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Chosen by Elizabeth Lund for The Washington Post. Read the full reviews here: http://wapo.st/2x28awB
- •Frank Bidart's "Half-Light: Collected Poems 1965-2016" (FSG)Now readers can gain a deeper understanding of how Bidart’s writing works together to create a vast, manifold narrative. The collection highlights the poet’s enduring themes and concerns, among them: desire and shame, the quest to find truth and freedom, and the duality of evilness and innocence. Bidart’s ability as a storyteller fuels many of these pieces.
- •Mary Jo Salter’s "The Surveyors" (Knopf)Wistful memories and sweet moments intermingle as she recalls what she has lost and how she has learned to heal herself, much like an aloe vera plant that seals up its own “broken fingertip — a low, but unbowed beauty/ in its handicap.” That kind of beauty runs throughout the poems, which recall lost years and lost opportunities and muse about how time speeds along.
- •"A Doll for Throwing," by Mary Jo Bang (Graywolf)Bang, whose honors include the National Book Critics Circle Award, presents challenging prose poems that analyze the past and the present through the ideas promoted by the German Bauhaus school of design, which sought to unify art and technically skilled craftsmanship in the early 1900s. The speaker, based on Bauhaus photographer Lucia Moholy,considers the spaces people inhabit, the mythologies we accept, and various kinds of building, in individual lives and the culture.
Chosen by Everdeen Mason in @washingtonpost. Read full review: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/best-science-fiction-and-fantasy-books-in-august/2017/08/04/93331448-7790-11e7-9eac-d56bd5568db8_story.html?utm_term=.7c74f86fcd5c
- •Marina J. Lostetter’s "Noumenon" (Harper Voyager).Astrophysicist Reggie Straifer has discovered a strange star that holds the promise of alien life. He works tirelessly to prepare a mission that will take eons to travel to the star, knowing he’ll never get to see the fruits of his labor.
- •"The Stone Sky" (Orbit) is the finale of N.K. Jemisin’s much lauded Broken Earth trilogy.Our reluctant heroine, Essun, is still on the search for her missing daughter in the Stillness but feels responsible for the community that she saved — yet partially destroyed — with her orogeny, the ability to harness the energy of the Earth. Meanwhile, we finally get to know our narrator, the mysterious Stone Eater Hoa and how he came to be. Essun, Hoa and Essun’s daughter, Nassun, have each been shaped in different ways by the racist caste system that rules their world.
- •Curtis Craddock’s debut, "An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors" (Tor).A classic fantasy that leans heavily on the action and political intrigue. It follows two points of view — that of a swashbuckling musketeer past his prime and a princess of ill repute. Jean-Claude saves the princess — who is born with only one finger on one of her hands and without the powers of her birthright — from death, and as punishment is assigned to be her guard until she comes of age.
- •"Forest World," by Margarita Engle (Atheneum, ages 10 and up)11-year old Edver returns to the Cuba he left as a baby. Raised in Miami, Edver never knew his older sister, Luza, who stayed behind. Brought together one summer in the family’s small village, the siblings find both adventure and tension.
- •"This Beautiful Day," by Richard Jackson and Suzy Lee (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy, ages 3-6)The sky is dark with clouds. Inside, tall windows are blurred with rain, the light outside is dim, and three children have apparently exhausted the possibilities of indoor play. One child is slumped along the floor in child’s pose, and another sits in a box, head propped on hands, looking out, while toys sit scattered around. The oldest, fiddling with a radio, finds some music and suddenly a bit of magic enters the room.
- •"The Magician and the Spirits: Harry Houdini and the Curious Pastime of Communicating With the Dead," by Deborah Noyes (Viking, ages 10 and up)Noyes explains how the death of Houdini’s mother gave the illusionist deeper sympathy for the many grieving people so eager to reconnect with loved ones that they couldn’t see the tricks being played on them. Even his friend, the rational-minded Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was fooled.
Michael Dirda picks his favorites in @washingtonpost: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/a-summer-book-list-like-no-other/2017/07/25/5f36dbe0-6e2e-11e7-b9e2-2056e768a7e5_story.html
- •"Other Arms Reach Out to Me: Georgia Stories," by Michael Bishop (Fairwood Press).This new book collects Bishop's fine stories about contemporary Southern life.
- •"Bibliomysteries: Stories of Crime in the World of Books and Bookstores," edited by Otto Penzler (Pegasus).The subtitle says it all — except to note that contributors to this hefty anthology include some of the most admired contemporary writers of mysteries and thrillers: Jeffery Deaver, Laura Lippman, Nelson DeMille, C.J. Box, Anne Perry.
- •“Nightmares and Geezenstacks,” by Frederic Brown (Valancourt).This collection gathers 47 mini-fantasies, most being only two or three pages long, nearly all of them ending with an O. Henry-like twist.
Book reviews, author features and publishing news are posted daily here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books
- •‘Less’ is the funniest novel you’ll read this yearIn the opening pages of Andrew Sean Greer's "Less," a midlist novelist named Arthur Less is clinging to 49 like it’s the lip of a volcano. He has waited with muted expectation through “his exclusion from any list of best writers under thirty, under forty, under fifty — they make no lists above that.” And now he’s pretty sure he’s “the first homosexual ever to grow old.” http://wapo.st/2tOSnCN
- •He photographed Victor Hugo and Jules Verne — now the spotlight is on him“The Great Nadar” lacks the obvious commercial appeal of Adam Begley’s previous biography, a capacious, revealing life of the novelist John Updike, so that it comes across as a labor of love. Yet the word “labor” hardly characterizes the suavity, swiftness and economy of its text. The book is a pleasure to read, though one could almost buy it just for the pictures. http://wapo.st/2eD5vph
- •On Hemingway and the ideal of masculinityI’ve always had an uneasy relationship with this Nobel Prize winner. I got to know the young woman who would eventually be my wife in a seminar on Hemingway. The earth moved, though not at first. If she was attracted to the testosteronic writer, I don’t know what attracted her to me. Hemingway and I were both raised by Christian Science mothers in the Midwest, but beyond that, the similarities end. He had more wives than I’ve had dates. http://wapo.st/2tLEcuW
Chosen by Elizabeth Lund for @washingtonpost: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/why-ws-erwin-endures-and-other-best-poetry-to-read-this-month/2017/07/17/84022578-6afb-11e7-9c15-177740635e83_story.html
- •"The Essential W.S. Merwin" (Copper Canyon)Edited by Michael Wiegers, this concise collection contains the best of the two-time Pulitzer winner’s work, including selections from Merwin’s first book, “A Mask for Janus” (1952) as well as “The Lice” (1967) , “The Carrier of Ladders” (1970) and “The Shadow of Sirius” (2008). The book, which will be published in September, also includes translations and prose pieces that help give readers a fuller understanding of Merwin’s range and changing aesthetics.
- •"Lessons on Expulsion," by Erika L. Sánchez (Graywolf)In these pages, Sánchez, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, examines the origins of misogyny, the struggles of poor women who are forced to sell their bodies, and the unfair balance of power in romantic relationships. She also confronts desire, shame and the painful choices immigrants must face, using language that varies from gritty to dreamlike.
- •"Some Say," by Maureen N. McLane (FSG)As with her previous collection, “Mz N: the serial, A Poem-in-Episodes,” the writing here is breezy and inviting but also rich and far-reaching. The speaker considers both global and personal concerns, among them politics, sex, the natural world and the divine presence. Many of the poems are so lovely that one notices their phrasing and pacing first, and then their deeper layers.
Chosen by Katherine Powers for The Washington Post
- •THEFT BY FINDING: DIARIES (1977-2002) By David SedarisHere, in these as-it-happened accounts and jottings, is a rich chunk of the mother lode from which David Sedaris has mined his personal essays and performances. The extracts in “Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002),” cover what may be called the disconsolate IHOP years, when he was a college dropout, rootless casual worker and aspiring artist, and those during which he became a celebrity.
- •ON POWER By Robert A. CaroIn the audio-only reminiscence “On Power,” Robert A. Caro describes the development of his understanding of power in his gruff voice and unreconstructed New York accent. His delivery brings immediacy to the shock and anger he felt as a young man when he witnessed police arresting black poll watchers and saw, for the first time, utter political impotence. It was a turning point in his life.
- •THE LUCKY ONES By Julianne PachicoSet in Colombia from 1993 to 2013, Julianne Pachico’s debut collection of stories amounts to a novel — with some assembly required. Versatile actors Marisol Ramirez and Ramon de Ocampo trade off reading the stories, which move back and forth in time through the lives of recurring characters. Among them are a handful of well-heeled schoolgirls, the maids and chauffeurs who serve them, bands of guerrillas encamped in the jungle, teachers, vagrants, and a drug lord.
From The Washington Post: http://wapo.st/2skvres
- •For the Nordic-lit set: The Iceland Writers RetreatWriters at any level are welcome. The retreat includes excursions such as a literary twist on the Golden Circle tour, which features the Great Geysir and the famous Gullfoss waterfall, as well as a visit to Iceland’s “ancient seat of learning, Skalholt.” The twist: You’ll see these sites in the company of writers such as Hilton Als, Alice Hoffman and Gwendoline Riley.
- •For foodies: cookNscribbleMolly O’Neill, the cookbook author who was a longtime New York Times reporter and food columnist, created cookNscribble for writers who didn’t have access to the kind of training she had early in her career. For this fall, cookNscribble has organized a retreat in a “super-cool unknown part of Tuscany in a castle repurposed as a food learning center,” O’Neill says.
- •For culture connoisseurs: Summer in GranadaSummer in Granada is part of a series of retreats created by writers Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai. They describe their retreat model as a kind of roving salon, with previous sessions in Paris and at a chateau in Picardy, among its envy-inducing locations. “All of these places have a very alive and electric culture, a culture that exists on the streets, in the imagination,” Banerjee says.
From The Washington Post: http://wapo.st/2r7OYiN
- •Ann PatchettI’ll want a book that’s thrilling and artful, a true page turner that will leave me feeling smart, so I’ll read Maile Meloy’s “Do Not Become Alarmed.” Roxane Gay’s “Hunger” will be at the top of the stack for life-changing memoirs (she is brilliant). And of course I’ll be reading David Sedaris’s “Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002” because a summer in which there is a new Sedaris book is the very definition of a good summer.
- •Colson WhiteheadI’m a news junkie, so my attention span is shot in these days of constant D.C. horror show. Over the last few months I’ve discovered that I can only handle novellas and short novels — 200 pages, then it’s back to cable news for the latest atrocity. Mohsin Hamid’s “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” “Exit West” and “Ethan Frome” were good discoveries this spring. This summer, I have rereads for “Sula,” “Things Fall Apart” and “Waiting for the Barbarians” lined up. Short and sweet!
- •Jodi PicoultI have three books on my summer reading list! “The Stars Are Fire” looks like Anita Shreve at her best, exploring real-life New England history through the lens of complex characters. I’m also looking forward to “Everyone Brave is Forgiven,” by Chris Cleave, a love story cast against the backdrop of World War II. Finally, “The Hate U Give,” by Angie Thomas, a YA novel that brings the Black Lives Matter movement to life through the eyes of a young black girl.
In The Washington Post: http://wapo.st/2s22eV7
- •“The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.,” by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland (Morrow)In this historical novel, linguist Melisande Stokes has a chance meeting with a handsome military intelligence officer named Tristan Lyons, who offers her a chance to escape a smug supervisor at Harvard for a research project on magic and its disappearance. Quickly the stakes rise, as Melisande and her friends stumble upon warring politics, ambitions and agendas.
- •“The Prey of Gods,” by Nicky Drayden (Harper Voyager)Drayden mixes folklore, urban fantasy and science fiction in her futuristic South Africa to dazzling effect. In this entertaining tale, a new drug called Godspeed hits the street. It causes users to hallucinate, to see themselves as animal creatures; sometimes it draws out peculiar powers. Teenage Muzi, grappling with his sexuality and his heritage, finds that the drug lets him manipulate people.
- •“The Refrigerator Monologues,” by Catherynne M. Valente (Saga)Valente explores the old trope of women in comics who are abused and/or killed in service of a male-driven plot. In this novella, the superhero girlfriend gets to tell her own version of events in the afterlife. Through six entertaining if sometimes heavy-handed narratives, the women’s voices are strong: bitter and full of pain, yet steel-tipped in sarcasm and humor.