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RECENT RECOMMENDATIONS FROM SOUTHERN INDIES...
Roben Farzad's debut is a fast-paced tale of drugs, sex, and Dom Perignon set in a swanky Miami hotel called The Mutiny. The book seems destined for the silver screen until you realize that it's too ridiculous to believe. But that's the thing: every freaky cocaine-fueled moment, each kingpin ordered assassination, every larger-than-life character, every celebrity cameo is actually real. So, put the soundtrack to Miami Vice on the in the background, grab yourself decadent drink, and settle in for a ripping good read!
Hotel Scarface by Roben Farzad ($26.00*, Berkely Books). recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.
A Fall 2017 Okra Pick
An intriguing true tale about a bank robbery committed by a group of Army Rangers, one of whom is the 19-year-old cousin of the author. I think the bottom line is this: we ask the people who fight our wars to do terrible things. Do we then get to ask how they got to be so terrible?
Ranger Games: A Story of Soldiers, Family and an Inexplicable Crime by Ben Blum ($28.95*, Doubleday Books), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.
Chernow does it again. Common knowledge: Grant won the war for Lincoln; he drank; he came into office as a rank amateur. Chernow gives us a bigger picture: Grant's appreciation for Lee; his stature as the first modern general; his abolitionism; his life in the Gilded Age.
Grant by Ron Chernow ($40.00, Penguin Press), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.
From the publisher: If it weren't for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. Both were high school students from Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country, but they inhabited different worlds. Sasha, a white teen, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one. Each day, their paths overlapped for a mere eight minutes. But one afternoon on the bus ride home from school, a single reckless act left Sasha severely burned, and Richard charged with two hate crimes and facing life imprisonment. The case garnered international attention, thrusting both teenagers into the spotlight.
The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater ($17.99*, Farrar Straus Giroux), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.
You don't have to have read Practical Magic to enjoy Hoffman's prequel, although I imagine it would add to the experience. I am not a fan of magical realism or fantasy. But, I decided to read this timely novel this week; Halloween week. And it worked for me. What's more Halloween-like than a story about a family of witches? Well, nothing. Three siblings live in NYC and are visited by their cousin who is also a witch. There's a curse on the Owen's family. Any man who falls in love with them is doomed. And they know this. But they decide to test the waters... So to speak.
The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman ($27.00*, Simon & Schuster), recommended by Copperfish Books, Punta Gorda, FL.
Ann Hood and I lived in similar worlds growing up, if not geographically, then economically and culturally. What is most relevant, though, is the similarity of our reading lives as children and teens: we received little guidance in what we "should" read, and yet it seems that the right books appeared at the right time, deeply influencing the people we are now. If you were a "bookworm" (and I mean that is the best way) as a child, and pick up this book, I suspect that you'll feel a similar connection, and likely find Hood's recounting of her early years through the important books in her life as charming as I did.
Morningstar by Ann Hood ($22.95*, W.W. Norton & Company), recommended by Malaprop's, Asheville, NC.
This book is...so...COOL! Maybe I'm just a macabre soul, but Caitlin Doughty argues that much of Western culture has grown too apart from death by avoiding it as much as possible. This prevents us from grieving in proper ways. She takes us around the world studying a variety of different death practices that may leave some of you more squeamish types squirming, but the result is very profound and beautiful and whimsical. It certainly has me thinking about how I would like to go, and now I have so many more ideas (again...macabre)!
From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty, Landis Blair ($24.95*, WW. Norton & Company), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.