When Barton Swaim read a column by his state’s governor, he promptly sat down and wrote him, “I know how to write, and you need a writer.” He got the job, but his writing skills went to waste as the governor insisted on a “voice” that bore only a slight resemblance to proper English.
Laughter can tighten your abs, soothe your mind and increase your empathy. Lighten up your summer reading with two funny new books that have both heart and brains.
It’s no surprise that Alfred Lansing’s 1959 book, Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, is still in print. The harsh reality of survival near the Poles continues to make gripping reading, especially from the safety of our own homes.
Taking your boat out on open water any time soon? Already there? You’ll want to weather life’s inevitable storms by keeping your anchor and flares aboard at all times. If an emergency strikes, you will need something to hold you steady, and lights can summon help. In this tender follow-up to her 2007 bestseller, Here If You Need Me, Kate Braestrup weathers her own storms—the sudden death of a spouse and the inevitable departure of a child growing up—and calls upon her work as chaplain for the Maine Game Warden Service to help in her most personal ministry, her family.
Don’t miss these superbly written books that combine intriguing history with memorable real-life escapades.
In this fascinating explanation of the techniques of forensic science, Val McDermid takes readers on an “evidential journey” that begins at the crime scene and ends in the courtroom. McDermid, a Scottish crime fiction writer and former newspaper crime reporter, turns out to be a remarkably intelligent and witty guide for a tour of such gruesome subjects as blood spatter, DNA analysis, toxicology exams and forensic entomology, a discipline that McDermid writes, mordantly, is “based on one grisly fact: a corpse makes a good lunch.”
For all its sexual perversity, Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita is at heart a master send-up of the particularities of mid-20th-century American culture. It is a measure of the genius of the non-native English-speaking Nabokov that he crafted the novel’s dazzling prose, of course, but it is just as impressive that this Russian-born writer captured the nuances of an alien culture with such precision and wit. In his new study, Nabokov in America: On the Road to Lolita, Robert Roper focuses on the émigré’s time in the United States and how it gave birth to his most famous book.
Tracy Slater thought she’d stay in Boston forever. A writing teacher with a Ph.D. in literature, Slater worked with diverse students, practiced yoga, published essays and enjoyed her close-knit community of friends. Yet one fateful summer, she agreed to teach English in Japan. “Don’t fall in love,” said her mother. Naturally, she did.
Ah, alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems (to misquote “The Simpsons”). In Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget, Sarah Hepola reveals the ugly side of addiction with humor and honesty. She writes gracefully of blackouts, junk food binges and unnerving sexual encounters. Along the way, she touches on loneliness and cats and hangovers and alternative weeklies. Although she claims that alcohol made her fearless, her true bravery emerges in this memoir’s witty candor.
Children’s earliest memories are of their families. Siblings, especially the closer they are in age, are our first friends, the only people in the world who shared the same womb and share the same memories. But what if your only memories of your siblings are how they disappeared?