Displaying articles for: February 2012

In-Flight Entertainment

Thirteen funny and memorable short stories by master of the form Helen Simpson (Constitutional) journey into the comedy of the modern world, and return bearing larger truths. Her characters are people we know -- single women, businessmen, couples breaking up -- who are struggling with issues with which we all struggle: family, love, mortality. Simpson knows how to take readers to new destinations -- and doesn't stint on the amusements along the way.

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That Woman

How deep does Anne Sebba dig in her provocative biography of Wallis Simpson, the American divorcee for whom King Edward VIII abdicated the British throne? Deep enough to uncover evidence that Simpson may not actually have wanted to marry Edward and to explore the possibility that a complex sexuality lay beneath her allure. This eye-opening book is already a bestseller in the U.K.

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Immortal Bird

In this heartrending story, Doron Weber shares his family's struggles to save their gifted, vibrant son, Damon, who was born with a congenital heart defect that introduced serious medical issues during his teenage years. Punctuated with excerpts from Damon's blog and filled with moments both uplifting and devastating, this book captures the spirit of one incredible young man -- and the loving family for whom his voice still sings.

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Dogma

In this comic novel, the sequel to Lars Iyer's Spurious, two British academics -- narrator Lars and his friend W. -- journey across America on a literary lecture tour. In pubs and at bus stops along the way, they discuss religion, capitalism, and philosophical matters delivered with a droll sense of humor that buoys the weighty topics. A madcap road trip of the mind.

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The Tragedy of Arthur

Now out in paperback, the novel our reviewer, Stefan Beck, called, "a prismatic metafictional wonder: a fake memoir that blasts fake memoirs, while speaking passionately on family, memory, and identity; a publishing-world satire; a literary mystery; a comedy; a tragedy; and a pretext for [Arthur] Phillips's virtuoso, full-length imitation of a Shakespearean history play, The Most Excellent and Tragical Historie of Arthur, King of Britain."

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The Lady in Gold

With its graceful subject gazing out from a shimmering peacock's tail of a dress, Gustav Klimt's gold-flecked 1907 portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer has an equally spectacular backstory, complete with a breathtaking woman, turn-of-the-century Viennese society, Nazis, and, of course, an inspired painter. Anne-Marie O'Connor sweeps us up in this true story of high art and high-stakes intrigue.

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Girlchild

In her debut novel, Tupelo Hassman channels the brash but vulnerable voice of Rory Dawn Hendrix, a young girl growing up in a seedy Reno trailer park. Determined not to follow the going-nowhere path prescribed for her -- the one her Mama is currently on -- Rory checks out the Girl Scout Handbook from her school library over and over again, even though she isn't in a troop. Will advice on subjects like "Finding Your Way When You Get Lost" help her escape?

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Brave Dragons

The Shanxi Brave Dragons were among China's worst basketball teams when team owner Boss Wang hired NBA coach Bob Weiss to help them improve. Wang promised Weiss he would be able to employ his American methods, but things didn't exactly play out that way. This illuminating book by former New York Times Beijing bureau chief Jim Yardley reveals as much about China and America as it does about the sport at its heart.

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Rub Out the Words

What ideas and impulses did Beat writer William S. Burroughs explore in correspondence with pals like Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Timothy Leary, or with his son, Billy, during a transitional time in his life and career? In this revealing collection, editor Bill Morgan curates and contextualizes 300 of Burroughs' letters, written as the author branched out and began to experiment with a new creative process, his "cut-up" method.

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The End of Money

They say money makes the world go 'round, but Wired contributing editor David Wolman contends that the days of paying cash are dwindling. Which begs the question, what will a world without paper money look like? Wolman eschews hard currency for a year, travels the globe to explore various perspectives on the bills and coins we both treasure and take for granted, and paints a riveting vision of what our wallets may one day hold.

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Leela's Book

Alice Albinia's fascinating travelogue, Empires of the Indus, traversed more than two thousand miles of riverbank and several milennia of south Asian history. Now, one of the most promising writers of her generation turns to fiction in her first novel. The story of a disastrous wedding becomes so much more in Albinia's hands: a portrait of cultures clashing and a meditation on storytelling itself.

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The Fry Chronicles

"I really must stop saying sorry; it doesn't make things any better or worse." Actor, comedian, and author Stephen Fry follows 1999's Moab is My Washpot -- a quirky and moving account of his childhood -- with a new memoir that finds a young Fry navigating his way in the world of theatrical comedy along with fellow rising stars Emma Thompson and Hugh Laurie. Like having dinner with a friend so clever he makes you feel like the witty one.

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The Accidental Feminist

The author of Forever Barbie offers an appreciation of one of the most glamorous movie stars of all time from a startling perspective. M. G. Lord argues that, in films such as National Velvet, A Place in the Sun, and Butterfield 8, Elizabeth Taylor's roles challenged long-held assumptions about gender, sexuality, and power. A counterintuitive take on a still-fascinating personality.

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Vauxhall Gardens: A History

Think of it as the 18th century's Studio 54. In this suburban tavern/pleasure ground/meeting place/pickup joint, London celebrities like Pepys, Handel, and Hogarth consorted, and the outdoor revelry went on for more than a hundred years before the Victorian era opted for more buttoned-up venues. David Coke and Alan Borg bring Vauxhall's seedy glory to new life in this stylish volume.

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Inside This Place, Not of It

The resilience of the female inmates who tell their stories in this collection will inspire you, even as their accounts of sexual violence, endemic corruption, and forced sterilization make you want to turn away. From Voice of Witness, a non-profit oral history project co-founded by Dave Eggers, this unflinching catalog of human rights abuses in women's prisons, compiled and edited by Robin Levi and Ayelet Waldman, sheds light on a world rarely seen but not soon forgotten.

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Alice James

"The moral and philosophical questions that Henry wrote up as fiction and William as science," Jean Strouse writes of her subject's more famous brothers, "Alice simply lived." It took a biographer of sensitivity and brilliance to give that "simply" the profundity it deserves, and the resulting book, now reissued in the peerless NYRB Classics series, is one of the richest life stories you'll ever read.

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Midnight in Austenland

The world of Jane Austen's fiction has long been an imaginative playground for writers and readers of a certain stripe. Shannon Hale's Austenland wittily took the next step, setting comic romance in a faux-Pemberly resort for the Darcy-smitten. Her latest returns for more Regency fun, but with a twist: does murder stalk Pembrook Park?

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Humble Homes, Simple Shacks...

Childlike retreat? Arts and crafts challenge? Frugal and eco-friendly living option? The notion of the "tiny house" has the surprising potential to fire the imagination. In this exuberant volume of sketches, plans, and commentary, the artist Derek Diedricksen shares his infectious enthusiasm for the idea of the micro-mansion.

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Vulture Peak

Royal Thai Police Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep returns to solve another head-spinning, stomach-turning case in John Burdett's fifth Bangkok-based novel. In this instance, a particularly gruesome triple murder launches the idiosyncratic, personal-problem-plagued cop on a chase for an international organ-trafficking ring led by a set of diabolical, drop-dead gorgeous Chinese twins known as the Vultures. Fresh, funny, and completely wild.

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The Coral Sea

Patti Smith's National Book Award-winning memoir, Just Kids, detailed the rock star and poet's extraordinary relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. The Coral Sea, Smith's 1996 ode to her late friend, was written just a few years after his death. Appearing in a welcome new edition, it's a haunting, achingly evocative tribute.

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Come in and Cover Me

The pathos exhibited in Gin Phillips acclaimed debut novel, 2008's The Well and the Mine, is again on display in this sensitive story of a 36-year-old archeologist, Ren, whose life was altered by the death of her brother. Even long after his passing, Ren's brother appears to her, sometimes to sing to her at night. Now, in the midst of an important dig, two ghosts from an ancient culture emerge to teach Ren about life, loss, and love.

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April 17: "In less than three years, both GM and Chrysler would be bankrupt, and a resurgent Ford would wow Wall Street..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

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