Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Avery Publishing Group: The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains by Robert H. Lustig

From My Shelf

Lion Forge: Little Pierrot Vol 1: Get the Moon by Alberto Varanda

Charlesbridge Teen: Blood and Ink by Stephen Davis

A Book Festival Grows in Brooklyn

Readers, authors, bloggers and book lovers flocked to Brooklyn's Borough Hall on Sunday, September 22, for the eighth annual Brooklyn Book Festival. The free, daylong celebration featured a schedule packed end-to-end with panel discussions, author readings and book signings; between events, attendees strolled through the hundreds of vendor booths that filled Borough Hall plaza. Brooklyn's own Greenlight Bookstore was among the local booksellers on hand to sell books by attending authors. (See our listing of other consumer book fairs across the country, which are as vibrant as the Brooklyn one, and are often sponsored by local bookstores.)


In a panel entitled "Creating Dangerously in a Dangerous World," authors Edwidge Danticat, Courtney Brkic and Dinaw Mengetsu discussed the difficulties of presenting legacies of political and personal trauma in fiction and nonfiction, and whether it is the responsibility of writers and artists to be politically engaged. Danticat's newest novel, Claire of the Sea Light (Knopf), focuses on a seven-year-old girl growing up in a poor, seaside town in Haiti.

In "Historical Secrets and Lies," Colombia's Juan Gabriel Vásquez, Argentina's Patricio Pron and South Africa's Zoë Wicomb talked about reexamining historical narratives and exposing lies passed down by previous generations. Juan Gabriel Vásquez's new novel, The Sound of Things Falling (Riverhead), sheds light on the private, personal effects of Colombia's drug wars, and in Pron's My Father's Ghost Is Climbing in the Rain (Knopf), a young Argentinian writer learns that his parents were part of an resistance movement against that country's dictatorship.

Festival-goers lined up around the block to see authors Karen Russell and A.M. Homes in a panel called "The Fantastic and the Strange." Russell read a portion of her short story "Reeling for the Empire," in which young women are transformed into silkworms during Japan's Meiji Restoration. The bizarre, eerie tale is part of Russell's new collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove (Knopf). --Alex Mutter


Picador USA: Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande


Book Candy

Most Surprising Banned Books; Rediscovering Childhood Books

What have been the U.S.'s most surprising banned or challenged books? The Week suggested 13 of them.

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Buzzfeed suggested "35 childhood books you may have forgotten about."

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Who to believe? Flavorwire showcased "10 of literature's most unreliable narrators."

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Daisy Hildyard, author of Hunters in the Snow, chose her "top 10 literary works about ancestors" for the Guardian.

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The Concave Bookcase by Simon Pengelly "is more art form then it is shelving unit," Tréndir noted.


Quirk Books: Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix


The Writer's Life

Book Brahmin: Elizabeth Cohen

photo: Allyson Lent

Elizabeth Cohen has worked as a gas station attendant, a waitress, the girl who put videotapes on a dumbwaiter so people could watch them upstairs at the Museum of Radio and Television, a fact checker, an editorial assistant and a journalist, and is currently a professor of creative writing in the English Department at SUNY Plattsburgh. Growing up in New Mexico, earning a degree in anthropology and then taking a job on a remote Panamanian island inspired her interest in stories of people from different cultures and backgrounds. She is the author of The Family on Beartown Road, a memoir, and coauthor of The Scalpel and the Silver Bear, a memoir of the first Navajo woman surgeon. The Hypothetical Girl (Other Press, August 6, 2013) is her collection of short fiction about people who meet online while seeking love. She lives with her daughter, Ava, in Plattsburgh, N.Y.

On your nightstand now:

Tenth of December by George Saunders. My best friend sent it to me, which is a good example of why she is my best friend. I am awed by Saunders's somewhat shocking array of characters and the disturbing feeling I get reading these. Like the one about a woman who chains her child to a tree in her backyard.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Chronicles of Prydain series, especially The Book of Three, by Lloyd Alexander. In these books, a boy named Taran (if I had a son, he would definitely be Taran) is in charge of pigs on a small, poor homestead. Actually he is an "assistant pig-keeper," but the universe has other plans for him that include defeating an army of zombies, stealing a magic cauldron, leading an army of elves and dwarves and eventually--you probably guessed this--becoming king of a magical land. I loved his sidekick, too, a little monster named Gurgi, who refers to himself in the third person. My father read these books to my sister and me at bedtime, over and over, for years. (And then, one day, I started reading them myself, over and over.) I remember how he would stop to chuckle at certain parts and how he had to push his glasses up his nose when they would slip down and how he used a matchbook as a book mark and what a bummer it was when he would put that matchbook bookmark in and shut the book at night, and say, "Now go to sleepy, little girlies."

Your top five authors:

(Oh no, only five? Okay, here goes...) Mary Gaitskill, Anton Chekhov, Isaac Babel, Anne Tyler, Jayne Anne Phillips, Louise Erdrich (whoops, was that six, sorry...).

Book you've faked reading:

Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past. Hasn't everyone? I can say that to date I have resisted fake quoting the part about him eating that madeleine. I hate it when people quote that, as if they actually read it. Probably 10% of the people who quote that have actually read it. It has become my litmus test for fraud, when someone mentions that.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill. This book was like getting a bag of secrets handed off to me. Reading it was akin to unearthing the diaries of average people and then voyeuristically reading about their strangest and sometimes most sexually charged moments. I carried around my copy in my bag for a year after I finished it, maybe even two, and I constantly reread the stories, the way you might see some people reading the Bible on the subway. It is dog-eared. It has coffee stains. I swear, Mary Gaitskill has telescopic vision into the soul.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Angels and Insects by A.S. Byatt. Fortunately, it was pretty good.

Book that changed your life:

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger. Salinger examines the spirit of a brilliant yet wickedly depressed teenager. As I read it as a wickedly depressed and probably smarter-than-your-average teenager, it spoke to me, on the deepest level. Plus, it made me want to write. Franny, the protagonist, is a writer girl.

Favorite line from a book:

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice." --from One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

I wish I could read Pride and Prejudice for the first time. I am not exactly proud of this.

Your favorite food to snack on while writing:

The Cheeto. Definitely the Cheeto. But the orange stuff gets on your fingers and that can really muck up a keyboard, so I do not recommend this to other writers.


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Book Review

Fiction

Asunder

by Chloe Aridjis


Marie, the narrator of Chloe Aridjis's Asunder, has been a guard at London's National Gallery for 10 years. She lives with her flatmate, Jane, in Islington, enjoying occasional nights out with Daniel, a fellow guard and earnest, unpublished poet. In the privacy of her room, she creates miniature "artistic" worlds of her own out of eggshells, dead moths and bits of broken glass. Her needs are few, her routines predictable.

Aridjis is something of a genius in her ability to enrich the ordinary with epiphanies rendered in deceptively short and simple prose. Marie's world of work and her flat may be circumspect, but she lives large in the world of her mind and imagination. Surrounded by great art, talkative international visitors and instructive curators and restorationists, she can eavesdrop and observe life in its most profane and sacred moments. 

Asunder is not a novel driven by plot or dialogue. It meanders, much as Marie does through her assigned museum rooms. She goes out with Daniel when Jane's habits become too annoying. She concludes that a life is like a painting that goes from "being a thing of beauty to a thing of decaying beauty to a thing of decay." She destroys her miniatures and quits her job. What next? Her only answer is "new subjects and new verbs... my days would have something like a new vocabulary." In this little gem of a novel, Aridjis takes on the troubling questions of life and quietly works her way to the best answers she can find. --Bruce Jacobs

Discover: Living up to the praise for her debut, Book of Clouds, Chloe Aridjis delivers a quiet, deceptively short novel about a sensitive woman and art.

Mariner, $13.95, paperback, 9780544003460

Counterpoint: Gangster Nation by Tod Goldberg


Traveling Sprinkler

by Nicholson Baker


Nicholson Baker's new novel, Traveling Sprinkler, picks up where The Anthologist left off--with Paul Chowder, poet and former bassoonist, now contemplating his 55th birthday, sharing a picnic with ex-girlfriend Roz.

Chowder is having a midlife re-assessment. He can't finish a single poem, but "I've published three books of poems and an anthology. That's plenty. Nobody wants to read more than three books of poems by anyone." He decides to return to music, buys a guitar and sets up a studio in his crumbling barn.

Baker being Baker, his novel is also chock-a-block with digressions and idiosyncrasies. A portion of his barn collapses, burying a lifetime of family correspondence and books (along with a canoe given to him by Roz, the source of much of the pleasure of their romance). His growing collection of walking sprinklers gives the novel its title, as well as a metaphor for Chowder's malaise: "I feel like a traveling sprinkler that's gotten off the hose. I don't know where I'm going."

It's the love story, however, that holds the novel together. Chowder works hard at his songwriting, and the music opens a door for Roz to return. At a club, they listen to his teen neighbor play one of Chowder's songs; the music pushes them into a sublime kiss. "Our mouths remembered what they had to say to each other," he reflects. Unable to leave a happy ending without an aside, Chowder turns to Roz: "I bought a new canoe," he tells her. "You want to take a ride in my new boat?" A new Nicholson Baker boat is always worth the ride. --Bruce Jacobs

Discover: Nicholson Baker returns to the ruminations of poet and would-be musician Paul Chowder, the delightful narrator of The Anthologist.

Blue Rider, $26.95, hardcover, 9780399160967

Shelf Awareness Sign-up Giveaway: Without Merit by Colleen Hoover


Love and Happiness

by Galt Niederhoffer


"Love was a simple equation, a recipe that could produce a decent result with the right ingredients and timing. Spend enough time together... and anyone could fall in love." This pragmatic and unromantic observation is one of many memorable lines in Galt Niederhoffer's chillingly accurate portrayal of a marriage headed toward the rocks. Love and Happiness is so on the mark when it comes to the boredom that sometimes crops up after a decade of marriage, it's a little scary.

The story traces Jean's initial love for her husband (two passionate artists in lust and making short films), her current floundering marriage and her adorable yet needy children. Jean spends nights in her Brooklyn brownstone obsessed with social media, writing passionate e-mails to a college ex-boyfriend she never sends. She despises sex with her husband. This is a woman who, if she's not in crisis, is surely stalled. Jean falls hard for a man whose only attribute seems to be his mysterious newness. Then, of course, comes the affair.

In Jean, Niederhoffer (The Romantics) has created a protagonist who has stopped pretending. She treats her husband with patronizing contempt (he's just so needy!) and crazily hires a private detective to investigate someone she meets in a bar. She's a mirror for an impulsive streak most adults have squelched--and readers will be unable to resist becoming intrigued by her.

Resonating, realistic and utterly unforgettable, Love and Happiness brings an innovative perspective on one of the world's oldest institutions. --Natalie Papailiou, author of blog MILF: Mother I'd Like to Friend

Discover: A must-read work of fiction with a chilling, fascinating new perspective on marriage and monogamy.

St. Martin's Press, $24.99, hardcover, 9780312643737

Mystery & Thriller

Mother, Mother

by Koren Zailckas


Mother, Mother opens on a quiet Saturday morning in small-town New York. A young boy wakes up with his mother standing over him, waiting to start their day. He is a little odd--we soon learn he's been recently diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome and epilepsy--and his mother seems to be wound a little tight, but she's also concerned and loving. Next, the perspective shifts to that of his older sister, a rebellious teen who has just been hospitalized in a local mental institute. We learn that the father is cheating, and the eldest daughter ran away with a boyfriend several years ago. These are the perceptions presented in the first few pages of Koren Zailckas's startling debut novel.

As the story of the Hurst family unfolds, the reader will learn to question every "fact" exhibited. The youngest child, Will, and the middle daughter, Violet, continue to trade off the first-person relating of their family drama. One is on the autism spectrum and the other is drug-addled; thus the reader has to parse not one unreliable narrator but two. Josephine, the titular mother, starts off coldly Stepford-like and quickly takes a turn toward chilling. Absent eldest daughter Rose remains ghostlike and disembodied for most of the book. From the start, the reader senses that something is amiss, but will have to puzzle for a time over which of these troubled characters to trust. Koren Zailckas exhibits a nuanced understanding of psychological drama, combined with a wry tone that brings surprising humor to such an unnerving story. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Discover: Fact and rumor are revealed and concealed in a complex tale with deliciously deceitful cleverness: readers should beware the seemingly straightforward narrative.

Crown, $24, hardcover, 9780385347235

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Shaman

by Kim Stanley Robinson


Turning from the distant future of 2312 to the distant past, Kim Stanley Robinson's Shaman adroitly intertwines raw human emotions in a modestly paced tale of one apprentice's journey into manhood.

Thrown out in the snow naked and with no tools, Loon, an orphan and rebellious shaman trainee, must survive his "wander," a fortnight alone in the woods. After the first night, Loon begins to face his fears as he struggles with the desire to survive, the gnawing pain of hunger and the numbing cold. Once he survives this test, his teacher, the curmudgeonly Thorn, intensifies the shamanic training by making Loon memorize the tribe's ancient tales. "Remember the old ways, and all the old stories," Thorn says. "Remember the animals, your brothers and sisters. Remember to take your place and play your part." Meanwhile, Heather, the pack's midwife and herbalist, teaches Loon to identify wild plants. But Loon wants to do things his way, taking chances that force members of his clan into dangerous situations where men and women are pitted against each other and the fierce elements.

Rich in anthropological details and survival skills, Shaman meanders across the rolling hills and valleys of an ancient past. The men of Loon's tribe hunt bison and caribou, tell tall tales and make cave paintings; the women are tough, courageous and filled with passion. And the endless cycles of the seasons and of life permeate everything in Robinson's entertaining jaunt into the imagined land of our ancestors. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

Discover: Best known for his futuristic science fiction, Kim Stanley Robinson now brings an ancient cave-painting tribe to life.

Orbit, $27, hardcover, 9780316098076

Biography & Memoir

A House in the Sky: A Memoir

by Amanda Lindhout, Sara Corbett


When Amanda Lindhout was a child, she lived inside National Geographic. The faraway flora and fauna would swallow her, while the real world--an abusive, impoverished home in small-town Canada--would fall quietly away. Though Lindhout would eventually convert these fantasies to reality, it is the powerful use of imagination, honed in youth, that would save her life and inspire the title of her memoir, A House in the Sky.

Lindhout's childhood escapism is reminiscent of A Little Princess or Bridge to Terabithia, but her adult life is shaped more by intellectual curiosity and a desire to impact the world. Saving up money from waitressing, she traverses the globe until 2008, when she attempts her most dangerous feat--going to Somalia to cover the civil war. Though warned repeatedly of the danger, she proceeds with a brazen defiance that tempts the reader toward judgment. Yet in this defiance is an enviable daring, as though her fear of stagnation usurps all other fears--the prospect of futility looming darker than danger or death.

When Lindhout is abducted and held hostage for over a year, her life comes full circle. Thrown back into a captive and harrowing existence, she must, as she did at home, invent a place to retreat psychologically when actual escape is not an option.

Despite anticipating her capture from the introduction, the narrative remains somehow suspenseful. Humble, brave and naïvely optimistic, Lindhout possesses the elements of a classically compelling hero. --Annie Atherton

Discover: Lindhout's memoir of captivity in war-torn Somalia is co-written with journalist Sara Corbett (Venus to the Hoop).

Scribner, $27, hardcover, 9781451645606

Play It Again: An Amateur Against the Impossible

by Alan Rusbridger


Though Alan Rusbridger's day job as editor of the Guardian leaves him little time for hobbies, he is a keen amateur pianist, even carving out time to attend a piano camp in France every summer. When he hears a fellow camper perform Chopin's famously difficult Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Rusbridger determines to master the piece himself--and to play it at camp the following year.

Rusbridger tackles the Ballade by enrolling in piano lessons for the first time in decades, researching Chopin's life and music, shopping for a new piano. A journalist to the core, he also interviews concert pianists, music teachers, neuroscientists and others about Chopin, music, practice, distraction and memory. Through it all, breaking news stories (including the WikiLeaks scandal and the Arab Spring uprisings) pull Rusbridger's attention back to his demanding day job.

Rusbridger's memoir is a witty, thoughtful (if sometimes rather technical) account of a turbulent year. He finds carving out even 20 minutes a day to concentrate on Chopin provides a calming escape from the rest of his life--and enriches it as well. Conferences, interviews and other glimpses of events behind the scenes at the Guardian intertwine with Rusbridger's struggle to "wall off a small part of [his] life for creative expression."

A celebration of music and creativity, Play It Again is an honest, ultimately joyous account of pursuing a daunting artistic challenge amid the triumphs and frustrations of everyday life. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Discover: A witty, thoughtful memoir of a high-profile journalist's struggle to master a difficult Chopin piece during a turbulent year.

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28, hardcover, 9780374232917

Essays & Criticism

Sister Mother Husband Dog: Etc.

by Delia Ephron


The impetus for the essays collected in Sister Mother Husband Dog (etc.) is Delia Ephron's loss of her older sister Nora, the firstborn of the four Ephron daughters. Hallie and Amy complete the talented cast. The parents and each of the daughters were or are screenwriters, some are novelists. Delia and Nora co-wrote the play Love, Loss, and What I Wore, which ran for two years off-Broadway and has been performed around the world. Delia's movies include The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, You've Got Mail, Hanging Up and Michael.

High praise from their screenwriter father was: "That's a great line, write it down." Their mother scorned housekeeping, attending children's activities and anything else that smacked of ordinary wifedom and mothering. Delia has nothing good to say about her mother; in the most poignant of the essays, she chronicles her mother's descent into alcoholism, beginning when Delia was 11 and continuing, accompanied by Delia's father, until her death.

Despite all, Delia and Nora grew up with their senses of humor intact. In every essay, she gets several laughs, often at her own expense. She is also mad for dogs (she has a Havanese named Honey) and has lots to say about contemporary life--trying to talk to someone about a tech problem when that someone doesn't speak your language, for instance. Another essay is about ordering online and having it go terribly wrong. She can find the funny in any aspect of life--except the death of her beloved sister. --Valerie Ryan

Discover: The screenwriter of You've Got Mail and Hanging Up shares a first-rate collection of essays on family and career, with particular focus on her late sister, Nora Ephron.

Blue Rider, $25.95, hardcover, 9780399166556

Religion

Silence: A Christian History

by Diarmaid MacCulloch


Diarmaid MacCulloch, a professor of church history at Oxford, has produced a multifaceted meditation in Silence--considering how silence enhanced and made worship possible, as well as how it has helped allow those in power avoid penance for their crimes, from the time before Christ to today.

He cites examples of the monastic tradition in Western Europe, where the use of silence as a ritual tool reinvigorated the church, and recalls cases where silence was considered shameful--in the face of abuse or questionable consolidations of power that a true Christian conscience, aligned with the gospels, should have roared about. There are also subtler concepts of silence on display here, such as instances in which "silence meant survival," from oppressed Catholics in Elizabethan-era England to homosexuals throughout history. MacCulloch has a keen discernment of the tension between the monastic (interior and silent) and the bureaucratic (exterior and vocally demonstrative) and the correlative tension between silent, sole worship and the needful public displays of corporate faith. He rightly takes the Catholic Church to task for its silence on slavery and the gutlessly circumspect response to the Holocaust, and deftly looks at the cover-up of child abusing priests in relation to celibacy and the expression of sexuality.

MacCulloch's Silence is intimate and sometimes moving, but also a deeply scholarly and intellectually invigorating book. He shows with great lucidity and compassion how a single concept has renewed faith and brought it to its greatest heights, but has also been party to Christianity's most fumbling missteps. --Donald Powell, freelance writer

Discover: A deep and penetrating look at how the concept of silence has healed, oppressed and concealed throughout Christianity.

Viking, $27.95, hardcover, 9780670025565

Children's & Young Adult

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

by Kate DiCamillo, illus. by K G Campbell


Newbery Medal–winning author Kate DiCamillo's (The Tale of Despereaux) latest adventure begins when a Ulysses Super-Suction, Multi-Terrain 2000X vacuum cleaner accidentally sucks up an ordinary squirrel, thus transforming him into a super-strong superhero who can type poetry, if not vanquish villains. Flora, a quirky-smart 10-year-old as lonely as a giant squid, fears for the life of her extraordinary new friend Ulysses, with good reason. Her mother (an unhappy romance novelist who might love her monstrously frilly shepherdess lamp more than she loves her own daughter) wants Flora's father to whack the critter with a shovel and bury him. Arch-nemesis, check.

The heart-tugging story of Flora's loneliness, her rocky relationship with her divorced parents, and a peculiar but possible new friend, William Spiver, interweaves seamlessly with the side-splitting shenanigans and ponderings of a sentient squirrel superhero. When we get inside the fuzzy head of Ulysses, we discover that not only is he always very hungry, he's enamored with the world: "He loved all of it: smoke rings and lonely squids and giant donuts and Flora Belle Buckman's round head and all the wonderful thoughts inside of it." K.G. Campbell's charming, funny, cartoon-panel, black-and-white pencil-sketch vignettes zero in on Ulysses in action, whether typing, flying or outmaneuvering an evil cat. (The squirrel's love of the world most often excludes felines.)

Eccentric characters, snappy prose and the fantastical plot give this delightful novel a giddy, over-the-top patina, but the core is big and hopeful, contemplative and bursting with heart. No small feat, even for a superhero like DiCamillo. --Karin Snelson, freelance writer and children's book editor

Discover: A winningly illustrated, slapstick-yet-soulful novel from a Newbery Medalist about a thoughtful squirrel superhero and the lonely girl who loves him.

Candlewick, $17.99, hardcover, 240p., ages 8-up, 9780763660406

Lulu and the Cat in the Bag

by Hilary McKay, illus. by Priscilla Lamont


Hilary McKay (Binny for Short) once again crafts an utterly charming chapter book for newly independent readers, her third in the series that began with Lulu and the Duck in the Park and Lulu and the Dog from the Sea.

When her parents go on vacation, they leave Lulu and her cousin Mellie safely in the care of their grandmother Nan. All is well until a large, mysterious bag appears on Lulu's doorstep, which begins to... snore. Lulu opens the bag to find an enormous orange cat, who stretches, purrs and runs off. "Good," says Nan. "Ran away! Good!" Nan may not be an animal lover, but Lulu certainly is. With their hamsters, fish, rabbits, a parrot and two dogs, Nan is certain her granddaughters already have enough pets. But Lulu and Mellie set off to look for the runaway stray. Lulu knows that this new snoring, purring orange cat will need a good home.  

McKay is a genius at creating fun-loving, caring and original families who take their pets seriously. Sticking to age-appropriate sentence structure and vocabulary, McKay conveys a warm and thoroughly appealing early chapter book. The adventures begin immediately, and the fun doesn't let up until the last page. Lulu's mysterious cat has an unusual habit, which helps Lulu and Mellie to simply follow the feline's trail. Along the way, a new cat lover is born, and all ends peacefully, with a lovely surprise. --Lynn Becker, host of Book Talk, the monthly online discussion of children's books for the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators

Discover: A charming, warm-hearted early chapter book from Hilary McKay featuring animal-loving Lulu, her cousin Mellie, and an enormous orange cat.

Albert Whitman, $13.99, hardcover, 112p., ages 7-10, 9780807548042

Poetry

Stealing Sugar from the Castle: Selected and New Poems, 1950-2013

by Robert Bly


Stealing Sugar from the Castle represents the best of more than a half-century of work from one of America's greatest living poets. In 1962, Robert Bly published his first book of poems, Silence in the Snowy Woods. The homespun title belied the amazing influence its deceptively "simple" and profound poems would have on American poetry.

Here is the complete text of "The Teeth Mother Naked at Last," his powerful anti-Vietnam War poem ("Massive engines lift beautifully from decks..."). Here are many of his masterful prose poems, including the moving "The Dead Seal," along with "deep image" poems and ghazals.  Always the careful observer, Bly starts many of his poems with "the act of" words, like "looking" (at aging faces, the stars), "listening" (to the sitar before dawn, old music). Sadly, we'll have to look elsewhere for Bly's brilliant translations of other poets, such as the Nobel laureates Pablo Neruda and Tomas Tranströmer.

Now 85, Bly suffers from Alzheimer's. Let us rejoice in this retrospective--and the small handful of new poems it includes. Let us be sad that he was never chosen as the nation's poet laureate. Let us now praise a great poet while he's still here to chuckle at the praise, smile and read us a poem like "Taking the Hands" in that singularly rich, Midwestern voice:  
"Taking the hands of someone you love,
You see they are delicate cages...
Tiny birds are singing
In the secluded prairies
And in the deep valleys of the hands."
--Tom Lavoie, former publisher

Discover: An essential bounty of riches from a truly American poet who, in the words of Jane Hirshfield, "has changed the world for all who now share it."

W.W. Norton, $35, hardcover, 9780393240078

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Dear Reader,

For years, readers of One Thousand White Women have asked me to write a sequel. The Vengeance of Mothers chronicles the next wave of extraordinary women who traveled west to become “brides” of the Cheyenne, and in the aftermath of tragedy, must ask themselves: how far can we go to avenge the ones we love?

Email trademarketing@stmartins.com to win one of 5 copies.

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Publisher:
St. Martin's Press

Pub Date:
September 12, 2017

ISBN:
9781250093424

List Price: $26.99

 

Dear Reader,

THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF IVAN ISAENKO brings to life something that we’ve all experienced on some level—that transformation that can only come from being connected with another human being. 

Ivan is a lifelong resident of the Mazyr Hospital for Gravely Ill Children in Belarus. Life has left him snarky, yet endearing, and totally riddled with defense mechanisms. He curates a very detached and carefully managed life for himself to avoid feeling too much. But when Polina arrives, he wants something for the first time in his life. He wants her to live.

Ultimately, Ivan’s story is about choosing life over fear and embracing the richness held inside of lives we sometimes write off. This makes it a perfect choice for those book club discussions that you can’t stop thinking about for days.

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http://www.scottstambach.com

 

Buy this book 

Publisher:
Wednesday Books

Pub Date:
September 19, 2017

ISBN:
9781250081872

List Price: $15.99

 

Dear Reader,

I love that our PBS Victoria series is so popular in the U.S., and it was great fun writing the novel. I pored through Victoria's diaries, and I think the events of her younger years make for a captivating story. So excited it's coming out in paperback, and I hope you love it. 

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Publisher:
St. Martin's Press

Pub Date:
September 26, 2017

ISBN:
9781250045478

List Price: $16.99

 

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