Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

John Cheever meets the apocalypse when a New York family goes to holiday in a remote corner of Long Island. Satire slowly gives way to mounting dread and horror, with such a light and subtle touch that as a reader, you might as well be a frog being slowly brought to boil. My favorite Goodreads review for this book puts this simply as “Prepare to be freaked the f*ck out!!!” Indeed.

Adult Fiction Hardcover pr5701255


I've Seen the Future and I'm Not Going by Peter McGough

McGough pens a dandy look back at growing up gay in Syracuse NY in the 1970s, followed by the escape offered by art school in New York and an eventually successful career as an artist, in collaboration with partner David McDermott. Life in the seedy East Village with contemporaries such as Julian Schnabel, Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol are detailed in an unpretentious, mostly unreflective, breezy style that reads like diary entries.

Running throughout are the artists’ attempts to live a Victorian lifestyle (forgoing electricity, eschewing travel by air and all modern conveniences) which brings unusual hilarity to some darkly familiar themes and places, with the shadow of AIDS looming and then arriving with devastating consequences to the community.

A sort of gay, visual arts companion to Patti Smith’s Just Kids.

Adult Non-Fiction Hardcover pr3418209

Broken by Don Winslow

Don Winslow has been in the news a lot, over the last decade. His “Cartel” series not only painted a grimly realistic picture of the US war on drugs, but proved prescient about what to expect from narco kingpin Joaquin Guzman (El Chapo). More recently, his unchecked antipathy for the Trump administration has resulted in a barrage of challenges, fact-checking, and viral videos. While he makes for an astute social critic, Winslow’s twenty-one novels are likely to be his legacy.

His latest, Broken, collects six novellas, several featuring characters from his best known works. They all connect through themes of crime, corruption, loss and redemption. If you’ve never read Winslow, this is a good introduction to his style and preoccupations.

There’s no prerequisite to have read any of his earlier work featuring revisited characters, ut those that like thrilling suspense with a social conscience will likely go there next.

P.S. Power of the Dog and Savages, which was made into a movie by Oliver Stone, are two of my favourites.

Adult Non-Fiction Hardcover pr5287323

Win at All Costs: Inside Nike Running and its Culture of Deception by Matt Hart

A behind the scenes account of the Nike Oregon Project, coach Alberto Salazar, and win at all costs corporate culture. Much of this book is already widely assumed, if not known by detail: professional athletes using performance enhancing drugs, abusive coaches, big business with seemingly unchecked greed and power – and yet freelance journalist Matt Hart tells the story so well, this all reads like revelation.

This can be read as a business expose, a sports drama, athletic history or character study. While Nike has recently been making some changes (e.g. ending financial penalties for pregnant athletes), it’s still pretty difficult to stomach the thought of buying and wearing “the swoosh” after this.

Adult Non-Fiction Hardcover pr5627270

Dirt: Adventures, with Family, in the Kitchen of Lyon, Looking for the Origins of French Cooking
by Bill Buford

A slightly mad, quirky, fish out of water tale from the Granta founder, and former fiction editor of The New Yorker. In this follow-up to 2006’s Heat, in which he learned how to cook Italian food, Buford turns his life upside down by moving to Lyon, France, with his long-suffering wife and twin Pre-K twin boys to learn the classics of French cuisine and study its origins. Buford’s writing style and personality is something like Bill Bryson with ADHD, although it should be stressed that he is never less than erudite and thoughtful. Participatory journalism taken to its extremes.

Adult Non-Fiction Hardcover pr5628244

The Book of Eels: Our Enduring Fascination with the Most Mysterious Creature in the Natural World 
by Patrik Svensson  

Blending nature writing and memoir while exploring the human condition, Swedish journalist Svensson has written a new classic with the charm and power of H is For Hawk, or Annie Dillard. Great pandemic reading that weaves together Aristotle, Freud and Rachel Carson with a zoological mystery that continues to this day. If you only read one book on eels this year (or one book on nature), this is it.

Adult Non-Fiction Hardcover pr5433902

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