Monday, April 30, 2007

"Impotence: A Cultural History"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Impotence: A Cultural History by Angus McLaren.

About the book, from the publisher:

As anyone who has watched television in recent years can attest, we live in the age of Viagra. From Bob Dole to Mike Ditka to late-night comedians, our culture has been engaged in one long, frank, and very public talk about impotence — and our newfound pharmaceutical solutions. But as Angus McLaren shows us in Impotence, the first cultural history of the subject, the failure of men to rise to the occasion has been a recurrent topic since the dawn of human culture.

Drawing on a dazzling range of sources from across centuries, McLaren demonstrates how male sexuality was constructed around the idea of potency, from times past when it was essential for the purpose of siring children, to today, when successful sex is viewed as a component of a healthy emotional life. Along the way, Impotence enlightens and fascinates with tales of sexual failure and its remedies — for example, had Ditka lived in ancient Mesopotamia, he might have recited spells while eating roots and plants rather than pills — and explanations, which over the years have included witchcraft, shell-shock, masturbation, feminism, and the Oedipal complex. McLaren also explores the surprising political and social effects of impotence, from the revolutionary unrest fueled by Louis XVI’s failure to consummate his marriage to the boost given the fledgling American republic by George Washington’s failure to found a dynasty. Each age, McLaren shows, turns impotence to its own purposes, using it to help define what is normal and healthy for men, their relationships, and society.

From marraige manuals to metrosexuals, from Renaissance Italy to Hollywood movies, Impotence is a serious but highly entertaining examination of a problem that humanity has simultaneously regarded as life’s greatest tragedy and its greatest joke.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

"Thick As Thieves"

Coming in May from Henry Holt: Steve Geng's Thick As Thieves: A Brother, a Sister -- a True Story of Two Turbulent Lives.

About the book, from the publisher:

A memoir about two siblings who loved each other (sometimes); the thrill of the shoplift, the power of the written word, the agony of addiction, and the joy of someone who understands you and still stays true

Steve Geng — thief, addict, committed member of Manhattan’s criminal semi-elite — was a rhapsody in blue, all on his own. Women had a tendency to crack his head open. His sister? Also unusual: Veronica Geng wrote brilliantly eccentric pieces for The New Yorker, hung with rock stars and Pulitzer Prize winners, threw the occasional typewriter, fled intimacy. They were parallel universes, but when they converged, it was . . . memorable.

Spanning decades of unresolved personal drama and rebellion, Steve Geng’s memoir, Thick as Thieves, is the story of their lives, the bond between them, and all the things they shared. Raw, real, and funny, Geng follows his unique family history from Philadelphia to Paris, Greenwich Village to Riker’s Island. We meet lovable, often treacherous characters (B.J. the Queen of Crime, Tina Brown). We hear the rants of the Geng’s father, the Colonel; the malicious invective of publishing; the patter of hardened criminals. This is a memoir that will lift your spirit, kick you in the shins, and help you remember the person who understood you the most. Geng has made a lot of mistakes in his life. Thick as Thieves may just make up for them.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

"The Making of an Economist, Redux"

Published in March by Princeton University Press: David Colander's The Making of an Economist, Redux.

About the book, from the publisher:

Economists seem to be everywhere in the media these days. But what exactly do today's economists do? What and how are they taught? Updating David Colander and Arjo Klamer's classic The Making of an Economist, this book shows what is happening in elite U.S. economics Ph.D. programs. By examining these programs, Colander gives a view of cutting-edge economics -- and a glimpse at its likely future. And by comparing economics education today to the findings of the original book, the new book shows how much -- and in what ways -- the field has changed over the past two decades. The original book led to a reexamination of graduate education by the profession, and has been essential reading for prospective graduate students. Like its predecessor, The Making of an Economist, Redux is likely to provoke discussion within economics and beyond.

The book includes new interviews with students at Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, Chicago, and Columbia. In these conversations, the students -- the next generation of elite economists -- colorfully and frankly describe what they think of their field and what graduate economics education is really like. The book concludes with reflections by Colander, Klamer, and Robert Solow.

This inside look at the making of economists will interest anyone who wants to better understand the economics profession.

Friday, April 27, 2007

"Weapons of Mass Seduction"

Coming in June: Weapons of Mass Seduction by Lori Bryant-Woolridge.

About the book, from the publisher:

Fortysomething and still single, music-video exec Pia Jamison has given up her grandiose ideas on men and marriage but not motherhood. Her biological clock is on red alert, but after years of self-imposed celibacy she has no clue how to attract the man she needs to get the baby she wants. Help comes in the form of Pia’s savvy assistant, who tricks her boss into attending, under the guise of a business conference, a flirting workshop called Weapons of Mass Seduction. There Pia meets other women looking to amp up their amorous arsenals, including the devastated Texas belle Florence Chase, who’s trying to save her failing marriage; and Rebecca Vossel, a twenty-two-year-old small-town biracial girl who’s dying to release her inner diva.

What they learn about the art of sensuality and flirtation turns them into bona fide bombshells. The three return home, armed and deliciously dangerous, to spectacular results. Florence reunites with her husband, but the new and improved Flo must now determine if she’s staying in her marriage out of happiness or habit. The plain Jane Rebecca has transformed herself into the super-sexed “Becca,” but will she realize when she’s gone to far? And Pia is happily pregnant but unexpectedly falls in love—not with the father of her unborn child but with a sexy and very conservative candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Weapons of Mass Seduction is a fun and sexy book (think of it as a flirting workshop within a novel) that promises to unleash the sensual woman in you!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

"The Declaration of Independence"

Published earlier this year by Harvard University Press: The Declaration of Independence: A Global History.

About the book, from the publisher:

In a stunningly original look at the American Declaration of Independence, David Armitage reveals the document in a new light: through the eyes of the rest of the world. Not only did the Declaration announce the entry of the United States onto the world stage, it became the model for other countries to follow.

Armitage examines the Declaration as a political, legal, and intellectual document, and is the first to treat it entirely within a broad international framework. He shows how the Declaration arose within a global moment in the late eighteenth century similar to our own. He uses over one hundred declarations of independence written since 1776 to show the influence and role the U.S. Declaration has played in creating a world of states out of a world of empires. He discusses why the framers' language of natural rights did not resonate in Britain, how the document was interpreted in the rest of the world, whether the Declaration established a new nation or a collection of states, and where and how the Declaration has had an overt influence on independence movements -- from Haiti to Vietnam, and from Venezuela to Rhodesia.

Included is the text of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and sample declarations from around the world. An eye-opening list of declarations of independence since 1776 is compiled here for the first time. This unique global perspective demonstrates the singular role of the United States document as a founding statement of our modern world.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"The Scarlet Ibis"

New this month: Susan Hahn's The Scarlet Ibis.

About the collection, from the publisher:

In The Scarlet Ibis, Susan Hahn has created an intricately structured sequence of interlinked poems centered around the single compelling image of the ibis. The resonance of this image grows through each section of the book as Hahn skillfully employs theme and variation, counterpoint and mirroring techniques. The ibis first appears as part of an illusion, the disappearing object in a magician's trick, which then evokes the greatest disappearing act of all-death-where there are no tricks to bring about a reappearance. The rich complexity multiplies as the second section focuses on a disappearing lady and a dramatic final section brings together the bird and the lady in their common plight-both caged by their mortality, their assigned time and role. All of the illusions fall away during this brilliant denouement as the two voices share a dialogue on the power of metaphor as the very essence of poetry.

bird trick iv

It's all about disappearance.

About a bird in a cage

with a mirror, a simple twist

on the handle at the side

that makes it come and go

at the magician's insistence.

It's all about innocence.

It's all about acceptance.

It's all about compliance.

It's all about deference.

It's all about silence.

It's all about disappearance.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"The Castro Gene"

Coming in May from Oceanview Publishing: The Castro Gene by Todd Buchholz.

About the book, from the publisher:

The Castro Gene is seamless, suspenseful and shocking.

After killing a man in the ring, Luke Braden quits boxing. While toiling as a security guard and yearning to reinvent himself, Luke is swept up into the high-flying domain of Paul Tremont. Tremont, the hottest hedge fund hand around, has a penchant for the dramatic and a disquieting need to control. Being Tremont’s protégé has its perks – Luke trades in his ratty basement apartment for a penthouse view, his gym clothes for designer suits. But there are strings attached, and Tremont is pulling those strings.

Why does Tremont need a washed-up boxer? The answer lies not in what Luke is, but who he is. Luke Braden is the only man who can execute Tremont’s diabolical scheme.

Fidel Castro risks one last trip to the U.S., and one man will be forced to stand in his way. Luke Braden is in for the fight of his life – or the fight for his life.

Intricately plotted with unexpected twists and breathtaking turns, The Castro Gene is a knockout.

Monday, April 23, 2007

"A Circle Is a Balloon and Compass Both"

Published this month: A Circle Is a Balloon and Compass Both: Stories About Human Love by Ben Greenman.

About the book, from the author's website:

From the author of Superbad and Superworse, a new collection of stories about giving, wanting, and the wonders of love.

A Circle Is a Balloon and Compass Both is a collection of stories about love, the most elusive and problematic of all phenomena. With a mix of traditional, literary prose and bold — some might even say irresponsible — experimentation, Ben Greenman explores the ins and outs of modern romance. Expect tears, nudity, and recrimination.

Both familiar in their humanness and wholly original, these imaginative stories take us all over the map in time, place, and circumstance. From the halfhearted summer affair between a part-time bartender and a married doctor in a Miami hotel to the cryptic pseudo-erotic love letters to a friend who is “more than a friend,” we experience the love of pop songs, the love of cohabitation in Chicago, and love that is so transporting it takes us to the moon — literally.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

"The Impossibility of Religious Freedom"

Coming May 2007 in paperback: The Impossibility of Religious Freedom by Winnifred Fallers Sullivan.

About the book, from the publisher:

The Constitution may guarantee it. But religious freedom in America is, in fact, impossible. So argues this timely and iconoclastic work by law and religion scholar Winnifred Sullivan. Sullivan uses as the backdrop for the book the trial of Warner vs. Boca Raton, a recent case concerning the laws that protect the free exercise of religion in America. The trial, for which the author served as an expert witness, concerned regulations banning certain memorials from a multiconfessional nondenominational cemetery in Boca Raton, Florida. The book portrays the unsuccessful struggle of Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish families in Boca Raton to preserve the practice of placing such religious artifacts as crosses and stars of David on the graves of the city-owned burial ground.

Sullivan demonstrates how, during the course of the proceeding, citizens from all walks of life and religious backgrounds were harassed to define just what their religion is. She argues that their plight points up a shocking truth: religion cannot be coherently defined for the purposes of American law, because everyone has different definitions of what religion is. Indeed, while religious freedom as a political idea was arguably once a force for tolerance, it has now become a force for intolerance, she maintains.

A clear-eyed look at the laws created to protect religious freedom, this vigorously argued book offers a new take on a right deemed by many to be necessary for a free democratic society. It will have broad appeal not only for religion scholars, but also for anyone interested in law and the Constitution.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

"Black & White"

New this month from Knopf: Dani Shapiro's Black & White.

About the book, from the publisher:

From the author of Family History (“Poised, absorbing ... a bona fide page turner” — The New York Times Book Review) and the best-selling memoir Slow Motion, a spellbinding novel about art, fame, ambition, and family that explores a provocative question: Is it possible for a mother to be true to herself and true to her children at the same time?

Clara Brodeur has spent her entire adult life pulling herself away from her famous mother, the renowned and controversial photographer Ruth Dunne, whose towering reputation rests on the unsettling nude portraits she took of her young daughter from the ages of three to fourteen. The Clara Series, which graced the walls of museums around the world as well as the pages of New York City tabloids that labeled the work pornographic, cast a long and inescapable shadow over its subject. At eighteen, when Clara might have entered university and begun to shape an identity beyond her sensationalized, unsought role in the New York art world, she fled to the quiet obscurity of small-town Maine, where she married and had a child, a daughter whom she has tried to shield from the central facts of her early life and her damaging role as her mother’s muse.

Fourteen years later, Ruth Dunne is dying, and Clara is summoned to her bedside. Despite her anguish and ambivalence about confronting a family life she has repressed and denied for more than a decade, Clara returns. She finds Ruth surrounded, even in her illness, by worshipful interns, protective assistants, and her conniving art dealer.

Once again, she is Clara Dunne, the object of curiosity, the girl in the photos. Except this time she has her own daughter to think about — a girl who at nine looks strikingly like the girl in Ruth’s photos — and she yearns to protect her, to insulate her from the exposure that will inevitably result when her two worlds, New York and Maine, collide.

As Clara charts a path connecting her childhood with her adult life, Shapiro’s novel weaves together past and present in images as stark and intense as the photographs that tore the Dunnes apart. A brilliant examination of motherhood — a novel that pits artistic inspiration against maternal obligation and asks whether the two can ever be fully reconciled — Black & White explores the limits and duties of family loyalties, and even of love. Gripping, haunting, psychologically complex, this is Shapiro at her captivating best.
Visit Dani Shapiro's website.

Friday, April 20, 2007

"The English National Character"

New this year from Yale University Press: The English National Character: The History of an Idea from Edmund Burke to Tony Blair, by Peter Mandler.

About the book, from the publisher:

What kind of people are “the English”? What characteristic traits and behavior (if any) distinguish them from other people? This highly original and wide-ranging book traces the surprisingly varied history of ideas among the English about their own “national character” over the past two centuries.

Two hundred years ago, the very idea of a national character was novel and not very respectable. Today, it is again difficult for the many who think of themselves as unique individuals to imagine a “national character” that binds the English together in a national unit. But in between, as Britain became a democracy, “national character” became part of the national common sense, reflected in depictions of "John Bull" and his twentieth-century successor, the "Little Man," and in a set of stereotypes about English traits, follies, and foibles. Not at all shy to talk about themselves, the English have produced a vast outpouring of material on what it means to be English — material on which this book draws: lectures, sermons, political speeches, journalism, popular and scholarly books, poems and novels and films, satires and cartoons and caricatures, as well as up-to-the-minute social science and public opinion research.

In this comprehensive and lucidly argued book, a leading historian of modern Britain challenges long-held assumptions and familiar stereotypes and proposes an entirely new perspective on what it means to think of oneself as being English.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

"The Invisible Cure"

Coming in May: The Invisible Cure: Africa, the West, and the Fight Against AIDS by Helen Epstein.

About the book, from the publisher:

In 1993, Helen Epstein, a scientist working with a biotechnology company searching for an AIDS vaccine, moved to Uganda, where she witnessed firsthand the suffering caused by the epidemic. Now, in her unsparing and illuminating account of this global disease, she describes how international health experts, governments, and ordinary Africans have struggled to understand the rapid and devastating spread of the disease in Africa, and traces the changes wrought by new medical developments and emerging political realities. It is an account of scientific discovery and intrigue with implications far beyond the fight against one tragic disease.

The AIDS epidemic is partly a consequence of the rapid transition of African societies from an agrarian past to an impoverished present. Millions of African people have yet to find a place in an increasingly globalized world, and their poverty and social dislocation have generated an earthquake in gender relations that deeply affects the spread of HIV. But Epstein argues that there are solutions to this crisis, and some of the most effective ones may be simpler than many people assume.

Written with conviction, knowledge, and insight, Why Don’t They Listen? will change how we think about the worst health crisis of the past century, and our strategies for improving global public health.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"A Glorious Defeat"

Due out in May from Farrar, Straus and Giroux: A Glorious Defeat: Mexico and Its War with the United States by Timothy J. Henderson.

About the book, from the publisher:

Why Mexico Went To War With The United States

The war that was fought between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 was a major event in the history of both countries: it cost Mexico half of its national territory, opened western North America to U.S. expansion, and brought to the surface a host of tensions that led to devastating civil wars in both countries. Among generations of Latin Americans, it helped to cement the image of the United States as an arrogant, aggressive, and imperialist nation, poisoning relations between a young America and its southern neighbors.

In contrast with many current books that treat the war as a fundamentally American experience, Timothy J. Henderson offers a fresh perspective on the Mexican side of the equation. Examining the manner in which Mexico gained independence, Henderson brings to light a greater understanding of that country’s intense factionalism and political paralysis leading up to and through the war. Also touching on a range of topics from culture, ethnicity, religion, and geography, this comprehensive yet concise narrative humanizes the conflict and serves as the perfect introduction for new readers of Mexican history.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

"The First Stone"

Due out on May 1st: Judith Kelman's The First Stone.

About the book, from the publisher:

He's a world-renowned, brilliant cardiac surgeon. But since Dr. Malik moved in upstairs with his family, Emma has started to wonder what kind of a man he really is. On quiet nights, home alone with her three-year-old, pregnant Emma can hear muffled thumps and screams from the apartment above and pleading words in a little girl's voice. If she reports Dr. Malik, she might put her own husband's career on the line. But the sounds from the apartment above keep haunting her, until she confides in a friend.

Soon, Malik becomes the target of an investigation. When he discovers the role Emma played in it, her life begins to unravel. And just as she is about to bring a new life into the world, she starts to fear for her own.

Monday, April 16, 2007

"In Search of Another Country"

Published last month by Princeton University Press: In Search of Another Country: Mississippi and the Conservative Counterrevolution by Joseph Crespino.

About the book
, from the publisher:

In the 1960s, Mississippi was the heart of white southern resistance to the civil-rights movement. To many, it was a backward-looking society of racist authoritarianism and violence that was sorely out of step with modern liberal America. White Mississippians, however, had a different vision of themselves and their country, one so persuasive that by 1980 they had become important players in Ronald Reagan's newly ascendant Republican Party.

In this ambitious reassessment of racial politics in the deep South, Joseph Crespino reveals how Mississippi leaders strategically accommodated themselves to the demands of civil-rights activists and the federal government seeking to end Jim Crow, and in so doing contributed to a vibrant conservative countermovement. Crespino explains how white Mississippians linked their fight to preserve Jim Crow with other conservative causes -- with evangelical Christians worried about liberalism infecting their churches, with cold warriors concerned about the Communist threat, and with parents worried about where and with whom their children were schooled. Crespino reveals important divisions among Mississippi whites, offering the most nuanced portrayal yet of how conservative southerners bridged the gap between the politics of Jim Crow and that of the modern Republican South.

This book lends new insight into how white Mississippians gave rise to a broad, popular reaction against modern liberalism that recast American politics in the closing decades of the twentieth century.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

"Promise Not To Tell"

New from HarperCollins: Jennifer McMahon's Promise Not To Tell.

About the book, from the author's website:

A woman’s past and present collide with unexpected results in this hauntingly beautiful debut novel set in rural Vermont

Interweaving past and present, Promise Not To Tell is a story of friendship, secrets, murder, and redemption. At its center is Kate Cypher, a reserved 41-year-old school nurse who returns to the small town of New Canaan, VT, to care for her Alzheimer’s-afflicted mother. The night she arrives, a young girl is murdered. Slowly Kate is drawn into the investigation—and deep into the childhood she’s tried to escape — for the killing eerily echoes the death of another young girl: her childhood friend, Del. Poor, misunderstood, Del suffered the taunts of classmates who shunned her and called her “Potato Girl.” But in Del, 10-year-old Kate found a kindred spirit, until a painful falling out shattered their relationship shortly before Del’s death.

As the investigation unfolds, the facets of Kate’s life collide in a terrifying way: her mother is quickly deteriorating, her old friends are never quite what they seem, and the ghosts of her childhood have emerged to haunt her. Tautly written, deeply insightful, and beautifully evocative, Promise Not To Tell is a riveting and unforgettable debut.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

"The Fellowship"

Forthcoming from Overlook Press: John Gribbin's The Fellowship: Gilbert, Bacon, Harvey, Wren, Newton, and the Story of the Scientific Revolution.

About the book, from the publisher:

Seventeenth-century England was racked by civil war, plague, and fire; a world ruled by superstition and ignorance. But then a series of meetings of ‘natural philosophers’ in Oxford and London saw the beginning of a new method of thinking based on proof and experiment. And at the heart of this Renaissance were the founding fathers of modern western science: The Royal Society.

John Gribbin’s gripping, colorful account of this unparalleled time of discovery explores the birth of the Society and brings its prime movers to life, including: William Gilbert, Francis Bacon, William Harvey, Christopher Wren, Robert Morey, Robert Hooke, and his ambitious rival Isaac Newton.

This compelling book shows how the triumph of the revolution that changed our world—and still continues 350 years on — was ultimately not the work of one isolated genius, but of a Fellowship.

Friday, April 13, 2007

"Here She Lies"

Coming May 1st: Kate Pepper's Here She Lies.

About the book, from the author's website:

When she discovers e-mail evidence of her husband's infidelity, Annie Milliken is shattered. Dismissing his pleas of innocence, she takes their baby daughter and goes to the one person she has always trusted: her twin sister, Julie. Annie and her sister soon become as close as they were growing up, spending their days together, dressing the same, sharing the baby. But when Annie applies for a job, everything comes undone. Her credit cards are stolen just as she's arrested for grand larceny. The police realize she is the victim of identity theft, but she has yet to understand the true scale of the crime. For when Annie turns to Julie for help, she finds that her twin sister has disappeared ... along with her baby. Now, with her daughter -- and her own life -- on the line, Annie is going to fight for what is hers.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

"The Vengeful Virgin"

Now out from Hard Case Crime, Gil Brewer's The Vengeful Virgin:

From the publisher's website:


What beautiful 18-year-old would want to spend her life taking care of an invalid? Not Shirley Angela. But that’s the life she was trapped in—until she met Jack.

Now Shirley and Jack have a plan to put the old man out of his misery and walk away with a suitcase full of cash. But there’s nothing like money to come between lovers—money, and other women...

  • First publication in more than 40 years!
  • Entertainment Weekly on THE VENGEFUL VIRGIN: "The momentum never stops."
  • Levi Stahl on THE VENGEFUL VIRGIN: "It’s a flawless crime the final plot twist unfolded, I actually stopped cold[,] unable to pay attention to anything but the book. Now that’s good crime writing."
  • Bestselling author of THE RED SCARF, which sold more than 1 million copies
  • The Gina Gershon movie 3-Way was based on two of Gil Brewer’s novels
"A Cainlike story of greed, sex and murder, culminating in retributive horror worthy of Jim Thompson."
Anthony Boucher, The New York Times
"[Brewer] produced some of the most compelling noir softcover originals of the 1950s [and] THE VENGEFUL VIRGIN is among my favorites."
Bill Pronzini

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


New this month: Ladykiller from Lawrence Light and Meredith Anthony.

About the book, from the publisher:

In the city that never sleeps, evil is wide awake.

From the bright lights of Times Square to the dark alleys of New York, the Ladykiller is at work – and at prey.

Four women savagely murdered on the mean streets of New York. The Ladykiller leaves no trail, no clues.

The pressure is on for NYPD detective Dave Dillon: either he solves the crime, or he can kiss his job goodbye. When Dave joins forces with Megan Morrison, a beautiful young social worker, the search for a cold-hearted killer leads to a hot romance. But a host of forces threaten to intrude: Nita, Megan’s jealous mentor, would delight in derailing the romance between Dave and Megan, as would Jamie, a determined detective with her own not-so-hidden agenda. And Dave’s shadowy past is never far behind. The clock is ticking for Dave and Megan. Will they close in on the shocking truth behind the crimes, or will it close in on them?

In the world of the Ladykiller, passion can turn deadly in a New York minute.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

"Falling Boy"

Published last month by Picador: Falling Boy by Alison McGhee.

About the book, from the publisher:

"Did you really rescue your mother from a fate worse than death on a cliff overlooking the sea?"

After a mysterious accident left him paralyzed, sixteen-year-old Joseph finds himself living with his father in Minneapolis and working hot summer days in a bakery. What happened to the life he used to live? How did he come to be here? Although they approach the mystery in different ways, two people in Joseph's new life -- seventeen-year-old Zap, who also works in the bakery, and Enzo, a fierce and funny nine-year-old girl -- both want to find out.

"Are you really a superhero?" whispers Enzo, who secretly longs for her world to be transformed. "Please be a superhero."

Stoically quiet, Joseph has never thought of himself as a superhero, especially now that he is in a wheelchair and can't feel his legs. But others disagree. Who is the hero? Who is the enemy? Is redemption possible, and if so, where is it to be found? In Alison McGhee's strange and powerful Falling Boy, a small band of tough kids turn the myth of the superhero inside out as they face down the shadows of childhood.

Monday, April 9, 2007


Coming in May from St. Martin's Minotaur: Lindsey Davis's Saturnalia.

A plot summary, from the author:

It is the Season of Misrule in Rome, sheer misery for Falco. Uppity slaves give orders to their cringing masters, masters try to hide in their studies, women are goosed, statues wobble, a prince has a broken heart, Helena’s brother will not decide if his heart is broken or not, children are sick and even the dog can’t stand it any more. As the festival meant for healing grudges riotously proceeds, a young man who has everything to live for dies a horrific death while the security of the Empire is compromised by the usual mixture of top brass incompetence, bureaucratic in-fighting and popular indifference. The barbarians are not just at the gates, they are right inside - and that’s just the bombasts in the Praetorian Guard, encouraged by the pernicious Chief Spy.

Doctors are making a killing. Alternative therapists are ecstatic. Members of the Didius family are about to receive some extremely unusual seasonal gifts. But for the non-persons on the fringes of society life is not so jolly, and dark spirits walk abroad (available for hire through the usual agents). Falco has a race against time to find a dangerous missing person, aided and hindered by faces from the past, while running the gauntlet of the best and worst Roman society can offer as Saturnalia entertainment. Unfortunately for him.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

"Lost Dog"

New this month: Lost Dog by Bill Cameron.

About the book, from the author's website:

Peter McKrall is at a crossroads — out of work, fighting a klepto habit, and trying to figure out his next move. Life takes an unexpected turn when a search for his niece’s stuffed dog leads him to something else entirely: a bullet-riddled corpse. Talking to reporters lands Peter on the local news, which turns out to be a dangerous spotlight. And now Darla, the troubled daughter of the victim, is reaching out to him — but can she be trusted? When a second murder takes place and evidence is planted in his trash, the cops dredge up Peter’s painful history. The only ray of sunshine in this harrowing nightmare is Ruby Jane, whose warm smile melts the winter chill.

An unwitting player in a bizarre chain of events, Peter has no idea that the deranged killer is after him — until he takes a shot at Ruby Jane.

- + - + -

Set against the sodden backdrop of Portland, Oregon, Lost Dog tells of the intersection of one man's struggle against and another's embrace of powerful and self-destructive impulses.

Visit Bill Cameron's website and read an excerpt from Lost Dog.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

"American Leviathan"

New this month from Hill & Wang: American Leviathan: Empire, Nation, and Revolutionary Frontier by Patrick Griffin.

About the book, from the publisher:

The war that raged along America’s frontier during the period of the American Revolution was longer, bloodier, and arguably more revolutionary than what transpired on the Atlantic coast.

Between 1763 and 1795 westerners not only participated in a War of Independence but engaged in a revolution that ushered in fundamental changes in social relations, political allegiances, and assumptions about the relationship between individuals and society. On the frontier, the process of forging sovereignty and citizens was stripped down to its essence. Settlers struggled with the very stuff of revolution: violence, uncertainty, disorder, and the frenzied competition to remake the fabric of society. In so doing, they were transformed from deferential subjects to self-sovereign citizens as the British Empire gave way to the American nation. But something more fundamental was at work. The violent nature of the contest to reconstitute sovereignty produced a revolutionary settlement in which race and citizenship went hand in hand. The common people demanded as much, and the state delivered. As westerners contended in a Hobbesian world, they also created some of the myths that made America American.

Patrick Griffin recaptures a chaotic world of settlers, Indians, speculators, British regulars, and American and state officials, vying with one another to remake the West during its most formative period.
Watch for American Leviathan in the Page 69 Test series.

Friday, April 6, 2007

"Super Mom Saves The World"

Published in March: Melanie Lynne Hauser's Super Mom Saves The World.

About the book, from the author's website:

At the end of a long day at work, saving the world, you'd think Super Mom would get a break. But no. She still has to do battle with a foe more terrifying than the most dastardly of super villains - teenagers.

It's six months after the Horrible Swiffer Accident that left her a superhero, and Birdie Lee is still adjusting. For starters, she's hearing voices and having lustful thoughts about Mr. Clean. Then there's the fact that her daughter is suddenly sporting a bright pink streak in her hair, courtesy of her new friend Vienna (and if recent history has taught us anything, we all know that a girl named after a foreign city is going to be trouble). Birdie's son is experiencing his first case of puppy love, her nerdy scientist love interest has just proposed marriage, and her annoying ex-husband is suddenly less annoying. Which can only mean he's up to no good.

But things get even more sinister when her hometown of Astro Park gets Little League fever in a big way. Rabid parents, performance-enhancing Gatorade and a domed stadium on shaky - potentially explosive - ground are just the beginning of Super Mom's problems; throw in a ticked off school janitor and a corrupt mayor, and Super Mom has her hands full.

Read Super Mom Saves The World to find out how one woman - one mother - struggles to keep her teenagers in tow with one hand while saving her hometown from disaster with the other. While trying to find time for herself amidst the very real, very messy job of blending families as she plans her marriage to her very own Super Man.
Read the first chapter of Super Mom Saves The World.

Thursday, April 5, 2007


New from Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Susan Coll's Acceptance.

About the book, from the publisher:

A comic chronicle of a year in the life in the college admissions cycle
It’s spring break of junior year and the college admissions hysteria is setting in. “AP” Harry (so named for the unprecedented number of advanced placement courses he has taken) and his mother take a detour from his first choice, Harvard, to visit Yates, a liberal arts school in the Northeast that is enjoying a surge in popularity as a result of a statistical error that landed it on the top-fifty list of the U.S. News & World Report rankings. There, on Yates’s dilapidated grounds, Harry runs into two of his classmates from Verona High, an elite public school in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. There’s Maya Kaluantharana, a gifted athlete whose mediocre SAT scores so alarm her family that they declare her learning disabled, and Taylor Rockefeller, Harry’s brooding neighbor, who just wants a good look at the dormitory bathrooms.

With the human spirit of Tom Perrotta and the engaging honesty of Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep, Susan Coll reveals the frantic world of college admissions, where kids recalibrate their GPAs based on daily quizzes, families relocate to enhance the chance for Ivy League slots, and everyone is looking for the formula for admittance. Meanwhile, Yates admissions officer Olivia Sheraton sifts through applications looking for something — anything — to distinguish one applicant from the next. For all, the price of admission requires compromise; for a few, the ordeal blossoms into an unexpected journey of discovery.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

"Welcome to Everytown"

Published last month by Granta Books: Julian Baggini's Welcome to Everytown.

About the book, from the publisher:

What do the English think? Every country has a dominant set of beliefs and attitudes concerning everything from how to live a good life, how we should organize society, and the roles of the sexes. Yet despite many attempts to define our national character, what might be called the nation's philosophy has remained largely unexamined. Until now. Philosopher Julian Baggini pinpointed postcode S66 on the outskirts of Rotherham, as England in microcosm – an area which reflected most accurately the full range of the nation's inhabitants, its most typical mix of urban and rural, old and young, married and single. He then spent six months living there, immersing himself in this typical English Everytown, in order to get to know the mind of a people.

It sees the world as full of patterns and order, a view manifest in its enjoyment of gambling. It has a functional, puritanical streak, evident in its notoriously bad cuisine. In the English mind, men should be men and women should be women (but it's not sure what children should be). Baggini's account of the English is both a portrait of its people and a personal story about being an alien in your own land. Sympathetic but critical, serious yet witty, Welcome to Everytown shows a country in which the familiar becomes strange, and the strange familiar.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

"Crazy '08"

Available on Opening Day: Cait Murphy's Crazy '08: How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and Magnates Created the Greatest Year in Baseball History.

About the book, from the publisher:

From the perspective of 2007, the unintentional irony of Chance's boast is manifest—these days, the question is when will the Cubs ever win a game they have to have. In October 1908, though, no one would have laughed: The Cubs were, without doubt, baseball's greatest team — the first dynasty of the 20th century.

Crazy '08 recounts the 1908 season — the year when Peerless Leader Frank Chance's men went toe to toe to toe with John McGraw and Christy Mathewson's New York Giants and Honus Wagner's Pittsburgh Pirates in the greatest pennant race the National League has ever seen. The American League has its own three-cornered pennant fight, and players like Cy Young, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, and the egregiously crooked Hal Chase ensured that the junior circuit had its moments. But it was the National League's — and the Cubs' — year.

Crazy '08, however, is not just the exciting story of a great season. It is also about the forces that created modern baseball, and the America that produced it. In 1908, crooked pols run Chicago's First Ward, and gambling magnates control the Yankees. Fans regularly invade the field to do handstands or argue with the umps; others shoot guns from rickety grandstands prone to burning. There are anarchists on the loose and racial killings in the town that made Lincoln. On the flimsiest of pretexts, General Abner Doubleday becomes a symbol of Americanism, and baseball's own anthem, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," is a hit.

Picaresque and dramatic, 1908 is a season in which so many weird and wonderful things happen that it is somehow unsurprising that a hairpiece, a swarm of gnats, a sudden bout of lumbago, and a disaster down in the mines all play a role in its outcome. And sometimes the events are not so wonderful at all. There are several deaths by baseball, and the shadow of corruption creeps closer to the heart of baseball — the honesty of the game itself. Simply put, 1908 is the year that baseball grew up.

Oh, and it was the last time the Cubs won the World Series.

Destined to be as memorable as the season it documents, Crazy '08 sets a new standard for what a book about baseball can be.

Monday, April 2, 2007

"On War"

Oxford University Press has just released a new edition of On War by Carl von Clausewitz, edited by Beatrice Heuser.

About the book
, from the publisher:

On War is one of the most important books ever written on the subject of war. Clausewitz, a Prussian officer who fought against the French during the Napoleonic Wars, sought to understand and analyze the phenomenon of war so that future leaders could conduct and win conflicts more effectively. He studied the human and social factors that affect outcomes, as well as the tactical and technological ones. He understood that war was a weapon of government, and that political purpose, chance, and enmity combine to shape its dynamics. On War continues to be read by military strategists, politicians, and others for its timeless insights.

This abridged edition by Beatrice Heuser, using the acclaimed translation by Michael Howard and Peter Paret, selects the central books in which Clausewitz's views on the nature and theory of war are developed. Heuser's introduction explains the originality of Clausewitz's ideas, his education and background, and summarizes his key theories, while explanatory notes provide further information on the historical examples Clausewitz cites.

"Final Sins"

Due out tomorrow: Michael Prescott's Final Sins.

About the book, from the author's website:

A decade ago, artist Peter Faust murdered a woman and was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Today, unrepentant and living in Los Angeles, he's become a celebrity among the radical fringe. When one of his fans turns to stalking him, he hires rogue security consultant Abby Sinclair for protection. Unfortunately for Abby, her longtime adversary, FBI agent Tess McCallum, also gets drawn into the case.

Tess came face-to-face with Faust once before - and discovered the true meaning of evil. But both she and Abby have even more to learn. Because another series of murders has been uncovered ... because the stalker is no ordinary vigilante ... and because Faust has one more sin in which he has yet to indulge. And one final victim on his mind.
Coming soon: Final Sins and the Page 69 Test.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

"Carved in Sand"

New this month from HarperCollins: Cathryn Jakobson Ramin's Carved in Sand: When Attention Fails and Memory Fades in Midlife.

About the book, from the author's website:

Anyone older than forty knows that forgetfulness can be unnerving, frustrating, and sometimes terrifying. In a dazzling book that examines these feelings with compassion and humor, journalist Cathryn Jakobson Ramin sets out to discover what midlife forgetfulness is all about—from the perspectives of physiology, psychology, and sociology. Relentless in her search for answers to questions about her own unreliable memory, she explores the factors that determine how well—or poorly—one’s brain will age. She consults experts in the fields of sleep, stress, traumatic brain injury, hormones, genetics, and dementia, as well as specialists in nutrition, cognitive psychology, and the burgeoning field of drug-based cognitive enhancement.

The stories of a wide array of midlife men and women will resonate with readers. You will glean spectacular insight into how to elicit the very best performance from a middle-aged brain. A groundbreaking work that represents the best of narrative nonfiction, this is a timely, highly readable, and much-needed book for anyone whose memory is not what it used to be.

"The Camel Bookmobile"

Due this month: The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton.

About the book, from the publisher:

When Fiona Sweeney tells her family she wants to do something that matters, they do not expect her to go to Africa to help start a traveling library. But that is where Fiona chooses to make her mark: in the arid bush of northeastern Kenya, among tiny, far-flung communities, nearly unknown and lacking roads and schools, where people live daily with drought, hunger, and disease.

In The Camel Bookmobile, Fi travels to settlements where people have never held a book in their hands. Her goal is to help bring Dr. Seuss, Homer, Tom Sawyer, and Hemingway to a largely illiterate and semi-nomadic populace. However, because the donated books are limited in number and the settlements are many, the library initiates a tough fine: if anyone fails to return a book, the bookmobile will stop coming.

Though her motives are good, Fi doesn't understand the people she seeks to help. Encumbered by her Western values, she finds herself in the midst of several struggles within the community of Mididima. There the bookmobile's presence sparks a feud between those who favor modernization and those who fear the loss of the traditional way of life in the African bush. The feud heightens when one young man—"Scar Boy"—doesn't return his books. As promised, the library stops all visits, but Fi goes to the settlement alone, determined to recover what has been lost.

Evocative, seamless, and haunting, The Camel Bookmobile is a powerful saga that challenges our fears of the unknown. It is a story that captures the riddles and calamities that often occur when two cultures collide. It follows an American librarian who travels to Africa to give meaning to her life, and ultimately loses a piece of her heart. In the end, this compelling novel shows how one life can change many, in spite of dangerous and seemingly immutable obstacles.
Visit Masha Hamilton's website.

The Page 69 test: The Camel Bookmobile.