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The Early Word: New Books for the Week of April 5, 2010

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Box, Brown, Grimes, Hart, Peters, Wiehl… Ah, sweet mysteries of life, at last I've found you… at your favorite book store or Amazon.com.

Imperfect Birds
by Anne Lamott

"This is a hell of a book, tough and wonderful. A heartbreaker and a heart-mender." — Martin Cruz Smith, author of Gorky Park and The Golden Mile

Anne Lamott, best known for nonfiction, including popular books on writing (Bird by Bird, 1994) and spirituality (Traveling Mercies, 1999), returns to fiction and some familiar characters with a follow-up to two earlier novels. In Rosie (1997), the title character was a child trying to cope with her mother's alcoholism. In Crooked Little Heart (1998), she was grown into 13-year-old tennis champion discovering boys, dealing with self-doubt, and managing continued tensions with her mother. In Lamott’s latest, the Northern California-set Imperfect Birds — an unstinting observation of teenagers and of parents who find it hard to strike a balance between a mother’s unconditional love and a stepfather’s tough love approach to discipline — the former tennis star is now 17, and while she withstands well enough the pressures of school with good grades, her hidden life allows for drugs and alcohol, body image and boyfriends. As her mother Elizabeth sees it, "Rosie had a secret life now, was putting together her own tribe, finding her identity there, and it was great to see, and it hurt like hell."

Elizabeth, now a recovered alcoholic with a subject-to-change propensity for emotional meltdowns, tries to give her daughter freedom to experiment, even knowing that drug deals go down in the affluent town’s central square, and that the kids – why can’t they be like we were? — are drinking, carousing, sexually active, and defiant. But when events ultimately force the issues in this promising packs-a-wallop work, Elizabeth finds herself reevaluating whether her leniency and trust have been the best ways to go. In a bit of psychobabbled advice, a friend says to Rosie's mother, "You need to tell me all of your unsaids, Elizabeth,"  before harshing her Marin County mellow in further and more pointed Bay Area-speak: "You've been using your sincereness in counterfeit ways." Now that was better left unsaid as an unsaid. 

FICTION

The Reckoning (Darkest Powers Series #3)
by Kelley Armstrong

The Last Time I Saw You
by Elizabeth Berg

Nowhere to Run (Joe Pickett Series #10)
by C.J. Box

Cat of the Century (Mrs. Murphy Series #18)
by Rita Mae Brown

Changes (Dresden Files Series #12)
by Jim Butcher

The Aloha Quilt (Elm Creek Quilts Series #15)
by Jennifer Chiaverini

The Walk
by Richard Paul Evans

At the Gates of Darkness (Demonwar Saga #2)
by Raymond E. Feist

The Black Cat (Richard Jury Series #22)
by Martha Grimes 

Laughed 'Til He Died (Death on Demand Series #20)
by Carolyn G. Hart

The Lake Shore Limited
by Sue Miller

A River in the Sky (Amelia Peabody Series #19)
by Elizabeth Peters

Miss Julia Renews Her Vows (Miss Julia Series #11)
by Ann B. Ross

In the Shadow of the Cypress
by Thomas Steinbeck

The Moonlit Earth
by Christopher Rice

Hand of Fate (A Triple Threat Novel)
by Lis Wiehl

Anthill
by Edward O. Wilson

NONFICTION

Molto Gusto: Easy Italian Cooking at Home
by Mario Batali

This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection
by Carol Burnett

Paula Deen's Savannah Style
by Paula Deen, with Brandon Branch

The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini
by James Fenton

Mike and Mike's Rules for Sports and Life
by Mike Golic, Mike Greenberg, Andrew Chaikivsky

The End of Wall Street
by Roger Lowenstein

A Ticket to the Circus: A Memoir
by Norris Church Mailer

The Comet and the Tornado: Reflections on the Legacy of Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture and the Creation of Our Carnegie Mellon Dream Fulfillment Factory
by Donald Marinelli

Father Fiction: Chapters for a Fatherless Generation
by Donald Miller

Sara Moulton's Everyday Family Dinners
By Sara Moulton

A Few Good Women: America's Military Women from World War I to the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
by Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee

The Big Book of BBQ: Recipes and Revelations from the Barbecue Belt
by Oxmoor House

US: Transforming Ourselves and the Relationships that Matter Most
by Lisa Oz

The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama
by David Remnick

Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?
by James Shapiro

All the Tsar's Men: Russia's General Staff and the Fate of the Empire, 1898-1914
by John W. Steinberg

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About Gordon Hauptfleisch

  • http://corp-minamiji.typepad.com Christy Corp-Minamiji

    Gordon, you’re a bad influence! A new Anne Lamott and a new Elizabeth Peters in the same week? My book budget is going to take a hit. Thanks for the update!