is. Jayla’s fear of becoming the target governs her actions as she alternately stands by and does nothing and takes Sam’s Dare! to participate. She eventually realizes that she has lost too much to feeling scared and befriends Luisa. From glimpses of her home life, it is not hard to see why Sam acts as Tough! as she does. But her attempts at keeping things cool are not winning her any friends, and the fact that no one is playing by her rules anymore gets her to start thinking about her behavior. While the series is slightly didactic, the well-drawn characters have real problems with (mostly) credible resolutions. Extensive backmatter, with separate sections for children and adults, in each book summarizes the lessons learned and provides activities to help change ingrained behaviors. Heaphy’s pen-and-ink illustrations are dotted with highlights of color that spotlight the main characters. She is a master of facial expression and body language; Sam’s hoodie sweatshirt speaks volumes all on its own. While the series would benefit from a boy’s version, the message is still loud and clear; this should find a home in every school library. (Picture book/bibliotherapy. 6-12)

After the dog days of summer, the book industry is ready to wow readers with some of the best books of the year. We’ve culled through our starred reviews to choose five teen books to pay special attention to and present them here. THE CRIMSON CROWN

THE RAVEN BOYS

Cinda Williams Chima Hyperion Oct. 23, 2012

Maggie Stiefvater Scholastic Sept. 18, 2012 PASSION BLUE

Victoria Strauss Amazon Children’s Books Nov. 6, 2012

MY NAME IS PARVANA

Deborah Ellis Groundwood Oct. 16, 2012

BOMB

Steve Sheinkin Roaring Brook Sept. 4, 2012

BOOT & SHOE

Frazee, Marla Illus. by Frazee, Marla Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster (40 pp.) $16.99 | $12.99 e-book | Oct. 9, 2012 978-1-4424-2247-6 978-1-4424-5706-5 e-book This gem about canine siblings goes from peaceful routine to funny mayhem to erroneous bereavement—and relief. Littermates Boot and Shoe are small, white dogs with black tails and fur flopping over their eyes. Only their leg coloring differs, giving rise to their names. Boot spends daytime on the |

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“A joy to read. Play calypso music and celebrate!” from drummer boy of john john

back porch, Shoe the front, a habit “perfect for both of them”; they share supper bowl, dog bed and a specific tree for peeing on. Gouache and black pencil create warm vignettes and sturdy spreads with a vibe both lively and mellow. Creamy, speckled paper matches organic, hand-lettered text. One day, a chattering squirrel gets “all up in [their] business,” and the dogs go berserk. To symbolize two dogs and one squirrel in a mad dash, upward of 80 squirrel figures race around the yard and over the roof with a similar number of dog figures in hot pursuit. Postchase, exhausted, each dog finds himself on the wrong porch. Tragically in sync, they circle the house simultaneously to find each other, preventing their own success. Each progresses from patience—hunger, rain, waiting overnight—to true grief, sure the other’s gone. Dog posture, value and composition create poignant pangs—and stunned joy as the dogs reunite when (and where) nature calls. Frazee conveys painful and soothing depth with ease, which is especially impressive given that Boot and Shoe’s eyes can’t be seen. Read unhurried, in a lap, again and again. (Picture book. 4-7)

DRUMMER BOY OF JOHN JOHN

Greenwood, Mark Illus. by Lessac, Frané Lee & Low (40 pp.) $18.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-60060-652-6 First reviewed in 8/1/12 issue Winston, a boy in Trinidad, wishes that he could play in a band and win free rotis, the delicious island specialty prepared by the Roti King and presented to the best performers at Carnival. In the weeks before Carnival, the people of the Caribbean island are busy sewing costumes, and bands are busy rehearsing with their gourds, bamboo sticks, bottles-and-spoons and drums. Winston hears the sounds that his mango pit makes when he chucks it into a junkyard. Inspired, he tries out different cans and tins, listening carefully to their different notes. More experimentation follows, and soon, he is performing for his neighbors. Friends join him to form a band made up of “pots and pans, tins and cans in a rainbow of colors.” The sounds are winningly irresistible, and Winston and his fellow musicians soon enjoy their “folded pancakes filled with chicken and secret herbs and spices.” Greenwood’s story is based on the childhood of Winston Simon, the 20th-century musician credited with the invention of the steel drum. The text is filled with a cacophony of musical words that are fun and challenging to read aloud. Lessac’s gouache paintings pulsate with sun-drenched island colors and often resemble a folk-art quilt. A joy to read. Play calypso music and celebrate! (author’s note, glossary and pronunciation guide, author’s sources) (Picture book/biography. 3-8)

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SILHOUETTE OF A SPARROW

Griffin, Molly Beth Milkweed (208 pp.) $16.95 | Sep. 18, 2012 978-1-57131-701-8 First reviewed in 8/1/12 issue

A sweet, quiet coming-of-age story set in a Prohibition-era lakeside resort. Middle-class Garnet, 16, has been sent from St. Paul to spend the summer with a distant, wealthy relative to give her shellshocked World War I–veteran father space to heal. She misses him terribly; before the war they went birding together, and he protected her from her mother’s attempts to make her a lady. She has sublimated her love of the outdoors into an uncanny talent to cut the silhouettes of birds, which decorate and inform each chapter. Once in Excelsior, she finds herself bored by ladylike pursuits and both seeks employment with the milliner and falls in love with Isabella, a beautiful girl who performs in the forbidden dance hall. Race relations, class differences and “the love that dare not speak its name” intertwine thoughtfully in this meticulous novel. The Jazz Age resort-town setting and environs are beautifully evoked; the author’s afterword attests to her research. Garnet’s narration reveals a girl on the cusp of modernity, one whose desire for something more and something else feels both alluring and terrifying. A subplot in which Garnet attempts to convince her employer not to use feathers in her hats is consistent but feels superfluous in this otherwise tight and purposeful, if slightly overdetermined, novel. This slim tale is a positive breath of fresh air in a market bloated with opportunistic dystopian and paranormal romances. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

LEGENDS OF ZITA THE SPACEGIRL

Hatke, Ben Illus. by Hatke, Ben First Second/Roaring Brook (224 pp.) $12.99 paperback | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-59643-447-9 First reviewed in 8/1/12 issue Lovable Zita returns in a charmingly dashing interplanetary adventure to save yet another doomed planet from impending peril.After saving both a planet and her best friend, Zita has achieved renown as an intergalactic hero and is greeted with adulation wherever she travels. In the midst of her fame, a lone, archaic Imprint-o-Tron—a robot that was built for companionship but took its “imprinting” too far—spies a Zita poster and immediately takes on her likeness. The bot’s mimicry is so exact that it quickly becomes difficult to tell the real Zita from the impostor. A sudden turn of events leads to the real Zita making a felonious—although necessary—decision, instantly transforming her public image from that of hero to outlaw. Faced with saving another planet, the real and fake Zitas must find a middle ground and work together, redefining what it really means kirkus.com

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to be a hero when they set out to rescue the Lumponians from the cutely named but very deadly Star Hearts, villainous parasites capable of destroying entire planets. Hatke’s arrestingly vibrant art commands instant adoration of its reader. Zita’s moxie is positively contagious, and her adventures are un-put-downable. Readers would be hard-pressed to not find something to like in these tales; they’re a winning formula of eye-catching aesthetics and plot and creativity, adeptly executed. Imaginative and utterly bewitching. (Graphic science fiction. 9-12)

ZOMBIE MAKERS True Stories of Nature’s Undead

Johnson, Rebecca L. Millbrook/Lerner (48 pp.) $22.95 e-book | PLB $30.60 Oct. 1, 2012

5 more highly a n t i c i pat e d c h i l d r e n ’s and teen titles Every season, there are books the publishers hold close to their vests; here are five hotly anticipated children’s and teen titles that we weren’t able to review for this issue but that readers are dying to get their hands on…

Solid (sometimes writhing) proof that the scariest zombie flicks have nothing on Nature. To demonstrate that there are indeed real zombies—“closer than you think”—Johnson (Journey into the Deep, 2010; iPad app, 2011) introduces a select set of fungi, worms, viruses and wasps that invade the bodies and take over the brains of their victims. Enhanced by large and often deliciously disturbing color photos, her descriptions of each parasite’s life cycle is both specific and astonishing; not only does the fungus O. unilateralis force a carpenter ant to clamp itself to a leaf (before sending a long reproductive stalk out of its head) for instance, it even somehow strengthens the ant’s mouth muscles. The author tracks similarly focused physical and behavioral changes not just in insects, but in other creatures too, including rabies-infected mammals. Lest human readers feel left out of the picture, she mentions the protozoan T. gondii, which causes rats to engage in reckless behavior and also has infected up to a quarter of all the adults and teens in this country. In each chapter, Johnson reports back on conversations with scientists engaged in relevant research, and she closes with a quick look at telling signs in the fossil record. Science writing at its grossest and best, though as the title (not to mention the blood-spattered pages) warns, not for the squeamish. (author’s note, glossary, notes, bibliography, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)

REACHED

“WHO COULD THAT BE AT THIS HOUR?”

Lemony Snicket Little, Brown Oct. 23, 2012

Jeff Kinney Amulet Nov. 13, 2012

LEAVE YOUR SLEEP

Natalie Merchant; illus. by Barbara McClintock Farrar, Straus & Giroux Nov. 13, 2012

Kelsey, Elin Illus. by Kim, Soyeon Owlkids Books (32 pp.) $18.95 | Sep. 15, 2012 978-1-926973-35-7 First reviewed in 8/1/12 issue

We are made of earth and water and air and stardust, and we are more related to animals and plants than we ever imagined. Everything about us is found in the natural world. Our atoms are from ancient stardust, and the water and salt that flow within us are part of the unchanging cycle that goes back kirkus.com

Rick Riordan Hyperion Oct. 2, 2012

DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE THIRD WHEEL

YOU ARE STARDUST

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MARK OF ATHENA

Ally Condie Dutton Nov. 13, 2012

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to the beginning of time. We breathe pollen that, when released, may actually create a plant. We grow at night and seasonally shed and grow hair, in similar fashion to animals. We are also a living planet for millions of microorganisms. Kelsey doesn’t lecture or overcomplicate the information. She speaks directly to readers in a way that opens minds to big ideas and paves the way for thoughtful questions of their own. The litany of facts comes alive in vivid, descriptive language, lending a philosophical, elegant and mystical aura to current scientific findings. Kim’s incredibly unusual illustrations are sublime. Employing varied painting techniques, vivid colors, multidimensional cutouts, unexpected materials and unusual textures, she creates a view of nature that is at once real and otherworldly. This is a work that demands to be read and reread, studied and examined, and thoroughly digested. It is perfect for sparking adult and child conversations about our place in the universe. A remarkable achievement. (Picture book. 5-12)

SQUEAK, RUMBLE, WHOMP! WHOMP! WHOMP!

Marsalis, Wynton Illus. by Rogers, Paul Candlewick (40 pp.) $15.99 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-7636-3991-4

Marsalis and Rogers, who collaborated on the scintillating Jazz ABZ (2005), reunite for this sonic celebration for the younger crowd. Marsalis contributes 10 three-line verses that crackle with invented sound words. Most verses link a couple of everyday sounds with one made by a musical instrument: “Big trucks on the highway RRRRUMBLE. / Hunger makes my tummy GRrruMBle. / The big bass drum goes “Bum! Brrrum! BRRRUMBLE!!!!” Rogers’ digitally colored ink drawings depict a New Orleans setting. The narrator, an African-American boy in white high-tops, exudes curiosity and cool (and plays trumpet). Those onomatopoeic words, elegantly red-dressed in Caslon 540 Italic, will challenge readers and delight listeners. Marsalis’ choices seem just right: “Chrrrick chrrrick chrrrick chrrrick—buttering my toast.” An upright bass emits “Doom, Doom, Doom, Blap! Doom, Doom, Slap!” Rogers’ hip, playfully cartoonish spreads pop with clever visual allusions to jazz tunes and players. Hand-lettered lyrics to a popular funeral song blow out of a church band’s instruments; indeed, the tuba’s bell forms the “O” for “O[h] didn’t he ramble.” An ambulance’s side reads “U.M.M.G. Ambulance,” a brilliant reference to the Billy Strayhorn tune whose titular acronym means “Upper Manhattan Medical Group.” The final spread rounds up a cacophony of sounds, from “Squeak” and “Schuk-chuk” to “BAP!” Loud and clear, the creators show how tuning into everyday sounds can inspire music. Clap, clap, CLAP! (Picture Book. 3-7)

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SCOUT

McMillan, Gordon Illus. by McMillan, Gordon Sleeping Bear Press (40 pp.) $14.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-58536-797-9 A dog searches for his lost ball and finds friends in this pedestrian tale. Scout is a Scottie dog who lives on the top floor of a high-rise. To find his toy, he explores the building and encounters a feline, fish and hamster who each boast that their attributes are better than the ball’s. When the toy is found with a confused mouse (it thinks the ball is cheese), comparisons are made, play ensues and friendships form. The closing gag demonstrates that a bouncy ball continues to be a magnet that serves to bring animals together. It’s a good idea, yet uninspired in its telling. The animals’ alliterated names feel trite, and the skills they vaunt seem unrelated to their species (the cat can bounce higher, the fish’s bowl is rounder, and the hamster can run faster, for instance). McMillan’s digital illustrations have a simple, graphic style done in an almost monochromatic palette. There are moments of impact, especially in his exterior shots of the building. One shows a lone Scout looking out a top-floor window during the day, and another shows all the animals on their respective floors, looking out their windows at night—a road map to Scout’s adventure and newfound friends. Unfortunately, these moments don’t outweigh the mundane spreads filled with characters that feel stamped out, with only scale or location changed. An enthusiastic effort, but with lackluster results. (Picture book. 3-5)

LOST IN PARIS

Moss, Marissa Illus. by Moss, Marissa Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (224 pp.) $12.99 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-4022-6606-5 Series: Mira’s Diary, 1 Her mother’s mysterious absence, a perplexing postcard and a unique family ability sends Mira on a race through time. A trip to France with her father and brother in search of her mother becomes a fateful odyssey for Mira when she is abruptly transported to Paris circa 1881. Mira is shocked to find out she can travel through time, a talent she has inherited from her mother. She also discovers that her mother has travelled into the past on a quest for justice for Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish military officer wrongly accused of a crime, and needs Mira’s help. A series of letters from her mother guides Mira as she visits various moments in time between 1881 and 1899. Mira’s encounters with anti-Semitism during her investigation further compel her to seek out the truth. While striving to unravel the secrets surrounding Dreyfus’ trial, Mira becomes involved in the lives of several impressionist artists and, of course, writer Émile Zola. With vividly detailed descriptions, Moss deftly recounts kirkus.com

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Mira’s journey among the backdrop of historical events and people. Moss’ thought-provoking tale examines the devastating effects of prejudice and intolerance; in her author’s note, she gives more background on the Dreyfus Affair and Zola’s “J’Accuse.” A surprise ending will leave readers anticipating Mira’s next mission as she follows her mother through time and history. (bibliography) (Fantasy. 10-14)

birds, insects and animals of the southern African veld. Each one makes its individual sound, together singing “their rainshower jazz.” That is, everyone except Ostrich. But as the minimal story ends, Ostrich finally booms out a “TWOOWOO-WOOOT.” It is a sound “part lion’s roar, / part foghorn, / part old man trumpeting into his handkerchief.” The language is spare, like the land it describes. It has the flavor of folklore, but this is an original story that Nelson has created to complement the paintings made by !Kung San people participating in the Kuru Art Project of Botswana. The San people were traditional hunter-gatherers, but development has forced them into the modern economy. The author’s royalties will go to the Project, part of an income-generating group of programs. The cause is worthy, and the vibrantly colored, naive oil paintings, bordered uniformly with a broad stripe with a zigzag line in a contrasting hue, are bold and attractive. The message is clear: Ostrich finds “his voice at last, / his own beauty, / his big, terrific self.” However, there is no precipitating reason for this change. Does his voice come to him as a matter of maturity? While the story is not fully satisfying, the

OSTRICH AND LARK

Nelson, Marilyn Illus. by San Artists of the Kuru Art Project of Botswana Boyds Mills (32 pp.) $16.95 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-1-59078-702-1 When does an ostrich come into his own? Ostrich and Lark, two bosom buddies, travel through the Kalahari Desert, interacting with the

A luminous adventure of beauty, betrayal, and bravery The early raves are in for this radiant historical novel: “An elegant retelling of that old, crucial story of finding one’s place in the world, set against a vivid evocation of the Italian Renaissance.”—Robin McKinley “It has adventure, arguments, soul-searching, villains, romance, hair-breadth escapes, dastardly betrayals, and girl power. I simply galloped through it.”—Jane Yolen “Combines the spiritual with a hint of the supernatural . . . A lovely read.”—Megan Whalen Turner “From its opening chapter to its final harrowing unfolding, Giulia’s tale holds the reader riveted.”—Meredith Ann Pierce

Victoria Strauss K PASSION BLUE November K Teen K 978-0-7614-6230-9 K $17.99

Available from Brilliance Audio and a variety of wholesalers. To place an order with Brilliance Audio, visit www.brillianceaudio.com/amazonchildrenspublishing or call 800-648-2312

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“Groups of photographs are sprinkled throughout the volume, offering just enough visual support for the splendid character development in the writing…” from bomb

book deserves an audience for its successful portrayal of the natural world of the Kalahari. Eye-catching and lyrical. (Picture book. 4-8)

THOSE DARN SQUIRRELS FLY SOUTH

Rubin, Adam Illus. by Salmieri, Daniel Clarion (32 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 11, 2012 978-0-547-67823-8 First reviewed in 8/1/12 issue Birds of a feather (along with a cantankerous gentleman and his pesky squirrels) flock together at this tropical destination. Old Man Fookwire dips into a depression when his beloved feathered companions fly south. His impish squirrels take to the sky in makeshift machines (utilizing, in part, a pine cone and soda bottle) and follow the birds. After the squirrels call collect, Fookwire putters down the highway (at 12 mph) to join the birds and the pests. Once in Santa Vaca, he discovers the fiery coco, kiki and caramba birds and starts to paint them. Forgetting sunscreen and forgoing water, Mr. Fookwire turns tomato-red and suffers from heatstroke. The squirrels perform triage, fanning him with palm branches and dumping fluids into his parched mouth, before piling him into his sports car and driving him back north at record speeds. Fookwire’s “Thooooooose daaaaaaarn squirrrrrels!” says it all about their love-hate relationship. Visual slapstick and a deadpan text combine with trademark Fookwire expressions (“great googly-moogly!”) to make this third Darn Squirrels outing a winner. Watercolor, gouache and colored-pencil spreads pepper the beach with individual grains of sand. The birds’ flamboyance (one a bird-sized replica of the ornery old man) is the perfect complement to the sweltering heat. Hysterical—again. (Picture book. 5-9)

BOMB The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon Sheinkin, Steve Roaring Brook (272 pp.) $19.99 | Sep. 4, 2012 978-1-59643-487-5 First reviewed in 8/1/12 issue

In late December 1938, German chemist Otto Hahn discovered that uranium atoms could be split, and just a few months later the race to build an atomic bomb was on. The story unfolds in three parts, covering American attempts to build the bomb, how the Soviets tried to steal American designs and how the Americans tried to keep the Germans from building a bomb. It was the eve of World War II, 42

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and the fate of the world was at stake, “[b]ut how was a theoretical physicist supposed to save the world?” It’s a true spy thriller, ranging from the football stadium at the University of Chicago to the mountains of Norway, from the deserts of New Mexico to laboratories in East Tennessee, and all along the way spies in the United States were feeding sensitive information to the KGB. Groups of photographs are sprinkled throughout the volume, offering just enough visual support for the splendid character development in the writing, and thorough documentation is provided in the backmatter. It takes a lot of work to make a complicated subject clear and exciting, and from his prodigious research and storytelling skill, Sheinkin has created a nonfiction story young people will want to read. A superb tale of an era and an effort that forever changed our world. (source notes, quotation notes, acknowledgments, photo credits, index) (Nonfiction. 10 & up)

ALICE IN ZOMBIELAND

Showalter, Gena Harlequin Teen (416 pp.) $18.99 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-0-373-21058-9 Series: White Rabbit Chronicles, 1 Attack of the invisible zombies! Alice Bell has never been an ordinary girl—she’s never been allowed outside after dark courtesy of her paranoid father and the monsters he sees everywhere. But after a terrible car accident kills Alice’s family, she begins to see the undead, too. Now living with her grandparents and starting a new school, Ali—she eschews her old name due to memories, grief and survivor’s guilt—can’t build a new life while being followed by her father’s demons. As if being chased by slobbering, decaying dead things wasn’t enough, Ali also navigates wellmeaning if out-of-touch grandparents and the tension between her new social group and the rough crowd (more specifically, Ali’s interested in its leader, Cole Holland). The obligatory love triangle never threatens the main love story, but at least Ali’s friendships with other characters, especially her quirky new best friend Kat, are interesting. While using an Alice in Wonderland motif and established survival/horror video game staples (such as a gradually revealed journal written in code), Showalter creates an original zombie mythology and a completely new set of rules for the monsters to follow, as covered by the sometimes-clunky exposition. The climax is rushed, especially when compared to the pacing of the first act of the story, but action-packed. Showalter has created a promising playground for future story installments. (playlist, author Q&A) (Horror/paranormal romance. 12-17)

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THE FIRE CHRONICLE

Stephens, John Knopf (400 pp.) $17.99 | PLB $20.99 | Oct. 9, 2012 978-0-375-86871-9 978-0-375-96871-6 PLB Series: Books of Beginning, 2 Time travel, an Arctic ice shelf and frivolous elves converge in this second installment of The Books of Beginning. Siblings Kate, Michael and Emma were lauded for successfully battling evil in The Emerald Atlas (2011), but soon afterward, their trusted confidant, Dr. Pym, redeposited them in a decrepit orphanage without explanation. After several months, a foreboding black cloud rolls in, catapulting the children into action. Kate escapes to 1899 Manhattan via the previous book’s titular atlas, while Michael and Emma are miraculously plucked from danger by Pym. So sets the stage for Kate’s mission to rejoin her siblings and for

Michael and Emma’s journey to a secreted, lush valley in Antarctica to seek a second magic book, the Chronicle. The children aren’t strangers to magic, but their awe of magical places, allies and enemies does anything but wane here (it’s hard to be hohum when entranced by elves, pursued by a dragon and combatting trolls). A third-person-omniscient narration alternates between Kate and Michael, but Michael, the meekest child (and destined keeper of the Chronicle), is the primary focus as he struggles to find a fiery strength within himself. With no rest for the children, the ending is anything but a fading ember as Emma is kidnapped, separating the trio once again and setting the stage for Book 3. Irreverent humor and swashbuckling adventure collide in a fetching fantasy. (Fantasy. 10-14)

A timeless celebration of new readers and good friends. For a young boy and his faithful companion, a snowy day provides the perfect moment to share the joys of reading. Amy Hest’s spare, evocative text and Lauren Castillo’s charming, classic illustrations perfectly capture the wonder and delight of a magical day.

The Reader

by Amy Hest, illustrated by Lauren Castillo October • 978-0-7614-6184-5 • $16.99

Available from Brilliance Audio and a variety of wholesalers. To place an order with Brilliance Audio, visit www.brillianceaudio.com/amazonchildrenspublishing or call 800-648-2312.

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THE RAVEN BOYS

Stiefvater, Maggie Scholastic (416 pp.) $17.99 | $17.99 e-book | Sep. 18, 2012 978-0-545-42492-9 978-0-545-46979-1 e-book Series: The Raven Cycle, 1 First reviewed in 8/1/12 issue An ancient Welsh king may be buried in the Virginia countryside; three privileged boys hope to disinter him. Meanwhile, 16-year-old Blue Sargent, daughter of a smalltown psychic, has lived her whole life under a prophecy: If she kisses her true love, he will die. Not that she plans on kissing anyone. Blue isn’t psychic, but she enhances the extrasensory power of anyone she’s near; while helping her aunt visualize the souls of people soon to die, she sees a vision of a dying Raven boy named Gansey. The Raven Boys—students at Aglionby, a nearby prep school, so-called because of the ravens on their school crest— soon encounter Blue in person. From then on, the point of view shifts among Blue; Gansey, a trust-fund kid obsessed with finding King Glendower buried on a ley-line in Virginia; and Adam, a scholarship student obsessed with his own self-sufficiency. Add Ronan, whose violent insouciance comes from seeing his father die, and Noah, whose first words in the book are, “I’ve been dead for seven years,” and you’ve got a story very few writers could dream up and only Stiefvater could make so palpably real. Simultaneously complex and simple, compulsively readable, marvelously wrought. The only flaw is that this is Book 1; it may be months yet before Book 2 comes out. The magic is entirely pragmatic; the impossible, extraordinarily true. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

PASSION BLUE

Strauss, Victoria Amazon Children’s Publishing (352 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 e-book | Nov. 6, 2012 978-0-7614-6230-9 978-0-7614-6231-6 e-book

their recipes closely guarded secrets. Humilità’s precious passion blue is one; its beauty draws Giulia like a flame. So do visions of love and freedom beyond convent walls. But stealing away to meet handsome Ormanno, another talented artist, is risky. Fantasy elements and a historical setting rich with sensuous detail are satisfying, but it’s Giulia’s achingly real search for her heart’s desire that resonates most today, when millions of girls still have limited choices. A rare, rewarding, sumptuous exploration of artistic passion. (author’s note) (Historical fantasy. 12 & up)

DRAWING FROM THE CITY

Tejubehan Translated by Geetha, V.; Wolf, Gita Illus. by Tejubehan Tara Publishing (28 pp.) $35.95 | Oct. 1, 2012 978-93-80340-17-3 Art and design take center stage in this carefully crafted, elegant, artisanal book. This stunning autobiographical art book recounts self-taught artist Tejubehan’s journey from an impoverished childhood in rural India, through her family’s efforts to improve their lot in a tent city in Mumbai, and into her adulthood, when she lived as a singer and artist with her husband. The direct, unadorned text has an immediacy that reveals its roots as an orally narrated life story, which was then recorded in Tamil and translated into English. Hand–screenprinted illustrations comprised of intricate linework and patterns of dots underscore elements of the text without being strictly tied to delivering straightforward narrative. In this way, the book emerges more as an illustrated memoir than it does a traditional picture book with interdependent art and text. As a physical artifact, it draws attention to its creation with stiff pages and fragrant, tactile inks. The illustrations themselves are black and white, while the text is set in a sans-serif typeface in colors that change subtly from spread to spread. A unique offering that presents readers with arresting artwork and a compelling life story. (Art book. 8-14)

Giulia is bright, curious and a gifted artist, born to a noble father and his humble mistress in 15th-century Renaissance Italy. Now her fate rests with her father’s widow, who’s sending Giulia to a Padua convent. Desperate to avoid a cloistered life, Giulia obtains a talisman that’s promised to deliver her heart’s desire: marriage to a good man and a home of her own. Convent life is hard. Highborn nuns enjoy freedom; others, like Giulia, labor at menial tasks. When her artistic talent’s discovered, she’s invited to join the close-knit group of artist nuns whose renowned work helps support the convent. Guided by Maestra Humilità, daughter of a famous artist, Giulia begins to learn this exacting craft with tasks like mixing egg tempera. Artists create their own colors, 44

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BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH

Walters, Eric Orca (256 pp.) $9.95 paperback | Oct. 10, 2012 978-1-55469-941-4 Series: Seven (The Series) Seventeen-year-old DJ attempts to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in fulfillment of his grandfather’s final wish to have his ashes spread at the summit. Accustomed to succeeding at everything he does, DJ mistakenly believes that he can travel to Africa, climb the mountain and be home in a matter of days. Tricked into taking on the first female porter, he finds himself set to climb with a 67-year-old woman; nevertheless, DJ believes that his fitness and youth will be enough to get him to the top. However, if pride comes before the fall, then perhaps humility comes before the ascent. He learns that to travel quickly, one must travel alone, but to travel far, one

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must go with others. The rich setting and the thrilling details of the climb will make readers yearn for their own adventure. However, graphic descriptions of altitude sickness and stomach-twisting trail food leave no false illusions that the journey will be an easy one. This exciting adventure is only slightly marred by obvious foreshadowing and a predictable ending. DJ’s tale is the first of seven books in this series, all publishing simultaneously. Each, written by a different author, will focus on one of the six other grandsons following their grandfather’s will. Richly detailed and satisfying. (Adventure. 10-16)

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kirkus q & a with elizabeth levy and bruce coville “It’s OK that you love each other,” Paula Danziger, who died in 2004, used to tell her best friends Elizabeth Levy and Bruce Coville. “You just can’t love each other more than you love me.” What she loved most was being with both of them together, Levy says. Now Coville and Levy are continuing the story of Danziger’s character, Amber Brown, in Amber Brown is Tickled Pink—with the blessing of Carrie Danziger, the inspiration for her Aunt Paula’s character, whom the co-authors have known since she was a preteen. Levy and Coville say it’s as if Danziger is in the room with them. Q: Did your friendship with Paula Danziger include your writing? EL: Absolutely—and it worked! We’d talk at about 10 in the morning, and if you don’t do three pages by the time we talk again later, I won’t talk to you. Paula and Bruce would talk to each other at 5 p.m. and have three pages or else.

AMBER BROWN IS TICKLED PINK

Q: Who approached you about the Amber Brown project? EL: We have the same agents, Amy Berkower and Jodi Reamer at Writer’s House. They approached me because they wanted the series to continue. I really felt it would feel creepy without Bruce. Bruce and I both loved the theater. We thought, “What if we did it as our fantasy of a 1920s play?” Whether it was a myth or not of Moss Hart and George Kaufman being in a room and writing together, or Comden and Green, it worked.

EL: Every day we’d read out what we did the day before. As Bruce and I wrote, we made Amber so honest about friendships. She never sugarcoated how sad it feels to be left out. She was so funny, but she also knew you could use that as a weapon. That’s how Paula helped me. She’d say, “You can’t use humor as a weapon, or else you have to know that you’re using it as a weapon.” I love that in Amber and in Paula. BC: I’ve done other collaborations, most notably with Jane Yolen on Armageddon Summer, but never had a process quite like this. In fact, in talking with friends, I don’t know of anyone who’s worked exactly this way. We’ve also learned that, in cases where we have conflict about a line or a turn in the story, when we return to the work the next day, we’ll usually find ourselves in the same place. Knowing that helps us move forward. EL: Sometimes, as we’re writing, we might skip ahead. We give each other different things to do. I have to describe what Amber wears. Neither of us likes crafts the way Paula did. BC: Yeah, but I get stuck with writing the crafts stuff! Which mostly gets cut anyway. But sometimes we need to write it to move forward, even knowing that it will eventually go away. For the morning reread of the previous day’s work, we take turns reading pages aloud to each other. It’s very effective. We do a lot of revising in the process, and it also gets us right back into the world of the story. —By Jenny Brown

BC: In many ways it feels like a three-way collaboration, since we both often reference Paula as we’re trying to work things out, whether at the structure level or in the shaping of an individual line. Q: How do the two of you work together? BC: We sit facing each other, each of us on our own laptop, and often work on the same paragraph at the 46

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ELI Z A B ET H L EV Y P HOTO © MA R S H A L L MA R KOV IT Z ; B RU C E C OV IL L E P HOTO © J UL ES

Paula Danziger; Elizabeth Levy and Bruce Coville Illus. by Tony Ross Putnam $14.99 Sept. 13, 2012 978-0-399-256561 8-12 years

BC: In 1992, when Paula and I were both stuck on our current writing projects, we started a tradition of challenging each other to produce a certain amount of work each day, work that we would read to each other. When Paula and I first started, the deal was “Have three pages or suffer unendurable shame.” However, some years later we both stalled out again. I said, “OK, it’s time to bring back the shame.” It didn’t work. We needed to add some incentive. We agreed that whoever did not have three pages the next day had to send $10 to the George W. Bush re-election fund. And we couldn’t do it anonymously. There followed some of the most productive months that either of us ever had.

same time. We know basically where we’re going, and we each try to work it out. Then we read them aloud and merge what we’ve done. It’s a weird process, and it requires setting aside ego in favor of the story, but it’s been working for us.


“Winking, the text places readers gleefully in the know—and Goldilocks is no patsy either. Willems’ trademark cartoon-style illustrations include sly eyebrows, sardonic glances and a fabulous picture of Goldilocks inside a pudding bowl.” from goldilocks and the three dinosaurs

GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE DINOSAURS

Willems, Mo Illus. by Willems, Mo Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins (40 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 1, 2012 978-0-06-210418-2 First reviewed in 8/1/12 issue A hilariously fractured fairy tale. The structure’s well-known, so the endpapers list myriad permutations, almost all crossed out: Goldilocks and the Three Clams? Three Ostriches? Three Glasses of Milk? Nope, it’s Dinosaurs: Papa, Mama and one Dinosaur “who happened to be visiting from Norway.” Details are tasty—chocolate pudding instead of porridge; a different furniture riff (“The first chair was too tall. The second chair was too tall. But the third chair— [page turn] —WAS TOO TALL”). Even funnier are the obviously fraudulent protestations. Child-friendly irony lets readers giggle knowingly as Mama Dinosaur muses, “I SURE HOPE NO INNOCENT LITTLE SUCCULENT CHILD HAPPENS BY OUR UNLOCKED HOME WHILE WE ARE…uhhh…SOMEPLACE ELSE!” They’re “definitely not hiding in the woods waiting for an unsuspecting kid”; pudding sits unattended to enable the creation of “delicious chocolate-filled-little-girl-bonbons (which, by the way, are totally not the favorite things in the whole world for hungry Dinosaurs).” Winking, the text places readers gleefully in the know—and Goldilocks is no patsy either. Willems’ trademark cartoon-style illustrations include sly eyebrows, sardonic glances and a fabulous picture of Goldilocks inside a pudding bowl. When she’s beyond satiated, her pupils dilate— enormous, then tiny—subtly nodding to the old tale’s “too big, too small” theme. Top-notch for group storytime, for a project on revising classics or just for enjoyment; funniest for kids who know the original. (Fractured fairy tale. 5-9)

This Issue’s Contributors # Kimberly Brubaker Bradley • Timothy Capehart • Ann Childs • Elise DeGuiseppi • Judith Gire • Melinda Greenblatt • Heather L. Hepler • Kathleen T. Isaacs • Betsy Judkins • K. Lesley Knieriem • Megan Lambert • Lori Low • Joan Malewitz • John Edward Peters • Susan Pine • Rebecca Rabinowitz • Nancy Thalia Reynolds • Ann Marie Sammataro • Dean Schneider • Karyn N. Silverman • Meg Smith • Jennifer Sweeney • Jessica Thomas • Gordon West

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2012 Fall Preview  

Featuring reviews of the most anticipated books of Fall 2012; and more

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