Starred Review

The World According to Joan Didion

by Evelyn McDonnell

As she was in life, Joan Didion (1934-2021) in death is a subject of fascination. Evelyn McDonnell (Women Who Rock) indulges her own fascination in The World According to Joan Didion, an impressionistic tour of Didion's life, written with a feminist's eye, a poet's command of language, and a fan's yearning. McDonnell breaks her narrative into 14 chapters that could succeed as stand-alone essays. Each chapter is named for something that "figured large" in Didion's life. "Snake" is about the land of Didion's

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The Pole

by J.M. Coetzee

To tell a story is to risk boring an audience. To tell a story an audience has heard before risks boring them twice over. But The Pole, from Nobel Prize Laureate and two-time Booker Prize-winner J.M. Coetzee (Late Essays; The Schooldays of Jesus; The Childhood of Jesus), sounds the depths of its characters' extraordinary inner lives contained within their familiar shells.

Beatriz is a board member for a musical organization in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona that invites esteemed performers for monthly recitals.

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Something, Someday

by Amanda Gorman, illus. by Christian Robinson

In Something, Someday, Amanda Gorman tells one story with her words while Christian Robinson suggests another with his pictures. Intertwining text and art on the same page results in an exquisitely complementary achievement that amplifies each half to produce a remarkable whole.

Gorman's first book for children, Change Sings: A Children's Anthem, debuted in 2021 after she made history as the youngest presidential inaugural poet. Change is again at the heart of her verses here, about effecting change when "you're

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People Collide

by Isle McElroy

Isle McElroy (The Atmospherians) takes readers on a mind-bending journey of gender exploration and body politics with People Collide. Much of the novel is told from the perspective of Eli Harding, an American man living in Bulgaria with his wife, Elizabeth, a highly accomplished writer with a prestigious teaching fellowship. Eli is also a writer, but less successful--at everything--than his impressive spouse. In the novel's opening pages, he discovers that he has woken up in Elizabeth's body. Elizabeth

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Democracy Awakening: Notes on the State of America

by Heather Cox Richardson

Historian Heather Cox Richardson (How the South Won the Civil War) dedicates Democracy Awakening to those who have joined her in "exploring the complex relationship between history, humanity, and modern politics"--a description that perfectly encapsulates not just those who may have inspired the book but also the book itself. The author of the popular newsletter Letters from an American offers an eye-opening history and her thoughts on the current state of U.S. democracy and asks: "Is the fall of democracy

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JAJ: A Haida Manga

by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

Internationally renowned artist, author, and activist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas began melding traditional North Pacific Indigenous iconography and modern Asian artistic influences in the late 1990s to create "Haida manga," introduced in his award-winning Red (2009). In JAJ, Yahgulanaas returns with his spectacular hybrid artistry to brilliantly interrogate first contact between Europeans and the Indigenous people of his ancestral home, western Canada's Haida Gwaii archipelago. JAJ, the opening page reveals,

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Kin: Rooted in Hope

by Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. by Jeffery Boston Weatherford

Coretta Scott King Award winner and National Book Award finalist Carole Boston Weatherford (Unspeakable) teams up once again with illustrator son Jeffery Boston Weatherford (You Can Fly) to explore their shared past and honor their enslaved ancestors through dignified poems and stunning artwork in Kin: Rooted in Hope.

Mother and son begin their narrative in 2016 at the Door of No Return, a trading post on Gorée, an island off the coast of Dakar, Senegal, where "captive Africans/ were held for weeks,

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Alex Wise vs. the End of the World

by Terry J. Benton-Walker

Terry J. Benton-Walker's first middle-grade novel, Alex Wise vs. the End of the World, is a heartfelt and action-packed urban fantasy that follows a gay Black boy as he strives to save the world from evil gods seeking to usher in the apocalypse.

Twelve-year-old Alex Wise and younger sister Mags are displeased to be going on a summer cruise with their estranged father and his "upgraded" family. Worse yet, after the ship sets sail, a mysterious figure (the Shadow Man) snatches Mags overboard. Alex jumps into

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Failure Is Not NOT an Option: How the Chubby Gay Son of a Jesus-Obsessed Lesbian Found Love, Family, and Podcast Success... and a Bunch of Other Stuff

by Patrick Hinds

In his enthusiastic and hilarious memoir, Failure Is Not NOT an Option, true-crime podcaster Patrick Hinds (The Q Guide to NYC Pride) takes readers through his life by recounting (and embellishing) his failures with zeal. He starts with his " 'indoor kid' origin story" (spurred by the discovery of a human corpse on his route home from work), and moves through his high school and collegiate time on stage ("traveling competitive drama club--does it get any gayer?") before he attempts a more traditional

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Shelf Discovery

The "Canary" Murder Case

by S.S. Van Dine

Originally published in 1927, the second novel in the Philo Vance series is a Manhattan-set locked-room mystery whose solution is left to the amusingly pompous amateur sleuth.

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Black River Orchard

by Chuck Wendig

Black River Orchard is a horror novel that pairs gruesome gore with the tenacity of cosmic good and enduring evil, all against a backdrop of family, failure, and friendship.

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by Cindy Fazzi

A Filipino American bail enforcement agent, who finds undocumented immigrants for deportation, believes in his career while simultaneously feeling ethically conflicted by it.

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The Caretaker

by Ron Rash

Ron Rash paints a devastating portrait of grief and resentment in the tale of a North Carolina cemetery worker, and the lengths to which one family will go to protect its reputation.

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Black Sheep

by Rachel Harrison

In this darkly comedic yet philosophical horror novel, an unhappy 20-something returns home to the insular community and church she'd left behind only to find frights worse than she'd remembered.

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IDW Publishing: Earthdivers, Vol. 1: Kill Columbus (Earthdivers) by Stephen Graham Jones, illustrated by Davide Gianfelice, colored by Joana Lafuente

Media Heat

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Today Show: Neha Sangwan, author of Powered by Me: From Burned Out to Fully Charged at Work and in Life (McGraw Hill, $28, 9781265443382).

Also on Today: Fran Littlewood, author of Amazing Grace Adams: A Novel (Holt, $27.99, 9781250857019).

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Fresh Air: Ben Goldfarb, author of Crossings: How Road Ecology Is Shaping the Future of Our Planet (W.W. Norton, $30, 9781324005896).
Here & Now: Ian Johnson, author of Sparks: China's Underground Historians and Their Battle for the Future (Oxford University Press, $27.95, 9780197575505).

Today Show: Lidia Bastianich, co-author of Lidia's From Our Family Table to Yours: More Than 100 Recipes Made with Love for All Occasions (Knopf, $35, 9780525657422).

Monday, September 25, 2023

CBS Mornings: Rachel Renee Russell and Nikki Russell, author and illustrator of Dork Diaries 15: Tales from a Not-So-Posh Paris Adventure (S&S/Aladdin, $14.99, 9781534480483).

Also on CBS Mornings: Alicia Roth Weigel, author of Inverse Cowgirl: A Memoir (HarperOne, $18.99, 9780063295285).

Good Morning America: James Patterson and Mike Lupica, authors of 12 Months to Live (Little, Brown, $30, 9780316405690).

Also on GMA: Kayvion Lewis, author of Thieves' Gambit (Nancy Paulsen, $19.99, 9780593625361).

Today Show: Amanda Gorman, author of Something, Someday (Viking, $18.99, 9780593203255).

Also on Today: Sasha DiGiulian, author of Take the Lead: Hanging On, Letting Go, and Conquering Life's Hardest Climbs (St. Martin's Press, $29, 9781250280701).

Fresh Air: Kerry Washington, author of Thicker than Water: A Memoir (Little, Brown Spark, $30, 9780316497398).

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Fresh Air: Leslie Jones, author of Leslie F*cking Jones (Grand Central, $30, 9781538706497).
CBS Mornings: Joe Posnanski, author of Why We Love Baseball: A History in 50 Moments (Dutton, $29, 9780593472675).

Good Morning America: Dale Earnhardt Jr., author of Buster Gets Back on Track (Tommy Nelson, $18.99, 9781400233373).

The View: José Andrés, author of The World Central Kitchen Cookbook: Feeding Humanity, Feeding Hope (Clarkson Potter, $35, 9780593579077).

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

CBS Mornings: José Andrés, author of The World Central Kitchen Cookbook: Feeding Humanity, Feeding Hope (Clarkson Potter, $35, 9780593579077).
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