Wednesday, November 20, 2013

This Week's Books

"David Trinidad turns the paste jewels of pop art into the real thing."—James Schuyler

"In David Trinidad's Peyton Place: A Haiku Soap Opera, the moment-by-moment particulars of traditional haiku collide with the time-stretching serial narratives of contemporary soap operas. As Trinidad's haiku chart the changing seasons, don't be surprised if the snow falling under moonlight is artificial, dumped by overworked stagehands off-camera. Seventeen syllables mediated by television—the continuing story of Peyton Place making a high-def splash in Basho's pond."—Tony Trigilio

"The world of art can appear anywhere, so it's no wonder to me that Trinidad finds something worthwhile in producing a haiku for each of the episodes of Peyton Place and that, embedded in the strange curl of Dorothy Malone's hairdo, is yet one more space still untouched and undefined by a poet."—Manuel Muñoz

This is the continuing story of Peyton Place. One irreverent haiku for each of the over five hundred prime time 1960s era "adult" soap opera episodes. Fraught relationships, courtroom cliffhangers, and sensational storylines are condensed into seventeen-syllable episodes, as stereotypic characters weather the passing TV seasons. This haiku soap epic is ingenious, funny, and totally addictive. Excerpts from Peyton Place: A Haiku Soap Opera have been selected by Denise Duhamel for inclusion in Best American Poetry, 2013.

A masterly collection of new stories from Russell Banks, acclaimed author of The Sweet Hereafter and Rule of the Bone, which maps the complex terrain of the modern American family

The New York Times lauds Russell Banks as "the most compassionate fiction writer working today" and hails him as a novelist who delivers "wrenching, panoramic visions of American moral life." Long celebrated for his unflinching, empathetic works that explore the unspoken but hard realities of contemporary culture, Banks now turns his keen intelligence and emotional acuity on perhaps his most complex subject yet: the shape of family in its many forms.

Suffused with Banks's trademark lyricism and reckless humor, the twelve stories in A Permanent Member of the Family examine the myriad ways we try—and sometimes fail—to connect with one another, as we seek a home in the world. In the title story, a father looks back on the legend of the cherished family dog whose divided loyalties mirrored the fragmenting of his marriage. In "Christmas Party," a young man entertains dark thoughts as he watches his newly remarried ex-wife leading the life he once imagined they would share. "A Former Marine" asks, to chilling effect, if one can ever stop being a parent. And in the haunting, evocative "Veronica," a mysterious woman searching for her missing daughter may not be who she claims she is.

Moving between the stark beauty of winter in upstate New York and the seductive heat of Florida, A Permanent Member of the Family charts with subtlety and precision the ebb and flow of both the families we make for ourselves and the ones we're born into, as it asks how we know the ones we love and, in turn, ourselves. One of our most acute and penetrating authors, Banks's virtuosic writing animates stories that are profoundly humane, deeply—and darkly—funny, and absolutely unforgettable.

Russell Banks is one of America's most prestigious fiction writers, a past president of the International Parliament of Writers, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work has been translated into twenty languages and has received numerous prizes and awards, including the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. He lives in upstate New York and Miami, Florida.

What was your favorite childhood toy?

Do you have fond memories of fighting unseen enemies with your G.I. Joe action figures, demolishing fleets of vehicles with your Tonka Toy Trucks, or Karate-chopping imaginary street thugs with your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

What about carefree summer afternoons counting ticks on your Skip-It, scooting around the neighborhood on your Big Wheel, or soaring down your backyard Slip 'n Slide?

Still a little bitter that your parents never let you have a Nerf Super Soaker, or a Barbie Dream House?

Did you prefer to unleash your inner artist with your Etch a Sketch, or your inner chef with your Easy-Bake Oven? Did you like to challenge your friends to a rousing game of Mousetrap, or did you prefer to get tied up in knots over a round of Twister?

In Toy Time! you’ll be reunited with all these classic toys and more. No matter when you grew up, or what types of play ignited your imagination, Toy Time! will take you on a journey of rediscovery, allowing you to relive those carefree, innocent, and fun-filled days of childhood.

Charming, playful, and full of photos of vintage toys, Toy Time! is an exploration and celebration of the toys that roused our imaginations, shaped our memories, and touched our lives.

The Circle is the exhilarating new novel from Dave Eggers, best-selling author of A Hologram for the King, a finalist for the National Book Award.

When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

The New York Times bestselling author of Just My Type and On the Map offers an ode to letter writing and its possible salvation in the digital age.

Few things are as exciting—and potentially life-changing—as discovering an old letter. And while etiquette books still extol the practice, letter writing seems to be disappearing amid a flurry of e-mails, texting, and tweeting. The recent decline in letter writing marks a cultural shift so vast that in the future historians may divide time not between BC and AD but between the eras when people wrote letters and when they did not. So New York Times bestselling author Simon Garfield asks: Can anything be done to revive a practice that has dictated and tracked the progress of civilization for more than five hundred years?

In To the Letter, Garfield traces the fascinating history of letter writing from the love letter and the business letter to the chain letter and the letter of recommendation. He provides a tender critique of early letter-writing manuals and analyzes celebrated correspondence from Erasmus to Princess Diana. He also considers the role that letters have played as a literary device from Shakespeare to the epistolary novel, all the rage in the eighteenth century and alive and well today with bestsellers like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. At a time when the decline of letter writing appears to be irreversible, Garfield is the perfect candidate to inspire bibliophiles to put pen to paper and create “a form of expression, emotion, and tactile delight we may clasp to our heart.”

Possibly the most important book of this selection!

The classic American treat finally gets its due: foolproof pudding recipes, from irresistible standards to inventive modern twists, by the chef and owner of New York City’s popular pudding destination.

Puddin’ shares Clio Goodman’s secrets for re-creating—and improving on—your sweetest childhood memories. From grown-up renditions of snack-time favorites like Butterscotch Pudding (spiked with whiskey) to party-ready showstoppers like Banana Upside-Down Cake with Malted Pudding and summertime crowd-pleasers like Peanut Butter Fudge Pops and Peach Melba Parfaits, Puddin’ serves up luscious and decadent recipes for your every dessert whim. Along the way, Clio offers suggestions for adapting her pudding recipes—all of which are naturally gluten-free—for vegan and low-fat variations. And because creamy pudding just begs for a companion, Puddin’ also includes recipes for homemade toppings, such as Salted Caramel Sauce, Marshmallow Crème, and Brownie Crumbs, that can be mixed and matched with the puddings of your choice or incorporated into one of Clio’s signature parfaits.

These surprisingly easy-to-execute pudding creations are destined to become staples of your dessert repertoire. Puddin’ is a celebration of an American classic.

Writing with an exuberant love of language and detail, Anjelica Huston shares her enchanted childhood in Ireland, her teen years in London, and her coming-of-age as a model and nascent actress in New York.

Living with her glamorous and artistic mother, educated by tutors and nuns, intrepid on a horse, Huston was raised on an Irish estate to which—between movies—her father brought his array of extraordinary friends, from Carson McCullers and John Steinbeck to Peter O’Toole and Marlon Brando. Every morning, Anjelica and her brother visited their father while he took his breakfast in bed. “What news?” he’d ask. “I’d seen him the night before,” Anjelica recalls. “There wasn’t much to report.” So she became a storyteller.

In London, where she lives with her mother and brother in the early sixties when her par­ents separate, Huston encounters the Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac. She understudies Marianne Faithfull in Hamlet. Seventeen, striking, precocious, but still young and vulnerable, she is devastated when her mother dies in a car crash.

Months later she moves to New York, falls in love with the much older, brilliant but disturbed photographer Bob Richardson, and becomes a model. Living in the Chelsea Hotel, working with Richard Avedon and other photographers, she navigates a volatile relationship and the dynamic cultural epicenter of New York in the seventies.

A Story Lately Told ends as Huston launches her Hollywood life. The second part of her story—Watch Me—opens in Los Angeles in 1973 and will be published in Fall 2014. Beguiling and beautifully written, Huston’s memoir is a treasure.

Paris and London have long held a mutual fascination, and never more so than in the period 1750-1914, when they vied to be the world's greatest city. Each city has been the focus of many books, yet Jonathan Conlin here explores the complex relationship between them for the first time. The reach and influence of both cities was such that the story of their rivalry has global implications. By borrowing, imitating and learning from each other Paris and London invented the true metropolis.

Tales of Two Cities examines and compares five urban spaces—the pleasure garden, the cemetery, the apartment, the restaurant and the music hall—that defined urban modernity in the nineteenth century. The citizens of Paris and London first created these essential features of the modern cityscape and so defined urban living for all of us.

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