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Bookmarks magazine MarApr08

Bookmarks magazine MarApr08

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Published by jonphillips
A sample issue of Bookmarks magazine, March/April 2008. Includes 50 book reviews, profiles of D.H. Lawrence, Geraldine Brooks, and Sue Miller
A sample issue of Bookmarks magazine, March/April 2008. Includes 50 book reviews, profiles of D.H. Lawrence, Geraldine Brooks, and Sue Miller

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Published by: jonphillips on Apr 24, 2008
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fO R eVeRYONe wH O H ASN ' T R e A D eV e RY TH I N G

Best Books compiled
New
Geraldine Brooks Sue Miller

More Than 25 "Best of 2007" Lists Analyzed

Best reviews summarized
classic

Hundreds of Published Book Reviews Distilled

D. H. Lawrence Tudor England

80% 1.5 BWR PD

MAR/APR 04 2008 No. 33 $5.95 USA $5.95 CANADA
bookMARkSMAgAziNe.CoM

04

0

74470

57344

9

Book Groups • reader picks • awards, awards

contents

Readers Recommend
14 Have You Read? 18 Book Group Profile
The All Things Medieval Book Group is, you guessed it, obsessed with everything medieval—from chain mail and archery to Viking art, Nordic mythology, and King Arthur, Gwenivere, Merlin, and Lancelot.

Experts Advise
20 What one Book

Features
22
A pivotal and controversial 20th-century English writer, he shocked the public with Lady Chatterley’s Lover and other depictions of love, romantic desire, sexuality, and relationships between men and women as well as men and men. A former foreign correspondent, Brooks explores her love affair with all places foreign—from

D. H. Lawrence

17th-century England to the 21stcentury Middle East. Her new novel, People of the Book, reveals the long-hidden, far-flung secrets of a Jewish illuminated manuscript.

The Tudor Dynasty Don’t remember which of Henry VIII’s wives “divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived”? The experts recommend biographies, histories, and novels to clear up the confusion.

31

28

Geraldine Brooks

In her latest novel, The Senator’s Wife, the “doyenne of domesticity” takes a sharp look at how two marriages—one new, one old— weather life’s joys, disappointments, and betrayals.

sue Miller

New Books Guide
Fic tio n
34 Literary Fiction 49 crime 50 sF

Departments
2 Letter from the editor 3 Letters 4 selections 5 Between the covers 7 Best Books of 2007 Lists 10 coming soon 11 Awards 16 Younger Readers’ Awards 19 now in Paperback 67 Index 68 the Year in Books

n o nfic tio n
52 General 56 Biography 61 History 65 science

www.bookmarksmagazine.com
Bookmarks magazine 1

bo ok m arks
MARcH/APRIL 2008 P u B L I s H E r & E D I To r Jon Phillips M A N A G I N G E D I To r Jessica teisch Co F o u N D E r Allison nelson A s s o C I AT E E D I To r s Lee titus elliott, Anand Ranganathan, Patrick smith, Rob tocalino sENIor WrITEr Leanne Milway Co N T r I B u To r s Andrew Benedict-nelson, Judy Fireman, Lynn Metzger, Manek Mistry, trisha tucker

Letter from the Editor

W

e live in the era of $4 cups of coffee and $7 gourmet chocolate bars. I joke with my wife that we ought to figure out what plain, boring thing we could magically transform into a luxury product—we’d make a killing! Even toothpaste has been done: you can now buy a $12 tube of toothpaste to “experience luxury dental care.” The beauty of reading is that no one has figured out a way to make it more expensive. Sure, collectors will have their way with limited runs and first editions, but reading is such a pure experience that there is no way to make it fancy. What else does a reader need for her or his hobby except a well-lighted place to sit? In fact, it’s one of the few hobbies that doesn’t require a lot of expensive stuff to go along with it. If you love to cook, you buy not only the food but thousands of dollars worth of equipment and utensils. Are you into woodworking? Same thing: you purchase the wood and tool after tool. The accessories readers might choose to buy are quite modest: a nice bookmark, a reading light. Really all you need are books, and you can borrow those for free from the library. This modesty in the pursuit of reading is part of what makes it so elegant. But in a disturbing way, it is also a subtle cause for the decline in readership. There’s just no money in it. Aside from publishers and a major bookstore chain or two, no one stands to make a lot more money if more people read. This really struck me when, on January 15, Apple CEO Steve Jobs commented to The New York Times on Amazon’s Kindle, the new electronic book device: It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore. Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore. Just ignore the cavalier nature of Jobs’s statement for a minute. He is really saying that there is no business opportunity in the world of reading. With no costly addon products to sell, and therefore no advertising devoted to books and reading, literature continues its slow fade into the cultural background. How many Apple iPod advertisements do you see on television, in print, on public transportation? However you feel about electronic books, wouldn’t it be amazing if all those ads were for a reading device? I try not to fret too much about the decline in reading: there will always be writers, there will always be readers, and we’ll always find each other. But as I consider the struggle, I do like to know what we’re up against. And once again in the struggle for potential readers’ hearts and minds, we’re on our own. Knowing readers as I do, I bet most of us like that sort of challenge. We’ll continue as we always have—word of mouth, book by book. Best, Jon
W R I t e to :

cUstoMeR/sUBscRIBeR seRVIces Bookmarks Magazine (888) 488-6593 service@bookmarksmagazine.com P.o. Box 3098 Langhorne, PA 19047-9868
e D I to R I A L / B U s I n e s s A D D R e s s

Bookmarks 1818 MLK Blvd, No. 181 Chapel Hill, NC 27514 (888) 356-8107

Laraine Stein / (415) 751-5385 advertising@bookmarksmagazine.com
Subscriptions are $29.70 per year. To subscribe, please visit our secure subscriptions service at www. bookmarksmagazine.com or send an e-mail with your name, address, and payment information to subscribe@bookmarksmagazine.com. You may also call 888-488-6593 or send a check to the customer service address below. Add $10 postage per year for Canadian subscriptions and $30 per year for all other foreign countries (airmail). Single copy $5.95. Canada, $7.95. Single copy outside Canada, the U.S. and possessions, $7.95. We welcome any and all feedback, opinions, and letters. Please address correspondence to letters@bookmarksmagazine.com or the Editorial Address above. All contents are © 2008 Bookmarks Publishing, LLC BOOKMARKS (ISSN 1546-0657) is published bimonthly by Bookmarks Publishing, LLC, 1818 MLK Blvd, No. 181, Chapel Hill, NC 27514. Periodicals Postage Paid at Chapel Hill, NC, and at additional mailing offices.

D I R e c to R o F A D V e R t I s I n G

PostMAsteR: Send address

changes to: Bookmarks P.O. Box 3098 Langhorne, PA 19047-9868.

letters@bookmarksmagazine.com Bookmarks 1818 MLK Blvd, No. 181 Chapel Hill, NC 27514

2 march/april 2008

letters

Bookmarks What’s new
BookMARks WeB sIte
the Bookmarks Web site is becoming more useful every day. We now have over half of the reviews ever published in the magazine available online (for free), and we’ve also categorized each book by genre, subject, era, theme, and so forth. this means you can search for 4-star books about “Mothers & Daughters” or use our Power Browser to find 4-star or higher “Historical Fiction” books about Russia (namely, The People’s Act of Love by James Meek). Visit www.bookmarksmagazine.com to give it a try.

the Amazon kindle

BY JessIcA teIscH

Yes, I broke down and got one. With all the reading I do for Bookmarks and in my spare time, I decided to take the plunge and get Amazon’s Kindle, version 1.0 (not the smartest thing to do, I realize, but someone needs to check out the electronicreader concept for those not daunted by the hefty $399 price tag, no?). And I love it. The Kindle will never replace the stacks of books, magazines, and newspapers lying around the office and home. It will never mimic the smell of a new book, the excitement of browsing the titles in a bookstore or library, or the joy of flipping through the pages to read the ending first. Simply put, it will never replace paper and the printed word.
BUt I LoVe It AnYWAY,

and this is why:

1) Portability: When I travel, I don’t want to lug around six books. The Kindle can hold about 200 e-books, with the option of using Amazon to store even more books and switch them in and out of the Kindle. 2) Web access: The Kindle offers free access to the Internet via the Sprint network. Sure, the Web browser is a little rudimentary, and its purpose is to allow users to purchase books from Amazon (books download in about a minute), but for a Luddite like me who has shied away from PDAs and iPhones, having portable Web access is new—and fun. 3) Free books: Amazon wants users to purchase books from Amazon, but blogs pointed me to free e-book sites with books in the public domain, including the URL http://manybooks. net. The free sites will give me a good chance to brush up on the classics. 4) Readability: The Kindle screen isn’t as large as even a quality paperback, but I find it extremely readable (it has an e-ink technology that mimics a printed page). And it’s convenient to be able to increase the font size. 5) Ease of Use: Technology is not my forte, but using the Kindle is easy. I figured it out even without the directions that supposedly came with it but did not … sort of. Are there any downsides? Sure. I can’t figure out the whole bookmarking thing yet; the built-in dictionary doesn’t contain Indian slang (I’m reading Rohinton Mistry’s Family Matters); I keep turning the “next page” tab by mistake; and it’s an expensive toy to buy and maintain. And it can’t do everything—nor is it meant to. For me, it’s simply a convenient and fun supplement to the printed word. But will I carry a few books with me when I travel just in case? Probably.
Bookmarks magazine 3

BookMARks onLIne sURVeY
As I mentioned in the last issue, we are conducting an online survey to get your opinions about the content in Bookmarks magazine. We will be giving away free oneyear subscriptions to five of our respondents, selected at random. We’ve received hundreds of responses, and the feedback has proven valuable. But that’s just a small percentage of our readership. If you’d like to influence our coverage and the editorial choices we make, please visit www.bookmarksmagazine.com. our nomination for least helpful survey quotation so far: “I haven’t read the magazine yet so I’m probably not qualified to respond but I will say that I just want to know what the book is about: I’ll decide what I think about it.” You can do better than that, right? take our survey!

BookMARks At tHe PLA conFeRence
Jessica and Jon will be tearing themselves away from their books and computer screens to attend the Public Library Association national conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in late March. Libraries are a small but important portion of our subscribers, and we’re looking forward to meeting as many folks as we can. If you’re attending the conference, please stop by the table and say hello. Best, Jon

bookmarks selections
HHHH
Fieldwork
By Mischa Berlinski

HHHH
Staff favorites from among the most highly rated books in this issue

LIteRARY
Page 35

HHHH
By Yannick Murphy

LIteRARY
Page 39

signed, Mata Hari

In Thailand, a renowned anthropologist murders a Christian missionary. Why? seattle Times “Bravura storytelling is his first order of
business—but underlying … is the question of whether any culture can meaningfully connect with another culture.”

A fictional look at the dancer, courtesan, and alleged WWI-era double agent. Los Angeles Times “… a profound and profoundly beautiful
novel, one that forcefully renews literary fiction’s claim to be a laboratory of the human spirit.”

HHHH
By Molly Gloss

LIteRARY
Page 37

the Hearts of Horses

HHHH
Zeroville
By steve Erickson

LIteRARY
Page 43

In 1917, with many young men off at war, 19year-old Martha is an itinerant bronco buster. Washington Post “ there isn’t a false move in this poignant
novel, which demonstrates as much insight into the hearts of men and women as into the hearts of horses.”

An inside look at Hollywood. Los Angeles Times “At root, Zeroville is a novel
about the nitty-gritty mysteries of the artistic process and about the evolution of an enthusiast into an artist.”

HHHH
By stewart o’Nan

LIteRARY
Page 41

HHHHJ
Agent Zigzag
A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal By Ben Macintyre

HIstoRY
Page 62

Last night at the Lobster

A Red Lobster restaurant is closing its doors; its manager and crew prepare for the end. Philadelphia Inquirer “strong fiction such as this offers not
only diversion and entertainment but also the opportunity to experience life as another human being.”

Is Eddie Chapman the original 007? NY Times Book review “A review cannot possibly convey
the sheer fun of this story, with its cast of eccentrics, its close calls and its improbable twists.”

HHHH

GeneRAL nF
Page 55

soldier’s Heart
Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point By Elizabeth D. samet

A Land so strange
The Epic Journey of Cabeza de Vaca By Andrés reséndez

HHHH

HIstoRY
Page 64

An English professor at the U.S. Military Academy considers her students. New York Times Book review “[samet] offers a significant
perspective on the crucial social and political force of honor: a principle of behavior at the intersection of duty and imagination.”

In 1527, de Vaca and his 600 men faced desertion, gross incompetence, skirmishes with hostile Indians, cannibalism, disease, starvation, and more. Washington Post “When you read a wonderful book, you
can’t stop talking about it, and so this past week I’ve been going on and on to friends about a terrific story.”

HHHH

BIoGRAPHY
Page 58

HHHH

scIence
Page 66

Little Heathens
Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression By Mildred Armstrong Kalish

Your Inner Fish
A Journey into 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body By Neil shubin

A love letter to a difficult time. Cleveland Plain Dealer “this is a book to awaken your
family’s own half-remembered stories—or better, to send you back to your elders to scour up your own.”
4 march/april 2008

An evolutionary guide to the human body, complete with the latest evidence. Financial Times “If you want to understand the evolutionary
history of man and other animals, and read no other account this year, read this splendid monograph.”

between the covers
cULtURes coMInG toGetHeR

A different kind of issue overview

HoMeR’s ePIcs, ALWAYs WItH Us

FoR FooDIes

HHHJ

BREAkFAst with BuDDhA

HHHJ

thE FALL oF tRoy

HHHH

iN DEFENsE oF FooD

By roland Merullo

By Peter Ackroyd

trip. PAGe 38

A Manhattanite and a Mongolian monk go on a road

HHHJ
thEm
By Nathan McCall

A German businessman and shady antiquities collector believes he has uncovered the palace of Odysseus; soon an archaeologist is murdered. PAGe 41

An Eater’s Manifesto By Michael Pollan

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” PAGe 52

HHHJ
My Life in Food By Judith Jones

Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward is being gentrified, and blacks and whites are now next-door neighbors. PAGe 45
BookeR PRIZe WInneRs RetURn

HHHJ

thE tENth musE

GoDs BEhAviNG BADLy

By Marie Phillips

HHHJ
By J. M. Coetzee

In modern London, Aphrodite is a phone sex worker and Artemis, goddess of the hunt, is a dog walker. PAGe 42
FAMILIes, LoVeRs, WARs

A Knopf vice president and senior editor recalls her time editing Julia Child, Marcella Hazan, and Madhur Jaffrey. PAGe 60
AMeRIcAn HIstoRY

DiARy oF A BAD yEAR

An old writer, his beautiful assistant, her morally bankrupt boyfriend—three parallel storylines on each page. PAGe 40

HHHJ
A GoLDEN AGE
By Tahmima Anam

HHHH

AmERiCAN CREAtioN

HHHJ
LiFE CLAss
By Pat Barker

In 1971, Pakistan invades Bengal to quell its bid for independence. A widow must protect her children, even as one joins a rebel cell. PAGe 43

Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic By Joseph J. Ellis

The latest from the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Founding Brothers.
PAGe 61

In 1914 London, art students imagine lives filled with love, art, and professional rivalry. Then comes World War I. PAGe 44
sHoRt stoRIes

HHHJ
homEComiNG
By Bernhard schlink

HHHH
A History By Philip F. Gura

AmERiCAN tRANsCENDENtALism

HHHH
By roddy Doyle

history. PAGe 47

A World War II pulp novel galley may reveal a family’s

thE DEpoRtEEs AND othER stoRiEs!

HHHH
By Meir shalev

A movement starring Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Henry David Thoreau. PAGe 62

A piGEoN AND A Boy

HHHH

thE tELEphoNE GAmBit

Nine stories about the new, multiethnic Ireland by the author of the Booker Prize-winning Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha. PAGe 34

Two intertwined stories explore the meaning of love and home in Israel. PAGe 38
tonY BLAIR, tHInLY DIsGUIseD

Chasing Alexander Graham Bell’s Secret By seth shulman

A persuasive argument that someone else invented the telephone. PAGe 63

HHHH

thE LAst ChiCkEN iN AmERiCA

HHHH
thE Ghost
By robert Harris

HHHH

whAt hAth GoD wRouGht

A Novel in Stories By Ellen Litman

Russian-Jewish immigrants struggle to adapt to a new culture. PAGe 36

A ghostwriter helping with a former British Prime Minister’s autobiography stumbles upon secrets worth killing for. PAGe 36

The Transformation of America, 1815–1848 By Daniel Walker Howe

The latest volume in the landmark Oxford History of the United States series. PAGe 65 n
Bookmarks magazine 5

Gifts and Back Issues
GIFt sUBscRIPtIons Give one year of Bookmarks, that’s six issues, to feed a literary habit or to create one. We'll send a gift notice with your personal message as well! $27.95 each. GIVe MoRe, sAVe MoRe! If you give three or more gift subscriptions, you'll save on all of them—onLY $22.95 eAcH! GIVe A sUBscRIPtIon & tHe Book oF tHeIR cHoIce! This special subscription package comes with a beautiful gift certificate for a free copy of any new book covered in the next issue he or she receives.* You'll be thanked when the first issue of Bookmarks arrives, and you'll be thanked when your recipient finishes a terrific book. $57.95.

Bookmarks Gifts

No. 1, Nov/Dec 2002, $25 w Carol Shields w Charles Dickens w Chaim Potok No. 2, Jan/Feb 2003, $6 w Walker Percy w Gabriel García Márquez w Stephen Ambrose No. 6, sept/oct 2003, $8 w Kurt Vonnegut w Toni Morrison w Books on Yoga No. 7, Nov/Dec 2003, $6 w Ernest Hemingway w American Biographies w Books on Jazz No. 9, Mar/Apr 2004, $20 w William Faulkner w Doris Lessing w 2003 Cookbooks No. 11, July/Aug 2004, $8 w George Orwell w Edith Wharton w Books on Illustration No. 12, sept/oct 2004, $8 w F. Scott Fitzgerald w Best Graphic Novels w Books on Wine No. 13, Nov/Dec 2004, $20 w The Brontë Sisters w Great Mystery Series w Books on Games No. 15, Mar/Apr 2005, $6 w Southern Women Writers w True Crime w 2004 Cookbooks No. 16, May/June 2005, $6 w Thomas Hardy w Investigative Journalism w Books on Adventure Travel No. 17, July/Aug 2005, $6 w Saul Bellow w Madeline L'Engle w Books on Magic No. 18, sept/oct 2005, $6 w John Updike w Yukio Mishima w Books on Ancient Greece No. 19, Nov/Dec 2005, $6 w Louisa May Alcott w Franz Kafka w Best Books of 2005
book marks
What to Read This Summer
OVER 50 NEW BOOKS REVIEWED

No. 21, Mar/Apr 2006, $6 w Henry James w Percival Everett w The French Revolution No. 22, May/June 2006, $6 w American Short Story w Amos Oz w Books on Espionage No. 23, July/Aug 2006, $6 w 101 Best Sea Books w Pulitzer Prizes w Books on North Korea No. 24, sept/oct 2006, $6 w Fyodor Dostoevsky w Richard Powers w Books on Career Change No. 25, Nov/Dec 2006, $6 w Anne Tyler w Naguib Mahfouz w Books on Court Cases No. 26, Jan/Feb 2007, $6 w Great Book Group Books w A. S. Byatt w Books on Space Program No. 27, Mar/Apr 2007, $6 w Wallace Stegner w Hermann Hesse w Books on Opera No. 28, May/June 2007, $6 w Beat Generation w Émila Zola w Books on Learning Guitar No. 29, July/Aug 2007, $6 w Great Mysteries, Vol. II w Books on Civil Rights w New Books Guide No. 30, sept/oct 2007, $6 w James Joyce w R. K. Narayan w Books on Investing No. 31, Nov/Dec 2007, $6 w Isabel Allende w Edwidge Danticat w Books on World War II No. 32, Jan/Feb 2008, $6 w Alternate Histories w Richard Russo & Ha Jin w Books on Globalization

Back Issue Packages
YeAR In ReVIeW PAckAGe
Purchase a package of six of our most recent issues. That’s issues 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 and 32 for just $31.95. save more than 10%!

LINEUP!
The Best Crime & Mystery Books
VOLUME II

book marks
What to Read This Fall
50 NEW BOOKS REVIEWED

GIAnt PAckAGe
Purchase a package of all of our back issues currently priced $8 or less, and save 15%! The package contains issues 2, 6, 7, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, and 32. All for just $117.95.

JAMES JOYCE • R. K. NARAYAN • INVESTING • MORE

book marks
Best Books of 2007
THE YEAR IN REVIEW THE YEAR IN REVIEW THE YEAR IN REVIEW

New Books Guide
ISABEL ALLENDE • EDWIDGE DANTICAT ISABEL ALLENDE • EDWIDGE DANTICAT GRAHAM SWIFT • WORLD WAR II • MORE GRAHAM SWIFT • WORLD WAR II • MORE

THE FULL STORY ON THE FULL STORY ON RECENT RELEASES RECENT RELEASES

book marks
New Books Reviewed
to Get 10 PicksStartedYour New Year Right

Reader's Guide

The Best Alternate Histories

Book By Book Richard Russo Ha Jin Globalization

6 march/april 2008

To order, please call 1-888-488-6593 or visit www.bookmarksmagazine.com.

* The gift recipient may choose from any of the books priced $30 or less in the “New Books Guide” section or the “Now in Paperback” section.

seattle times (Upchurch)

totAL cItAtIons

Bookworm (silverblatt)

nat’l Book critics circle

st. Louis Post-Dispatch

In which we hope to mitigate the arbitrary nature of year-end “best books” lists by bringing the results together into one big arbitrary list.
FIctIon thE BRiEF woNDRous LiFE oF osCAR wAo | Junot DiAz HHHH tREE oF smokE | DEniS JohnSon HHHH thE yiDDish poLiCEmEN’s uNioN | MichAEL chAbon HHH thEN wE CAmE to thE END | JoShuA FErriS HHHH oN ChEsiL BEACh | iAn McEwAn HHHJ out stEALiNG hoRsEs | PEr PEttErSon HHHH thE sAvAGE DEtECtivEs | robErto boLAno HHHH FALLiNG mAN | Don DELiLLo HHH hARRy pottER AND thE DEAthLy hALLows | J.K. rowLing Exit Ghost | PhiLiP roth HHH FiELDwoRk | MiSchA bErLinSKi HHHH AwAy | AMy bLooM HHHHJ ChEAtiNG At CANAstA | wiLLiAM trEvor HHHHJ thE GAthERiNG | AnnE Enright HHHH thE Ghost | robErt hArriS HHHH LikE you’D uNDERstAND, ANywAy | JiM ShEPArD HHHH Lost City RADio | DAniEL ALcAron HHHH No oNE BELoNGs hERE moRE thAN you | MirAnDA JuLy HHHJ whAt thE DEAD kNow | LAurA LiPPMAn HHHHJ ZERoviLLE | StEvE EricKSon HHHH nonFIctIon LEGACy oF AshEs: thE histoRy oF thE CiA | tiM wEinEr HHHH thE REst is NoisE | ALEx roSS HHHH sChuLZ AND pEANuts: A BioGRAphy | DAviD MichAELiS HHHH thE NiNE | JEFFrEy toobin HHH BRothER, i’m DyiNG | EDwiDgE DAnticAt HHHH EDith whARtoN | hErMionE LEE HHHH thE shoCk DoCtRiNE | nAoMi KLEin HHHJ thE woRLD without us | ALAn wEiSMAn HHH youNG stALiN | SiMon SEbAg MontEFiorE thE CoLDEst wiNtER | DAviD hALbErStAM HHHJ EiNstEiN: his LiFE AND uNivERsE | wALtEr iSAAcSon HHHH thE LoNG EmBRACE: RAymoND ChANDLER… | JuDith FrEEMAn A LoNG wAy GoNE | iShMAEL bEAh HHHH RALph ELLisoN: A BioGRAphy | ArnoLD rAMPErSAD HHHH AGENt ZiGZAG | bEn MAcintyrE HHHHJ ANimAL, vEGEtABLE, miRACLE | bArbArA KingSoLvEr HHHH ARsENALs oF FoLLy | richArD rhoDES HHHH thE AtomiC BAZAAR | wiLLiAM LAngEwiESchE HHHJ thE DAy oF BAttLE | ricK AtKinSon HHHH thE FAthER oF ALL thiNGs | toM biSSELL impERiAL LiFE iN thE EmERALD City | rAJiv chAnDrASEKArAn HHHH two LivEs: GERtRuDE AND ALiCE | JAnEt MALcoLM HHHJ thE ZookEEpER’s wiFE | DiAnE AcKErMAn

Independent (Uk)

nYt Book Review

Washington Post

nYt (kakutani)

observer (Uk)

Boston Globe

nYt (Grimes)

tHe LIst oF Best Books LIsts

entertainment Weekly

seattle times (Gwinn)

christian sci Monitor

salon (Laura Miller)

the Best Books of 2007

Village Voice

nYt (Maslin)

sF chronicle

newsweek

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Bookmarks magazine 7

UsA today

economist

LAtimes

esquire

nYMag

slate

time

coming soon
coMing in MArch 2008
FIctIon

current and upcoming books worthy of your attention
thE DAy i AtE whAtEvER i wANtED | ELizAbEth bErg: A set of stories by the author of Open House.
cRIMe

rent master of the current-events-moral-dilemma strain of fiction. The promo on this book’s dust jacket: “Would you give up your vengeance against someone you hate if it meant saving someone you love?”
cRIMe

ChANGE oF hEARt | JoDi PicouLt: Picoult is the cur-

hoLD tiGht | hArLAn cobEn: Coben’s 15th thriller; The Woods (HHHJ July/Aug 2007) was his latest.
nonFIctIon

thE BiN LADENs | StEvE coLL: The story of the Bin Laden family from the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Ghost Wars. BoNk The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex | MAry roAch: Another one-word popular science exploration by the author of Stiff (HHHH July/Aug 2003) and Spook (HHHJ Jan/Feb 2006). thE sNowBALL Warren Buffett and the Business of Life | ALicE SchroEDEr: The authorized Buffett biography. ARmAGEDDoN iN REtRospECt | Kurt vonnEgut: A collection of unpublished writings on war and peace.
ALso …

thE siLvER swAN | bEnJAMin bLAcK: The author of the Booker Prize-winning novel The Sea, John Banville, returns to his crime psuedonym in this follow-up to 2007’s Christine Falls (HHHH seLectIon).
sF

RoLLiNG thuNDER | John vArLEy: By the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of Mammoth, the conclusion to the trilogy that includes Red Lightning and Red Thunder.
nonFIctIon

Fermata looks at the events leading up to World War II.

humAN smokE | nichoLSon bAKEr: The author of Vox and The

mAps AND LEGENDs | MichAEL chAbon: A collection of essays from the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.
ALso …

thE ARt oF hAppiNEss iN A tRouBLED woRLD | thE DALAi LAMA … FALL oF FRost | briAn hALL … LAviNiA | urSuLA K. LEguin … kiLLiNG RommEL | StEvEn PrESSFiELD …thE miRACLE At spEED motoRs No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency | ALExAnDEr MccALL SMith … GALAxy BLuEs | ALLEn StEELE … CERtAiN GiRLs | JEnniFEr wEinEr

coMing in MAy 2008
FIctIon

BRysoN’s DiCtioNARy FoR wRitERs AND EDitoRs | biLL brySon … thE RAiN BEFoRE it FALLs | JonAthAn coE … thE AmAtEuR spy | DAn FESPErMAn … REtRiButioN The Battle for Japan, 1944-45 | MAx hAStingS … spECiAL oRDERs: Poems | EDwArD hirSch … thE tEN most BEAutiFuL ExpERimENts | gEorgE JohnSon … CompuLsioN An Alex Delaware Novel | JonAthAn KELLErMAn … Lush LiFE | richArD PricE … ChRist thE LoRD The Road to Cana | AnnE ricE … DREAmERs oF thE DAy | MAry DoriA ruSSELL … ouR stoRy BEGiNs New and Selected Stories | tobiAS woLFF … thE tEN-yEAR NAp | MEg woLitzEr

City oF thiEvEs | DAviD bEnioFF: The author of The 25th Hour imagines a writer chronicling his grandparents’ experience during the siege of Leningrad. skELEtoNs At thE FEAst | chriS bohJALiAn: Inspired by an actual World War II diary. Previously: The Double Bind (HHH May/June 2007) and Before You Know Kindness (HHHH seLectIon Jan/Feb 2005) thE LEGEND oF CoLtoN h. BRyANt | ALExAnDrA FuLLEr: A comingof-age story by the author of Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight. thE LAZARus pRojECt | ALEKSAnDAr hEMon: The debut novel from the short story author and MacArthur “genius grant” winner.
cRIMe

coMing in APriL 2008
FIctIon

uNACCustomED EARth | JhuMPA LAhiri: Eight short stories from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Namesake.

Austen Book Club follows up with a tale about a woman looking into her dead father’s past. love with the wrong men.
10 march/april 2008

wit’s END | KArEn Joy FowLEr: The author of The Jane

thE FRoNt | PAtriciA cornwELL: Investigator Winston Garano from Cornwell’s At Risk returns.
nonFIctIon

thE thiRD ANGEL | ALicE hoFFMAn: The lives of three women in

thE pRiNCE oF FRoGtowN | ricK brAgg: Bragg’s third memoir after All Over but the Shoutin’ and Ava’s Man. n

awards
Fiction
Mumbai, a Sikh police inspector goes head to head with mobster Ganesh Gaitonde—and tales about crime and corruption, Bollywood films, religion, and life’s meaning emerge. (HHH Mar/Apr 2007)
thE BRiEF woNDRous LiFE oF osCAR wAo | Junot DiAz: A sACRED GAmEs | viKrAM chAnDrA: In modern-day

2007 nAtIonAL Book cRItIcs cIRcLe AWARD FInALIsts
the national Book critics circle Award honors the finest books published in english. Winners will be announced March 6, 2008.

sister find that their stories are inextricably tied to unhappiness caused by an enduring curse on their family. (HHHH seLectIon Nov/Dec 2007)
iN thE CouNtRy oF mEN | hiShAM MAtAr: In 1979 Tripoli, a boy

nerdy Dominican American living in New Jersey and his Dominican mother and

witnesses his best friend’s father being beaten and taken away by Qaddafi’s Revolutionary Army. Then his own father disappears. (HHHH seLectIon May/June 2007)

the Schwarts escape Nazi Germany and settle in upstate New York, the family suffers more tragedies, and the daughter reinvents herself in order to survive. (HHHJ sept/oct 2007)
thE shADow CAtChER | MAriAnnE wigginS: In this

thE GRAvEDiGGER’s DAuGhtER | JoycE cAroL oAtES: When

historical novel, two stories merge: that of 20th-century photographer Edward Curtis and that of the author’s own present life. (HHHJ sept/oct 2007)

Bookmarks magazine 11

nonFiction
century transcendentalists— Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Orestes Brownson, George Ripley, Theodore Parker, and others— influenced wide-ranging thought and social reform in America. (HHHH page 62)
whAt hAth GoD Wrought The Transformation of America, 1815–1848 | DAniEL wALKEr AmERiCAN tRANsCENDENtALism | PhiLiP gurA: The 19th-

will recover quickly. But our most enduring legacy will likely be the tons of plastic produced. (HHH Nov/Dec 2007)

clearer portrait of Russia under Putin.

biogrAPhy
JEAL: Henry Morton Stanley may have collaborated with King Leopold II of Belgium, but this examination of his life reveals his other sides—his immigration to America and his assimilation there, his romances, and his amazing African travels. EDith whARtoN | hErMionE LEE: In Gilded Age New York, the fiercely independent Edith Wharton (The Age of Innocence) turned to writing to escape an unhappy marriage and society; she later went to Paris to live life on her own terms. (HHHH July/ Aug 2007) RALph ELLisoN | ArnoLD rAMPErSAD: The author of stANLEy The Impossible Life of Africa’s Greatest Explorer | tiM

AutobiogrAPhy
hEARt LikE wAtER Surviv-

howE: Between the War of 1812 and the conquest of Mexico in 1848, the size of the United States doubled, a communications and transportation revolution took place, Protestantism spurred reform movements, and the meaning of democracy came under question. (HHHH page 65) mEDiCAL ApARthEiD The Dark
History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present | hArriEt A. wAShing-

Clark, who refused to leave his French Quarter apartment during Hurricane Katrina, relates how he and his girlfriend, together with others, evaded evacuation—and reveals the tragedy’s horrors and ultimate hopes.
BRothER, i’m DyiNG | EDwiDgE DAnticAt: Framed by her

ing Katrina and Life in Its Disaster Zone | JoShuA cLArK:

pregnancy and her father’s illness, Danticat’s memoir explores her family’s turbulent and tragic history, both in Haiti and in the United States. (HHHH Nov/Dec 2007)
thE jouRNAL oF joyCE CARoL oAtEs 1973–1982 | JoycE cAroL oAtES: The prolific author

ton: Before the infamous Tuskegee experiment between the 1930s and the 1970s, in which the U.S. Public Health Service studied but failed to treat black men with syphilis, theories from eugenics to Social Darwinism led to medical abuses and experimentation on Black Americans. LEGACy oF AshEs thE histoRy oF thE CiA | tiM wEinEr: Start-

reflects on her discipline, the genesis of her novels, her marriage, and her relationships with contemporary authors. In sum, her journal is a portrait of an intense, unusual literary artist.
wRitiNG iN AN AGE oF siLENCE | SArA PArEtSKy: Best known

Invisible Man, about identity and racial tension in mid-century America, was as elusive, and at times nearly as volatile, as the unnamed narrator of his masterpiece. (HHHH July/Aug 2007)
A LiFE oF piCAsso The Triumphant Years, 1917–1932

ing with its creation during the Truman administration, the CIA has treaded a fine line between effective intelligence gathering and political expedience, often with disastrous consequences. (HHHH seLectIon sept/oct 2007)
thE woRLD without us | ALAn wEiSMAn: What will become

for her female private investigator V. I. Warshawski, Paretsky reflects on her childhood, her political and social activism, her feminism, and the inspiration for her crime fiction.
A RussiAN DiARy A Journalist’s Final Account of Life, Corruption, and Death in Putin’s Russia | AnnA PoLitKovSKAyA:

of human works if we suddenly disappeared from the planet? With people gone, Manhattan’s subways will collapse in 20 years, and the world’s fisheries
12 march/april 2008

A Russian journalist who was murdered in 2006, Politkovskaya was fearless in her reporting. In her criticism of Putin’s abuses, the Russian government’s corruption, and the war in Chechnya, she offers readers a

third of a projected fourvolume series, Richardson captures the prodigious talent and limitless (and legendary) appetites of an influential artist approaching the height of his powers. (HHHH page 56) thomAs hARDy | cLAirE toMALin: Tomalin explores how the English author became a novelist and a poet against the backdrop of his painful marriage, his travels, and his social interactions. Although an enigmatic figure, Hardy remains one of our beloved writers, both Victorian and modernist. (HHHH May/June 2007) n

| John richArDSon: In the

2008 eDGAR AWARDs
each year, the Mystery Writers of America’s edgar Allen Poe Awards honor the best in mystery fiction, nonfiction, television, film, and theater. Here are nominees in some of the categories. the Young Adult and Juvenile nominees are listed on page 17.

bESt FAct criME noMinEES
In 1998, Alpert, a former federal prosecutor in New York, was kidnapped at gunpoint. Here, he relates those harrowing (and sickly humorous) 25 hours and the subsequent trial of his captors.
RECLAimiNG histoRy The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy | vincEnt bugLioSi: thE BiRthDAy pARty A Memoir of Survival | StAnLEy n. ALPErt:

a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, chronicles a case involving the murders of a woman and her teenage daughter.

RELENtLEss puRsuit A True Story of family, Murder, and the Prosecutor Who Wouldn’t Quit | KEvin FLynn: Flynn,

bESt novEL noMinEES

1950s Dublin starts asking questions about a female corpse, his investigations lead him deep into the past—and into a conspiracy involving the criminal underworld and the Catholic Church. (HHHH seLectIon May/June 2007) fifth installment of the Jack Taylor series, ex-cop Jack leaves the loony bin. When he jumps back into Irish society, he investigates crimes involving a child-molester priest, a stalker, and a former friend whose daughter’s death still haunts him.
thE yiDDish poLiCEmEN’s uNioN | MichAEL chAbon: In pRiEst | KEn bruEn: In the

ChRistiNE FALLs | bEnJAMin bLAcK: When a pathologist in

After 20 years of exhaustive research, Bugliosi debunks the conspiracy myths and concludes that, simply put, Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. (HHHJ sept/oct 2007)
ChAsiNG justiCE My Story of Freeing Myself After Two Decades on Death Row for a Crime I Didn’t Commit | KErry

Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, affiliated with a violent anarchist group, cold-blooded killers—or the innocent victims of ethnic prejudice? (HHHJ Nov/Dec 2007)

sACCo & vANZEtti The Men, the Murders and the Judgment of Mankind | brucE wAtSon: Were

MAx cooK: Wrongly convicted of a 1977 rape and murder, Cook sat on Texas’s death row for two decades.

missiNG witNEss | gorDon cAMPbELL iN thE wooDs | tAnA FrEnch sNitCh jACkEt | chriStoPhEr goFFArD hEAD GAmEs | crAig McDonALD pyREs | DErEK niKitAS n

bESt FirSt novEL noMinEES

this alternate-history-andnoir detective novel, Jewish refugees of World War II live in Sitka, Alaska, instead of Israel. And Detective Meyer Landsman must investigate some conspiracies before Sitka reverts to Alaskan control. (HHH July/Aug 2007)
souL pAtCh | rEED FArrEL coLEMAn: In the fourth Moe

Prager mystery, set in New York City in the 1980s, the PI investigates secrets behind a drug dealer’s murder a decade earlier—but not without more deaths.
DowN RivER | John hArt: When a man acquitted of murder returns to his North Carolina hometown, suspicion follows him again. (HHHJ Jan/Feb 2008)

Bookmarks magazine 13

have you read?
readers recommend their favorite books

Doctor’S orDErS
tony Miksanek, MD, lives in Benton, Illinois. the biggest part of a physician’s day is spent listening to the stories of his or her patients—so it’s no wonder that doctors are skilled storytellers. conflict, heartache, mystery, joy, and denouement await the physician each time he or she enters the examining room. You don’t have to be a doctor to write insightfully about life and death, illness and recovery, but it sure doesn’t hurt.

thE housE oF GoD
The Classic Novel of Life and Death in an American Hospital By samuel shem (stephen Bergman)

Required reading for all medical professionals, this novel somehow manages to be both hilarious and distressing at the same time. The story chronicles the internship year of Roy Basch and his amazing mentor, the Fat Man. Is it a work of fiction or creative nonfiction? Only the physician-author knows for sure.

diabetes, depression, and epilepsy). “Ooh Baby Baby” and “Way Down Deep in the Jungle” are two rowdy tales about troubled doctors.

oF LovE AND othER DEmoNs
By Gabriel García Márquez

iNGENious pAiN
By Andrew Miller

A CouNtRy DoCtoR’s NotEBook
By Mikhail Bulgakov

Science and religion collide. Is a 12-year-old girl possessed, suffering from rabies, or just loony? Even Doctor Abrenuncio (a harp-playing, fortunetelling, philosophizing physician) encounters difficulty in deciphering the truth.

This remarkable novel opens with the autopsy of its protagonist, Dr. James Dwyer. An 18th-century English surgeon, Dwyer cannot feel pain. He is extraordinarily talented but devoid of empathy. Is the world better served by great ability or simple goodness? Would you prefer an ordinary but caring surgeon or a compassionless but brilliant one? In this book, you can’t have it both ways.

Best known for novels including The Master and Margarita, Bulgakov, a physician, spent 18 difficult months manning a general practice in a remote area of Russia. His experience in the medical trenches provides the material for the nine stories in this book. The physician-narrator doesn’t take any chances; he carries a Browning automatic pistol in his doctor’s black bag.

CANCER wARD
By Aleksandr solzhenitsyn

Set in a Soviet hospital, the malignancy depicted in this lengthy novel extends beyond the human body. The Nobel-laureate author presents plenty of insight into human nature, ethics, suffering, and disease on practically every page.

A FEw shoRt NotEs oN tRopiCAL ButtERFLiEs
Stories By John Murray

thE DoCtoR stoRiEs
By richard selzer

CoLD sNAp
Stories By Thom Jones

The 27 stories collected in this volume are peculiar and eloquent. Many of them acknowledge the intriguing similarities between love and illness. Keep the Kleenex nearby for “Tom and Lily” and “Luis.”
14 march/april 2008

Not quite on a par with his knockout debut, The Pugilist at Rest, these 10 stories still dazzle and further demonstrate the author’s impressive medical IQ (especially in pharmaceuticals,

These eight stories, which take place around the world, feature many unusual doctor characters. For many of these medical professionals, the hardest part of being a doctor is saving themselves.

have you read?
thE DoCtoR stoRiEs
By William Carlos Williams

readers recommend

thE othER BoLEyN GiRL
By Philippa Gregory

These medical tales by a physician-poet are classics. “The Use of Force” is probably the most famous short story ever written by a doctor. Along with Anton Chekhov, Williams has set the standard for physician-writers.

sAtuRDAy
By Ian McEwan

This historical novel drew me into England and the period of Henry VIII. Mary Boleyn, who narrates the story, reveals that in the Tudor court, greed, love, sex, and status brought many down and that only the strong—or perhaps the lucky—survived.

blur to create an interesting allegiance among those who seem most unlikely to unite.

thE No. 1 LADiEs’ DEtECtivE AGENCy
By Alexander McCall smith

On his day off, a London neurosurgeon gets much more than he’s planned. All physicians experience hectic and stressful days, but Dr. Henry Perowne’s Saturday is also menacing—and strangely illuminating.

thE ALChEmist
By Paulo Coelho

ArounD thE gLobE
carolyn M. Fichte is from Aurora, Illinois. there are so many books to read, and so many places to go. Why not escape to them in a novel that makes you feel like you are really there?

In a voyage filled with new people and experiences, Santiago travels from Spain to Egypt to find a treasure. His journey suggests we should all follow our dreams, as well as enjoy the journey—since it might just be the thing that matters most.

This is the first novel in a series featuring Precious Ramotswe, the only female detective in Botswana. While she travels through the dust and heat, drinking bush tea and trying to solve her cases, she describes Botswana in ways that allow me to feel the love for her country.

LiFE oF pi
By Yann Martel

A GooD yEAR
By Peter Mayle

DEAREst DoRothy, ARE wE thERE yEt?
By Charlene Ann Baumbich

This is the first book in a series that takes place in a fictional small town in Illinois. Dorothy Wetstra is a feisty 87-year-old, who, despite being surrounded by turmoil, brings forth faith and harmony to make this one town I would love to be a part of.

An unexpected inheritance allows Max Skinner to move from London to Provence. A small mystery develops around his vineyard, which is not doing well yet is still desired by others. The descriptions of the countryside had me eating, drinking wine, and basking in the Provençal culture.

Pi, the son of a zookeeper, and his family travel with the zoo animals aboard a ship heading from India to North America. When the ship sinks, Pi and a few of the animals, including a tiger, float along in a lifeboat. Although Pi seems to drift in and out of reality, I always wonder—no matter how times I read this book—what really happened on his journey.

thE Book thiEF
By Markus Zusak

ANGELs & DEmoNs
By Dan Brown

thE kitE RuNNER
By Khaled Hosseini

Set in Kabul during wartime, Amir and Hassan, boys from different social classes, enjoy their strong friendship—until Amir betrays Hassan. Afghanistan’s destroyed regions and the boys’ ruined friendship haunt Amir for the rest of his days. While this book brought me to tears, it was an incredible read.

Before The Da Vinci Code, Robert Langdon solved mysteries in and around Vatican City. I enjoyed the fast pace as I ran around Rome with Langdon, trying to decipher cryptic messages, symbols, and ambigrams in order to understand the role of the Illuminati.

Death is the strange narrator of this novel. Set in Germany during World War II, it features the young Liesel, a book thief whose foster family hides a Jewish man in their basement. Liesel and the man form a bond so strong that I could feel its direct, powerful pull. n

BEL CANto
By Ann Patchett

WIn A FRee one-YeAR sUBscRIPtIon!
send us your reading list recommendations and comments! letters@bookmarksmagazine.com or 1818 MLK Blvd #181 Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Bookmarks magazine 15

In an unnamed South American city, terrorists take everyone hostage at a VIP’s birthday party. The dynamics between the hostages and captors

younger readers
For Kids, young Adults, and children of All Ages

newbery Medal
since 1922, the newbery Medal, awarded annually by the Association for Library service to children of the American Library Association, has honored the most distinguished children’s book of the year.

MeDAL WInneR

GooD mAstERs! swEEt LADiEs!
Voices from a Medieval Village By Laura Amy schlitz, illustrated by robert Byrd

with his teacher. How can he stay out of trouble with so much to think about? Young Adult.

HonoR Books

FEAthERs
By Jacqueline Woodson

hENRy’s FREEDom Box
By Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Inspired by the desire to include 22 students in a play, this book features 22 monologues describing life in an English village in 1255—from the perspectives of a doctor’s son, the lord’s daughter, an eel catcher, a halfwit, a peasant’s daughter, and others. Ages 10 and up.
HonoR Books

In 1971, when a white boy joins Frannie’s allblack sixth-grade class, the students start to believe that he just might be Jesus. When the Jesus Boy reveals his flaws, however, Frannie starts to question—and understand— her own faith. Ages 8 and up.

After Henry Brown, born into slavery, witnesses his family sold in the slave market, he collaborates with abolitionists and mails himself in a wooden packing crate to Philadelphia, to become a free man. Ages 6–10.

caldecott Medal
the caldecott Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library service to children of the American Library Association to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

FiRst thE EGG
By Laura Vaccaro seeger

ELijAh oF BuxtoN
By Christopher Paul Curtis

In Buxton, Canada, a settlement of runaway slaves near Detroit, 11-year-old Elijah, a first-generation freeborn child, embarks on a dangerous journey to America to pursue a thief. He soon comes to understand why his parents left in search of freedom. Ages 9–12.

MeDAL WInneR

thE iNvENtioN oF huGo CABREt
By Brian selznick

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? This clever book uses die cuts and paired words to explore different contexts: an egg cutout, for example, transforms into a yellow chick when the reader turns the page. Ages 2–6.

thE wEDNEsDAy wARs
By Gary D. schmidt

On Long Island in the late 1960s, just before the Vietnam War, seventh-grader Holling Hoodhood spends every Wednesday afternoon
16 march/april 2008

A novel told in words and charcoal illustrations, Invention explores magic, storytelling, and human creativity. It tells the story of Hugo, a 12-year-old orphan and apprentice clock keeper, who lives in the walls of a train depot in 1930s Paris. Ages 9–12.

thE wALL
Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain By Peter sis

The author, who grew up in postwar, Cold War–era Czechoslovakia, shares his experience as the Iron Curtain slowly gave way to signs of Western culture—which was then

younger readers
brought to an end by Soviet tanks. Ages 8 and up.

oNE whoLE AND pERFECt DAy
By Judith Clarke

AUtHoR HonoR Books

kNuFFLE BuNNy too
A Case of Mistaken Identity By Mo Willems

When Trixie brings her Knuffle Bunny to school, she is mortified that another girl has the same toy. The bunnies accidentally get switched, and when they are returned to their rightful owners, the girls learn something about friendship. Ages 4–6.

Seventeen-year-old Lily’s dysfunctional family is tearing at its seams, but Lily wants only one thing: one perfect, peaceful day together on her grandfather’s 80th birthday. That, and romance. Young Adult.

NovEmBER BLuEs
By sharon M. Draper

REpossEssED
By A. M. Jenkins

In The Battle of Jericho, 16-year-old Josh Prescott dies in a high school hazing ritual gone wrong. In this sequel, his pregnant girlfriend must navigate life after Josh—and her relationship with her mother. Young Adult.

Michael L. Printz Award
the Michael L. Printz Award is awarded annually by the Association for Library service to children of the American Library Association and recognizes the book that best exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature.

When a demon named Kiriel takes over the body of a teenage boy, Kiriel decides to experience the mortal life and transform himself from a slacker into a goal-oriented do-gooder before he returns to Hell. Young Adult.

twELvE RouNDs to GLoRy
The Story of Mohammad Ali By Charles r. smith Jr.

youR owN, syLviA
A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath By stephanie Hemphill

Through rap-inspired poetry, the author celebrates the life of Muhammad Ali—from his major fights to his Olympic gold medal and beyond. Ages 10 and up. n

WInneR

thE whitE DARkNEss
By Geraldine McCaughrean

Teenage Symone dreams of taking an expedition to the Antarctic. But when her deceased father’s insane business partner whisks her off to the South Pole, things go terribly wrong. Young Adult.
HonoR Books

suicide.

Told in poems, Your Own Sylvia fictionalizes the life of Sylvia Plath—from childhood to hospitalization, marriage to Ted Hughes, divorce, and

eDGAR noMInees
the Mystery Writers of America’s edgar Allen Poe Awards for adults are listed on page 13. Below are the nominees for younger readers.

YoUnG ADULt noMInees

RAt LiFE | tEDD ArnoLD DiAmoNDs iN thE shADow | cAroLinE b. coonEy touChiNG sNow | M. SinDy FELin BLooD BRothERs | S. A. hArAzin FRAGmENts | JEFFry w. JohnSton
JUVenILe noMInees

coretta Scott King Award
the coretta scott king Award, presented annually by the Association for Library service to children of the American Library Association, recognizes outstanding contributions in African American literature written for a youth audience.

DREAmquAkE
The Dreamhunter Duet, Book 2 By Elizabeth Knox

AUtHoR AWARD

In this sequel to Dreamhunter, Laura, who lives in a community that harbors an invisible dream place, shares her “buried alive” nightmare at the Rainbow Opera, with devastating consequences. In this coming-of-age story, Laura discovers the true essence of this dream place and herself. Young Adult.

ELijAh oF BuxtoN
By Christopher Paul Curtis

In a settlement of runaway slaves in Buxton, Canada, 11-year-old Elijah, a first-generation freeborn child, embarks on a dangerous journey to America to pursue a thief—and comes to understand why his parents left in search of freedom. Ages 9–12.

thE NAmE oF this Book is sECREt | PSEuDonyMouS boSch shADows oN soCiEty hiLL | EvELyn coLEMAn DEEp AND DARk AND DANGERous | MAry Downing hAhn thE NiGht touRist | KAthErinE MArSh sAmmy kEyEs AND thE wiLD thiNGs | wEnDELin vAn DrAAnEn n

Bookmarks magazine 17

book group
A unique profile of readers together.
ALL tHInGs MeDIeVAL
sUBMItteD BY kAtIe kRoL FoRBes LIBRARY noRtHAMPton, MAssAcHUsetts

How did your group get started?

I felt a “calling” to form a book club in order to bond with others who were equally as obsessed with “all things medieval.” As a librarian at the Forbes Library in Northampton, Massachusetts, I had a natural love of books and research—and my library had a great room available for just this sort of group. It worked! We are a diverse group, but we all share a passion for the Middle Ages. Our spirited book discussions serve as a connective bond. Whereas many book groups seem to grow from a previous social bond (friends, members of the same church, new mothers), we formed this group around a common interest.
How would you describe your group?

We have an interesting group of people. Daniel, for instance, is a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. The SCA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to recreating the Middle Ages. Members dress like persons of the time and participate in activities that were part of medieval life, such as fencing, archery, calligraphy, illumination, music, and more. Some nights Daniel sits at our book discussions and makes his chain mail—one link at a time. Annie G. and her husband and family have been attending Renaissance Faires for a decade now. These “faires” are forprofit historical-reenactment venues that offer crafts, music, entertainment, and jousting. The costumes there are amazing.
How does your group work?

fiction and nonfiction books about medieval women. We all love historical fiction of the medieval period, but when we read a novel, we also delve into the time it takes place with related cultural and religious perspectives. For instance, we read Judith Lindbergh’s The Thrall’s Tale, which takes place in Viking Greenland at the turn of the ninth century and follows the intertwined lives of three women, all of whom narrate the story and straddle the pagan past and the Christian future. For our meeting, we had handouts about the Icelandic sagas, the Vikings (both women and men), Viking art, Viking ships, Nordic mythology, as well as an author biography and photos and maps of Iceland and Greenland.
What books have made for interesting discussion?

goddess worship, religion and politics, family loyalty and individuality, and so forth. This book discussion was especially personality driven since the main characters—Arthur, Gwenivere (Gwenhwyfar), Merlin, and Lancelot (Lancelet)—were so different from (and more complex than) the way they have traditionally been portrayed. In The Mists of Avalon, Arthur betrays his allegiance to all of the people of Briton to appease his pious, religiously bigoted wife. Talk about a moral dilemma!
What books would you recommend to those not quite as obsessed with the Middle Ages?

For 2007, our program, “Saints, Sinners, Pilgrims, Popes: The Women of the Middle Ages,” focused on both
18 march/april 2008

We often branch off into moral questions, and the Middle Ages are ripe with opportunity! Those in power held absolute power. Obedience to the Church and your liege lord was mandatory, even if it went against your personal ethics. We just finished reading The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. We talked endWIn A FRee sUBscRIPtIon! lessly about the moral decisions of tell us about your book group! the main characsend your profile and a photo to: ters who had to letters@bookmarksmagazine.com or choose between Bookmarks / 1818 MLK Blvd #181 / Chapel Hill, NC 27514 Christianity and

Good historical fiction is good fiction. Even if you don’t crave all things medieval, here is a short list of good reads: Brother Cadfael (any of the books in the series!) by Ellis Peters; The Physician or The Last Jew by Noah Gordon; The Pillars of the Earth or its sequel, World Without End, by Ken Follett; The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart; The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco; Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman; and The Water Devil by Judith Merkle Riley. n

now in paperback
Previously reviewed, available for less

MArch 2008
thE GoD oF ANimALs
By Aryn Kyle

my hoLoCAust
By Tova reich

thE yiDDish poLiCEmEN’s uNioN
By Michael Chabon

HHHH seLectIon

HHH
LIteRARY - What if Jewish refugees of World War II lost Israel in 1948 and had a homeland in Alaska instead? (July/Aug 2007)

HHHH
LIteRARY - Adolescent Alice Winston, who lives on the family horse ranch, learns to cope with her hardscrabble life. (July/Aug 2007)

Exploiting the Holocaust turns into a battleground for all purported victims—Jews, Native Americans, African Americans, homosexuals, and chickens alike. (July/Aug 2007)
LIteRARY -

thE NAmE oF thE wiND
By Patrick rothfuss

BAD LuCk AND tRouBLE
A Jack Reacher Novel By Lee Child

thEN wE CAmE to thE END
By Joshua Ferris

HHHH seLectIon
cRIMe/sF - A mysterious figure named Knovthe seeks revenge for his family’s murder. (Nov/Dec 2007)

HHHH seLectIon
LIteRARY - In the waning days of the 1990s dot-com era, another company falters. (May/June 2007)

HHHH
cRIMe - When the loner cop discovers an SOS signal in his bank account, he finds a dark conspiracy. (July/Aug 2007)

thE GRAvE tAttoo
By Val McDermid

BE NEAR mE
By Andrew o’Hagan

HHHH
cRIMe - Sometimes, dead men do tell tales. (May/June 2007)

BLiNDsiGht
By Peter Watts

HHHH
LIteRARY - When a Scottish-born Catholic priest befriends two rebellious teenagers, the trouble begins. (Sept/Oct 2007)

HHHH seLectIon
sF - In 2082, an altered humankind tries to discover the source of alien objects. (Mar/Apr 2007)

ANimAL, vEGEtABLE, miRACLE
A Year of Food Life By Barbara Kingsolver with steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver

LoviNG FRANk
By Nancy Horan

HHHH
GeneRAL nF - The Kingsolver family explains how we can create a closer relationship to the food we eat. (Sept/ Oct 2007)

FLowER CoNFiDENtiAL
The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers By Amy stewart

HHHH
LIteRARY - Frank Lloyd Wright’s scandalous, clandestine affair rocked American society. (Nov/Dec 2007)

HHHH seLectIon

A symbol of love—or our $40-billion-a year global flower industry? (May/June 2007)
GeneRAL nF -

thE sAvAGE DEtECtivEs
By roberto Bolaño, translated from the spanish by Natasha Wimmer

oNCE upoN A CouNtRy
A Palestinian Life By sari Nusseibeh, with Anthony David

HHHH

HHHH
GeneRAL nF - A prominent Palestinian examines the ongoing conflict between Palestinians and Israelis— and among his own people. (July/Aug 2007)

APriL 2008
AFtER DARk
By Haruki Murakami, translated from the Japanese by Jay rubin

In 1975, a militant gang of poets leaves Mexico City in search of the very first Visceral Realist. (July/ Aug 2007)
LIteRARY -

HHHH seLectIon
LIteRARY - In this alternate world, the lives of a 19-year-old, a jazz musician, and a bored salaryman converge. (July/ Aug 2007)

up iN hoNEy’s Room
By Elmore Leonard

iNFiDEL
By Ayaan Hirsi Ali

HHHH

U.S. Marshal Carl Webster, who starred in The Hot Kid, chases down two German POWs in Detroit. (July/Aug 2007)
LIteRARY -

HHHH

woman from Africa chronicles her journey to the Netherlands and criticizes her traditional faith. (May/June 2007) n
Bookmarks magazine 19

seLectIon BIoGRAPHY - A Muslim

what one book
Expert recommendations on a selected topic

tHe tUDoR DYnAstY
the following authors recommend books on all aspects of the tudor dynasty and early Renaissance england, loosely bracketed between the end of the Wars of the Roses (and the crowning of Henry tudor) in 1485 and the reign of elizabeth I (1558–1603).

carolyn Meyer

YoUnG ADULt noVeLIst

sumptuous background. All the historical details are here, plus dialogue!

What was it like to be the wife of Henry VIII—or his daughter? Carolyn Meyer, author of more than 50 books of fiction and nonfiction for young readers, has written four novels for young adults in search of answers to those questions, starting with Mary, Bloody Mary (1999). All are available as a boxed set titled The Tudor Women (2006).

hENRy viii (2001) and thE six wivEs oF hENRy viii (1991)
By Alison Weir
on the other side of the Pond, British writer Alison Weir has attracted a large and enthusiastic following for her biographies of fascinating royals. open these books at almost any point and feast on some interesting tidbit about Henry’s fondness for artichokes or the kind of headgear favored by Anne Boleyn.

able Brendan Prescott, on the rocky road to his true identity. set in the time and upheaval of edward VI’s death, The Secret Lion shimmers with wonderful depictions of many well-known tudor personages. Gortner’s portrait of the young elizabeth tudor is so well drawn it left me in awe.

thE LiFE AND DEAth oF ANNE BoLEyN
By Eric Ives (2004)
More than 470 years after her death, is it really possible to understand the woman who woke the lion within Henry VIII? Ives’s study reveals an Anne Boleyn who is, like most of us, more good than bad, as well as an extremely gifted, intelligent woman worthy of a king’s passion. Most important, this biography powerfully vindicates Anne Boleyn by showing Anne and the men murdered with her.

GREAt hARRy
The Extravagant Life of Henry By Carolly Erickson (1980)
there is scarcely a member of the tudor family that American historian carolly erickson has not carefully researched and boldly presented. Highly detailed and immensely readable, this book is as good a place to start as any, although erickson has also limned the lives of Henry’s wives and daughters in a number of separate volumes.

wendy J. Dunn

noVeLIst

Wendy J. Dunn is an Australian writer and the author of the award-winning novel Dear Heart, How Like You This?, a novel recounting the tragic story of Anne Boleyn through the eyes of Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder.

hENRy viii
The King and His Court By Alison Weir (2001)
In this wonderfully researched work, Alison Weir brings Henry VIII and his magnificent court to center stage, not fearing a bit of controversy along the way. Full of interesting, intimate details of Henry’s life, this is a great book for writers of tudor fiction, as well as a must read for people interested in the period.

thE othER BoLEyN GiRL
By Philippa Gregory (2001)
Rather than focusing on the main players, novelist Philippa Gregory sets her formidable sights on the lesser characters—in this case, Mary Boleyn, sister of Anne Boleyn and once mistress of king Henry—and creates a lively story against a
20 march/april 2008

thE sECREt LioN
The Spymaster Chronicles, Book 1 By C. W. Gortner (2004)
c. W. Gortner is an up-andcoming author with a great passion for tudor england. His debut novel takes us swiftly into the midst of tudor intrigue, where we journey with the novel’s narrator, the like-

what one book
thE ELiZABEth sERiEs
(Young Bess; Elizabeth, Captive Princess; and Elizabeth and the Prince of Spain) By Margaret Irwin (1998)
I was only a teenager when I first read and loved this series. to my delight, they were republished in 1998. Finally I could replace my original set, for years falling apart and far too fragile for rereading. Revisiting Irwin’s work did not leave me disappointed. I felt again swept away by her prose, her psychological insights into her characters, and her perfect, seamless research. Her elizabeth tudor is unforgettable. not pretty. Henry is a bloody tyrant and a hypocrite who uses a cloak of piety to cover his sins. First published in 1949, this book has been rereleased because it is the kind of novel that inspires a lifelong love of history. into more detailed and modern interpretations.

the tudor Dynasty

thE ARmADA
By Garrett Mattingly (1959)
this classic account of the clash between spain and england on the seas in 1588 is told from the perspectives of both sides. While suspenseful—even though we know who won—it is also evenhanded. And Mattingly’s use of language is exquisite.

thE pERFECt pRiNCE
The Mystery of Perkin Warbeck and His Quest for the Throne of England By Anne Wroe (2003)
this nonfiction historical text reads like a thriller as it navigates an enduring mystery: Was the so-called imposter “Perkin Warbeck” really the younger of the two princes in the tower of London? Wroe’s work is a fascinating look into a dark and mysterious era, and into the young man— ultimately captured and disemboweled by Henry VII—who may have been who he said he was: the true king of england.

on HenRY VIII

hENRy viii

The Mask of Royalty By Lacey Baldwin smith (1971)
this biography, by a leading tudor historian, is a vastly entertaining and acutely observed psychological portrait of Henry VIII in the last years of his reign.

Sandra worth

noVeLIst

Sandra Worth, a graduate of the University of Toronto, has been researching the 15th century for more than a decade. She is the author of The Rose of York series, which has won ten awards. Her new novel, Lady of the Roses, also set during the Wars of the Roses, is forthcoming in 2008. For more information, go to www.sandraworth.com.

Margaret george

on HenRY’s WIVes
noVeLIst

CAthERiNE oF ARAGoN
still the definitive work and immensely readable despite its scholarship, Catherine of Aragon brings Henry VIII’s first wife to us almost in person.

By Garrett Mattingly (1941)

DEAR hEARt, how LikE you this?
By Wendy Dunn (2002)
From a fragment of poetry comes this evocative novel woven around the poet sir thomas Wyatt’s love for Anne Boleyn. What makes Dunn’s portrait of Anne Boleyn memorable is her lyrical prose, which maintains the illusion that the tale is recounted by a poet. Dear Heart eloquently captures the joys and sorrows of living in this dangerous era.

Margaret George specializes in biographical novels of larger-than-life characters who changed the course of history: The Autobiography of Henry VIII (1986), Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles (1992), The Memoirs of Cleopatra (1997), Mary Called Magdalene (2002), and Helen of Troy (2006). All have been New York Times best sellers. She is currently at work on a novel about Elizabeth I’s later years. For more information, see www.margaretgeorge.com.
Most of the following are classics. Although some are out of print, they are readily available from used book dealers and libraries.

A tuDoR tRAGEDy
The Life and Times of Catherine Howard By Lacey Baldwin smith (1961)
this book has deservedly been called “dazzling,” and it is riveting reading as it plumbs the minds of all the protagonists: Henry VIII’s fifth wife and her lovers, and the besotted king himself.

thE AutoBioGRAphy oF hENRy viii
With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers By Margaret George (1986)
In my biographical novel of king Henry, I cover his entire life from cradle to beyond the grave, with no incident omitted, good or bad. Unlike most treatments, it is sympathetic to the king. n

muRDER most RoyAL
The Story of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard By Jean Plaidy (1949)
Jean Plaidy gives a vivid account of two of Henry VIII’s tragic queens, Anne Boleyn and catherine Howard, and delves deeply into the king’s psyche. What emerges is

on eLIZABetH I
By J. E. Neale (1934)

quEEN ELiZABEth i
this comprehensive, onevolume biography of the great Queen is still cited for its accuracy and graceful prose. It is the perfect book to read before venturing

Bookmarks magazine 21

D. H. LaWrence
BY JessIcA teIscH

“Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you’ve got to say, and say it hot.”
—D. H. Lawrence (1885–1930)
“one MUst LeARn to LoVe,

and go through a good deal of depicted the struggles of daily life in early 20th-century suffering to get to it,” D. H. Lawrence wrote in 1914, “and England. His working-class upbringing in Eastwood, the journey is always towards the other soul.” One of the Nottinghamshire (East Midlands), as well as his parents’ pivotal and most controversial writers of the 20th century, conflicts—his father, an uneducated, hard-drinking miner, Lawrence explored love, romantic desire, sexuality, and had married an intellectually ambitious woman a station male-female and male-male relationships in his novels, poabove him—inspired many of his fictionalized relationems, short stories, essays, and travelogues. Seen as a sexual ships. Lawrence’s mismatched couples (the working-class crusader in novels including Sons and Lovers (1913), Women gamekeeper Oliver Mellors and aristocratic Connie Chatin Love (1920), and Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928), Lawterley in Lady Chatterley’s Lover), his use of sexually explicit rence attempted to foster greater openness about sexuality language, and his graphic portrayal of sexual desire outin the overly intellectualized English culture. He viewed raged a public slowly emerging from Victorian sensibilities. sex as the key to emotional health and sexual freedom as a His work was, in turn, censored, banned, and confiscated. liberating force from the brutal efThe Rainbow (1915), an antiwar fects of industrial society. Above all, novel filled with frank discussions he wished to balance sex with the of sex, was seized and burned; Lady primitive subconscious. “I always Chatterley’s Lover led to an obscenlabour at the same thing, to make ity trial. Although deemed by some LADY cHAtteRLeY’s LoVeR, Lawrence’s the sex relation valid and precious, as the literary pornographer of his most scandalous novel, shocked the instead of shameful,” he wrote about time, readers around the world now public with its explicit portrayal of sexual Lady Chatterley’s Lover. “To me it is recognize Lawrence as a visionary, desire. sons AnD LoVeRs, his first great beautiful and tender and frail as the versatile pioneer of English literary work, is semiautobiographical in its portrayal of a son’s all-consuming love for naked self is” (The Collected Letters modernism. his mother. WoMen In LoVe, considered of D. H. Lawrence, ed. Harry T. David Herbert Lawrence, the his finest novel and a key text of European Moore, 1962). fourth child, was born in the coal modernism, presents Lawrence’s theories While dissecting human relationmining town of Eastwood on on sex, love, and the human psyche. ships, dramatizing power plays, and September 11, 1885. Although he celebrating sexual desire, Lawrence had a deep emotional bond with his

Where to Start

22 march/april 2008

PHoto: coRBIs

Bookmarks magazine 23

mother (portrayed as Gertrude Morel in Sons and Lovers), he resented his father, his parents’ fights, and their poverty. After winning a scholarship to high school, Lawrence worked in a factory. He then studied at Nottingham University, taught in South London, and started to write. His first novel, The White Peacock (1911), launched his career. In 1910, his mother died, a heartbreak retold in Sons and Lovers. In 1912, Lawrence met and fell in love with Frieda von Richthofen, a distant relative of the “Red Baron” Manfred von Richthofen. Frieda, married to Ernest Weekley, one of Lawrence’s former modern languages professors, left her husband and three children. Lawrence and his new lover, their relationship forever stormy and passionate, eloped to Germany. Accused of spying, they walked over the Alps to Italy (an episode recounted in 1916’s Twilight in Italy), where Lawrence completed Sons and Lovers; they were married in London in 1914. These years were fruitful for Lawrence, who, in 1915, published The Rainbow, which was immediately banned, and poetry about the natural world. Although Lawrence and Frieda had planned to return to the continent, World War I kept them in England, where Lawrence opposed militarism and came under official censorship. He completed Women in Love in 1920. In 1919, after their expulsion from Cornwall, Lawrence and his wife left England to begin what Lawrence called restless years of “savage pilgrimage.” Poor and in ill health (he suffered from recurring bouts of pneumonia and tuberculosis his entire life), Lawrence brought Frieda to Italy, and then to Ceylon, Australia, Mexico, and Taos, New Mexico, where, invited by New York patron of the arts Mabel Dodge Sterne, they settled down at the peaceful Kiowa Ranch. These travels—and Lawrence’s search for the place of sex in primeval religions—inspired many of his travel books, stories, and novels, including The Plumed Serpent (1926), about Mexico’s Aztec religion. He also published some of his best poetry collections, including Pansies (1929) and Last Poems (1932), which features his wellknown poem “The Ship of Death.” Aware of his mortality, he ended it with the lines: “Oh build your ship of death, oh build it! / for you will need it. / For the voyage of oblivion awaits you.” Another severe illness brought Lawrence back to northern Italy, where he worked on different versions of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. After entering a sanatorium in Vence, France, he died from tuberculosis on March 2, 1930.

The Scandalous Text of Lady Chatterley’s Lover
the prosecuting attorney in the British trial of the novel condemned the following passage, though many others contained words thought to be obscene:

It was a night of sensual passion, in which she was a little startled and almost unwilling: yet pierced again with piercing thrills of sensuality, different, sharper, more terrible than the thrills of tenderness, but, at the moment, more desirable. Though a little frightened, she let him have his way, and the reckless, shameless sensuality shook her to her foundations, stripped her to the very last, and made a different woman of her. It was not really love. It was not voluptuousness. It was sensuality sharp and searing as fire, burning the soul to tinder. Burning out the shames, the deepest, oldest shames, in the most secret places. It cost her an effort to let him have his way and his will of her. she had to be a passive, consenting thing, like a slave, a physical slave. Yet the passion licked round her, consuming, and when the sensual flame of it pressed through her bowels and breast, she really thought she was dying: yet a poignant, marvelous death.

D. H. Lawrence’s Sexual Politics

“It’s hard to imagine that David Herbert Lawrence will ever again be read with the passion and recognition that people evidently felt 40 years ago, when his cultural war was still not won,” writes art critic Jonathan Jones (“A Life in Pictures,” Guardian, 11/8/02). Although Lawrence died in 1930, he perhaps reached the height of notoriety in 1960, when Penguin Books was prosecuted for publishing
24 march/april 2008

the unexpurgated version of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Today, many readers willing to overlook some four-letter words— the so-called f-word and its variations appear numerous times in the novel—fail to understand what the fuss was all about. “Where are the dirty bits in Lady Chatterley’s Lover?” Jones asks. “We read Lawrence’s Women in Love and wonder what the hell these people were so steamed up about.” Today, Lawrence’s novels not only fail to shock readers; many of his theories about sex and sexual roles also seem outdated, if not downright sexist. Targets of feminist critics of the 1970s and 1980s, Lawrence’s ideas truly reflect his time: his belief that male domination was critical to successful sexual relations; that masturbation led away from free and natural sexuality; that the powerful mother threatened a son’s romantic relationships. Other aspects of Lawrence’s politics remain misunderstood. Thinking that exclusive love prevented an isolated consciousness, he defended monogamy, despite Frieda’s dalliances. (Lawrence punished Lady Chatterley for her first adulterous act.) Still other parts of Lawrence’s sexual politics remain unclear. Because his fiction abounds with images of male beauty and bonding, many scholars believe that Lawrence repressed his homosexuality or that his illnesses may have caused sexual dysfunction. If Lawrence’s sexual politics fail to resonate with modern readers, few other writers have as successfully captured the nuances of gender relations. “What we do have from him is a report on the sex war of his time, and no one has done it better,” claims Doris Lessing. “His men and women are usually at odds, or in strange spiritual conjunctions. …

No one ever wrote better about the power struggles of sex and love. What a paradox. Lawrence often wrote nonsense about the mechanics of sex but is full of insights about men and women”—and about the centrality of sexuality in the human experience (Guardian, 7/15/06).

The rainbow (1915)

F #48 MoDErN LIBrArY’s 100 BEsT NoVELs

MaJOr WOrKS Sons and Lovers (1913)
F #9 MoDErN LIBrArY’s 100 BEsT NoVELs

The largely autobiographical Sons and Lovers reflects much of Lawrence’s provincial, workingclass upbringing and serves as a tribute to his mother, who died shortly before he began the manuscript. His first great work and one of the most accessible, the novel reworks the oedipal drama in its chronicling of possessive, all-consuming love. tHe stoRY: In an unhappy, working-class English family, Gertrude Morel transfers her former love for her harddrinking, miner husband to her first son. She then turns to Paul, her artistic third child, and showers him with attention that resembles that of a jealous lover. While Paul finds her love simultaneously attractive and repulsive, it smothers his romantic entanglements: first with a religious farm girl, Miriam Leivers, whom he then rejects for a second woman, the more experienced, separated suffragette, Clara Dawes. When Gertrude falls gravely ill, Paul rejects romantic and sexual love because his mother, whom he loves “better than his own life,” still overshadows his life.
“the love for each other of the mother and her son, Paul Morel, is the mainspring of both their lives; it is portrayed tenderly, yet with a truthfulness which slurs nothing even of that friction which is unavoidable between the members of two different generations. … [this] book [is] one of rare excellence.” NEW YorK TIMEs, 9/21/1913 “Sons and Lovers is a great novel because it has the ring of something written from deeply felt experience. the past remembered, it conveys more of Lawrence’s own knowledge of life than anything else he wrote. His other novels appear somehow artificial beside it.” KATE MILLETT, INTroDuCTIoN To SonS anD
LoverS, MoDErN LIBrArY, 2000

Lawrence’s fourth novel depicts England’s transition from an agricultural to an industrial society and the transformation of women’s roles. Considered an experiment in modern psychological realism, the novel was banned in 1915 for its frank discussions of sexual desire and relations, as well as its unpatriotic spirit. Considered subversive, Lawrence had difficulty publishing his new works. tHe stoRY: The Brangwens have farmed the English Midlands for generations. Against rising industrialization and the decline of rural life, three generations of the family experience new sexual dynamics, social rebellions, power struggles, and forms of love. Tom Brangwen, a man of the earth, marries a Polish widow, Lydia; Lydia’s daughter and Tom’s nephew fall in love and marry. Their large family includes Ursula, a teacher with modern sensibilities and an individual spirit, who braves intense relationships and conflicts before finding happiness.
“certainly The Rainbow was a bad book, for it was an illwritten book, a book of hatred and desire.” WALTEr LIoNEL GEorGE,
LiTerary CHaPTerS, 1918

“It would be a serious loss for english letters at this period if Lawrence were to give up writing novels, for more than any of his contemporaries he had a definite and recognizable genius.” THE BooKMAN [LoNDoN], 3/19–8/19 “What has astonished me this time round, now I’m in mellower middle age … is the iconoclastic modernity of the novel. … Moral schemes and emotional consistency were things Lawrence feared, seeing life as a Hegelian conflict of opposites—not just of creation and destruction, or of the self and the other, but also of man and woman, as different as sunlight and moonlight.” ADAM THorPE, GuArDIAN uNLIMITED, 12/13/03
tHe BottoM LIne: One of Lawrence’s finest novels— revolutionary for its depiction of power plays and sexual dynamics. tHe MoVIe: 1989, starring Sammi Davis, Paul McGann, Amanda Donohoe, and Christopher Gable, and directed by Ken Russell.

tHe BottoM LIne: The most autobiographical of Lawrence’s novels, and his first masterpiece. tHe MoVIe: 2003, television, starring Sarah Lancashire, James Murray, Rupert Evans, Esther Hall, and Lyndsey Marshal, and directed by Stephen Whittaker; 1981, BBC television miniseries, starring Eileen Atkins, Tom Bell, and Lynn Dearth, and directed by Stuart Burge; 1960 (multiple Academy Award nominations), starring Trevor Howard, Dean Stockwell, Wendy Hiller, Mary Ure, William Lucas, and Donald Pleasence, and directed by Jack Cardiff.

Women in Love (1920)
F #49 MoDErN LIBrArY’s 100 BEsT NoVELs

World War I looms symbolically over this sequel to The Rainbow, which Lawrence completed in 1916. Considered a key text of European modernism, the novel had a limited run because of The Rainbow’s scandalous nature. While it explores the effect of industrialization on sex, marriage, friendship, and the human psyche, it also caused critical confusion over its homoerotic themes,
Bookmarks magazine 25

antiwar stance, and the idea that only passion can rectify an inhumane, alienated society. Lawrence perhaps presented himself as the character of Rupert and his wife as Ursula. tHe stoRY: In a small coal-mining town in the English Midlands in the 1910s, two sisters fall in love. Ursula, a teacher, falls for misanthropic, intellectual school inspector Rupert Birkin, though they clash over the ideal of passion and love; the artistic Gudrun finds herself attracted to Rupert’s friend Gerard Crich, an industrialist suffering guilt over his siblings’ accidental deaths. While Ursula and Rupert happily marry—despite Rupert’s desire for union with another man—Gudrun and Gerard experience the turbulence of an increasingly violent, depraved world.

“It is full of absurdities; but Mr. Lawrence, although he may occasionally repel by egotism, has at least the courage which leads him to risk absurdity for the sake of what he holds to be the truth. … And yet at its best Women in Love is in a class apart from other novels. … Mr. Lawrence has this in advance of his contemporaries: that while so many of them improvise he can imagine. It is a great gift, and one to be jealously and finely used.” F. s., GuArDIAN, 7/15/21 “two violent love affairs are the plot’s focus, but the drama of the novel has clearly to do with every sort of emotion, and with every sort of spiritual inanition. … the perversity of the novel is such that its great subject of mankind’s tragically split nature is demonstrated in the artwork itself, which is

LaWrence’S SeLecTeD OTHer WOrKS
* Discussed in Major Works

and Florence. kAnGARoo (1923) In this semiautobiographical novel, Lawrence fictionalizes his and his wife’s three-month visit to Australia and the persecution they experienced during the war. tHe PLUMeD seRPent (1926) After the Mexican revolution, a European woman leaves her husband for a pagan adventure in Mexico. * LADY cHAtteRLeY’s LoVeR (1928) tHe escAPeD cock (1929, LIMIteD eDItIon) (tHe MAn WHo DIeD, 1931) This short novel ponders ideas about death, resurrection, and sensuality. tHe VIRGIn AnD tHe GYPsY (1930) In this novella, two sisters feel oppressed when they return to their family’s vicarage in post-war East Midlands. LoVe AMonG tHe HAYstAcks AnD otHeR stoRIes (1930) This volume contains all of the stories not in The Prussian officer collection—from Lawrence’s first (“A Prelude”) to some of his last, including “New Eve and old Adam.”

prewar era. seA AnD sARDInIA (1921) Lawrence and Frieda visited sardinia in 1921; this travelogue offers insight into both the island’s culture and the author’s emotional state. PsYcHoAnALYsIs AnD tHe UnconscIoUs AnD FAntAsIA oF tHe UnconscIoUs (1921–1922) In response to the criticism of Sons and Lovers, Lawrence penned two essays on his counter-Freudian theories about children, incest, marriage, and society. stUDIes In cLAssIc AMeRIcAn LIteRAtURe (1923) Essays on James Fenimore Cooper, Benjamin Franklin, Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, and others. ReFLectIons on tHe DeAtH oF A PoRcUPIne AnD otHeR essAYs (1925) Philosophical essays on religion, education, nature, and individuality. APocALYPse AnD tHe WRItInGs on ReVeLAtIon (1931) Lawrence’s last book, written as he was dying, criticizes human civilization while exploring primitive symbolism and paganism. etRUscAn PLAces (PUBLIsHeD PostHUMoUsLY, 1932) (sketcHes oF etRUscAn PLAces AnD otHeR ItALIAn essAYs, 2001) Essays on the joyful Etruscan civilization.

FIctIon
tHe WHIte PeAcock (1911) Lawrence set his first novel in the region of his childhood; narrated in the first person, it introduces some of his trademark themes, including friendship, marriage, and industrialization. tHe tResPAsseR (1912) Lawrence’s second novel addresses the tragic consequences of adultery. * sons AnD LoVeRs (1913) tHe PRUssIAn oFFIceR AnD otHeR stoRIes (1914) Lawrence’s first short story collection considers sex, relationships, and industrial society in stories such as “The Prussian officer,” “The Thorn in the Flesh,” “Daughters of the Vicar,” and “odor of Chrysanthemums.” * tHe RAInBoW (1915) * WoMen In LoVe (1920) tHe Lost GIRL (1920)
F JAMEs TAIT BLACK MEMorIAL PrIZE

A young woman from a middle-class Midlands family flees with an Italian vaudeville performer to Italy, where she discovers brief social and sexual freedom. AARon’s RoD (censoReD, 1922) Flautist Aaron sisson leaves his wife, children, and mining community for a life of freedom, adventure, and male friendship in post-war London

nonFIctIon
tWILIGHt In ItALY AnD otHeR essAYs (1916) Intended for newspapers, these travel articles record Lawrence’s experiences and anxieties during the

26 march/april 2008

sometimes a fairly conventional novel with a forward-moving plot, sometimes a gorgeous, even outrageous prose poem.”
JoYCE CAroL oATEs, “LAWrENCE’s GöTTErDäMMEruNG: THe aPoCaLyPTiC viSion of Women in Love,” CriTiCaL inquiry, sPrING 1978

Ferran; 1993, television, starring Joely Richardson, Sean Bean, and James Wilby, and directed by Ken Russell. n

tHe BottoM LIne: Lawrence considered this challenging modern meditation on love his masterpiece; so do most critics. tHe MoVIe: 1969, starring Glenda Jackson (Academy Award for Best Actress), Jennie Linden, Alan Bates, and Oliver Reed, and directed by Ken Russell.

Painting the erotic
Though he lacked formal art training, D. H. Lawrence became nearly as infamous a painter as he was a novelist. Admiring the Impressionist paintings of renoir and Cézanne and inspired by William Blake, Lawrence started to paint in oil in the mid-1920s. Drawing on renaissance artists’ themes, which he believed revered sexuality without degenerating into Boccaccio story pornography, Lawrence portrayed erotic moments and visions. Boccaccio Story, Leda and the Swan, and other works revealed his awe for the naked human body. Lawrence’s debut exhibition at London’s Warren Gallery in June 1929 attracted thousands of visitors—and harsh criticism from the press; The observer, for one, called it “frankly disgusting.” on July 5, scotland Yard confiscated 13 of the paintings on charges Presurrection of obscenity. After sitting in a cell, they were returned to Lawrence on the condition that they would never again be publicly displayed in Britain. (Today, collections in Texas and New Mexico house the works.) some contemporary art critics, citing his undefined women and awkward torsos, suggest that Lawrence lacked real talent. If Lawrence was no renoir or Blake, his paintings nonetheless touched off a cultural debate that culminated Holy Family in the 1960 obscenity trial of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. In the end, Lawrence’s exhibition perhaps proved a point as much to himself as to society: that depictions of nudity and eroticism, whether in literature or art, would, critic Jonathan Jones writes, “shake society to its foundations.” Lawrence was “the priest of love, but perhaps it is in his paintings, intentionally or otherwise, that he comes closest to straightforward profanity. Here, at last, are the dirty bits” (“A Life in Pictures,” Guardian, 11/8/02). n For facsimiles of the Warren Gallery paintings, see The Paintings of D. H. Lawrence (1929).

Lady chatterley’s Lover (1928)

Lawrence, who was suffering from tuberculosis at the time, chose to publish this sexually explicit, controversial novel privately rather than accepting the heavy editing required for a trade edition. Banned as pornographic, it was finally published in an unexpurgated text in the United States in 1959 and in Great Britain in 1960, after a short obscenity trial that attracted many well-known writers, including E. M. Forster, to the defense. (The verdict: not guilty.) Within a year, the novel had sold over 2 million copies. tHe stoRY: In 1917 Constance (Connie) Reid marries Sir Clifford Chatterley, an aristocratic mine owner in Derbeyshire. When a war wound leaves him impotent and paralyzed, Clifford becomes a successful writer while Connie embarks on an unsatisfying affair with a playwright. She then finds herself drawn to the aloof estate gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors. A passionate affair brings them together despite their class differences. Connie becomes pregnant, Oliver’s former wife returns, and Clifford refuses to grant a divorce—but hope for Connie’s and Oliver’s reunion endures.

“All serious writers in the english-speaking countries are much in Lawrence’s debt, for even the limited circulation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover cannot fail to make it easier in future to disregard the ridiculous taboo that the nineteenth century imposed on sex.” EDMuND WILsoN, “sIGNs oF LIFE: LaDy CHaTTerLey’S Lover,” 1929 “some of his fantasies, as exposed in Lady Chatterley’s Lover, were those of a romantic boy. … Rereading this novel many years and some loves later, the great sex scenes have lost their power. … Lady Chatterley’s Lover is still at large in the world, still potent and persuasive, and in the hands of young women in countries where they know they may be killed for love.” DorIs LEssING, GuarDian, 7/15/06
tHe BottoM LIne: Lawrence’s best-known novel and, during its time and ours, a scandalous portrait of carnal love. tHe MoVIe: 2006 (French; based on John Thomas and Lady Jane, Lawrence’s second version of the novel), starring Marina Hands (César Award for Best Actress), Jean-Louis Coulloc’h, and Hippolyte Girardot, and directed by Pascale

Bookmarks magazine 27

Geraldine Brooks
From globe-trotting journalist to Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist
BY JessIcA teIscH

G

eraldine Brooks is no stranger to tales that weave in and out of centuries and far-flung places. In her most recent novel, People of the Book (page 30), she draws on her infatuation with all things global to reveal the secrets of a Jewish illuminated manuscript—the renowned “Sarajevo Haggadah.” As an Australian rare-book expert starts to conserve the manuscript, she uncovers its mysteries, which span from 14th-century Barcelona to fin-desiècle Vienna to World War II. Brooks, in fact, has written about nearly every place in the world except for her native Australia. Born in 1955 in Sydney, Australia, to an American expatriate father (a bigband singer) and an Australian mother (a radio announcer), she read A. A. Milne, C. S. Lewis, and Enid Blyton as a child. After attending the University of Sydney, Brooks reported for The Sydney Morning Herald, but her desire to escape her country’s colonial mentality brought her to the United States. She received a master’s degree in journalism at Columbia University in 1983, married journalist and

author Tony Horwitz the next year, and started covering volatile regions in the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans for The Wall Street Journal. Hers was no easy job: she wrote by candlelight, in African villages, and under fire in Kurdistan, and her reporting on the Nigerian Shell Oil reserves scandals in 1994 landed her in jail. Her first book, the bestselling Nine Parts of Desire (1994), reflects her experience among Muslim women in the Middle East. When Brooks had a son, she and her husband sought more stability in their lives. They settled in Virginia, and Brooks began writing books full-time rather than risking her life in war-torn nations. Foreign Correspondence, a memoir about her childhood love affair with places foreign, was published in 1997. But it was not until Brooks’s first novel, Year of Wonders, appeared in 2001 that Brooks achieved international acclaim. Then, in 2005, she turned from 17th-century England to 19th-century New England with the Pulitzer Prize–winning March, a historical novel set during the Civil War. “One day,” she told the Washington Post in 2001, “I hope to write an Australian novel. But I now know I will have to work for it.”

NoNfictioN: iNvestigatiNg the islamic World
nine Parts of Desire
The Hidden World of Islamic Women (1994)

Geraldine Brooks (1955– )

Brooks’s interest in Muslim women began while she was in Cairo as a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. One morning, her Harvardeducated young assistant showed up for work “in the uniform of a Muslim fundamentalist”—and Brooks decided to find out why. The book, an international best seller, was translated into 17 languages. tHe stoRY: “Islam did not have to mean oppression of women. So why were so many women oppressed?” In seeking to answer this question and address modern Muslim women’s feelings about society’s attitudes toward them, Brooks immersed herself in Islamic culture, even donning the hijab. In countries throughout the Middle East, she interviewed housewives, Westerners married to Muslim men, divorcees, feminists, converts, devout Palestinians, and the queen of Jordan. Despite the Koran’s more liberating teachings, Brooks found
PHoto: RAnDI BAIRD

28 march/april 2008

repression, double standards, and a new understanding of Muslim women for the Westerner.
“the news she brings is an often dismaying chronicle of mutilation, rape and male dominance, but it is valuable precisely because she distinguishes between rampant misogyny and the liberal teachings of Islam. … she strolls in the corridors of power with Jordan’s Queen noor and king Hussein, has tea with the ayatollah’s widow (and discovers that beneath her head covering she dyes her hair bright red) and receives advice from salman Rushdie.” roBErT TAYLor, BosToN
GLoBE, 1/11/95

tHe stoRY: In rural Derbyshire in 1666, the village of Eyam quarantines itself when the bubonic plague hits. Eighteen-year-old Anna Frith, a recently widowed housemaid of the village rector and mother of two small boys, narrates this fateful year. As villagers confront superstition, disease, and death, Anna witnesses her own family succumb to the plague. While she starts to doubt the minister’s teachings, she gains strength as she sees the best—and the worst—of her fellow villagers when faced by unspeakable devastation.

the memoir
Foreign correspondence (1997)
A Pen Pal’s Journey From Down Under to All Over

“In her novel, the title of which comes from John Dryden’s 1667 poem ‘Annus Mirabilis,’ Brooks uses the plague and its devastation as a test of the faith and fortitude of the villagers, principally Anna. to that extent, the novel is not so much about the plague itself—although there are plenty of descriptions of its gruesome effects—as it is about Anna’s intellectual and emotional growth.” EArL L. DACHsLAGEr, HousToN
CHroNICLE, 9/23/01

Brooks grew up in a working-class suburb of Sydney, but she yearned to see the world. In Foreign Correspondence, she compassionately chronicles the friendships she made in her teens. tHe stoRY: As an 11-year-old, Brooks ached to experience life outside of suburban Sydney. To ease her wanderlust, she started collecting pen pals from around the world. Soon her correspondence included a sophisticated girl from across town, a girl from New Jersey, an Israeli Christian Arab, an Israeli Jew, and a French farmer’s daughter. As an adult, Brooks tracked down her childhood friends—now in Japan, France, New York, and the Middle East. In the process, she rediscovered not only her adolescence but also her pen pals’ paths—some happy, others tragically marred by illness, violence, and war—and a renewed appreciation of her small-town upbringing.
“Along the way Brooks makes passing references to local events—the strikes in France in late 1995, the Arab-Israeli impasse. … You are left with the feeling that the book is a ploy, a method of cramming Brooks’s career as a Foreign correspondent—always rendered in capitals—into dramatic relief.” PATrICK sMITH, NATIoN, 7/27/98

Pulitzer Prize WiNNer
March (2005)
F PuLITZEr PrIZE, HHHH seLectIon

May/June 2005

debut Novel: aN iNterNatioNal best seller
Year of Wonders (2001)
A Novel of the Plague

When Brooks and her husband settled in a small Virginia town founded by pacifist Quakers, her curiosity about the Civil War was piqued after a Union soldier’s belt buckle was unearthed in her courtyard. In this parallel to Louisa May Alcott’s classic Little Women, Brooks relates the story of the March family from the perspective of the absent father. She based his voice on Alcott’s real father, Bronson Alcott. tHe stoRY: Concord, Massachusetts cleric John March, a pacifist and an abolitionist, is a chaplain in the Union army. Despite having just survived a brutal battle in Virginia, he keeps his letters to his wife, Marmee, and their four young daughters cheerful. As the war continues, March relives his romance with the fiery Marmee, his introduction to the abolitionists, and the cause of his family’s poverty. Then there’s Grace, a mulatto slave whom he met 20 years before and whom he finds again at a cotton plantation where he’s been assigned to teach freed slaves. How much of this life will March share with his wife? How could she possibly understand what happened in this godforsaken war?
“[March has] clarity of vision, fine, meticulous prose, the unexpected historical detail, a life-sized protagonist caught inside an unimaginably huge event. … [It] is an altogether successful book, casting a spell that lasts much longer than the reading of it.” KArEN JoY FoWLEr, WAsHINGToN PosT, 3/13/05 “[A] very great book. I believe it breathes new life into the historical fiction genre, the borrowing-a-character-from-thedeep-past phenomenon. … I believe it honors the best of the imagination.” BETH KEPHArT, CHICAGo TrIBuNE, 3/6/05
Bookmarks magazine 29

Although little record exists of what happened in Eyam during the plague, Brooks pieced together information to limn a plausible framework for this novel—about a voluntary quarantine and communal self-sacrifice that existed nowhere else in England.

her latest Work HHHJ
People of the Book
By Geraldine Brooks
ethnic and cultural convergence.

Washington Post

HHHH

“the good news is that this new novel … is intelligent, thoughtful, gracefully written and original. … Hanna, in whom it’s not difficult to detect a hint of the author’s own past as a determined, hard-digging reporter, is a quirky, no-nonsense woman whom I find exceptionally easy to like.” JoNATHAN YArDLEY

Chicago Tribune

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In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, starts to conserve the 14th-century Sarajevo Haggadah, a priceless illuminated text used for the Jewish holiday of Passover. When Hanna finds artifacts in the pages—an insect wing, wine stains, saltwater, and a white hair—she determines to unravel the book’s mysteries. Hanna’s research allows the author, Geraldine Brooks, to imagine the specific stories from the history of the Haggadah—from the Spanish Inquisition, when the Jews were expelled from Spain; to 15thcentury Seville, in a story involving an African slave; to 17th-century Venice, where a priest saved the text from fire; and through World War II and the Bosnian War. Hanna soon becomes obsessed with the “people of the book, the different hands that had made it, used it, protected it”— among them Jews, Christians, and Muslims—and the settings where different cultures mingled while simultaneously cultivating hatred.
Viking. 372 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 067001821X

“the framework connecting [the historical episodes], it must be admitted, grows increasingly obtrusive and formulaic as the author sends Hanna once again to yet another expert, whose revelations inevitably introduce the next historical installment.” WENDY sMITH

Los Angeles Times

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“A subtle kind of suspense derives from Brooks’ method of beginning with the most recent historical chapter and moving back in time toward the manuscript’s ultimate mystery: the identity of the illuminator who provided the images that the third commandment expressly forbids. … [Brooks’s] sarajevo Haggadah embodies both the story of the survival of the Jews against terrible odds and the story of all thinking people’s relationship to the past.” EMILY BArToN

rocky Mountain News

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“Brooks’ effort to create an entertaining narrative in which to embed the historical vignettes is admirable, but she handles the Da Vinci Code–like thriller moments as if splicing Masterpiece Theater with CSI.” JENNY sHANK

New York Times san Francisco Chronicle HHHHJ
“[A] tour de force that delivers a reverberating lesson gleaned from history. … It’s a brilliant, innately suspenseful structure, and one that allows Brooks to show off her remarkable aptitude for assimilating research and conveying a wide range of settings.” HELLEr MCALPIN

HH

“the forensic details of manuscript analysis are far more interesting and subtle than Hanna’s personal evolution. … It strains for the momentum of a Da Vinci Code but is bogged down by convoluted ambitions.” JANET MAsLIN

Minneapolis star Tribune HHHH
“All of these [historical] sections are richly imagined, almost unbearably tense, and tackle, sometimes obliquely, other times directly, the issues of exodus, marginalization, and brutality during periods of extreme nationalism: the Alhambra Decree, the Waidhofen Manifesto, the Venetian Ghettos, national socialism, just to name a few.” ETHAN
ruTHErForD

san Diego union-Tribune HHHH
“In [the final flashback] the sufferings of Jews expelled from spain are matched in misery by the treatment of African Muslims sold into bondage, and Brooks makes telling use of the single image of a black woman that appears in the sarajevo Haggadah itself. … [the historical episodes] comprise a virtuoso performance, and the last of them, ‘A White Hair,’ is extraordinarily moving.” JAMEs LEIGH

In the spirit of her previous books, Geraldine Brooks explores the roots of cross-cultural convergence and divergence. Richly imagined but based on fact, People of the Book covers details from the most terrible times of religious intolerance, from the Inquisition to the Nazis, while revealing an enduring humanity. Interweaving Hanna’s story with flashbacks, Brooks builds drama and suspense. While critics praised the compelling plot, many disagreed about the narrative structure. Some thought that Brooks seamlessly tied together the Haggadah’s and Hanna’s stories (including her romantic entanglement), while others considered the young woman’s story too contrived. Despite this tidy structure, the stories Brooks tells “passionately affirm the enduring values of tolerance, compassion, inclusion and diversity” (Chicago Tribune)—a lesson for the ages. n

CritiCal Summary

30 march/april 2008

sue Miller
S

Ms. Miller turns to politics, as the wife of a senator deals with his chronic infidelity.
BY JessIcA teIscH

ue Miller’s latest novel, The Senator’s Wife, explores one of her trademark themes—the complexities of marriage—as two wives, one a new mother-to-be and the other wed to a philandering senator, come to terms with their joys, disappointments, and betrayals. Described as “the doyenne of domesticity,” Miller plumbed the depths of women’s experiences in her first novel, The Good Mother (1986); since then, she has been weaving domestic tapestries of fate, human will, love, sin, and forgiveness. While she provides no easy answers to marital infidelity, sibling rivalry, destructive love affairs, the difficult task of caring for elderly parents, or the effects of alternative lifestyles, Miller probes beneath the surface to reveal the choices we make—and, most often, live with. Although Miller claims that only some of her characters and fictional episodes are semiautobiographical, she is proof that experience rewards writing. The second of four children, Miller was born in 1943 into an ecclesiastical family in Chicago. Her father taught church history at the University of Chicago, and she grew up surrounded by relatives, sermons, books, and poetry. At age 16, Miller enrolled at Radcliffe College; she married just a few months after graduation. To support her husband through medical school, she worked at various odd jobs. Two years after her son was born in 1968, she and her husband separated. Miller spent the next 13 years as a single parent in Cambridge, Massachusetts, renting out rooms in her home and running the Harvard Yard sue Miller (1943– ) Child Care Center, where she eagerly listened to women’s stories. Miller’s time as a working, single mother living in the While readers generally embrace Miller’s domestic 1960s in Cambridge, Massachusetts—at that time a comrealism, responses to the author’s brand of women—not munal, family-oriented city—shaped her outlook on life all feminists in the classic sense—vary. The Good Mother and, subsequently, the stories that unfolded when she found garnered praise for its realistic depiction of motherhood time to write. After her first story was published in 1981, but some criticism for the protagonist’s defense of her lover. Miller started teaching in writing programs in the Boston Other novels have been categorized as too narrow in their area. The Bunting Fellowship she received from Radcliffe in subject matter: Miller is, not surprisingly, often compared 1983 and a grant she received from the Massachusetts Art to Anne Tyler in the United States and Joanna Trollope in Council in 1984 allowed her to focus on writing and led to Britain. But few writers explore conflict and emotion— the publication of the phenomenally successful The Good and our acknowledgement or our denial of it—as richly as Mother. In 1985, she married fellow writer Douglas Bauer, Miller. “You don’t change anything by changing your life whom she later divorced. In 1987, she published a collecdramatically,” she told The New York Times. “There’s the tion of short stories, Inventing the Abbotts, which further sense that you haul it all along with you. You’re accountable launched her career. finally for your life” (3/8/99).
PHoto: DeBI MILLIGAn Bookmarks magazine 31

the best-selliNg first Novel
the Good Mother (1986)
Miller’s debut novel, which centers on a custody battle following a divorce, explores the conflict between motherhood and romantic love, a theme that recurs in later works. In 1988, the book was made into a movie, starring Diane Keaton, Liam Neeson, and Jason Robards, and directed by Leonard Nimoy. tHe stoRY: Newly divorced Anna Dunlap, from a cold New England family, finds comfort from her three-year-old daughter, Molly, and her new, handsome lover, Leo Cutter. For the first time in her life, Anna feels sexy and sensual. Then her ex-husband, a stodgy lawyer, cites shocking claims that their child is at risk and sues for custody. The court battle that follows jeopardizes not only Anna’s new romance but also her role as “good mother.”
“The Good Mother would be an extraordinarily skillful piece of fiction from a veteran, so as a first book it is a very remarkable accomplishment.” CATHErINE PETrosKI, CHICAGo TrIBuNE, 4/27/86 “[the book’s] real insights involve Anna’s upbringing and role models—the psychic baggage she’s brought to bear on her own self-image. … But the problem with The Good Mother is in its implicit message that Anna’s actions somehow warrant the losses she endures—that women can’t have it all, at least in the neighboring territories of passion and children.” GAIL
CALDWELL, BosToN GLoBE, 4/10/86

their experiences, thanks to Miller’s graceful prose and some cleverly kinky twists, make for provocative reading and provide many unexpected jolts of recognition for readers of a certain age.” GArY DrETZKA, Los ANGELEs TIMEs, 5/3/87 “Poignancy is the hallmark of this collection: some of its stories are almost painful in their open examination of unhappy lives. … Her stories are magnified glimpses of modern life.” VIVIENNE HEINEs, HousToN CHroNICLE, 8/16/87

oPrah’s book club Pick
While I Was Gone (1999)
An Oprah pick in 2000, While I Was Gone again asks what it means to be a good wife and have trust in faith—not only in the context of family but also in the deepest recesses of conscience and consciousness. tHe stoRY: Jo Becker has a loving husband, a beautifully restored farmhouse in western Massachusetts, a career as a veterinarian, and doting daughters. Her seemingly faultless life, however, is interrupted when an encounter with an old bohemian friend, with whom she lived in a group house in Cambridge decades earlier, brings back memories of a brutal murder. As she recalls her long-lost freedom and embarks on new, ambiguous, romantic territory, Jo just may topple her picture-perfect life.
“A painstaking meditation on marital fidelity, it swoops gracefully between the past and the present, between a woman’s complex feelings about her husband and her equally complex fantasies—and fears—about another man. … I can think of few contemporary novelists—John Updike and Frederick Buechner are two others—who write so well about the trials of faith.” JAY PArINI, NEW YorK TIMEs, 2/21/99 “In this highly confessional narrative, Jo trusts her husband enough to air her flashes of self-pity and episodes of melodramatic regret. … Miller moves so expertly through her delicate portrayal of Jo’s life in the first 200 pages that it’s difficult to understand why she barrels through this complex, exciting material toward the end.” roN CHArLEs, CHrIsTIAN sCIENCE
MoNITor, 2/11/99

the big-screeN movie
Inventing the Abbots (1987)
and Other Stories

Set mostly in the 1980s, these 11 stories extend the inquiries about relationships that Miller began in The Good Mother. In 1997, the title story was made into a movie, starring Liv Tyler, Joaquin Phoenix, Billy Crudup, and Jennifer Connelly, and directed by Pat O’Connor. tHe stoRIes: In the title story, two working-class brothers yearn for three daughters of the most fashionable family in a small Midwestern town. “Tyler and Brina” features a needy man and his forgiving lover. “Expensive Gifts” portrays an emotionally alienated woman—as lonely with men as without them. Other stories explore unhappy parents and expectant children, disappointed lovers, modern middle-class life, midlife crises, and the difficulty of achieving satisfying human connections.
“Miller displays great sympathy for contemporary, middleclass adults who can’t quite cope with the realities of growing up and must wrestle with baffling relationships, edgy children, sudden gray hairs, dead-end jobs and mortality.
32 march/april 2008

if You’d like to read more …
FAMILY PIctURes (1990)

When Lainey and David Eberhardt’s child is diagnosed as autistic, the family goes into a tailspin. Four different family members tell their sides of the story.
FoR LoVe (1993)

When an old romance rekindles, an accidental death sets off serious inquiries into the nature of love and loss.

tHe DIstInGUIsHeD GUest (1995)

A proud, famous writer suffering from Parkinson’s disease moves in with her son and daughter-in-law, and all of their lives change.
tHe WoRLD BeLoW (2001)

women’s roles changed over the past 30 years as much as we might wish to believe? … Meri revels in the power that small secrets and lies give her over her husband; Delia selfishly guards her emotional resources.” DIANA PosTLETHWAITE

When middle-aged, twice-divorced San Francisco school teacher Catherine Hubbard goes to live at her deceased grandmother’s house in Vermont, secrets and similarities between both women emerge.
tHe stoRY oF MY FAtHeR (2004) A Memoir

rocky Mountain News

HHHH

“The Senator’s Wife is an engrossing character study of Meri and Delia, but the novel is also an irresistible page-turner. … the novel is a fast and fascinating read, a provocative look at the construction of the American family and the institution of marriage.” AsHLEY sIMPsoN sHIrEs

In her first nonfiction book, Miller poignantly recalls the descent of her gentle father, a minister, into Alzheimer’s.
Lost In tHe FoRest (2005)

seattle Times

HHHH

In northern California, a young girl seeks solace in a destructive love affair with a much older man after her stepfather dies in a tragic accident. (HHHH seLectIon July/Aug 2005)

“[the novel] shows her expertise at bringing a reader into her character’s heads and into their living rooms, seamlessly depicting both familiar social ritual and the currents moving beneath it. … [M]arriages, as Meri learns, each speak a language of their own.” MoIrA MACDoNALD

usA Today

HHHH

“the very best stuff in the book belongs to Delia. … the ending is complicated and intriguing. It’s a talker.” DEIrDrE
DoNAHuE

her latest Work HHHJ
the senator’s Wife
By sue Miller
two marriages, two trajectories.

Los Angeles Times

HH

“the complexities set up in the exploration of tom and Delia’s union are too easily abandoned by Miller. … You wonder, as in any broken relationship, what went wrong in The Senator’s Wife and how it might have been prevented.” VEroNIquE DE
TurENNE

When Meri and her new husband Nathan, a young professor, move to a New England college town in the early 1990s, Meri, who has worked her way up from nothing, is not at all sure she wants this new life. Then she meets the elderly Delia, who lives on the other side of their townhouse wall. To Meri, Delia epitomizes all that she is not—a glamorous, unconventional woman living in Paris part-time and married to a philandering, retired senator who keeps his own quarters. Fascinated, an unhappily pregnant Meri starts to snoop around as Delia is forced into an unfamiliar role. Soon, long hidden secrets and a terrible betrayal profoundly affect the two couples’ lives.
Knopf. 320 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0307264203

New York Times Book review

HH

“these final chapters provided a cathartic conclusion, an endof-birthing experience that all but erased the painful labor of reading that preceded it. … shock, deceit, desire and despair come together at once in a way that feels simply like fate.”
JuDITH WArNEr

Boston Globe

HHHH

“no chronicler of family dilemmas is more comfortable with the minute ebb and flow of relationships that, over time, can wear down granite. … The Senator’s Wife delivers two differently flawed accounts of the state of wifehood in such a seamless form that the novel’s bleakness registers only slowly and late.” ELsBETH LINDNEr

Minneapolis star Tribune

HHHH

In her latest novel, Sue Miller contemplates wifehood from the perspective of two women—one at the start of her marriage, the other reconciled to the direction her relationship has taken over the decades yet nonetheless hopeful for change. In capturing their dreams, fears, and disappointments, Miler paints a devastating, realistic, and unsentimental portrait of both Meri and Delia. What to make of the two negative reviews? They seemed complete opposites: the Los Angeles Times enjoyed the book until the twist at the end, whereas the New York Times Book Review admired only the climax. Yes, the novel is a domestic drama, with its compare-and-contrast marriage storylines, a tone that can be overly earnest, and protagonists that sometimes lack selfawareness. But there is good insight into character here, and the story’s masterful plot twist—a final betrayal—reveals Miller’s ample talents as a storyteller. n

CritiCal Summary

“The Senator’s Wife provocatively invites us to ponder: Have
Bookmarks magazine 33

new books guide

We read hundreds of book reviews each month to select the works to include in each issue. We seek a balance among three categories: highly-rated books that received many reviews, highlyrated books that received less comprehensive coverage, and lower-rated books that were widely reviewed and well publicized.
the collective wisdom of critics

neW Books GUIDe

literary HHHH

LitERARy CRimE sF GEN NF Bio histoRy sCiENCE

brave new world we all inhabit.” TrICIA
sPrINGsTuBB

FIctIon

Los Angeles Times

HHHH

the Deportees and other stories!
By roddy Doyle
Irish in the 21st century.

Each critic offers an individual perspective. We quote and summarize the reviews studied to provide an informed, balanced critique and to make sure that unique insights do not get missed. We apply a rating to a book from each review we study—those ratings are assessed to provide a final rating.
spoiler-free book descriptions

We hereby pledge not to reveal the ending or revelatory plot points when discussing a fictional work.
APPLYInG RAtInGs to WoRks oF ARt Is FRUstRAtInGLY ReDUctIonIst

It is also helpful in navigating through myriad choices. As with any rating system, it is solely a guide—a summing up of several informed perspectives. There is no substitute for reading the book yourself and forming your own opinion.

In the nine stories in his first short story collection, Roddy Doyle explores the new, multiethnic Ireland, where one in every ten citizens was born in another country. In “Guess Who’s Coming for the Dinner,” a father spends an awkward evening when his daughter brings home a Nigerian friend. “The Pram” features a Polish nanny who takes her revenge on a nasty boss. The title story revisits Jimmy Rabbitte, former manager of The Commitments but now a middleaged family man who aspires to form a new, multicultural band for which “White Irish need not apply.” In each of these stories, the homogeneous Ireland of years past confronts the reality of the immigrant experience.
Viking. 256 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0670018457

“While there are some rough moments here—owing mainly to the unusual way in which these stories were composed— the book confirms Doyle’s standing as a rare genius of socially conscious literary comedy and a master of exposition through dialogue. … Doyle’s mastery of ordinary Dubliners’ speech informs all these stories and lends them an urgent credibility.” TIM ruTTEN

rocky Mountain News

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“the mélange of cultures on the soil of what used to be one of the whitest states in the european Union makes for fantastic storytelling. … Doyle’s use of odd punctuation and copious dialogue captures the characters’ mindsets, propelling his stories into unexpected climaxes and rich emotional territory.”
KELLY LEMIEux

seattle Times

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“the experiment in serial publication (written in 800-word installments) results in a variety of entertaining narratives. … The Deportees and Other Stories is an easy excursion into the new Irish culture, conveyed with Doyle’s usual brilliant sense of originality, sly charm and wry wit.” roBErT ALLEN PAPINCHAK

Minneapolis star Tribune HHHHJ
“Just when it seemed that the only author left who gives a pig’s whistle about writing superb short stories is Alice Munro, along comes Doyle with this superlative book of short tales to pick up the slack. … the stories all reflect the changed face of Ireland and do so with an abundance of grace, humor and unselfconsciously first-rate writing.” PETEr MoorE

Miami Herald

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RAtInGs
HHHHH cLAssIc
a timeless book to be read by all

HHHH exceLLent
one of the best of its genre

HHH GooD
enjoyable, particularly for fans of the genre

“the stories, which ran as serials in the weekly multicultural newspaper Metro Eireann, are somewhat formulaic in structure: In each, someone born in Ireland meets someone not born there. the stories take on different shadings— ’the Pram,’ for instance, is an unsettling horror tale—but they’re uniformly infused with Doyle’s infectious sense of humor and lovingly profane dialogue.”
CoNNIE oGLE

Cleveland Plain Dealer

HHHH NY Times Book review HHH
“Although the relationship is not what it seems [in ‘Guess Who’s coming for the Dinner’], the warm, fuzzy feeling that Doyle’s comic writing effortlessly conjures does not seem earned; a point, we know, is being made, and so the tale is never quite credible. … sad to

HH FAIR
some problems, approach with caution

H PooR
not worth your time
34 march/april 2008

“Restrained to 800 words [for serial publication], he produced stories that are pruned—yet not exactly tidy— versions of his usual, wildly ebullient gardens. … Affection and respect for his new compatriots spill through these stories, infusing them with hope for the

new books guide

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Fieldwork
By Mischa Berlinski

“chock-a-block with such un-trendy ingredients as an unintrusive narrator, global reach and a big cast of memorable characters, Fieldwork is both wildly readable and highly intelligent.” CLAuDE PECK

A compelling why-dunit.

san Francisco Chronicle

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Mischa Berlinski, an American freelance journalist living in Thailand, meets with an old friend and hears the fascinating story of Martiya van der Leun. A renowned American anthropologist who lived with the primitive Dyalo tribe in a remote mountain village near the Thai-Burmese border, Martiya committed suicide while serving a life sentence for murder in the Chiang Mai Central Prison. Her victim was David Walker, the youngest member of a family of missionaries also living with the Dyalo. sensing a story, Mischa tracks down Martiya’s friends and family, studies her work, and visits the surviving Walkers in an attempt to piece together Martiya’s past and comprehend her motive for murder.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 336 pages. $24. ISBN: 0374299161

“It begins as a high-toned pulp mystery, then leaps without a sound to an examination of storytelling itself. that it’s still a brisk read, without hedging its goals or welding them to a thick plot, tells us Berlinski has accomplished much and, with luck, has a bright future ahead.” KEVIN sMoKLEr

seattle Times

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“Bravura storytelling is his first order of business—but underlying every narrative twist, and every lively new character who strides onto the page to shed more light on Martiya’s violent act, is the question of whether any culture can meaningfully connect with another culture.” MICHAEL uPCHurCH

Washington Post

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Christian science Monitor HHHH
“A reader doesn’t have to have any interest in christian missionary work, anthropology, or the hill tribes of thailand to be riveted, but odds are you’ll have a greater appreciation for all three—not to mention Berlinski’s storytelling abilities—by the time you put Fieldwork down.” MICHAEL NorMAN

Cleveland Plain Dealer

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CritiCal Summary
Mischa Berlinski originally intended to write an account of the real-life Lisu tribe of Thailand, but held scant interest in the project until he decided to fictionalize the natives and turned his research into a novel. In this readable and clever debut, told almost entirely in backstory, Berlinski explores the problems inherent in trying to assume the perspective of another person or culture and the enduring conflict between faith and science. While he treats each perspective with genuine empathy, he refuses to take sides. Critics had a couple of complaints—a lagging secondary plot and a few descriptions with a textbook feel—but dismissed them as minor. They unanimously praised Berlinski’s wit, style, and intelligence in this atmospheric “novel that never fails to fascinate” (minneapolis Star Tribune).

“Fieldwork is a story about stories, a tale told by a narrator with the same name as the author, a disquisition on the unknowability of others, a comic thriller and a riff on the similarities between anthropology, evangelicalism and fiction. It is also a downright good yarn.” ANNE TruBEK

Los Angeles Times

“Fieldwork is a notable piece of first fiction—at once deeply serious about questions of consequence and refreshingly mindful of traditional storytelling conventions. If his narrative sometimes bumps against a young writer’s impulse to tell you everything he knows, it’s a forgivable shortcoming, particularly when stacked against this novel’s admirable strengths.” TIM ruTTEN

acknowledge, perhaps, that it’s the darker stories that work best.” ErICA
WAGNEr

Roddy Doyle, celebrated chronicler of the Irish working class and winner of the 1993 Man Booker Prize (Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha), turns his attention to the immigrant experience in his first collection of short stories. The

CritiCal Summary

stories collected here first appeared in 800-word installments in the Dublin weekly newspaper Metro Eireann, which was founded in 2000 by two Nigerian journalists. Critics agreed that The Deportees is vintage Doyle, demonstrating his sharp wit, lively sense of humor, richly drawn characters, and ear for dialogue. They cited some problems related to the space limitations of serial publications, which result in

stories that “are generally instantly engaging but not always carefully constructed” (Christian Science Monitor), but these problems were easy to ignore given Doyle’s extraordinary storytelling abilities. As in any collection, critics disagreed about which stories succeed best. By turns poignant and chilling, heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud funny, Doyle’s stories are as affecting as his novels.
Bookmarks magazine 35

sCiENCE

histoRy

Bio

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GEN NF

“With its offbeat style, Berlinski’s consummate fieldwork— fictional though it may be—produces an intricate whodunit, both disturbing and entertaining. even as he confesses to feeling ‘like the baton in a relay race of faulty memories and distant recollections,’ Berlinski meticulously unearths Martiya’s ‘good story,’ taking readers on an intoxicating journey filled with missing souls and vengeful spirits.” TErrY HoNG

sF

CRimE

LitERARy

BookMARks seLectIon

Minneapolis star Tribune HHHH

new books guide

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the Ghost
By robert Harris
A Blair by any other name.

stirring of a cauldron of contemporary woes.” PETEr B. KING

rocky Mountain News

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When British aide Mike McAra mysteriously drowns while composing the autobiography of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (a thinly veiled Tony Blair), a professional ghostwriter is hired to rescue the manuscript and finish the book. “The Ghost” joins the charismatic statesman, his beautiful wife, and his young mistress at his publisher’s mansion in Martha’s Vineyard. But soon Lang is publicly accused of using British special forces to capture suspected terrorists and hand them over to the CIA for torture. With scandals brewing and his deadline looming, the ghostwriter suspects that McAra stumbled on a secret that someone was willing to kill for—someone who would not hesitate to kill again.
Simon & Schuster. 352 pages. $26. ISBN: 1416551816

“[Harris’s] latest is a stunning foray into contemporary politics, a skillfully crafted look at the War on terror. … The Ghost is an absolute page-turner, filled with events even more terrifying because they correspond to today’s headlines.” AsHLEY sIMPsoN sHIrEs

Washington Post

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withering, barely disguised attack on Blair’s policies and his collusion with the United States in the Middle East. Some critics felt that the fictional backdrop weakened the political invective. Other complaints included some stock characters, formulaic plot points, and far-fetched twists, but most critics dismissed these as trivial and agreed with USA Today that Harris has produced “one of the most politically informed novels of the year.”

LitERARy CRimE sF GEN NF Bio histoRy sCiENCE

“For all its fun, The Ghost is finally about Guantanamo, rendition, waterboarding, official lies, a Halliburton-life conglomerate called Hallington and a cIA that’s not always as inept as we think. … Harris has managed to write a superior entertainment that is also an angry portrait of today’s political reality.” PATrICK ANDErsoN

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the Last chicken in America
A Novel in Stories By Ellen Litman
strangers in a strange land.

NY Times Book review

HHHJ

“the plot is unfussy and perhaps too linear for those thriller readers fond of pyrotechnics, but it unfolds with clarity and panache—and with a classy twist on the very last page. … the denouement certainly ensures that The Ghost works as a thriller, but it reduces somewhat the novel’s power as a political critique.”
JoNATHAN FrEEDLAND

oregonian

HHHH New York Times HHJ
“terrorism is a real factor in The Ghost, if only because Mr. Harris … is sufficiently formulaic and commercial to know that his story needs pretexts for action as well as caustic prose. … It degenerates into a commonplace mystery, a book that its protagonist might have held in contempt when his safety and detachment were still intact.” JANET MAsLIN

“to steer his Ghost in the right direction, Harris stuffs him into McAra’s rental car, the satellite navigation system of which is still programmed with the directions to the isolated residence of a retired cIA officer. … A reader can deal with those contrivances, however, when his tour guide has such command of British sycophants and the literary landscape.”
sTEVE DuIN

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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“From the first paragraph, Harris’ novel tugs the reader on through a thriller blessedly short on shoot-’em-up and long on character nuance, dead-on media satire and the damned-either-way consequences of wielding power in the murky wake of 9/11. … He imbues what could have been a formulaic thriller with propulsive dialog, the gloomy presence of the Vineyard in winter, and a deft

Known for Fatherland (1992), Pompeii (HHHH seLectIon Mar/Apr 2004), and Imperium (HHH Jan/Feb 2007), novelist Robert Harris opens his latest work with a derisive account of the publishing business. From there, it quickly gains momentum, merging a shrewd indictment of the war in Iraq with a literate, page-turning thriller. Harris, who was once a friend of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, offers a

CritiCal Summary

Set amid the brick houses, delicatessens, and kosher butcher shops of Pittsburgh’s largely Jewish Squirrel Hill neighborhood, these dozen interconnected stories reveal the awe, curiosity, confusion, frustration, and disappointment experienced by Russian-Jewish immigrants struggling to adapt to a new culture while coming to terms with the lives they’ve left behind. In alternating stories, Masha endures the ordinary trials of adolescence—school cliques, first love, driving lessons—while shouldering the additional burden of accompanying her parents everywhere to translate and decipher American culture. “They were trying,” notes Masha hopefully. “Maybe not everything was a mistake. Maybe we had learned something, and next time we’d do a little better, if only we gave it a chance.”
Norton. 224 pages. $23.95. ISBN: 0393065111

Christian science Monitor HHHH
“It’s easy to see why [Litman] won the Rona Jaffe Award for these terrific stories. she has a clear eye, an ease with english, and a tolerant and hopeful view.” MArTHA WHITE

36 march/april 2008

new books guide

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By Molly Gloss
Life in the old West.

the Hearts of Horses
In 1917, a stranger on horseback rides into the stark countryside of Elwha County, eastern oregon. At a time when many young men have left for war, 19-year-old Martha Lessen is an itinerant bronco buster who “gentles” horses instead of breaking them. soon in demand at nearby farms, she makes her way from homestead to homestead, family to family, gaining their trust and helping them through difficult times. As Martha starts to feel a sense of belonging at odds with her Zane Grey–fueled fantasies of the cowboy’s life, she must decide whether to cling to her dreams or take a different road.
Houghton Mifflin. 304 pages. $24. ISBN: 0618799907

seattle Times

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NIsI sHAWL

usA Today

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“With more history and scene than plot, The Hearts of Horses follows Martha through that winter, showing life at its barest and bleakest.” ANN oLDENBurG

CritiCal Summary
Molly Gloss’s affecting fourth novel turns the Western genre on its head with a woman as the mysterious stranger appearing on horseback, but Gloss is known for her independent, self-sufficient heroines. The Hearts of Horses is perhaps the most sentimental of all her works. Though the plot is more a collection of linked stories than a single, continuous narrative—a stylistic technique that most reviewers commented on but did not criticize—Gloss’s simple, unadorned prose and stark portrayal of the West during the first two decades of the 20th century create a moving, wistful memorial to a lost way of life. shy, self-effacing Martha captivates her fellow humans in much the same way she charms wayward horses. only uSa Today suggested that the story lacks a certain warmth. However, Martha will no doubt beguile most readers.
sF sCiENCE histoRy Bio GEN NF

Washington Post

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“the plot doesn’t move so much as accrete, in the way that kent Haruf and Ivan Doig manage to do in their novels, full of the wisdom of well-lived ordinary lives. … there isn’t a false move in this poignant novel, which demonstrates as much insight into the hearts of men and women as into the hearts of horses.” roN
CHArLEs

Los Angeles Times

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“there is the sense of nostalgia, perhaps more precisely regret, so often present in stories set in the West, as if we had something precious and we broke it or failed to care for it. … Gloss’ intimacy with the landscape and ranch life is conveyed beautifully in particulars and small observations.” susAN sALTEr
rEYNoLDs

Cited by the CritiCS

pLAiNsoNG | KEnt hAruF (1999): In this graceful novel, Kent Haruf examines the intersecting lives of several people in a small prairie town in Colorado.

san Francisco Chronicle

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“It’s at this intersection of war and work that Gloss has chosen to locate her fourth book, occasionally a softer, sweeter, looser

Hartford Courant

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“through the voices of disaffected teens, disillusioned moms and ailing oldsters, Litman conveys a community in flux, always with dry wit and an empathetic heart. not as over-the-top as fellow Russian-immigrant writer Gary shteyngart, nor as dark as David Bezmozgis nor as surreal as Anya Ulinich, Litman writes with admirable control sharpened by sardonic humor.”
CAroLE GoLDBErG

finding her way in her new world that gives the book its structure. … the small community of squirrel Hill comes alive through its immigrants, and eventually it is a place that Masha’s heart fully inhabits.” CAroLYN KELLoGG

and the precision and control of earlier segments.” MAuD NEWToN

NY Times Book review

HHHJ

Los Angeles Times

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“It’s Masha’s ‘delirious noble dream’ of

“It’s warm, true and original, and packed with incisive, subtle one-liners. … Despite the overall strength of The Last Chicken in America, a few of the later pieces—especially one about Masha’s mother’s depression—lack both the immersive quality of a traditional novel

Having emigrated from Moscow as a teenager in 1992, Ellen Litman has lived the life she so vividly describes in her debut, and she adroitly depicts the stress, underemployment, isolation, and sense of loss commonly suffered by new immigrants. Though English is her second language, Litman’s writing style is graceful and clever. She paints a colorful portrait of a vibrant community, and Masha makes a charmBookmarks magazine 37

CritiCal Summary

CRimE

“Reading The Hearts of Horses is like hearing about the adventures of 19-year-old Martha Lessen from one of her straight-shooting neighbors, over a cup of coffee brewed on a wood-burning stove. … [Gloss’s] re-creation of a romantic past and its irrecoverable dreams feels solid, rooted in the everyday of long ago, palpable as the curve of a china mug in your hand.”

LitERARy

BookMARks seLectIon

story than her memorable debut, The Jump-Off Creek, but once again a tale that pays understated homage to the spare, effortful existences of oregon’s frontier people.” ELsBETH LINDNEr

new books guide
ing, observant narrator whose subtle appreciation of the ironies of the American Dream provides a cohesive filament throughout the book. A few of the stories read “less like fiction than like notes for a longer work” (New York Times Book Review), but critics unanimously praised this collection of fresh and engaging stories from a promising new writer. form a tapestry of the country many call home.
Schocken Books. 311 pages. $25. ISBN: 0805242511 LitERARy CRimE sF GEN NF Bio histoRy sCiENCE

they can be fixed and mended.’” rAYYAN
AL-sHAWEF

Gazette (Montreal)

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Supplemental reading

“taken together, these two connected narratives reveal the author’s ultimate purpose: to probe the true meaning of home. … [this] novel is somewhat weighed down by earnestness.” B. GLEN
roTCHIN

GRowiNG up EthNiC iN AmERiCA NY Times Book review HHHH MAriA MAzziotti giLLAn AnD JEnniFEr giLLAn, ED. (1999): Gather“though the Israeli author Meir shalev attracts a primarily Jewish readership in the United states, his new novel, translated by evan Fallenberg, is less concerned with the intricacies of a particular religion than with the question of what any person needs in order to be happy. … By working stories in the present and the past against each other, shalev brings into question the validity, and the reliability, of memory.”
sArAH FAY

Contemporary Fiction About Learning to Be American |

ing the shorter works of such diverse authors as E. L. Doctorow, Amy Tan, Toni Morrison, Sherman Alexie, and Sandra Cisneros, this comprehensive anthology explores the many ways that immigrants wrestle with American culture.

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A Pigeon and a Boy
two love stories.

south FL sun-sentinel

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Meir Shalev is one of Israel’s most celebrated novelists. Although less well known in the United States, the critically acclaimed A Pigeon and a Boy, which won Israel’s prestigious Brenner Prize, should introduce Shalev to a much wider audience. Intertwining two love stories with Israel’s fight for independence, the novel offers a compelling portrait of Israel’s period before statehood to the present day. With homing pigeons as a recurring motif, Shalev explores themes of home, memory, and survival—for the birds, a people, and a nation. Despite critics’ overall praise, some faulted the characterizations of Baby and Yair and the obvious connections between the two tales; The Miami Herald noted the absence of any mention of the Palestinians’ Nakba, or “Catastrophe.” Few voices, however, capture Israel’s complexities as gracefully as Shalev’s.
thE BLuE mouNtAiN (1988): In this novel (a best seller in Israel) told over three generations, Shalev explores the aspirations and realities that early 20th-century Russian Jewish settlers faced in Palestine.

CritiCal Summary

By Meir shalev, translated from the Hebrew by Evan Fallenberg

In two intertwined stories, one of Israel’s preeminent novelists explores the meaning of love and home in a war-torn nation. In the first tale, set during the period before statehood, a teenage boy (the Baby) and girl (the Girl) become homing pigeon handlers with the Jewish paramilitary and fall in love; during Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, the wounded Baby sends off one final pigeon to his love. In the present day, middle-aged Yair Mendelsohn, a bird-watching guide, suffers a crisis when he leaves his wife, finds refuge in a decrepit shack “that would heal, and sooth, and build me as I built it,” and reconnects with his childhood sweetheart. These two love stories, set decades apart, swoon and connect to
38 march/april 2008

“shalev asks us to suspend disbelief and, surprisingly, it is easy to do so because the pigeon symbolizes survival. It is a metaphor for Israel, a tale of wandering far afield but always having the passion to return home—whether you’re human or a winged creature.” MYrNA LIPPMAN

alSo by the author

Charlotte observer

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“the story unfolds with twists and turns that don’t surprise the reader. … Filled with sadness and joy, grief and passion, shalev’s novel crosses borders of politics and emotion to bring his readers into a world where something good flies from the jaws of death.” JEAN BLIsH sIErs

HHHJ
Breakfast with Buddha
By roland Merullo
Unlikely companions hit the road.

Miami Herald

HHHJ

“shalev has deftly layered Yair’s story in such a manner that a refreshingly nuanced picture of Israel emerges. … shalev’s moving portrayal of a long-demoralized man imbued with a newfound joie de vivre, which translator evan Fallenberg renders into wonderfully fluid english, allows the reader to behold just how ‘things can be fixed. not only bodies. souls, too.

Otto Ringling is a successful, happily married Manhattanite facing an existential crisis brought on by the recent death of his parents. Volya Rinpoche is a Mongolian monk recently released from a Siberian prison who now acts as a spiritual advisor to Otto’s sister, Cecilia. When Cecelia insists that Volya take her place on a road trip

new books guide

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By Yannick Murphy

signed, Mata Hari
the infamous femme fatale.

st. Petersburg Times

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It might be said that a real person becomes a myth when more has been imagined about her than could possibly be known. If so, Mata Hari certainly qualifies: the dancer, courtesan, and alleged WWI-era double agent has seduced dozens of authors and actors into portraying her (most notably Greta Garbo). Yannick Murphy sought to reveal the real person behind the legend—a long-suffering Dutch woman named Margaretha Zelle. But instead of a revisionist biography, Murphy wrote a novel, expanding the mythology to embrace Margaretha’s tragic childhood, abusive husband, lost children, and questionable guilt. Beginning in Mata Hari’s jail cell, the story’s perspective shifts between the prisoner and her persecutors, unveiling surprises even for readers who know how the story ends.
Little, Brown. 288 pages. $23.99. ISBN: 031611264X

TAMMAr sTEIN

Chicago sun-Times

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“While Murphy employs great descriptive nuance, there are moments when Mata Hari’s voice sounds like a florid dilettante. … Is this clashing imagery intended? or do such missteps come with the burden of literary impersonation?” EDWArD CHAMPIoN

san Francisco Chronicle

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Boston Globe

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“Murphy doesn’t dwell on the question of Zelle’s guilt or innocence, and that’s just fine. Instead, she concentrates on the life of a woman, an unabashed bohemian, who was vilified by the same kinds of weak men who once desired her.” rENéE GrAHAM.”

“though Murphy remains true to the grim facts of the conclusion, the latter third of Mata Hari’s story gathers speed, tension, even pulse-quickening suspense, and we feel for her as we might for a dear, ruinously clueless friend. I found myself rushing through the final pages—to an ending that satisfies, opening out into a kaleidoscopic tribute, at once tender and wise.” JoAN FrANK

CritiCal Summary
Yannick Murphy’s novel certainly seduced reviewers, but such seduction may have derived from the author’s literary dance rather than from readers’ inherent interest in the subject. Critics admired Murphy’s masterful descriptions, shifts in perspectives, and attention to details alternately selected and invented from the real Margaretha Zelle’s life. The result is a poetic novel that will draw in even those who never thought they would enjoy reading about exotic European espionage. (The case documents will be unsealed in 2017, then revealing whether or not Mata Hari was a spy.) The only consistent criticism of the book was that some of the sex scenes seem more mythological than real—but then again, this is Mata Hari.

Dallas Morning News

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“Was Mata Hari really the devious, coldhearted spy of folklore? You won’t know the answer to ‘devious’ or ‘spy’ when you finish this novel, but you’ll be convinced that ‘coldhearted’ was never part of her makeup. As for the other questions, the alchemy wrought by both the author and her heroine is so persuasive that you probably won’t even care.” JoY TIPPING

Los Angeles Times

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“the liberties Murphy has taken in her reimagining of

with Otto from New Jersey to North Dakota to settle their deceased parents’ affairs, these two very different men embark on a journey rich with both physical and spiritual discoveries. As Otto shows Volya the pleasures of the American landscape, Volya helps Otto come to terms with the unnerving reality of loss.
Algonquin. 323 pages. $23.95. ISBN: 1565125525

is a wonderful, heartfelt novel that frequently surprises as we’re lulled by the sights and sounds of the open road.”
sAM CoALE

Washington Post

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“Please don’t be put off when I describe this pleasant, engaging novel as a sermon. … on finishing this book, I decided that Roland Merullo would be a great guy to take a road trip with.”
CAroLYN sEE

intelligence and knows that even in a novel of ideas it’s not the religion that matters, it’s the relationship; it’s not the concepts, but the people, and here are two intriguing men, one with his eye on the destination and his foot on the pedal, the other who knows that we travel farthest when we are still. You’ll enjoy sitting in the back seat of the car as otto drives on deep into the luminous heart of his childhood.” JoHN DuFrEsNE

Providence Journal

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“Roland Merullo is such an immediately engaging author … that you’re sucked right into his world. … this

seattle Times Boston Globe HHHJ
“Merullo writes with grace and

HHHJ

“spiritual odysseys are seldom filled with baseball games, miniature golf,
Bookmarks magazine 39

CRimE

“At times closer to poetry than prose, the book’s short chapters, some only a paragraph long, paint small scenes, a moment, a feeling, each of which lingers on in the chapters that follow it.”

LitERARy

BookMARks seLectIon

Margaretha’s inner life are all the more credible for her close study of the details surrounding the historical Mata Hari’s case. … Murphy’s Signed, Mata Hari is a profound and profoundly beautiful novel, one that forcefully renews literary fiction’s claim to be a laboratory of the human spirit.” TIMoTHY ruTTEN

new books guide
Mexican food and belly laughs, but this one is the exception. … Merullo’s other novels have [also] explored life on earth in insightful, amusing, loving ways, avoiding clichés or ponderous declarations about the human condition.” VALErIE rYAN

Hartford Courant
CRimE sF GEN NF Bio histoRy sCiENCE

HHH

“nothing feels particularly new here and, at times, is seriously clichéd. … the dilemma, if you can call it that, is Merullo’s seductive prose. You just can’t dislike his novels even if you have no interest in their subject matter.” MICHAEL
LEE

part of an upcoming book of academic essays. The middle third of each page consists of C’s diary, in which he relates his burgeoning relationship with Anya, the beautiful woman he hires to transcribe his notes for the essays. The bottom third conveys Anya’s side of her relationship with C and her experiences with a morally bankrupt boyfriend, who hatches a plot to rob C. The complexities of dishonor and morality that each individual strand explores combine to create a thematically resonant whole.
Viking. 240 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0670018759

LitERARy

narrative separately, to undermine his own complicated structure.” MEGAN HArLAN

Miami Herald

HHJ

“As the narratives progress, señor c’s political disquisitions thankfully give way to more philosophical, elegiac meditations upon sexual longing, mortality, Bach, tolstoy, and Dostoevsky. … All the same, Diary of a Bad Year proves less than fully satisfying as these final pages are largely subordinated by señor c’s first-person narrative.” ANDrEW FurMAN

Minneapolis star-Tribune HHJ

With Breakfast with Buddha, Roland Merullo, the author of seven books, including the critically acclaimed Revere Beach Trilogy and A Little Love Story (HHHH seLectIon Jan/Feb 2006), takes on one of the oldest and most popular literary genres—the road novel. Authors from Chaucer to Twain to Kerouac have already written journey-focused masterpieces, and some critics pointed out that Merullo isn’t necessarily doing anything new in this novel. However, as the Washington Post declares, “Yes, it’s all formulaic, but it’s such a sweet formula!” Despite the presence of a few mechanical scenes and characters, reviewers appreciated Merullo’s engaging writing style and his light and joyous treatment of what could have been very heavy-handed spiritual material.

CritiCal Summary

Chicago sun-Times

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“What is rather fascinating about the idea of three strands running on one page is that it allows us to appreciate coetzee’s genius better. … It’s one of his more approachable reads, and it is a mark of coetzee’s talent that he is able to enmesh the philistine with the profound with such enviable ease.”
VIKrAM JoHrI

“the elements are so compelling, in fact, that it’s not easy to pin down precisely why they don’t come together as a whole. coetzee’s technique isn’t a gimmick, but the way it is used here sometimes seems gimmicky, a selfconsciously postmodernist presentation of obviously anti-postmodernist ideas, particularly the relentless coarsening of language and music in the modern world.” ALLEN BArrA

Los Angeles Times

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“contemporizing and extemporizing in ways that make Diary of a Bad Year feel very unlike a novel and more like diffuse commentary, coetzee has created a clever superstructure filled with philosophical self-interrogation on questions of political, artistic and erotic moralities.” ArT WINsLoW

New York Times

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HHHJ
Diary of a Bad Year
By J. M. Coetzee
Multiple voices, multiple moralities.

“As c. explores [old age], he shifts from arrogance to anger to humility and finally to something like mystical acceptance. All this indicates what Diary does, and quite misses what it is: Mr. coetzee somewhere close to his most serious, and having—and giving—lovely fun.” rICHArD EDEr

C, an honor-laden South Africa writer living in Sydney, is nearing the end of his career. The top third of every page of Diary of a Bad Year contains C’s political and philosophical musings on current events,
40 march/april 2008

san Francisco Chronicle

HHHJ

“[t]he triptych narrative never ceases to call attention to itself, inviting the reader to note the continuous interplay between c’s essay and his diary and Anya’s own earthy take. But as sentences start running unfinished from one section to the next, coetzee also tempts us to flip ahead, to read each

J. M. Coetzee, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2003 and is one of only two writers to win the Booker Prize twice, is clearly not content to rest on his laurels. In fact, most critics consider Diary of a Bad Year to be his most ambitious work yet. While the plot itself isn’t particularly innovative, the novel’s complex narrative structure masterfully weaves multiple voices and viewpoints into a beautifully textured literary counterpoint. There are plenty of layers here: C’s biography is, of course, a mirror image of Coetzee’s. As a writer nears the end of his career, what opinions has he formed? What does he want from others—a young woman in particular—and what effect might she have on him? How malleable might his opinions be? Critics disagreed over whether reading each of the three narratives separately or reading a whole page at a time was the most rewarding method, but they generally concurred that, no matter how the novel is read, Diary of a Bad Year is a treat.

CritiCal Summary

new books guide

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By stewart o’Nan

Last night at the Lobster
the everyday drama of closing night.

usA Today

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red Lobster manager Manny DeLeon, 35, has just found out that his restaurant is not meeting expectations and will close its doors on December 20. This novel follows the apathetic crew as they go through the motions of serving shrimp scampi for the very last time. Devoted Manny remembers his life under the fake blue marlin on the wall as he considers his broken relationship with a waitress and the pregnant girlfriend for whom he needs to find a gift. It’s life in a snowy corner of a strip near a Connecticut mall—in all its average, and surprising, glory.
Viking. 160 pages. $19.95. ISBN: 0670018279

MINZEsHEIMEr

Washington Post

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“the scope and emotional range of this poignant story are surprisingly narrow, as though o’nan locked himself in a narrative box, tied one hand behind his back and then dared himself to make it engaging. the fact that he pulls it off is a testament to his precision and empathy.” roN CHArLEs

Milwaukee Jrnl sentinel Los Angeles Times HHHH
“o’nan’s description of the landscape—the restaurant and the mall—derives its poetry from the author’s respect for detail. It’s literary without being condescending.” susAN sALTEr rEYNoLDs

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“the characters populating o’nan’s restaurant never leap off the page, and by the book’s end, no great strides have been made, no pivotal issues resolved.” VIKAs TurAKHIA

NY Times Book review

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CritiCal Summary
In his 10th novel, stewart o’Nan proves once again why he’s the “bard of the working class” by exploring how the closing of one chain restaurant profoundly affects many lives. Last night at the Lobster may be a small story, dealing with the mundane details of restaurant life, but o’Nan’s complex characters provide a service— an everyday feat that many American novels ignore. Almost all critics praised the novel as a triumph in realism. o’Nan has certainly written bigger, more plot-driven stories before, but Lobster shows off his “pitch perfect ear for life in late 20th century America” to great effect (San francisco Chronicle). It’s a “Zen koan of a book” (Los angeles Times), and not to be missed—especially if you’ve served your share of scampi in life.
GEN NF sCiENCE histoRy Bio

“o’nan’s empathy for his characters is one of his great gifts as a novelist, and it is an impressive achievement that Manny’s misplaced affection for Red Lobster is not risible, but tragic.”
NATHANIEL rICH

Philadelphia Inquirer

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“strong fiction such as this offers not only diversion and entertainment but also the opportunity to experience life as another human being. to read Lobster is to take an enlightening walk in the shoes of a different kind of hero.” KATHErINE BAILEY

san Francisco Chronicle

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“It’s a story as common as yesterday’s business section,

In our profile of Coetzee in our Jan/ Feb 2004 issue, we suggested other works: “The Life and Times of Michael K (1983) is quintessential Coetzee—all about race relations, human suffering, and personal salvation and fate. Waiting for the Barbarians (1980) offers a dark look at torture and the role of Other in forming—and breaking down—political and social regimes. And Disgrace (1999), Coetzee’s overtly political look at postapartheid South Africa, invokes his classic themes of law, ethics, politics, and humanity.”

alSo by the author

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the Fall of troy
By Peter Ackroyd
obsession, the Achilles heel.

In the second half of the 19th century, German businessman Heinrich Obermann, a Grecophile and shady antiquities collector seeking to piece together the world described in Homer’s epics, goes about

his work with obsessive zeal. Obermann, a thinly veiled and reimagined substitute for real-life 19th-century archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, believes he has uncovered the palace of Odysseus. Further discovery in Turkey of a site that could be the historical Troy drives him even closer to the brink of madness. When an American archaeologist dies under suspicious circumstances, Obermann’s muchyounger wife, Sophia, wonders what role her husband might have played.
Nan A. Talese/Doubleday. 212 pages. $23. ISBN: 0385522908
Bookmarks magazine 41

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“It deals with one day at one restaurant, but there’s a larger story here about blue-collar jobs in a service economy. … It’s enough to send me back to a Red Lobster—if only to wonder about its employees and all their small and hidden dramas.” BoB

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but o’nan manages to tell it without sentimentality or condescension. He also conveys, with quiet power, the bonds, resentments, petty rivalries and sense of commitment that can pull a group of people, who may otherwise be relative strangers, through the rigors of the working week.” PAuL WILNEr

new books guide
Christian science Monitor HHHH
“Ackroyd’s most lauded novels tend to combine history and imagination, and The Fall of Troy is no exception. … Written by a lover of history, it seems designed to send readers back to learn more about either the real or the mythic troy.” YVoNNE ZIPP reality theme Ackroyd tries to develop.”
DAVID HENDrICKs

their former glory, and perhaps even saving humankind in the process.
Little, Brown. 293 pages. $23.99. ISBN: 0316067628

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Los Angeles Times

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“The Fall of Troy is a sly, witty and oddly engaging novel that meditates on literature and idealism and the uses and misuses of both. It takes full and knowing advantage of the archaeological metaphor to suggest how human experience can reveal itself to the discerning, one stratum at a time.”
TIM ruTTEN

Washington Post

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“the important thing here is that Peter Ackroyd has written a marvelously charming and funny book, while gently reminding us about the strength of our own self-delusions. … From the minute Heinrich obermann struggles up from his creaky knees, you’re going to love this book.” CAroLYN sEE

The prolific Brit Peter Ackroyd has built his reputation on eclectic, wideranging projects that include a dozen novels (such as The Lambs of London, HHHH sept/oct 2006) and biographies of Shakespeare, William Blake, Chaucer, and the city of London, among others. The Fall of Troy is a meditation on the siren song of history and a compact, disarming (if ultimately dark) character sketch that explores the limits of belief. The author displays his wit and polymathic interests here, though he cuts the subject so close to the bone that the work “sometimes has a tinny, hollow quality” (New York Times). The San Antonio Express-News also accused Ackroyd of soap-opera twists. Readers may be left wanting more, but what Ackroyd offers is, for the most part, an interesting premise done with aplomb.

CritiCal Summary

Milwaukee Jrnl sentinel

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“especially endearing are moments of desperate confusion worked upon [mortals] neil and Alice as they divine that they are at the center of unearthly affairs. Perhaps the only weakness this book can be faulted with is too much action. … But that, given the originality of Phillips’ idea, is a minor irritant in an otherwise deeply rewarding read.” VIKrAM
JoHrI

Newsday

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“All this infighting among deities is enchantingly infantile, but Phillips has a more complex clash in store: the most amusing and instructive collision between gods and mortals since A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” KErrY FrIED

Cleveland Plain Dealer

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Gods Behaving Badly
By Marie Phillips
Heaven was never like this.

Baltimore sun

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“Although the characterization at times is as skimpy as the plot is busy, since Ackroyd crams so much action into 200-plus pages, this adventurepacked novel brings history—both real and imagined—to life. As the book casts its inexorable spell, Hissarlik gradually becomes a place, like (Ackroyd’s) London, where gods and men, supernatural and natural, meet, however briefly.” DIANE sCHArPEr

“Phillips reminds us not only of everything we’ve forgot about Greek mythology, but also of the pleasures of reading, of how wonderful it is to be caught up in a book that makes you both laugh and think—and wonder what’s going to happen next.” sTEVEN HAYWArD

NY Times Book review

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“the novel is impressively lean; it never lags or bogs down. And yet, for all the skill Ackroyd deploys in structuring his narrative, The Fall of Troy sometimes has a tinny, hollow quality that undercuts its rich subject matter.” DAVID LEAVITT

san Antonio Exp-News

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“Readers gradually discern, along with sophia, that obermann is not what he pretends. … the [final] contrivances spoil even the nascent imagination vs.

Stuffed into a dilapidated mansion in an unfashionable London neighborhood, 12 of the old familiar Greek gods are facing hard times these days— and, unimaginably, their possible demise. Desperate to retrieve their old powers, the gods have been forced to take “real world” jobs: Aphrodite has become a phone sex worker; Artemis, goddess of the hunt, is reduced to walking dogs for a living; and Dionysus works nights as a DJ. Into this madcap household, a perplexed cleaning lady (mortal) and her Scrabble-obsessed, comic book–collector boyfriend arrive—only to face the challenge of negotiating peace among the battling gods, restoring them to

New York Times

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“Gods Behaving Badly is much more fun than it has any right to be.” JANET MAsLIN

Washington Post

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“Marie Phillips’s first novel, Gods Behaving Badly, hovers somewhere between Pride and Prejudice and an episode of ‘Bewitched.’ … Phillips has an olympian sense of absurdity, and there’s enough ambrosial wit here to seduce most mortals for an afternoon or two on the divan.” roN CHArLEs

usA Today

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“[Phillips] has a charming comic touch and the laughs are real. … But a high concept this lightweight can only lead to a predictable end, and Phillips’ broad satire doesn’t have the bite necessary to keep the novel’s momentum from stalling along the way.” DAVID DALEY

42 march/april 2008

new books guide

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Zeroville
By steve Erickson

Philadelphia Inquirer

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Hollywood love affair.

Divinity school dropout Vikar Jerome is obsessed with movies: film clips play inside his shaved head, which is tattooed with a close-up from a Place in the Sun. Arriving in Los Angeles in 1969, he is wrongly detained after the Manson gang murders sharon Tate at roman Polanski’s house. Thus begins a series of close encounters with the surreal world of Hollywood. Vikar finds work building sets, becomes a film editor, and eventually picks up an oscar nomination and an award at Cannes. Along the way, he meets a cinephile burglar, falls for an actress without a conscience, and is kidnapped and forced to edit a propaganda film, all the while maintaining his focus on what matters most: the movies.
Europa Editions. 329 pages. $14.95. ISBN: 1933372397

“Just when you thought that the Hollywood novel had fizzled out with all the eclat of an inebriated Mickey Rourke driving through Miami on a Vespa, another writer has come along with high-octane fuel for the form.” EDWArD CHAMPIoN

st. Petersburg Times

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“Anybody who has seen even half the movies erickson references will love this novel in spite of the narrative murk at the end.” KIT rEED

Washington Post

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“Zeroville is funny, sad and darkly beautiful, built around short chapters that allow the author to capture the essential moment and move effortlessly through time.” JEFF VANDErMEEr

CritiCal Summary
An underappreciated writer who has been compared to Vladimir Nabokov, Don DeLillo, and Thomas Pynchon, steve Erickson often writes challenging and sometimes impenetrably surreal fiction. Zeroville, his eighth novel, seems poised for commercial success: although intelligent and playful, Zeroville is more straightforward and accessible than his earlier novels. Critics found much to praise and little to condemn, and the new york Times extolled the book as Erickson’s best. Zeroville, with its countless cinema references, will appeal most strongly to film enthusiasts, but there’s something for everyone in this odyssey through the world of American moviemaking in the 1970s and ‘80s.

NY Times Book review

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“Zeroville, with its dizzying, in-the-know, name-and-place dropping (and its incessant allusions to famous movies and their stars, both cryptic and explicit) is a kind of novelistic refutation of [Peter Biskind’s book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls]. … terse, fanciful, dreamlike and sometimes nightmarish, this remarkable novel will test you and tease you and leave you desperate to line up at Film Forum (or hunt down erickson’s top 150 on DVD) so you can submit yourself to the celluloid bonds that hold Vikar and his creator such willing captives.” LIEsL sCHILLINGEr

Los Angeles Times

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Cited by the CritiCS

“[erickson] manages to wipe clean the presumptions typically guiding the Hollywood novel, which suggest either that Hollywood is irredeemably corrupt or that moviemaking is a tainted beauty requiring the ministrations of a pure artistic

EAsy RiDERs, RAGiNG BuLLs | PEtEr biSKinD (1998): Biskind interviews the movers and shakers of early-’70s film to provide a raw, behind-the-scenes look at the era. They’re all here: scorsese, spielberg, Coppola, Beatty, Lucas, and others.

Marie Phillips, a Cambridge graduate, just 30, left her research job at the BBC to work in a bookstore, publish a blog, and write her first novel, Gods Behaving Badly. Reviewers almost unanimously praise Phillips’s daring, high-concept premise and the wit and cleverness with which she recycles mythic tales and gives them a postmodern twist. Occasional complaints about forced, sitcom-worthy humor and reckless, predictable plotting creep into some of the reviews, but most critics send arrows of love her way—with nary a stab to the heart among them.

CritiCal Summary

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A Golden Age
By Tahmima Anam
A mother during wartime.

In March 1971, as widow Rehana Haque, her daughter Maya, and her son Sohail attend a party in the Bengali capital of Dhaka, Pakistan invades the country to quell its bid for independence. Torn between admiration and fear for their safety,

Rehana protests when Maya leaves to work for the nationalists in Calcutta and Sohail joins a rebel cell in Dhaka. When Sohail asks Rehana to help the revolutionary cause, she reluctantly begins sewing blankets from her silk saris. She is soon hiding weapons on her property and sheltering a wounded officer in her home, willing to do anything—even put herself in mortal danger—for her children.
Harper. 288 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0061478741

“the story of a widowed mother’s fight to keep her son and daughter
Bookmarks magazine 43

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vision to recover its virtue. … At root, Zeroville is a novel about the nitty-gritty mysteries of the artistic process and about the evolution of an enthusiast into an artist.” CHrIsToPHEr sorrENTINo

new books guide
safe during Bangladesh’s war for independence functions as both a riveting tale and a lament for the atrocities the people suffered during Pakistan’s invasion in 1971. But the novel is also full of beauty, with Anam celebrating the poetry and food of her homeland.” YVoNNE ZIPP reading, and you’ll likely find it’s worth the cost.” TrACI MACNAMArA

san Francisco Chronicle

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LitERARy CRimE sF GEN NF Bio histoRy sCiENCE

Minneapolis star Tribune HHHH
“ostensibly a fictional account of one family’s intergenerational revolutionary activities, A Golden Age is truly an illumination on how far a woman will go to protect her children’s bodies and souls. … With A Golden Age, Anam reminds us most forcefully that a mother’s love for her child is the most powerful and frightening weapon there is.” CHErIE PArKEr

san Francisco Chronicle

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“occasionally, the novel’s scenes seem stilted. … But it is [Anam’s] descriptions of the small, unheralded moments, the ones slipping effortlessly between the interstices of major conflagrations, that truly touch the heart.” MArIANNE VILLANuEVA

Tahmima Anam’s ambitious and powerful debut is the first novel in English to describe Bangladesh’s war for independence, a brutal conflict that left 3 million dead and 10 million homeless. Anam’s attempt to portray the violence and cruelty of political events through the personal experiences of a single family largely succeeds, but some critics felt that the two themes vied for dominance, creating a disjointed plot. While the Dallas Morning News found Anam’s characters flat, the San Jose Mercury News considered Rehana “a beautifully realized character.” However, all the critics agreed on Anam’s lush, poetic language and vivid imagery. The first novel in a planned trilogy, A Golden Age will leave readers looking forward to the next installment.

CritiCal Summary

“Here, as in her best fiction, Barker unveils psychologically rich characters in steady, even strokes; social and political drama, as well as personal ambition, expose their contradictions over the course of the novel. the war will unravel the young painters’ notions of a creative life.” KATHrYN CrIM

Irish Times

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“Life Class has the feel of a chamber piece. Perhaps the symphonic range achieved in the Regeneration trilogy, which burned with a kind of cumulative energy, has spoiled us. But this reader closed the novel asking the question, what happened next?—and hoping against hope that Pat Barker might tell us.” MArY MorrIssY

Minneapolis star Tribune HHHJ
“the novel can be seen in two halves: the first celebrates the beauty of the human body that war mangles and desecrates. It’s not as compelling as the second half, in which we experience Paul’s terrible coming of age.” BrIGITTE
FrAsE

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Life class
By Pat Barker
Art versus war.

san Jose Mercury News

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“A Golden Age has everything an epic should have—families torn apart by civil war, dreadful choices and betrayals, stolen moments of beauty. But sometimes, stuck at home with Haque, the reader feels the pangs but not the adrenaline rush of the birth of a new nation, the emotion muffling the action.” sANDIP roY

Washington Post

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Dallas Morning News

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“Golden Age is filled with passages that almost poetically describe the horror of civil war: a captured soldier’s torture and the nonhuman that returns home to his family, the desperation and hopelessness of the refugee camps along the border with India. … Her characters seem one-dimensional, and Rehana is particularly superficial.” ANGELA
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rocky Mountain News

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“the book’s early chapters aren’t as strong as its later ones, so be prepared to invest time in a slow start. keep

Life Class returns to some of the themes of Pat Barker’s award-winning Regeneration Trilogy—including the psychological damage of World War I. In 1914, London art students imagine lives filled with love, art, and professional rivalry. A love triangle forms as Paul Tarrant, a not-so-promising artist, and Kit Neville, a rising painter, court the beautiful Elinor Brooke; Paul, from a workingclass background unlike his peers, wins Elinor’s love. But their promising lives, love, and careers disintegrate after Paul and Kit volunteer for the Belgian Red Cross and witness death for the first time. When Elinor comes to visit Paul, she discovers a hardened young man— and the real horrors of war.
Doubleday. 320 pages. $23.95. ISBN: 0385524358

“Barker has constructed this novel with a daringly languid plot. … Barker never pushes the contemporary allusions here, but these are questions with tragic relevance for us.” roN CHArLEs

Guardian (London)

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“the contrast between a nightmare landscape of human guts being shovelled into buckets and the artworld suavities that have preceded it is perhaps too marked for comfort—no doubt as Barker intended it to be. … sharply written and elegantly constructed, Life Class ends, as it could hardly fail to do, on an ambiguous note. Its occasional uncertainties, though, are those of tone, not destiny.” DJ TAYLor

NY Times Book review

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“While the novel covers some of the same ground—including battleground— as Barker’s superb Regeneration trilogy, with historical figures again mingling with invented ones and artists substituted for the poets siegfried

44 march/april 2008

new books guide
sassoon and Wilfred owen, Life Class is lighter fare. … [Romance] ultimately outweighs both the claims of art and the horrors of war.” CHrIsToPHEr BENFEY

Atria Books. 338 pages. $25. ISBN: 1416549153

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them
By Nathan McCall
Good fences make bad neighbors.

Dallas Morning News

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In this memoir, McCall chronicles the hardships he suffered growing up black and male in America—from poverty to prison to racial profiling.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., imagined a world in which black children and white children would play together and grow up together. But Them, a drama that unfolds in King’s Atlanta stomping grounds, shows that grown-ups may have to learn to play nice first. The novel tells the story of the Old Fourth Ward’s gentrification through next-doorneighbor narrators, one black and one white. As good intentions give way to misunderstandings and even violence, the militant-but-loveable Barlowe Reed and the liberal-but-clueless newcomer Sandy Gilmore must learn to form a

“[Mccall] does a fairly credible job of drawing characters who allow us to see two neighborhoods: one through the eyes of its black residents, the other through the eyes of the white newcomers. the novel doesn’t attempt to reconcile those differences. It instead tries to offer a brutally honest glimpse into how perspective differs depending on your cultural lens.” KArEN THoMAs

Beethoven Was onesixteenth Black
And Other Stories By Nadine Gordimer
Remembering things past.

Bookmarks magazine 45

sCiENCE

“Mccall’s story, though filled with the myriad issues that are part of the gentrification debate, does not rise to the level of the novel of ideas that Them purports to be. … Although the issues of race, class and cultural and physical displacement in the narrative ring true, the way the characters discuss those issues and interact with each other seems stereotypical.” W. rALPH EuBANKs

histoRy

Washington Post

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These 13 stories of varying lengths and styles explore the myriad ways in which our pasts—inherited, remembered, or imagined— influence and even determine our present. In “Dreaming of the Dead,” the narrator imagines dinner in a Chinese restaurant with Gordimer’s departed friends Edward

Bio

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GEN NF

It’s unsurprising that critics in the U.S. and U.K. compared Life Class to Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy (Regeneration, 1990; The Eye in the Door, 1993; and the Booker Prize-winning Ghost Road, 1995) in its thematic exploration of World War I’s immediate impact. Reviewers generally agreed that Life Class does not live up to its predecessors, though it has its redeeming features. While the first half feels slow (and, according to New York Times Book Review, a bit trite), the second half—when Paul comes of age at the Western Front—kicks into high gear as questions about art and war, social class, and modern-day connections come into play. Tellingly, many critics mentioned as their favorite character one with little more than a walk-on— the real-life artist, teacher, and surgeon Henry Tonks, whom they hope to see more of in a sequel.

CritiCal Summary

Los Angeles Times

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“Mccall also is dead-on in his depiction of the differences between whites and blacks when it comes to home improvement, community policing and problem-solving, themes he began to explore in his nonfiction but which are fully and incisively realized here. … [Them] may draw comparisons with tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full, but manages, in its depiction of Atlanta’s more downscale citizens, to go the master of new Journalism one better.” PAuLA L. WooDs

seattle Post-Intelligencer HHHH
“the sad fact is that there should be more novels like this. … [Its] real value is the way it captures misperceptions and apprehensions of both blacks and whites and how difficult it is to bridge the divide.” JoHN MArsHALL

Former Washington Post reporter Nathan McCall’s previous work includes a memoir and a collection of essays. Like the characters in this debut novel, reviewers agreed that the ground covered in Them is valuable, but they disagreed over how it should be treated. While all critics thought that Barlowe is a complex protagonist and a fascinating black voice, many thought that McCall’s white characters are little more than stereotypes. Some reviewers interpreted these characters’ lack of depth as satire; others saw it as a realistic portrayal of how some people behave in a racially charged environment. The novel’s subject matter, gentrification, is a problem that few in America, white or black, have really figured out how to solve. As a result, most critics were willing to forgive the work’s shortcomings in the hope that its readers will learn to forgive as well.

CritiCal Summary

Cleveland Plain Dealer

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alSo by the author
mAkEs mE wANNA hoLLER A Young Black Man in America (1994):

“As the novel progresses, however, Mccall moves away from comedy and expertly ratchets up the tension, mining the explosive prejudices that gentrification brings.” VIKAs TurAKHIA

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relationship across the Gilmores’ iron fence.

new books guide
Said and Susan Sontag. “Allesverloren” recounts a widow’s revelatory visit to her husband’s ex-lover. In another story, Gordimer invokes both Kafka and Proust as she describes the miraculous appearance in her typewriter carriage of an actual cockroach. A tapeworm narrates “Tape Measure” as it travels through a digestive system. Gordimer experiments widely here, though the collection, as a whole, shows less interest in her native South Africa than previous works.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 192 pages. $21. ISBN: 0374109826

of memory in the bereaved. … Maybe it’s time to do a Selected Stories: Volume Two and separate the gems from the misfires.” MICHAEL uPCHurCH

Los Angeles Times

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“on nearly every page there’s evidence of Gordimer’s intellectual rigor, as well as the upright discipline all serious writers possess. But the prose is often mannered and parched. … You can’t help wondering whether maybe the tapeworm isn’t having a better meal.”
sTEPHANIE ZACHArEK

Fundamentalists, manipulate the community to promote their agenda and enforce their strict moral code. The idealistic Grelliers, Christians of a more ecumenical bent, try to keep their farm solvent while steering clear of their officious, interfering neighbors. When the heir to another pioneer family, a glamorous lesbian New Yorker rumored to practice Wicca, moves into her long-deserted, ancestral home, the outraged Schapens decide on a course of action that will change the valley forever.
Putnam Adult. 448 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 0399154051

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san Francisco Chronicle

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“In showing how a writer can use sound, sight or smell to tell her tale, she makes a point about the arbitrariness of choice but also about the places, expected and less so, that it can go… In her latest book, Gordimer shows that in her 80s she is actually still growing as a writer— what a rare and admirable feat.” MArTIN
ruBIN

Dallas Morning News

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“there are longer stories between these covers, but the short-short and decidedly more experimental stories, stories in which she puts little effort at the service of conventional artifice, remain the most interesting. they give us brief glimpses into the mind of one of Africa’s great modern literary geniuses, and though there are moments when it feels as though one were breathing mere vapors and drinking the lees of longer work, the overall effect here is that of lasting mastery of the mode.”
ALAN CHEusE

Acknowledged as one of the finest writers of the 20th century, Nadine Gordimer has received dozens of her culture’s highest honors, including the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991 and, most recently, France’s Legion of Honor in 2007. Her latest collection departs from her traditional themes of politics and race and explores the individual’s sense of self and relationship to history, as well as the art of story writing itself. While critics praised some stories, such as the title story and “Allesverloren,” they criticized others, including “Tape Measure” and a story about a parrot who spills secrets. Reviewers gave Gordimer lukewarm praise for her daring experimentation, but they cited some of her stories as slight. Though uneven, the collection still gives nod to Gordimer’s great literary talent.

CritiCal Summary

Washington Post

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“some brush-clearing, particularly at the beginning when trying to sort through many names, characters and situations, would have been helpful. … the bottom line is that sara Paretsky has demonstrated in Bleeding Kansas the superb skills as a novelist that were already known and admired by the avid followers of V. I. Warshawski.” JIM LEHrEr

Chicago Tribune

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“ If Bleeding Kansas has a weakness, it’s Paretsky’s failure to give us credible, multidimensional villains—also a shortcoming, as she has admitted, in previous novels.” AMY GuTMAN

usA Today

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Bleeding kansas
By sara Paretsky
Home on the range.

“It’s a tale about religious extremism and sexual harassment in which the only mystery is the lengths to which farmfamily neighbors will go to torment one another.” CAroL MEMMoTT

Milwaukee Jrnl sentinel

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Entertainment Weekly

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“As if determined to clean out her notebook, the nobel laureate nadine Gordimer gathers voice exercises and experimental sketches in Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth Black. … For better and worse, these pieces are caught between telling stories and noodling on the act of storytelling.” TroY PATTErsoN

seattle Times

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“At its best, the book offers compelling psychosexual journeys, probing at marital tensions and the hazardous play
46 march/april 2008

After a century of enmity and mistrust, two neighboring families in Kaw River Valley, Kansas—both descendants of hardline abolitionists who settled the land in the 1850s—have forged an uneasy truce. The Schapens, rigid Christian

“In the first 100 pages or so, Paretsky struggles with the third-person omniscient voice and the pace of the action. After that, she finds her rhythm, producing a novel that is sometimes improbable but nonetheless haunting.”
sTEVE WEINBErG

south FL sun-sentinel

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“Bleeding Kansas is too long by about 100 pages and would have been a stronger story had the plot centered on the families. Despite this, Paretsky’s

new books guide
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Bookmarks magazine 47

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Homecoming
By Bernhard schlink, translated from the German by Michael Henry Heim
World War II’s lasting effects.

generations in Germany: What did you do in the war, Daddy? And how did you justify it? While Homecoming addresses complex and painful matters, its telling is nonetheless a model of grace and clarity.” MICHAEL DIrDA

Minneapolis star Tribune HHHJ
“the book is a thriller, involving false identities and lots of enticing plot turns, but it has a grave and painful heart. the sober, laconic prose tells you it means business, even as it entertains.” BrIGITTE FrAsE

During his childhood, Peter Debauer summers happily with his grandparents in switzerland. one summer, he returns home to West Germany and his cold, single mother with an incomplete galley from one of the pulp novels his grandparents have edited. The novel’s plot—about a German soldier who, after many trials, returns from a World War II siberian PoW camp to discover that his wife has remarried, a story inspired by the odyssey—haunts Peter again in adulthood. He recognizes the building where the novel-fragment takes place— and suspects he may even know the soldier. As Peter embarks on a search for the author, he also seeks the truth about his mother and his missing father.
Pantheon. 260 pages. $24. ISBN: 0375420916

Chicago Tribune

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“Homecoming is something of a kitchen-sink novel, its varied parts fitted to the broader concept of journey and return, at times manifested as the past injecting itself into the present. … schlink is playing with historical material that will be more readily apparent, and resonant, to German than to American readers, but these instances are relatively few.” ArT WINsLoW

oregonian

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Los Angeles Times

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“As he progresses in what becomes his own odyssey, schlink explores the concepts of growing and learning; in essence: becoming. … It is only Debauer’s grandparents who stand out as deep and lively people.” sHAroN MArTELL

“Homecoming, fueled by a mystery, is also a powerful meditation on justice, history and the nature of evil. … schlink has written another lean, meticulously structured, disquieting thought-provoker.” HELLEr MCALPIN

CritiCal Summary
Bernhard schlink’s The reader (1995), an oprah Book Club pick, explored a love affair and wartime guilt. Homecoming ruminates on guilt, justice, history, identity, and evil, and it uses the idea of homecoming to chart Peter’s journey toward truth and love. Lies surface and questions about identity emerge as Peter follows clues to the mysterious author’s—and his father’s—whereabouts. A few critics felt that the translation did not do the novel justice, and others felt that a strange conclusion and “quirky” but “somewhat lifeless” characters marred the novel (The oregonian). still, reviewers generally liked Peter, and praised the novel’s sophisticated inquiry into the long-lasting effects of war.

seattle Times

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“Plot twists and surprises and sometimes outright lies then complicate the book’s multilayered homecoming theme. … [schlink has] woven a homecoming tale as fascinating as Homer’s Odyssey, its inspiration.” IrENE WANNEr

Washington Post

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“It asks, in effect, the painful question that has haunted two

strong storytelling rises above the novel’s flaws.” oLINE H. CoGDILL

Entertainment Weekly

HHJ

“… [an] unruly melodrama that begins when a glamorous lesbian Wiccan relocates from nYc to the heartland. … to overcomplicate an already hectic narrative, Paretsky throws in starcrossed lovers, fundamentalist Jews, the Iraq war, and a decades-old fire.” JENNIFEr
rEEsE

Fans of V. I. Warshawski, the gritty Chicago private eye, may be surprised to find her absent from Sara Paretsky’s latest work. Paretsky grew up in the

CritiCal Summary

Kaw River Valley, and her affection for its countryside, people, and history shines throughout this novel. The regional and historical roots of Paretsky’s characteristic social consciousness are clearly on display in what the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel calls “a novel of ideas.” Despite some complaints of flat characters, cartoonish villains, and a confusing, sometimes implausible, plot, many critics felt that Paretsky’s vibrant storytelling outweighed the novel’s shortcomings. Warshawski fans, take heart: Paretsky reports that the resilient detective is currently in Italy, recovering from a beating she took in Fire Sale (2005), but that she will return in 2009.

HHH
Day
By A. L. Kennedy
Reliving World War II.

When Alfred “Alfie” Day, a tail gunner in the Royal Air Force, is shot down over Germany after countless bombing missions that culminate in the bombing of Hamburg, he becomes a POW in a Nazi camp. In 1949, he once again finds himself in Germany—this time

CRimE

new books guide

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t is for trespass
By sue Grafton
the 20th kinsey Millhone mystery.

usA Today

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LitERARy CRimE sF GEN NF Bio histoRy sCiENCE

“It’s the best and strongest book in the series. … It may be two years before we get U Is for … from Grafton, but if it’s half as good as Trespass, it will be worth the wait.” CAroL MEMMoTT

oregonian

HHHJ

In S is for Silence (2005), Kinsey Millhone— the clever, junk food–eating, twice-divorced private eye—investigated the disappearance of a woman decades earlier. In T is for Trespass, set in the familiar 1980s small southern California town, Kinsey crosses paths with evil incarnate. such iniquity comes in the form of sociopath solana rojas, who, after stealing an identity of an innocent nurse, comes to care for Kinsey’s beloved but crotchety elderly neighbor, Gus Vronsky. As solana starts to isolate Gus from the outside world, Kinsey begins to suspect that she is not the caregiver she claims to be—and starts to dig around to uncover solana’s horrific past.
Putnam. 387 pages. $26.95. ISBN: 0399154485

“Gus’ plight is heartbreaking and scary, but even more frightening is the reality of how easy it can be for someone to take advantage of us or our loved ones. … It’s easy to relate to kinsey like never before as she walks a delicate line between boundaries, debating how much and when to get involved, struggling with the borders between caring and intrusion, and learning at what point she and others are at risk.” JoLENE KrAWCZAK

Washington Post

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“As in her previous adventures, most of the people kinsey encounters and investigates are everyday folks: bank tellers, apartment managers and hospital aides. kinsey’s beat is the banality of criminality, and Grafton’s gift is making the minutiae of detective work and everyday life into something both sociological and suspenseful.” KEVIN ALLMAN

Cleveland Plain Dealer

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CritiCal Summary
Although Kinsey Millhone has been around for 25 years, critics agree that T is for Trespass is one of sue Grafton’s finest works to date. About elder abuse and identity theft, among other crimes, the novel devotes pages to both Kinsey’s and the villain’s perspectives and thus becomes more of a battle of wits between the two women than a real mystery. As Kinsey decides when and how far to get involved in Gus’s horrific plight, her other cases (a child molester is on the loose, for example) kept critics turning the pages. reviewers also appreciated that Kinsey ages blissfully slowly—since 1982, when a is for alibi was published, she has only gained five years— and thus remains in the Internet-free 1980s, where interpersonal relationships triumph. The ending put off a few critics, but otherwise this 20th installment thoroughly engrosses.

“After the routine R is for Ricochet and the sloppy S is for Silence, it’s terrific to testify that sue Grafton’s T is for Trespass is toned, taut and tense. … Although the resolution doesn’t build to a movie-dramatic finish, Trespass reminds us why we’ll stay with this series to the very Zend.” MICHELE ross

Dallas Morning News

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“As the years and books fly by, it gets ever more amusing to watch kinsey trudging through old-style detective work, actually looking things up at the courthouse and doing reference checks by talking to people. … As usual, Ms. Grafton mixes deadly serious topics, in this case identity theft and elder abuse, with offbeat kinsey-esque humor.” JoY TIPPING

Los Angeles Times

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FirSt in the SerieS

“If the book were not set in the technological dark ages, kinsey might have used her iPhone to save a lot of road wear on her blue Mustang as well as to summon help during one or two nearly fatal brushes with the villains. But what fun would readers find in that?” DICK LoCHTE

A is FoR ALiBi (1982): In saint Teresa, California, young private investigator Kinsey Millhone must clear the name of a woman convicted of murdering her philandering husband. Next in the series: B is for Burglar, C is for Corpse—you get the idea.

as an extra in a British film set in an internment camp. As he relives the war through the actors, memories of the real war’s horrors come rushing back. Alfie becomes more and more unhinged as he tries to escape his consciousness and understand the war, his family, friendships, romances— and, indeed, his entire being. But as he starts to come to grips with himself, the lines between reality and fantasy, past and present, converge.
48 march/april 2008

Knopf. 288 pages. $24. ISBN: 0307266834

san Diego union-Tribune HHHH
“[Few] historical novels wear their research so lightly and integrate it so well, with a flawless instinct for the telling detail. … It is an imaginative tour de force that succeeds on every level, from its sparkling language to its narrative ingenuity to its devastating portrayal of wartime europe and the people who must endure it.” sCoTT LEIBs

rocky Mountain News

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“the reader is led nimbly between the narratives by typographical cues and by the sharp character portrayals in each story line. … kennedy’s war scenes show a depth of research into technical matters as well as the psychological responses of people caught in the maelstrom of war.” rEx BurNs

new books guide
“At first, reading Day feels like watching a scene through smeared glasses. over time, as Alfie learns to align the fantasy of the movie with his troubled childhood and the war, vision comes clearer.” CArLo
WoLFF

Cited by the CritiCS

NY Times Book review

HHJ

“As kennedy charts Alfie’s erratic progress, monitoring the flickerings of his will to live, the book’s bright spots and most rewarding bits, closest to its heart, are the places where she displays her admirable ability to imagine a character from within. … [the book’s structure] begins to seem like an artificial construct, or at least artificially convenient, when Alfie’s thoughts circle the drain for so long before taking the final plunge.” FrANCINE ProsE

NY Times Book review

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crime HHH
Watchman
By Ian rankin
the path not taken.

nonFIctIon

Philadelphia Inquirer

HH

“[Day] is a problematic volume, signaling both increased stylistic ambition and a disheartening downshift. … But the novel is not without heart.”
EDWArD CHAMPIoN

Named twice as one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists, A. L. Kennedy plumbs the depths of darkness. In her ninth book of fiction, Paradise (HHHJ July/Aug 2005), she explored alcoholism. Day, a psychologically complex novel that examines the true costs of war, combines war, romance, and history. By delving deep inside Alfred’s psyche, Kennedy offers an immediate, surreal portrait of one man’s disintegration. Critics agree that Kennedy’s vivid depictions of war are the most compelling, original parts of the novel. But because much of it follows a loose stream of consciousness, some objectivity and clarity are lost, leaving the reader (not always successfully) to piece together thoughts and interactions. The novel has power, but it takes a long time for it to come together.

CritiCal Summary

In 1988, just after his first Inspector Rebus novel, Knots and Crosses (1987), Ian Rankin invented another character who never took off in quite the same way. A cynical spy who has been with the British intelligence for 20 years, Miles Flint, a Scot like Rebus but just a little sunnier, is in a bit of a fix after having made some terrible mistakes. When a beautiful female decoy distracts him, he blows a surveillance operation and allows an Arab assassin to escape, perhaps in response to a tip from one of his own. Soon, Flint finds himself contending with shady characters, the IRA in Belfast, and the British government—not to mention a difficult wife.
Little, Brown. 272 pages. $24.99. ISBN: 031600913X

“Despite the uncharacteristic cinematic style—all jump cuts, tight frames and compressed action—the novel has plenty of Rankin-worthy touches. … While Flint is more a fingernail-biter than an obsessive brooder like Rebus, he has a cynical worldview and a sense of humor that reveals itself in a quirky hobby: he studies beetles, amusing himself by attributing their properties to the people he knows.” MArILYN sTAsIo

Los Angeles Times

HHJ

“In fact, one of the book’s endearing qualities is seeing Rankin desperately attempting to reel in his quirks from the hard and choppy waters of espionage. But he can’t. … this is clearly a writer still struggling to find his voice.” EDWArD
CHAMPIoN

usA Today

HHHJ

“there is a coltish enthusiasm in this novel that showcases Rankin’s already highly developed sense of timing. It’s worthy of sharing shelf space with the works of British spy novelists John le carré and ken Follett.” CAroL MEMMoTT

“While Watchman is not up to the Rebus standard for curmudgeonly
Bookmarks magazine 49

sCiENCE

New York Times

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Before he became known for his Inspector Rebus series, Ian Rankin was a newly married writer trying his hand at spy novels. Watchman reveals a master at the start of his game. Inspired by John le Carré and Graham Greene, Rankin’s espionage novel is strong on enthusiasm, timing, and plot. Critics attribute its imprecise dialogue and characterizations to an inexperienced, albeit talented, writer. “The coolly analytical Flint was ditched after his first assignment. Now was that fair?” asks The New York Times Book Review, reflecting general sentiment that Watchman is pretty good, just not as good as the Rebus series. “Maybe not, if you happen to like dull but honorable Graham Greene-like spies who find themselves struggling to maintain their equilibrium in a society imploding from violent civil unrest.”

CritiCal Summary

histoRy

Bio

GEN NF

sF

CRimE

this novel focuses on the immediate aftermath of World War II. In bombed-out London, young women reside at the May of Teck Club, making do as they wait for their normal lives to resume.

thE GiRLs oF sLENDER mEANs | MuriEL SPArK (1963): Like Day,

LitERARy

Denver Post

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appeal, it is of at least academic interest to anyone wondering what it takes to make a winner. … Had he relied more confidently on Flint’s character development and not thrown in so many conspiratorial twists and secondary figures, Mr. Rankin would have come closer to his latter-day storytelling ease.” JANET MAsLIN

new books guide

sf HHHH
Duma key
By stephen King

FIctIon

stops in the second half. … king is at the height of his powers as a storyteller here.” MArK GrAHAM

st. Petersburg Times

HHHH

king’s roots show in spooky Florida novel.

The prosperous life of Edgar Freemantle, a Minnesota construction mogul, changes in an instant when he becomes involved in a horrific work accident. Braindamaged and now missing his right hand, Freemantle spirals into depression and loses everything dear to him. He moves to Duma Key, Florida, in an attempt to take stock of what’s left. While there, he discovers a remarkable, latent artistic ability, as well as a host of eccentric characters intent on nursing him back to health. Freemantle’s art is more than a coping mechanism, though. With the appearance of a pair of drowned twins and a goddess with an axe to grind, something weird is bound to happen.
Scribner. 611 pages. $28. ISBN: 1416552510

“Whether you’re interested in such highfalutin stuff as theories of art and the reimagining of Greek myth, or you just want a delicious scare, king is in wonderful form in this book. one of the keys to his mastery of the horror genre is his knack for anchoring the most bizarre, unearthly events amid utterly believable everyday realism.” CoLETTE BANCroFT

highway in 1999—and the lingering physical and psychological effects of that accident figure prominently here. The book, which comes to us in Freemantle’s voice and runs its course in languid passages that only a writer of rare talent (and with nothing left to prove) might get away with, is also a meditation on the power of art and its discontents. The supernatural elements in Duma Key find King working at full throttle, with just a few pitchy parts.

LitERARy CRimE sF GEN NF Bio histoRy sCiENCE

Washington Post

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HHHH
Halting state
By Charles stross
orcs rob a virtual bank of real money.

“king’s new novel, Duma Key, is a tale of conflict between the forces of horror and the redemptive power of creativity. … king may be meditating on the diverse powers of the creative soul, but he has in no way lost his unmatched gift for ensnaring and chilling his readers with ‘terrible fishbelly fingers.’” BrIGITTE WEEKs

Los Angeles Times

HHHJ

Boston Globe

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“Readers will find that the new novel leaves its comparatively ponderous predecessor [Lisey’s Story] far behind. At its core it’s a horror story, but with enough emotional complications to keep you turning the pages.” ErICA NooNAN

“no other popular novelist, perhaps no other contemporary novelist period, can take recognizable, ordinary people and put them through the wringer with such crackling panache while always keeping sight of their humanity. … the book is too long and creaks by the end, but as with the recent Lisey’s Story, there’s the thrilling sense of a master determined not only to flex his muscles but develop them too.” rICHArD rAYNEr

Cleveland Plain Dealer

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New York Times

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“the last third of the book goes into overdrive, leading each of the people and objects strewn innocently trough the story to some kind of diabolical turn. … Although this last part ought to be the book’s most furious, the less actionpacked aspects of the story manage to be just as compelling.” JANET MAsLIN

“Duma Key doesn’t disappoint the fan base, and king doesn’t take himself too seriously, which is part of the fun. … the writing can be quite good, and it can be wince-worthy—the unevenness of king’s work gave me whiplash.” KArEN r. LoNG

The world’s coastlines are underwater. China, India, and the European System are struggling for world domination. Millions of people spend their lives in a virtual-reality game world. It’s the year 2018, and Sergeant Sue Smith has just been called in to investigate a high-stakes bank robbery in the virtual world of Avalon Four. The owners of the gamespace, start-up Hayek Associates, stand to lose 26 million euros, a massive hit that will reverberate on the global stock exchange. Smith dives in to solve the crime, face marauding orcs, and match wits with insuranceadjustment agents and master hackers.
Ace Books. 351 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0441014984

Austin Amer-statesman

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rocky Mountain News

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“Although the first half of the book reads like a fine piece of mainstream literature, with little in the way of the supernatural, king pulls out all of the
50 march/april 2008

It’s Stephen King, so we can dispense with the introductions. With Duma Key, the horror master returns to his bread and butter after a moderately successful departure in the character study Lisey’s Story (HHH Jan/Feb 2007). The latest effort is clearly autobiographical—most readers will remember King’s near-death experience when struck by a vehicle on a Maine

CritiCal Summary

“In Halting State, stross postulates a secondary, usury economy feeding off the invested labor of millions of gamers. … each successive complication of the conspiracy is a fresh and brilliant sci-fi conceit.” MATTHEW BEY

BoingBoing.net

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“charlie stross’s latest novel Halting State starts out as a hilarious postcyberpunk police procedural, turns into a gripping post-cyberpunk technothriller, and escalates into a

new books guide
LitERARy sCiENCE histoRy Bio GEN NF sF CRimE

HHHHJ
Powers
By ursula K. Le Guin
the Western shore series continues.

nature, Le Guin stands above almost all of what’s out there. … Gav’s vulnerability and his slow recognition of his real gifts make him both familiar and admirable, like any child who struggles to know one’s strengths and place them in the world. this is a good, long trek of a fantasy.” DEIrDrE BAKEr

strange Horizons
In each volume of her Western shore series (annals of the Western Shore), Le Guin, the master of the Earthsea series, has explored a different part of a complex fantasy universe through the eyes of an extraordinary young person. Powers continues the pattern with the story of Gavir, a teenage boy who is brilliant but a slave, gifted with prophetic vision but burdened with uncertainty. Gavir lives a relatively idyllic life in a pretechnological society where many slaves are given respect, if not rights. But when the violence of captivity and war force him to flee his master’s house, he sets out to search for his familial roots and begins an odyssey through societies that invigorate both his adolescent character and the reader’s imagination.
Harcourt. 512 pages. $17. ISBN: 0152057706

HHHH

“Le Guin is brilliant at creating whole societies, and here she shows us a slave culture that is for the most part easy, almost bearable. … the series is also concerned with power—or rather, the giving up of power. It’s an unusual theme in a genre that sometimes seems to be only about military or magical power: getting it, fighting to hold onto it.” LIsA GoLDsTEIN

CritiCal Summary
ursula Le Guin is already much beloved by science fiction readers young and old—not only because she writes compelling novels for adults and adolescents but also because she has been doing so for nearly 50 years. Powers has been published as a young adult novel, but reviewers agree that anyone will enjoy Le Guin’s complex characters, fascinating worlds, and explorations of power and learning. Critics emphasize, however, that Gavir’s growing pains will appeal to today’s young readers, particularly those who feel isolated from their peers (and what kid who reads 512-page books other than Harry Potter doesn’t feel isolated from time to time?). While some of Le Guin’s older readers may feel that nothing will ever top the Earthsea series, for readers who pick up the author today, Powers and the rest of the Western shore series may become the classic.

sci Fi Weekly

HHHHH

“In the end, to my mind, these books, in which the magic is essential but underplayed, are more affecting and hard-hitting and emotionally resonant than even the great earthsea series. nearing her 80th year, Le Guin remains at the top of her powers. With her first publication being in 1962, she’s in striking distance of a 50-year career, a milestone much to be hoped for.”
PAuL DI FILIPPo

Globe and Mail (Toronto) HHHHJ
“there is no chicken soup in Ursula Le Guin, no answers you can print on a t-shirt. Instead, she provides a convincing and fully realized narrative that gives the teen reader hope that the huge tasks of growing up, of finding work, love, your people and your self, can be successfully accomplished.” sArAH ELLIs

GiFts (2004): The people of the uplands possess both wonderful and terrible extrasensory gifts. sixteenyear-old orrec wears a blindfold to prevent him from destroying life, while Gry refuses to uses her gift to kill animals. As they grow older, they must choose how to use their gifts to realize their potential. voiCEs (2006): When orrec and Gry, now grown up, arrive in a coastal city marred by violence, they work to end the occupation and restore peace to the region.

annalS oF the WeStern Shore

Toronto star

HHHHJ

“In her facility in world-making and her interest in human

Big Ideas book about the future of economics, virtual worlds, the nation state and policing, while managing to crack a string of geeky in-jokes, play off a heaping helping of gripping action scenes, and telling a pretty good love story.” CorY DoCToroW

By being intensely plugged in to the trends and state of the art of 2008 reality, stross will create a world 10 years hence that stands as good a chance as any other extrapolation of becoming—or at least seeming for the duration of the ride—absolutely inescapable.” PAuL DI FILLIPPo

For those readers with impeccable geek credentials, charles stross offers a dizzying array of in-jokes and plenty of snazzy speculation about where total connectivity might be leading us.” MICHAEL
BErrY

sF reviews.net

HHHJ

sci Fi Weekly

HHHH san Francisco Chronicle HHHJ
“Like neal stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, Halting State demands at least a passing familiarity with It jargon, not to mention online gaming conventions.

“this novel intends to carry sF’s core values of legitimately extrapolated cognitive estrangement as far as possible, at least in a near-future setting. And stross succeeds eminently.

“stross pulls out all stops as his thriller hits its thrilling stride, with red herrings and false leads drawing our confused heroes further and further down the rabbit hole, until it becomes clear that what’s really going on behind the scenes
Bookmarks magazine 51

new books guide
isn’t so much about mischievous gamers but most likely all about national security and some extraordinarily ambitious cyberterror.” THoMAs M. WAGNEr

sci Fi Weekly

HHHH

Reviewers expressed shock and awe at Charles Stross’s imagined future, because it’s just a bit too probable. Even his minor details, such as clothing with RFID tags that can speak to washing machines, are mind-bending. Overall, Halting State is a fast-paced, tightly plotted, and highly intelligent novel. While some of it may read as gibberish to a less in-the-know crowd (it’s helpful to know such gamer slang as “nerfed”), the tech-savvy will rejoice. One reviewer thought the plot became convoluted at the end with a tooneat resolution. But others, like Cory Doctorow in BoingBoing, commented, “This is a book that will change the way you see the way the world works.”

CritiCal Summary

“this book is densely written, requiring the reader to fully participate in the intellectual games, yet also captivatingly plotted for sheer narrative verve and laced with plenty of humor and suspense. Walking a tightrope between information overload and thriller action, the book captures the heady zip, zest and buzz of the postsingular milieu, a world where miracles are commonplace but structured logically to provide real challenges, risks and triumphs.” PAuL DIFILIPPo

general HHHH
An Eater’s Manifesto By Michael Pollan
keeping it simple.

LitERARy CRimE sF GEN NF Bio histoRy sCiENCE

nonFIctIon

In Defense of Food

In The Omnivore’s Dilemma (HHHH Pollan examined our food’s origin in enlightening—and sometimes disturbing—detail. This follow-up argues that food is much more than the sum of its component parts and that Americans have been sold a bill of goods when it comes to their faddish food ways. For more than 30 years, “nutritionism,” the rise of the industrial-food complex, and our own poor self-image have worsened many of the problems—heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension among them—plaguing a society that has forgotten how to eat. Pollan’s mantra isn’t the sort of voodoo that we’ve come to expect from our food gurus (even the “scientific” results the media feeds us are questionable, he proclaims), but just good advice: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
Penguin. 256 pages. $21.95. ISBN: 1594201455 seLectIon July/ Aug 2006), Michael

Aintitcoolnews.com

HHHJ

“Postsingular feels like it was written in a series of 48 hour drug-induced marathons and the inclusion of higher math and bleeding edge physics doesn’t help. But the mere act of trying to make sense of it all just pulls you in further.”
ADAM BALM

BoingBoing.net

HHHJ

HHHJ
Postsingular
By rudy rucker
nerd Rapture.

“Rudy Rucker’s new novel Postsingular is pure Rucker: a dope-addled exploration of the way-out fringes of string theory and the quantum universe that distorts the possible into the most improbable contortions.” CorY DoCToroW

After self-reproducing nanomachines have transformed Mars into a giant computer, they proceed to attack Earth. An autistic child and mechanical lice save the planet, but at the price of Earth’s transformation into a world where one can never log off the Internet. The planet’s unprecedented processing power draws the attention of mystical beings from another dimension. And that’s just the beginning. Rudy Rucker’s novel explores this future of nearly unimaginable innovation through several generations of characters—from the bitter scientist who releases those first machines to a novelist working in a world where anyone can access another person’s thoughts at any time.
Tor Books. 320 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 0765317419

While less well known than William Gibson or Bruce Sterling, Rudy Rucker was one of the founders of the cyberpunk movement—science fiction with a grittier, dystopian turn. In Postsingular, Rucker explores the idea of the Singularity, a hypothetical point in the future where the combination of artificial intelligence and human enhancement will launch technological advance into an unprecedented overdrive. Reviewer (and fellow SF novelist) Paul DiFilippo writes that while the Singularity—the “Rapture of the nerds”—has become a common theme in science fiction, Rucker is one of the few writers who have sufficiently explored what it would be like to actually experience it. Then again, for novices to Rucker or the SF genre, Postsingular—each page, according to BoingBoing, “weirder than the last”— isn’t necessarily the place to start.

CritiCal Summary

Boston Globe

HHHHJ

“Pollan’s accessible, meticulously researched book will be essential reading for anyone who takes food seriously. His manifesto may seem simple … but adopting it wholeheartedly would create a revolution in our nation’s eating habits.”
CHuCK LEDDY

Los Angeles Times

HHHH

“Pollan subtitles his new book An Eater’s Manifesto, but he’s way too polite to tell us what to eat. Instead, he uses his familiar brand of carefully researched, common-sense journalism to persuade, providing guidelines and convincing arguments.” susAN sALTEr rEYNoLDs

52 march/april 2008

new books guide
“[A] tough, witty, cogent rebuttal to the proposition that food can be reduced to its nutritional components without the loss of something essential. … In this lively, invaluable book—which grew out of an essay Mr. Pollan wrote for The New York Times Magazine, for which he is a contributing writer—he assails some of the most fundamental tenets of nutritionism.” JANET MAsLIN “Weiner does more than report on the lifestyles of the delighted and despondent. … the real focus of his story is on the people he meets in cafes and on buses, the people who rent him rooms and give him directions, the people whose conversations, confessions and silences reveal the deep truths about their lands and lives.” DANIEL
GILBErT

st. Petersburg Times

HHHH

the Geography of Bliss
One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World By Eric Weiner
the grass is always greener in the other hemisphere.

Denver Post

HHHJ

“In Defense of Food … is about eating well. … It’s a smart, refreshing take on the traditional January topic: diet advice from a man who clearly loves to eat.”
CoLETTE BANCroFT

san Francisco Chronicle

HHHJ

“It’s not that hard if, like Pollan, you live in Berkeley, where Alice Waters is guide and guru, to shop carefully at farmers’ markets and specialty stores, to spend more to get better stuff, to cook your meals, and to eat them slowly and at a table with good company. … And, in the end, this thoughtful, entertaining and helpful book does wind up being a little more alarmist than Pollan pretends it is.” CHArLEs MATTHEWs

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

HHH

“When a book like this comes along, people tend to embrace it as the gospel truth—and in a lot of ways it is. … turns out the new story sounds a lot like the old.” CHINA MILLMAN

Berkeley, California-based journalism professor and New York Times Magazine contributing writer Michael Pollan, whose previous work on the subject includes The Botany of Desire and the best-selling The Omnivore’s Dilemma, has placed himself at the forefront of food writing. He preaches a back-to-basics approach and a close questioning of the avalanche of information that has come out of our diet-obsessed society. Despite the accusations of a few critics as being a little alarmist, a little elitist, and a little obvious (not everyone has the access to or the resources to eat the food Pollan suggests), the book encourages a sim-

CritiCal Summary

If you’ve always been skeptical that Disneyland really is “the happiest place on Earth,” The Geography of Bliss may be the book for you. Weiner, who has spent most of his career as a peripatetic NPR correspondent, constructed an itinerary based on national rankings of subjective well-being from the World Database of Happiness. He visits several of the happiest places (Switzerland, Thailand, Iceland, and Bhutan, whose monarch has made Gross National Happiness a priority), a few of the more miserable places (Moldova and wealthy-but-weary Qatar), and several that just interest him (Great Britain, India, and Asheville, North Carolina—supposedly one of the happiest cities in America). Weiner illuminates these alternately cheery and dreary locales with data from the everexpanding science of happiness, his personal observations, and interviews with the glum and glad alike.
Twelve. 352 pages. $25.99. ISBN: 0446580260

“Although timid at emotional exploration and riddled with blindspots, Weiner’s writing holds your interest, even as he annoys you. He may remind some readers of the kind of guy you go on a date with, and you know the entire evening he is not the one and you probably aren’t going to go home with him, but somehow you still don’t want the evening to end.” ELAINE MArGoLIN

san Francisco Chronicle

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“Universals are uncovered, none of which are earth-shattering. Family: good. A sense of community: good. sense of humor: also good. … never mind that different people are happy for different reasons; the darkness and coziness beloved by many Icelanders might be hell for a californian, and the lack of thinking that Weiner uses to summarize thailand’s bliss would spell misery for someone who revels in discussing existentialism.” KArLA sTArr

NY Times Book review

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“According to a recent study, Denmark’s key to happiness is lowered expectations. With that in mind, readers will find pleasure, however fleeting, in these pages.” PAMELA PAuL
histoRy sCiENCE

Dallas Morning News

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“[Weiner] doesn’t really have a lot of concrete answers about happiness beyond the obvious ones of family and friends, but what he experiences and observes makes wonderful reading. there’s something interesting on every page of this wise and witty book, and it will make you happy just reading it.”
ELIZABETH BENNETT

If there’s one truth that emerged from reviewers’ various takes on The Geography of Bliss, it’s that happiness is subjective. Every critic seemed to find something that really irked him or her about this book: Weiner’s persona seems affected, he indulges in “psychobabble,” he remains aloof about himself, he comes across as an obnoxious reporter. Yet everyone seemed to enjoy his book, admiring Weiner’s original
Bookmarks magazine 53

CritiCal Summary

Bio

GEN NF

sF

CRimE

HHHJ

LitERARy

New York Times

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ple approach to eating that will strike a chord with readers weary of conflicting information and unrealistic weight-loss and wellness programs. So the message of the book and its well-written delivery can’t be faulted. The question is, do we need to hear it all again?

Washington Post

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new books guide
approach to the subject, his balance of research and experience, and the characters that illustrate the lessons on happiness Weiner accumulates during his journeys. In short, all the critics’ happiness was alike, but they were also all unhappy in their own way. (Sorry, Tolstoy.) FYI: Weiner lives in Miami, Florida. In the former Soviet Union, oligarchs bought the economy; in New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina transformed poor, black neighborhoods into neighborhoods ripe for white capital; in Thailand, the tsunami of December 2004 enabled developers to scoop up valuable beachfront property. No matter how injurious it is to these societies, disaster capitalism, Klein argues, just might be the new economy.
Metropolitan Books. 558 pages. $28. ISBN: 0805079831 LitERARy CRimE sF GEN NF Bio histoRy sCiENCE

Supplemental reading

voraciously feeding on violent disruptions—the antithesis of the conventional wisdom that capitalism requires peace and tranquility to thrive—is a provocative one, partly vindicated by Halliburton’s profit margins in Iraq. But it is also overstated, ascribing sinister motives to behavior generally prompted by more banal and benign (if sometimes wrongheaded) ideas.” sHAsHI THAroor

research, including that of groundbreaking happiness expert and Nobel laureate Daniel Hahneman, Happiness reveals how societal pressures to make money, compete, and accrue possessions take a heavy toll on overall happiness. hAppiNEss | DArrin M. McMAhon (2006): HHHJ May/ June 2006: From the ancient Greco-Roman religions to Judaism and Christianity to the Enlightenment to the present day, McMahon consults great Western thinkers and presents an overview of the meanings of happiness over time.

2005 Based on years of

hAppiNEss | richArD LAyArD (2005): HHHJ May/June

New York Times

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san Francisco Chronicle

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“With a bold and brilliantly conceived thesis, skillfully and cogently threaded through more than 500 pages of trenchant writing, klein may well have revealed the master narrative of our time. And because the pattern she exposes could govern our future as well, the shock Doctrine could turn out to be among the most important books of the decade.” WILLIAM s. KoWINsKI

“Ms. klein exposes the hypocrisy behind those who promote free enterprise but accept autocratic regimes to carry it out, which makes her book a useful corrective to some of the uncritical celebrations of the spread of globalization since the collapse of the soviet empire. But her argument constantly overreaches, because her goal is not really to tame capitalism so much as to taunt it.” ToM rEDBurN

NY Times Book review

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HHHJ
the shock Doctrine
The Rise of Disaster Capitalism By Naomi Klein
capitalism run amok.

Is it possible that capitalism wreaks more havoc than good? Journalist Naomi Klein, an antiglobalization activist, argues that Milton Friedman and the Chicago School’s brand of neoliberal economics (free markets, privatization) thrives on natural disasters, foreign invasions, political upheavals, economic turmoil, and war, mostly in poorer areas. These catastrophes cripple economies, governments, and public institutions, allowing the private sector to rework a landscape—and to benefit from it.
54 march/april 2008

“klein isn’t an economist but a journalist, and she travels the world to find out firsthand what really happened on the ground during the privatization of Iraq, the aftermath of the Asian tsunami, the continuing Polish transition to capitalism and the years after the African national congress took power in south Africa, when it failed to pursue the redistributionist policies enshrined in the Freedom charter, its statement of core principles. these chapters are the least exciting parts of the book, but they are also the most convincing.” JosEPH E.
sTIGLITZ

st. Petersburg Times

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“Here is why this book, angry as it is, deserves a wide audience: It reminds that the purpose of government is to serve the most people as best it can. Under the shock doctrine, klein argues, the opposite occurs: one class of people comes up with the plan, another does the fighting, and a third, way at the bottom, deals with the fallout.” JoHN
FrEEMAN

Naomi Klein offers an antidote to those who herald globalization as the great equalizer of nations. The author of No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies, Klein links disparate events throughout the 20th and 21st centuries—the collapse of the Soviet Union, the atrocities in Chile under Pinochet, the post-tsunami crises in Sri Lanka, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the invasion of Iraq—to reveal the two-faced nature of capitalism. Critics agreed that the book—accessible and impeccably researched—is an important contribution to the debate over globalization. Some were less taken with Klein’s thesis, however. The Washington Post noted that Klein sees too many conspiracies instead of “the all-too-human pattern of chaos and confusion, good intentions and greed, playing out in the wake of catastrophes.” Yet even Shashi Tharoor, a former UN Under-Secretary General, admitted Klein’s great usefulness in helping us understand “the shape and direction of our current Age of Uncertainty.”

CritiCal Summary

Washington Post

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“klein’s notion of disaster capitalism

new books guide

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soldier’s Heart
Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point By Elizabeth D. samet
A meditation on literature and the military.

Washington Post

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“oh, they can read?” a surprised bookstore clerk asks Elizabeth samet, an English professor from the u.s. Military Academy at West Point. Battling for ten years a “persistent anti-intellectual strain” within the army and civilians’ views of West Point as a “modern-day sparta,” samet has watched students find new meaning in her classroom since 9/11 turned the prospect of combat into a grim reality. In this collection of essays, samet argues for ideas, imagination, and literature as forces for morality within the military. she reveals her lasting legacy through letters and e-mails from former students around the world who continue to read to inspire themselves, to prevent boredom and numbness, to bond with fellow soldiers, and to embrace the cultures around them.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 272 pages. $23. ISBN: 0374180636

san Francisco Chronicle

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“During her decade of teaching, samet moved from oBe (overcome by events) to insight, leading to this combination of memoir and meditation, scholarship and self-scrutiny, observation and commentary. … she portrays her students as goodhearted, curious, open and serious.” WILLIAM s. KoWINsKI

seattle Times

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sF sCiENCE histoRy Bio GEN NF

“samet’s language can be stilted at times, perhaps the effect of too many academic conferences, but the clarity of her vision and her respect for her colleagues and students are unmistakable.”
rICHArD WAKEFIELD

Chicago Tribune

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CritiCal Summary
“What’s the difference, ma’am? I’ll be in Iraq within a year anyway,” contends a cadet in Elizabeth samet’s English class. Soldier’s Heart responds by making a graceful, compelling case that reading forces her students to slow down and reflect on such timeless themes as courage, honor, and sacrifice, which results in better, more thoughtful soldiers. Part memoir, the book also examines her teaching career and shares her opinions of religion in the military and the war in Iraq. It is her sketches of students and colleagues that stand out, however, as she challenges stereotypes and provides a moving tribute to these proud, admirable men and women. By demonstrating that reading has an important place in the military, she makes a strong case for its value in civilian life as well.

“In her insightful Soldier’s Heart, [samet] gives us some provocative glimpses into the military mind-set. We come away from the book with respect for the academy’s goals, if not all of its customs, and with hope in and concern for the humanity of our armed forces under a civilian leadership that has too often sent them on injudicious missions.” ALExANDEr C. KAFKA

Dallas Morning News

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“even if Soldier’s Heart was not a lovingly crafted work of sympathetic imagination, this book would still be worth reading if only because too many of us know far too little about the people who suffer and die fighting our wars. … Ms. samet’s bighearted empathy with her students is all the more remarkable because she is an outsider several times over: a civilian, a woman in a still largely male environment (this year 17 percent of West Point plebes are female, a record high), and one who viewed the war in Iraq with ‘deep sorrow and anger’ even as she watched many of her former students lead the invasion.” CHrIs
TuCKEr

thE thiNGs thEy CARRiED | tiM o’briEn (1990): A finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, this classic account of the Vietnam War (a collection of related stories) depicts a man grappling with his conscience, fighting for a cause in which he doesn’t believe. thE oDyssEy | hoMEr, trAnSLAtED by robErt FAgLES (1996):
This epic poem of ancient Greece follows odysseus on his long sea voyage home from the Trojan War. Having made an enemy of the Greek god Poseidon, odysseus and his crew are tested and menaced by witches, sirens, monsters, whirlpools, and shipwrecks.

on the reading liSt at WeSt point

New York Times Book review

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“to her great credit, samet does not draw easy conclusions in Soldier’s Heart. By writing a thoughtful, attentive, stereotypebreaking book about her 10 years as a civilian teacher of literature at the Military Academy, she offers a significant perspective on the crucial social and political force of honor: a principle of behavior at the intersection of duty and imagination.” roBErT PINsKY

CoLLECtED poEms oF wiLFRED owEN | wiLFrED owEn (1963):
Many regard British soldier Wilfred owen as the foremost poet of World War I. Killed in action just one week before the war ended, his unsettling poems—including “Dulce et Decorum Est”—faithfully portray the harsh, bleak realities of war.
Bookmarks magazine 55

usA Today

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“samet’s account of teaching and learning, Soldier’s Heart:

CRimE

“Soldier’s Heart is an exhilarating read. It seats you in the classroom of a feisty professor who commands several fronts with easy expertise: classic film, ancient Greece, shakespearean tragedy, modern poetry.” JoHN BECKMAN

LitERARy

BookMARks seLectIon

Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point, is absolutely fascinating. … Her book explores serious issues— moral questions about courage and obedience—but with graceful writing and flashes of humor.” BoB MINZEsHEIMEr

new books guide

biography HHHH
A Comic’s Life By steve Martin

LitERARy CRimE sF GEN NF Bio histoRy sCiENCE

nonFIctIon

Born standing Up
the artist as a wild and craaaazy guy.

writing, celebrity glimpses, and seemingly genuine modesty. Born Standing Up is smart, compelling, and truly revealing, as Martin the comic and writer opens up his archives, his mind, and even corners of his heart.” DAVID
MALooF

and confusion to playing nightly in basketball arenas before 20,000 screaming fans in the late 1970s. … Born Standing Up is a pleasant book but not nearly as memorable as the onstage career it commemorates.” WALTEr sHAPIro

Los Angeles Times

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Even as a kid, comedian Steve Martin didn’t want for material. He cut his teeth on legends Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl, read widely and watched television, practiced magic and acting, and grew up with a difficult father two miles from Disneyland, where he worked for a time. Martin’s decision to “go avant-garde” early in his career was a savvy move. By the late 1970s, he was plying his edgy trade— balloon hats and banjos—to sold-out arenas, and he had become recognizable to millions from frequent appearances on Saturday Night Live. Within a couple of years, though, suffering panic attacks that made performing difficult and questioning his career path, Martin decided he’d had enough. Toward the end of his stand-up career, he writes, “My act was like an overly plumed bird whose next evolutionary step was extinction.”
Scribner. 209 pages. $25. ISBN: 1416553649

“It is a mostly unfunny yet oddly stirring book about the comedian’s early life, beginning with his boyhood before moving through his 20s and on up to 1982, when he hung up his balloon hat and quit doing stand-up for good.” ErIKA
sCHICKEL

New York Times

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“Mr. Martin describes Born Standing Up as a biography rather than an autobiography, “because I am writing about someone I used to know.’ … even for readers already familiar with Mr. Martin’s solemn side, Born Standing Up is a surprising book: smart, serious, heartfelt and confessional without being maudlin.” JANET MAsLIN

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a quarter century since Steve Martin packed the props and walked away from a stunningly successful turn in stand-up. His career as a popular actor, a critically lauded writer (Shopgirl), and a dramatist has since flourished, of course. But readers hoping for vintage Martin can get a quick fix with Born Standing Up. While the memoir may not be as salacious as fans expect or as riotously funny as an arrow through the head, Martin writes with the wisdom of experience (don’t miss a remarkable meeting with Elvis Presley after a 1971 show) as he recounts his development into one of the most popular and original comedians of his generation.

CritiCal Summary

oregonian

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“[Born Standing Up] is well-researched, lavishly illustrated and buoyed by the fact that steve Martin is a good writer. It is also, for a celebrity memoir, tastefully private.” JosEPH BEDNArIK

HHHH
A Life of Picasso
The Triumphant Years, 1917–1932 By John richardson
the 20th century’s most influential artist.

Washington Post

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Hartford Courant

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“In his wonderfully wise and humorous autobiography, Martin describes how he was anything but an overnight success—unless by ‘overnight’ you mean 15 arduous years spent in the wilderness of stand-up comedy. … What comes across clearly in Born Standing Up is not just steve Martin’s drive, humility and flat-out comedic genius, but his understanding that success requires an almost maniacal self-belief, a tenacity that gets tested over time and trials.”
CHuCK LEDDY

“We know by now that Martin is a real writer. … I prefer [this book’s] rawness, its essentially found nature, if only because, after more than three dozen movies, steve Martin’s soul can at last be seen—a fraction of it, anyway, peeping through the clouds.” LouIs BAYArD

san Francisco Chronicle

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“[Born Standing Up] is better written than the standard star turn. that said, don’t expect anything on a par with his more creative work, such as his wonderful stoppardesque play, Picasso at the Lapin Agile.” HELLEr MCALPIN

Wall street Journal HHHH

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Boston Globe

“[Martin] offers what few entertainment figures can: intelligent analysis and
56 march/april 2008

“Born Standing Up is a slight but ingratiating account of a not-alwaysrollicking road trip that took Mr. Martin from auditioning at coffee

With A Life of Picasso: The Triumphant Years, John Richardson captures the prodigious talent and limitless (and legendary) appetites of an influential artist approaching the height of his power. In 1917, while in Rome designing sets for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, Picasso met and married the ballerina Olga Kokhlova. The couple settled briefly into Parisian high society, ushering in what would become Picasso’s Duchess Period. The marriage inevitably soured, and in 1927 Picasso began a torrid affair with 17-year-old Marie-Thérèse Walter, the muse who allowed the artist to

new books guide
“unleash his sexuality and harness it to his imagery.” By the time Picasso celebrated his 50th birthday in 1932, his place in the canon of contemporary art was secure, his reputation as a mercurial genius unquestioned.
Knopf. 592 pages. $40. ISBN: 0307266656

Boston Globe

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“Richardson is overwhelmingly authoritative. … Because [the author] knew Picasso and gained his confidence, he could ask specific questions during the 1950s and was told intimate things.”
MICHAEL KAMMEN

san Diego union-Tribune HHHHJ
“The Triumphant Years, 1917–1932 … is one of the great biographies of any artist in any discipline. It is beautifully written and remarkably researched.”
roBErT L. PINCus

Los Angeles Times

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John Richardson was introduced to Picasso in the 1950s, and that firsthand knowledge of the man and his work buttresses the third volume of this monumental study. Richardson exhibits not only a stunning grasp of the artist’s profession, including the iconography, languages, and influences, but also an understanding of how Picasso’s private life informed his art. The result is a rare balance of first-rate art criticism and a primer on the energy and chaos that define the modern. Michael Dirda compares the author’s vision to the more academic work of E. H. Gombrich and Kenneth Clark, concluding that, in a good way, “Richardson’s tell-all biography reads something like a high-brow gossip column.” Stay tuned for the fourth, and final, volume.

CritiCal Summary

much-feared Mongol empire established by Genghis Khan—in all its tales of strange animals, luxuries, sex, violence, politics, and glory. Attempting to reconcile mythology with history, Laurence Bergreen explores Polo’s travels and legacy. Polo set out for Asia in 1271 with his father and uncle, entered Kublai Khan’s inner court, remained his trusted adviser for 17 years as he traveled throughout the empire, and helped open Asia to European trade. When he returned to Venice, Polo penned his famous memoir with the aid of a romance author. If together they embellished Polo’s travels, they nonetheless introduced Europeans to an exotic new land.
Knopf. 415 pages. $28.95. ISBN: 140004345X

Milwaukee Jrnl sentinel

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“Richardson steers clear of scolding or overtly analyzing Picasso’s sexual needs (aside from using the word ‘addiction’), choosing instead to follow the incredible string of works that grew out of the artist’s emotional (and physical) entanglements. … It’s amazing that in a biography of the world’s most important modern painter, the supporting cast steals the show, but they do.” JoHN FrEEMAN

the FirSt tWo VolumeS
volume chronicles Picasso’s departure from Catalan and his struggles in bohemian Paris, as represented by his Blue Period and Rose Period paintings. With Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), Picasso introduced a new modern style; he then turned to Cubist techniques.
A LiFE oF piCAsso The Cubist Rebel, 1907–1916 (1996): A LiFE oF piCAsso The Prodigy, 1881–1906 (1991): The first

DAVID WALToN

NY Times Book review

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New York Times

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“[A] magisterial and definitive biography . … Mr. Richardson leaves us not only with a deep appreciation of Picasso’s Promethean ambition and prodigious fecundity, but also with a shrewd understanding of his tumultuous, subversive and often disturbing art.” MICHIKo KAKuTANI

“[Bergreen bolsters] Polo’s reputation and [argues] for his historical importance in a book as enthralling as a rollicking travel journal. … curiously, the figure who makes the greatest impression in Bergreen’s biography isn’t Marco Polo but his patron, kublai khan.”
BruCE BArCoTT

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Marco Polo
From Venice to Xanadu By Laurence Bergreen
tall tales, retold.

Providence Journal

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“[Richardson’s] book is energetically opinionated, sprightly and illuminating in its analytic passages, casually cruel in its put-downs of lesser artists (Jean cocteau and clive Bell are never mentioned without a gibe or a sneer), and downright lubricious in its fascination with sex. … [The Triumphant Years] is a biography with real fizz, every page offering pleasure as well as insight and illumination.” MICHAEL DIrDA

When the famed 13th-century Venetian trader and explorer Marco Polo first published The Travels of Marco Polo, he offered to Europeans the first glimpse of the

LEWIs

Los Angeles Times

HHHJ
sCiENCE

“[Bergreen’s] narrative moves fluidly and includes much interesting information, without getting bogged
Bookmarks magazine 57

histoRy

Washington Post

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“Marco Polo is a new take on Polo, a postmodern re-imagining that brings him to the land of the Mongols as a european and then follows him back home a quarter of a century later to Venice as a quasi-Asian. … In other words, in this reading of Marco Polo’s travels, the hero undergoes the kind of change that the best travel writers always claim to have undergone.” ToNY

Bio

GEN NF

“For the reader who likes to match myths of history with realities, this book will be a constant surprise and delight. … celebrated in coleridge’s great poem, this most alliterative of rulers did have his xanadu, more wondrous and amazing than either author guessed.”

sF

CRimE

LitERARy

new books guide

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BookMARks seLectIon NY Times Book review HHHH
“As a natural-born memoirist (by which I mean not only ‘one who writes an autobiography’ but also ‘one who remembers everything’), kalish has kept her memories tidily ordered for decades. now she has unpacked and worked them into a story that is not only trustworthy and useful … but is also polished by real, rare happiness.” ELIZABETH GILBErT

LitERARy CRimE sF GEN NF Bio histoRy sCiENCE

Little Heathens
Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression By Mildred Armstrong Kalish
A love letter to a difficult time.

For Mildred Armstrong Kalish, life on an Iowa farm in the throes of the country’s worst economic crisis turned out a whole lot better than one might expect. Taken in as a young girl by her grandparents after the banishment of her father for mysterious reasons (his name was never mentioned again within the family, nor does the author make much of that fact), Kalish was buoyed by the companionship, guidance, and rock-ribbed Midwestern values of teachers, siblings, and community. recipes and advice on a variety of activities—from skinning a rabbit to making headcheese (“scrub the [pig’s] head until … pink and clean”)—round out, with a contagious nostalgia, Kalish’s paean to her happy childhood.
Bantam. 292 pages. $22. ISBN: 0553804952

san Antonio Exp-News

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“It is more than a nostalgic memoir. It’s history and sociology and a primer for character- and confidence-building.” MArINA
PIsANo

Washington Times

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“the stories told in Little Heathens are reminiscent of other classic American autobiographies that, over the years, have defined our culture. … Its message of hard work, thrift, dedication, discipline, resourcefulness and goodwill is especially needed in a wasteful, self-indulgent society; so is the book’s unabashed delight in the pure, simple pleasures that, in the end, are what really what make life so rewarding.” MArIoN
ELIZABETH roDGErs

Wall street Journal Christian science Monitor HHHH
“[the author] includes recipes, home remedies, and advice on how to butcher poultry, but you won’t find a whine from beginning to end. … kalish’s love of nature pervades every page, and her ethos of hard work and self-discipline will have you itching to put up some tomatoes and try out her recipe for homemade marshmallows.” YVoNNE ZIPP

HHHJ

“this is a lovely re-creation of an Iowa girlhood before the invasion of the electrified time-wasters and soul-deadening initialisms of tV, Pc and IM. … she is unsqueamish, the surest sign of a farm girl, and also wry, affectionate, forgiving: a delightful companion.” BILL KAuFFMAN

CritiCal Summary
one of the most endearing qualities of octogenarian Mildred Armstrong Kalish’s Little Heathens is that it runs counter to what the memoir, sadly, has too frequently become—self-indulgent, selfpromoting gossip. Despite circumstances that could easily have left her embittered, Kalish, a retired English professor, recalls her formative years fondly. Through simple, honest prose punctuated with “her old pagan rhythms” (new york Times Book review) and a host of memorable examples, Kalish performs her greatest feat, which is to make some of us under 80 just the slightest bit envious—crazy to say, but such is human nature—that we never experienced the Depression-era challenges and triumphs so lovingly recounted.

Cleveland Plain Dealer

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“Little Heathens made me ache for my own Depression-era Grandma, with her hand-cranked clothes wringer and her north Dakotan speech tut-tutting the modern women who won’t bother to use a spatula to scrape their bowls… this is a book to awaken your family’s own half-remembered stories—or better, to send you back to your elders to scour up your own.” KArEN r.
LoNG

down in excessive detail. … His years with kublai khan, Bergreen believes, raised the historical value of the Travels to inestimable worth.” IrENE WANNEr

than a sumptuous retelling of this great narrative, bulked out with the fruits of much research and some overblown speculation.” CoLIN THuBroN

Washington Post

HHHJ

“[Bergreen] has, by his own account, tinkered a little with chronology and has adopted— and seems to believe—the longest and most personal of the many narrative versions. … Almost inevitably, Bergreen’s book is less a true biography
58 march/april 2008

Laurence Bergreen, the author of books about Louis Armstrong, Irving Berlin, James Agee, and Ferdinand Magellan, traveled Marco Polo’s route across Mongolia and China to conduct research for Marco Polo. Part biogra-

CritiCal Summary

phy, part travelogue, and part scholarly analysis, the book offers a glimpse of an exotic Asia that few knew at the time—and that Bergreen, with his rich research and stories, mostly corroborates. Bergreen posits Polo as an early promoter of globalization, an openminded traveler who adopted some of Kublai Khan’s philosophies and carried them back to Europe. If Bergreen sometimes succumbs to speculation (Polo’s egotism is well recorded,

new books guide
though his time in China is not), Marco Polo will immortalize the famed traveler—again.
eyewitness account of his birth on a siberian train to nureyev’s final words. … Nureyev is easily the best biography of the year.” CArLIN roMANo
LitERARy sCiENCE histoRy Bio GEN NF
Bookmarks magazine 59

to portray the joy he must have taken in being airborne.” MAGGIE LEWIs

alSo by the author
ovER thE EDGE oF thE woRLD Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe (2003): HHHH Mar/Apr 2004.

Boston Globe

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Although Bergreen tells a well-trodden tale, his lively account of Magellan’s three-year circumnavigation of the globe will transport readers to tropical islands and introduce them to what were considered, in the early 1500s, exotic cultures.

“[kavanagh] offers a critically authoritative biography of the legendary dancer that should appeal to scholars and casual fans alike, combining exhaustive research with delightfully juicy, gossip-filled anecdotes to paint a remarkably fullblooded portrait.” KArEN CAMPBELL

Denver Post

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nureyev
The Life By Julie Kavanagh
A tale of talent and tantrums.

Rudolph Nureyev was a dancer known as much for his difficult (if magnetic) personality as for his immense talent. From the moment he was “shaken out of the womb” on a trans-Siberian train, Nureyev’s life was a series of sensational incidents and adventures—the most famous being his dramatic defection to the West in 1961. While author Julie Kavanagh vividly evokes his troubled relationships with dance-world mentors and lovers, his notoriously bad behavior, and his untimely death at age 54 from AIDS, this vibrantly narrated and prodigiously researched biography is most remarkable in its ability to capture the passionate and focused inner life of a dance legend.
Pantheon. 782 pages. $37.50. ISBN: 0375405135

san Francisco Chronicle

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“Nureyev: The Life earns the definitive article of its subtitle, weaving deftly together, for instance, the difference between the Vaganova and Bournonville schools of ballet training, and the torrid passion between nureyev and the famed Danish star erik Bruhn. … [kavanagh’s] take on nureyev’s life is more triumph than tragedy, a tale of self-reliance and self-fulfilling onanism.” rACHEL HoWArD

HHHJ
the ordeal of elizabeth Marsh
A Woman in World History By Linda Colley
A remarkable, if unlikely, globetrotter.

Washington Post

HHHJ

“In her opening paragraph, Julie kavanagh exposes both the depth of a 10-year research process and the absence of a strong editorial hand as she sets the stage for an often revealing, sometimes numbing volume. … nonetheless, a varied and vivid portrait emerges in the pages that follow, often through kavanagh’s well-chosen quotes.” LIZ LErMAN

Christian science Monitor HHJ Philadelphia Inquirer HHHHJ
“Julie kavanagh’s triumph of bravura tale-telling is a masterpiece, an overflowing written life that perfectly reflects nureyev’s own: ferociously concrete, ambitious, profligate, shocking and soaring, from its “Dance becomes too academic. kavanagh can give the pedigree of a work, the emotion behind a special curtain call, or the psycho-historical meaning of a pose. But she doesn’t describe nureyev in motion or attempt

At a time when women’s lives were confined to the roles of wife and mother, Elizabeth Marsh (1735–1785) defied conventions: she traveled to Central America, Africa, India, China, and Australia. At 21 she was kidnapped by pirates and taken to Morocco, where she narrowly escaped the sultan’s harem by posing as the wife of another prisoner, James Crisp. She married Crisp, a British merchant, shortly after their release and wrote a book about the experience, The Female Captive. When Crisp took a job in Bengal, Marsh joined him. Soon tired of marriage and motherhood, she set off on an 18-month tour of the eastern

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“Despite his death in 1993 at age 54, Rudolf nureyev managed to live the sort of exuberant life most people could not cram into 100 years. … kavanagh gives us the fascinating details of the life of a modern-day genius in honest, thoroughly researched, achingly objective prose.” ANDrEA BErGGrEN

Julie Kavanagh knows the dance world, and it shows. The London-based journalist and former ballerina previously wrote a prize-winning biography of choreographer Frederick Ashton, and she fills Nureyev: The Life with piercing insights into both the life of her subject and the turbulent world of professional ballet. Critics loved her riveting storytelling, and though the Christian Science Monitor complained that Kavanagh dwells too long on the dancer’s experiences in the “brutal anonymity of 70s gay culture” and his passing from AIDS, they generally praised her refusal to sugarcoat any aspect of Nureyev’s life and personality. Overall, Kavanagh offers a compelling portrait of a complicated man in the tone of “a mother who knows her child’s faults all too well and yet looks upon him with affection” (San Francisco Chronicle).

CritiCal Summary

CRimE

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coast of India with a dashing young officer, George Smith. Adventurous and impulsive, Marsh embraced the tumultuous global changes of her day.
Pantheon. 400 pages. $27.50. ISBN: 037542153X

crisp, and about smith. … But we are kept well entertained.” CLAIrE ToMALIN

sunday Times (uK)

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Chicago Tribune

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“throughout, colley resists the temptation to romanticize her subject, instead portraying Marsh as a fascinating and dynamic individual— though not a particularly appealing or sympathetic one—who was ‘caught up … in the flux of transcontinental events and contacts.’ the result is a nuanced and sensitive portrait of a woman whose life was ‘poised on a cusp between phases in world history’ and whose experiences and observations constitute a unique window into matters familial and political, local and global.” ErIC
ArNEsEN

“Marsh is inevitably offstage or mute for long periods while colley drives enough megawatts of historical context through the scant facts to galvanise her subject into sporadic motion. … colley manages these shifts of perspective from closefocus contemporary detail to great historic panorama with agility and they make for exhilarating reading.” rosEMArY
HILL

forces shaping it vividly to life. Instead of portraying a life played out against world history, Colley turns the genre on its head and presents world history as it played out in a single life.

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Cited by the CritiCS

vis’s highly readable account of impersonation and fraud in Renaissance France provides a fascinating look into the private lives of 16th-century peasants. A piCkpoCkEt’s tALE The
giLFoyLE (2006): The unusual life of petty thief and con man George Appo lifts the veil on the teeming urban landscape and criminal underworld of post–Civil War New York City.
Underworld of NineteenthCentury New York | tiMothy J.

thE REtuRN oF mARtiN GuERRE | nAtALiE zEMon DAviS (1983): Da-

Independent (uK)

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NY Times Book review

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“In The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh, Linda colley has written a biography that tests all common notions about the genre. … [It] is a dazzling performance of historical scholarship that reveals just enough of what colley describes in her acknowledgments as ‘the ordeal of tracking elizabeth Marsh’ to allow readers the sense that they too are on the trail of this compulsively itinerant woman.” MEGAN MArsHALL

“Dramatic though elizabeth Marsh’s story is, it never quite delivers the emotional impact one would expect. … the most fascinating parts are colley’s brilliant, eclectic asides: intellectual seasoning on the motivations of migration, or the role of the navy in the expansion of empire, or the class constraints on women’s travel writing.”
ANDrEA sTuArT

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the tenth Muse
My Life in Food By Judith Jones
And with Julia, Marcella, and Madhur.

Washington Times

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sunday Telegraph (uK)

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“[Marsh] lived in a remarkable period in British history, when that nation developed a rapidly expanding overseas trade together with the largest navy and merchant marine in the world. … The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh is an uncommon tale about a woman, uncommon for her time, who took charge of her life—and succeeded.”
MArTIN ruBIN

“Part of the fascination of this book lies in seeing how it is possible to piece together the extraordinary life of such a very ordinary person. … Instead of thinking of this as a personal biography, think of it instead as something like an archaeologist’s exploratory trench—a line of enquiry which slices across, and cuts deep into, huge areas of 18thcentury life.” NoEL MALCoLM

Guardian (uK)

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“none of [Marsh’s] letters survives, and colley quotes so sparingly from her written work—The Female Captive and her Indian travel diary—that it is hard to get any sense of what she felt about her parents or her children and the colossal decisions that had to be made about them; or indeed what she felt about
60 march/april 2008

Linda Colley, a history professor at Princeton, first encountered Elizabeth Marsh while researching her previous book, Captives: Britain, Empire, and the World, 1600–1850. Using the scant sources available, Colley fleshes out this long-forgotten woman’s extraordinary life, which was frequently shaped by world events: war, commerce, imperialism, and global shifts of power. Unfortunately, the lack of personal papers means that readers never really get to know Marsh. However, Colley’s intention here is “recasting and re-evaluating biography” to deepen our understanding of the “global past,” and she brings Marsh’s world and the

CritiCal Summary

Growing up in 1930s Manhattan, Judith Jones suffered the worst cooking America had to offer: bland, overcooked dishes of British origin. After World War II, a trip to Paris turned into an extended stay when her return tickets were stolen. Forced to remain in the City of Light, Jones haunted the markets and prepared French dishes in her small kitchen. Thus began her love affair with French cooking, a gastronomic romance that helped shape the course of American cuisine. Back in New York, Jones, then an editor at Knopf, championed Julia Child’s influential work Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This success led to others, as Jones helped introduce Americans to Marcella Hazan, Madhur Jaffrey, and the many other luminaries who populate

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this memoir. The book also contains recipes, each with its own charming story.
Knopf. 290 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0307264955

NY Times Book review

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“[Jones] chooses to stick to her subject, recounting her life in food, saving perhaps the messy bits (and the juicy bits) that have inevitably been a part of that life for the next volume. We’re still hungry for more.” DoroTHY KALINs

rocky Mountain News

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Jones, American consumers might have a hard time purchasing such basics as fresh garlic. Therein lies the challenge in interpreting the critics’ reviews: the critics were all so busy admiring Jones’s life that they didn’t have as much to say about the book itself. Though Jones is a major power in the publishing word, this memoir is not as wide-ranging as, say, Michael Korda’s Another Life. She tells delightful stories, but she sticks to the food, and her readers this time around should be mainly those who are inclined to do the same.

Creek leader Alexander McGillivray. But the true stars of Ellis’s book are the American ideas that, like the Founding Fathers, continue to be debated today.
Knopf. 283 pages. $26.95. ISBN: 030726369X

Chicago Tribune

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“In passages blithely written about being young and monied, it’s apparent that Jones moved among a strata most Americans will never know. While this doesn’t mitigate her story, it does place a certain psychological chasm between the writer and reader.” CATHIE BECK

“American Creation is one of the most enjoyable and thought-provoking books I’ve read in years. … this gift [for suspense] is all the more remarkable because the suspense is built almost entirely from the intrigue of ideas rather than the visceral emotions of flesh and blood adventures.” DEBBY APPLEGATE

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Milwaukee Jrnl sentinel
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Chicago Tribune

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American creation
Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic By Joseph J. Ellis
Ideas, not just men.

“In Jones’ lovely memoir … the woman who introduced Americans to Julia child reveals how the cookbooks she has published over the last 50 years came to have such a profound effect on American tastes. … Jones’ prose flows as easily as her life moves from one serendipitous event to another.” JuLIANNE TANTuM

“If there is anyone who emerges as consistently heroic in ellis’ judgment, it is Washington, whose rectitude and realism did much to hold the country together. … [ellis] proves himself once again to be a superb guide to the people and events that shaped the young United states.” PHILIP sEIB

Entertainment Weekly

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“If anyone should be able to craft a riveting life story around casseroles, it’s Jones. … [I]ntriguing, though guarded and curiously choppy.” JENNIFEr rEEsE

san Francisco Chronicle

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“surprisingly for so venerable and celebrated an editor, her own diction in this memoir is not always beyond reproach. … At times The Tenth Muse has too much name-dropping.” MArTIN ruBIN

Judith Jones, now a senior editor and vice president at Knopf, has long been a major force in the cookbook world. Her foodie fans might not know that she also played a role in bringing Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl to America or that she has edited literary stars like John Updike and Anne Tyler. Two reviewers faulted Jones’s style, but none denied her interesting and influential career. Indeed, if it weren’t for

Christian science Monitor HHHJ
“How did the same leaders manage to be so great in some instances and so dreadfully wrong in others? ellis tries to answer the question in his modest but useful book.” rANDY DoTINGA

Bookmarks magazine 61

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Joseph Ellis is best known for his portrayals of the Founding Fathers: Thomas Jefferson in the National Book Award–winning American Sphinx, George Washington in His Excellency: George Washington, and Jefferson, Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Aaron Burr in his Pulitzer Prize–winning group portrait, Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation. Now Ellis attempts something like a moving picture, examining the characters of the Revolutionary era through six pivotal events. The names are familiar— Valley Forge, Constitutional Convention, Louisiana Purchase—but Ellis’s analysis is anything but, as he uses each episode to reveal the complexities of a different Founding Father. He also introduces readers to important but overlooked personalities such as Robert Livingston, whose negotiations with Napoleon’s government led to the Louisiana Purchase, and the crafty

NY Times Book review

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“It is difficult to imagine an educated American who does not know that the Revolution was selective and that the Revolutionaries, many of them slaveholders who were complicit in the bloodthirsty treatment of Indians, were flawed and imperfect. But ellis rescues his enterprise by going beyond the familiar critique of the founding to explore a point that remains underappreciated: that America was constructed to foster arguments, not to settle them.” JoE MEACHAM

rocky Mountain News

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“the events that occurred during this period were a collection of ironies, contradictions, improvisations and compromises that defined the political and physical face of America. some of the issues debated at our creation are still being debated today.” DAN DANBorN

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Agent Zigzag
the original 007?

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seattle Times

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A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal By Ben Macintyre Eddie Chapman, a suave Errol Flynn lookalike who financed his flashy Depression-era lifestyle with petty crime, was serving time for burglary in Jersey when the Nazis invaded the Channel Islands. Faced with imprisonment in a concentration camp, he convinced his German captors of his abhorrence of all things British and was recruited as a spy. After rigorous training in France, Chapman parachuted into the English countryside on his first mission and promptly offered himself up to MI5 as a double agent. Code-named Zigzag, he traveled throughout occupied Europe, gathering intelligence for the Allies while feeding the Nazis a steady diet of misinformation. His outrageous adventures and narrow escapes made him an unlikely wartime hero whose charm and audacity saved countless lives.
Harmony. 384 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 0307353400

“I’ve never read a better true spy tale than Agent Zigzag. … Just when things are at their grimmest, something so unintentionally hilarious, ironic or poignant occurs, you have to set the book down for a while just to savor the moment.” MArY
ANN GWINN

Washington Post

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“chapman’s story has been told in fragments in the past, but only when MI5 declassified his files was it possible to present it in all its richness and complexity. Macintyre tells it to perfection, with endless insights into the horror and absurdity of war.”
PATrICK ANDErsoN

NY Times Book review

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“A review cannot possibly convey the sheer fun of this story, with its cast of eccentrics, its close calls and its improbable twists. or the fascinating moral complexities.” JosEPH KANoN

Times (uK)

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“With the help of chapman’s newly declassified nine-volume MI5 file, Macintyre succeeds in bringing him vividly to life. It is unlikely that a more engaging study of espionage and deception will be published this year.” CHrIsToPHEr ANDrEW

Evening standard (uK)

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CritiCal Summary
Past writers have attempted to recount this fascinating bit of history, but lack of information and official censorship have kept the full story from being told. Thanks to Britain’s Freedom of Information Act, Eddie Chapman’s voluminous MI5 files are now available to the public, and Ben Macintyre has made full use of them in this riveting tale. Critics unanimously praised Macintyre’s talents: his fluid writing style, his ability to build suspense, and his biting humor. Vivid descriptions, deft characterizations, and exhilarating action scenes (as well as secret codes, invisible ink, explosives disguised as household objects, parachute drops, cyanide capsules, and beautiful women) put agent Zigzag on a par with any great spy novel or thriller.

“Agent Zigzag … is buzzing with life, rich in characterization and throbbing with incident. … It’s Macintyre’s forensic eye for the telling minutia and his puckish style that rehydrate the old second World War files and bring them back to life again.” PAuL
CoNNoLLY

New York Times

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“[chapman’s] incredible wartime adventures, recounted in Ben Macintyre’s rollicking, spellbinding Agent Zigzag, blend the spyversus-spy machinations of John le carré with the high farce of evelyn Waugh.” WILLIAM GrIMEs

Washington Post

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“[c]an it be that ellis is just a trifle guilty of the ‘presentism’—seeing the past through the prism of the present—that he elsewhere deplores? It is possible to agree that slavery and the decimation of the native population are the great stains upon the moral standing of this country, yet also to understand that people of intelligence and good will saw things differently then.” JoNATHAN YArDLEY

Reviewers embraced American Creation for the same reason they enjoyed Ellis’s previous books: his treatment of the Founding Fathers is neither idolatrous nor iconoclastic. He portrays them as
62 march/april 2008

CritiCal Summary

the fascinating, complex, and human characters they really were. Some historians disagreed with details of Ellis’s interpretation, but they tended to emphasize that, like the founders themselves, Ellis has created a useful framework in which the ideas of the Revolutionary period can be discussed. Ellis’s prose, on the other hand, did not inspire any comparisons with Thomas Jefferson’s; in fact, several reviewers suggested another round of editing. But all critics agreed that the author’s masterful handling of the material checked and balanced the occasional tyrannical sentence.

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American transcendentalism
A History By Philip F. Gura
transcendental meditations.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Henry David Thoreau, as well as lesser-known figures (such as Orestes Brownson, George Ripley, Bronson Alcott, and Theodore Parker), all star in American

new books guide
Transcendentalism. Transcendentalism, a transformative movement that introduced the public intellectual to American culture, was characterized by a call for self-reliance and individualism—values influenced by European Romanticism, religious debate, and German philosophy. Besides providing biographies of many of the key players and analyzing their works, reforms, and beliefs, the author defines the complex, elusive “manyheaded Hydra”—much more than a literary phenomenon—that flourished between 1830 and 1850 and spread from New England into varied spheres. It was a time, Gura writes, as fraught with civil upheaval and radical ideas as the 1960s.
Hill and Wang. 365 pages. $27.50. ISBN: 0809034778 LitERARy sCiENCE histoRy Bio GEN NF sF CRimE

what Gura is writing is, in many ways, the story of a failure.” MArJorIE KEHE

Los Angeles Times

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“In American Transcendentalism: A History, Gura untangles this complex web of ideas and characters and weaves them into a clear, coherent and compelling tale of America’s first, and maybe greatest, major intellectual movement.” DEBBY APPLEGATE

seattle Times

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“Many of us are familiar with the names of Henry David thoreau and Ralph Waldo emerson. But in American Transcendentalism, a new history of generous scope and considerable depth, Philip F. Gura illuminates a much broader panoply of intriguing characters who contributed to this movement.”
BArBArA LLoYD MCMICHAEL

important period in American history. Even though Gura limits his study to around 300 pages (plus notes), a strategy that results in a “lean, impassioned prose chockablock with anecdote and information” (Washington Post), a couple of critics still wonder if the lay reader’s interest will hold. What is the best reason for us to read this synthesis? “The deepest scholarship, like the greatest art, not only enriches our lives,” The Washington Post’s Michael Dirda reminds us, “but also implicitly asks us to examine them, even to crossexamine them.”

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the telephone Gambit
Chasing Alexander Graham Bell’s Secret By seth shulman
elisha Gray? Doesn’t ring a Bell.

san Francisco Chronicle

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“Despite its compact form in a text of just over 300 pages, Gura’s expert account is comprehensive. … [the] general reader whom many of us are may long for the simpler, more focused treatment of the subject that this thoroughgoing study never set out to provide.” PHILIP MCFArLAND

“this book on American transcendentalism, a culmination and extension of his past work, brilliantly synthesizes religious, intellectual and cultural history, providing a rich and essential account of the movement. … thanks to Gura’s excellent work, the movement is shown as a time when spiritual ideals motivated people to action to refine and redirect the imperfect American experiment.”
KATHErINE MArINo

Chicago Tribune

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Washington Post

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“there’s nothing perfunctory or dryly academic about American Transcendentalism. … Above all, his exciting, even eye-opening book shows us that from 1830 to 1850 a group of new england preachers and intellectuals confronted what has proved to be the great polarizing tension in American history, that between hyperindividualism and the claims of social justice and human brotherhood.”
MICHAEL DIrDA

“since American Transcendentalism is a biography of ideas as much as a portrait of those who held them, it is peppered with point-counterpoint exchanges (Is belief in miracles a requisite of faith? for example), whether from Gura’s research of periodicals of the time or the lectures and letters of the principals. As popular writing, what can seem to be minutia slows down his narrative significantly at points.” ArT WINsLoW

Christian science Monitor HHHH
“the stories of these thinkers are intriguing, and Gura does a good job of conveying a sense of the intellectual electricity of the times. But there is also a current of sadness running through much of the book because, in the end,

Philip F. Gura’s bona fides are impeccable. He is professor of American literature and culture at the University of North Carolina and has written books on transcendentalism, early American history, and the American theologian Jonathan Edwards. Far from being one of those ubiquitous, cleverly packaged academic tomes in sheep’s clothing, Gura’s book breathes life into an

CritiCal Summary

March 10, 1876. An acid spill in a Boston laboratory. A quick shout for help. An unlikely response from the assistant, Watson. Alexander Graham Bell has invented the telephone. Settled history, right? Not so fast. In The Telephone Gambit, a historical whodunit combining intrigue, subterfuge, and love, Seth Shulman claims that the telephone’s invention might properly be credited to Elisha Gray, an unassuming, talented Ohio inventor who filed his patent for the device on the same day as Bell. Gray held a missing piece to the puzzle—a piece that his otherwise scrupulous and well-liked rival seems to have obtained through deception in what Shulman deems “a stunning fissure in the polished façade of Bell’s legacy.”
Norton. 256 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0393062066

Christian science Monitor HHHHJ
“The Telephone Gambit succeeds splendidly as an edge-of-your-seat historical tale. Yet it also manages to go somewhere deeper, leaving readers with intriguing questions about the ways in
Bookmarks magazine 63

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providing a new perspective on one of the oldest of American stories.” CLAY rEYNoLDs

A Land so strange
The Epic Journey of Cabeza de Vaca By Andrés reséndez
not the destination, but the journey.

Houston Chronicle

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“[the author’s] analysis is overcautious: What might have happened fills more pages than what did happen. … Reséndez’s graceful tale of four men who came to accept a new land on its own terms is itself a marvel to behold.” BArBArA LIss

When a spanish expedition embarked for the coast of Florida in 1527, the 600 men who undertook the journey had adventure on their minds. After trials on land and sea—desertion, gross incompetence, skirmishes with hostile Indians, cannibalism, disease, starvation, drowning, and long-distance treks over inhospitable terrain—only four men remained. In a Land So Strange, historian Andrés reséndez relates the account—unbelievable in many of the details, if it weren’t for corroborating evidence—of explorer Cabeza de Vaca and his three companions. By the time they had crossed North America and sighted the Pacific ocean on the western coast of Mexico, the group’s number had swelled to thousands, including native peoples who treated the men as gods “in a land so strange,” de Vaca wrote, “that it seemed impossible to be in it or to escape from it.”
Basic. 314 pages. $26.95. ISBN: 0465068405

Miami Herald

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“A confident storyteller, Résendez summarizes when he should and lingers in just the right places. … But what’s ultimately most striking about A Land So Strange is not the author’s style nor the impressive scope of his research, but—as perhaps it should be—the compelling story itself.” CHArLEs GErsHMAN

Providence Journal

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“this is a voraciously readable and incredible tale of the journey of Alvar nunez cabeza de Vaca, two of his comrades, and one African slave from seville to cuba, from a disastrous expedition into the coastal horrors of Florida across the southwest and south into Mexico, from 1528 to 1536. … [A Land So Strange] is must and wonderful reading for anyone interested in our mutual histories at a time when europeans came upon a new world and found themselves irrevocably transformed.” sAM CoALE

Washington Post

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CritiCal Summary
In a Land So Strange, university of California, Davis, history professor Andrés reséndez relates this improbable tale with dynamic grace (Carolyn see of the Washington Post compares the book to The Treasure of the Sierra madre and moby-Dick). The author combines sound research—including more than 70 pages of footnotes and resources for additional study—with a pulp writer’s eye for the compelling detail. The author’s tale makes sense of La relación, Cabeza de Vaca’s own account of his ordeal written after his return to spain. The Dallas morning news also points out the author’s deft interpretation of the text, which is “written in a literary style peculiar to 16th-century spain and sensitive to the vagaries of the Inquisition.” A must-read for anyone interested in the early history of European exploration in North America—or in real-life adventure, compellingly told.

“When you read a wonderful book, you can’t stop talking about it, and so this past week I’ve been going on and on to friends about a terrific story. … [A Land So Strange] reads like the most gruesome pulp magazine story, so full of mishap and mad misadventure that, as I went on and on about it to friends, invariably they’d say, ‘Wait! Is this fiction or nonfiction?’” CAroLYN
sEE

Dallas Morning News

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“[Reséndez] provides a clear background of the politics of the spanish conquest, then spins a yarn of unimaginable hardship and a testament to endurance that elicits head-shaking disbelief on almost every page. … [this] new interpretation is wellinformed, well-written, well-researched and well-suited to

which truth may remain undiscovered, even when lying open in plain sight.”
MArJorIE KEHE

Boston Globe

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impeccably researched book.” PHILLIP
MANNING

Wall street Journal

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“As Mr. shulman shows in this pageturner of a book, what we think we know about the past is not always true. … The Telephone Gambit is solid history, and seth shulman makes it as much fun to read as an Agatha christie whodunit by using the techniques of historiography the way Hercule Poirot used his ‘little gray cells.’” JoHN sTEELE GorDoN
64 march/april 2008

“the historian’s role is to ask tough questions and doggedly follow the evidence. seth shulman provides a stellar example of historical investigation at its probing best.” CHuCK
LEDDY

Los Angeles Times

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Cleveland Plain Dealer

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“this story has been told so many times that it seems heretical to question it. But science journalist seth shulman does exactly that in his smoothly written,

“The Telephone Gambit contains no suspense or surprise, no shadings of ambiguity. … And while shulman deftly explains the intricacies of electrical currents in user-friendly prose, he’s a clumsy storyteller.” MArK CoLEMAN

In Unlocking the Sky (2003), Seth Shulman showed his knack for his-

CritiCal Summary

new books guide
torical detection by making credible claims that aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss deserves the same accolades for his work as the Wright brothers for theirs. In The Telephone Gambit, Shulman, who researched the book while a resident scholar in MIT’s Dibner Institute, sets his sights on Alexander Graham Bell. He comes away with a stunning and plausible conclusion as he discredits Bell’s claim to the world’s most valuable patent. Drawing on research from Bell’s own notebooks and other sources, Shulman combines deft sleuthing and a nose for a good story with what every critic except the reviewer for the Los Angeles Times deems lively, compact prose. The Telephone Gambit is a necessary addendum to textbook history.
“What Hath God Wrought examines is the dark side of American history—and the impending crisis over slavery. But Howe is too Whiggish not to see its ‘more hopeful aspects.’” GLENN C. ALTsCHuLEr
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(whose biblically themed first telegram inspired the title).
Oxford University Press. 928 pages. $35. ISBN: 0195078942

Baltimore sun

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Atlantic

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“Howe covers it all—the Jacksonian and market ‘revolutions,’ the rise of sectional tensions, westward expansion, the transcendentalists, revivalism—through astute pen portraits, authoritative analysis, and gripping narrative. the oxford series has been uneven, but this volume is a masterpiece.”

New York sun

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What Hath God Wrought
The Transformation of America, 1815– 1848 By Daniel Walker Howe
the revolution will be telegraphed.

“An expert in the field, Mr. Howe has skillfully framed a story, between the War of 1812 and the MexicanAmerican War, that becomes eloquent once you think about it: the rise of nationalism, the temperance movement, and booming growth all add up to an America much more familiar to us than that of James Madison. … Lauded by other historians as an important yet accessible landmark, Mr. Howe’s study promises odd new angles on America in an election year.” BENJAMIN LYTAL

In our national drama, the first half of the 19th century is often regarded as an intermission between the era of the Founding Fathers and the Civil War. Yet according to Daniel Walker Howe, the events of these years set up nearly everything that followed—not just the War between the States but conflicts that animate American life even today. Howe delivers a comprehensive account of the period and explores markets, religion, voluntary organizations, territorial growth, literature, social reform, political parties, and the concept of democracy. No economic determinist, he holds a particular place in his heart for the Whig Party (the book is dedicated to the memory of John Quincy Adams) and especially for the communications revolution brought about by the telegraph of Samuel Morse

New Yorker

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“the women’s-rights movement, which grew out of the antislavery movement, which grew out of revivalism, which was made possible by advances in transportation and communication, is the strongest evidence for the interpretive weight that Howe places on social, cultural, and religious forces as agents of change, and makes What Hath God Wrought a bold challenge. … Howe’s synthesis does what a synthesis is supposed to do: it brings all these things together.” JILL LEPorE

Both academics and lay readers praised What Hath God Wrought, but they appreciated it for different reasons. It is certainly an exhaustively researched and well-written historical survey—exactly what a volume in the Oxford History Series ought to be. American historians admired its elegant synthesis but also understood that Howe is attempting to lead his readers and colleagues away from the strictly economic explanations that have often dominated writing on this period. Historian Jill Lepore, for example, thought that the change in perspective helps Howe subtly explain many aspects of the period, such as the women’s rights movement. Only historian Glenn C. Altschuler believed that Howe has some “axioms to grind” in his reworking of so-called Jacksonian Democracy. Howe’s approach also brings nonacademic readers back into the conversation, though at over 900 pages, the book is probably best suited for history buffs.

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Proust Was a neuroscientist
By Jonah Lehrer

nonFIctIon

Washington Post

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“Howe brings an impressive array of strengths to the daunting task of encapsulating these busy, complicated three-plus decades within a single (admittedly, very long) volume. … [Howe] is a genuine rarity: an english intellectual who not merely writes about the United states but actually understands it.” JoNATHAN YArDLEY

A bridge between modern science and the arts.

“In the stuffy silence of his Parisian studio, [Marcel Proust] listened so intently to his sentimental brain that he discovered how it operated.” So argues Jonah Lehrer, who in this fascinating debut argues that
Bookmarks magazine 65

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BookMARks seLectIon

Los Angeles Times

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LitERARy CRimE sF GEN NF Bio histoRy sCiENCE

Your Inner Fish
A Journey into 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body By Neil shubin
know your roots. And your gills.

“A delightful introduction to our skeletal structure, viscera and other vital parts—and evidence that learning the secrets of the human body need not unhinge you. … When he tells the thrilling story of coming upon the fossil remains of Tiktaalik in the Arctic wilderness, where anything that might be mistaken for a polar bear … sends him scurrying, we share his sense of triumph.” JEssE CoHEN

People usually talk about the human body teleologically. “Why do we have lungs?” “so we can breathe.” “Why is the heart built like a pump?” “To move the blood around the body.” But these sorts of questions and answers don’t really explain the way we are, since we ultimately descend from a fish that was doing just fine without lungs and from some earlier, bloodless creatures that didn’t need hearts. The concept of evolution is difficult to understand, but Neil shubin, a paleontologist and anatomy professor, makes it more intelligible in this evolutionary guide to the human body and anatomical journey back in time. shubin finds that the natural way to explain the forms and functions of the human body is by looking at our evolutionary predecessors. The result is a work that helps his students and his readers better understand our place in the scheme of life.
Pantheon. 240 pages. $24. 0375424474

san Diego union-Tribune HHHH
“A remarkably enthusiastic and easy-to-read explanation of evolution described through the synthesis of paleontology, developmental genetics and genomics (the study of genes). … shubin presents his arguments creatively and concisely, tackling sometimes profound questions about origins and evolution directly, even humorously. the evidence mounts, chapter after chapter.” sCoTT LAFEE

CritiCal Summary
Neil shubin, Professor of Biology and Anatomy at the university of Chicago, made headlines in April 2006 with his discovery of a 375million-year-old fossil called Tiktaalik, the missing link between ancient sea creatures and land dwellers. The reviewers, mostly science writers, embraced shubin’s popular science book, which offers a new perspective on evolution, a subject on which most people feel like they’ve already made up their minds. While many Americans doubt Darwinism, hardly anyone discounts anatomy, so it is a logical place to reopen the debate. All critics agreed that shubin, with his clear examples and explanations, makes (yet another) convincing argument. A few critics, in fact, were so excited by it that they seemed ready to enroll in shubin’s anatomy course themselves.

Financial Times

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“If you want to understand the evolutionary history of man and other animals, and read no other account this year, read this splendid monograph. … shubin’s book is packed with the evidence to support his contention that everything innovative or apparently unique in the history of life ‘is really just old stuff that has been recycled, recombined, repurposed or otherwise modified for new uses.’” ALAN CANE

eight 19th- and 20th-century artists envisioned 21st-century breakthroughs in the field of neuroscience. Proust discerned the instability and inaccuracy of memory. Paul Cézanne reproduced on his canvases the inner workings of the visual cortex. Gertrude Stein’s prose anticipated the work of Noam Chomsky, while Virginia Woolf charted the terrain of the conscious mind. Icons such as Igor Stravinsky, George Eliot, Walt Whitman, and Auguste Escoffier instinctively knew what scientists are only now able to prove, suggesting that the gap between science and the arts may not be as wide as we think.
Houghton Mifflin. 256 pages. $24. ISBN: 0618620109

Neuroscientist is a lucid summary of the brain as seen by contemporary neuroscience; looked at again, it is an inspired interpretation of the work of eight 19th and 20th century artists and writers whose insights, Lehrer claims, anticipated our current understanding. In lesser hands, this argument would be merely tendentious, but Lehrer’s command of his material is so complete that he persuasively makes his case with scientific acuity and aesthetic sensitivity.” JEssE CoHEN

and make you feel good about your endlessly innovative brain.” BrIGITTE FrAsE

san Francisco Chronicle

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“Lehrer is a capable scientific popularizer, rendering the recent spate of discoveries about the complexity of the human brain comprehensible to laymen. While Proust devotes equal time to art and science, Lehrer will probably prove of more interest to humanities geeks interested in moving beyond A Brief History of Time.” sAuL AusTErLITZ

Minneapolis star Tribune HHHH
“At the age of 25 (!) [Lehrer] has written a dazzling yet always accessible book blending literary criticism and neuroscience. … this exhilarating book will give you much to think about

Entertainment Weekly

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Los Angeles Times

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“each of Lehrer’s chapters is devoted to one artist, and gets a tad predictable (e.g., Woolf thought the self was an illusion? Later neuroscientists backed her up!). … But Lehrer writes skillfully

“Looked at one way, Proust Was a
66 march/april 2008

new books guide
A History Hard Times and High spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression
By Mildred Armstrong Kalish

By Philip F. Gura

NY Times Book review

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“Lehrer is smart, and there are some fun moments in these pages. … At the same time, I’m not sure all his conclusions follow from his data.” D.T. MAx

And other stories
By Nadine Gordimer By sara Paretsky

BEEthovEN wAs oNE-sixtEENth BLACk 45 BLEEDiNG kANsAs BoRN stANDiNG up BREAkFAst with BuDDhA DAy 46 56 38 47 34 40 50 41 35 53

From Venice to xanadu
By Laurence Bergreen

mARCo poLo NuREyEv

57 59 59 30 38 52 51 65 33 54 39 55
GEN NF sCiENCE
Bookmarks magazine 67

The Life

“Why reduce so much marvelous complexity—how the brain works, Proust’s prose, the nature of smell, the creative process, the scientific method— to a cause-and-effect hypothesis? … Both science and art lose out in this book.” ANNE TruBEK

A Woman in World History
By Linda Colley

By roland Merullo By A. L. Kennedy By roddy Doyle

By Geraldine Brooks

pEopLE oF thE Book A piGEoN AND A Boy postsiNGuLAR powERs

thE DEpoRtEEs AND othER stoRiEs! DiARy oF A BAD yEAR DumA kEy

By Meir shalev, translated from the Hebrew by Evan Fallenberg By rudy rucker

Jonah Lehrer, a Rhodes scholar working in the lab of a Nobel Prize– winning neuroscientist, was participating in experiments on the nature of memory while reading Proust’s Swann’s Way. He was amazed to find that the author had predicted his scientific findings nearly a century earlier. This epiphany inspired Lehrer to reexamine other great works of art. This highly readable book generally engaged and enlightened critics; Lehrer writes competently despite his “graduate-student earnestness” (Cleveland Plain Dealer). A few critics felt that some conclusions were strained and some generalizations did a disservice to the very fields they were meant to illuminate; however, most considered Lehrer’s arguments compelling and persuasive. If not all critics bought Lehrer’s claims, his book nonetheless “marks the arrival of an important new thinker” (Los Angeles Times).

CritiCal Summary

By J. M. Coetzee

By stephen King By Peter Ackroyd

By ursula K. Le Guin By Jonah Lehrer By sue Miller

thE FALL oF tRoy FiELDwoRk

pRoust wAs A NEuRosCiENtist thE sENAtoR’s wiFE thE shoCk DoCtRiNE siGNED, mAtA hARi soLDiER’s hEARt

By Mischa Berlinski

one Grump’s search for the Happiest Places in the World
By Eric Weiner

thE GEoGRAphy oF BLiss

The rise of Disaster Capitalism
By Naomi Klein

By robert Harris By Marie Phillips

thE Ghost

36 42 43 50 37 47 52 64 36 41 44 56

By Yannick Murphy

GoDs BEhAviNG BADLy A GoLDEN AGE

reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point
By Elizabeth D. samet By sue Grafton

By Tahmima Anam By Charles stross By Molly Gloss

hALtiNG stAtE thE hEARts oF hoRsEs homEComiNG

t is FoR tREspAss thE tELEphoNE GAmBit thE tENth musE thEm

48 63 60 45 49 65 66
histoRy Bio

Chasing Alexander Graham Bell’s secret
By seth shulman

By Bernhard schlink, translated from the German by Michael Henry Heim

My Life in Food
By Judith Jones

An Eater’s Manifesto
By Michael Pollan

iN DEFENsE oF FooD A LAND so stRANGE

By Nathan McCall By Ian rankin

wAtChmAN whAt hAth GoD wRouGht youR iNNER Fish

The Epic Journey of Cabeza de Vaca
By Andrés reséndez

InDex
A True story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal
By Ben Macintyre

A Novel in stories

thE LAst ChiCkEN iN AmERiCA LAst NiGht At thE LoBstER LiFE CLAss

The Transformation of America, 1815–1848
By Daniel Walker Howe

AGENt ZiGZAG

62

By Ellen Litman

By stewart o’Nan By Pat Barker

A Journey into 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body
By Neil shubin

Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the republic
By Joseph J. Ellis

AmERiCAN CREAtioN

61

By steve Erickson n

ZERoviLLE

43

The Triumphant Years, 1917–1932
By John richardson

A LiFE oF piCAsso

sF

CRimE

Cleveland Plain Dealer

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A Comic’s Life
By steve Martin

By Julie Kavanagh

thE oRDEAL oF ELiZABEth mARsh

LitERARy

and coherently about both art and science—no small feat.” GrEGorY KIrsCHLING

AmERiCAN tRANsCENDENtALism

62

LittLE hEAthENs

58

year in books
thE AwArDS
Nobel prize for Literature
Russell was honored “in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought.” One of the great thinkers of the 20th century, Russell explored social democracy, philosophy, mathematics, rationalism, politics, morality, and pacifism. Start with The Philosophy of Bertrand Russell (1951).

A look back at books that captured our attention

1950
I, RoBot | iSAAc ASiMov tHe MARtIAn cHRonIcLes | rAy brADbury tHe cHILD WHo neVeR GReW | PEArL S.

BERtRAND RussELL (Uk, 1872—1970)

frontiersmen—all of them mountain men, trappers, traders, and guides— in The Big Sky (1947). This sequel follows Dick Summers’s return to the frontier West as he leads a group of settlers from Missouri to Oregon— and tries to survive.

othEr notAbLES

bucK
coLLecteD stoRIes | wiLLiAM FAuLKnEr PARADe’s enD | ForD MADox ForD kon-tIkI | thor hEyErDAhL stRAnGeRs on A tRAIn | PAtriciA highSMith DIAnetIcs: tHe MoDeRn scIence oF MentAL HeALtH | L. ron hubbArD sIMPLe sPeAks HIs MInD (stoRIes) |

pulitzer prize (HIstoRY)
By oliver Waterman Larkin

ARt AND LiFE iN AmERiCA

National Book Award (nonFIc)
LiFE oF RALph wALDo EmERsoN
By ralph rusk

Rusk’s work is still considered one of the best biographies of Emerson, the 19th-century poet, essayist, and transcendentalist known for his short book, Nature (1836). Rusk also coedited (with Eleanor M. Tilton) The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson (10 volumes) (1939–95).

Larkin, an American art historian, chronicles the development of American art in the context of the nation’s social milieu. The six books in the series, which was the first work on visual arts to win the Pulitzer, explore different periods, starting with the 17th century.

LAngSton hughES
tHe toWn AnD tHe cItY | JAcK KErouAc tHe GRAss Is sInGInG | DoriS LESSing tHe ARABs In HIstoRY | bErnArD LEwiS tHe LIon, tHe WItcH AnD tHe WARDRoBe | c. S. LEwiS tHe LIBeRAL IMAGInAtIon | LionEL triLLing

Newbery medal

thE DooR iN thE wALL
FIctIon for the entire year of 1950 tHe PARASITES | DAPHNE DU MAURIER THE WALL | JOHN HERSEY tHE CARDINAL | HENRY MORTON ROBINSON ACROSS THE RIVER AND INTO THE TREES | ERNEST HEMINGWAY tHe DISENCHANTED | BUDD SCHULBERG non-FIctIon for the entire year of 1950 tHIs I ReMeMBeR | ELEAnor rooSEvELt tHe MAtURe MInD | hArry ovErStrEEt WoRLDs In coLLIsIon | iMMAnuEL vELiK-

By Marguerite De Angeli

National Book Award (FIctIon)
thE mAN with thE GoLDEN ARm
By Nelson Algren

In this tale of urban doom, Frankie Machine, a card shark and heroin addict, operates in a post–World War II ghetto in Chicago. After a stint in jail, he struggles to maintain his spiritual sanity as his life takes a turn for the worse.

Robin, the son of a nobleman in medieval times, is destined for knighthood. When he falls ill, he comes under the care of a monk, who teaches him patience and strength. All too soon, Robin must use these newfound qualities to save the kingdom.

ny tiMES bEStSELLErS

Caldecott medal
By Leo Politi

thE soNG oF thE swALLows

pulitzer prize (FIctIon)
thE wAy wEst
By A. B. Guthrie, Jr.

When the swallows leave San Juan Capistrano for their wintering grounds, Juan dreams that next spring they will nest in his own yard at the old California mission. And next spring, on St. Joseph’s Day, they do.

ovSKy
RooseVeLt In RetRosPect | John gunthEr coURtRooM | QuEntin rEynoLDS

Guthrie, an author of the American West, introduced three 19th-century

year in Review
68 march/april 2008

Diplomatic relations are established between nine nations (not including the United states) and the People’s Republic of china … Alger Hiss is convicted of perjury … Jerusalem becomes the capital of Israel … India forms a republic … President Harry s. truman mandates the development of the hydrogen bomb … korean War begins … catholic church deems the evolution “hypothesis” not incompatible with church teachings … Peanuts debuts in American newspapers … chinese invade tibet … A gallon of gas averages 18 cents … Jackson Pollock paints his Lavender Mist, Number 27, and Autumn Rhythm: Number 30 … World population reaches 2.52 billion.

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