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Cover to Cover

Cover to Cover is a monthly P&P Staff Pick, the book we’ve all been reading & recommend, cover to cover.

Should your ideal book be best described as ‘peculiar’ or perhaps ‘containing tentacles’ then Preparing the Ghost is for you. This book is the real-life story of Harvey Moses, who, in 1874, obtained a dead giant squid from some fishermen and paid them to deliver it to his house. He draped the squid over his bathtub and a local photographer took the first known photo of what until then had been largely considered a mythical creature.
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$22.95
ISBN-13: 9780871402837
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 7/2014

Pat's

Literary

Top 5

  1. Crime Novels & Historical Fiction
  2. Cultural Analysis & Connections
  3. Film History, Analysis & How-To
  4. The Creative Process
  5. Sentiment > Sentimentality

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It is a rare thing for history to be portrayed so succinctly, gorgeously accurately and with such insight into the human condition as it is Showa: 1926-1953. Shigeru Mizuki's memoir trilogy covers the majority of Japan's Showa period that began in 1926 with the ascension of Emperor Hirohito, through intense economic depression, the Second World War and the post-war destruction and revival. As a master of both manga and hyper-realistic artwork,Mizuki's genius here lies in using both. The bigger national and global picture is told with newsreel-esque panels with his previous creation Nezuki Otoko (or "Rat Man") narrating. We see the current event that sweep him along, leave him behind or never touch upon his existence. Meanwhile the episodes of his life are told in a humorous, slapdash style with characters that are bug-eyed and broad. Shigeru grows (but rarely grows up) from goofball child, to teenage thug, to unemployed layabout, to incompetent soldier to finally becoming a cartoonist. Each style provides relief for the reader from the other. Cheap laughs and comic violence in one, and earth-shattering both tragic and triumphant in the other, but with profound truths in both.

 

     
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Pat
Graphic Novels & Comics

Hannah's

Literary

Top 5

  1. Mystery
  2. Drama
  3. History
  4. Fantasy/Kids
  5. “Classics”

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Though almost everything may seem a matter of life or death during high school, teenagers really can be cruel, and in Tana French’s new novel, The Secret Place (Viking, $27.95), actions have serious consequences. As the Dublin rookie Stephen Moran investigates a murder, he has to cope with not just teenagers but a harsh partner and the delicate matter of his superior’s daughter being named a prime suspect. As she has in the previous volumes of her excellent Dublin Murder Squad series, French brings past crimes and characters into the present case, unfolding everything with exquisite timing and crisp dialogue. Continue your Tana French collection or dive into her realistic mysteries with this latest work
Hannah

The Secret Place (Hardcover)

$27.95
ISBN-13: 9780670026326
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking Adult, 9/2014

2014 Holiday Newsletter, It's a Mystery, Mystery

Alan's

Literary

Top 5

  1. DC-Area Playwrights!
  2. Tony Horwitz
  3. Bertrand Russell
  4. Sherman Alexie
  5. Orson Scott Card T Cooper

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If Graham Greene were writing his boozy, pointed, and insect-infested thrillers in a post-9/11 world, they would be like The Laughing Monsters (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25). The novel tells the story of a veteran spy with fluid affiliations and fickle loyalties attempting to monetize instability in Central Africa. Operating in a socio-political atmosphere defined by sectarian interests and a War on Terror, Denis Johnson’s spy must navigate both this new paradigm and his feelings for his partner/target/fixer’s fiancée. As in his previous work, notably Tree of Smoke and Train Dreams, Johnson demonstrates lyricism and emotional agility, coupling his elegant prose with a plot soaked in grimy realism. The Laughing Monsters provokes as it entertains; this is a literary journey not to be missed.
Alan
$25.00
ISBN-13: 9780374280598
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 11/2014

 
2014 Holiday Newsletter, Fiction, Overseas

Laurie's

Literary

Top 5

  1. Poetry
  2. Genre-defying books
  3. NYRB Classics
  4. Art Exhibit Catalogs
  5. Remainders

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America is a land of plenty—though not for everyone—and Lish revels in New York City’s sheer adrenaline, noting, describing, and listing its many languages, people, machines, foods, hopes, and despairs. All this is as exhilarating and strange to Skinner, an American soldier returning from Iraq with “the battle skills but” perhaps not “the civilian skills,” as it is to Zou Lei, a newly arrived Chinese immigrant. Lish’s stunning first novel in effect provides documentation for the undocumented and profiles a real, individual war vet—distinct from general-issue heroes; Skinner’s “melted plastic toy” of a shrapnel scar—and how he got it—mark him like a fingerprint. This is a searing story of a contemporary Romeo and Juliet torn apart by PTSD, unemployment, and the paralyzing laws of the Patriot Act.
Laurie
$15.00
ISBN-13: 9780988518339
Availability: Not currently shipping from publisher – Subject to future availability
Published: Tyrant Books, 11/2014

Fiction

Anton's

Literary

Top 5

  1. science fiction and fantasy
  2. Russia, USSR, and the Cold War
  3. Buddhism and meditation
  4. learning live, dead, or simply unconscious languages
  5. bacon! (the presence of an exclamation mark can either mean I am excited about bacon, or it can indicate that this is the factorial function of bacon—you decide).

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No matter what you think of Amanda Palmer, read her memoir and be moved by its daring and honesty. It's as bold and raw as her music, and a great read even if you are not a musician strapped for cash.The Art of Asking is about being unafraid to ask for help, showing vulnerability, and about being a woman trying to have a career her own way.
Anton
$27.00
ISBN-13: 9781455581085
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grand Central Publishing, 11/2014

Music, Self Help

Mark L's

Literary

Top 5

  1. Books complex or confounding enough to spur discussion
  2. Literary fiction, whatever that means
  3. Cookbooks and foodie books
  4. Discovering new voices—poetry and prose—fiction and non
  5. Denis Johnson, Barry Hannah and other mad scientists

click here to see more of my recommendations.

In addition to her Cromwell novels, both of which focus on the same protagonist, Hilary Mantel’s work shows off a range of styles and a rich diversity of subjects. Consistent throughout, however, is a commitment to quality. Her new collection of short fiction, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher (Holt, $27), is as dazzling as her previous work. The opening story, “Sorry to Disturb,” is a complex sketch of an English woman living in Saudi Arabia. She is frustrated and bored by the strictures of Saudi customs and the complications that arise when simple courtesy encourages unwanted advances. The story “How Shall I Know You?” recounts the overnight adventure of an author who agrees to speak before a neighborhood literary society; Mantel describes how expectations crash into reality with very funny results. These fictions are rich in predicament and flawless in execution.
Mark L.
$27.00
ISBN-13: 9781627792103
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Henry Holt and Co., 9/2014

2014 Holiday Newsletter, Electrifying Short Fiction, Fiction