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“Shake It Up: Great American Writing on Rock and Pop from Elvis to Jay Z” edited by Jonathan Lethem and Kevin Dettmar; the Library of America, 601 pages, $50. If ever a book were a 600-page paradox, it’s this one. It’s both essential and woefully inadequate. That’s because the idea of a huge collection of rock writing is far from new. Two that I consider superior…

FICTION Void Star By Zachary Mason Farrar, Straus and Giroux 385 pages, $27 By Ed Taylor Rising at the confluence of climate change and digital hacking, Zachary Mason’s second novel “Void Star” imagines Earth’s human future — and it is not a pretty picture. The novel challenges the reader in a variety of ways, mostly good ones, and showcases a d…

NONFICTION Death Need Not Be Fatal By Malachy McCourt with Brian McDonald Center Street 259 pages, $27 By Michael D/ Langan You probably know of Malachy McCourt, the Irish writer and raconteur. Likely you remember his brother, Frank McCourt, (1930 – 2009), who wrote “Angela’s Ashes” (1996), a memoir of hard times as a youth in Limerick, Ireland. I…

NONFICTION The Ambulance Drivers: Hemingway, Dos Passos, and a Friendship Made and Lost in War By James McGrath Morris Da Capo Press 314 pages, $27.00 By William L. Morris Had Arthur Miller written “Death of a Writer" instead of “Death of a Salesman,” Willy Loman would have been easier to watch because artists fight their demons to get in touch …

PICTURE BOOK Goldfish Ghost by Lemony Snicket,illustrations by Lisa Brown; Neal Porter/Roaring Brook Press, $17.99. ...  The author of "A Series of Unfortunate Events" series brings his wonderfully skewed and original perspective to this unusual exploration of the afterlife featuring a goldfish who has gone belly up in the fishbowl.  The journey begins: "Goldfish …

NONFICTION Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom By Condoleezza Rice TwelveBooks 496 page, $35 In an engaging Prologue to her new book, “Democracy,” Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush’s Secretary of State, and now a professor at Stanford University Graduate School of Business, recaps a long governmental career of nurturing democracy around the…

FICTION MOTHER LAND By Paul Theroux Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 560 pages, $28 If you’ve never had a problem parent, Paul Theroux has one for you in his overwritten, overlong yet irresistible new novel, “Mother Land.” Never mind that the book, by its narrator’s own definition, is basically “a study of malice”; it also is devilishly funny -- and …

“I’d Die For You And Other Lost Stories” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, edited by Anne Margaret Daniel, Scribner, 358 pages, $28. In 1934, Esquire editor Arnold Gingrich wrote to F. Scott Fitzgerald that he should, under no circumstances, return to Hollywood for the money, no matter how much he needed it. “It would be awful to see you piss away your talent in Hollywood…

CHILDREN’S Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia; HarperCollins, 176 pages ($16.99) Ages 8 to 12. ... Clayton Byrd dreams of the day his grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd, will finally nod him in for a blues harp solo with his blues buddies in Washington Square Park, a favorite excursion the two keep secret from Clayton’s mother, who has never forgiven her…

NONFICTION Seven Million By Gary Craig Fore Edge 280 pages, $19.95 From the start, the $7.4 million holdup – one of the biggest crimes in the history of Western New York -- had the look of an inside job. Indeed, the security at the Brink's armored car depot in Rochester was surprisingly lax. But the crime was clearly pulled off by someone who knew exact…

NONFICTION The Operator: Firing the Shots that killed Osama bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior by Robert O'Neal Scribner 358 pages, $28 The historic mission that brought him worldwide fame started when Robert O'Neal was trying to decide what tequila drink to order. He was on a training session in Miami when the call came for him and others with hi…

The Central Library's new exhibition, "Building Buffalo: Buildings from Books, Books from Buildings," features more than 65 works from great architects in world history. Their ideas and the presentations of their work on the library's racks played an important role in how the city's architects molded the future Buffalo. The books in the exhibit span the 16th to the earl…

FICTION HOUSE OF NAMES By Colm Tóibín Scribner 288 pages, $26 Colm Tóibín – the grand Irish storyteller who brought us “Brooklyn” and “Nora Webster” – turns his hand to Greek mythology in his latest novel, “House of Names.” If this seems a departure, it is one chiefly in venue and in time (a long tumble backward, from New York in the 1…

NONFICTION Dreaming The Beatles: The Love Story of One Band and the Whole World By Rob Sheffield Dey Street (William Morrow) 350 pages, $31 On two autumn evenings each year, hundreds of people swarm into Strawberry Fields, the section of New York's Central Park that is shaped like a tear drop and dedicated to the memory of John Lennon. They know to show u…

NONFICTION The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir By Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich Flatiron Books 336 pages, $26.99 This is no whodunit. Not even close. Ricky Langley is the killer, and you learn that in the first three pages. Ricky, as he’s called throughout, is a 26-year-old convicted pedophile who kindly drew a neighborhood map to help the searcher…