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By Gail Fischer Married straight down to her widow’s misery, it was one of those days when she couldn’t go on. So, we were taken out tobogganing by the neighbors, for some fun, to the Chestnut Ridge Park full of whole families’ gaiety under blindingly blue winter sun. One time I went downhill alone on a sled going so fast, and everybody started yelling, “Look o…

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"I wish I could have had this anthology when I was considering moving to Buffalo in 2007," writes Jody K. Biehl. There was nothing quite like it, she discovered. So she put one together herself. And "Right Here, Right Now" is absolutely one of the best books about Buffalo ever created -- a genuinely essential book to be put on the same shelf as Lauren Belfer's "City of …

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Author Margaret Creighton spent her childhood years in Western New York, growing up in Hamburg and moving to Buffalo at age 16. Creighton went on to graduate from Indiana University with a bachelor's degree in English, get a master's in journalism at Boston University and and continue on to earn a Ph.D in American Studies. She has been  back in Buffalo over the years to…

PICTURE BOOK Du Iz Tak? Carson Ellis; Candlewick Press, $16.99. ... Author/illustrator Carson Ellis (creator of “Home” and collaborator with her husband, Colin Meloy, on the Wildwood series) offers a beguilingly strange picture book, written in an invented language, of two damselflies marveling at a tiny shoot on the forest floor. (“Du Iz Tak?” “Ma nazoot.”) As the pl…

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NONFICTION Hitler: Ascent, 1889 - 1939 By Volker Ullrich Knopf 998 pages, $40 The lie of the Adolf Hitler myth was born more than 90 years ago in the Alpine region south of Munich. From there, it grew from a laughable little nasty lie into a monstrous world-altering lie of gigantic proportions. Even with Hitler’s suicide in a Berlin bunker in the face of …

"The Best of the Harvard Lampoon; 140 Years of American Humor" with an Introduction by Simon Rich, Touchstone, 254 pages, $26. The BEST of the Harvard Lampoon? Really? I think not. The book is certainly representative and and fascinating and chronological but this doesn’t have the ruthlessly “elitist” earmarks of a “Best” of anything but rather a protective presentat…

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FICTION Moonglow By Michael Chabon Harper $28.99 448 pages The premise of “Moonglow” is that Michael Chabon – winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, darling of American letters – has gone to his grandfather in his declining days, plying him with soup and narcotic painkillers (warranted as palliative; he is dying of cancer), warming him and opening him enough to …

FICTION Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down By Anne Valente William Morrow 370 pages, $25.99 The Next By Stephanie Gangi St. Martin’s Press 312 pages, $26.99 The Dollhouse By Fiona Davis Dutton 289 pages, $26 Life serves up the unspeakable, the inevitable and the irretrievable in three new first novels – one of which is so disturbingly real that a reader may …

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Mindy Fried has written a book about her father, the late Emanuel "Manny" Fried, the acclaimed actor and playwright, as well as labor activist and educator. "Caring for Red: A Daughter's Memoir" (Vanderbilt University Press), 173 pages) shares what it was like for Mindy Fried to grow up with her father, and then later to be a caregiver for the fiercely independent man w…

The Wolf Keepers by Elise Broach; illustrated by Alice Ratterree; Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt; $16.99. 340 pages. Ages 8 to 12. This entertaining mystery set partly in beautiful Yosemite National Park comes from the author of several award-winning books including “Masterpiece” tor this age group. Twelve-year-old Lizzie Durango has grown up at the California wi…

By Magdalena Zurawski We decided I should go alone on foot. I would find him in the pharmacy. If he said ‘In the head of God all propositions have existed always,’ we would make the exchange. He was standing in front of the calamine lotion. He spoke to the air. I slipped the envelope into his pocket and bought a topical analgesic to av…

NONFICTION Rasputin: Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs By Douglas Smith Farrar, Straus and Giroux 787 pages, $35.00 This book gets rid of the many myths about Rasputin. Secondarily it explains Rasputin’s small but important role in the Russian Revolution. Douglas Smith retells each myth, not revealing at first that it is a myth, then he tells th…

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BIOGRAPHY Last Girl Before Freeway: The Lives, Loves, Losses and Liberation of Joan Rivers By Leslie Bennetts Little, Brown 432 pages, $28 In 2010, I saw Joan Rivers at the Seneca Niagara Casino. I had seen her several times over the years and she never failed to entertain. Manic, irreverent, saying the unthinkable, she was a pioneer in comedy – the first woman to…

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Alfred Hitchcock, A Brief Life by Peter Ackroyd, Doubleday, 288 pages, $26.95 Let’s go right to an ugly, late-life low point, if not exactly the nadir of Alfred Hitchcock’s life -- his cruel and obsessive treatment of Tippi Hedren, whom he had plucked from nowhere to be the star of “The Birds.” During the making of the film, he wanted co-workers to think he and Hedren w…

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MEMOIR Born A Crime By Trevor Noah Spiegel & Grau 288 pages, $28 Trevor Noah had no right to be born. Literally. In the waning days of apartheid in South Africa, Noah entered the world as the product of a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother when such unions were illegal. He lived life though his adolescence in a state of suspended race, neither …