Signed books, punks, imaginary worlds, secrets, the internet & nuclear weapons

New Books - Oct 27

Just a small assortment of new books today (and reorders of bestsellers that aren’t pictured), but there are some goodies, for sure. And, to note, on the heels of the Giller shortlist announcement, HarperCollins rushed both Tell by Frances Itani and The Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O’Neill into paperback formats. They – like the other Giller-nominated books – are currently on sale for 20% off the cover price until the winner is announced on November 10th. Which book do you think deserves the win?

– “Mix It Up!” by Hervé Tullet – ***signed copies***
Accept Hervé Tullet’s irresistible invitation to mix it up in a dazzling adventure of whimsy and wonder. Follow the artist’s simple instructions, and suddenly colors appear, mix, splatter, and vanish in a world powered only by the reader’s imagination. Tullet—who joins such greats as Eric Carle and Leo Lionni as a master of his craft—sets readers on an extraordinary interactive journey all within the printed page. Tullet prompts plenty of giggles in addition to a profound understanding of colors, and once again displays his unique genius and vision in a work that is a glorious and richly satisfying companion to Press Here.

– “The Punk Rock Fun Time Activity Book” by Aye Jay
A fast-paced send up of punk rock’s best bands from the past and present, this fun-filled activity book allows readers to apply Siouxsie Sioux’s makeup, draw Henry Rollins’ tattoos, color the members of Green Day, and complete word searches.

– “The Imaginary World…” of by Keri Smith
What kind of world would you like to inhabit?

To imagine something different, better, or more interesting is to push the existing world into a state of change. Some of the greatest revolutionary acts of our time came to be because someone had the courage to imagine something new.

In The Imaginary World of…, Keri Smith asks readers to imagine something new: a unique world of their own making.

Readers start by creating a list of everything to which they’re drawn: things they love and collect, colors, shapes, ideas, people, and creatures that fascinate them. The items in the list will become the building blocks for their imaginary worlds, used to create texture and establish a foundation for the new place they’ll begin to inhabit. Readers will then be prompted to think about landscape, place names, maps, currency, residents, logos, foods, histories, and more for their world.

An indispensable guide for artists, dreamers, activists, and kids of all ages, The Imaginary World of… will encourage readers to become revolutionaries of everyday life, chronicling the possibilities in the brave new worlds they envision.

– “Tell” by Frances Itani (now in paperback!)
The bestselling author of the award-winning international sensation Deafening returns to the period following the First World War with a tour de force-an extraordinary novel of secrets withheld and secrets revealed.

In 1919, only months after the end of the Great War, the men and women of Deseronto struggle to recover from wounds of the past, both visible and hidden. Kenan, a young soldier who has returned from the war damaged and disfigured, confines himself to his small house on the Bay of Quinte, wandering outside only under the cover of night. His wife, Tress, attempting to adjust to the trauma that overwhelms her husband and which has changed their marriage, seeks advice from her Aunt Maggie. Maggie, along with her husband, Am, who cares for the town clock tower, have their own sorrows, which lie unacknowledged between them. Maggie finds joy in her friendship with a local widow and in the Choral Society started by Lukas, a Music Director who has moved to the town from an unknown place in war-torn Europe. While rehearsing and performing, Maggie rediscovers a part of herself that she had long set aside. As the decade draws to a close and the lives of these beautifully-drawn characters become more entwined, each of them must decide what to share and what to hide, and how their actions will lead them into the future.

With the narrative power and writerly grace for which she is celebrated, Frances Itani has crafted a deeply moving, emotionally rich story about the burdens of the past. She shows us how, ultimately, the very secrets we bury to protect ourselves can also be the cause of our undoing. Tell is stunning achievement.

– “The Girl Who Was Saturday Night” by Heather O’Neill (now in paperback!)
Heather O’Neill charmed readers in the hundreds of thousands with her sleeper hit, Lullabies for Little Criminals, which documented with a rare and elusive magic the life of a young dreamer on the streets of Montreal. Now, in The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, she returns to the grubby, enchanted city with a light and profound tale of the vice of fame and the ties of family.

Nineteen years old, free of prospects, and inescapably famous, the twins Nicholas and Nouschka Tremblay are trying to outrun the notoriety of their father, a French-Canadian Serge Gainsbourg with a genius for the absurd and for winding up in prison. “Back in the day, he could come home from a show with a paper bag filled with women’s underwear. Outside of Québec nobody had even heard of him, naturally. Québec needed stars badly.”

Since the twins were little, Étienne has made them part of his unashamed seduction of the province, parading them on talk shows and then dumping them with their decrepit grandfather while he disappeared into some festive squalor. Now Étienne is washed up and the twins are making their own almost-grown-up messes, with every misstep landing on the front pages of the tabloid Allo Police. Nouschka not only needs to leave her childhood behind; she also has to leave her brother, whose increasingly erratic decisions might take her down with him.

– “Bleeding Edge” by Thomas Pynchon
Thomas Pynchon brings us to New York in the early days of the internet

It is 2001 in New York City, in the lull between the collapse of the dot-com boom and the terrible events of September 11th. Silicon Alley is a ghost town, Web 1.0 is having adolescent angst, Google has yet to IPO, Microsoft is still considered the Evil Empire. There may not be quite as much money around as there was at the height of the tech bubble, but there’s no shortage of swindlers looking to grab a piece of what’s left.

Maxine Tarnow is running a nice little fraud investigation business on the Upper West Side, chasing down different kinds of small-scale con artists. She used to be legally certified but her license got pulled a while back, which has actually turned out to be a blessing because now she can follow her own code of ethics—carry a Beretta, do business with sleazebags, hack into people’s bank accounts—without having too much guilt about any of it. Otherwise, just your average working mom—two boys in elementary school, an off-and-on situation with her sort of semi-ex-husband Horst, life as normal as it ever gets in the neighborhood—till Maxine starts looking into the finances of a computer-security firm and its billionaire geek CEO, whereupon things begin rapidly to jam onto the subway and head downtown. She soon finds herself mixed up with a drug runner in an art deco motorboat, a professional nose obsessed with Hitler’s aftershave, a neoliberal enforcer with footwear issues, plus elements of the Russian mob and various bloggers, hackers, code monkeys, and entrepreneurs, some of whom begin to show up mysteriously dead. Foul play, of course.

With occasional excursions into the DeepWeb and out to Long Island, Thomas Pynchon, channeling his inner Jewish mother, brings us a historical romance of New York in the early days of the internet, not that distant in calendar time but galactically remote from where we’ve journeyed to since.

Will perpetrators be revealed, forget about brought to justice? Will Maxine have to take the handgun out of her purse? Will she and Horst get back together? Will Jerry Seinfeld make an unscheduled guest appearance? Will accounts secular and karmic be brought into balance?

Hey. Who wants to know?

– “Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety” by Eric Schlosser
Famed investigative journalist Eric Schlosser digs deep to uncover secrets about the management of America’s nuclear arsenal. A ground-breaking account of accidents, near-misses, extraordinary heroism, and technological breakthroughs, Command and Control explores the dilemma that has existed since the dawn of the nuclear age:  how do you deploy weapons of mass destruction without being destroyed by them?  That question has never been resolved–and Schlosser reveals how the combination of human fallibility and technological complexity still poses a grave risk to mankind.  

Written with the vibrancy of a first-rate thriller, Command and Control interweaves the minute-by-minute story of an accident at a nuclear missile silo in rural Arkansas with a historical narrative that spans more than fifty years.  It depicts the urgent effort by American scientists, policymakers, and military officers to ensure that nuclear weapons can’t be stolen, sabotaged, used without permission, or detonated inadvertently. Schlosser also looks at the Cold War from a new perspective, offering history from the ground up, telling the stories of bomber pilots, missile commanders, maintenance crews, and other ordinary servicemen who risked their lives to avert a nuclear holocaust.  At the heart of the book lies the struggle, amid the rolling hills and small farms of Damascus, Arkansas, to prevent the explosion of a ballistic missile carrying the most powerful nuclear warhead ever built by the United States.   

Drawing on recently declassified documents and interviews with men who designed and routinely handled  nuclear weapons, Command and Control takes readers into a terrifying but fascinating world that, until now, has been largely hidden from view.  Through the details of a single accident, Schlosser illustrates how an unlikely event can become unavoidable, how small risks can have terrible consequences, and how the most brilliant minds in the nation can only provide us with an illusion of control.  Audacious, gripping, and unforgettable, Command and Control is a tour de force of investigative journalism, an eye-opening look at the dangers of America’s nuclear age.

The New Yorker
“Excellent… hair-raising… Command and Control is how nonfiction should be written.” (Louis Menand)

Time magazine
A devastatingly lucid and detailed new history of nuclear weapons in the U.S…. fascinating.” (Lev Grossman)

Financial Times
“So incontrovertibly right and so damnably readable… a work with the multilayered density of an ambitiously conceived novel… Schlosser has done what journalism does at its best.”

Los Angeles Times
“Deeply reported, deeply frightening… a techno-thriller of the first order.

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