New Books! 9/8/15

New in Hardcover

This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison

With Bernard, her husband of fifty-five years, now in the grave, seventy-eight-year-old Harriet Chance impulsively sets sail on an ill-conceived Alaskan cruise that her late husband had planned. But what she hoped would be a voyage leading to a new lease on life becomes a surprising and revelatory journey into Harriet s past. There, amid the overwhelming buffets and the incessant lounge singers, between the imagined appearances of her late husband and the very real arrival of her estranged daughter midway through the cruise, Harriet is forced to take a long look back, confronting the truth about pivotal events that changed the course of her life. And in the process she discovers that she s been living the better part of that life under entirely false assumptions.

Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg

On the eve of her daughter’s wedding, June Reid’s life is completely devastated when a shocking disaster takes the lives of her daughter, her daughter’s fiance, her ex-husband, and her boyfriend, Luke–her entire family, all gone in a moment. And June is the only survivor. Alone and directionless, June drives across the country, away from her small Connecticut town. In her wake, a community emerges, weaving a beautiful and surprising web of connections through shared heartbreak. From the couple running a motel on the Pacific Ocean where June eventually settles into a quiet half-life, to the wedding’s caterer whose bill has been forgotten, to Luke’s mother, the shattered outcast of the town–everyone touched by the tragedy is changed as truths about their near and far histories finally come to light. Elegant and heartrending, Did You Ever Have a Family is an absorbing, unforgettable tale that reveals humanity at its best through forgiveness and hope. At its core is a celebration of family–the ones we are born with and the ones we create.

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder

In this epic history of extermination and survival, Timothy Snyder presents a new explanation of the great atrocity of the twentieth century, and reveals the risks that we face in the twenty-first. Based on new sources from eastern Europe and forgotten testimonies from Jewish survivors, Black Earth recounts the mass murder of the Jews as an event that is still close to us, more comprehensible than we would like to think, and thus all the more terrifying.

Fear of Dying by Erica Jong

Four decades ago, Erica Jong revolutionized the way we look at love, marriage and sex with Fear of Flying. Now she does it again by giving us the story of Vanessa Wonderman, a woman in the afternoon of her life confronting an aging husband, parents approaching death, a pregnant daughter, and a conviction that her best years are behind her. Could her fountain of youth fantasies be fulfilled on zipless.com? It promises “no strings attached” encounters, and Vanessa is so restless that she’s willing to try anything.

William Shakespeare’s Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge: Star Wars Part the Third by Ian Doescher

The curtain rises once again on that star-crossed galaxy far, faraway this time, to chronicle a once-heroic knight s transformation into the darkest of villains. William Shakespeare’s Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge is the climactic conclusion to the fall of the house of Skywalker, a collaboration between William Shakespeare and George Lucas that s filled with masterful meter, stirring soliloquies, inside jokes, and intricate Elizabethan illustrations. You ll fall in love with Star Wars and Shakespeare all over again. At the same time!

Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie

Centuries ago, Dunia, a princess of the jinn, fell in love with a mortal man of reason. Together they produced an astonishing number of children, unaware of their fantastical powers, who spread across generations in the human world. Inspired by the traditional wonder tales of the East,Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights is satirical and bawdy, full of cunning and folly, rivalries and betrayals, kismet and karma, rapture and redemption. “In the final chapters, the supernatural beings take part in an epic war being fought by powerful genies over the future of humanity, leading to an action-packed climax that reads in places as if Kafka had written a blockbuster superhero movie.” -NYTimes

The Lost Landscape: A Writer’s Coming of Age by Joyce Carol Oates

In The Lost Landscape, Joyce Carol Oates vividly re-creates the early years of her life in western New York State, powerfully evoking the romance of childhood and the way it colors everything that comes after. From early memories of her relatives to remembrances of a particularly poignant friendship with a red hen, from her first friendships to her first experiences with death, The Lost Landscape is an arresting account of the ways in which Oates’s life (and her life as a writer) was shaped by early childhood and how her later work was influenced by a hardscrabble rural upbringing. With searing detail and an acutely perceptive eye, Oates renders her memories and emotions with exquisite precision to truly transport the reader to a bygone place and time, to the lost landscape of the writer’s past but also to the lost landscapes of our own earliest, and most essential, lives.

Mysteries of the Mall: And Other Essays by Witold Rybczynski

In thirty-four discerning essays, Rybczynski ranges over topics as varied as shopping malls, Central Park, the Opera Bastille, and America’s shrinking cities. Along the way, he examines our post-9/11 obsession with security, the revival of the big-city library, the rise of college towns, our fascination with vacation homes, and Disney’s planned community of Celebration. By looking at contemporary architects as diverse as Frank Gehry, Moshe Safdie, and Bing Thom, revisiting old masters such as Palladio, Le Corbusier, and Frank Lloyd Wright, and considering such unsung innovators as Stanley H. Durwood, the inventor of the cineplex, Rybczynski ponders the role of global metropolises in an age of tourism and reflects on what kinds of places attract us in the modern city. Mysteries of the Mall is required reading for anyone curious about the contemporary world and how it came to be the way it is.

New in Paperback

Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson (speaking & signing at BookPeople this Friday!)

BookPeople and the New Writers Project at the University of Texas are pleased to present PEN/Faulkner finalist and acclaimed writer T. Geronimo Johnson reading from his novel, now in paperback, Welcome to Braggsville. This dark and socially provocative Southern-fried comedy tells the story of four UC Berkeley students who stage a dramatic protest during a Civil War reenactment. Fierce, funny and unforgettable, this is a literary coming-of-age novel for a new generation.

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa a large, silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants life is about to be transformed, as impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers. With the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the clerk class, the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. Little do the Wrays know just how profoundly their new tenants will alter the course of Frances’s life or, as passions mount and frustration gathers, how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be.

The Art of Crash Landing by Melissa DeCarlo (speaking & signing at BookPeople Wednesday, 9/9!)

Broke and knocked up, Mattie Wallace has got all her worldly possessions crammed into six giant trash bags and nowhere to go. Try as she might, she really is turning into her late mother, a broken alcoholic who never met a bad choice she didn’t make. When Mattie gets news of a possible inheritance, she drives eight hundred miles to her mother’s birthplace. There, she soon learns that her mother remains a local mystery: a happy, talented teenager who inexplicably skipped town. But the girl they describe bears little resemblance to the damaged woman Mattie knew, and before long it becomes clear that something terrible happened to her mother. Uncovering what started her mother’s downward spiral might be the only way to stop her own.

Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation by Bill Nye

Sparked by a controversial debate in February 2014, Bill Nye has set off on an energetic campaign to spread awareness of evolution and the powerful way it shapes our lives. In “Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation,” he explains why race does not really exist; evaluates the true promise and peril of genetically modified food; reveals how new species are born, in a dog kennel and in a London subway; takes a stroll through 4.5 billion years of time; and explores the new search for alien life, including aliens right here on Earth.With infectious enthusiasm, Bill Nye shows that evolution is much more than a rebuttal to creationism; it is an essential way to understand how nature works-and to change the world. It might also help you get a date on a Saturday night.

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