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The Early Word: New Non-Fiction for the Week of September 22, 2008

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Summer simmered to an autumnal lull, a calm before the norm…

Letter to My Daughter
By Maya Angelou

"Believing that life loves the liver of it, I have dared to try many things." In erudite anecdotes borrowed from an inspirational life, and dedicated to her “thousands of daughters … Black and White, Jewish and Muslim, Asian, Spanish speaking, Native Americans and Aleut,” Letter to My Daughter reveals Maya Angelou’s path to living well and living a life with meaning. Equal parts guidebook, memoir, and poetry — the book is told in Angelou’s own incomparable style, transcending genre and category.

A Promise to Ourselves: A Journey Through Fatherhood and Divorce
By Alec Baldwin, With Mark Tabb

From the Publisher:
“I have been through some of the worst of contentious divorce litigation,” Alec Baldwin declares in A Promise to Ourselves. Using a very personal approach, he offers practical guidance to help others avoid the anguish he has endured.
From Me:
Given past notoriety, I’m hoping that “practical guidance” doesn’t necessarily take the form of parent-child communication skills.

Izzy and Lenore: Two Dogs, an Unexpected Journey, and Me

By Jon Katz

Two Dogs, an Unexpected Journey, and Me is a more-in-a-series memoir from bestselling author Jon Katz, who previously introduced us to the lively menagerie at Bedlam Farm, including the border collie Izzy — the droolin' image of one of my favorite pooches — who travels with Katz visiting homes and nursing facilities in upstate New York bringing comfort and canine companionship to the ailing and aging.

Late Show Fun Facts
By David Letterman, The Late Show Writers

Drawn from the popular weekly segment, Late Show Fun Facts is a collection of unusual, little-known — and sometimes even true — bits of trivia assembled by the Federal Bureau of Miscellaneous Information. Not to be confused with the Home Office – if that is indeed a thriving entity anymore for Top Ten or any such purposes touching upon Worldwide Pants' intellectual property.

Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity: A Memoir
By Bill O'Reilly

One day in 1957, in the third-grade classroom of St. Brigid’s parochial school, a fed-up and furious Sister Mary Lurana bent over a verbose young William O’Reilly and pronounced those words he has never forgotten: “No bloviating, you rapscallion!” No wait, never mind… she actually said “William, you are a bold, fresh piece of humanity.” Hence the title of the book, you see…

Pieces of My Heart: A Life
By Robert Wagner, Scott Eyman

With a complex life and a career that straddles an older, more glamorous Hollywood and a newer one dominated by television, Robert Wagner settles some old scores and examines his passionate relationship with Natalie Wood, with whom he was on his second marriage when she died in a much speculated-about drowning accident after falling from the couple’s yacht in 1981. For the first time, Wagner writes about that exceedingly painful time — both during a separation that sees him confessing to murderous feelings toward Warren Beatty, Wood's post-divorce boyfriend, and the account of the fateful boat trip, which included a nearly violent argument between Wagner and eccentric actor Christopher Walken. After a serious bout with depression, Wagner finally overcame adversity, eventually marrying Jill St. John, who further helped mend psyche, soul, and family.

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About Gordon Hauptfleisch