From the popular science writer and true modern renaissance man that managed to make ants interesting (well at least to some), a new title due October 3 and just starting a queue. As befitting someone fascinated his whole life by science yet inspired by the questions and meaning-seeking of his Southern Baptist upbringing, Wilson here attempts to both distinguish and cross-pollinate natural science and the humanities.  Particularly interesting is the discussion of bringing the rich and unknown perceptions and experiences of other forms of life into our art, perhaps through virtual reality, thereby allowing the traditional humanities to embrace all of natural reality. Ooh! Hate to give it up but feel compelled to share, too. An ARC for first commenter.

 

The Origins of CreativityPublisher Summary: In this profound and lyrical book, one of our most celebrated biologists offers a sweeping examination of the relationship between the humanities and the sciences: what they offer to each other, how they can be united, and where they still fall short. Both endeavours, Edward O. Wilson reveals, have their roots in human creativity–the defining trait of our species.Reflecting on the deepest origins of language, storytelling, and art, Wilson demonstrates how creativity began not ten thousand years ago, as we have long assumed, but over one hundred thousand years ago in the Paleolithic age. Chronicling this evolution of creativity from primate ancestors to humans, The Origins of Creativity shows how the humanities, spurred on by the invention of language, have played a largely unexamined role in defining our species. And in doing so, Wilson explores what we can learn about human nature from a surprising range of creative endeavors–the instinct to create gardens, the use of metaphors and irony in speech, and the power of music and song.Our achievements in science and the humanities, Wilson notes, make us uniquely advanced as a species, but also give us the potential to be supremely dangerous, most worryingly in our abuse of the planet. The humanities in particular suffer from a kind of anthropomorphism, encumbered by a belief that we are the only species among millions that seem to matter, yet Wilson optimistically reveals how researchers will have to address this parlous situation by pushing further into the realm of science, especially fields such as evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and anthropology.With eloquence and humanity, Wilson calls for a transformational “Third Enlightenment,” in which the blending of these endeavors will give us a deeper understanding of the human condition and our crucial relationship with the natural world.

I’m purchasing those we did not already own.  The Seattle Times is covering. Here’s the link.  Thanks!

Barkskins  Lovecraft Country  Eruption

 

Cuba “people to people” visa travel is being restricted soon or already is (not perfectly clear on timing from news articles I’ve looked at).  Straightforward individual tourism direct from US is definitely not happening soon. This will likely limit and discourage individual travel and probably demand for tourist guidebooks. See articles below.  Because of this I’m taking a look at pre-2017 copies of some series we bought in last few years and am buying *very* conservatively going forward.  Please alert me to any Cuba materials you come across that raise concern either for yourself or customers. Thank you!

USA Today Article

National Law Review 

Update: The titles I’ve looked at seem just to indicate in brief sections that there was easing of travel restrictions in 2015 without being too declarative for the future. I’m letting them continue to circulate for a while.  

Cuba  National Geographic Traveler  Frommer's Easyguide to Cuba  Fodor's Cuba  Footprint Cuba

These are ARC’s I picked up at a Random House title presentation over the weekend. The Isabel Dalhousie novel is slated for July; the other two are out this month.  I’m hoping the Scandinavian thriller readers out there among you will get a chance to claim the Nesbø (beat the queue or savor for later).

Jane Austen the Secret Radical is a non-fiction title and a Patron Driven Acquisition (PDA) title so I thought I’d mention what’s up with PDA. The adult biography pilot is closed and no new title records are being added to the catalog. I will, however, continue to order from these records until the last ones have either been ordered or removed for lack of holds.  We have learned a lot from this interesting experiment, but for now are not recommending that PDA be adopted as a permanent selection method.  I will be making a brief presentation on this at this month’s Managers Meeting as well. There are many logistical challenges, including modulating the title source list/stream, and the initial cost and circulation metrics have not been what we hoped, though I hope looking again at figures in the fall will show improvement for PDA vs non-PDA titles over a longer timeframe.

Comment to claim. 

McCall Smith, Alexander. A Distant View of Everything. Pantheon, July.

A Distant View of EverythingPublisher summary: When a matchmaker begins to question her latest match, Isabel Dalhousie is called upon to help.

A new baby brings an abundance of joy to Isabel and her husband, Jamie—but almost-four-year-old Charlie is none too keen on his newborn brother. In fact, he refuses to acknowledge Magnus, and Isabel must find a way to impress upon her older son the patience and understanding that have served as guiding principles in her own life.

These are the very qualities that bring Bea Shandon, an old acquaintance of Isabel’s, to seek her help in a tricky situation. Something on a matchmaker, Bea has introduced a wealthy female friend to a cosmetic surgeon at her most recent dinner party. Then new information comes to light about the surgeon that causes Bea to doubt his motives and the auspiciousness of the match. Isabel agrees to find out more, but as her enquiries take an unexpected turn, she starts to wonder whom exactly she should be investigating. As ever, Isabel’s intelligence, quick wit and deep empathy will come to her aid as she grapples with the issues that are her bread and butter: friendship and its duties, the obligation of truthfulness, and the importance of perspective.

The Thirst

Nesbø, Jo. The Thirst. Knopf, May.

Publisher Summary: The murder victim, a self-declared Tinder addict. The one solid clue–fragments of rust and paint in her wounds–leaves the investigating team baffled.
Two days later, there’s a second murder: a woman of the same age, a Tinder user, an eerily similar scene.
The chief of police knows there’s only one man for this case. But Harry Hole is no longer with the force. He promised the woman he loves, and he promised himself, that he’d never go back: not after his last case, which put the people closest to him in grave danger.
But there’s something about these murders that catches his attention, something in the details that the investigators have missed. For Harry, it’s like hearing “the voice of a man he was trying not to remember.” Now, despite his promises, despite everything he risks, Harry throws himself back into the hunt for a figure who haunts him, the monster who got away.

 

Kelly, Helena. Jane Austen, the Secret Radical. Knopf, May.

Jane Austen, The Secret RadicalPublisher Summary: In this fascinating, revelatory work, Helena Kelly–dazzling Jane Austen authority–looks past the grand houses, the pretty young women, past the demure drawing room dramas and witty commentary on the narrow social worlds of her time that became the hallmark of Austen’s work to bring to light the serious, ambitious, deeply subversive nature of this beloved writer. Kelly illuminates the radical subjects–slavery, poverty, feminism, the Church, evolution, among them–considered treasonous at the time, that Austen deftly explored in the six novels that have come to embody an age. The author reveals just how in the novels we find the real Jane Austen: a clever, clear-sighted woman “of information,” fully aware of what was going on in the world and sure about what she thought of it. We see a writer who understood that the novel–until then seen as mindless “trash”–could be a great art form and who, perhaps more than any other writer up to that time, imbued it with its particular greatness.

 

In the delightful surprise category –  see EarlyWord for more detail.  It has just slipped into Holds Purchase Alert territory.

Haupt, Lyanda Lynn.  Mozart’s Starling.  Little, Brown, April 4th.

Mozart's StarlingA charming story of Mozart and his pet starling, along with a natural history of the bird.

On May 27th, 1784, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart met a flirtatious little starling who sang (an improved version of!) the theme from his Piano Concerto Number 17 in G to him. Knowing a kindred spirit when he met one, Mozart wrote “That was wonderful” in his journal and took the bird home to be his pet. For three years Mozart and his family enjoyed the uniquely delightful company of the starling until one fitful April when the bird passed away.

In 2013, Lyanda Lynn Haupt, author of Crow Planet, rescued her own starling, Carmen, who has become a part of her family. In Mozart’s Starling, Haupt explores the unlikely bond between one of history’s most controversial characters and one of history’s most notoriously disliked birds. Part natural history, part story, Mozart’s Starlingwill delight readers as they learn about language, music, and the secret world of starlings.

From this week’s report.  The Stranger in the Woods has finally broken out of its holds ratio and is getting additional copies. Himself was an utter blindside – a debut set in Ireland in the 1970’s, the novel wins praise from reviewers for being a fresh voice couched in whodunit mystery form.

 

Finkel, Michael.  The Stranger in the Woods. Knopf, March 7.

The Stranger in the Woods

For readers of Jon Krakauer and The Lost City of Z, a remarkable tale of survival and solitude–the true story of a man who lived alone in a tent in the Maine woods, never talking to another person and surviving by stealing supplies from nearby cabins for twenty-seven years. In 1986, twenty-year-old Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the woods. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later when he was arrested for stealing food. Living in a tent even in winter, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store food and water, to avoid freezing to death. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothes, reading material, and other provisions, taking only what he needed, but terrifying a community never able to solve the mysterious burglaries. Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of the why and how of his secluded life–as well as the challenges he has faced returning to the world. A riveting story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude, community, and what makes a good life, and a deeply moving portrait of a man who was determined to live his own way, and succeeded”–Publisher description. 

 

Himself

Kidd, Jess.  Himself. Atria, March 14.

Having been abandoned on the steps of an orphanage as an infant, lovable car thief and Dublin charmer Mahony assumed all his life that his mother had simply given him up. But when he receives an anonymous note suggesting that foul play may have led to his mother’s disappearance, he sees only one option: to return to the rural Irish village where he was born and find out what really happened twenty-six years ago. From the moment he sets foot in Mulderrig, Mahony’s presence turns the village upside down. His uncannily familiar face and outsider ways cause a stir amongst the locals, who receive him with a mixture of excitement (the women), curiosity (the men) and suspicion (the pious). Determined to uncover the truth about what happened to his mother, Mahony solicits the help of brash anarchist and retired theater actress Mrs. Cauley. Together, this improbable duo concoct an ingenious plan to get the town talking, aided and abetted by a cast of eccentric characters, both living and dead. Because in Mulderrig, ghosts can be just as chatty and opinionated as the town’s flesh and blood residents. Mahony’s investigation incurs the wrath of sanctimonious Father Quinn and the Widow Farelly, provokes letter bombs and poisoned scones, and culminates in a riotous production of the most controversial play in Irish history. Himself is a simmering mixture – a blend of the natural everyday and the supernatural, folklore and mystery, and a healthy dose of quintessentially Irish humor. The result is a darkly comic crime story in the tradition of a classic Irish trickster tale, complete with a twisting and turning plot, a small-town rife with secrets and an infectious love of language and storytelling that is a hallmark of the finest Irish writers”– Provided by publisher.

PULITZERS ANNOUNCED

April 12, 2017

We did not yet have the poetry selection, Olio, or the drama title Sweat, which have both been slated for order. They should be in the catalog shortly.

FICTION

Whitehead, Colson.  The Underground Railroad.  Doubleday, 2016. [STILL 87 holds though we have 48 copies!]

The Underground RailroadPublisher summary: Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted. Their first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom. Like the protagonist of Gulliver’s Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey — hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day.

 

 

DRAMA

Nottage, Lynn. Sweat. Theatre Communications Group, May.

 

Summary: No stranger to dramas both heart-felt and heart-wrenching, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage has written one of her most exquisitely devastating tragedies to date. In one of the poorest cities in America, Reading, Pennsylvania, a group of down-and-out factory workers struggles to keep their present lives in balance, ignorant of the financial devastation looming in their near futures. Set in 2008, the powerful crux of this new play is knowing the fate of the characters long before it’s even in their sights. Based on Nottage’s extensive research and interviews with real residents of Reading, Sweat is a topical reflection of the present and poignant outcome of America’s economic decline.

 

 

 

HISTORY

Thompson, Heather Ann.  Bood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy. Pantheon, 2016.

Blood in the WaterOn September 9, 1971, nearly 1,300 prisoners took over the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York to protest years of mistreatment. Holding guards and civilian employees hostage, the prisoners negotiated with officials for improved conditions during the four long days and nights that followed. On September 13, the state abruptly sent hundreds of heavily armed troopers and correction officers to retake the prison by force. Their gunfire killed thirty-nine men–hostages as well as prisoners–and severely wounded more than one hundred others. In the ensuing hours, weeks, and months, troopers and officers brutally retaliated against the prisoners. Ultimately, New York State authorities prosecuted only the prisoners, never once bringing charges against the officials involved in the retaking and its aftermath and neglecting to provide support to the survivors and the families of the men who had been killed. Drawing from more than a decade of extensive research, historian Heather Ann Thompson sheds new light on every aspect of the uprising and its legacy, giving voice to all those who took part in this 45-year fight for justice: prisoners, former hostages, families of the victims, lawyers and judges, and state officials and members of law enforcement. This book is the first full account of one of the most important civil rights stories of the last century.–Adapted from dust jacket. “Historian Heather Ann Thompson offers the first definitive telling of the Attica prison uprising, the state’s violent response, and the victims’ decades-long quest for justice–in time for the forty-fifth anniversary of the events”– Provided by publisher.

 

BIOGRAPHY

Matar, Hisham.  The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between. Random House, 2016.

The Return

“In 2012, after the overthrow of Qaddafi, the acclaimed novelist Hisham Matar journeys to his native Libya after an absence of thirty years. When he was twelve, Matar and his family went into political exile. Eight years later Matar’s father, a former diplomat and military man turned brave political dissident, was kidnapped from the streets of Cairo by the Libyan government and is believed to have been held in the regime’s most notorious prison. Now, the prisons are empty and little hope remains that Jaballah Matar will be found alive. Yet, as the author writes, hope is “persistent and cunning.” This book is a profoundly moving family memoir, a brilliant and affecting portrait of a country and a people on the cusp of immense change, and a disturbing and timeless depiction of the monstrous nature of absolute power”– Provided by publisher.

 

 

NON-FICTION

Desmond, Matthew.  Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. Crown, 2016.

Evicted“[The author] takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the 20 dollars a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind. The fates of these families are in the hands of two landlords: Sherrena Tarver, a former schoolteacher turned inner-city entrepreneur, and Tobin Charney, who runs one of the worst trailer parks in Milwaukee. They loathe some of their tenants and are fond of others, but as Sherrena puts it, “Love don’t pay the bills.” She moves to evict Arleen and her boys a few days before Christmas. Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America’s vast inequality– and to people’s determination and intelligence in the face of hardship. Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, this masterful book transforms our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating, uniquely American problem. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible”–Amazon.com.

 

POETRY

Jess, Tyehimba.  Olio.  Wave Books, April.

          

Jess’s work displays a deep sense of cool black consciousness, especially in regard to musicality. He works with an expressive tradition that blends sensibilities of field holler, spiritual encodings, gospel moan and groan, work song cadence, blue notes, and jook joint jazz.”Howard Ramsby II, Sou’wester

Part fact, part fiction, Tyehimba Jess’s much anticipated second book weaves sonnet, song, and narrative to examine the lives of mostly unrecorded African American performers, musicians and artists directly before and after the Civil War up to World War I. Olio is an effort to understand how they met, resisted, complicated, co-opted, and sometimes defeated attempts to minstrelize them.

So, while I lead this choir, I still find that
I’m being ledI’m a missionary
mending my faith in the midst of this flock
I toil in their fields of praise. When folks see
these freedmen stand and sing, they hear their God
speak in tongues. These nine dark mouths sing shelter;
they echo a hymn’s haven from slavery’s weather.