Staff Pick

As Kevin Young says in Bunk (Graywolf, $30), and as everyone is now all too aware, we are living in a “golden age of the hoax: the supposed age of information.” But this book is much more than a treatise on the “fake news” in the subtitle. It covers centuries of fakery, cataloged with a sense for detail and implication that showcases Young’s literary gifts—he’s a poet and critic who currently serves as poetry editor for The New Yorker. His stylistic flair only adds to the meaning of the book: thorough historical treatments on the Great Moon Hoax of 1835, P. T. Barnum’s freak shows, and “caught on film” fairies all forecast some very evidently personal treatments of contemporary hoaxers like Lance Armstrong, JT LeRoy, and Rachel Dolezal. This is a maximalist approach that takes on some deeply provocative recurring threads: namely, how racial hierarchies creep up as the unspoken root of so many hoaxes, and what separates artifice that’s presented as fiction or satire from something that’s trying to pull the wool over your eyes, no matter how benign and inventive it might seem. This is the kind of mammoth book you might never get to the bottom of, and that’s why it already feels like a landmark that will be studied for years. 

Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555977917
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Graywolf Press - November 14th, 2017

Staff Pick

It’s been more than half a century since The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance—the last time John Ford put John Wayne in a cowboy hat on-screen. By now, that screen moment has become part of a strain of nearly legendary American iconography: at one time, this is what it meant to be a prime American man, for better or worse. Nancy Schoenberger’s book, a brilliant double portrait of Wayne and Ford (Nan A. Talese, $27.95) and the movies they made together, wipes the grease off that image to reveal values more nuanced than generally assumed. She illuminates how men with such performative love for the mid-century patriotism as these two could create movies as conflicted about blinkered American militarism as Fort Apache. How they maintained personas that place male prowess so consistently front-and-center and could also give us loving portraits of camaraderie among “feminized” men, whose collective bluster naturally complements delicate underlying virtues. It’s telling that Schoenberger highlights the history of female writers who find what sets Wayne and Ford apart, from Joan Didion to Molly Haskell to the author herself. With a gentle force that matches her subjects’, she separates them from ossified tradition and demonstrates a new way of writing them into an ever-changing American story.

Wayne and Ford: The Films, the Friendship, and the Forging of an American Hero Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385534857
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Nan A. Talese - October 24th, 2017

Staff Pick
The 19th century might have seemed far away in the late-20th century, but now that we’re in the 21st century, how does it feel? When you read books like Joachim Kalka’s Gaslight, the answer is “surprisingly close”, and history feels significantly larger after reading it. It’s a book made from a melange of styles—literary criticism, military history, true crime—but they're all of a piece, because they’re all recognizably facets of the same world. We know how the modern world, as it exists now, can find its way into literature, so it's fun and enlightening to see how canonical artists like Marcel Proust and Emile Zola, Karl Kraus and Alban Berg dealt with their own contemporary bugaboos, from Jack the Ripper to the Dreyfus Affair, from anarchists to submarines.
Gaslight: Lantern Slides from the Nineteenth Century Cover Image
By Joachim Kalka, Isabel Fargo Cole (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781681371184
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: New York Review Books - June 6th, 2017