Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, November 7, 2017


From My Shelf

Timber Press: The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Frontier Landscapes That Inspired the Little House Books by Marta McDowell

Imagine: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: The Album, the Beatles, and the World in 1967 by Brian Southall

Later!

One of my favorite books of the year was published a decade ago. It's not surprising that I missed it then; I was still in college, reading what was assigned and little else. So I can't tell you what the initial reception for Call Me by Your Name (Picador paperback, $17) was, just that André Aciman's seminal novel found me exactly when I needed it. Better late than never.

Luca Guadagnino's film adaptation hits U.S. theaters on November 24. I was lucky enough to catch a screening in June. It's an exquisite depiction of Aciman's moving Italian romance between 17-year-old Elio and 24-year-old visiting grad student Oliver. In lush northern meadows, sultry Roman alleys and Elio's elegant family villa, the two carefully tangle themselves into a splendid summer affair. It's not always obvious how either feels. Oliver can be brash and fulsome; Elio aloof and critical. Most notably he fixates on Oliver's brusque American excuse for a proper goodbye: Later!

I read the novel within a month of seeing the film, and will attest to the brilliance of both. Aciman crafts his narrative around recollection and nostalgia, a young man sifting through emotion and memories after the fact. One moment blurs into the next as Elio seeks to make sense of his feelings for Oliver and the fleeting nature of their relationship. Guadagnino pulls a much more linear story from this poignant tumult, residing fully in each smoldering moment. Timothée Chalamet embodies Elio's sophomoric ambivalence to such a marvelous degree it made me ache. Armie Hammer plays Oliver with a dashing vivacity that has ruined me for other men.

There's often debate as to whether one should read a book before seeing the movie. This time, it doesn't matter. But do both--whether you gulp them down in quick succession like I did, or you choose to save one for later. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness


Portable Press: Uncle John's Old Faithful 30th Anniversary by Bathroom Readers' Institute


Book Candy

National Novel Writing Month

"Gather your writer friends, stock up on snacks, and pull out your fluffiest pillow," Quirk Books suggested in sharing tips on how to host a writing party for National Novel Writing Month.

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Pop quiz: "Do you know which book came out first?" Buzzfeed asked.

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Poet Solli Raphael from Coffs Harbour in New South Wales "delivers an encore performance after becoming the youngest winner of the Australian Poetry Slam national final," the Guardian reported.

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"Nobody knows how the story ends." Mental Floss shared "9 things you might not know about Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace."

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A pet shelter in Orlando, Fla., "sorts their animals into Hogwarts houses to help them find forever homes," Bustle noted.


Crown Publishing Group: Artemis by Andy Weir


Great Reads

Rediscover: Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther

October 31 marked 500 years since German priest Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of Wittenberg's All Saints' Church, sparking a schism that upended centuries of Roman Catholic hegemony in European religious life. What began as a theological argument against church indulgences, in which monetary donations could take the place of actual repentance, escalated into the Protestant Reformation. The many social and political legacies of that religious movement continue to shape the modern world.

Attempts to understand the man behind this seminal act of doctrinal defiance have been ongoing since Luther's death in 1546. The 500th anniversary of his revolutionary Theses has begotten a host of new biographies, notably Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet by Lyndal Roper (Random House) and Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World by Eric Metaxas (Viking). Roland H. Bainton (1894–1984), a professor at Yale Divinity School and specialist in Reformation history, wrote a classic work on Luther's life in 1950. Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther has been in print ever since, and was last reissued in 2013 by Abingdon Press ($19.99, 9781426754432). --Tobias Mutter


Parting Shot by Linwood Barclay


The Writer's Life

Megan Hunter: A Modern Fable

photo: Alexander James

Megan Hunter was born in Manchester, England, in 1984, and now lives in Cambridge with her young family. She has a B.A. in English Literature from Sussex University, and an M.Phil. in English Literature: Criticism and Culture from Jesus College, Cambridge. Her poetry has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, and her short story "Selfing" was a finalist for the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award. Our review of her first novel, The End We Start From (Grove Press), is below.

Have you read much science (or speculative) fiction? Do you admire any SF writers in particular?

I often think that I haven't read much SF--I've not read Ursula Le Guin's work, for example, although I'd like to. But then I think of books I love such as The Handmaid's Tale, The Road, How I Live Now, Northern Lights, and of the loves of my childhood--Narnia featured heavily there, as did Jules Verne's Journey to the Centre of the Earth. I always remember that sense of the imaginative leap in those books--my favourite Narnia book was The Magician's Nephew, in which they travel to many different worlds and dimensions.

The language in this book is beautiful, but the characters themselves are nameless (except for the baby). They are also speechless; there is no directly reported dialogue. What led you to make these choices?

They didn't really feel like choices at the time, more like instinctive moves dictated by what seemed to be the demands of the form and voice of the book. Looking back, I think that the namelessness of the characters fits with the dual sense of the book as modern fable or parable, and as an intimate piece of writing to the self, as in a diary or notebook. Names wouldn't be needed or necessarily appropriate in either of these contexts. This way of looking at the book also works for dialogue--in a notebook (or fairy tale/parable) there wouldn't usually be large amounts of dialogue. The narrator is very much in her own head, and so speech with others is peripheral to her experience. She also has a wordless relationship with her baby for much of the book, and becomes very much rooted in her potent physical experiences. Much of the book consists, as I see it, of the narrator giving voice to wordless experience--and also leaving that experience to speak of itself, in the space and silence that surrounds each section.

Did you do any reading to support your writing, for research, form, musicality?

In terms of form, I was influenced by fragmentary works by writers including Anne Carson, Jenny Offill, Maggie Nelson and David Markson. These writers showed me that there was a way of writing in which I wouldn't feel that poetry and prose fiction were necessarily contrasting forms pulling in different directions--that I could bring my poet self together with my novel/fiction self. And in terms of musicality, my reading of all kinds of poetry was my main guide there. If a sentence didn't stand strongly enough in its own right, it was deleted, or at least edited heavily. In this way my process was similar to my experience of writing poetry--I was looking for a sense of the unexpected, for a certain playfulness with language.

How long did it take you to write this? How would you describe yourself as a self-editor?

The first draft came quite quickly--in around six months. I was editing as I went along, so there was minimal editing at first, and then a longer process with my agent and then my editors in the U.K. and the U.S.--probably around eight months altogether, through all the different stages. As a self-editor, at least in this book, I worked line by line, word by word, often playing with an individual sentence for days at a time. When I worked with editors, it was more looking at overall questions of character, plot, etc. And of adding things--I was fairly cautious at this point, reluctant to add too much to a text that seemed to have been formed in a single creative impulse/trance. Of course, it wasn't quite like that, and editing is always highly necessary. There were also some slightly comic episodes towards the end of the process involving my editor and I discussing single commas for substantial amounts of time!

What books mean the most to you?

Many are books I read as a teenager/young adult--often as an undergraduate. These include Frank O'Hara's poetry, Virginia Woolf (especially The Waves and Mrs. Dalloway), Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea, Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time, Zora Neale Hurson's Their Eyes Were Watching God, Angela Carter's Bloody Chamber and Ernest Bloch's The Principle of Hope. More recently, I have fallen head over heels with Birds of America and Who Will Run the Frog Hospital by Lorrie Moore--she blows me away with her humour and sensitivity. I also recently re-read The Bell Jar--it was even better than I remembered.

The baby and new mother in this book ring very true to life. New parenthood can be difficult to write about, since the exhaustion and distraction at the time can blur your memory. Did you take notes on your children and your own state of mind in their first months?

I've always written a journal/notebook, and I did jot down a few things when my children were babies, but I wasn't a particularly prolific recorder of the experience (compared to some people I know). But when my first child was a baby I did write down one line that is in the book word for word: "It seems that he is feeding me, filling me with a steady orange light." Also, just before I started writing the book we had a new baby in our extended family, and I think the experience of holding him worked as a kind of "madeleine" moment, taking me back to my own experiences six or seven years previously.

What did you learn from writing this book?

I learnt that I could write in a way that felt simultaneously closer and further from myself than anything I'd managed before. My mentor said, "It's like you've suddenly taken off," and it did feel like that. --Sara Catterall


Graphic Arts Books: Build It! Robots and Build It! Farm Animals: Make Supercool Models with Your Favorite Lego Parts by Jennifer Kemmeter


Book Review

Fiction

The Floating World

by C. Morgan Babst


Hurricane Katrina serves as a backdrop for the separation and upheaval affecting each member of the Boisdoré family. Tess and Joe's marriage, already frayed from the burden of long-buried and unspoken economic class and racial differences, becomes more tenuous after the couple evacuates New Orleans without their daughter Cora, who has gone missing. Suspecting that Cora may have been the victim of--or participated in--a crime during the storm, Tess and Joe's guilt and anger with each other intensifies. Meanwhile, the vagaries of dementia cause Joe's father, Vincent, to disappear frequently from his remote cabin, and another daughter, Del, returns from New York to help find Cora while attempting to escape her own mistakes.

The Floating World begins on the 47th day after Hurricane Katrina's landfall and is told in flashbacks from the perspective of each family member to provide some--but not all--answers surrounding the reasons for Cora's disappearance. With a gripping yet deliberate narrative infused with vivid descriptions, C. Morgan Babst takes her time with this story, allowing it to build slowly and methodically with an appropriate weight, enhancing the confusion wrought by the storm. In contrast, Cora's point of view significantly intensifies the pace, lending an urgency to the novel and making her narrative feel almost cyclonic.

A native of New Orleans who evacuated one day before Hurricane Katrina, Babst has an intimate understanding and knowledge of the region's people and rich culture, its topography and the complex forces of race and class. The result is a timely debut about the power of nature and its omnipresent potential for destruction in every aspect of our lives. --Melissa Firman, writer, editor and blogger at melissafirman.com.

Discover: In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a dysfunctional family copes with the destruction of their home and a daughter's mysterious disappearance.

Algonquin, $26.95, hardcover, 384p., 9781616205287

Amberjack Publishing: The Splendid Baron Submarine (Bizarre Baron Inventions #2) by Eric Bower


Righteous

by Joe Ide


Isaiah "IQ" Quintabe, the Sherlock-inspired protagonist from Joe Ide's debut, IQ, is still solving crimes in East Long Beach, Calif., when he happens upon the car responsible for the hit-and-run death of his brother 10 years earlier. The junkyard discovery reignites IQ's resolve to find Marcus's killer. Even though Isaiah moved on with his life and found a role in his community, the loss of his only family haunts him. Meanwhile, Sarita, Marcus's ex-girlfriend, contacts IQ about a job. Isaiah hasn't spoken to her in nearly a decade, but he's secretly been in love with Sarita since she dated his brother; he will do anything to prove his worth to her. Sarita's half-sister, Janine, owes overwhelming debts in Las Vegas and is in serious trouble. The risks are high on this case, and a wrong move could result in prosecution for both Sarita and Isaiah. But Isaiah is determined to come through for the woman he loves, so he calls on his former partner, Dodson, and they head to Sin City.

As the incredibly smart but socially challenged IQ works on the cases, Ide more deeply crafts his dynamic character and the conflicts that plague him. Like Ide's first novel, Righteous is dark, smart and layered. It also displays brilliant humor, especially through Dodson, who is never short on a colorful exchange packed with wit and sarcasm. With only two books under his belt, Ide has proven he's first-rate when it comes to writing great crime novels. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

Discover: IQ, the smart and socially awkward PI, still searching for his brother's murderer, heads to Las Vegas on a case for his brother's ex-girlfriend.

Mulholland Books, $26, hardcover, 336p., 9780316267779

Workman Publishing: Wild: Endangered Animals in Living Motion by Dan Kainen and Kathy Wollard


The End We Start From

by Megan Hunter


New parenthood often feels like the end and beginning of the world. First babies can be all-absorbing, and the sleeplessness and animal impulses can fragment a caretaker's perceptions until the outside world becomes distant and unreal. Megan Hunter's impressionistic debut, The End We Start From, narrates a woman's first year of motherhood in a flooded, imploding Britain.

A nameless narrator is knocked out of her "usual cynicism" by new motherhood and an apocalyptic flood that submerges her high-rise London flat. She and her partner lose their sheltered urban lives almost the day their baby is born. "Bad news as it always was, forever, but worse. More relevant. This is what you don't want, we realize. What no one ever wanted: for the news to be relevant." They flee to her in-laws' house in the country, but nightmare dangers drive them farther north, first to a refugee camp and finally to a far island. Most of the characters are nameless sketches, and much is left unexplained, evoking the confusion and constant fear of refugees. The narrator and her baby exist in a small clear eye together at the center of a collapsing world.

Hunter writes in condensed, poetic language, with dreamlike alternations between exact perceptions and evocative obscurity. Short bursts of oracular imagery that read like myth or scripture are scattered through the text. This unsettling and beautiful short novel is a vision of how a life can wash out to sea, and then wash back in again, wrecked and transformed. --Sara Catterall

Discover: Precise poetic language sustains this dreamlike vision of internal and external apocalypse and reclamation.

Grove Press, $22, hardcover, 160p., 9780802126894

Algonquin Books: Strangers in Budapest by Jessica Keener


Mystery & Thriller

How I Lost You

by Jenny Blackhurst


Emma Cartwright, aka Susan Webster, was convicted of murdering her four-month-old son, Dylan, in a state of postpartum depression and was sentenced to a psychiatric institution. Recently released, she's attempting to put her life back together and move forward, but the past keeps intruding. A photo of a toddler who could be her son appears on her doorstep; she sees someone who looks like him on the street; and she's haunted by dream-like images that could be reality. This leaves Susan wondering exactly what happened four years ago, when Dylan was pronounced dead.

How I Lost You by Jenny Blackhurst is a psychological thriller that weaves Susan's memories of her marriage and first few weeks with Dylan into her ruminations and doubts about her ability to murder her own child. With the help of an attractive male investigative reporter, she searches for answers as more clues are thrust in their direction. This thread is coupled with flashbacks to the past involving a brotherhood of college boys with a sordid and twisted past, one that links with Susan's present in strange and unexpected ways. As the events unfold, the tension ramps up, creating a whirlwind story that races toward a logical, yet not unexpected, conclusion. Despite some stereotypical characters (primarily the frat boys), Blackhurst has developed likable characters in Susan and her allies, and offers readers a complex suspense novel. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

Discover: A mother is convicted of murdering her infant, but in her own mind, she knows she couldn't have done it.

Emily Bestler/Atria, $16, paperback, 384p., 9781501168826

Crown Publishing Group: Artemis by Andy Weir


Food & Wine

Istanbul & Beyond: Exploring the Diverse Cuisines of Turkey

by Robyn Eckhardt, David Hagerman, photographer


Turkey, straddling Europe, Asia and the Middle East, is a complex and diverse nation, as is its cuisine. Food writer Robyn Eckhardt has visited the country several times, traveling from cosmopolitan Istanbul to the country's lesser-known areas. She begins each regional profile with a brief history of the settlements and geography that make it distinctive. Istanbul's location on the edge of Europe brings us dishes with international influences, while the eastern part of the country, with its high elevation and long winters, features more limited but no less interesting fare. The southern Hatay region's Mediterranean climate is ideal for a Sun-dried Tomato and Pomegranate Salad. Head north to the inland provinces in Central Anatolia for hearty grain-based dishes, like Wheat Berries with Chicken and Tomato Butter. The far northeast, along the border of Georgia and Armenia, offers sweet triangle buns filled with caramelized corn flour, while the southeast, near the Syrian border, boasts the sweet heat of the Urfa pepper with sautéed beef and caramelized onions.

The recipes are approachable and clear, even with exotic or unfamiliar ingredients. Nigella seeds, kadayif and za'atar, potentially daunting for home cooks, have suitable alternatives provided when available. "Stocking Your Turkish Pantry" lists the most essential ingredients. Lush photography by Eckhardt's husband, David Hagerman, accompany recipes, as well as profiles of local cooks, farmers and other food providers. The result is a cookbook steeped in rich history and vivid flavors. --Frank Brasile, librarian

Discover: Authentic and approachable, Istanbul & Beyond introduces a world of diverse cuisine to cooks eager to explore new flavors.

Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35, hardcover, 352p., 9780544444317

Biography & Memoir

An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice

by Khizr Khan


The public knows Khizr Khan as the Gold Star father who raised the roof at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, but he pointedly concludes his literary debut, An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice, just as he's about to take the stage.

Khan grew up in Pakistan, the precocious son of poor farmers and the favored eldest of 10 children. After pursuing a law degree in Lahore, he took a job in Dubai for which he was overqualified; opportunities had been fewer in Pakistan, where he felt Islam was being exploited, becoming "a deliberate perversion of religion in order to maintain control over an illiterate and oppressed population." Later, after a stint in Houston, where he passed his citizenship exam, Khan attended Harvard Law School, earning "a reputation as the voice of the academic opposition." Still, he was living a quiet life outside Washington, D.C., when he became aware of Donald Trump's derogatory remarks on the campaign trail about immigrants and Muslims. When Hillary Clinton's people reached out, Khan felt it was his patriotic duty to take a stand.

The practical Khan is a remarkably agile storyteller. He elaborates on the thrill he experienced when he first read the Declaration of Independence; on America's appeal (the Fourteenth Amendment, efficiency, country music); and on his financial struggles (even with a Harvard law degree, he spent a few nights on a park bench). An American Family holds its own alongside other fine memoirs of immigration and would be an inspired addition to any college or high school syllabus. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and author

Discover: The Gold Star father who spoke so movingly at the 2016 Democratic National Convention is just as affecting on the page.

Random House, $27, hardcover, 288p., 9780399592492

Hirschfeld: The Biography

by Ellen Stern


For nearly 75 years, Al Hirschfeld (1903-2003) was the unofficial artist of Broadway, drawing his distinctive line caricatures of nearly everyone in the theater world. In her comprehensive and playful biography, journalist Ellen Stern (Gracie Mansion) captures the breadth of the congenial artist's circle of friends and his influence across a century of movies, newspapers and theater. Including dozens of illustrations and detailed footnotes, Hirschfeld is a thorough history of the man and his New York City. A Manhattan transplant from St. Louis, Hirschfeld quickly put his pen to work in playbills, magazines, newspapers, books and on the walls of commercial art galleries--and never stopped. He had many famous friends, including Eugene O'Neill, Moss Hart, Ogden Nash, S.J. Perelman, Woody Allen--as Stern notes, "When you're Al's friend, you're Al's friend." This is perhaps because he considered his whorling caricatures to be non-derogatory; he put it this way to Stern in an interview: "I prefer to think of them as 'character drawings.' "

Stern writes in colloquial, breezy prose. She is adept in her focus on the essence of the man and his art--observing of the latter: "No one's dancers--from shimmy to jeté to Fosse hip thrust--are more sensuous, with ribbon limbs, sinuous hands, and bodies arched like parentheses." Hirschfeld the artist (with his daughter Nina's name embedded in each drawing) was often the best part of the Sunday New York Times. Hirschfeld is a fitting exploration of his remarkable life. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: Journalist Ellen Stern entertainingly captures the breadth of Al Hirschfeld's friendships and the impact of his distinctive theatrical caricatures.

Sarah Crichton/FSG, $28, hardcover, 368p., 9780374280574

History

The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography and the Man Who Captured Lincoln's Ghost

by Peter Manseau


Humans, inconveniently mortal, have always hoped that death was not final. In The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography and the Man Who Captured Lincoln's Ghost, Peter Manseau (Songs for the Butcher's Daughter) introduces the photographer who offered proof that the dead aren't gone.

William Mumler became a photographer in the mid-1800s. After he took a self-portrait that appeared to include his deceased cousin, the publicity spurred him to start a business taking "spirit photographs." Mumler's wife, Hannah Stuart, was a "healing medium"; together they offered séances and spirit photographs for a fee. Mumler famously photographed Mary Todd Lincoln with the ghost of her husband, President Lincoln, behind her. As unlikely as these photographs were, enough people "entered the Mumlers' studio with a private ache and left with a heart filled" that he became a celebrity.

Manseau introduces contemporaneous historical figures to contextualize Mumler's work. Spiritualists like the Fox sisters encouraged a gullible public. Samuel Morse, besides inventing his code, advanced photographic technology after his wife died and he had no way to remember her face. Alexander Gardner and Matthew Brady, American Civil War photographers, contributed to the commoditization of photography.

Mumler was ultimately accused of fraud and arrested. P.T. Barnum, the showman, played a part in his trial, testifying against him. Mumler was found not guilty but did not return to his former business. He went on to discover technology for magazine images, playing "a pivotal role in the creation of the image-obsessed culture that still defines the nation." Manseau brings disparate historical threads together to create an engaging narrative history. --Cindy Pauldine, bookseller, the river's end bookstore, Oswego, N.Y.

Discover: The Apparitionists tells the story of those who first saw the possibilities of photographic manipulation for commercial gain.

Houghton Mifflin, $27, hardcover, 352p., 9780544745971

Children's & Young Adult

The Watcher: Inspired by Psalm 121

by Nikki Grimes, illus. by Bryan Collier


For those unfamiliar with "golden shovel" poems, here's how they work: choose an existing poem, then create a new poem by ending each line with the exact words, in order, of the original poem. Here, Coretta Scott King Award winner Nikki Grimes opens with Psalm 121, and alchemizes the verses into The Watcher, a contemporary narrative about a bully and her victim who learn how to be friends.

Jordan cowers and shivers in fear of Tanya, who has been "tease[d]... into meanness." When Israel, a new "kid with a weird accent" joins the class, Jordan warns him, " 'Do not/ trust Tanya!' " Jordan watches, and begins to see beyond Tanya's "pricks like a splinter." She steals because she's hungry. She growls because she's ashamed. She pushes because she worries about her ailing grandmother. Tanya gazes back, and notices Jordan doesn't laugh at her stutter. He smiles when she's angry. He sits with her when she's alone. He stays when she's afraid.

Guiding these former enemies toward cautious friendship is Psalm 121's good Lord, the titular Watcher nudging the children toward small acts of kindness that inspire leaps of faith. The psalm is Christian-specific but Grimes's message is all-encompassing, emphasizing understanding and caring. That empathy gets further embellished by four-time Caldecott Honoree Bryan Collier's (I, Too, Am America) extraordinary collages that combine photographs and drawings, close-ups and landscapes, highlighting how different children all have the similar need to be respected, cherished--and watched over. Hopeful and affecting, Grimes and Collier's third collaboration provides exquisite affirmation of the healing power of forgiveness and compassion. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Discover: In this "golden shovel" poem inspired by Psalm 121, a contentious relationship between two young classmates turns into the beginnings of friendship.

Eerdmans, $17, hardcover, 42p., ages 6-10, 9780802854452

Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel

by Mariah Marsden, adaptor, illus. by Brenna Thummler


Anne Shirley has been delighting readers for generations; her "genius for trouble" and the family she finds in Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert's home are timeless experiences, even with the early 20th-century setting of puffed sleeves and one-room schoolhouses. In her graphic novel adaptation of the classic story, Mariah Marsden faithfully recounts orphan Anne's story, using dialogue to shape the narrative rather than description. Whether it's getting Diana drunk on currant wine or breaking her slate on Gilbert's head after he calls her "carrots," Marsden re-creates Anne's most memorable moments in simple vignettes. The adaptation succeeds by building on Anne's high energy, incorporating simplifications of many of Anne's celebrated interjections throughout ("Would you rather be divinely beautiful, dazzlingly clever, or angelically good? I can never decide").

Brenna Thummler's bright, expressive illustrations are a fittingly colorful expression for Anne's fierce heart and buoyant curiosity. Much of her story is told through full-page spreads of wordless panels, suitable for both younger and reluctant readers, and Thummler's illustrations shine as they portray the beautiful world of Avonlea, as well as scenes like Gilbert's attempt to reconcile with Anne by candy heart. "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers," Anne exclaims, on a striking two-page spread framed by trees shedding orange leaves almost the same color of her hair. This fall, readers will be glad, too, as Anne-with-an-E glides back into their lives. --Stephanie Anderson, assistant director of selection, BookOps

Discover: A classic presented in a new format that's perfectly suited for one of the most imaginative girls in children's literature.

Andrews McMeel, $10.99, paperback, 232p., ages 7-12, 9781449479602

Performing Arts

Breaking Bad 101: The Complete Critical Companion

by Alan Sepinwall


A television drama with a ludicrous premise (dying chemistry teacher cooks and sells methamphetamine to build a family nest egg), Breaking Bad was rejected by major networks and shuffled off to cable. From humble beginnings, it became a critical darling and a top-rated, multi-Emmy-winning sensation. In Breaking Bad 101, longtime critic Alan Sepinwall (The Revolution Was Televised) dissects a show so successful at captivating an audience that he watched "the greatest hour of dramatic television ever made" ("Ozymandias"; season five, episode 14) from a hospital bed after nearly dying from a burst appendix.

The book includes updated show recaps supplemented with insightful details about all 62 episodes, with sidebars of insider facts and back stories, commentary from the actors and creators, as well as brilliant black-and-white comic-style artwork that exemplifies the show's dark humor. Breaking Bad 101 is incredibly fun, but shines when Sepinwall explores the elements that elevated an impractical pitch to awe-inspiring success.

From its focus on the "in-between moments" to its use of cinematography to show rather than tell, Breaking Bad is a model of efficacious storytelling. Many plots would crumble from the fragile framework upon which creator Vince Gilligan and his crew built their masterpiece, but this one grew to epic proportions on the strength of its foundation--the writing (and some admittedly happy accidents). Sepinwall reveals how the script held millions of viewers in suspense while a year of real-time story was spread over several glacially paced seasons of television in a masterful display of craftsmanship. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review

Discover: Alan Sepinwall offers an episode-by-episode companion to arguably the greatest television drama of all time that will satisfy artists, casual fans and series aficionados.

Abrams, $27.50, hardcover, 288p., 9781419724831

Poetry

blud

by Rachel McKibbens


As the word "blud" is slang for mate or companion, it's fitting that Rachel McKibbens's poetry collection leaves an impression of rough-hewn camaraderie, of bonds forged in trauma.

McKibbens (Into the Dark & Emptying Field) is a poet, activist and playwright who has built her reputation as a passionate performer and chronicler of society's disenfranchised. In blud, her verse is rich with imagery and symbolism but moves with a visceral force, as if propelled by the exigencies of living, by "the delirium chorus/ of a rowing mind," as the poet states in "poem written with a sawed-off typewriter."

Throughout four sections, the poems address abuse, misogyny, mental illness and various forms of trauma, but they don't wallow. They produce an urgent sense of self-determination. In "three strikes," the poet describes herself as "Hell-spangled girl/ spitting teeth into the sink,/ I'd trace the broken/ landscape of my body/ & find God/ within myself." There's also a sense in these poems of reaching out to other broken beings, especially women, evoking pathos as well as intense homoeroticism. "I want to soothe her many hands,/ trace each silver bolt of/ childbirth etched along/ her torso, taste the salted/ hole of her, this sacred,/ this blood-hot church," the poet declaims in "sermon."

Religious themes appear more than once; however, as with the title word, common tropes are repurposed to the poet's own vision. In blud, McKibbens unleashes a fierce, fraught voice crying out for others in the wilderness. --Scott Neuffer, writer, poet, editor of trampset

Discover: Poet and activist Rachel McKibbens evokes the power of the self and the bonds of womanhood in this intense and image-rich collection.

Copper Canyon Press, $16, paperback, 88p., 9781556595240

Parting Shot
by Linwood Barclay
ISBN-13: 9780385690232
Doubleday Canada
10/31/2017


an exclusive interview with bestselling author Linwood Barclay
 

In PARTING SHOT, the latest release in the Promise Fall series, a key issue is trial by social media and its attendant behaviors. You seem like the perfect author to take it on, since you’ve admitted you’re a key user.

 “I’m on it countless times every day, particularly Twitter. I like it, but this new online world has a very dark side. The sickest people have been able to crawl out from under their rocks far enough to reach a keyboard. There has always  been bullying, but it can be done on a grand scale now.” And even when bullying is not necessarily at the heart of every matter, he does question the quality of opinion and judgment. The Internet has little room for nuance. You’re wonderful, or you’re a monster. There’s not much in-between… I remember that woman who tweeted something tasteless as she boarded a plane to Africa and had lost her job by the time she’d landed. The world had turned against her during her flight.”

 Read the rest of the interview here.

 

ALSO FEATURED ON THE the big THRILL…

EVEN IF IT KILLS HER by KATE WHITE: Returning to her bestselling Bailey Weggins’ series, White tells the story of a true-crime journalist returning to her home town, and being confronted by a friend who 16 years ago lost her family to a killer, one whose conviction is being overturned by new DNA evidence. Read more at The Big Thrill.

THE MIDNIGHT LINE by LEE CHILD: In the latest of the powerhouse Jack Reacher novels, the action shifts to a small Wisconsin town, where spotting a class ring for West Point 2005 in a pawn shop window, motivates Reacher to find out why someone would give up such a precious ring, starting on a journey that turns dangerous fast. Find out more here.

COME HOME by PATRICIA GUSSIN: From the bestselling author with a background in medicine comes a thriller of a child town between two cultures and allegiances to two families, with lingering post-9/11 prejudice against Arab men and pressure from Egypt lead to tragic consequences no one could have foreseen. Learn more at The Big Thrill.

DYING TO LIVE by MICHAEL STANLEY: The sixth crime novel in the Detective Kabu series set in Botswana follows the discovery of a Bushman found dead and the revelation that the old man’s internal organs look remarkably young and that the corpse was stolen from the morgue, setting the investigation on a dark path. Visit The Big Thrill for more. 

Living on a farm with 400 goats and a cantankerous carnivore isn’t among vegan chef Brie Hooker’s list of lifetime ambitions, and when she stays at Aunt Eva’s farm, she makes some grisly discoveries, such as when the farm’s pot-bellied pig unearths the skull of Eva’s husband, who disappeared years back. Read more here.

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