Displaying articles for: September 2012

Stormdancer

Jay Kristoff transports the steampunk genre from Victorian London's oft-trodden streets to feudal Japan. In a world brimming with mythical beasts, strange technologies, and dark conspiracies, a young woman sent on a seemingly impossible quest must find her way home and outwit the Shogun who never intended for her to return.

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The Vanishing Act

A wizardly father, his daughter, and a male companion on an island. Could this be The Tempest redux? There is indeed a hint of Shakespeare's play in this novel about twelve-year-old Minou's precocious engagement with the philosophical underpinnings of life. But ultimately, Mette Jakobsen's debut novel is more in line with such recent delights as The Night Circus and The Magician King.

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Ike's Bluff

Evan Thomas's incisive and deeply readable biography yields a fresh perspective on Dwight D. Eisenhower, a shrewd tactician who excelled at diplomacy during some of the Cold War's most heated exchanges.

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Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores

It's a fact: bookstore clerks remember all of the odd questions they're asked by customers. You can share in their gobsmacked disbelief with Jen Campbell's hilarious compilation. Customer: "Pride and Prejudice was published a long time ago, right?" Bookseller: "Yep." Customer: "I thought so. Colin Firth's looking really good for his age, then."

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The Long Earth

When a single book combines the hard-edged speculative verve of Stephen Baxter (Timelike Infinity) with the fertile comedic zest of Terry Pratchett (the Discworld series), followers of both writers will applaud. Leaping into a multiverse of parallel worlds, the British authors join forces to tell the thought-provoking story of two cross-dimensional explorers and their potentially infinite odyssey. The cosmic frontier never looked so big or appealing!

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Emma

Scholar and critic Bharat Tandon, who has previously written Jane Austen and the Morality of Conversation, now delivers an enriching set of footnotes to one of the most cherished novels of English literature. Praised for both his lightness of touch and depth of scholarship, Tandon provides, along with copious marginal glosses, a stimulating introduction and a fine selection of illustrations to heighten the reader's involvement and understanding.

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Throwing Stones at the Moon

The destinies of the United States and Colombia seem inextricably intertwined as two poles of the trade in illegal drugs. This collection of oral histories captures the effects of that relationship on the smaller nation with savage intensity. Editors Sibylla Brodzinsky and Max Schoening have interviewed a broad range of undefeated victims, soliciting heartfelt first-person reportage that brings home the human cost of violence inflicted by rebel and soldier alike.

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Seward

The men who killed Lincoln also made a bloody attempt on the life of his Secretary of State, William H. Seward. Walter Stahr's new book reveals how this savvy politician -- one of the key figures who held the Union together during the Civil War -- survived to carry on the great president's work.

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The Cocktail Waitress

A beautiful young widow trapped in a lousy job snares a rich new husband. But when he dies, the police suspect she's iced more than his drinks. The last novel of noir master James M. Cain, author of Mildred Pierce and The Postman Always Rings Twice, finally sees the light of day.

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Global Model Village

Shot all over the world, from the streets of Hong Kong to the slums of Cape Town, this collection of photos documents the irreverent and yet achingly earnest street art of Slinkachu. A mini-mosque in a Tribeca fire hydrant, a solitary figure sailing a boat fashioned from a ten-euro note in Berlin, these are unsettling images that encompass the modern world in microscopic tableaus.

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Starboard Wine

This year saw the publication of Grandmaster Samuel R. Delany's first novel in half a decade, Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders. As if that were not enough, hard on its heels comes this welcome reissue of his essay collection from 1984, subtitled "More Notes on the Language of Science Fiction." His analysis of Heinlein's under-appreciated Glory Road is alone worth the price of admission.

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Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World Complete Wine Course

Wine is one of those inexhaustible subjects, like jazz or sports or literature. No matter how much you know, there's always more to learn than one human lifetime can encompass. But that hasn't dismayed renowned oenologist Kevin Zraly, who's conducted his Windows on the World Wine School for the past thirty-six years. This book distills Zraly's vinous wisdom on such topics as the proper mating of food and wine and the scholarly rituals involved in tasting novel vintages.

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Some Remarks

Famed for his brilliant, wrist-taxing novels such as Anathem and Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson proves equally virtuosic at shorter lengths. The erudite essays in his first nonfiction collection cover disparate topics unified by the author's geeky enthusiasm. Laying trans-Pacific cable, the benefits of switching to a treadmill desk, the "innovation starvation" that plagues contemporary science fiction -- all these subjects and more are traversed with joy and insight.

 

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Black Dahlia & White Rose

The prolific Joyce Carol Oates never fails to immerse us in her fiction, and in these tales her talent for exposing the darkness underlying the ordinary world proves as gripping as ever. From a noir-inflected Los Angeles to heartbreak on a maximum-security cellblock, Oates is in top form: heady and headlong reading pleasure.

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The End of Men

Agree or disagree with Hanna Rosin's bold arguments about how a cultural and economic revoltuion has given women the upper hand in the classroom, the workplace, and the home, but her book is fast becoming one of the essential reads of the season. Sure to foster debate and provoke fresh thought.

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The Garden of Evening Mists

Shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize, Tan Twan Eng's haunting novel is set in Malaya in 1951 and follows a young woman recovering from the ravages of WWII. Accepted as the apprentice of a mysterious Japanese gardener in the tea plantations of the Cameron Highlands, she wrestles with her own secrets in a moving historical that recalls the work of David Mitchell.

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My Heart Is an Idiot

A compilation of unrequited love stories and ill-conceived adventures, Davy Rothbart's debut essay collection is by turns hilarious and heartbreaking. As he describes sharing a swimming pool with a dead body or urinating in glass bottles following an ankle injury, Rothbart's prose soars even as his subjects dismay.

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Killer on the Road

Ginger Strand traces the parallel histories of America's interstate highways and the specter that began to stalk them almost as soon as the concrete had dried -- the highway killer. What were intended as roads to utopia quickly became equated with violence, and Strand maps the unique place the blood-soaked freeway still occupies in our shared cultural consciousness.

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Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story

When the virtuosic writer David Foster Wallace took his own life in 2008, readers lost a voice that captured their era with an inspiring exuberance and relentless intelligence.  Drawing on a wealth of archival material, D.T. Max gives us a revelatory look at an author whose personal struggles underlay his groundbreaking books.

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A Wilderness of Error

Celebrated documentary filmmaker and author Errol Morris couldn't stay away from the baffling and contentious case of Jeffrey MacDonald, a military doctor convicted in 1979 of murdering his family.  Two decades of intense research have resulted in his electrifying re-examination of the crime.

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From the Ruins of Empire

An enthralling group portrait of the Asian intellectuals -- among them Gandhi, Sun Yat-sen, and Jamal al-Din al-Afghani -- who sought to create a tradition independent of the Western philosophic canon.  Journalist Panjak Mishra finds a rich seam of reflective thought that exercises rapidly growing influence over world culture.

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In Between Days

In clear, clean prose, and reminiscent of Rosellen Brown's Before & After and Reservation Road by John Burnham Schwartz, Andrew Porter's astonishing and provocative debut novel follows a family falling apart in the face of colliding expectations, secrets, and betrayals.  A Discover Great New Writers Selection.

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April 18: "[W]ould it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament…?"

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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