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NONFICTION The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6’4'' African American, Hetereosexual, Cisgender, Left Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama’s Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian By Kamau Bell Dutton Press 352 pages, $28.00 “Awkward” has a negative connotation as something to be avoided. But W. Kamau Bell believes that “all re…

I knew little about brotherly love, growing up with a sister and raising four girls. I see that penchant beginning to manifest itself as my grandsons hug. Perhaps that leans more toward choking or wrestling, but the affection is there. I also observed that love between my husband, Doug, and his six brothers. Three of those brothers were stepbrothers, but I never witness…

FICTION Men Without Women, Stories By Haruki Murakami Translated by Ted Goossen and Philip Gabriel Knopf 228 pages, $25.95 The Japanese philosopher, author and translator D. T. Suzuki toured American universities in the 1950s and gave us the gift of Zen. Haruki Murakami came to America in 1984 to see what we had done with Suzuki’s gift. Not much it t…

“Young Radicals: In The War For American Ideals” by Jeremy McCarter, Random House, 368 pages, $30. Jeremy McCarter’s introduction couldn’t possibly be addressed more pointedly to so many of us firmly ensconced in the political chaos of 2017. His book, he says, is “about what happens when the world, which had seemed to be spinning rapidly in the direction of pe…

YOUNG ADULT No Good Deed by Kara Connolly; Delacorte Press, 352 pages ($17.99) Ages 14 and up. ... This marvelous time-traveling adventure offers a clever girl-power take on the Robin Hood legend and is swashbuckling good fun, but it's debut author Kara Connolly's attention to historical detail that makes it such a terrific read. Eleanor "Ellie" Hudson is grieving the…

BIOGRAPHY Toscanini: Musician Of Conscience By Harvey Sachs Liveright 923 pages, $39.95 “Whatcha’ reading?” asked my daughter, a twenty-something, college-educated millennial. “Long one,” I replied, “900 pages. Biography of Toscanini”. “Who’s that”? Such is fame, like smoke. Arturo Toscanini (b.1867- d.1957) was once one of th…

MEMOIR Papi: My Story By David Ortiz with Michael Holley Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 262 pages, $28 The date was April 15, 2013, Boston's Day of Infamy. Everyone knows the basic details of that horrendous Monday afternoon: Two bombs detonated, 12 seconds apart, near the Boston Marathon finish line. Three dead, including an 8-year-old boy. Plenty of lost li…

"The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Hemingway Library Edition" with a personal forward by Patrick Hemingway and a new introduction by Sean Hemingway Scribner 576 pages, $30 Very few American publishers have a legacy as valuable and important as Scribner in its stewardship of Ernest Hemingway’s work. More than a half century after a depressed Hemingway p…

CHILDREN'S NONFICTION Wicked Bugs: The Meanest, Deadliest, Grossest Bugs on Earth by Amy Stewart; Algonquin Young Readers, 192 pages ($19.95) Ages 8 to 12. (Aug. 8 publication) ... Amy Stewart's young readers edition of her New York Times bestseller is at once fascinating, entertaining, informative and horrifying.  One example of her amusing, accessible style: "The bed…

MEMOIR Are You Anybody?: A Memoir By Jeffrey Tambor Crown Archetype 280 pages, $27 You get the sense character actors everywhere find space in their tiny sublets for shrines to Jeffrey Tambor. After all, most pray for one iconic defining role.  Tambor has had three, on beloved, ground-breaking television shows. First, he was Hank “Hey Now” Kingsley, …

FICTION South Pole Station By Ashley Shelby Picador 362 pages, $26 No sooner had "South Pole Station" gone on sale early this summer than real-life scientists announced a trillion-ton iceberg had broken off an Antarctic ice shelf and is floating around the Weddell Sea. An ice shelf is thousands of square miles of floating ice. The newly split-off berg it…

NONFICTION When the World Stopped To Listen: Van Cliburn's Cold War Triumph and Its Aftermath By Stuart Isacoff Knopf 290 pages, $27.95 It was one of the strangest dramas of the 20th century. The Russians -- and this was in 1958, in the depth of the Cold War, when the Soviet Union was our mortal enemy -- were holding a new competition, the Tchaikovsky C…

THE PRESIDENCY THE ROAD TO CAMELOT: Inside JFK's Five-Year Campaign By Thomas Oliphant and Curtis Wilkie Simon & Schuster 448 pages, $28 We can only imagine the meeting between Joseph P. Kennedy and his son, John F. Kennedy, in a small study off their Cape Cod living room on that Thanksgiving afternoon in 1956. While dishes were washed in the kitchen …

POETRY "Mz N: the Serial: A Poem-in-Episodes" By Maureen N. McLane Farrar, Straus and Giroux 128 pages, $16 The first thing I noticed about “Mz N: the Serial: A Poem-in-Episodes” is its cover color. That was the tell-tale sign that “Mz N” was going to be an excellent volume of poems – the cover of fellow poet Daniel Borzutzky’s “The Performance of Bein…