Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tuesday Books

From the beloved and best-selling author of Plainsong and Eventide comes a story of life and death, and the ties that bind, once again set out on the High Plains in Holt, Colorado.

When Dad Lewis is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he and his wife, Mary, must work together to make his final days as comfortable as possible. Their daughter, Lorraine, hastens back from Denver to help look after him; her devotion softens the bitter absence of their estranged son, Frank, but this cannot be willed away and remains a palpable presence for all three of them. Next door, a young girl named Alice moves in with her grandmother and contends with the painful memories that Dad's condition stirs up of her own mother's death. Meanwhile, the town’s newly arrived preacher attempts to mend his strained relationships with his wife and teenaged son, a task that proves all the more challenging when he faces the disdain of his congregation after offering more than they are accustomed to getting on a Sunday morning. And throughout, an elderly widow and her middle-aged daughter do everything they can to ease the pain of their friends and neighbors.

Despite the travails that each of these families faces, together they form bonds strong enough to carry them through the most difficult of times. Bracing, sad and deeply illuminating, Benediction captures the fullness of life by representing every stage of it, including its extinction, as well as the hopes and dreams that sustain us along the way. Here Kent Haruf gives us his most indelible portrait yet of this small town and reveals, with grace and insight, the compassion, the suffering and, above all, the humanity of its inhabitants.

In other news, I plan on attempting to read all these books listed on The Millions' list of most anticipated books of 2013 - Benediction being one of them.

We've been getting so many good graphic novels lately! YAY!

When Nicole Georges was two years old, her family told her that her father was dead. When she was twenty-three, a psychic told her he was alive. Her sister, saddled with guilt, admits that the psychic is right and that the whole family has conspired to keep him a secret. Sent into a tailspin about her identity, Nicole turns to radio talk-show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger for advice.

Packed cover-to-cover with heartfelt and disarming black-and-white illustrations, Calling Dr. Laura tells the story of what happens to you when you are raised in a family of secrets, and what happens to your brain (and heart) when you learn the truth from an unlikely source. Part coming-of-age and part coming-out story, Calling Dr. Laura marks the arrival of an exciting and winning new voice in graphic literature.

"Part coming-out"...do I sense lesbians admidst these pages?

PEN/Faulkner Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author Ron Rash turns again to Appalachia to capture lives haunted by violence and tenderness, hope and fear, in unforgettable stories that span from the Civil War to the present day.

In the title story, two drug-addicted friends return to the farm where they worked as boys to steal their former boss's gruesomely unusual war trophies. In "The Trusty," which first appeared in The New Yorker, a prisoner sent to fetch water for his chain gang tries to sweet-talk a farmer's young wife into helping him escape, only to find that she is as trapped as he is. In "Something Rich and Strange," a diver is called upon to pull a drowned girl's body free from under a falls, but he finds her eerily at peace below the surface. The violence of Rash's characters and their raw settings are matched only by their resonance and stark beauty, a masterful combination that has earned Rash an avalanche of praise.

The extraordinary story of a young man’s plunge into the unique and wonderful world of the circus — taking readers deep into circus history and its renaissance as a contemporary art form, and behind the (tented) walls of France’s most prestigious circus school.

When Duncan Wall visited his first nouveau cirque as a college student in Paris, everything about it — the monochromatic costumes, the acrobat singing Simon and Garfunkel, the juggler reciting Proust — was captivating. Soon he was waiting outside stage doors, eagerly chatting with the stars, and attending circuses two or three nights a week. So great was his enthusiasm that a year later he applied on a whim to the training program at the École Nationale des Arts du Cirque — and was, to his surprise, accepted.

Sometimes scary and often funny, The Ordinary Acrobat follows the (occasionally literal) collision of one American novice and a host of gifted international students in a rigorous regimen of tumbling, trapeze, juggling, and clowning. Along the way, Wall introduces readers to all the ambition, beauty, and thrills of the circus’s long history: from hardscrabble beginnings to Gilded Age treasures, and from twentieth-century artistic and economic struggles to its brilliant reemergence in the form of contemporary circus (most prominently through Cirque du Soleil). Readers meet figures past—the father of the circus, Philip Astley; the larger-than-life P. T. Barnum—and present, as Wall seeks lessons from innovative masters including juggler Jérôme Thomas and clown André Riot-Sarcey. As Wall learns, not everyone is destined to run away with the circus—but the institution fascinates just the same.

Brimming with surprises, outsized personalities, and plenty of charm, The Ordinary Acrobat delivers all the excitement and pleasure of the circus ring itself.

And, OF COURSE, the author is gorgeous! (Lips-barely-moving-whisper: bastard.)

Eventually, I'll be living on air and mung beans.

From a Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter at The New York Times comes the explosive story of the rise of the processed food industry and its link to the emerging obesity epidemic. Michael Moss reveals how companies use salt, sugar, and fat to addict us and, more important, how we can fight back.

Every year, the average American eats thirty-three pounds of cheese (triple what we ate in 1970) and seventy pounds of sugar (about twenty-two teaspoons a day). We ingest 8,500 milligrams of salt a day, double the recommended amount, and almost none of that comes from the shakers on our table. It comes from processed food. It’s no wonder, then, that one in three adults, and one in five kids, is clinically obese. It’s no wonder that twenty-six million Americans have diabetes, the processed food industry in the U.S. accounts for $1 trillion a year in sales, and the total economic cost of this health crisis is approaching $300 billion a year.

In Salt Sugar Fat, Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter Michael Moss shows how we got here. Featuring examples from some of the most recognizable (and profitable) companies and brands of the last half century — including Kraft, Coca-Cola, Lunchables, Kellogg, Nestlé, Oreos, Cargill, Capri Sun, and many more — Moss’s explosive, empowering narrative is grounded in meticulous, often eye-opening research.

Moss takes us inside the labs where food scientists use cutting-edge technology to calculate the “bliss point” of sugary beverages or enhance the “mouthfeel” of fat by manipulating its chemical structure. He unearths marketing campaigns designed — in a technique adapted from tobacco companies — to redirect concerns about the health risks of their products: Dial back on one ingredient, pump up the other two, and tout the new line as “fat-free” or “low-salt.” He talks to concerned executives who confess that they could never produce truly healthy alternatives to their products even if serious regulation became a reality. Simply put: The industry itself would cease to exist without salt, sugar, and fat. Just as millions of “heavy users” — as the companies refer to their most ardent customers — are addicted to this seductive trio, so too are the companies that peddle them. You will never look at a nutrition label the same way again.

Around the globe most people get their calories from "annual" agriculture - plants that grow fast for one season, produce lots of seeds, then die. Every single human society that has relied on annual crops for staple foods has collapsed. Restoration Agriculture explains how we can have all of the benefits of natural, perennial ecosystems and create agricultural systems that imitate nature in form and function while still providing for our food, building, fuel and many other needs - in your own backyard, farm or ranch. This book, based on real-world practices, presents an alternative to the agriculture system of eradication and offers exciting hope for our future.

And here's a review from Permaculture Design Review.

E.B. White, the author of such beloved classics as Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan, was born in Mount Vernon, New York. He graduated from Cornell University in 1921 and, five or six years later, joined the staff of The New Yorker magazine, then in its infancy. He died on October 1, 1985, and was survived by his son and three grandchildren.

Mr. White's essays have appeared in Harper's magazine, and some of his other books are: One Man's Meat, The Second Tree from the Corner, Letters of E. B. White, Essays of E. B. White, and Poems and Sketches of E. B. White. He won countless awards, including the 1971 National Medal for Literature and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, which commended him for making a "substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children."

During his lifetime, many young readers asked Mr. White if his stories were true. In a letter written to be sent to his fans, he answered, "No, they are imaginary tales...But real life is only one kind of life — there is also the life of the imagination."

Though I typically do not like bestsellers, or if I do read them, I end up feeling like I've eaten nothing but store-bought candy for weeks on end, I imagine a book about bestsellers - in other words, a book about books - would be quite enjoyable.

What is it about certain books that makes them bestsellers? Why do some of these books remain popular for centuries, and others fade gently into obscurity? And why is it that when scholars do turn their attention to bestsellers, they seem only to be interested in the same handful of blockbusters, when so many books that were once immensely popular remain under-examined? Addressing those and other equally pressing questions about popular literature, Must Read is the first scholarly collection to offer both a survey of the evolution of American bestsellers as well as critical readings of some of the key texts that have shaped the American imagination since the nation's founding.Focusing on a mix of enduring and forgotten bestsellers, the essays in this collection consider 18th and 19th century works, like Charlotte Temple or Ben-Hur, that were once considered epochal but are now virtually ignored; 20th century favorites such as The Sheik and Peyton Place; and 21st century blockbusters including the novels of Nicholas Sparks, The Kite Runner, and The Da Vinci Code.
Vibrant and volatile, the punk scene left an extraordinary legacy of music and cultural change, and this work talks to those who cultivated the movement, weaving together their accounts to create a raw and unprecedented oral history of punk in the United Kingdom. From the Clash, Crass, Henry Rollins, and John Lydon to the Sex Pistols, the Stranglers, and the Buzzcocks, this reference features more than 150 interviews that encapsulate the most thrilling wave of rock and roll pop culture ever seen. Ranging from its widely debated roots in the late 1960s to its enduring influence on modern bands, fashion, and culture, this history brings to life the energy and anarchy as no other book has done.

2 comments:

Loki's Log said...

Great post and I bought a copy of Benediction last night at Posman books. -- the others look great as well. I didn't know EB White was from Mt. Vernon - Hudson Valley man!

Writer said...

Loki, I love the Hudson Valley...I think I need to move there. :)