BookPage Nonfiction Top Pick, April 2014
Frances Mayes’ lyrical memoir of growing up Southern was a long time coming. Worried about upsetting her family, she stopped and started Under Magnolia many times over: “Anytime I felt the impulse to start my Southern opus again, I instead headed for a movie or a new Thai restaurant,” she writes. “I’d go jogging or read a novel until the impulse faded.”
In a frank and richly evocative memoir, the author of Under the Tuscan Sun recalls growing up in the Deep South.
Why did you feel now was the right time to write a memoir of your coming-of-age?
Moving from California (where I lived and worked for decades) back to the South reconnected me on many levels with the land I came from originally. Some of the connections were simple and primitive—the fecund and flowery smells, the cheerful sounds of the tree frogs, the grating drama of cicadas, the grand sunsets and the intense humidity.
There’s a stranger in Claudia Morgan-Brown’s house. The Birmingham, England, social worker has what should be an enviable life: Newly married to a wealthy naval officer, she lives in a palatial house and is step-parenting his adorable twin boys. And after a string of heartbreaking miscarriages with her ex, she’s finally expecting a baby girl of her own. But there’s a problem: the new live-in nanny, Zoe Harcomb.
Madhulika Sikka's new book, A Breast Cancer Alphabet, is here "for anyone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer and needs a companion."
An epistolary tale told through emails, interoffice memos, legal documents and handwritten notes, The Divorce Papers is a witty and engaging first novel from author Susan Rieger. As is obvious from the title, the book features a divorce at its center. However, Rieger makes it about much more as she covers topics ranging from childhood trauma and fresh romances to office politics and literary theory.
On July 21, 1999, a crane lowered experienced construction diver DJ Gillis and four other men down a 420-foot shaft to the opening of an almost 10-mile tunnel beneath Deer Island in Boston Harbor. At the end of the day, only three men would return alive.
If NASA ever launches a manned mission to Mars, space-watchers worldwide will scan the skies anxiously, imagining all the things that could go wrong for travelers more than 30 million miles from home. But no one is likely to imagine it as vividly as Andy Weir has in his debut novel, an interplanetary adventure story about an astronaut facing the ultimate worst-case scenario.
In her second book, My Life in Middlemarch, New Yorker staff writer Rebecca Mead offers a thoughtful examination of the book that has turned out to be a touchstone of her life. We caught up with Mead to ask her a few questions about this personal look at a beloved classic.
George Eliot’s Middlemarch is a crowning achievement among Victorian novels—a canon with its fair share of weighty masterworks. Admired by generations of writers, including Virginia Woolf, who called it “one of the few English novels written for grown-up people,” it holds primacy of place on many readers’ “to be read” lists, though many probably never get to the somewhat daunting task. Not so Rebecca Mead, a staff writer for The New Yorker, who first read the novel when she was 17 and has re-read it many times since.
In 1974, at the age of 10, Anya von Bremzen immigrated to Philadelphia with her mother, leaving behind a nation forever underfed: the USSR. Her first trip to an American supermarket should’ve been like stepping into heaven. Young Anya, however, hates the place. Back home in Moscow, obtaining food meant standing in a queue for hours, but it was often an adventure. In contrast, the...