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The Early Bird: New Books for the Week of August 2, 2010

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Truth may be stranger than fiction, but this week fiction out-numbers nonfiction by about three to one…

My Hollywood
by Mona Simpson

In Mona Simpson’s first novel since since 2000’s Off Keck Road, the author of Anywhere But Here (1986), The Lost Father (1992), and A Regular Guy (1996), offers a refreshing and reflective familial narrative and an incisive comparision of side-by-side parenting skills, where neither reality, in manifestations alternately satirical and touching, sees the strained extremes of Mary Poppins flights of fancy or maternal excess.

Claire, a classical music composer and new mother, has moved to L.A. so that her husband Paul can become TV sit-com writer. However, once they’ve settled down, Paul finds himself working long hours hatching up yuks, which leaves bringing up baby almost exclusively up to Claire. But as much as Claire loves to dote on her adorable bundle of joy, the diaper changes and cranky wailings are not terribly conducive to the odes to joy she herself is attempting to create. With no time for herself or her career, Claire hires a nanny to help with William. Enter Lola, a 52-year old mother of five who is working in the U.S. to pay for her own children’s higher education back in the Philippines. 

Lola’s accentuation of the positive in the negative domestic scene soon attracts the attention of other parents, who try to entice her away — but Lola is a keeper for Claire. The two narrate in alternating chapters; fragile and privileged Claire’s blistering wit tears into the affectation that surrounds her social life, while Lola is more sincere and tender in her intentions to help people, though she also elicits hoots with her commentary and keen observations about her fish-out-of-water workaday world that makes her more wise, in many ways, than her often glib employer.

With Mona Simpson writing at the top of her game, My Hollywood promises to be another poignant and provocative work for readers of this critical favorite and reliable bestseller.


Burn (Anna Pigeon Series)
by Nevada Barr

Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex
by Eoin Colfer

Roast Mortem
by Cleo Coyle

The Viognier Vendetta (Wine Country Mystery Series #5)
by Ellen Crosby

Scarlet Nights (Edilean Series #3)
by Jude Deveraux

Cat in an Ultramarine Scheme (Mightnight Louie Series #22)
by Carole Nelson Douglas

The Red Queen
by Philippa Gregory

Death’s Excellent Vacation
by Charlaine Harris, Toni L. P. Kelner (Editor)

Hangman (Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus Series #19)
by Faye Kellerman

The Recessionistas
by Alexandra Lebenthal

I Am Number Four
by Pittacus Lore

In Harm’s Way (Walt Fleming Series #4)
by Ridley Pearson

by Kat Richardson

by Gillian Shields

Perfect Alibi (Mike Daley Series #7)
by Sheldon Siegel

by Lisa Unger

Strangers at the Feast
by Jennifer Vanderbes


Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War
by Andrew Bacevich

One Dog at a Time: Saving the Strays of Afghanistan
by Pen Farthing

Higher Education?: How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids — and What We Can Do About It
by Andrew Hacker, Claudia Dreifus

Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir
by Dave Mustaine, Joe Layden

Churchill’s Empire: The World That Made Him and the World He Made
by Richard Toye

See you in September: New releases are relatively few and far between in August, and so are my thoughts. The Early Word will be speechless for a spell — back in a few weeks.

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About Gordon Hauptfleisch