books

In an interview, short story writer Charles Baxter explained that, “the short story begins when things start to go wrong.” Elsewhere, he maintained that, “no story can keep a secret. A writer needs to find the secret and bring it to the surface.”

If measured by his own comments, Baxter’s new collection, There’s Something I Want You to Do, is triumphant. Set mostly in Minneapolis along the Mississippi River, the 10 stories are divided into two sections-- one devoted to virtues and the other to vices.

A Relentless 'Descent'

Jan 26, 2015

Tim Johnston’s suspenseful novel, Descent, kept me up late. Then, I reached for it first thing the next morning.

Caitlin Courtland, 18, disappears in the mountains of Colorado. Until the mystery of the disappearance is solved, Caitlin’s family suffers deeply from the tragedy and Johnston examines the fragility of life and faith.

Christopher Scotton’s debut novel The Secret Wisdom of the Earth is riveting.

Set in Medgar, Kentucky, in 1985, it is the multigenerational story of a disparate population of mine owners and their laborers in a community on the verge of major change. Scotton explores the epic theme of man’s dominion over nature and beautifully renders his reverence for the natural landscape.

Leave it to the creatives at the Berkeley-based Ten Speed Press to team up with the uber-fanatic leaders of the craft cocktail underground to create the elegant new book Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails. The book is designed for enthusiasts and professionals alike, as the owners of New York-based lounge Death & Company share their passion and extreme knowledge of all things cocktail.

  Nobel Peace Prize winner and president of South Africa from 1994-1999, Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years. He and other members of the African National Congress were deemed South Africa’s most dangerous criminals as they rebelled against Apartheid.

Christo Brand is an Afrikaner, who was raised in a multi-ethnic community, unaware of the realities of Apartheid. In 1978, when he turned 18, he chose to be a prison guard rather than a soldier or policeman. The brutality and danger, and the racism inherent in the law, were confusing to his tolerant sensibility.

Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Colm Tóibín is the author of seven novels, including The Master, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Brooklyn, winner of the Costa Book Award; and two story collections. Twice shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Tóibín lives in Dublin and New York.

Tóibín’s latest novel, Nora Webster, displays a singular vision into the interior lives of ordinary people. Like other Tóibín novels, this one is set in a small Irish town in the middle of the 20th century, a time and place he is intimately familiar with from his own childhood.

Azar Nafisi, author of The Republic of the Imagination: America in Three Books, thinks that, "America has a crisis of vision."

Being Mortal is about the struggle to cope with the constraints of our biology.” This is Atul Gawande’s observation in his important new book, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. He is the author of three previous books, including The Checklist Manifesto, in which he boldly calls for a surgical checklist to be performed before any surgery, anywhere. This may seem like common sense, but there was no such practice in place.

Internal Medicine by Terrence Holt is a compilation of nine stories that loosely reflect Holt’s experience as an internal medicine resident. Each story is a compositely drawn case, just as Holt’s protagonist, “Harper,” is an amalgamation of his fellow residents. Holt remolds the medical cases, he says, “according to the logic not of journalism but of parable, seeking to capture the essence of something too complex to be understood any other way.”

Helen Thorpe profiles three women who joined the Indiana National Guard before 9/11 in her compelling new book, Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War.

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