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Toni Morrison, the last specifically American novelist to win the Nobel Prize, was announced Thursday evening to be the headliner of the 2017-2018 season of Babel, the remarkable literary reading series sponsored by the Just Buffalo Literary Center. Morrison was an Oprah Winfrey show favorite and remains one of the most famous writers in America. She won the Nobel in 19…

Survivor: A Portrait of the Survivors of the Holocaust, by Harry Borden, Cassell, 276 pages, ($39.99) In time for Holocaust Remembrance Day, this book does what the special 12-page pull-out section in Sunday's Buffalo News set out to do: It uses portraits and words to tell stories of the dwindling numbers of Holocaust-era survivors. Acclaimed photographer Harry Borde…

BIOGRAPHY Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night By Jason Zinoman Harper 344 pages, $28.99 The first thing I looked up in the excellent index to this excellent book is "cocaine." Not there. Next I tried "green room." Not there either. Taking a different tack, I tried "Bill Cosby." Uh-uh. No luck. I looked for a few more unsavory topics that might have co…

"Later Essays by Susan Sontag," Library of America, 876 pages, $45. “Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender and Feminism," by Camille Paglia, Pantheon, 315 pages, $26.95. If American literature and American feminism alike never quite succeeded in becoming the equivalent of restoration comedy, you can’t blame Camille Paglia. She certainly seemed to try. There was a…

FICTION The Night Ocean By Paul Lafarge Penguin 385 pages, $27 By Ed Taylor Cult pulp writer H. P. Lovecraft is shown the love in “The Night Ocean,” the new novel from upstate New York resident Paul Lafarge. It is a curious tribute to the imagination and the alt-Modernist genre of “weird fiction,” and a meditation on metempsychosis — the transmi…

CHILDREN'S Lemons by Melissa Savage; Crown Books for Young Readers, 305 pages ($16.99). Ages 8 to 12. ... A heroine with the unlikely name of Lemonade Liberty Witt will steal your heart in this wonderful debut novel set in Willow Creek, Calif., “the Bigfoot Capital of the World,” in 1975. Lemonade’s mother has always told her: When life gives you lemons, make lemo…

FICTION Living in the Weather of the World By Richard Bausch Knopf 242 pages   $25.95 By Michael D. Langan If I had a choice, short stories would be my favorite reading. And Richard Bausch, an American writer (1945 - ), who has won more plaudits than you could imagine - he’s a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment of the Arts F…

The AARP Foundation says keys to the prevention of social isolation involve efforts to stay or get socially active, nurture relationships, and find and use local resources. Experts say that adequate transportation, support groups and programs that can help keep minds and bodies sharp also support a purpose-driven life. Here are three steps older Western New Yorkers can …

BIOGRAPHY "You Say to Brick: The Life of Louis Kahn" By Wendy Lesser Farrar, Straus and Giroux 416 pages, $30 Biographers of architects inevitably have to calculate how much weight to give to the architect’s life and how much to his work. This choice is especially acute with Louis I. Kahn who is widely revered by architects, critics, and historians as the …

“The Grace Paley Reader: Stories, Essays and Poetry,” edited by Kevin Bowen and Nora Paley, Introduction by George Saunders, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 371 pages, $27 When “The Collected Stories of Grace Paley” was published in 1994, many who had admired them extravagantly for decades as they emerged slowly thought that it would be the one utterly essential Grac…

MEMOIR Nevertheless By Alec Baldwin HarperCollins 274 pages, $28.99 Whether Alec Baldwin entertains, infuriates or makes you laugh, chances are you think you know him. After all, he has hosted “Saturday Night Live” 17 times (more than anyone in history) most recently being a staple with his spot-on Donald Trump impersonation, which began during the pr…

NONFICTION The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For By David McCullough Simon & Schuster, 176 pages, $2 One does not expect to find a deep sense of history in a small, unassuming package. Think of Winston Churchill’s “The Second World War,” or Bruce Catton’s Civil War masterpiece, or Ulysses S. Grant’s wonderful personal memoirs. All …

NONFICTION Somebody With A Little Hammer By Mary Gaitskill Pantheon 288 pages, $24.95 Whenever I talk about Mary Gaitskill with anyone who has read her – or frankly, even heard of her – I always ask “have you read ‘Lost Cat’ ”? “Lost Cat” is a long essay that was published in the literary magazine Granta in 2009. It is, in a word (attempti…