George Orwell’s life and works prove that clarity of language derives from clarity of thought. Written in an age of clashing ideological systems, Facing Unpleasant Facts: Narrative Essays (Harcourt, $25) reveals a mind indefatigably opposed to cliché and cant.  On the essential questions of his time—fascism, Stalinism, imperialism—Orwell was right as well as interesting.  As Packer notes, the genius of Orwell’s method was his commitment to observed fact.  Orwell was there—in the Republican lines in Spain, in colonial Burma, in London during the Blitz, in a dismal holding pen for tramps, in the country of terrifying credulity that is childhood—where political dogma and bromides meet the weak human flesh they work on.  The clarity and simple strength of Orwell’s prose is legendary. With these narrative essays, readers will understand that Orwell’s style is the voice of integrity on the page. 

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ISBN: 9780156033138
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Mariner Books - October 14th, 2009

In White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson (Knopf, $27.95), accomplished biographer Brenda Wineapple has struck on a rich subject, one combining literature, American history, and fascinating personalities. Everyone has heard of Emily Dickinson, although she remains enigmatic. By contrast, Higginson is unfamiliar today, though renowned in his time as a journalist, editor, abolitionist, and activist for black enfranchisement and women’s rights. He led the Union Army’s first black regiment, the First South Carolina volunteers, formed in 1862. Higginson met Dickinson just twice—an experience he said “drained my nerve power”—but the two corresponded for nearly 25 years, and Higginson left some of the few first-hand impressions of the poet that we have. 

White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson Cover Image
ISBN: 9781400044016
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Knopf - August 12th, 2008

White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307456304
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Anchor - December 2009

With his newest collection, When You Are Engulfed In Flames (Little, Brown, $25.99), David Sedaris chronicles the seemingly irrelevant minutiae of his life, twisting the most mundane situations into riotously memorable events.  At a time when everyone needs a laugh, these essays are perfect. Sedaris captures the tone and rhythm of everyday dialogue so well that the reader feels a part of the scene. Sedaris has a gift for making the stories relate to each of us, whether discussing acquiring a skeleton as a gift, or the difficulties of quitting smoking.  His account of sitting in a French doctor’s waiting room is so awkward and so universal, it can’t help being funny.

When You Are Engulfed in Flames Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316154680
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Back Bay Books - June 2nd, 2009