Book Review

Veteran bookseller Sarah Bagby shares her experience and insight into the literary world.

Jimmy Rabbitte Is Back

Apr 7, 2014

Booker Prize winner Roddy Doyle introduced readers to Jimmy Rabbitte in 1987 in his beloved book about the finest soul band in Dublin, The Commitments.

The Guts, Doyle’s new novel, portrays Jimmy in his 47th year. He is married, has four children, owns a successful online music site selling the records of obscure ‘80s Irish bands, and has been diagnosed with bowel cancer.

The book opens in an Irish pub. Over numerous glasses of beer Jimmy tells his father about the cancer. We feel the love and the fear of both men as they work through the sobering news.

When the wives of the Los Alamos scientists learn that their husbands have spent years building the atomic bomb, their world is forever changed. Their pride is replaced with shock and disillusionment.

In her debut novel, The Wives of Los Alamos, TaraShea Nesbit gives us an intimate view of this unique community of educated women who sacrifice a secure life in familiar neighborhoods, are given new names, and are displaced with their children and husbands to a secret place “out west.”

I left a message for Nickolas Butler to call me so I could tell him some exciting news. A jury of book sellers selected his debut novel Shotgun Lovesongs to be among 10 books showcased by hundreds of independent bookstores upon release.

He was afraid to return my call since all the feedback he’d received about his beguiling story of Little Wing, Wisconsin-- a fictional town-- was critical of his interpretation of facts.

Greg Hernandez / Creative Commons

B.J. Novak cut his writing teeth on comedic TV scripts, most notably for "The Office" where he also played Ryan Howard.

Eventually, he got a book contract. Instead of a comic memoir, Novak set to work writing short fiction in One More Thing: Stories and More Stories.

Novak’s father was a ghost writer whose book Iacocca sold millions of copies but only paid a flat fee—from this, Novak learned how to negotiate the publishing world. He landed a six-figure, two-book contract with the most prestigious literary publishing company, Alfred A Knopf.

Let me start by saying that my friend who’s been in the travel business for more than 50 years has never been asked to arrange a trip to the Congo.

Named by the National Book Foundation as one of five authors under 35 to watch, Molly Antopol has distinguished herself as master of the short story in her debut collection The UnAmericans: Stories.

Antopol’s stories are mostly of American immigrants relocating for political reasons, but are not familiar tropes of an immigrant story. The humanity and vulnerability show how the universal dynamics of family and romantic love are equally nurturing, distancing, tender and messy.

Georgetown Voice / Flickr / Creative Commons

Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart

When Gary Shteyngart was a young child, his mother would call him "Solnyshko," which means "little sun."

But after the Shteyngarts left Leningrad for the United States in the late 1970s, his parents were disappointed with his aspirations of being a writer. His mother melded English and Russian to come up with the pet name, "Failurchka." The translation? Little Failure. Shteyngart has adopted this name as the title for his new memoir.

With a new year upon us, this is when many of us stop to perform mental audits of our lives. I can’t help you in the gym, but I can offer you these 90 seconds of self-improvement reading in the areas of art, history and literature.

The folks who gave us the coffee-table book The Louvre: All the Paintings have accomplished the same feat with The Vatican. The slip-cased volume contains every Old Master painting on display in the Vatican, as well as hundreds of additional masterpieces and treasures in the papal collection, featuring 976 works of art in all.

When French President Francois Mitterrand and his party are seated next to Daniel Mercier at a Parisian bistro, Daniel prolongs his meal to savor his close proximity to the man, imagining he is the fourth guest at the President’s table.

When Mitterrand inadvertently leaves his hat behind, Daniel takes possession of it, wearing it as his own.

Fletcher Powell / KMUW

Time and again we've been warned not to judge a book by its cover. But when you’re looking at one of the more than 1,000 book covers designed by Chip Kidd, it’s difficult to follow that advice. Especially when you understand the amount of research and planning that have gone into each of his cover designs.

So now, Chip Kidd has written a design book titled Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design. Even though the title is a play on his name, it’s designed for “kids” ages 10 and up.

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