|November 2016 Sean Levy & Peter Ames Carlin Reading, New Fiction & Nonfiction
Check out these new Staff Favorites. Plus, read about the latest Novels and Nonfiction releases, get some gift book ideas, and see who's closing out our season of great author readings.
|Our staff brings you three new favorites!
A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age
by Daniel J. Levitin
reviewed by Matt
Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, who has written accessibly about music and organization and attention and multitasking, now turns his focus on how we can interpret both visual and linguistic information. The first third of the book helps us appreciate that we are pattern seekers, which paradoxically makes us suckers for a deceptive graph or chart. Levitin shows the many tricks used by graphmakers to lead us to a particular interpretation of the data they are representing. Part two helps us recognize the many tricks--intentional or otherwise--used by wordsmiths that can lead us astray. Part three reminds us of some of the workings of science and probability that can help us not be tricked by the "lies" presented to us.
The Vanishing Velazquez
by Laura Cumming
reviewed by Ruby
This book is a poetic and scholarly treasure hunt. Cumming reconstructs the story of a bookseller and his quest to prove the existence of a long lost Velazquez portrait of Charles I. John Snare, who worked as a bookseller and printer before claiming to have discovered a Velazquez painting at an estate sale (at which point his life dramatically changed direction), intrigued Cumming from the moment she heard of him. Cumming's own quest takes her from Spain, to England, and finally to America in a centuries-long chase for the elusive combination of paint and canvas that turns lives upside down. Cumming deftly balances the combination of biography and vivid artistic description; although Snare's Velazquez is elusive, Cumming gives us the next best thing. Interspersing chapters on the dramatic Snare case with illuminating descriptions of Velazquez's art and world, Cumming captures the feeling of standing before a great work of art--and it's this feeling that bonds Cumming to John Snare (and us to her story).
by J. D. Vance
by Thomas Frank
reviewed by Mary
With politics still on our minds, I am moved to recommend two books that shed light on the current situation. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis tells his story of being raised in Frank McCourt-style poverty in Appalachia. He makes his way to Yale Law School without ever losing his love and empathy for the people he never left behind. In Listen Liberal, or What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?, Thomas Frank presciently spells out the Democratic Party's focus on corporate and cultural elitism and where it led. These authors come from different ends of the political spectrum on many issues, but together helped me understand what brought us to this point in our political history. Neither book is an academic tome, and both are incisive, insightful, and thought-provoking. If you're more in the mood for a diversion, I can enthusiastically recommend the guilty pleasure of John Grisham's latest novel, The Whistler.
Reading from City of Weird
Monday, November 14, 7pm
Edited by local graphic designer and writer Gigi Little, and published by Southwest Portland's own Forest Avenue Press, City of Weird: 30 Otherworldly Portland Tales
conjures what we fear: death, darkness, ghosts. Hungry sea monsters and alien slime molds. Blood drinkers and game show hosts. Set in Portland, Oregon, these thirty original stories blend imagination, literary writing, and pop culture into a cohesive weirdness that honors the city's personality, its bookstores and bridges and solo volcano, as well as the tradition of sci-fi pulp magazines.
Having Everything Right
Wednesday, November 16, 7pm
Portland author Kim Stafford joins us for the 30th Anniversary Edition of his essay collection. He'll be joined by Robert Michael Pyle, who wrote the introduction. Having Everything Right
revolves around the history, folklore, and physical beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Stafford writes poetic and evocative prose as he reflects on such subjects as Indian place names, bears, and local eccentrics.
The Phantom of Thomas Hardy
Thursday, November 17, 7pm
On a visit to Dorchester, England, Thomas Hardy's phantom--or is he just a figment of Floyd Skloot's oddly damaged brain?--tasks Floyd with finding out what Hardy missed in love. Floyd and his wife, Beverly, set out to discover what they can, visiting Hardy's birthplace, home, and grave, exploring the Dorset landscape and the famous novels with their themes of tormented love, and meeting characters deeply invested in Hardy's life and reputation.
Shawn Levy & Peter Ames Carlin
Monday, December 5, 7pm
"The Vault" at O'Connor's Restaurant
Shawn Levy's Dolce Vita Confidential
is a romp through the worlds of film, fashion, and titillating journalism that made 1950s Rome the sexiest city on the planet. Gossipy, colorful, and richly informed, Dolce Vita Confidential
re-creates Rome's stunning ascent with vivid and compelling tales of its glitterati and artists, down to every last outrageous detail of the city's magnificent transformation.
Peter Ames Carlin's Homeward Bound
is a revelatory account of the life of beloved American music icon Paul Simon. He has lived one of the most vibrant lives of modern times; a story replete with tales of Carrie Fisher, Leonard Bernstein, Bob Dylan, Woody Allen, Shelley Duvall, Nelson Mandela, drugs, depression, marriage, divorce, and more. A life story with the scope and power of an epic novel, Homeward Bound
is the first major biography of one of the most influential popular artists in American history.
New Fiction & Nonfiction
|Here are a few highlights from the fall publishing season:
by Margaret Atwood
In this retelling of William Shakespeare's The Tempest, Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. Now he's staging a Tempest like no other. Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. And also brewing revenge. After twelve years, revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theatre course at a nearby prison. Here, Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him.
by John Grisham
We expect our judges to be honest and wise. But what happens when a judge bends the law or takes a bribe? Lacy Stoltz is an investigator for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct, and it is her job to respond to complaints dealing with judicial misconduct. When previously disbarred lawyer Greg Myers claims to know of a Florida judge who has stolen more money than all other crooked judges combined, Lacy immediately suspects that this one could be dangerous. Dangerous is one thing.Deadly is something else.
by Margot Livesey
Donald, an optometrist in suburban Boston, is sure that he and his wife, Viv, who runs the local stables, are both devoted to their two children and to each other. Then Mercury--a gorgeous young thoroughbred with a murky past--arrives at Windy Hill Stables, and everything changes. When Viv rides him, she becomes obsessed with competing again, embracing the ambitions that she had harbored, and relinquished, as a young woman. Donald may have 20/20 vision, but he is slow to notice how profoundly Viv has changed and how these changes threaten their quiet, secure world. By the time he does, it is too late to stop the catastrophic collision of Viv's ambitions and his own myopia.
Thus Bad Begins
by Javier Marias
Madrid, 1980. Juan de Vere, nearly finished with his university degree, takes a job as personal assistant to Eduardo Muriel, an eccentric, once-successful film director. Urbane, discreet, irreproachable, Muriel is an irresistible idol to the young man. But Muriel's voluptuous wife, Beatriz, inhabits their home like an unwanted ghost; and on the periphery of their lives is Dr. Jorge Van Vechten, a family friend implicated in unsavory rumors that Muriel now asks Juan to investigate. As Juan draws closer to the truth, he uncovers only more questions. What is at the root of Muriel's hostility toward his wife? How did Beatriz meet Van Vechten? What happened during the war? Marias leads us deep into the intrigues of these characters, through a daring exploration of rancor, suspicion, loyalty, trust, and the infinitely permeable boundaries between the deceptions perpetrated on us by others and those we inflict upon ourselves.
A Life in Parts
by Bryan Cranston
This memoir from the star of Breaking Bad is poignant, intimate, funny, and inspiring. It is both a coming-of-age story and a meditation on creativity, devotion, and craft. Cranston maps his zigzag journey from abandoned son to great actor. He also dives deep into the grittiest details of his greatest role, explaining how he searched inward for the personal darkness that would help him create one of the most memorable performances ever captured on screen: Walter White, chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin. Discussing his life as few men do, describing his art as few actors can, Cranston has much to say about creativity, devotion, and craft, as well as innate talent and its challenges and benefits and proper maintenance. But ultimately A Life in Parts is a story about the joy, the necessity, and the transformative power of simple hard work.
by Scholastique Mukasonga
This is the story of growing up a Tutsi in Hutu-dominated Rwanda--the story of a happy child and a loving family, all wiped out in the genocide of 1994. A vivid, bittersweet depiction of family life and bond in a time of immense hardship, it is also a story of incredible endurance, and the duty to remember that loss and those lost while somehow carrying on. Sweet, funny, wrenching, and deeply moving, Cockroaches is a window onto an unforgettable world of love, grief, and horror.
The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter
by David Sax
A funny thing happened on the way to the digital utopia. We've begun to fall back in love with the very analog goods and ideas the tech gurus insisted that we no longer needed. Businesses that once looked outdated, from film photography to brick-and-mortar retail, are now springing with new life. Notebooks, records, and stationery have become cool again. Behold the Revenge of Analog. David Sax has uncovered story after story of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and even big corporations who've found a market selling not apps or virtual solutions but real, tangible things. Blending psychology and observant wit with first-rate reportage, Sax shows the limited appeal of the purely digital life and the robust future of the real world outside it.
Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing
by Jennifer Weiner
In her first essay collection, Weiner takes the raw stuff of her life and spins it into a collection of tales of modern-day womanhood as uproariously funny and moving as the best of Nora Ephron and Tina Fey. No subject is off-limits in these intimate and honest stories: sex, weight, envy, money, her mother's coming out of the closet, her estranged father's death. From lonely adolescence to modern childbirth to hearing her six-year-old daughter say the f-word--fat--for the first time, Jen dives deep into the heart of female experience, with the wit and candor that have endeared her to readers all over the world.