Books

NWPR Books
3:01 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

Bodies On The Boardwalk: Murder Stirs A Sleepy Jersey Shore

The Jersey shore's iconic Star Jet roller coaster was inundated after Superstorm Sandy.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

When writer Chris Grabenstein plots his mysteries, the murders happen in the corny nooks of New Jersey's Jersey shore. After all, there's something delightfully cheesy about a beach town.

"I guess I'm a cheesy guy. I like this kind of stuff," Grabenstein says. "Ever since I was a kid I loved tourist towns."

The author points out shop names as we walk along his stretch of the shore. There's the Sunglass Menagerie, an ice cream shop called Do Me A Flavor, Shore Good Donuts and How You Brewin' coffee. I'll spare you the rest — Long Beach Island has 18 miles of this stuff.

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NWPR Books
4:04 am
Wed July 31, 2013

The Scope Of The 20th Century In Sweeping, Sprawling 'Joy'

There's nothing soothing or easygoing about this massive novel, which was first published obscurely in Italy in the late 1990s. Goliarda Sapienza, a novelist and actress who worked with the likes of Pasolini and Visconti, spent more than a decade writing The Art of Joy, and on balance, she must have felt it a massive disappointment, given that no publisher wanted to go near its chaotic, handwritten blend of ambisexuality, religion, feminism, and politics.

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NWPR Books
2:32 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

On The Road To Rock Excess: Why The '60s Really Ended In 1973

British rockers Led Zeppelin pose in front of their private plane, dubbed "The Starship," in 1973.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Sun August 4, 2013 6:58 am

Author Michael Walker says that by the end of the 1960s, you could fairly say there were two generations of baby boomers: those who had experienced that decade's peace-and-love era of music firsthand, and those who learned about it from their older brothers and sisters.

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NWPR Books
12:41 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Pioneering 'Masters Of Sex' Brought Science To The Bedroom

Human sexuality researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson Masters, shown in San Francisco in 1972.
AP

Originally published on Tue July 30, 2013 1:40 pm

William Masters and Virginia Johnson became famous in the 1960s for their groundbreaking and controversial research into the physiology of human sexuality. Instead of just asking people about their sex lives, Masters and Johnson actually observed volunteers engaging in self-stimulation and sexual intercourse. Changes throughout their bodies during arousal were measured with medical equipment.

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NWPR Books
10:06 am
Tue July 30, 2013

With 'Arrangements' And 'The Rest,' Two Debut Novelists Arrive

Originally published on Tue July 30, 2013 12:41 pm

The novel I've been recommending this summer to anyone, female or male, who's looking for the trifecta — a good story that's beautifully written and both hilarious and humane — is Seating Arrangements, Maggie Shipstead's debut novel from last summer. I was about to go all old-school and excitedly add that Seating Arrangements is now out in paperback, except since more and more readers are instantly downloading new books at a discount, paperbacks are becoming increasingly irrelevant.

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NWPR Books
3:10 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

In Nation's First Black Public High School, A Blueprint For Reform

Dunbar High School has a notable list of graduates, including the first black presidential Cabinet member, the first black general in the Army and several of the lawyers who argued the Brown v. Board of Education decision.
Courtesy of Chicago Review Press

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 11:26 am

The nation's first black public high school, Paul Laurence Dunbar High, opened its doors in Washington, D.C., in 1870. But more than 140 years later, Dunbar — like many urban schools — has fallen on hard times. The crumbling, brutalist-style building is often described as a prison, and graduation rates hover around 60 percent.

But it wasn't always that way. Once upon a time, the yearbook read like a Who's Who of black America.

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NWPR Books
11:29 am
Mon July 29, 2013

'Coming Clean' About Growing Up In A Hoarding Household

Lynn Buckley Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Kimberly Rae Miller grew up among piles of junk. Doors wouldn't close, stacks of paper turned to sludge, and the pool was filled with brown muck. Her father was an extreme hoarder, a condition that threatened her safety and even her life.

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NWPR Books
2:39 pm
Sun July 28, 2013

A Touching, 'Telling' Book About Cheese

Michael Paterniti is also the author of Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein's Brain.
Joanna Eldredge Morrissey

Originally published on Sun July 28, 2013 3:24 pm

The first thing you should know: This is not a book about cheese. I mean, it is — and a famous, award-winning cheese at that, a Spanish sheep's milk cheese called the Páramo de Guzmán that cost $22 per pound in 1991. A cheese so good, the king of Spain himself couldn't get enough of it.

But this book is far more about its makers — the cheesemaker himself, an enormous and enormously charming Castilian named Ambrosio, and the book's maker, journalist and author Michael Paterniti, who basically falls in love with Ambrosio at first sight.

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NWPR Books
1:58 pm
Sun July 28, 2013

'Looking For Palestine': A Once-Split Identity Becomes Whole

Originally published on Sun August 4, 2013 5:46 am

Actress Najla Said is a Palestinian-Lebanese-American Christian, but growing up in New York City, her identity was anything but clearly defined.

The daughter of prominent literary critic Edward Said, she spent her childhood in one of the most influential intellectual households in America. Edward Said, who died in 2003, was a renowned professor at Columbia University and was critical to defining Palestinian independence.

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NWPR Books
3:18 am
Sun July 28, 2013

'Rural Life' Adds Natural Color To 'The Grey Lady'

Originally published on Sun July 28, 2013 9:31 am

Verlyn Klinkenborg's essays about life on his farm in upstate New York have run in The New York Times since 1997. With a long family history of farming, his agricultural roots run deep into the soil.

"All of my aunts and uncles farmed; all of my cousins still farm," he says. "The home farm where my dad was raised has been in my family since the early teens, and ... following the track of modern agriculture, has changed its character hugely over time. But it's still in the family."

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