Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tuesday Books on Wednesday

Because I'm a slacker, Tuesday Books is once again on Wednesday.

Who’s Yer Daddy? offers readers of gay male literature a keen and engaging journey. In this anthology, thirty-nine gay authors discuss individuals who have influenced them—their inspirational “daddies.” The essayists include fiction writers, poets, and performance artists, both honored masters of contemporary literature and those just beginning to blaze their own trails. They find their artistic ancestry among not only literary icons—Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, André Gide, Frank O’Hara, James Baldwin, Edmund White—but also a roster of figures whose creative territories are startlingly wide and vital, from Botticelli to Bette Midler to Captain Kirk.

Some writers chronicle an entire tribal council of mentors; others describe a transformative encounter with a particular individual, including teachers and friends whose guidance or example cracked open their artistic selves. Perhaps most moving are the handful of writers who answered the question literally, writing intimately of their own fathers and their literary inheritance. This rich volume presents intriguing insights into the contemporary gay literary aesthetic.

On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, she dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Clearly history (and Kate Atkinson) have plans for her: In Ursula rests nothing less than the fate of civilization.

Wildly inventive, darkly comic, startlingly poignant — this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best, playing with time and history, telling a story that is breathtaking for both its audacity and its endless satisfactions.

So, yeah, that blurb really does nothing but confuse me, so here is NPR's take on Life After Life.

Kentucky author Gurney Norman's new book; read about it via Old Cove Press.

From bestselling author Meg Wolitzer a dazzling, panoramic novel about what becomes of early talent, and the roles that art, money, and even envy can play in close friendships.

The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge.

The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel someone through life at age thirty; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence. Jules Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress, eventually resigns herself to a more practical occupation and lifestyle. Her friend Jonah, a gifted musician, stops playing the guitar and becomes an engineer. But Ethan and Ash, Jules’s now-married best friends, become shockingly successful — true to their initial artistic dreams, with the wealth and access that allow those dreams to keep expanding. The friendships endure and even prosper, but also underscore the differences in their fates, in what their talents have become and the shapes their lives have taken.

Wide in scope, ambitious, and populated by complex characters who come together and apart in a changing New York City, The Interestings explores the meaning of talent; the nature of envy; the roles of class, art, money, and power; and how all of it can shift and tilt precipitously over the course of a friendship and a life.

The dizzying new novel by Fiona Maazel, a National Book Foundation "5 Under 35"

  • One of the Millions's Most Anticipated Books of 2013
  • An April IndieNext Pick

Thurlow Dan is the founder of the Helix, a cult that promises to cure loneliness in the twenty-first century. With its communes and speed-dating, mixers and confession sessions, the Helix has become a national phenomenon — and attracted the attention of governments worldwide. But Thurlow, camped out in his Cincinnati headquarters, is lonely — for his ex-wife, Esme, and their daughter, whom he hasn't seen in ten years.

Esme, for her part, is a covert agent who has spent her life spying on Thurlow, mostly to protect him from the law. Now, with her superiors demanding results, she recruits four misfits to botch a reconnaissance mission in Cincinnati. But when Thurlow takes them hostage, he ignites a siege of the Helix House that will change all their lives forever.

With fiery, exuberant prose, Fiona Maazel takes us on a wild ride through North Korea's guarded interior and a city of vice beneath Cincinnati, a ride that twists and turns as it delves into an unsettled, off-kilter America. Woke Up Lonely is an original and deeply funny novel that explores our very human impulse to seek and repel intimacy with the people who matter to us most.

“Woke Up Lonely is the novel equivalent of a sonic boom — it builds, it explodes, it leaves your ears, mind, and soul ringing for days. Who else writes sentences like this, who else writes sound art prose that transports a heart-killing story of human frailty, susceptibility, loyalty, and isolation? No one.” — Heidi Julavits, author of The Vanishers

April is National Poetry Month: have you been letting your heart sing?

Definitive and daring, The Ecopoetry Anthology is the authoritative collection of contemporary American poetry about nature and the environment — in all its glory and challenge. From praise to lament, the work covers the range of human response to an increasingly complex and often disturbing natural world and inquires of our human place in a vastness beyond the human.

To establish the antecedents of today's writing, The Ecopoetry Anthology presents a historical section that includes poetry written from roughly the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. Iconic American poets like Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson are followed by more modern poets like Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, and even more recent foundational work by poets like Theodore Roethke, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Hayden, and Muriel Rukeyser. With subtle discernment, the editors portray our country's rich heritage and dramatic range of writing about the natural world around us.

What are the arguments for and against religion and religious belief--all of them--right across the range of reasons and motives that people have for being religious, and do they stand up to scrutiny? Can there be a clear, full statement of these arguments that once and for all will show what is at stake in this debate?

Equally important: what is the alternative to religion as a view of the world and a foundation for morality? Is there a worldview and a code of life for thoughtful people--those who wish to live with intellectual integrity, based on reason, evidence, and a desire to do and be good--that does not interfere with people's right to their own beliefs and freedom of expression?

In The God Argument, Anthony Grayling offers a definitive examination of these questions, and an in-depth exploration of the humanist outlook that recommends itself as the ethics of the genuinely reflective person.

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