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The Early Word: New Books for the Week of June 1, 2009

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My favorite title this week is Morrissey: The Pageant of His Bleeding Heart. I love a parade… 

The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work
By Alain de Botton

You haul 16 Tons, and whadaya get? In essayist/novelist Alain de Botton’s newest non-fiction work, the author explores the subject of work not as an economic or sociological answer to a musical question, but as an existential predicament. And — because it is treated as an existential dilemma — in The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, the former is rarely discussed around the water cooler. But that’s not where the author of such idiosyncratic books as The Architecture of Happiness, Essays in Love, How Proust Can Change Your Life, and The Consolations of Philosophy is focusing his research. De Botton’s ambitions and approach take him far and wide with depth and breadth, while his humanism and poetic perspective constitute an elegance and well-meaning substance. Holding the Protestant mindset that "humility, wisdom, respect, and kindness could be practiced in a shop no less sincerely than in a monastery," the author goes beyond the executive suites and office drone cubicles to travel the business loops less traveled to warehouses, container ports, rocket launch pads, and power stations, visiting a landscape painter, rocket scientists, fishermen, accountants, fishermen, a biscuit manufacturer, an electricity-transmission engineer, accountants, and a career counselor. The forthright de Botton singles out the energy of entrepreneurs, who require "a painfully uncommon synthesis of imagination and realism." If there is inconclusiveness lurking about the conclusion, the way is still witty and some marvelous questions are posed, while photographer Richard Baker contributes striking images of workers and workplaces.

In the Sanctuary of Outcasts: A Memoir
By Neil White

After Neil White’s conviction for bank fraud, he spent a year in a minimum-security prison in Carville, Louisiana, which doubled as the last leper colony in America. Ruminating on the growing group of lepers living with the prisoners  alongside the social outcasts among the drug dealers, mob types and killers, White introduces the reader to an varied supporting cast in his imprisonment: Father Reynolds, the incomparable spiritual monk; Mr. Flowers, the blunt case manager; Anne, the sorrowful mother with leprosy whose baby was taken from her arms; and Ella the Earth Mother, wheelchair-bound with nearly 70 years spent at Carville. In the Sanctuary of Outcasts is a slice of a different life with brisk humor, humanity, and tenderness.

 

MORE NON-FICTION 

Organization Theory and Design
By Richard L. Daft

Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon
By John Ferling

Morrissey: The Pageant of His Bleeding Heart
By Gavin Hopps

Half Moon: Henry Hudson and the Voyage That Redrew the Map of the New World

By Douglas Hunter

Poisoned Heart: I Married Dee Dee Ramone (The Ramones Years)
By Vera Ramone King

Crazy for the Storm: A Memoir of Survival
By Norman Ollestad

The Bolter
By Frances Osborne

FICTION

Medusa (NUMA Files Series)
By Clive Cussler, Paul Kemprecos

Undead and Unwelcome (Betsy Taylor Series #8)
By MaryJanice Davidson

The Infinity Gate (Darkglass Mountain #3)
By Sara Douglass

Skin Trade (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series #17)
By Laurell K. Hamilton, Laurell Hamilton

The Story Sisters
By Alice Hoffman

Fugitive
By Phillip Margolin

Matters of the Heart
By Danielle Steel

The Strain
By Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan

My Father's Tears and Other Stories
By John Updike

 

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