There are many reasons to love a good misery memoir: In my case, reading about other people’s dysfunctional childhoods offers a sense of community, a sisterhood of resilient Gen Xers who survived a 1970s childhood. Cea Sunrise Person’s engaging new memoir, North of Normal, evokes both the miserable excesses and occasional beauty of growing up in a counterculture family in the wilderness of the Me Decade.
John Quincy Adams was devoted to literature, and had he been able to pursue his ideal career, he wrote in 1817, “I should have made myself a great poet.” He did write poetry throughout his extraordinary life, but, from a very young age, his parents strongly encouraged him toward life as a leader in the new republic. His literary skills, however, were not wasted.
From the Duke boys’ car named the General Lee on the “Dukes of Hazzard” TV show to his appearance on a U.S. postage stamp, Robert E. Lee has come to “embody and glorify a defeated cause,” Michael Korda asserts in a monumental new biography, Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee.
These four books add unique insights to this essential question, with subjects including an irrepressible immigrant mother, birth mothers and adoptive mothers, and a crusading mom who wants to liberate others from their guilt.
It is far easier to be morally outraged by a situation than morally engaged in confronting it. We look back at the horrors of slavery or the Holocaust and exclaim, “How could they have let this happen,” even as we effectively ignore the current waves of human miseries washing around our feet. Gil and Eleanor Kraus were no such antiseptic moralists.
Was John Updike one of America’s great writers or merely, as Harold Bloom famously said, “a minor novelist with a major style”? In Updike, his meticulously detailed and highly readable new biography—the first full-fledged life of the writer, who died in 2009—Adam Begley makes a convincing case for the former view while providing a rich account of the events that shaped Updike’s fiction.
Because he seldom cites specific dates or alludes to what’s happening in the outside world as he’s prowling through the jungle in Peru, Paul Rosolie’s Mother of God: An Extraordinary Journey into the Uncharted Tributaries of the Western Amazon has a breathless, dream-like quality—a tone one might find in the journals of a relentlessly eager and factually retentive Boy Scout.
Fifty years after gunshots rang out in Dallas’ Dealey Plaza, the collective memory continues to celebrate the life and achievements of John F. Kennedy, and to ponder his death. Authors and publishers are also remembering the November 22nd anniversary with dozens of new books on Kennedy’s assassination and legacy. We’ve pored through the stacks to point readers toward some of...
Perhaps you love Ann Patchett’s novels, like State of Wonder and Bel Canto. Truth & Beauty, her standout memoir about her friendship with the writer Lucy Grealy, might have a special spot on your shelf. Or maybe you heard how she co-founded Parnassus, an indie bookstore in Nashville that opened its doors after two other local bookstores closed. She’s something of an all-star,...
Who doesn’t feel distracted these days? With the vast resources of the Internet in the palms of our hands via our smartphones, it’s so convenient to tune out the real world and tune in to the latest trending topic. What are we missing when our ability to focus becomes compromised?Daniel Goleman asks that question in his new book Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence. He writes,...