Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tuesday Books

A Supreme Court lawyer and political pundit details the enthralling and groundbreaking story of the gay rights movement, revealing how a dedicated and resourceful minority changed America forever.

When the modern struggle for gay rights erupted—most notably at a bar called Stonewall in Greenwich Village—in the summer of 1969, most religious traditions condemned homosexuality; psychiatric experts labeled people who were attracted to others of the same sex "crazy"; and forty-nine states outlawed sex between people of the same gender. Four decades later, in June 2011, New York legalized gay marriage—the most populous state in the country to do so thus far. The armed services stopped enforcing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, ending a law that had long discriminated against gay and lesbian members of the military. Successful social movements are always extraordinary, but these advances were something of a miracle.

Political columnist Linda Hirshman recounts the long roads that led to these victories, viewing the gay rights movement within the tradition of American freedom as the third great modern social-justice movement, alongside the civil rights movement and the women's rights movement. Drawing on an abundance of published and archival material, and hundreds of in-depth interviews, Hirshman shows, in this astute political analysis, how the fight for gay rights has changed the American landscape for all citizens—blurring rigid gender lines, altering the shared culture, and broadening our definitions of family.

From the Communist cross-dresser Harry Hay in 1948 to New York's visionary senator Kirsten Gillibrand in 2010, the story includes dozens of brilliant, idiosyncratic characters. Written in vivid prose, at once emotional and erudite, Victory is an utterly vibrant work of reportage and eyewitness accounts, revealing how, in a matter of decades, while facing every social adversary—church, state, and medical establishment—a focused group of activists forged a classic campaign for cultural change that will serve as a model for all future political movements.

In a brilliant, nuanced and wholly original collection of essays, the novelist and critic Colm Tóibín explores the relationships of writers to their families and their work.

From Jane Austen’s aunts to Tennessee Williams’s mentally ill sister, the impact of intimate family dynamics can be seen in many of literature’s greatest works. Tóibín, celebrated both for his award-winning fiction and his provocative book reviews and essays, and currently the Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Columbia, traces and interprets those intriguing, eccentric, often twisted family ties in New Ways to Kill Your Mother. Through the relationship between W. B. Yeats and his father, Thomas Mann and his children, and J. M. Synge and his mother, Tóibín examines a world of relations, richly comic or savage in its implications. In Roddy Doyle’s writing on his parents, Tóibín perceives an Ireland reinvented. From the dreams and nightmares of John Cheever’s journals, Tóibín illuminates this darkly comic misanthrope and his relationship to his wife and his children. “Educating an intellectual woman,” Cheever remarked, “is like letting a rattlesnake into the house.” Acutely perceptive and imbued with rare tenderness and wit, New Ways to Kill Your Mother is a fascinating look at writers’ most influential bonds and a secret key to understanding and enjoying their work.

Something is wrong in Niceville...

A boy literally disappears from Main Street. A security camera captures the moment of his instant, inexplicable vanishing. An audacious bank robbery goes seriously wrong: four cops are gunned down; a TV news helicopter is shot and spins crazily out of the sky, triggering a disastrous cascade of events that ricochet across twenty different lives over the course of just thirty-six hours.

Nick Kavanaugh, a cop with a dark side, investigates. Soon he and his wife, Kate, a distinguished lawyer from an old Niceville family, find themselves struggling to make sense not only of the disappearance and the robbery but also of a shadow world, where time has a different rhythm and where justice is elusive.

...Something is wrong in Niceville, where evil lives far longer than men do.

Compulsively readable, and populated with characters who leap off the page, Niceville will draw you in, excite you, amaze you, horrify you, and, when it finally lets you go, make you sorry you have to leave.

Read the first thirty-five pages. Find out why Harlan Coben calls Carsten Stroud the master of “the nerve-jangling thrill ride.”

From one of our preeminent journalists and modern historians comes the epic story of Barack Obama and the world that created him.

In Barack Obama: The Story, David Maraniss has written a deeply reported generational biography teeming with fresh insights and revealing information, a masterly narrative drawn from hundreds of interviews, including with President Obama in the Oval Office, and a trove of letters, journals, diaries, and other documents.

The book unfolds in the small towns of Kansas and the remote villages of western Kenya, following the personal struggles of Obama’s white and black ancestors through the swirl of the twentieth century. It is a roots story on a global scale, a saga of constant movement, frustration and accomplishment, strong women and weak men, hopes lost and deferred, people leaving and being left. Disparate family threads converge in the climactic chapters as Obama reaches adulthood and travels from Honolulu to Los Angeles to New York to Chicago, trying to make sense of his past, establish his own identity, and prepare for his political future.

Barack Obama: The Story chronicles as never before the forces that shaped the first black president of the United States and explains why he thinks and acts as he does. Much like the author’s classic study of Bill Clinton, First in His Class, this promises to become a seminal book that will redefine a president.

The trope of the wedding weekend, with its contrived conviviality hastened by the joining of disparate but soon-to-be-connected tribes of families and friends, is zestfully yet acerbically parsed in Shipstead's crackerjack first novel. A seriocomic romp in a Meet the Fockers vein, Shipstead's satire follows the presumptive merging of the über-WASP Van Meter and Duff clans on the occasion of the marriage of seven-months-pregnant Daphne to steadfast Greyson. The ensemble of petulant sisters and stalwart mothers, tipsy aunts and boorish brothers is led in all its hauteur and debauchery by Daphne's father, Winn, a crusty Boston banker more concerned with his unsuccessful bid for membership in the Pequod Club than with his family's happiness on this vital weekend. As he seeks to assuage the affront with an ill-timed dalliance with Daphne's bridesmaid, past wrongs, present slights, and future injustices coalesce in a stew of zany proportions. Yet for all its madcap quirkiness, Shipstead's adroit escapade artfully delivers a poignant reflection on the enduring if frustrating nature of love, hope, and family.
Not until she visited Texas, that proud state of big oil and bigger ambitions, did Gail Collins, the best-selling author and columnist for the New York Times, realize that she had missed the one place that mattered most in America’s political landscape. Raised in Ohio, Collins had previously seen the American fundamental divide as a war between the Republican heartland and its two liberal coasts. But the real story, she came to see, was in Texas, where Bush, Cheney, Rove, & Perry had created a conservative political agenda that is now sweeping the country and defining our national identity. Through its vigorous support of banking deregulation, lax environmental standards, and draconian tax cuts, through its fierce championing of states rights, gun ownership, and, of course, sexual abstinence, Texas, with Governor Rick Perry’s presidential ambitions, has become the bellwether of a far-reaching national movement that continues to have profound social and economic consequences for us all. Like it or not, as Texas goes, so goes the nation.

Jenny Rosenstrach, and her husband, Andy, regularly, some might say pathologically, cook dinner for their family every night. Even when they work long days. Even when their kids' schedules pull them in eighteen different directions. They are not superhuman. They are not from another planet.

With simple strategies and common sense, Jenny figured out how to break down dinner — the food, the timing, the anxiety, from prep to cleanup — so that her family could enjoy good food, time to unwind, and simply be together.

Using the same straight-up, inspiring voice that readers of her award-winning blog, Dinner: A Love Story, have come to count on, Jenny never judges and never preaches. Every meal she dishes up is a real meal, one that has been cooked and eaten and enjoyed at least a half dozen times by someone in Jenny's house. With inspiration and game plans for any home cook at any level, Dinner: A Love Story is as much for the novice who doesn't know where to start as it is for the gourmand who doesn't know how to start over when she finds herself feeding an intractable toddler or for the person who never thought about home-cooked meals until he or she became a parent. This book is, in fact, for anyone interested in learning how to make a meal to be shared with someone they love, and about how so many good, happy things happen when we do.

By the best-selling author of The Dress Lodger, Sheri Holman’s new and most ambitious novel to date, Witches on the Road Tonight, uncovers the secrets and lies that echo through three generations of one Appalachian family. It is a deeply human, urgent exploration of America’s doomed love affair with fear.

On the eve of World War II, eight-year-old Eddie Alley lies in bed watching his first horror movie, hand-cranked and flickering on the bare wall of a backwoods cabin. In 2011, Eddie’s daughter, Wallis, an anchorwoman for a twenty-four-hour news channel, lies in bed with a stranger, spinning ghost stories. Between these two nights winds the story of the Alley family — Eddie’s mother, Cora, an Appalachian mountain witch who slips out of her skin after nightfall; Captain Casket, Eddie’s alter ego, a campy 1970s TV horror-movie host; and Jasper, the orphaned boy Eddie brings home, who is determined to destroy Eddie’s illusions even if it means destroying himself.

Deftly moving from the rural, Depression-era South to modern New York City, Holman teases out the dark compulsions and desperate longings that can blur the line between love and betrayal. Witches on the Road Tonight is an unflinching story that digs at the roots of myth — both familial and societal — and beautifully renders our perpetual yearning to make sense of the past in our present.

4 comments:

JoeBlow said...

I can't wait to get my hands on these books. They sound fascinating and enjoyable reads.

Writer said...

I've already added all these to my reading list, Joe. As it is my reading list is a novel unto itself. :\

:)

becca said...

another set of great books

Writer said...

Thank you, becca. Tuesday's become the highlight of my week. :)