I want to wish everyone a great 2007. That you may have a great time with family and friends.
As always, Happy Reading.
Sincerely, Books for thy Imagination
FICTION & POETRY
ABSURDISTAN. By Gary Shteyngart. (Random House, $24.95.) A young American-educated Russian with an ill-gotten fortune waits to return to the
AFTER THIS. By Alice McDermott. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $24.) In her effectively elliptical novel, McDermott continues to scrutinize the lives of Irish Catholics on
AGAINST THE DAY. By Thomas Pynchon. (Penguin Press, $35.) In Pynchon's globe-trotting tale, set (mostly) on the eve of World War I, anarchic Americans collide with quasi-psychic European hedonists and a crew of boyish balloonists, anticipating the shocks to come.
ALENTEJO BLUE. By Monica Ali. (Scribner, $24.) Ali's second novel revolves around the inhabitants of a southern Portuguese village.
ALL AUNT HAGAR'S CHILDREN. By Edward P. Jones. (Amistad/HarperCollins, $25.95.) Several characters from Jones's first story collection return in this one, set mostly in
APEX HIDES THE HURT. By Colson Whitehead. (Doubleday. $22.95.) In this parablelike novel, a commercial "nomenclature consultant" is hired to name a Midwestern town, and his task turns into an exploration of the corruption of language.
ARTHUR AND GEORGE. By Julian Barnes. (Knopf, $24.95.) A metaphysical mystery starring Arthur (Conan Doyle), spiritual detective.
AVERNO. By Louise Glück. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $22.) Poems inspired by the underworld of myth confront our most intractable fears.
BEASTS OF NO NATION. By Uzodinma Iweala. (HarperCollins, $16.95.) A first novel set in an unidentified West African land; its hero finds himself corrupted by contagious violence.
BLACK SWAN GREEN. By David Mitchell. (Random House, $23.95.) The magic of being a 13-year-old boy and exploring the world intersects, eventually, with the trials of real life.
BROOKLAND. By Emily Barton. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25.) A tale of 18th-century sisters, one with a dream to bridge the
COLLECTED POEMS, 1947-1997. By Allen Ginsberg. (HarperCollins, $39.95.) A hefty, brilliant volume that shows Ginsberg (1926-97) to be not only a legendary protest writer but also a lyric poet preoccupied with passion, place and fate.
THE COLLECTED STORIES OF AMY HEMPEL. (Scribner, $27.50.) The themes of Hempel's unsettling and blackly funny vignettes — mortality, desire and fear of human connection — are threaded with only the slenderest hopes of redemption.
THE DEAD FISH MUSEUM. By Charles D'Ambrosio. (Knopf, $22.) Stories of understated realism centered on the charged relations between fathers and sons, drifters or workers.
DIGGING TO AMERICA. By Anne Tyler. (Knopf, $24.95.) In
THE DISSIDENT. By Nell Freudenberger. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $25.95.) A Chinese artist is a guest of a dysfunctional
THE DREAM LIFE OF SUKHANOV. By Olga Grushin. (Putnam, $24.95.) A Soviet artist sacrifices his talent for the party in this first novel.
EAT THE DOCUMENT. By Dana Spiotta. (Scribner, $24.) After years underground, '70s radicals who are haunted by the past and insecure in the present reunite and face their crime's consequences.
THE ECHO MAKER. By Richard Powers. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25.) This novel's heroine tries to help her brother after a mysterious truck crash leaves him with a rare form of amnesia.
THE EMPEROR'S CHILDREN. By Claire Messud. (Knopf, $25.) The shocks of 9/11 disrupt the privileged lives of a group of young urban media types in this nimble, satirically chiding novel.
EVERYMAN. By Philip Roth. (Houghton Mifflin, $24.) A nameless protagonist grapples with aging, physical decline and impending death in this slender, elegant novel.
FORGETFULNESS. By Ward Just. (Houghton Mifflin, $25.) In this novel, one of Just's best, a small-time American spy uneasily revisits his earlier life after his French wife is murdered.
GALLATIN CANYON: Stories. By Thomas McGuane. (Knopf, $24.) McGuane's portraits of American manhood have the capacity to astonish.
GATE OF THE SUN. By Elias Khoury. Translated by Humphrey Davies. (Archipelago, $26.) A rich novel of the Arab experience, full of pain but tempered by hope.
GOLDEN COUNTRY. By Jennifer Gilmore. (Scribner, $25.) In this debut novel, two Jewish families seek material success and social acceptance across the decades of the 20th century.
HALF OF A YELLOW SUN. By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. (Knopf, $24.95.) A novel about sisters caught in the horrors of the Biafran War.
HIGH LONESOME: New & Selected Stories, 1966-2006. By Joyce Carol Oates. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $34.95.) A coherent overview of Oates's work, mixing classic with new stories.
THE INHABITED WORLD. By David Long. (Houghton Mifflin, $23.) This novel's hero, a ghost, looks back ruefully on his suicide and longs to help a woman survive her own despair.
THE INHERITANCE OF LOSS. By Kiran Desai. (Atlantic Monthly, $24.) The poised story, set in northern
INTUITION. By Allegra Goodman. (Dial, $25.) A cancer researcher's dubious finding sets off a tidal wave that carries many people away.
THE KEEP. By Jennifer Egan. (Knopf, $23.95.) Old grievances drive the plot of this novel, set in a castle and a prison. Egan deftly weaves threads of sordid realism and John Fowles-like magic.
LAST EVENINGS ON EARTH. By Roberto Bolaño. Translated by Chris Andrews. (New Directions, $23.95.) The Pinochet years haunt these stories by a Chilean writer who died in 2003.
THE LAY OF THE LAND. By Richard Ford. (Knopf, $26.95.) Frank Bascombe, the mundane hero of Ford's earlier novels "The Sportswriter" and "Independence Day," finds himself afflicted with intimations of mortality.
LISEY'S STORY. By Stephen King. (Scribner, $28.) In this haunting love story, the widow of a celebrated writer takes up arms against a murderous stalker in this world and a blood-hungry beast in the world beyond.
NEW AND COLLECTED POEMS, 1964-2006. By Ishmael Reed. (Carroll & Graf, $25.95.) Poetry of politics and diversity, suffused with humor.
OLD FILTH. By Jane Gardam. (Europa, paper, $14.95.) The fictional tale of a Raj orphan whose acronymic nickname (from "Failed in
ONE GOOD TURN. By Kate Atkinson. (Little, Brown, $24.99.) An
ONLY REVOLUTIONS. By Mark Z. Danielewski. (Pantheon, $26.) A structurally experimental road-trip novel with a road like a Möbius strip.
THE POSSIBILITY OF AN ISLAND. By Michel Houellebecq. Translated by Gavin Bowd. (Knopf, $24.95.) In this new novel from the French author, a radical libertine becomes the progenitor of a line of clones.
THE ROAD. By Cormac McCarthy. (Knopf, $24.) A man and his son travel across a post-apocalyptic landscape in this terrifying parable.
SKINNER'S DRIFT. By Lisa Fugard. (Scribner, $25.) A white farm family is the foreground of this novel; behind it, the sins of
SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS. By Marisha Pessl. (Viking, $25.95.) A motherless waif whose life has been shaped by road trips with her father joins a circle of students around a charismatic teacher with a tragic secret.
THE STORIES OF MARY GORDON. By Mary Gordon. (Pantheon, $26.) Motifs from Gordon's life, particularly the pain of childhood grief, resurface throughout this collection
STRONG IS YOUR HOLD. By
SUITE FRANÇAISE. By Irène Némirovsky. Translated by Sandra Smith. (Knopf, $25.) Before dying at Auschwitz in 1942, Némirovsky wrote these two exquisitely shaped novellas about
TERRORIST. By John Updike. (Knopf, $24.95.) Updike's latest novel knits together preoccupations that have been with him for some 50 years — sex, death, religion — as an American high school boy, half-Irish, half-Egyptian, is intoxicated by Islamic radicalism.
THE TRANSLATOR. By Leila Aboulela. (Black Cat/Grove/Atlantic; paper, $12.) A Muslim widow's love for an agnostic Scottish Islamic scholar allows her to nourish a hope for happiness.
TWILIGHT OF THE SUPERHEROES. By Deborah Eisenberg. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $23.) A contemporary master of the short story leavens familial angst with mordant humor in her fifth collection in 20 years.
THE USES OF ENCHANTMENT. By Heidi Julavits. (Doubleday, $24.95.) A teenage girl is either a victim or a false accuser in this dark-humored novel of psychoanalysis and prep school angst.
A WOMAN IN JERUSALEM. By A. B. Yehoshua. Translated by Hillel Halkin. (Harcourt, $25.) This novel's hero journeys to return a woman's body to her family in a remote former
THE AFTERLIFE. By Donald Antrim. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $21.) Antrim's memoir reckons with his complicated grief at the death of his emotionally volatile, alcoholic mother.
AMERICA AT THE CROSSROADS: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy. By Francis Fukuyama. (
ANDREW CARNEGIE. By David Nasaw. (Penguin Press, $35.) Nasaw's colorful biography reveals a far from conventional capitalist.
AT CANAAN'S EDGE: America in the King Years, 1965-68. By Taylor Branch. (Simon & Schuster, $35.) The third volume, remarkable for its breadth and detail, in the Pulitzer Prize-winning author's history of the life and times of Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement.
AVA GARDNER: "Love Is Nothing." By Lee Server. (
THE BLIND SIDE: Evolution of a Game. By Michael Lewis. (Norton, $24.95.) From the mean streets to salvation by football: a schoolboy's story.
BLOOD AND THUNDER: An Epic of the American West. By
BLUE ARABESQUE: A Search for the Sublime. By Patricia Hampl. (Harcourt, $22.) A memoir of Hampl's quest for art with transcendent power.
CLEMENTE: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero. By David Maraniss. (Simon & Schuster, $26.) A Pulitzer Prize winner whose previous subjects have included Vince Lombardi and Bill Clinton turns to baseball's first Latino superstar.
CONSIDER THE LOBSTER: And Other Essays. By David Foster Wallace. (Little, Brown, $25.95.) Magazine articles with a moral framework.
THE COURTIER AND THE HERETIC: Leibniz, Spinoza, and the Fate of God in the Modern World. By Matthew Stewart. (Norton, $25.95.) An unlikely page-turner about a 17th-century metaphysical duel, fought in deceit and intrigue, that continues to this day.
THE DISCOMFORT ZONE: A Personal History. By Jonathan Franzen. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $22.) Essays by the author of "The Corrections" focus on formative experiences of his youth.
EAT, PRAY, LOVE: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. By Elizabeth Gilbert. (Viking, $24.95.) A charismatic but troubled traveler seeks a balance of pleasure and devotion — and finds romance.
FALLING THROUGH THE EARTH: A Memoir. By Danielle Trussoni. (Holt, $23.) With affection, respect and humor, a daughter tries to make sense of the demons her father brought home from the Vietcong's subterranean labyrinth.
FIASCO: The American Military Adventure in Iraq. By Thomas E. Ricks. (Penguin Press, $27.95.) A comprehensive account, by a veteran Pentagon correspondent for The Washington Post, of how a bungled occupation fed a ballooning insurgency.
FIELD NOTES FROM A CATASTROPHE: Man, Nature, and Climate Change. By Elizabeth Kolbert. (
FLAUBERT: A Biography. By Frederick Brown. (Little, Brown, $35.) The man behind "Madame Bovary" is brought to life as a romantic and a realist, a dreamer and a debunker.
FUN HOME: A Family Tragicomic. By Alison Bechdel. (Houghton Mifflin, $19.95.) A lesbian comes to terms with the life and death of her closeted gay father in this graphic memoir.
THE GHOST MAP: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic — and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World. By Steven Johnson. (Riverhead, $26.95.) How John Snow answered the riddle of cholera in 1854.
THE GREAT DELUGE: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. By Douglas Brinkley. (Morrow/ HarperCollins, $29.95.) A historian's account of the horrors spawned by the infamous storm, many of them man-made.
THE GREATEST STORY EVER SOLD: The Decline and Fall of Truth From 9/11 to Katrina. By Frank Rich. (Penguin Press, $25.95.) The Times columnist indicts the Bush administration's approach to message management.
HAPPINESS: A History. By Darrin M. McMahon. (Atlantic Monthly, $27.50.) A tour of Western philosophy and its efforts to understand that sought-after yet most elusive of states.
HEAT: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany. By Bill Buford. (Knopf, $25.95.) The former New Yorker fiction editor's life-altering culinary apprenticeship at Babbo and beyond.
IRAN AWAKENING: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope. By Shirin Ebadi with Azadeh Moaveni. (Random House, $24.95.) The Nobel laureate tells her life story, from growing up in pre-revolutionary
JAMES TIPTREE, JR.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon. By Julie Phillips. (
JANE GOODALL: The Woman Who Redefined Man. By Dale Peterson. (Houghton Mifflin, $35.) A meticulous portrait of the pioneering researcher whose years of observing chimpanzees changed the way we see our fellow primates.
KATE: The Woman Who Was Hepburn. By William J. Mann. (Holt, $30.) Mann's biography takes some complicated sexual algebra into account.
LEE MILLER: A Life. By Carolyn Burke. (Knopf, $35.) She was a muse to artists like Man Ray, and an artist herself, photographing the horror of war; that work, though, was ultimately her undoing.
THE LOOMING TOWER: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. By
THE LOST: A Search for Six of Six Million. By Daniel Mendelsohn. (HarperCollins, $27.95.) Grappling with the Holocaust in both its personal and geopolitical dimensions, Mendelsohn reconstructs the story of his great-uncle's family.
MAYFLOWER: A Story of Courage, Community, and War. By Nathaniel Philbrick. (Viking, $29.95.) Philbrick's vivid account of the earnest band of English men and women known as
THE MOST FAMOUS MAN IN AMERICA: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher. By Debby Applegate. (Doubleday, $27.95.) A rich portrait of the 19th-century Protestant reformer renowned for his preaching — and for an adultery scandal.
THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA: A Natural History of Four Meals. By Michael Pollan. (Penguin Press, $26.95.) Pollan embarks on four separate eating adventures, each of which begins at the very beginning — in the soil — and ends with a cooked, finished meal.
ORACLE BONES: A Journey Between China's Past and Present. By Peter Hessler. (HarperCollins, $26.95.) The New Yorker's
THE PLACES IN BETWEEN. By Rory Stewart. (Harvest/Harcourt, paper, $14.) The author recounts his walk across
PRISONERS: A Muslim and a Jew Across the Middle East Divide. By Jeffrey Goldberg. (Knopf, $25.) The one-sided friendship of a onetime Israeli immigrant and a onetime Palestinian prisoner.
PROGRAMMING THE UNIVERSE: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes On the Cosmos. By Seth Lloyd. (Knopf, $25.95.) An M.I.T. professor seeks to explain the fundamental workings of the universe by equating it with a new device called a quantum computer.
QUEEN OF FASHION: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution. By Caroline Weber. (Holt, $27.50.) Weber suggests that the queen miscalculated in dressing to project an image of power.
READING LIKE A WRITER: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them. By Francine Prose. (HarperCollins, $23.95.) How to read with writerly sensitivity, with reference to the masters.
REDEMPTION: The Last Battle of the Civil War. By Nicholas Lemann. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $24.) The story of the demise of Reconstruction in
SELF-MADE MAN: One Woman's Journey Into Manhood and Back Again. By Norah Vincent. (Viking, $24.95.) An artful journalist cross-dresses to learn otherwise unavailable truths.
STATE OF DENIAL. By Bob Woodward. (Simon & Schuster, $30.) Part 3 of the "Bush at War" cycle, by the longtime Washington Post reporter and editor, describes the inept conduct of the invasion and occupation of
STRANGE PIECE OF PARADISE. By Terri Jentz. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.) Jentz's enraging account of her search for a maniac who viciously attacked her with an ax in 1977.
SWEET AND LOW: A Family Story. By Rich Cohen. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25.) A disinherited member of the Sweet'N Low clan digs up dirt.
TEMPTATIONS OF THE WEST: How to be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet, and Beyond. By Pankaj Mishra. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25.) The struggle of ancient societies to define themselves as Western influences encroach.
THINGS I DIDN'T KNOW: A Memoir. By Robert Hughes. (Knopf, $27.95.) Writing after a near-fatal car crash, the Australian art critic describes his formative years and the evolution of his craft.
UNCOMMON CARRIERS. By John McPhee. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $24.) On-the-job portraits of men who drive big transport machines.
THE UNITED STATES OF ARUGULA: How We Became a Gourmet Nation. By David Kamp. (Broadway, $26.) Personalities from Julia Child to Emeril Lagasse drive this lively history of the postwar revolution in American gastronomy.
THE WAR OF THE WORLD: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West. By Niall Ferguson. (Penguin Press, $35.) A panoramic moral analysis of an age of military-industrial slaughter.
THE WORST HARD TIME: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl. By Timothy Egan. (Houghton Mifflin, $28.) What happened to those who stayed put in the 1930s while the very earth itself blew away.
By Gary Shteyngart. Random House, $24.95.
Shteyngart's scruffy, exuberant second novel, equal parts Gogol and Borat, is immodest on every level - it's long, crude, manic and has cheap vodka on its breath. It also happens to be smart, funny and, in the end, extraordinarily rich and moving. "Absurdistan" introduces Misha Vainberg, the rap-music-obsessed, grossly overweight son of the 1,238th richest man in
THE COLLECTED STORIES OF AMY HEMPEL
A quietly powerful presence in American fiction during the past two decades, Hempel has demonstrated unusual discipline in assembling her urbane, pointillistic and wickedly funny short stories. Since the publication of her first collection, "Reasons to Live," in 1985, only three more slim volumes have appeared - a total of some 15,000 sentences, and nearly every one of them has a crisp, distinctive bite. These collected stories show the true scale of Hempel's achievement. Her compact fictions, populated by smart, neurotic, somewhat damaged narrators, speak grandly to the longings and insecurities in all of us, and in a voice that is bracingly direct and sneakily profound.
THE EMPEROR'S CHILDREN
By Claire Messud. Alfred A. Knopf, $25.
This superbly intelligent, keenly observed comedy of manners, set amid the glitter of cultural
THE LAY OF THE LAND
By Richard Ford. Alfred A. Knopf, $26.95.
The third installment, following "The Sportswriter" (1986) and "Independence Day" (1995), in the serial epic of Frank Bascombe - flawed husband, fuddled dad, writer turned real estate agent and voluble first-person narrator. Once again the action revolves around a holiday. This time it's Thanksgiving 2000: the Florida recount grinds toward its predictable outcome, and Bascombe, now 55, battles prostate cancer and copes with a strange turn in his second marriage. The story, which unfolds over three days, is filled with incidents, some of them violent, but as ever the drama is rooted in the interior world of its authentically life-size hero, as he logs long hours on the highways and back roads of New Jersey, taking expansive stock of middle-age defeats and registering the erosions of a brilliantly evoked landscape of suburbs, strip malls and ocean towns.
SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS
By Marisha Pessl. Viking, $25.95.
The antic ghost of Nabokov hovers over this buoyantly literate first novel, a murder mystery narrated by a teenager enamored of her own precocity but also in thrall to her father, an enigmatic itinerant professor, and to the charismatic female teacher whose death is announced on the first page. Each of the 36 chapters is titled for a classic (by authors ranging from Shakespeare to Carlo Emilio Gadda), and the plot snakes ingeniously toward a revelation capped by a clever "final exam." All this is beguiling, but the most solid pleasures of this book originate in the freshness of Pessl's voice and in the purity of her storytelling gift.
FALLING THROUGH THE EARTH
By Danielle Trussoni. Henry Holt & Company, $23.
This intense, at times searing memoir revisits the author's rough-and-tumble Wisconsin girlhood, spent on the wrong side of the tracks in the company of her father, a Vietnam vet who began his tour as "a cocksure country boy" but returned "wild and haunted," unfit for family life and driven to extremes of philandering, alcoholism and violence. Trussoni mixes these memories with spellbinding versions of the war stories her father reluctantly dredged up and with reflections on her own journey to Vietnam, undertaken in an attempt to recapture, and come to terms with, her father's experiences as a "tunnel rat" who volunteered for the harrowing duty of scouring underground labyrinths in search of an elusive and deadly enemy.
THE LOOMING TOWER
Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11.
In the fullest account yet of the events that led to the fateful day, Wright unmasks the secret world of Osama bin Laden and his collaborators and also chronicles the efforts of a handful of American intelligence officers alert to the approaching danger but frustrated, time and again, in their efforts to stop it. Wright, a staff writer for The New Yorker, builds his heart-stopping narrative through the patient and meticulous accumulation of details and through vivid portraits of Al Qaeda's leaders. Most memorably, he tells the story of John O'Neill, the tormented F.B.I. agent who worked frantically to prevent the impending terrorist attack, only to die in the
A Story of Courage, Community, and War.
By Nathaniel Philbrick. Viking, $29.95.
This absorbing history of the Plymouth Colony is a model of revisionism. Philbrick impressively recreates the pilgrims' dismal 1620 voyage, bringing to life passengers and crew, and then relates the events of the settlement and its first contacts with the native inhabitants of
THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA
A Natural History of Four Meals.
By Michael Pollan. The Penguin Press, $26.95.
"When you can eat just about anything nature has to offer, deciding what you should eat will inevitably stir anxiety," Pollan writes in this supple and probing book. He gracefully navigates within these anxieties as he traces the origins of four meals - from a fast-food dinner to a "hunter-gatherer" feast - and makes us see, with remarkable clarity, exactly how what we eat affects both our bodies and the planet. Pollan is the perfect tour guide: his prose is incisive and alive, and pointed without being tendentious. In an uncommonly good year for American food writing, this is a book that stands out.
THE PLACES IN BETWEEN
By Rory Stewart. Harvest/Harcourt, Paper, $14.
"You are the first tourist in
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