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Carrie Soto is Back: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Carrie Soto, with the most Grand Slam and Wimbledon wins in tennis, comes out of retirement after five years when her record is in danger of being surpassed. Past her prime and far from beloved because of her relentless ambition and refusal to put on sponsor pleasing acts of false modesty and meaningless platitudes with the media, Soto faces an uphill battle, both physically and mentally, as she begins to realize, if not always question, the cost of greatness.

As with Jenkins Reid’s recent work (Malibu Rising and Daisy Jones & The Six) this is a fast read that’s commercial on the surface with plenty of serious themes underpinning the story. And I hate to say it, but I admit I’d like to see this adapted for the screen. A perfect, fun read to close out the summer with.

Adult Fiction Paperback pr6730539

Abominations: Selected Essays From A Career of Courting Self-Destruction by Lionel Shriver

Selected reviews, essays and speeches from the author of We Need to Talk About Kevin, first published in The Guardian, Harper’s, The NYT and more.

Shriver has never been anything but contentious, argumentative and acerbic, and I find it somewhat remarkable that, in the cancel-culture age we find ourselves in, she continues to make her living primarily from journalism, while publishing five novels in the last six years. The subjects here include diversity in the publishing industry, cultural appropriation, immigration, tax rates for the rich and declining standards for spoken and written English with Shriver’s position generally incendiary.

While many will refuse to read this, based on what they might have read on social media, or put it down once they’ve reached their high-water mark for being offended, I found Shriver’s arguments well reasoned, the subjects worth re-consideration and enjoyed the sort of bracing contrarian voice that I associate (and miss) with Christopher Hitchens. This would make a great book club pick, but you might all need to wear head-gear and gloves once it’s time to meet and discuss. A great read for those looking to venture forth from their silos, there is likely something here for everyone to be offended by at some point.

Adult Non-Fiction Hardcover pr6665304

The Twilight World: A Novel by Werner Herzog

Filmmaker Herzog’s first novel reimagines the life of Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese soldier ordered to hold a small island in the Philippines during WWII, who continued an imaginary war for 29 years after the end of the conflict.

At 132 pages, all of this is lightly sketched in impressionistic scenes, which seem perfectly suited to the unusual, but true, story. Herzog was able to meet Onoda after his re-emergence from the jungle, which inspired this book. While it’s easy to imagine this being turned into a film, the book is quite perfect on its own, slight as it is.

Adult Fiction Hardcover pr6572254

Scenes From My Life: A Memoir by Michael K. Williams 

A raw, unflinching memoir by the dancer turned model then actor best known for his role as Omar in The Wire.

Williams overcame poverty, abuse and addiction, crediting a life in the arts as his saviour. Addiction continues to plague him at times throughout his career, despite or because of his success (the storyline on S2 of The Wire meant that he had less work to do, while being paid more: an addict’s recipe for disaster). Williams writes about his need to unlearn the “macho code” of a black man growing up in the projects, and the consequences of always suppressing one’s feelings. While his early demise means we’ll never see him again, his work towards the end of his life to bring others up out of poverty and addiction through his nonprofit, Making Kids Win, might well be the greater loss.

Adult Non-Fiction Hardcover pr6710625

Everybody Thought We Were Crazy: Dennis Hopper, Brooke Hayward, and 1960s Los Angeles by Mark Rozzo

1960s Los Angeles in all its broad cultural glory is brought to life through this look at the marriage of Dennis Hopper and Brooke Hayward, the influencers of their day.

Their home in the Hollywood Hills acted as a salon for the exchange of ideas, projects, art, hopes and the dreams of an incredible array of people. In a house filled with what is now considered priceless contemporary art, Joan Didion rubbed shoulders with Miles Davis, Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, The Byrds, Ike & Tina Turner, Jasper Johns, Black Panthers and the Hells Angels. Depending on your age, Hopper is perhaps best known for playing villains towards the end of his life (Blue Velvet, Waterworld) his breakthrough directorial debut Easy Rider, or his off-screen bad boy antics, but his career began much earlier in films like Rebel Without a Cause. Hayward, the daughter of producer and agent Leland Hayward and the actress Margaret Sullavan, grew up as Hollywood royalty, with best friend Jane Fonda. This meant they traveled in both Old and New Hollywood circles, and acted as a bridge for both.  Vanity Fair contributor Rozzo does a seamless job of encapsulating their relationship and the cultural foment of the times that should appeal to a wide variety of readers.

Adult Non-Fiction Hardcover pr6607716

This Woman's Work: Essays on Music edited by Kim Gordon and Sinéad Gleeson 

A brilliant collection of essays that challenge the historic narrative of music writing as written by, and for, men.

Contributors include Rachel Kushner, Maggie Nelson, Anne Enright, Fatima Bhutto and Ottessa Moshfegh. I’ll keep this simple by noting this book very quickly passed the acid test for me in that not only did I want to immediately seek out music performed by those profiled, I also now want to read the books the essayists are best known for. As with my other staff pick this month, this book is about so much more than what it first seems, and is a mind expander.

Adult Non-Fiction Hardcover pr6560603

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