BookCourt BLOG

these just in … 22 August, 2008

Monday, August 25th, 2008

On the Road: The Original Scroll

by Jack Kerouac

Paperback $16.00

Panguin / Fiction

From Publishers Weekly:
In introducing the fabled first draft of Kerouac’s autobiographical novel-written on a single giant roll of paper, without breaks in the text, in an amphetamine-fueled marathon-editor Howard Cunnell refers to Allen Ginsberg’s claim that “the published novel is not at all like the wild book Kerouac typed in ’51.” Characters are identified by their real names (rather than the 1957 version’s apt pseudonyms) and their love affairs are more explicit, giving the book a juicy memoir-like feel, especially where Cassady and Ginsberg are concerned. The plot, however, is identical. Neal Cassady joins Kerouac and Ginsberg’s bohemian circle in New York in the late 1940′s, and inspires and cons them into traveling around the country, “searching for a lost inheritance, for fathers, for family, for home, even for America.” The death of Kerouac’s father plays a larger role in the story than in the 1957 version; and Justin W. Brierly, a teacher who served as mentor to Cassady and has a cameo in the published book, makes a series of recurring appearances in the scroll. The lack of paragraphs or chapters emphasizes the breathless intensity of Kerouac’s prose. The anniversary publicity will introduce this classic to a new generation of readers, and while the scroll probably won’t displace the novel’s more familiar, polished incarnation, it will be of keen interest to beat aficionados and scholars.

A Class Apart: Prodigies, Pressure, and Passion Inside One of America’s Best High Schools

by Alec Klein

Paperback $16.00

Simon & Schuster / Education

Enter Stuyvesant High, one of the most extraordinary schools in America, a place where the brainiacs prevail and jocks are embarrassed to admit they play on the woeful football team. Academic competition is so intense that students say they can have only two of these three things: good grades, a social life, or sleep. About one in four Stuyvesant students gains admission to the Ivy League. And the school’s alumni include several Nobel laureates, Academy Award winners, and luminaries in the arts, business, and public service.

A Class Apart follows the lives of Stuyvesant’s remarkable students, such as Romeo, the football team captain who teaches himself calculus and strives to make it into Harvard; Jane, a world-weary poet at seventeen, battling the demon of drug addiction; Milo, a ten-year-old prodigy trying to fit in among high-school students who are literally twice his size; Mariya, a first-generation American beginning to resist parental pressure for ever-higher grades so that she can enjoy her sophomore year. And then there is the faculty, such as math chairman Mr. Jaye, who is determined not to let bureaucratic red tape stop him from helping his teachers. He even finds a job for a depressed math genius who lacks a college degree but possesses the gift of teaching.

This is the story of the American dream, a New York City school that inspires immigrants to come to these shores so that their children can attend Stuyvesant in the first step to a better life. It’s also the controversial story of elitism in education. Stuyvesant is a public school, but children must pass a rigorous entrance exam to get in. Only about 3 percent do so, which, Stuyvesant students and faculty point out, makes admission to their high school tougher than to Harvard.

On the eve of the hundredth anniversary of Stuyvesant’s first graduating class, reporter Alec Klein, an alumnus, was given unfettered access to the school and the students and faculty who inhabit it. What emerges is a book filled with stunning, raw, and heartrending personalities, whose stories are hilarious, sad, and powerfully moving.

What Color Is Your Parachute? 2009: A Practical Manual for Job-hunters and Career Changers

by Richard Nelson Bolles

Paperback $18.95

Ten Speed Press / Business

Still the best-selling job-hunting book in the world, WHAT COLOR IS YOUR PARACHUTE? is the most complete guide for first-time job seekers as well as second and encore careers changers. For more than three decades, it remains a mainstay on best-seller lists, from to Business Week to the New York Times, where it has spent more than six years, and it has been translated into 20 languages. The 2009 edition is an even more useful book, with its updated, inspiring, and detailed plan for changing readers’ lives. With new examples, instructions, and cautionary advice, PARACHUTE is, to quote Fortune magazine, “the gold standard of career guides.”

An Ocean of Air: Why the Wind Blows and Other Mysteries of the Atmosphere

by Gabrielle Walker

Paperback $14.00

Harvest Books / Science

From Publishers Weekly:
Most of the time we hardly notice that we’re moving through air. But when a storm system whips it into a whirling mass that grows into a tornado or a hurricane, then the air around us makes headlines. Science consultant Walker (Snowball Earth) presents a lively history of scientists’ and adventurers’ exploration of this important and complex contributor to life on Earth, from Galileo’s early attempts to show that it has weight to the explorations by 20th-century scientists Oliver Heaviside and Edward Appleton of the ionosphere, which acts as a giant mirror bouncing radio waves from one side of the globe to another. Walker provides readers with easy-to-follow discussions of the science behind the discovery that carbon dioxide levels are rising exponentially; the theoretician who left her computer for Antarctica and discovered a huge ozone hole created by chlorofluorocarbons; why hurricanes form only in the tropics and why global warming may lead to more violent storms. She goes far afield at times, spending too much time on the Van Allen belts, for instance, but readers will find this informative book to be a breath of fresh air.

The Journal of Jules Renard

by Jules Renard

Paperback $16.95

Tin House Books / Biography

Spanning from 1887 to a month before his death in 1910, The Journal of Jules Renard is a unique autobiographical masterpiece that, though celebrated abroad and cited as a principle influence by writers as varying as Somerset Maugham and Donald Barthelme, remains largely undiscovered in the United States. Throughout his journal, Renard develops not only his artistic convictions but also his humanity, as he reflects on the nineteenth-century French literary and art scene and the emergence of his position as an important novelist and playwright in that world, provides aphorisms and quips, and portrays the details of his personal life-his love interests, his position as a socialist mayor of Chitry, the suicide of his father-which often appear in his work.

Sons and Other Flammable Objects: A Novel

by Porochista Khakpour

Paperback $14.00

Grove Press / Fiction

From Publishers Weekly:
Khakpour builds her luminously intelligent debut around the travails of an Iranian-American family caught in the feverish and paranoid currents immediately after 9/11. Darius Adam and his wife, Laleh (who, much to Darius’s disgust, Americanizes her name to Lala), flee revolutionary Iran for the alien territory of Southern California, settling in an apartment complex with the allegorically enticing name of Eden Gardens. Son Xerxes grows up with psychological dual citizenship: regular American outside of Eden Gardens, but the son of bitter Darius and clueless Lala inside. Xerxes finds true paradise in watching Barbara Eden, the star of I Dream of Jeannie. For the brilliantly rendered Lala, America is not so bad—it’s a good place to ”lose your mind, which is how Lala translates into English her forgetting her unhappy Tehran childhood. Against this background of a parody paradise, Khakpour plays out the events following 9/11, which will, grotesquely, unite the Adam family. By then Xerxes, 26, is an unemployed college grad in a New York airshaft-view apartment, as far from Eden Gardens as possible. Khakpour is an elegant writer, and she imparts a perfect sense of the ironies of being Persian in America, where the blurry collective image of the Middle East alternates between blonde genies in bottles and furrow-browed terrorists in cockpits.

Mike’s Election Guide 2008

by Michael Moore

Paperback $13.99

Grand Central Publishing / Humor

This hilarious and informative guide is Michael Moore’s (filmmaker of Fahrenheit 9/11 & Bowling for Columbine; author of Dude, Where’s My Country?) effort to make sense of the 2008 race for the White House and Congress. He answers the nation’s most pressing questions, i.e., “Why Is John McCain So Angry?”, “How Many Democrats Does It Take to Lose the Most Winnable Election in American History?” Moore’s take is that one candidate has promised a presidency different from any other, one that will take the country forward to embrace the hope of the 21st century; the other candidate says he has no idea how to use a computer. Tom Stoppard wrote, “It’s not the voting that’s democracy, it’s the counting.”

The Little Book

by Selden Edwards

Hardcover $25.95 - 10%

Dutton / New Hardcover Fiction

The Little Book is the extraordinary tale of Wheeler Burden, California-exiled heir of the famous Boston banking Burdens, philosopher, student of history, legend’s son, rock idol, writer, lover of women, recluse, half-Jew, and Harvard baseball hero. In 1988 he is forty-seven, living in San Francisco. Suddenly he is—still his modern self—wandering in a city and time he knows mysteriously well: fin de siècle Vienna. It is 1897, precisely ninety-one years before his last memory and a half-century before his birth.

It’s not long before Wheeler has acquired appropriate clothes, money, lodging, a group of young Viennese intellectuals as friends, a mentor in Sigmund Freud, a bitter rival, a powerful crush on a luminous young American woman, a passing acquaintance with local celebrity Mark Twain, and an incredible and surprising insight into the dashing young war-hero father he never knew.

But the truth at the center of Wheeler’s dislocation in time remains a stubborn mystery that will take months of exploration and a lifetime of memories to unravel and that will, in the end, reveal nothing short of the eccentric Burden family’s unrivaled impact on the very course of the coming century. The Little Book is a masterpiece of unequaled storytelling that announces Selden Edwards as one of the most dazzling, original, entertaining, and inventive novelists of our time.

Supreme Courtship

by Christopher Buckley

Hardcover $24.99 - 10%

Twelve / New Hardcover Fiction

In bestselling author Christopher Buckley’s hilarious novel, the President of the United States, ticked off at the Senate for rejecting his nominees, decides to get even by nominating America’s most popular TV judge to the Supreme Court. President Donald Vanderdamp is having a hell of a time getting his nominees onto the Supreme Court. After one nominee is rejected for insufficiently appreciating To Kill a Mockingbird, the president chooses someone so beloved by voters that the Senate won’t have the nerve to reject her-Judge Pepper Cartwright, star of the nation’s most popular reality show. Will Pepper, a vivacious Texan, survive a Senate confirmation battle? Will becoming one of the most powerful women in the world ruin her love life? Soon, Pepper finds herself in the middle of a constitutional crisis, a presidential reelection campaign that the president is determined to lose, and oral arguments of a romantic nature. Supreme Courtship is another classic Christopher Buckley comedy about the Washington institutions most deserving of ridicule.

The Road Home: A Novel

by Rose Tremain

Hardcover $24.99 - 10%

Little, Brown & Company / New Hardcover Fiction

From Publishers Weekly:
Tremain (Restoration) turns in a low-key but emotionally potent look at the melancholia of migration for her 14th book. Olev, a 42-year-old widower from an unnamed former east bloc republic, is taking a bus to London, where he imagines every man resembles Alec Guinness and hard work will be rewarded by wealth. He has left behind a sad young daughter, a stubborn mother and the newly shuttered sawmill where he had worked for years. His landing is harsh: the British are unpleasant, immigrants are unwelcome, and he’s often overwhelmed by homesickness. But Lev personifies Tremain’s remarkable ability to craft characters whose essential goodness shines through tough, drab circumstances. Among them are Lydia, the fellow expatriate; Christy, Lev’s alcoholic Irish landlord who misses his own daughter; and even the cruelly demanding Gregory, chef-proprietor of the posh restaurant where Lev first finds work. A contrived but still satisfying ending marks this adroit émigré’s look at London.

The Heretic’s Daughter: A Novel

by Kathleen Kent

Hardcover $24.99 - 10%

Little, Brown & Company / New Hardcover Fiction

From Publishers Weekly:
A family’s conflict becomes a battle for life and death in this gripping and original first novel based on family history from a descendant of a condemned Salem witch. After a bout of smallpox, 10-year-old Sarah Carrier resumes life with her mother on their family farm in Andover, Mass., dimly aware of a festering dispute between her mother, Martha, and her uncle about the plot of land where they live. The fight takes on a terrifying dimension when reports of supernatural activity in nearby Salem give way to mass hysteria, and Sarah’s uncle is the first person to point the finger at Martha. Soon, neighbors struggling to eke out a living and a former indentured servant step forward to name Martha as the source of their woes. Sarah is forced to shoulder an even heavier burden as her mother and brothers are taken to prison to face a jury of young women who claim to have felt their bewitching presence. Sarah’s front-row view of the trials and the mayhem that sweeps the close-knit community provides a fresh, bracing and unconventional take on a much-covered episode.

The Numerati

by Stephen Baker

Hardcover $26.00 - 10%

Houghton Mifflin / New Hardcover Nonfiction

An urgent look at how a global math elite is predicting
and altering our behavior — at work, at the mall, and in bed.

Every day we produce loads of data about ourselves simply by living
in the modern world: we click web pages, flip channels, drive
through automatic toll booths, shop with credit cards, and make cell
phone calls. Now, in one of the greatest undertakings of the twenty-first
century, a savvy group of mathematicians and computer scientists is
beginning to sift through this data to dissect us and map out our next
steps. Their goal? To manipulate our behavior — what we buy, how we
vote — without our even realizing it.

In this tour de force of original reporting and analysis, journalist
Stephen Baker provides us with a fascinating guide to the world we’re
all entering — and to the people controlling that world. The Numerati
have infiltrated every realm of human affairs, profiling us as workers,
shoppers, patients, voters, potential terrorists — and lovers. The implications
are vast. Our privacy evaporates. Our bosses can monitor and
measure our every move (then reward or punish us). Politicians can
find the swing voters among us, by plunking us all into new political
groupings with names like “Hearth Keepers” and “Crossing Guards.”
It can sound scary. But the Numerati can also work on our behalf, diagnosing
an illness before we’re aware of the symptoms, or even helping
us find our soul mate. Surprising, enlightening, and deeply relevant,
The Numerati shows how a powerful new endeavor — the mathematical
modeling of humanity — will transform every aspect of our lives.

How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America

by Moustafa Bayoumi

Hardcover $24.95 - 10%

Penguin / New Hardcover Nonfiction

Arab and Muslim Americans are the new, largely undiscussed “problem” of American society, their lives no better understood than those of African Americans a century ago. Under the cover of the terrorist attacks, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the explosion of political violence around the world, a fundamental misunderstanding of the Arab and Muslim American communities has been allowed to fester and even to define the lives of the seven twentysomething men and women whom we meet in this book. Their names are Rami, Sami, Akram, Lina, Yasmin, Omar, and Rasha, and they all live in Brooklyn, New York, which is home to the largest number of Arab Americans in the United States.

We meet Sami, an Arab American Christian, who navigates the minefield of associations the public has of Arabs as well as the expectations that Muslim Arab Americans have of him as a marine who fought in the Iraq war. And Rasha, who, along with her parents, sister, and brothers, was detained by the FBI in a New Jersey jail in early 2002. Without explanation, she and her family were released several months later. As drama of all kinds swirls around them, these young men and women strive for the very things the majority of young adults desire: opportunity, marriage, happiness, and the chance to fulfill their potential. But what they have now are lives that are less certain, and more difficult, than they ever could have imagined: workplace discrimination, warfare in their countries of origin, government surveillance, the disappearance of friends or family, threats of vigilante violence, and a host of other problems that thrive in the age of terror.

And yet How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? takes the raw material of their struggle and weaves it into an unforgettable, and very American, story of promise and hope. In prose that is at once blunt and lyrical, Moustafa Bayoumi allows us to see the world as these men and women do, revealing a set of characters and a place that indelibly change the way we see the turbulent past and yet still hopeful future of this country.

Concrete Reveries: Consciousness and the City

by Mark Kingwell

Hardcover $24.95 - 10%

Viking / New Hardcover Nonfiction

According to philosopher and cultural critic Mark Kingwell, the transnational global city—New York and Shanghai—is the most significant machine our species has ever produced. And yet, he says, we fail again and again to understand it. How do cities shape us, and how do we shape them? That is the subject of Concrete Reveries, which investigates how we occupy city space and why place is so important to who we are.

Kingwell explores the sights, smells, and forms of the city, reflecting on how they mold our notions of identity, the limits of social and political engagement, and our moral obligations as citizens. He offers a critique of the monumental architectural supermodernism in which buildings are valued more for their exteriors than for what is inside, as well as some lively writing on the significance of threshold structures like doorways, lobbies, and porches and the kinds of emotional attachments we form to ballparks, carnival grounds, and gardens. In the process, he gives us a whole new set of models and metaphors for thinking about the city.

With a spectacular interior design and more than seventy-five photos, Concrete Reveries will appeal to fans of Jane Jacobs, Witold Rybczynski, and Alain de Botton’s The Architecture of Happiness.

The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed

by Michael Meyer

Hardcover $25.99 - 10%

Walker & Company / New Hardcover Nonfiction

From Publishers Weekly:
Part memoir, part history, part travelogue and part call to action, journalist Meyer’s elegant first book yearns for old Beijing and mourns the loss of an older way of life. Having lived for two years in one of Beijing’s oldest hutongs—mazes of lanes and courtyards bordered by single-story houses—Meyer chronicles the threat urban planning poses not only to the ancient history buried within these neighborhoods but also to the people of the hutong. The hutong, he says, builds community in a way that glistening glass and steel buildings cannot. His 81-year-old neighbor, whom he calls the Widow, had always been safe because neighbors watched out for her, as she watched out for others: the book opens with a delightful scene in which the Widow, a salty character who calls Meyer Little Plumblossom, brings him unsolicited dumplings for his breakfast. The ironies of the reconstruction of Beijing are clear in the building of Safe and Sound Boulevard, which, Meyer tells us, is neither safe nor sound. Meyer’s powerful book is to Beijing what Jane Jacobs’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities was to New York City.

these just in … 6 August, 2008

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

The Spice Merchant’s Daughter: Recipes and Simple Spice Blends for the American Kitchen

by Christina Arokiasamy

Hardcover $29.95 - 10%

Clarkson Potter - Random House / Cooking

It was the aroma. The exotic scent of spices: rich, alluring, and almost magical. A scent that would sometimes overpower the freshness in the air and sometimes subtly mingle with it to create a tantalizing bouquet. A scent that would always bring me back to my childhood.

Growing up enveloped in the aromas of her mother’s spice stall in Kuala Lumpur, Christina Arokiasamy developed an artist’s sense of how to combine and use spices in traditional and innovative ways. In The Spice Merchant’s Daughter, she shares her family’s spice secrets, expertly guiding and enticing home cooks to enliven their repertoires.

Christina weaves evocative stories of cooking at her mother’s side with real-world practical advice gleaned not only from working in professional kitchens but also from tackling the nightly task of getting a home-cooked dinner on the table for her family of four using American ingredients. She shows how easy it is to build layers of complex flavor to create 100 tempting Southeast Asian–inspired recipes, including Lemon Pepper Wings, Spicy Beef Salad, Steamed Snapper with Tamarind-Ginger Sauce, Cardamom Butter Rice with Sultanas, and Coconut Flan Infused with Star Anise. She unlocks the transformative power of homemade spice rubs, curry pastes, and sauces, as well as chutneys and pickles, enabling home cooks to bring new depth and dimension to their favorite dishes.

With lush photography and a chapter identifying and defining key pantry ingredients and aromatics, The Spice Merchant’s Daughter both inspires and empowers, awakening the senses and unlocking the alluring world of spices.

My Fantoms

by Theophile Gautier, translated by Richard Holmes

Paperback $14.00

NYRB Classics / Fiction

Romantic provocateur, flamboyant bohemian, precocious novelist, perfect poet—not to mention an inexhaustible journalist, critic, and man-about-town—Théophile Gautier is one of the major figures, and great characters, of French literature.

In My Fantoms Richard Holmes, the celebrated biographer of Shelley and Coleridge, has found a brilliantly effective new way to bring this great bu too-little-known writer into English. My Fantoms assembles seven stories spanning the whole of Gautier’s career into a unified work that captures the essence of his adventurous life and subtle art. From the erotic awakening of “The Adolescent” through “The Poet,” a piercing recollection of the mad genius Gérard de Nerval, the great friend of Gautier’s youth, My Fantoms celebrates the senses and illuminates the strange disguises of the spirit, while taking readers on a tour of modernity at its most mysterious. ”What ever would the Devil find to do in Paris?” Gautier wonders. “He would meet people just as diabolical as he, and find himself taken for some naïve provincial…”

Tapestries, statues, and corpses come to life; young men dream their way into ruin; and Gautier keeps his faith in the power of imagination: “No one is truly dead, until they are no longer loved.”

Stones of Aran: Pilgrimage

by Tim Robinson, introduction by Robert Macfarlane

Paperback $18.95

NYRB Classics / Travelogue

From Publishers Weekly:
An exquisitely detailed portrait of a special landscape, this is a gem-like addition to the travel genre. Robinson, an artist and cartographer, has made prize-winning maps of southwest Ireland and adjacent islands. Describing himself as “self-appointed resident scientific busybody,” he walks the coastline of Arainn, largest of the three Aran Islands, clockwise from the western edge, in an exploration of geology, topography, history, language and folklore. Arainn is limestone, and its natural forms are rectilinear. We see storm beaches-mile after mile of huge boulders stripped from the rim of cliffs and moved inland by wind. Robinson recounts hazardous sports once practiced by the natives-birdcatching and fishing from clifftops; he calls our attention to prehistoric sites and to abandoned forts. He takes a side trip by curragh to the Brannock Islands and meditates on the origins of placenames. Arainn’s north coast was a center for kelp factories producing iodine and fertilizer in the 19th century; Robinson offers a vivid picture of that period as well.

The Complete Book of Raw Food, Second Edition: Healthy, Delicious Vegetarian Cuisine Made with Living Foods * Includes More Than 400 Recipes from the World’s Top Raw Food Chefs

by Victoria Boutenko, Juliano Brotman, Nomi Shannon, Matt Amsden, edited by Julie Rodwell

Hardcover $30.00 - 10%

Hatherleigh Press - Random House / Cooking *2nd Edition

Whether you’re a raw food devotee, a curious vegetarian, or just an adventurous chef, The Complete Book of Raw Food is the essential handbook for raw food preparation and dining pleasure.

In addition to its more than 400 nutritious and healthy recipes–from “Walnut Burgers” to “Thai Coconut Curry Soup” to “Raw Apple Pie”–The Complete Book of Raw Food includes step-by-step instructions on how to set up the raw pantry, easy-to-follow techniques for handling and preserving raw food through sprouting and dehydrating, and expert advice on how to choose ingredients and equipment.

The 19th Wife: A Novel

by David Ebershoff

Hardcover $26.00 - 10%

Random House / New Hardcover Fiction

Faith, I tell them, is a mystery, elusive to many, and never easy to explain.

Sweeping and lyrical, spellbinding and unforgettable, David Ebershoff’s The 19th Wife combines epic historical fiction with a modern murder mystery to create a brilliant novel of literary suspense.

It is 1875, and Ann Eliza Young has recently separated from her powerful husband, Brigham Young, prophet and leader of the Mormon Church. Expelled and an outcast, Ann Eliza embarks on a crusade to end polygamy in the United States. A rich account of a family’s polygamous history is revealed, including how a young woman became a plural wife.

Soon after Ann Eliza’s story begins, a second exquisite narrative unfolds–a tale of murder involving a polygamist family in present-day Utah. Jordan Scott, a young man who was thrown out of his fundamentalist sect years earlier, must reenter the world that cast him aside in order to discover the truth behind his father’s death.

And as Ann Eliza’s narrative intertwines with that of Jordan’s search, readers are pulled deeper into the mysteries of love and faith.

The Man in the Blizzard: A Novel

by Bart Schneider

Paperback $14.95

Three Rivers Press - Random House / Fiction

Private eye Augie Boyer is out of sorts. He’s been smoking too much Pontchartrain Pootie, his favorite varietal herb, and scarfing down an excess of fried food. He can’t stop thinking of his ­therapist wife, who left him for another therapist, and despite his new girlfriend’s best efforts, Augie’s testosterone levels have sunk lower than the winter temperatures of Minneapolis.

On the eve of the Republican National Convention, a beautiful, blond violinist with multiple personalities walks into Augie’s office. She draws him into a complex case that involves neo-Nazi violin collectors, mind-control specialists, and thousands of antiabortion activists who’ve come to the Twin Cities for a rally that will bring new meaning to Labor Day. But when Augie uncovers an assassination plot, he must scramble to prevent a deranged act of political violence that strikes dangerously close to home.

With wit, compassion, and plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, Bart Schneider creates a lovable yet flawed character and delivers a thrilling contemporary tale.

The Pirate’s Daughter: A Novel

by Margaret Cezair-Thompson

Paperback $15.00

Random House / Fiction

From Publishers Weekly:
Cezair-Thompson conjures the tragic glamour of golden age Hollywood against the backdrop of lusty, turbulent Jamaica in her dual generational coming-of-age saga. Ida Joseph is 13 years old when Errol Flynn is nearly shipwrecked off the coast of her hometown of Port Antonio in 1946. Flynn instantly loves Jamaica and, eager to find a refuge from stateside scandal, purchases an island across from the port. Navy Island becomes the setting for his glittering parties, movie projects and affair with Ida in her senior year of high school. Flynn refuses to take responsibility for the resulting child, May, and after trying to make a go of it in Jamaica, Ida leaves May and heads to New York City, where she marries a wealthy baron friend of Flynn’s who purchases the island after Flynn dies. May grows to adulthood on Navy Island, develops something more than a crush on a married family friend 40 years her senior and indulges in drugs and free love. Jamaica’s tumultuous progression toward self-governance—with the violent chaos it unleashes on Navy Island—reveals certain hidden truths about the baron. For all the high drama, the reader never feels fully privy to Ida or May, but Cezair-Thompson otherwise succeeds magnificently in evoking a world distant in both time and place.

So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids

by Diane E. Levin & Jean Kilbourne

Hardcover $25.00 - 10%

Ballantine Books / Childcare

Thong panties, padded bras, and risqué Halloween costumes for young girls. T-shirts that boast “Chick Magnet” for toddler boys. Sexy content on almost every television channel, as well as in books, movies, video games, and even cartoons. Hot young female pop stars wearing provocative clothing and dancing suggestively while singing songs with sexual and sometimes violent lyrics. These products are marketed aggressively to our children; these stars are held up for our young daughters to emulate–and for our sons to see as objects of desire.

Popular culture and technology inundate our children with an onslaught of mixed messages at earlier ages than ever before. Corporations capitalize on this disturbing trend, and without the emotional sophistication to understand what they are doing and seeing, kids are getting into increasing trouble emotionally and socially; some may even to engage in precocious sexual behavior. Parents are left shaking their heads, wondering: How did this happen? What can we do?

So Sexy So Soon is an invaluable and practical guide for parents who are fed up, confused, and even scared by what their kids–or their kids’ friends–do and say. Diane E. Levin, Ph.D., and Jean Kilbourne, Ed.D., internationally recognized experts in early childhood development and the impact of the media on children and teens, understand that saying no to commercial culture–TV, movies, toys, Internet access, and video games–isn’t a realistic or viable option for most families. Instead, they offer parents essential, age-appropriate strategies to counter the assault. For instance:

• Help your children expand their imaginations by suggesting new ways for them to play with toys–for example, instead of “playing house” with dolls, they might send their toys on a backyard archeological adventure.
• Counteract the narrow gender stereotypes in today’s media: ask your son to help you cook; get your daughter outside to play ball.
• Share your values and concerns with other adults–relatives, parents of your children’s friends–and agree on how you’ll deal with TV and other media when your children are at one another’s houses.

Filled with savvy suggestions, helpful sample dialogues, and poignant true stories from families dealing with these issues, So Sexy So Soon provides parents with the information, skills, and confidence they need to discuss sensitive topics openly and effectively so their kids can just be kids.

Babylon Rolling: A Novel

by Amanda Boyden

Hardcover $23.95 - 10%

Pantheon / New Hardcover Fiction

From the acclaimed author of Pretty Little Dirty (a first novel of complex truth and beauty-San Francisco Chronicle), comes a glittering, gritty, and unflinching story of five families-black, white, and Indian-living along one block of Uptown, New Orleans.It is the summer of 2004, and Orchid Street is changing. Newcomers Ariel May and her husband, Ed, relocated from Minnesota, are trying to make sense of the Southern city. From her front porch, Philomenia Beauregard de Bruges watches her new neighbors, the Guptas, as they move into one of the biggest homes. Across the way, Daniel Harris, aka Fearius, has just been released from juvenile detention. And Cerise Brown, a longtime resident now in her late seventies, hopes only to pass the rest of her days in peace.But with one random accident, a scene of horror on Cerise’s front lawn, the whole neighborhood converges on the sidewalk to help, to cast blame, and to offer hope. And as Hurricane Ivan churns his way toward the city, bringing a different series of challenges, these new relationships tighten, intertwining the families’ paths for better and for worse.Told in five achingly real voices, Babylon Rolling is the story of one year on Orchid Street, a place where lives clash and collide, and where the humid air is charged with constant wanting. Offering a bold understanding of human nature and the hidden prejudices we harbor, Babylon Rolling is a powerful portrait of racism in America and a city on the edge of transformation.

The Gargoyle

by Andrew Davidson
Hardcover $25.95 - 10%
Doubleday / New Hardcover Fiction
An extraordinary debut novel of love that survives the fires of hell and transcends the boundaries of time.The narrator of The Gargoyle is a very contemporary cynic, physically beautiful and sexually adept, who dwells in the moral vacuum that is modern life. As the book opens, he is driving along a dark road when he is distracted by what seems to be a flight of arrows. He crashes into a ravine and suffers horrible burns over much of his body. As he recovers in a burn ward, undergoing the tortures of the damned, he awaits the day when he can leave the hospital and commit carefully planned suicide—for he is now a monster in appearance as well as in soul.A beautiful and compelling, but clearly unhinged, sculptress of gargoyles by the name of Marianne Engel appears at the foot of his bed and insists that they were once lovers in medieval Germany. In her telling, he was a badly injured mercenary and she was a nun and scribe in the famed monastery of Engelthal who nursed him back to health. As she spins their tale in Scheherazade fashion and relates equally mesmerizing stories of deathless love in Japan, Iceland, Italy, and England, he finds himself drawn back to life—and, finally, in love. He is released into Marianne’s care and takes up residence in her huge stone house. But all is not well. For one thing, the pull of his past sins becomes ever more powerful as the morphine he is prescribed becomes ever more addictive. For another, Marianne receives word from God that she has only twenty-seven sculptures left to complete—and her time on earth will be finished.

Already an international literary sensation, The Gargoyle is an Inferno for our time. It will have you believing in the impossible.

Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth: A Novel

by Xiaolu Guo
Hardcover $21.95 - 10%
Nan A. Talese - Random House / New Hardcover Fiction
From the author of the 2007 Orange Prize finalist A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers comes a wholly original and thoroughly captivating coming-of-age story that follows a bright, impassioned young woman as she rushes headlong into the maelstrom of a rapidly changing Beijing to chase her dreams.Twenty-one year old Fenfang Wang has traveled one thousand eight hundred miles to seek her fortune in contemporary urban Beijing, and has no desire to return to the drudgery of the sweet potato fields back home. However, Fenfang is ill-prepared for what greets her: a Communist regime that has outworn its welcome, a city under rampant destruction and slap-dash development, and a sexist attitude seemingly more in keeping with her peasant upbringing than the country’s progressive capital. Yet Fenfang is determined to live a modern life. With courage and purpose, she forges ahead, and soon lands a job as a film extra. While playing roles like woman-walking-over-the bridge and waitress-wiping-a-table help her eke out a meager living, Fenfang comes under the spell of two unsuitable young men, keeps her cupboard stocked with UFO noodles, and after mastering the fever and tumult of the city, ultimately finds her true independence in the one place she never expected.

At once wry and moving, Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth gives us a clear-eyed glimpse into the precarious and fragile state of China’s new identity and asserts Xiaolu Guo as her generation’s voice of modern China.

25 Apartments and Lofts Under 1000 Square Feet

by James Grayson Trulove
Paperback $39.95
Collins Design - Harper Collins / Home Design & Repair
The is the latest addition to the best-selling 25 series, all of the the apartments and lofts featured here are under 1,000 square feet and highlight the latest architecture and design innovations. A range of styles, from modern to traditional, are showcased, with an emphasis on open space and materials such as glass, plastic, steel, and stone.


by Anisha Lakhani
Hardcover $23.95 - 10%
Hyperion - Harper Collins / New Hardcover Fiction
All she wants to do is teach. For Anna Taggert, an earnest Ivy League graduate, pursuing her passion as a teacher means engaging young hearts and minds. She longs to be in a place where she can be her best self, and give that best to her students.Turns out it isn’t that easy.

Landing a job at an elite private school in Manhattan, Anna finds her dreams of chalk boards and lesson plans replaced with board families, learning specialists, and benefit-planning mothers. Not to mention the grim realities of her small paycheck.

And then comes the realization that the papers she grades are not the work of her students, but of their high-priced, college-educated tutors. After uncovering this underground economy where a teacher can make the same hourly rate as a Manhattan attorney, Anna herself is seduced by lucrative offers-one after another. Teacher by day, tutor by night, she starts to sample the good life her students enjoy: binges at Barneys, dinners at the Waverly Inn, and a new address on Madison Avenue.

Until, that is, the truth sets in.

Southern Storm: Sherman’s March to the Sea

by Noah Andre Trudeau
Hardcover $35.00 - 10%
Harper Collins / New Hardcover Nonfiction
Award-winning Civil War historian Noah Andre Trudeau has written a gripping, definitive new account that will stand as the last word on General William Tecumseh Sherman’s epic march—a targeted strategy aimed to break not only the Confederate army but an entire society as well. With Lincoln’s hard-fought reelection victory in hand, Ulysses S. Grant, commander of the Union forces, allowed Sherman to lead the largest and riskiest operation of the war. In rich detail, Trudeau explains why General Sherman’s name is still anathema below the Mason-Dixon Line, especially in Georgia, where he is remembered as “the one who marched to the sea with death and devastation in his wake.”Sherman’s swath of destruction spanned more than sixty miles in width and virtually cut the South in two, badly disabling the flow of supplies to the Confederate army. He led more than 60,000 Union troops to blaze a path from Atlanta to Savannah, ordering his men to burn crops, kill livestock, and decimate everything that fed the Rebel war machine. Grant and Sherman’s gamble worked, and the march managed to crush a critical part of the Confederacy and increase the pressure on General Lee, who was already under siege in Virginia.

Told through the intimate and engrossing diaries and letters of Sherman’s soldiers and the civilians who suffered in their path, Southern Storm paints a vivid picture of an event that would forever change the course of America.

Alfred and Emily

by Doris Lessing
Hardcover $25.95 - 10%
Harper Collins / New Hardcover Fiction
In this extraordinary book, the 2007 Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing explores the lives of her parents, each irrevocably damaged by the Great War. Her father wanted the simple life of an English farmer, but shrapnel almost killed him in the trenches, and thereafter he had to wear a wooden leg. Her mother, Emily, spent the war nursing the wounded in the Royal Free Hospital after her great love, a doctor, drowned in the Channel.In the fictional first half of Alfred and Emily, Doris Lessing imagines the happier lives her parents might have made for themselves had there been no war; a story that begins with their meeting at a village cricket match outside Colchester. This is followed by a piercing examination of their relationship as it actually was in the shadow of the Great War, of the family’s move to Africa, and of the impact of her parents’ marriage on a young woman growing up in a strange land.

Male of the Species: Stories

by Alex Mindt
Paperback $13.95
Delphinium Books - Harper Collins / Fiction

these just in … 29 July, 2008

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Tom Friedman 1989-2008: Essays

by Arthur C. Danto & Ralph Rugoff

Hardcover $85.00 - 10% Gagosian Gallery Art

How to Read Chinese Paintings

by Maxwell K. Hearn

Paperback $25.00 Metropolitan Museum of Art Art

The Chinese often use the expression du hua, “to read a painting,” in connection with their study and appreciation of such works. This volume closely “reads” thirty-six masterpieces of Chinese painting from the encyclopedic collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in order to reveal the major characteristics and themes of this rich pictorial tradition. The book examines multiple layers of meaning—style, technique, symbolism, past traditions, and the artist’s personal circumstances—through accessible texts and numerous large color details. A dynastic chronology, map, and list of further readings supplement the text.

Spanning a thousand years of Chinese art, these landscapes, flowers, birds, figures, religious subjects, and calligraphies illuminate the main goal of every Chinese artist: to capture not only the outer appearance of a subject but also its inner essence.

Europe Between the Oceans: 9000 BC-AD 1000

by Barry Cunliffe
Hardcover $39.95 - 10% Yale University Press History

Europe is, in world terms, a relatively minor peninsula attached to the Eurasian land mass. Yet it became one of the most innovative regions on the planet, generating restless adventurers who traversed the globe to trade, to explore, and often to settle. By the fifteenth century Europe was a driving world force, but the origins of its success have until now remained obscured in prehistory.

In this magnificent book, distinguished archaeologist Barry Cunliffe views Europe not in terms of states and shifting political land boundaries but as a geographical niche particularly favored in facing many seas. These seas, and Europe’s great transpeninsular rivers, ensured a rich diversity of natural resources while also encouraging the dynamic interaction of peoples across networks of communication and exchange. The development of these early Europeans is rooted in complex interplays, shifting balances, and geographic and demographic fluidity.

Weaving together titanic concepts while remaining sensitive to specifics, Cunliffe has produced an interdisciplinary tour de force. His is a bold book of exceptional scholarship, erudite and engaging, and it heralds an entirely new understanding of Old Europe.


by Hermann Hesse, read by Jeff Woodman
Audiobook $29.95 - 15% BBC Audiobooks America 5 discs


by Robert Sullivan, photos by Joshua Lutz
Hardcover $50.00 - 10% powerHouse Books Local Interest / Photography

Just two miles west of Manhattan lies the Meadowlands, a 32-square-mile stretch of sweeping wilderness that evokes morbid fantasies of Mafia hits and buried remains. Development has claimed two-thirds of the region, making way for scores of landfills, motels, and gas stations. The growth of poorly planned communities and the impending construction of Xanadu, a five million-square-foot entertainment and retail complex, threaten to change these lands forever.
Under the pretext of searching for Jimmy Hoffa, photographer Joshua Lutz began exploring these lonesome wetlands ten years ago; what started as a strict documentary project soon evolved into something else entirely. Meadowlands, Lutz’s first monograph, is a compelling portrait of this vast and stunning landscape, whose unspoiled area is quickly dwindling. The Meadowlands are a place of solitude, a place you pass through on your way somewhere more inviting—and yet, within it all resides a quiet beauty, a glimmer of hope, a hidden potential for renewal and rebirth.

Vegan Lunch Box: 130 Amazing, Animal-Free Lunches Kids and Grown-Ups Will Love!

by Jennifer McCann
Paperback $19.95 Da Capo Press Cooking
If you think vegan lunchtime means peanut butter and jelly day after day, think again! Based on the wildly popular blog of the same name, Vegan Lunch Box offers an amazing array of meat-free, egg-free, and dairy-free meals and snacks. All the recipes are organized into menus to help parents pack quick, nutritious, and irresistible vegan lunches. Ideal for everyday and special occasions, Vegan Lunch Box features tips for feeding even the most finicky kids. It includes handy allergen-free indexes identifying wheat-free, gluten-free, soy-free, and nut-free recipes, and product recommendations that make shopping a breeze.

Leningrad: State of Siege

by Michael Jones
Hardcover $27.95 - 10% Basic Books New Hardcover Non-Fiction
During the famed 900-day siege of Leningrad, the German High Command deliberately planned to eradicate the city’s population through starvation. Viewing the Slavs as sub-human, Hitler embarked on a vicious program of ethnic cleansing. By the time the siege ended in January 1944, almost a million people had died. Those who survived would be marked permanently by what they endured as the city descended into chaos.In Leningrad, military historian Michael Jones chronicles the human story of this epic siege. Drawing on newly available eyewitness accounts and diaries, he reveals the true horrors of the ordeal—including stories long-suppressed by the Soviets of looting, criminal gangs, and cannibalism. But he also shows the immense psychological resources on which the citizens of Leningrad drew to survive against desperate odds. At the height of the siege, for instance, an extraordinary live performance of Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony profoundly strengthened the city’s will to resist.A riveting account of one of the most harrowing sieges of world history, Leningrad also portrays the astonishing power of the human will in the face of even the direst catastrophe.

Log of the S.S. the Mrs Unguentine

by Stanley Crawford
Paperback $12.95 Dalkey Archive Press Fiction
“Forty years ago I first linked up with Unguentine and we made love on twin-hulled catamarans, sails a-billow, bless the seas . . .”So begins the courtship of a certain Unguentine to the woman we know only as “Mrs. Unguentine,” the chronicler of their sad, fantastical tale. For forty years, they sail the seas together, alone on a giant land-covered barge of their own devising. They tend their gardens, raise a child, invent an artificial forest—all the while steering clear of civilization.Log of the S.S. The Mrs Unguentine is a masterpiece of modern domestic life, a comic novel of closeness and difficulty, miscommunication and stubborn resolve. Rarely has a book so perfectly registered the secret solitude of marriage, how shared loneliness can result in a powerful bond.

Review Of Contemporary Fiction, Summer 2008

Paperback $8.00 Dalkey Archive Press Literary Journals

Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America

by Roger Tory Peterson, forward by Lee Allen Peterson
Paperback $26.00 Houghton Mifflin Nature
In celebration of the centennial of Roger Tory Peterson’s birth comes a historic collaboration among renowned birding experts and artists to preserve and enhance the Peterson legacy. This new book combines the Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Birds and Peterson Field Guide to Western Birds into one volume, filled with accessible, concise information and including almost three hours of video podcasts to make bird watching even easier.

Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster

by Dana Thomas
Paperback $15.00 Penguin Fashion / Business
From Booklist:
Thomas has been the fashion writer for Newsweek in Paris for 12 years and writes about style for the New York Times Magazine and other well-known publications. She traces the origins of luxury from the mid–nineteenth century, when Louis Vuitton made his first steamer trunks and custom-made clothing was strictly the province of European aristocracy, through the fashion boom of the 1920s, when names such as Dior, Gucci, and Yves Saint Laurent came into prominence, and buyers with expendable income could afford exquisite clothing and perfume. Sadly, today most of the well-known names are owned by multinational groups, and luxury items have become commodities, where buyers crave name brands for what they represent rather than their inherent quality of manufacture and design. Thomas takes us into the streets of New York, where counterfeit items are sold that look so much like the real thing that it takes an expert to tell them apart, to the Guangzhou region in China, where children make knockoff goods under appalling conditions. She manages to remove the veil from the fashion industry with a blend of history, culture, and investigative journalism.

The War for All the Oceans: From Nelson at the Nile to Napoleon at Waterloo

by Roy Adkins & Lesley Adkins
Paperback $17.00 Penguin History
From Publishers Weekly:
Husband and wife Roy Adkins (Nelson’s Trafalgar) and Lesley Adkins (Empires of the Plain) team up for this vivid account of the naval campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars (1798–1815). Contending that the wars were won at sea, the authors trace the nautical action from the Battle of the Nile (1798), where a British fleet destroyed the French fleet and stranded Napoleon’s army in Egypt, to the decisive Battle of Trafalgar (1805), where the British overwhelmed a combined French and Spanish fleet supporting an invasion of Britain. The narrative concludes with an account of the protracted war of attrition that followed Trafalgar and ended with Bonaparte’s final defeat at Waterloo in 1815. This low-grade conflict—coastal blockades and shipping raids—caught neutral nations like the United States in the middle and ultimately led the Americans to declare war on England in 1812—a conflict that was never more than a sideshow for the British. This rollicking saga ranges from the Mediterranean to the Indies, East and West, and ends with Britain in control of the world’s sea lanes—the foundation for her future empire. Meticulously researched—drawing on extensive and intimate eyewitness accounts from contemporary journals, letters and memoirs—this lively narrative will delight students and fans of nautical history.

Justinian’s Flea: The First Great Plague and the End of the Roman Empire

by William Rosen
Paperback $16.00 Penguin History / Science
During the golden age of the Roman Empire, Emperor Justinian reigned over a territory that stretched from Italy to North Africa. It was the zenith of his achievements and the last of them. In 542 AD, the bubonic plague struck. In weeks, the glorious classical world of Justinian had been plunged into the medieval and modern Europe was born.At its height, five thousand people died every day in Constantinople. Cities were completely depopulated. It was the first pandemic the world had ever known and it left its indelible mark: when the plague finally ended, more than 25 million people were dead. Weaving together history, microbiology, ecology, jurisprudence, theology, and epidemiology, Justinian’s Flea is a unique and sweeping account of the little known event that changed the course of a continent.

The Skyscraper and the City: The Woolworth Building and the Making of Modern New York

by Gail Fenske
Hardcover $65.00 -10% University Of Chicago Press Local Interest
Once the world’s tallest skyscraper, the Woolworth Building is noted for its striking but incongruous synthesis of Beaux-Arts architecture, fanciful Gothic ornamentation, and audacious steel-framed engineering. Here, in the first history of this great urban landmark, Gail Fenske argues that its design serves as a compelling lens through which to view the distinctive urban culture of Progressive-era New York.
Fenske shows here that the building’s multiplicity of meanings reflected the cultural contradictions that defined New York City’s modernity. For Frank Woolworth—founder of the famous five-and-dime store chain—the building served as a towering trademark, for advocates of the City Beautiful movement it suggested a majestic hotel de ville, for technological enthusiasts it represented the boldest of experiments in vertical construction, and for tenants it provided an evocative setting for high-style consumption. Tourists, meanwhile, experienced a spectacular sightseeing destination and avant-garde artists discovered a twentieth-century future. In emphasizing this faceted significance, Fenske illuminates the process of conceiving, financing, and constructing skyscrapers as well as the mass phenomena of consumerism, marketing, news media, and urban spectatorship that surround them.
As the representative example of the skyscraper as a “cathedral of commerce,” the Woolworth Building remains a commanding presence in the skyline of lower Manhattan, and the generously illustrated Skyscraper and the City is a worthy testament to its importance in American culture.

Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)

by Tom Vanderbilt
Hardcover $24.95 - 10% Knopf New Hardcover Non Fiction
“A great, deep, multidisciplinary investigation of the dynamics and the psychology of traffic jams. It is fun to read. Anyone who spends more than 19 minutes a day in traffic should read this book.”
-Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author The Black Swan“Fascinating, illuminating, and endlessly entertaining as well. Vanderbilt shows how a sophisticated understanding of human behavior can illuminate one of the modern world’s most basic and most mysterious endeavors. You’ll learn a lot; and the life you save may be your own.”
-Cass R. Sunstein, coauthor of Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness

“Everyone who drives-and many people who don’t-should read this book. It is a psychology book, a popular science book, and a how-to-save-your-life manual, all rolled into one. I found it gripping and fascinating from the very beginning to the very end.”
-Tyler Cowen, author of Discover Your Inner Economist

“Fresh and timely . . . Vanderbilt investigates how human nature has shaped traffic, and vice versa, finally answering drivers’ most familiar and frustrating questions.”
-Publishers Weekly

“Fluently written and oddly entertaining, full of points to ponder while stuck at the on-ramp meter or an endless red light.”-Kirkus

“This may be the most insightful and comprehensive study ever done of driving behavior and how it reveals truths about the types of people we are.”-Booklist

“Tom Vanderbilt uncovers a raft of counterintuitive facts about what happens when we get behind the wheel, and why.”-BusinessWeek

“Fascinating . . . Could not come at a better time.”
-Library Journal

“Brisk . . . Smart . . . Delivers a wealth of automotive insights both curious and counterintuitive.”

“A literate, sobering look at our roadways that explains why the other lane is moving faster and why you should never drive at 1 p.m. on Saturday.”

“An engaging, informative, psychologically savvy account of the conscious and unconscious assumptions of individual drivers–and the variations in ‘car culture’ around the world . . . Full of fascinating facts and provocative propositions.”
–Glenn Altschuler, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“An engrossing tour through the neuroscience of highway illusions, the psychology of late merging, and other existential driving dilemmas.”
–Michael Mason, Discover

Songs Without Words

by Ann Packer
Paperback $14.95 Vintage Fiction
From The Washington Post’s Book World:
(Reviewed by Carrie Brown)Ann Packer has been looking in our windows. The majority of readers of contemporary literary fiction in America — especially fiction written by women — are women themselves, and in her new novel, Songs Without Words, Packer has tapped into the things that worry many of these readers: love and satisfaction in their relationships, the emotional and psychological health of their offspring, the terrible possibility of spiritual and familial dissolution. Songs Without Words describes a childhood friendship tested by the challenges of adult lives that bear the friends along separate paths. Packer solidifies the reputation she established in the enormously successful The Dive from Clausen’s Pier as an uncannily observant chronicler of contemporary American domestic life. Songs Without Words touches every nerve exposed by the solidly middle-class dilemmas of today’s parents and children, husbands and wives, friends and lovers. There are no wars or plagues here, no suicide bombers or political turmoil. Instead, there is the fraught landscape of suburban life with its troubling questions about marriage, parenthood, friendship and fulfillment.Packer is no ironist; she is not Claire Messud or Zadie Smith, whose most recent novels unspool under the cool panoramic gaze of a social critic. The characters in Packer’s novels are not so much exposed as they are understood — understood and seen, in all the psychological sense of that word. Packer is devoted to her characters, and it is her pleasure as a novelist — and ours as her readers — to watch these people move through the intensely familiar and intimate hours of their days and nights, spooning coffee into the Krups, taking a bath, crawling into bed. Packer follows them from bedroom to kitchen to bathroom (and to the car and the grocery store and Starbucks and the mall), and her pursuit is so unnervingly attentive that it becomes revelatory. Middle-of-the-night readers — and there will be lots of them — who cannot put down Songs Without Words will surely look up at the darkest hour with the sense that they are being watched.

The first paragraph of the novel is one of those lovely moments in fiction when a writer conjures in just a few sentences, with just a few images, the entire universe of the story that is about to unfold. The scene feels both like a presage of things to come and, in its quiet, painterly composition, like a metaphor — of what, at first, we are not exactly sure, of course, but the world Packer evokes here is the familiar beauty-crossed-with-loneliness of the suburban evening. (Countless writers have been drawn to this moment, most famously perhaps James Agee in the opening scene of his novel A Death in the Family). Here is Packer’s beginning:

“Each evening, the streetlights came on at dusk, and the view out the window changed, from barely glowing kitchens and TV rooms to the houses that contained them, and to the trees that sheltered the houses. It seemed to Sarabeth that for a little while there was a kind of balance out there, an equilibrium. But then, quickly, darkness came down from the sky, and soon the lit rooms returned to prominence, and finally everything else was black, and the world seemed limited to a few bright windows on a street in Palo Alto.”

Sarabeth and Liz grew up across the street from each other, their girlhood friendship deepened by the tragedy of Sarabeth’s mother’s suicide when the girls were in high school. Packer offers their history in a brief prologue, and the first chapter of the novel finds Liz married with two teenaged children and contentedly immersed in her roles as wife and mother.

Sarabeth, on the other hand, is still single, uncertain about her life and pursuing a career as a house stager, someone who creates the ambiance of cozy domesticity in homes people are trying to sell, a job that seems like a painful destiny for someone whose own childhood was interrupted by domestic tragedy.

Of the two, Liz appears to have it all, but when her 15-year-old daughter, Lauren — the novel’s most heartbreaking portrait — falls into the grip of adolescent depression, Liz’s world falls apart. And so does Sarabeth’s; Lauren’s unhappiness brings Sarabeth dangerously near to the memory of her own mother, and her retreat from Liz is both cowardly and — this is Packer’s generosity at work — completely understandable. The only thing that can drive old friends apart more surely than death is unhappiness, and it seems that Liz and Sarabeth’s estrangement will separate them permanently. “They all seemed irrevocably distant, the people she knew,” Sarabeth thinks, “as far away as Earth was from the moon.” There are some novels that show us the “other,” and in doing so expand our ideas about humanity. Songs Without Words is a novel that shows us — tenderly, and with a full awareness of the precious dignity and indignity of human experience — ourselves.

Black and White and Dead All Over

by John Darnton
hardcover $24.95 - 10% Knopf New Hardcover Fiction
A keenly intelligent, delightfully mordant novel that blends fact and fiction with the same deft hand that was at work in John Darnton’s best-selling Neanderthal.Bad news is brewing in the inner sanctum of the New York Globe, the city’s long-standing newspaper of note, whose back is to the wall. Readership, advertising, and circulation are plummeting—along with the paper’s vaunted standards—and the cost cutters have their knives out. But trouble of a wholly different kind begins one rainy September morning when a powerful editor is found murdered in the newsroom, with the spike that he’d wielded to kill stories hammered into his chest. The problem for Priscilla Bollingsworth, the young, ambitious female NYPD detective assigned to the case—besides the fact that the mayor is breathing down her neck—is that there are too many suspects to choose from.

She teams up with Jude Hurley, a clever, rebellious reporter, and together they navigate the ink-infested waters whose denizens include the paper’s resentful old guard, scheming careerists, a bumbling publisher, a steely executive editor, and a rival newspaper tycoon named Lester Moloch. But the waters thicken considerably when more bodies turn up, dead all over.

Armed with the firsthand knowledge he has acquired through forty years in journalism, John Darnton conjures up the cynicism and romanticism of the profession and gives us a cunning, pitch-perfect portrait of the declining—if not yet murderous—newspaper industry. Black and White and Dead All Over is a satirical mystery that entertains from first to last.

Beyond the Dunes: A Portrait of the Hamptons

by Paul Goldberger & Jake Rajs
Hardcover $60.00 - 10%          Monacelli / Random House      Local Interest / Photography

The South Fork of Long Island extends only forty miles, stretching east into the Atlantic Ocean from the Shinnecock Canal to the majestic bluffs at Montauk Point. Dotting the coastline are the stylish Hamptons—Southampton, East Hampton, Westhampton Beach, and Bridgehampton—and villages of Sag Harbor, Amagansett, Watermill, and Sagaponack.

The landscape in which these towns sit is unique in the United States. It is not one landscape but a collection of them—dune, farmland, woods, bays, swamps, ponds, marshes, pine barrens, and a high ridge, the moraine left by the glacier that long ago swept across the continent. All is bathed in an extraordinary silvery light that, at once warm and crisp, washes over both land and sea.

Acclaimed photographer Jake Rajs has created a compelling portrait of the Hamptons, juxtaposing privet hedges and pumpkin fields, crashing surf and serene coves, fishermen and polo players, contemporary houses and modest shingled cottages. Most important, he has captured the light throughout the day, from misty dawn to the vivid colors of sunset.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
Hardcover $22.00 - 10%      The Dial Press      New Hardcover Fiction
“I can’t remember the last time I discovered a novel as smart and delightful as this one, a world so vivid that I kept forgetting this was a work of fiction populated with characters so utterly wonderful that I kept forgetting they weren’t my actual friends and neighbors. Treat yourself to this book please—I can’t recommend it highly enough.”—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

“Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows have written a wondrous, delightful, poignant book— part Jane Austen, part history lesson.  The letters in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society aren’t addressed to you, but they are meant for you.  It’s a book everyone should read.  An absolute treasure.”—Sarah Addison Allen, author of Garden Spells

“Here’s who will love this book: anyone who nods in profound agreement with the statement, “Reading keeps you from going gaga.” The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a delight. Tart, insightful and fun.”—Mary Doria Russell, author of The Sparrow, A Thread of Grace and Dreamers of the Day

“Charming…. [Heroine] Juliet finds in the letters not just inspiration for her next work, but also for her life—as readers will.”—Publishers Weekly
“A sure winner…. Elizabeth and Juliet are appealingly reminiscent of game but gutsy ’40s movie heroines.”—Kirkus Reviews

The 13 Clocks

by James Thurber, illustrations by Marc Simont, introduction by Neil Gaiman
Hardcover $14.95 - 10%       NYRB Children’s Collection        Young Adult Hardcover Fiction
The Thirteen Clocks is one of the cleverest [fairytales] that any modern writer has been able to tell…there is no living author who moves about in fairyland with such wit and easy familiarity.” -Time

“It’s one of the great kids’ books of the last century. It may be the best thing Thurber ever wrote. It’s certainly the most fun that anybody can have reading anything aloud.” -Neil Gaiman

“There are spys, monsters, betrayals, hair’s-breadth escapes, spells to be broken and all the usual accouterments, but Thurber gives the proceedings his own particular deadpan spin…It all makes for a rousing concoction of adventure, humor and satire that defies any conventional classification.” -LA Times

“My exemplary Thurber fairy tale is The 13 Clocks…a small masterpiece of respectful travesty honors the whole spectrum of the traditions.” -The Hudson Review

The 13 Clocks is especially wonderful.” -The Washington Post

“Rich with ogres and oligarchs, riddles and wit. What distinguishes [The 13 Clocks] is not just quixotic imagination but Thurber’s inimitable delight in language. The stories beg to be read aloud…Thurber captivates the ear and captures the heart.” -Newsweek

“For true modern fairy tales we leave you with James Thurber…who wrote a tale…with charm and grace in The Thirteen Clocks. These I recommend if you are tired of Grimm.” -ABC Radio

Thurber’s stories are “for children to dream through and for adults to read as parables” -Guardian

“Everyone who reads to their children knows…to read the stuff that you love, or that you love to roll off your tongue…I’d put in a personal endorsement for James Thurber’s The 13 Clocks here…” -Guardian

“Gothic, gruesome, and written with the wit of the master wordsmith.If you saw my copy, you’d believe me when I say I’ve read it more than 13 times.” -Nicola Morgan, The Scotsman

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel
Hardcover $21.00 - 10%        Knopf         Sports / New Hardcover Non Fiction
In 1982, having sold his jazz bar to devote himself to writing, Murakami began running to keep fit. A year later, he’d completed a solo course from Athens to Marathon, and now, after dozens of such races, not to mention triathlons and a dozen critically acclaimed books, he reflects upon the influence the sport has had on his life and—even more important—on his writing.

Equal parts training log, travelogue, and reminiscence, this revealing memoir covers his four-month preparation for the 2005 New York City Marathon and takes us to places ranging from Tokyo’s Jingu Gaien gardens, where he once shared the course with an Olympian, to the Charles River in Boston among young women who outpace him. Through this marvelous lens of sport emerges a panorama of memories and insights: the eureka moment when he decided to become a writer, his greatest triumphs and disappointments, his passion for vintage LPs, and the experience, after fifty, of seeing his race times improve and then fall back.

By turns funny and sobering, playful and philosophical, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is rich and revelatory, both for fans of this masterful yet guardedly private writer and for the exploding population of athletes who find similar satisfaction in running.

these just in … 18 July, 2008

Friday, July 18th, 2008

The Dancer from Khiva: One Muslim Woman’s Quest for Freedom

by Bibish, translated by Andrew Bromfield

Paperback $14.00     Grove Press, Black Cat      Memoir

An unflinchingly honest memoir, The Dancer from Khiva is a true story that offers remarkable insights into Central Asian culture through the harrowing experiences of a young girl.

In a narrative that flows like a late-night confession, Bibish recounts her story. Born to an impoverished family in a deeply religious village in Uzbekistan, Bibish was named “Hadjarbibi” in honor of her grandfather’s hadj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. But the holy name did not protect her from being gang-raped at the age of eight and left for dead in the desert. Bibish’s tenacity helped her survive, but in the coming years, that same tough-spiritedness caused her to be beaten, victimized, and ostracized from her family and community. Despite the seeming hopelessness of being a woman in such a cruelly patriarchal society, Bibish secretly cultivated her own dreams-of dancing, of raising a family, and of telling her story to the world.

The product of incredible resilience and spirit, The Dancer from Khiva is a harrowing, clear-eyed dispatch from a land where thousands of such stories have been silenced. It is a testament to Bibish’s fierce will and courage: the searing, fast-paced tale of a woman who risked everything.

The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers

by Vendela Vida
Paperback $18.00     McSweeney’s     Essays / Literary Criticism
From Publishers Weekly
Each of the 23 interviews in this exquisite collection-diplomatically arranged in interviewee alphabetical order-begins with a pithy introduction by the interviewer, noting something anecdotal of the subject’s life and work, suggesting thematic commitments that drew interviewer to interviewee and noting the location as well as the interview method employed, from “via the U.S. postal system-I would send him questions on separate pieces of paper, and he would type the answers and send them back,” to “The following conversation took place on an old Toshiba calculator.” The project’s formal structure ends there; what follows is a book in which writers chat uninhibited and present the “writing life” with deep, measured enthusiasm (“Here I am starting a new book,” says John Banville. “This is the absolute best stage of it… you might actually get it right this time”), self-deprecating absurdity (“Gaining in gravitas?” Adam Thirlwell asks Tom Stoppard on the subject of weight-gain), or unexpected poignancy (as when Jamaica Kincaid gushes “oh gosh” when asked about her aspirations). The volume is at its strongest when fledgling literati interrogate well-established literary giants-like Nell Freudenberger’s sisterly conversation with Grace Paley, or Dave Eggers’s respectfully warm tête-à-tête with Joan Didion-and when strong-voiced writers with distinctly different projects (Zadie Smith and Ian McEwan, or ZZ Packer and Edward P. Jones) pair off to explore what drives their work.

Timeless Wisdom: Passages for Meditation from the World’s Saints and Sages

by Eknath Easwaran
Paperback $14.95     Nilgiri Press      Philosophy

Passage Meditation: Bringing the Deep Wisdom of the Heart into Daily Life

by Eknath Easwaran
Paperback $14.95     Nilgiri Press      Philosophy

Father Knows Less: One Dad’s Quest to Answer His Son’s Most Baffling Questions

by Wendell Jamieson
Paperback $13.95     Perigee Trade     Childcare / Biography
Wendell Jamieson’s son, Dean, has always had a penchant for asking odd questions. “Dad, what would hurt more—getting run over by a car, or getting stung by a jellyfish? ” “Dad, why do policemen like donuts? ” “Dad, does Mona Lisa wear shoes? ” Because Dad is a newspaperman and city editor for The New York Times, he decided to seek out the real answers to Dean’s questions from top experts—movie directors and ship captains, brain surgeons and stabbing victims, a Buddhist monk and a bra fitter, and even Yoko Ono. Their father-son journey for answers to the tough—and weird—questions of life is a sometimes surprising, often hilarious, and always fascinating celebration of the value and beauty of childlike curiosity.

The Bottom of the Harbor

by Joseph Mitchell
Hardcover $23.00     Pantheon      Local Interest
On the centennial of Joseph Mitchell’s birth, here is a new edition of the classic collection containing his most celebrated pieces about New York City. Fifty years after its original publication, The Bottom of the Harbor is still considered a fundamental New York book. Every story Mitchell tells, every person he introduces, every scene he describes is illuminated by his passion for the eccentrics and eccentricities of his beloved adopted city.

All of the pieces here are connected in one way or another-some directly, some with a kind of mysterious circuitousness-to New York’s fabled waterfront, the terrain that Mitchell brilliantly made his own. They tell of a life that has passed-of vacant hotel rooms, deserted communities, once-thriving fishing areas that are now polluted and studded with wrecks. Included are “Up in the Old Hotel,” a portrait of Louis Morino, the proprietor of a restaurant called (to his disgust) Sloppy Louie’s; “The Rats on the Waterfront,” which has inspired countless writers to attempt portraits of these most demonized New Yorkers; and “Mr. Hunter’s Grave,” widely considered to be the finest single piece of nonfiction to have ever appeared in the pages of The New Yorker.

Here is the essential work of a legendary writer.

these just in … 16 July, 2008

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Radical Light: Italy’s Divisionist Painters, 1891-1910

by Giovanna Ginex, Vivien Greene, & Aurora Scotti Tosini

Hardcover $65.00 - 10%     National Gallery London     Art

Italian Divisionism was arguably the most significant art movement in Italy during the last decades of the 19th century. Often misinterpreted as a simple derivative of French Neo-Impressionism, Divisionism actually diverged from the French school in both aims and results. Italian Divisionists were motivated by a basic dissatisfaction with modern civilization and a desire both to endow art with a scientific approach and make it an instrument of social change. At the same time, their work was often deeply Symbolist in character.

This book features many first-generation Divisionists, including Vittore Grubicy de Dragon, Giovanni Segantini, and Gaetano Previati, together with Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, and others who later launched the Futurist movement, yet were profoundly influenced by Divisionism.

Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes

by Maurice Isserman & Stewart Weaver

Hardcover $39.95 - 10%     Yale University Press     Sports

The first successful ascent of Mount Everest in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa teammate Tenzing Norgay is a familiar saga, but less well known are the tales of many other adventurers who also came to test their skills and courage against the world’s highest and most dangerous mountains. In this lively and generously illustrated book, historians Maurice Isserman and Stewart Weaver present the first comprehensive history of Himalayan mountaineering in fifty years. They offer detailed, original accounts of the most significant climbs since the 1890s, and they compellingly evoke the social and cultural worlds that gave rise to those expeditions.

The book recounts the adventures of such figures as Martin Conway, who led the first authentic Himalayan climbing expedition in 1892; Fanny Bullock Workman, the pioneer explorer of the Karakoram range; George Mallory, the romantic martyr of Mount Everest fame; Charlie Houston, who led American expeditions to K2 in the 1930s and 1950s; Ang Tharkay, the legendary Sherpa, and many others. Throughout, the authors discuss the effects of political and social change on the world of mountaineering, and they offer a penetrating analysis of a culture that once emphasized teamwork and fellowship among climbers, but now has been eclipsed by a scramble for individual fame and glory.

Introduction to Kant’s Anthropology

by Michel Foucault, edited by Roberto Nigro, introduction by Dominique Séglard & Sylvère Lotringer, translated by Kate Briggs

Paperback $14.95     Semiotext(e)     Philosophy

This introduction and commentary to Kant’s least discussed work, Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View, is the dissertation that Michel Foucault presented in 1961 as his doctoral thesis. It has remained unpublished, in any language, until now.

In his exegesis and critical interpretation of Kant’s Anthropology, Foucault raises the question of the relation between psychology and anthropology, and how they are affected by time. Through a Kantian “critique of the anthropological slumber,” Foucault warns against the dangers of treating psychology as a new metaphysics, explores the possibilities of studying man empirically, and reflects on the nature of time, art and technique, self-perception, and language. Extending Kant’s suggestion that any empirical knowledge of man is inextricably tied up with language, Foucault asserts that man is a world citizen insofar as he speaks. For both Kant and Foucault, anthropology concerns not the human animal or self-consciousness but, rather, involves the questioning of the limits of human knowledge and concrete existence.

This long-unknown text is a valuable contribution not only to a scholarly appreciation of Kant’s work but as the first outline of what would later become Foucault’s own frame of reference within the history of philosophy. It is thus a definitive statement of Foucault’s relation to Kant as well as Foucault’s relation to the critical tradition of philosophy. By going to the heart of the debate on structuralist anthropology and the status of the human sciences in relation to finitude, Foucault also creates something of a prologue to his foundational The Order of Things.

Global Catastrophes and Trends: The Next Fifty Years

by Vaclav SmilHardcover $29.95 - 10%     The MIT Press     Science

Fundamental change occurs most often in one of two ways: as a “fatal discontinuity,” a sudden catastrophic event that is potentially world changing, or as a persistent, gradual trend. Global catastrophes include volcanic eruptions, viral pandemics, wars, and large-scale terrorist attacks; trends are demographic, environmental, economic, and political shifts that unfold over time. In this provocative book, scientist Vaclav Smil takes a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary look at the catastrophes and trends the next fifty years may bring. This is not a book of forecasts or scenarios but one that reminds us to pay attention to, and plan for, the consequences of apparently unpredictable events and the ultimate direction of long-term trends.

Smil first looks at rare but cataclysmic events, both natural and human-produced, then at trends of global importance: the transition from fossil fuels to other energy sources; demographic and political shifts in Europe, Japan, Russia, China, the United States, and Islamic nations; the battle for global primacy; and growing economic and social inequality. He also considers environmental change-in some ways an amalgam of sudden discontinuities and gradual change-and assesses the often misunderstood complexities of global warming.

Global Catastrophes and Trends does not come down on the side of either doom-and-gloom scenarios or techno-euphoria. Instead, relying on long-term historical perspectives and a distaste for the rigid compartmentalization of knowledge, Smil argues that understanding change will help us reverse negative trends and minimize the risk of catastrophe.