These spare, sometimes lyric essays explore the legacy of race in America, artfully revealing in intimate detail how families, schools, and neighborhoods participate in preserving racial privilege. Faced with a disturbing past and an unsettling present, Biss still remains hopeful about the possibilities of American diversity, "not the sun-shininess of it, or the quota-making politics of it, but the real complexity of it."
Ecodeviance will harness you, as it harnesses hatred, for poetry. Or, for itself, which with adequate crystallization means: 'for us all.' The book's somatics (prose exercises designed to force embodiment) & the resultant poems, (spiral-staircases for bodies to trespass), yell/sing into your mouth. Because, human, the somatics believe in you, & in us, the wrong us, the wronged us.
Theft by Finding is a curated collection of Sedaris diary entries written between 1977 and 2002. I've read all his books, and this material still felt fresh for me. I love Sedaris' curiosity about people as well as his outright cattiness and surprisingly chosen moments of compassion. The diary format makes this particulary fun to read in short bits and the David Sedaris dark humor is all over it.
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Evans' fresh and forceful biography hacks through half a century of misconception and smokescreen obscuring essential truths about Iowa's most famous artist, Grant Wood. Thoroughly researched, generously illustrated and vastly readable Evans' book helps us decode not only Wood the individual's art and life (particularly the effecs of his closest homosexuality) but also the fascinating rise and fall of the American Regionalist Movement that Wood came to symbolize. Evans exposes the conflicting agendas that the art world, the media and the general public wanted this supposedly all-American home-grown art--and artist--to serve.
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For variety and range in the topics, this story collection is a good choice. Lively, known for prize-winning novels, seems to have bundled together odds and ends of ideas from her stores. The historic volcanic eruption is told from the viewpoint of an ornamental bird in a Pompeii garden. A biographer interviews old friends of a deceased academic celebrity, producing a life portrait between the lines. Lively sketches a history of marriage between classes with the lightest touch, which seems to perform the very problem she describes. The book’s variety worked well for itinerant reading: a story can be read during a twenty minute wait, then contemplated during the flight or dental procedure… Lively’s masterful story crafting provides thoughtful company.
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While reading, I kept wanting to compare this book to some of my other favorites. To Howl's Moving Castle, except with a much more awesome Sophie and a deeper, more interesting relationship with Howl. To Sabriel, because of the magic-wielding girl protagonist and the uniqueness and clarity of the magic system. To The Hero and the Crown for its girl power and for its standing as a classic. Because I think this one will become a classic like that, a book that you read and then want to put into the hands of everyone you know who loves a wonderful, beautifully written fantasy featuring a wild, independent girl protagonist and a fascinatingly cranky "dragon". YA readers will love this, too, though be aware that there is some content that may make it better for 16+
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In “My Darling Detective” Norman successfully blends several genres into an entertaining, warm-hearted whole. It is at once a family drama, cold case detective story and WWII historical fiction deftly bound together with just enough humor. The characters are charming and vivid and the setting (Halifax, 1977) is atmospheric.
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In this stunning debut, award-winning stage and screen actress Mary-Louise Parker reveals her talent as a writer of incredible skill and sensitivity. One part memoir, one part poetry and one part storytelling, Dear Mr. You is a series of letters written to the men (both real and imagined, both known and unknown) who have influenced and impacted her life. Readers will find themselves struck by Ms. Parker's unforgettable imagery and way with words. A very good read.
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Reviving the message of M.F.K. Fisher's How to Cook a Wolf, Tamar Adler writes about summoning mouth-watering meals from the humblest of ingredients. Part cookbook, part cooking philosophy, Adler simplifies the cooking process while at the same time elevating something as basic as an egg, stale bread, or even the rinds of cheese. One of the best food-related books I've ever read.
This is a novel set in Queens about an Irish American family of three generations. Eileen is the main force of incredible strength. She marries Ed Leary and he is basically a scientific genius with a personality that only a few people could deal with. Eileen and Ed have a dysfunctional but a very devoted bond to one another.
Things change. Ed becomes more eccentric. To read this, you don’t know what could possibly happen next. One of the finest books to read about passion and perseverance.
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The hype is real. Drop everything and start reading this series, and then wonder what you’re going to do until September, when the final book comes out. My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay form a long coming-of-age tale centered around Elena and Lila, two best friends growing up poor, female, and intelligent in post-war Naples. This painful and wonderful female friendship forms a thread that carries us through the entire series. Ferrante’s writing is rare: precise, painfully honest, visceral, propulsive. She creates a world that is perfectly rendered, down to the smallest detail. The characters are real enough to hurt us terribly. And, rare for a multi-novel Bildungsroman, there is a real plot that keeps us turning the page. This is a perfect series for the long hot slightly suffocating days of summer.
Warm up February with this semiauthobiographical novel about a string of arsons in a small town in Norway in the 1970s. A unique, absorbing book based n true events, Before I Burn delivers the shadowy intrigues and psychological suspense of a Scandinavian crime novel on the one hand, and highly personal ruminations on family, place, and the author’s life as a writer on the other. The result is a “whydunit” that’s both an artful investigation into the psyche of an arsonist and a profound, poetic memoir.
Well over half of Left Coast Roast is a coffee enthusiast’s travel-guide to West Coast coffee. Author Hanna Neuschwander includes 55 nerdy roaster dossiers that chart the coast’s current and historic coffee cultures. The book is also a coffee primer. It explains coffee jargon, the seemingly mysterious seed-to-bean processes, and how one can roast and brew coffee at home. For anyone interested in coffee or wanting to be, Left Coast Roast is a bookshelf essential.
Like a twisted x-rated adventure with your kids’ toys… H. Mouse is running for office but will not call the cops when his daughters are kidnapped on election day. What’s he got to hide? Barbie and Ken drag themselves from poolside (oh, what they do there!) leaving Skipper to wonder if her body will ever change. They suit up in camo and head for the woods to rescue the girls from the strange robot-like fundamentalist family unit hiding out in a van, waiting for the next phase of Ordination fulfillment. Crazy, a hoot, read in one sitting!
Richard Russo blew me away with this memoir about his relationship with his mother, a self-proclaimed independent woman from a run-down upstate New York town. Russo writes with a poignant simplicity, making us care about his relationship with a more than difficult woman. We follow them from Gloversville, NY, to Arizona, to Illinois, to Maine, all the while watching Russo struggle with doubts about how he cares for her. It is so easy to be inside of the author's head, to see through his eyes, and yet see much more than he does. We want to help him, help her, shake their shoulders. A very thoughtful, funny, heartbreaking book, for anyone who's ever had a relationship with anyone. So, everyone.
In Beckett's trilogy, he almost writes without characters, scenes or plots, relying instead on each sentence to propel these novels forward into the oblivion of the writer's imagination. Perfect for a serious yet sensitive laugh, as readers might expect from a writer who was stabbed in the heart by a pimp in his younger years.
A true-life tale of man and horse literally leaping over inconceivable hurdles to fulfill their dreams. This is the story of immigrant Harry de Leyer and his rescued plow horse Snowman and their quest to win the jumping championship in the prestigious National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden. This is one of the most heart-felt stories of the bond between a man and his horse that I have ever read and I've read them all. Great reading for anyone in search of that rush you get watching anyone succeed against impossible odds.