Displaying articles for: January 2013

The One and Only Ivan

A strip mall dwelling gorilla and baby elephant bond over shared loves of art and nature in Katherine Applegate's charming winner of the 2013 Newbery Medal for "most distinguished contribution to American literature for children."

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Fresh Off the Boat

No chef autobiography has been this flavorful since Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential. Eddie Huang casts the founding of his beloved New York restaurant Baohaus against a backdrop of fashion, drugs, and brawling -- a zesty stew leading to culinary brilliance. Delicious.

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Parlor Games

Is May Dugas a glamorous baroness, or a con artist named the world's ''most dangerous woman'' by her foes at the Pinkerton Detective Agency?  Based on true events, Maryka Biaggio's novel tracks a grifter's daring ruse through early 20th century high society.

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Farewell, Fred Voodoo

Amy Wilentz returns to Haiti two decades after her PEN award winning The Rainy Season with a portrait of the nation as a prototypical global economy, and one that foreshadows the dangers of climate change and civic collapse.

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Rebooting Work

Former eBay exec and Silicon Valley guru Maynard Webb applies his trademark problem-solving insights to the 21st century workplace.  A decoder’s handbook featuring illuminating co-worker archetypes, cures for outdated office methodology, and, best of all, techniques for discovering one's unique value in a mercurial job market.

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Testing the Current

William McPherson’s modern classic – a wry and winning story of a boy’s life in a Depression-era Midwestern town -- is brought back to glorious life in this new edition.  The Pulitzer-winning author brings a journalist’s eye to an idyllic world threatened by the secrets, prejudices and vanities of its privileged inhabitants.

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Going Clear

Lawrence Wright delivers an exhaustively researched, equitable history of Scientology's meteoric rise.  From the Church's origins under  L. Ron Hubbard to its intimate bond with some of Hollywood's biggest stars, Wright's reportage unveils one of the most intriguing institutions of our time.

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Ways of Going Home

Readers suffering from Roberto Bolaño withdrawal: look no further.  Alejandro Zambra's fifth novel begins with an earthquake and only shakes up from there, as the story of a Chilean boy enlisted by mysterious forces to spy on his uncle inventively alternates with a tale of an author's familial ties to Pinochet's regime.

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The Brontës

A stirring group biography of all three Brontë sisters: who among us can resist a subtitle like "Wild Genius on the Moors"?  Demolishing the hearsay that has plagued past Brontë bios, Juliet Barker delivers a definitive account of this remarkable family and the literary world they imagined into being.

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Extinct Boids

Having long illustrated the writings of Hunter S. Thompson, artist Ralph Steadman boasts nearly five decades worth of work capturing his wide-ranging interests beyond the gonzo sphere. His latest masterpiece goes the Audubon route, offering us over 100 depictions of bird species that no longer exist -- as well as a few that never did!

 

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Encyclopedia Paranoiaca

As two founders of the National Lampoon, Henry Beard and Christopher Cerf are responsible for some of the sharpest satirical humor of the past forty years.  Their latest opus is a tongue-through-the-cheek encyclopedia of modern neuroses -- a work that will both confirm all your fears, then dispel them with fits of laughter.

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Tenth of December

The fourth story collection from the fertile mind of George Saunders brings outrage and absurdity, from suburban serial killers to criminal lab rats in a futuristic prison.  Yet each tale evokes Saunders' deep sympathy for these souls lost in the twenty-first century funhouse.

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The Great Pearl Heist

In the summer of 1913, two brilliant minds -- a gentleman thief and a talented detective -- squared off when the "Mona Lisa of Pearls" disappeared in transit from Paris to London. This captivating account of the ensuing game of cat-and-mouse evokes the heist classics of Hitchcock and Hammett.

 

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Thirst

Whether we've used water to nourish or impress, to thwart or encourage, for sustenance or recreation, Steven Mithen details how our global consumption has always teetered on the edge on unsustainability -- never more so than today.

 

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Brain on Fire

Victim of an enigmatic neurological disease, Susannah Cahalan was suddenly stricken with hallucinations and bouts of madness. Thanks to the diagnosis of a quick-witted doctor, she emerged from the other side of her surreal ordeal able  to share everything she learned about the nature of the mind (especially her own) in this illuminating memoir.

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Spectrums

Charles and Ray Eames's film Powers of Ten might finally have a contender for most useful and enlightening discussion of our place in the micro- and macrocosmos. Blatner examines myriad phenomena from above and below the familiar everyday human realm of comfortable size and perception. Whether he's probing invisible things like radiation or time or examining tangible astronomical objects, he always ties everything together in an organic whole that allows the readers intelligence to slide easily up and down the universal scale of marvels.

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Prosperous Friends

Can this marriage be saved?  Ned and Isabel are attractive, talented, and on a quest to understand why their partnership seems headed for failure.  Christine Schutt's slender yet powerful novel examines modern love with a poet's insight.

 

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The Physics of Wall Street

Higher math meets the marketplace in this eye-opening perspective on business in the era of quantum theory.  James Weatherall makes the case that concepts once confined to the lab can give us the means to understand the complexity of the financial world  -- and profit.

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Rage is Back

Adam Mansbach's novel of NYC graffiti artists with a justifiable grudge echoes the best work of Tom Robbins, Tom Wolfe and Edward Abbey.  As corrupt politicos are confronted by a ragtag group of the angry dispossessed, Rage is Back brings the flavor of the 1960s into the era of the Occupy movement.

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Always Looking

Those who lament John Updike's death because it cut off new fiction from his pen are matched only by those readers who bewail the cessation of his essays. This posthumous volume collects the last of his previously ungathered writings -- many from The New York Review of Books -- that concern the visual arts. Updike confronts the the work of visionaries such as Rockwell, Eakins, and Homer with a keen eye -- and wizardly prose.

 

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Red Country

Joe Abercrombie writes anti-Tolkien, hard-edged fantasy novels that, in his own words, walk the "fine lines between gritty and too gritty, violent and too violent, interestingly dark and utterly repulsive." His latest is set in the same universe as his First Law trilogy and concerns a young woman's quest to rescue her abducted siblings.

 

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Happy Moscow

Exhumed some sixty years after its composition, long after it was judged too transgressive for publication, this satirical novel by Soviet-era author Andrey Platonov stars a heroine named Moscow. Her wild, allegorical odyssey through Stalin's empire traces her journey from innocent excitement to hard-won experience.

 

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Intoxerated

Scholarly yet popular etymological volumes have been devoted to sexual intercourse and excrement. Paul Dickson hereby completes the Trilogy of Taboo Essentials with his volume examining all the synonyms for drunkenness. Birds do it, monkeys do it -- get blotto, that is -- but no species other than man has 2,964 terms for inebriation, all of which are catalogued here.

 

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July 25: On this day in 1834 Samuel Taylor Coleridge died of heart disease at the age of sixty-one.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

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