This week's must-read books
The Last Bookaneer by Matthew Pearl
Writer Pearl imagines an epic crime in the late 19th century world of "bookaneers," the literary pirates who published books without authors' permission. As the novel opens, swashbuckling bookaneer Pen Davenport heads to Samoa, where a dying Robert Louis Stevenson labors over his last novel. There, the race is on, not only against rival bookaneers circling the great author but against time: Davenport must publish the book before a international treaty renders the bookaneers obsolete.
The Game Must Go On: Hank Greenberg, Pete Gray and the Great Days of Baseball on the Homefront in WWII by John Klima
Thomas Dunne Books
Imagine if, say, Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton and Matt Harvey suddenly left baseball — and you'll get the idea of what happened to the game in the early 1940s. That's when players such as Ted Williams, Hank Greenberg and Warren Spahn traded in their baseball uniforms for military uniforms to serve in WWII. Baseball columnist Klima covers the stars, plus the likes of Billy Southworth Jr., son of the Cardinals manager and minor leaguer who dropped baseballs along with bombs over Germany.
The Golden Age of Murder: The Mystery of the Writers Who Invented the Modern Detective Story by Martin Edwards
There were no murders on the Orient Express ride that fueled Agatha Christie's 1934 classic, but she did find the attentions of a Turk in an orange suit most disconcerting. That's just one of the delicious real-life tales Edwards relays in his book about the coterie of British mystery writers who rose to fame between the two world wars. Writers like Christie and Dorothy Sayers provided a "magic-carpet ride" away from readers humdrum lives.
Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker by Thomas Kunkel
He was the voice of New York City from the 1930s to the 1960s, then spent the remainder of his life in literary seclusion. Now Kunkel delivers the first biography of New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell, whose profiles of Mohawk steelworkers or saloon founder John McSorley were acclaimed. One day, his stories stopped appearing. While Mitchell appeared at the magazine's offices every day, he stopped writing as the city he loved turned unrecognizable amid the crime, drugs and homelessness of the 1970s.
Another Little Piece of My Heart: My Life of Rock and Revolution in the '60s by Richard Goldstein
As the first rock critic for the Village Voice, starting in 1966, Goldstein was in the right place at the right time. His first interview was with the Shangri-Las, whom he includes among his few rock-star sexual fantasies — along with Bob Weir, Dion and the Shirelles (certainly an eclectic list). He and Janis Joplin became friends (she hated her hair, he says), and his story of taking her to the old Jewish dairy restaurant Ratner's is a great New York tale.
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