Staff Pick

Since her death in 2004, there have been several biographies written about Susan Sontag, each taking a slightly different approach to the life of one of the most important literary critics, public intellectuals, and cultural icons of the twentieth century. While Benjamin Moser’s new book Sontag: Her Life and Work (Ecco, $39.99) is not the first, it is the only authorized account of the critic’s life, as well as the most comprehensive. David Rieff, Sontag’s son and frequent editor, allowed Moser unprecedented access to her unpublished diaries, letters, and ephemera. Moser interviewed her friends, family, former lovers—including her partner, the legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz—and even the hair stylist who created Sontag’s trademark white streak following her first bout with cancer. Meticulously researched and richly detailed, Moser’s work sheds light on the two contradictory sides of Susan Sontag: the deeply insecure writer struggling to overcome self-doubt, and the often arrogant, always chic public persona. Moser’s previous work, Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Sontag is already gaining wide critical attention.

Sontag: Her Life and Work Cover Image
$39.99
ISBN: 9780062896391
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Ecco - September 17th, 2019

Staff Pick

Had things gone according to plan, Harper Lee would have followed To Kill a Mockingbird with a true-crime book called The Reverend, an account of Willie Maxwell, an African American preacher from Alabama accused of killing five members of his family, one by one, in the 1970s. Determined to stick to the facts--unlike her friend Truman Capote, whose In Cold Blood Lee had helped with--Lee spent a year in Maxwell’s hometown reporting the story, but never managed to get the book written. Working from Lee’s notes, letters, and the historical record, Casey Cep, in her powerful debut, has. Furious Hours (Knopf, $26.95) in fact is three books in one. Along with the account of how and why Maxwell committed the murders—including the possible role played by voodoo—Cep examines the relationship between Maxwell and his lawyer, a white liberal who defended Maxwell through several trials, and then, after Maxwell was shot at his stepdaughter’s funeral, defended his killer. Clearly, Lee was on to a great story, and Cep adds to it with a rare inside look at one of our most reclusive writers, delving into Lee’s complicated and often contradictory attitudes to race and the South and correcting the many misunderstandings that have crept into the Lee legend.

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9781101947869
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Knopf - May 7th, 2019

Staff Pick

“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul…then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.” Herman Melville’s great novel, Moby-Dick, is an incredible exploration of revenge and the conflict of man versus nature, but it is also a reverent and insightful novel of the sea. Indeed, the ocean is as much a character as Ishmael or Ahab, and Richard J. King’s book, Ahab’s Rolling Sea: A Natural History of Moby-Dick (Chicago, $30), shows us just how deep Melville’s research went. King delves into the natural history behind the work, teaching us about whale intelligence, marine animals, and period research methods while also taking a broader cultural view of how the sea was seen by the American public when Melville was writing. Whether you love Moby-Dick or just like getting your feet wet, King’s book captures the enduring power that the ocean still has over us, and what that means in an era of climate crisis.

 

Ahab's Rolling Sea: A Natural History of
$30.00
ISBN: 9780226514963
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: University of Chicago Press - November 11th, 2019

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