Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday Books

An dazzlingly inventive novel about modern family, from the author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

The set-up of Mark Haddon's brilliant new novel is simple: Richard, a wealthy doctor, invites his estranged sister Angela and her family to join his for a week at a vacation home in the English countryside. Richard has just re-married and inherited a willful stepdaughter in the process; Angela has a feckless husband and three children who sometimes seem alien to her. The stage is set for seven days of resentment and guilt, a staple of family gatherings the world over.

But because of Haddon's extraordinary narrative technique, the stories of these eight people are anything but simple. Told through the alternating viewpoints of each character, The Red House becomes a symphony of long-held grudges, fading dreams and rising hopes, tightly-guarded secrets and illicit desires, all adding up to a portrait of contemporary family life that is bittersweet, comic, and deeply felt. As we come to know each character they become profoundly real to us. We understand them, even as we come to realize they will never fully understand each other, which is the tragicomedy of every family.

The Red House is a literary tour-de-force that illuminates the puzzle of family in a profoundly empathetic manner -- a novel sure to entrance the millions of readers of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Josh Silver is an ambitious young college grad who’s just landed his first job at a prestigious Madison Avenue advertising agency. He’s given his own office, his own secretary, and a decent salary. Everything in his life is working out just fine—except for one nagging problem: although he assumed that once he got out in the real world his feelings would change, he finds he still can’t stop dreaming about men. Josh seeks professional help to reprogram his sexual desire but in 1977 New York is the glimmering Emerald City at the end of the Yellow Brick Road and Josh finally succumbs to its lure. He moves quickly to make up for lost time in the post-Stonewall years when sex is quick and easy. But that’s not enough; Josh wants to be in love. He finds it unexpectedly just as the new decade begins but the growing spread of disease brings the free spirit of the 70s to a crushing end and Josh is forced to navigate the turmoil of an era where beauty, youth, wealth and life itself seem unimaginably fragile. Author Jeffrey Sharlach paints a brilliant picture of life in New York for a gay man at that moment in history. Running in Bed encapsulates the highs and lows of being true to oneself at a time when homosexuality was often considered a disease from which one could be cured. From the New York club scene to summers on Fire Island to the dawn of AIDS, Sharlach writes with humor, poignancy, and charm, and presents characters who are universal in their appeal. Running in Bed’s incomparable, evocative images will resonate with readers, regardless of their personal persuasion.

Seventy-five years after he came to life, Superman remains one of America’s most adored and enduring heroes. Now Larry Tye, the prize-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author of Satchel, has written the first full-fledged history not just of the Man of Steel but of the creators, designers, owners, and performers who made him the icon he is today.

Legions of fans from Boston to Buenos Aires can recite the story of the child born Kal-El, scion of the doomed planet Krypton, who was rocketed to Earth as an infant, raised by humble Kansas farmers, and rechristened Clark Kent. Known to law-abiders and evildoers alike as Superman, he was destined to become the invincible champion of all that is good and just—and a star in every medium from comic books and comic strips to radio, TV, and film.

But behind the high-flying legend lies a true-to-life saga every bit as compelling, one that begins not in the far reaches of outer space but in the middle of America’s heartland. During the depths of the Great Depression, Jerry Siegel was a shy, awkward teenager in Cleveland. Raised on adventure tales and robbed of his father at a young age, Jerry dreamed of a hero for a boy and a world that desperately needed one. Together with neighborhood chum and kindred spirit Joe Shuster, young Siegel conjured a human-sized god who was everything his creators yearned to be: handsome, stalwart, and brave, able to protect the innocent, punish the wicked, save the day, and win the girl. It was on Superman’s muscle-bound back that the comic book and the very idea of the superhero took flight.

Tye chronicles the adventures of the men and women who kept Siegel and Shuster’s “Man of Tomorrow” aloft and vitally alive through seven decades and counting. Here are the savvy publishers and visionary writers and artists of comics’ Golden Age who ushered the red-and-blue-clad titan through changing eras and evolving incarnations; and the actors—including George Reeves and Christopher Reeve—who brought the Man of Steel to life on screen, only to succumb themselves to all-too-human tragedy in the mortal world. Here too is the poignant and compelling history of Siegel and Shuster’s lifelong struggle for the recognition and rewards rightly due to the architects of a genuine cultural phenomenon.

From two-fisted crimebuster to ├╝ber-patriot, social crusader to spiritual savior, Superman—perhaps like no other mythical character before or since—has evolved in a way that offers a Rorschach test of his times and our aspirations. In this deftly realized appreciation, Larry Tye reveals a portrait of America over seventy years through the lens of that otherworldly hero who continues to embody our best selves.

Touching on the whole story of China — from Neolithic villages to a globalized Shanghai — this book ties mythology, archaeology, history, religion, folklore, literature, and journalism into a millennia-spanning story about how Chinese women — and their goddess traditions — fostered a counterculture that flourishes and grows stronger every day.

As Brian Griffith charts the stories of China’s founding mothers, shamanesses, goddesses, and ordinary heroines, he also explores the largely untold story of women’s contributions to cultural life in the world’s biggest society and provides inspiration for all global citizens.

Crows are mischievous, playful, social, and passionate. They have brains that are huge for their body size and exhibit an avian kind of eloquence. They mate for life and associate with relatives and neighbors for years. And because they often live near people—in our gardens, parks, and cities — they are also keenly aware of our peculiarities, staying away from and even scolding anyone who threatens or harms them and quickly learning to recognize and approach those who care for and feed them, even giving them numerous, oddly touching gifts in return.

With his extraordinary research on the intelligence and startling abilities of corvids — crows, ravens, and jays — scientist John Marzluff teams up with artist-naturalist Tony Angell to tell amazing stories of these brilliant birds in Gifts of the Crow. With narrative, diagrams, and gorgeous line drawings, they offer an in-depth look at these complex creatures and our shared behaviors. The ongoing connection between humans and crows — a cultural coevolution — has shaped both species for millions of years. And the characteristics of crows that allow this symbiotic relationship are language, delinquency, frolic, passion, wrath, risk-taking, and awareness—seven traits that humans find strangely familiar. Crows gather around their dead, warn of impending doom, recognize people, commit murder of other crows, lure fish and birds to their death, swill coffee, drink beer, turn on lights to stay warm, design and use tools, use cars as nutcrackers, windsurf and sled to play, and work in tandem to spray soft cheese out of a can. Their marvelous brains allow them to think, plan, and reconsider their actions.

With its abundance of funny, awe-inspiring, and poignant stories, Gifts of the Crow portrays creatures who are nothing short of amazing. A testament to years of painstaking research and careful observation, this fully illustrated, riveting work is a thrilling look at one of nature’s most wondrous creatures.

From a renowned sociologist, the wisdom of saying goodbye

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot is enthralled by exits: long farewells, quick goodbyes, sudden endings, the ordinary and the extraordinary. There’s a relationship, she attests, between small goodbyes and our ability “to master and mark the larger farewells.”

In Exit, her tenth book, she explores the ways we leave one thing and move on to the next; how we anticipate, define, and reflect on our departures; our epiphanies that something is over and done with.

Lawrence-Lightfoot, a sociologist and a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, has interviewed more than a dozen women and men in states of major change, and she paints their portraits with sympathy and insight: a gay man who finds home and wholeness after coming out; a sixteen-year-old boy forced to leave Iran in the midst of the violent civil war; a Catholic priest who leaves the church he has always been devoted to, he life he has loved, and the work that has been deeply fulfilling; an anthropologist who carefully stages her departure from he “field” after four years of research; and many more.

Too often, Lawrence-Lightfoot believes, we exalt new beginnings t the expense of learning from our goodbyes. Exit finds isdom and perspective in the possibility of moving on and marks the start of a new conversation, to help us discover how we might make our exits with purpose and dignity.

At the height of my comic book collecting, Jim Lee was my favorite Marvel Comics artist, working on The Uncanny X-Men. (He worked on other titles, but this was the only title he drew that I collected.)

One of the most successful and popular artists to work in comics, Jim Lee is revered by fans worldwide thanks to his hyper-dynamic artwork and innovative character and costume design.

Now, his work on Batman and Superman — not to mention his legion of WildStorm heroes including WildC.A.T.s, Divine Right and Deathblow — is celebrated in this beautiful hardback, which includes an exclusive interview with Jim Lee, a tour of his studio and hundreds of full-colour illustrations and pencils spanning his entire career!

Plus an all-new cover by Lee and an exclusive, all-new eight-page comic strip, written by Paul Levitz (Legion of Super-Heroes) with art by Lee!

4 comments:

becca said...

you always find great books

Writer said...

Thank you, becca. I try to keep y'all interested. :)

becca said...

i have an award for you on my blog

http://www.everydaylifes.com/2012/06/and-award-goes-to.html

Writer said...

Thank you, becca, I will check it out later tonight and repost it on my blog tomorrow. :) Hugs.