On October 29, 1971, Duane Allman, the soulful lead guitarist who wove expressive and fluid guitar solos into the music of Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, King Curtis, Derek and the Dominoes and the Allman Brothers Band, died in a motorcycle crash near Macon, Georgia. He left behind an already remarkable musical legacy, a young wife and a 2-year-old daughter named Galadrielle.
When Carol Wall hired a neighbor’s gardener to improve her long-neglected yard, she never imagined that the Kenyan immigrant would transform her outlook on life as well. In Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening, Wall reflects on what she learned from their special friendship.
Madhulika Sikka's new book, A Breast Cancer Alphabet, is here "for anyone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer and needs a companion."
Ape, chicken, cow, dog, pig, rat, sheep, snake, beast. Each of these words has a distinct connotation, none of them positive. The fact is, though, that no animal behavior can compete with the aggressive and destructive violence exhibited by humans on a regular basis. Animal advocate Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson has published numerous bestsellers about the rich emotional lives of animals. In his latest thought-provoking book, Beasts, Masson turns his attention to humans, posing the questions: who are the real beasts, why, and what can we do about it?
This month's Audio column has something for everyone: mystery lovers, readers of inspiring memoirs and seekers of exciting new voices in fiction.
BookPage Nonfiction Top Pick, March 2014
Walter Kirn has penned a number of imaginative novels, including Up in the Air and Thumbsucker, which were both made into movies. But nothing in the pages of those books could match the bizarre, real-life experiences Kirn relates in his new memoir, Blood Will Out.
The damp practically floats off the pages in Astoria, the sweeping tale of John Jacob Astor’s attempt to settle the remote Pacific Northwest coast in 1810. Astor’s vast wealth enabled him to send two expeditions: one over land and one by ship. His plan was to set up a fur trade, the first on this particularly harsh stretch of the West Coast. Whoever could settle the area would lay claim to a vast area rich with sea otter and beaver fur, salmon and other seafood.
It’s hard to know whether to call Boyd Varty’s Cathedral of the Wild a memoir, a true adventure story or a self-help book. All I know is that it made me cry with its hard-won truths about human and animal nature, distilled by Varty from his experiences living on Londolozi, the game reserve his family runs in South Africa.
Blake Bailey has written notable biographies of authors John Cheever and Richard Yates, both difficult and brilliant men. While he was sifting through their lives, he was also reflecting on his own. The Splendid Things We Planned is the resulting portrait, a story of mental illness and addiction and the difficult orbits they force upon the healthy. It’s also a tribute to one family’s best efforts and inevitable failings.
Debbie Stier faced a crisis. The oldest of her two children was approaching college age, and she hadn’t saved for tuition. What’s more, Ethan was, in her words: “a boy who was ‘happy getting B’s’ and had gotten an awful lot of them.” He was neither an honors student nor an extracurricular overachiever.