Bookworks Presents June's IT'S ABOUT BOOKS
Dear Bookworks Bookworm,
I read a book this month that I had every intention of liking, but didn't. It had a story line that interested me but the characters were one dimensional and flat and the writing that was not worth writing home about. Rather than review a book that disappoints, I decided to review a movie that I had just seen with Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche, Words and Pictures. This is a movie well worth the ticket price. It is always a pleasure seeing a movie where actors do what they should be doing best, acting and where writers are doing what they should be doing best, writing.
A one time renowned poet, Jack Marcus, who now teaches Honors English at a tony private school in Maine, laments that fact his students seem to debase the majesty of the written word in favor of the commonality of social media and the immediacy of the internet. Dina Delsanto, the new art teacher, is no has been, but a renowned abstract painter who is experiencing "artist's block," partly because she suffers from the painfully crippling disease, rheumatoid arthritis. Naturally their encounter starts with word clashes, but it quickly escalates when Dina declares to her students that pictures are more important and expressive than words. Indeed, what would the world be without paintings? The gauntlet has been laid down and Marcus accepts the challenge. His words vs her paintings. He will write a new poem, she will paint a new painting and the student body will vote on which is more relevant and worthy.
I don't want to give too much more of the story line away because, true to the nature of a really fine tale, there are fortunate and some very unfortunate side streets the characters take on their two hour trek through the movie. What I particularly enjoyed was the case that Jack makes to his students exhorting them to appreciate past authors by quoting undeniably meaningful and inspiring passages. Words left in the mouth of a skilled orator take on a life of their own and remain with us much in the same way that do vividly drawn paintings. True to all faithful movie goers who are hopeful of a good ending, the movie does end on the right note with the right words.
editor, It's About Books
Long Man by Amy Greene
(Henry Holt $28)
From the critically acclaimed author of Bloodroot, a gripping, wondrously evocative novel of a family in turmoil, set against the backdrop of real-life historical event-the story of three days in the summer of 1936, as a government-built dam is about to flood an Appalachian town, and a little girl goes missing.
Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor
Odidi Oganda, running for his life, is gunned down in the streets of Nairobi. His grief-stricken sister, Ajany, just returned from Brazil, and their father bring his body back to their crumbling home in the Kenyan drylands, seeking some comfort and peace. But the murder has stirred memories long left untouched and unleashed a series of unexpected events: Odidi and Ajany's mercurial mother flees in a fit of rage; a young Englishman arrives at the Ogandas' house, seeking his missing father; a hardened policeman who has borne witness to unspeakable acts reopens a cold case; and an all-seeing Trader with a murky identity plots an overdue revenge. In scenes stretching from the violent upheaval of contemporary Kenya back through a shocking political assassination in 1969 and the Mau Mau uprisings against British colonial rule in the 1950s, we come to learn the secrets held by this parched landscape, buried deep within the shared past of the family and of a conflicted nation.
Kinder Than Solitude
by Yiyun Li
(Random House $26)
A profound mystery is at the heart of this magnificent new novel by Yiyun Li, "one of America's best young novelists" (Newsweek) and the celebrated author of TheVagrants, winner of the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. Moving back and forth in time, between America today and China in the 1990s, Kinder Than Solitude is the story of three people whose lives are changed by a murder one of them may have committed. As one of the three observes, "Even the most innocent person, when cornered, is capable of a heartless crime."
The Divorce Papers
by Susan Riegor
Twenty-nine-year-old Sophie Diehl is happy toiling away as a criminal law associate at an old line New England firm where she very much appreciates that most of her clients are behind bars. Everyone at Traynor, Hand knows she abhors face-to-face contact, but one weekend, with all the big partners away, Sophie must handle the intake interview for the daughter of the firm's most important client. After eighteen years of marriage, Mayflower descendant Mia Meiklejohn Durkheim has just been served divorce papers in a humiliating scene at the popular local restaurant, Golightly's.
by Ward Just
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt $26)
Harry Sanders is a young foreign service officer in 1960s Indochina when a dangerous and clandestine meeting with insurgents-ending in quiet disaster-and a brief but passionate encounter with Sieglinde, a young German woman, alter the course of his life.
The Farm by Tom Rob Smith
(Grand Central $26)
If you refuse to believe me, I will no longer consider you my son.
Daniel believed that his parents were enjoying a peaceful retirement on a remote farm in Sweden. But with a single phone call, everything changes.
Your mother...she's not well, his father tells him. She's been imagining things - terrible, terrible things. She's had a psychotic breakdown, and been committed to a mental hospital.
Before Daniel can board a plane to Sweden, his mother calls: Everything that man has told you is a lie. I'm not mad... I need the police... Meet me at Heathrow.
thrillers & mysteries
Those Who Wish Me Dead
by Michael Koryta
(Little Brown $26)
When fourteen-year-old Jace Wilson witnesses a brutal murder, he's plunged into a new life, issued a false identity and hidden in a wilderness skills program for troubled teens. The plan is to get Jace off the grid while police find the two killers. The result is the start of a nightmare.
Wolf by Mo Hayder (Grove/Atlantic $14.95)
Wolf kicks off when a vagrant-the Walking Man, an enigmatic, recurring character in Hayder's fiction-finds a dog wandering alone with a scrap of paper with the words "HELP US" attached to its collar. He's sure it's a desperate plea from someone in trouble and calls on Detective Inspector Jack Caffery to investigate.
by Robert Galibraith
(Little Brown $14.95)
When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days--as he has done before--and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.
Carsick by John Waters
(Farrar, Straus & Giroux $26)
A cross-country hitchhiking journey with America's most beloved weirdo
John Waters is putting his life on the line. Armed with wit, a pencil-thin mustache, and a cardboard sign that reads "I'm Not Psycho," he hitchhikes across America from Baltimore to San Francisco, braving lonely roads and treacherous drivers. But who should we be more worried about, the delicate film director with genteel manners or the unsuspecting travelers transporting the Pope of Trash?
by Roland Lazenby
(Little Brown $30)
"It's not every day that I'm blown away by a book about a sports figure. But MICHAEL JORDAN: THE LIFE, by Roland Lazenby, ranks up there with the very best: The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn, FridayNight Lights by Buzz Bissinger, and Joe DiMaggio by Richard Ben Cramer. The depth of reporting, his frequent ascent into poetry, and his intelligent analysis of the life of this complicated, fascinating American icon deserve Pulitzer Prize consideration. For the first time I understand what makes Michael Jordan tick. I was captivated, fascinated and beguiled from beginning to end." - Peter Golenbock, New York Times-bestselling author of George and In the Country of Brooklyn
The definitive biography of a legendary athlete.
One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band by Alan Paul
(St. Martin's Press $29.99)
American Saint is the inspiring story of a brave woman who forged the way for the other women who followed and who made a name for herself in a world entirely ruled by men. After she founded a Catholic religious order, Elizabeth resisted male clerical control over it as nuns are doing today, and the publication of her story could not be more timely. Maya Angelou has contributed the foreword.
How About Never-Is Never Good for You?: My Life in Cartoons
by Bob Mankoff
(St. Martin's Press $29.99)
People tell Bob Mankoff that as the cartoon editor of The New Yorker he has the best job in the world. Never one to beat around the bush, he explains to us, in the opening of this singular, delightfully eccentric book, that because he is also a cartoonist at the magazine he actually has two of the best jobs in the world.
Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
In her first memoir, Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents, and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast's memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents.
by Martin Goldsmith
(De Capo $25.99)
On May 13, 1939, the luxury liner SS St. Louis sailed away from Hamburg, Germany, bound for Havana, Cuba. On board were more than 900 Jewish refugees fleeing persecution in Nazi Germany. But an indifferent world conspired against them. After being denied landing rights in Havana, the refugees were turned away by the United States and Canada and forced to sail back to Europe, where the gathering storm of the Holocaust awaited them.
Two of those refugees were Alex Goldschmidt, a sixty-year-old veteran of World War I, and his seventeen-year-old son Klaus Helmut Goldschmidt. After their trans-Atlantic voyage, they landed in France. They would spend the next three years in one French camp after another before being shipped to Auschwitz in 1942.
The Phantom of Fifth Avenue
by Meryl Gordon
(Grand Central $28)
Bestselling author Gordon (Mrs. Astor Regrets) takes on another heiress, the notorious recluse Huguette Clark, as the subject of her latest investigation into the world of New York's wealthiest. Clark was the youngest daughter of Montana robber baron William Andrews Clark, who made his fortune in copper and drew decades of media frenzy for his cash-fueled Senatorial races, fondness for fine art, and gaudy Fifth Avenue mansion. Meticulously researched, Gordon's account catalogues every juicy detail and eccentricity amassed over a century: Clark's years at the elite Spence School, under the Miss Spence; her painting lessons and prolonged flirtation with the famed Dutch portrait painter Tade Styke; her refusal, in the wake of her mother's death, to step outside of her Fifth Avenue apartments for just shy of two decades.
American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Morman Church by Alex Beam (Basic Books $27)
On June 27, 1844, a mob stormed the jail in the dusty frontier town of Carthage, Illinois. Clamorous and angry, they were hunting down a man they saw as a grave threat to their otherwise quiet lives: the founding prophet of Mormonism, Joseph Smith. They wanted blood.
At thirty-nine years old, Smith had already lived an outsized life. In addition to starting his own religion and creating his own "Golden Bible"-the Book of Mormon-he had worked as a water-dowser and treasure hunter. He'd led his people to Ohio, then Missouri, then Illinois, where he founded a city larger than fledgling Chicago. He was running for president. And, secretly, he had married more than thirty women.
Midnight's Descendants: A History of South Asia since Partition by John Keay
(Basic Books $29.99)
Dispersed across India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, Midnight's Descendants-the generations born since the 1947 "midnight hour partition" of British India-are the world's fastest growing population. This vast region and its peoples wield an enormous influence over global economics and geopolitics, yet their impact is too often simplified by accounts that focus solely on one nation and ignore the intricate web of affiliations that shape relations among British India's successor states.
The Galapagos: A Natural History by Henry Nicholis (Basic Books $27.99)
Charles Darwin called it "a little world within itself." Sailors referred to it as "Las Encantadas"- the enchanted islands. Lying in the eastern Pacific Ocean, straddling the equator off the west coast of South America, the Galápagos is the most pristine archipelago to be found anywhere in the tropics. It is so remote, so untouched, that the act of wading ashore can make you feel like you are the first to do so.
The Secret Side of Empty (age 13) by Maria E. Andreu
(Running Press Book $16.95)
As a straight-A student with a budding romance and loyal best friend, M.T.'s life seems as apple-pie American as her blondish hair and pale skin. But M.T. hides two facts to the contrary: her full name of Monserrat Thalia and her status as an undocumented immigrant.
With senior year of high school kicking into full swing, M.T. sees her hopes for a "normal" future unraveling. And it will take discovering a sense of trust in herself and others for M.T. to stake a claim in the life that she wants.