Staff Picks - 2012 September

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Staff Picks Septmeber 2012 (1.2MB)
On a Farther ShoreOn a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson by William Souder. This splendid, eminently readable biography shows Carson as a writer of great style and narrative grace, an assiduous researcher, a persistent advocate. A biologist, she edited reports for the Department of the Interior; a freelance writer, she won fame with her outstanding books – Under the Sea-Wind, The Sea Around Us and The Edge of the Sea. Silent Spring, her final, landmark work, published 50 years ago, created an uproar engendering the environmental movement and is still pertinent today. ~ Louise Jones
Port Vila BluesPort Vila Blues by Garry Disher. Wyatt, an accomplished thief, steals one item too many from a politician's safe and runs into a load of trouble, with the police, his cohorts and his girlfriend all after him, in this clever, funny, tough thriller. Disher is an Australian award-winning crime writer. ~ Louise Jones Syndrome ESyndrome E by Franck Thilliez, translated from French by Mark Polizzotti. A rare 1950s film embedded with violent images is the center of two possibly related police cases. A detective's friend suddenly becomes blind from watching the film; another detective investigates a link between the film and the murder of five men. Highly entertaining noir thriller. ~ Sarah Knight BattlebornBattleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins. These stories, mostly set in the "Battleborn" state of Nevada, sear and scorch the heart with hard-bitten, hopeful, broken-hearted, unforgettable characters. Watkins' modern West echoes with haunted visions of the past. As I finished the last line, I turned back to begin again. ~ Amy Palmer
Those Across the RiverThose Across the River by Christopher Buehlman. A writer travels to a small town in Georgia to begin a history of an infamously brutal plantation owner and comes face to face with the man's evil heritage. A satisfyingly creepy horror tale that is steeped in humid southern atmosphere. ~ Alden Graves The Shoemaker's WifeThe Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani. A wonderful novel based on the author's grandparents' love story. Full of delightful details about life in an early 20th century Italian Alpine village and the journey of these memorable characters as they emigrate to the US, survive two world wars and become mainstream Americans. A very special read. ~ Karen Frank The Last Hundred DaysThe Last Hundred Days by Patrick McGuinness. A young academic witnesses the rotting madness of Ceausescu's Romania firsthand in this crackling novel. Based on McGuinness' own experiences, the book has a paranoid atmosphere reminiscent of Graham Greene at his best. ~ Charles Bottomley
Fair PlayFair Play by Tove Jansson. A series of vignettes about two Finnish women - a writer and an artist - who live at opposite ends of an apartment building, their studios connected by a long attic passageway. A brilliant meditation on the nature of love, work and the essence of creative partnership. ~ Amy Palmer
Sharp ObjectsSharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. A remarkably effective first novel by the author of Gone Girl. When a young reporter is assigned to investigate the possibility of a serial child murderer in her hometown, she uncovers some horrifying secrets that shed light upon her own tormented childhood. ~ Alden Graves
As Texas Goes...: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American AgendaAs Texas Goes... How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda by Gail Collins. My favorite columnist writes a devastating portrait of the Lone Star State and the various traumas its loopy politics inflict upon the rest of the country. Told with Collins' trademark wit and humor, no small feat because the subject is decidedly not funny. ~ Alden Graves Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War IISavage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of WWII by Keith Lowe. Lowe's mastery of this huge, complex subject and the clarity of his writing make this a valuable, compelling book. What elevates it further is his treatment of difficult questions about nationalism, prejudice, vengeance, victimhood and the misuse of historical memory. Highest recommendation. ~ Bill Lewis Meetinghouses of Early New EnglandMeetinghouses of Early New England by Peter Benes. Serious students of early New England will be grateful for this scholarly gem; but armchair historians should also be delighted. Both groups will appreciate the author's smooth writing style and be fascinated by the illustrations, maps and many appendices. P.S. Is your church or town listed in Appendix B? ~ Bill Lewis
A Daughter's Tale: The Memoir of Winston Churchill's Youngest ChildA Daughter's Tale: The Memoir of Winston Churchill's Youngest Child by Mary Soames. Soames writes of her youth and wartime experiences as the youngest of this family of overachievers. She does dangerous wartime work as well as attend rounds of parties and luncheons, with shopping in between. Lots of love in this family. ~ Karen Frank The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish PeopleThe Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People by John Kelly. The Irish Famine had powerful trans- Atlantic impact in the mid-19th century and still has strong and important resonance today. Kelly superbly deals with the political, economic and cultural factors - but never loses sight of the elemental human suffering. Incisive, complete, balanced and well written. ~ Bill Lewis Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David WojnarowiczFire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz by Cynthia Carr. The best book of 2012 is this luminescent biography of the controversial artist, whose imagination went supernova as AIDS laid waste to New York. An unforgettable life and a remarkable time, drawn with the immediacy of subway graffiti. ~ Charles Bottomley
Cemetery John: The Undiscovered MasterMind Behind the Lindbergh KidnappingCemetery John: The Undiscovered MasterMind Behind the Lindbergh Kidnapping by Robert Zorn. Although only one person was ever charged with the 1932 Lindbergh kidnapping, everyone involved in the investigation agreed it was not the work of a single man. This precise, state-of-the-art examination of the infamous crime is fascinating, compelling and sad. ~ Alden Graves Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective StoryWhy Does the World Exist? An Existential Detective Story By Jim Holt. An intense discussion of this question: "Why is there something rather than nothing?" Historical perspective and current philosophers argue and split hairs. Fascinating, dense. ~ Karen Frank The Man Who Sold the World: David Bowie and the 1970sThe Man Who Sold the World: David Bowie and the 1970s by Peter Doggett. This song-by-song analysis of Bowie's work shows how the pop chameleon reflected the tumultuous 1970s as surely as The Beatles did the '60s. Smart, revelatory, enthusiastic–the definitive work on rock's greatest performer. ~ Charles Bottomley
Human Anatomy: A Visual History from the Renaissance to the Digital AgeHuman Anatomy: From the Renaissance to the Digital Age by Benjamin Rifkin. Deliciously morbid and darkly fascinating. The artful and often outlandish depictions of human anatomy since the age of modern medicine, along with a brief history of the artists and techniques that produced them. Appeals to the voyeur in all of us. ~ Krysta Piccoli