The Works Progress Administration of the 1930s and ’40s was a savior for American artists. Those meager checks alleviated financial concerns enough that the artists could pay rent and spend their off-hours drinking, cavorting and exploring their artistic passions.
“Food is our common ground, a universal experience,” said James Beard, and these two delicious new books are cases in point.
Hannah Rothschild is an established insider of the London art world. Recently appointed Chair of the National Gallery, she is respected as both connoisseur and patron, and a champion of art education.
A historical novel takes readers inside the Bloomsbury Group of literati, a harrowing tale of survival in the West and a debut novel set in the wake of the BP oil spill make for great group discussion this month.
The title of the new volume The Early Stories of Truman Capote is certainly truth in advertising. These are very early stories, written largely when Capote was a teenager, only recently discovered among the writer’s papers in the New York Public Library. A few of the 14 were published in his Greenwich, Connecticut, high school newspaper, but short of any surviving classmates, odds are good that these stories are reaching Capote fans for the first time.
David Mitchell’s novel Slade House first came to life as a short story delivered in 140-character bursts on Twitter. That story, “The Right Sort,” is now the first entry in a chilling novel in stories that’s an intriguing companion piece to Mitchell’s 2014 novel, The Bone Clocks, an intricate saga of a war between two groups of time travelers.
Garth Risk Hallberg’s debut novel—sold for $2 million in a 10-publisher bidding war—has been the most anticipated, hyped and ballyhooed book of 2015. If the literary gods are fair, it’ll wind up on many shortlists. But unless you’re a connoisseur of literary criticism, you’ve probably never heard of the author.
Julia Elliott’s debut novel, The New and Improved Romie Futch, zips between various genres, from Southern gothic to sci-fi satire, in a clever, wildly imaginative romp through the landscape of the South and the neural pathways of one man’s brain. At times heartbreaking and at other times hilarious, The New and Improved Romie Futch announces Elliott as an undeniably original voice.
Claire Vaye Watkins’ award-winning short story collection, Battleborn (2012), explored the West and the often disappointing truths behind its rich mythology. Watkins returns to the West in her luminous debut novel, Gold Fame Citrus, although it’s a West that has been drastically altered.
Author Catherynne M. Valente crafts a unique and vibrant world in her new novel, Radiance. Set in an alternate present where interplanetary travel was discovered at the turn of the 20th century, this story of secrets and scandals entertains and intrigues even as it explores what a single life can mean.