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The Early Word: New Books for the Week of January 4, 2010

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Now that the proverbial dust — if not the chill factor — has settled from the holidays, there's still some good books making their way to the bookstores… if you can make your way to the bookstore. So grab those gift cards…

Noah's Compass
by Anne Tyler

"It's as if I've never been entirely present in my own life," contends 61-year-old Liam Pennywell, the main character of Noah’s Compass, the unparalleled Anne Tyler’s 18th novel. It’s not like it’s been much of a life, or rather it’s not like Liam’s made much of it. And now he’s been terminated from his job as a second-rate fifth-grade teacher at a second-rate private boys' school in (where else?) Baltimore, where he’s muddled away his existence, squandered his academic aspirations. Survivor of two failed marriages, and the emotionally detached father of three grown daughters, Liam becomes even further disengaged from his rarely-present life when, in moving into a small apartment, he’s attacked and loses all memory of the experience, waking up the next morning, head bandaged, in the hospital. With no recollection about how he ended up there, Liam wanders seeking answers and meets – in true Tyler form – the eccentric Eunice, who may not nudge his recollection of that night but does revive some of his "joyous recklessness.” Quite a change from a man who once admitted that "I'm not unhappy, but I don't see any particular reason to go on living." The best part is that we’re allowed to go along for the reading ride as Tyler subtly chronicles, with humanity, wit, and sometimes appropriate poignancy, such trajectories of antic-less and unexpected transformations.

 
MORE FICTION

Iorich (Vlad Taltos Series #12)
by Steven Brust

Remarkable Creatures
by Tracy Chevalier

Not My Daughter
by Barbara Delinsky

Unfinished Desires
by Gail Godwin

The Lock Artist
by Steve Hamilton

A Whisper to the Living (Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov Series #16)
by Stuart M. Kaminsky

Arms-Commander (Recluce Series #16)
by L. E. Modesitt

Iron River (Charlie Hood Series #3)
by T. Jefferson Parker

Impact

by Douglas Preston

Thereby Hangs a Tail (Chet and Bernie Series #2)
by Spencer Quinn

An Irish Country Girl
by Patrick Taylor

 
NONFICTION

Americans in Paris: Life and Death Under Nazi Occupation
by Charles Glass

In Americans in Paris renowned journalist Charles Glass tells the story of adventure, intrigue, deceit, and survival surrounding a remarkable cast of expatriates and their struggles in Nazi-occupied Paris from the spring of 1940 to liberation in the summer of 1944. Artists, writers, scientists, musicians, cultural mandarins, and ordinary businessmen — all were swept up in and tested as few Americans had been before or since. Of the 30,000 Americans who lived in Paris before World War II, the author estimates that about 5,000 stayed after Germany invaded Poland in 1939. Jews and blacks were most often deported to camps. Glass chronicles some of the prominent American characters who stayed, including Sumner Jackson, chief surgeon at the American Hospital, was at continual risk for his work with the Resistance; Countess Clara Longworth de Chambrun, a Cincinnati heiress married to a French banker (and descendent of the Marquis de Lafayette), who kept the American Library running during the Occupation; millionaire Pierre Bedaux, who after being arrested and charged with treason, killed himself rather than face public disgrace; and Sylvia Beach, American bookseller and publisher of James Joyce, who eventually had to close her famous Shakespeare and Company store under Nazi threat of confiscation. Illuminating a dark period of military history, the insightful Glass' discovery of letters, diaries, war documents, and police files uncovers in unprecedented manner how Americans were ensnared in a subterfuge of secrecy, collaboration, and courage.

Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage
by Elizabeth Gilbert

China's Megatrends: The 8 Pillars of a New Society
by John Naisbitt, Doris Naisbitt

Baby, Let's Play House: Elvis Presley and the Women Who Loved Him
by Alanna Nash

The Other 8 Hours: You Sleep 8. You Work 8. Now Maximize Your Free Time to Create New Wealth and Purpose
by Robert Pagliarini

Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (And How to Take Advantage of It)
by William Poundstone

Seeing the Light: Religious Colleges in Twenty-First Century America
by Samuel Schuman

The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn
by Alison Weir

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