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FICTION: A shocking and hilarious novel about a mother who embarks on a bizarre trip. "I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness" by Claire Vaye Watkins; Riverhead (290 pages, $27) ——— Motherhood, we're told, is a miracle, a blessing, a gift. That's the unmistakable message that the mass media have hammered home for decades — women who give birth are expected to be grateful, uncomplaining, never ...

FICTION: In Elizabeth Strout's latest novel, the character of Lucy Barton returns and tries to understand her attachment to her troubled ex-husband. "Oh William!" by Elizabeth Strout; Random House (256 pages, $27) ——— The latest novel from Elizabeth Strout may be named for a man, but at its heart is a woman trying to tell us something about herself. In "Oh William!," Lucy Barton, the narrator ...

This new book by Jonathan Franzen, sigh, is terrific. In fact, “Crossroads” is one of his best, overflowing with family crisis, morality, mundanity — a nearly 19th century potboiler of ordinariness, across 600 pages, set in suburban Chicago. It is the first of a trilogy saddled with a weighty title: “The Key to All Mythologies,” itself a nod to “Middlemarch.” It is, in other words, that most ...

"State of Terror" by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny; Simon & Schuster/St. Martin’s Press (494 pages, $30) ——— When politicians write novels, I usually try to avoid reviewing them. With a handful of exceptions, my critical response to such books has been: “Don’t quit your day job.” "State of Terror" is a big, turbocharged, breathtaking exception: It’s one of the best political thrillers ...

FICTION: In this dark but witty satire, Percival Everett explores racism, vengeance and the horrors of lynching. "The Trees" by Percival Everett; Graywolf Press (308 pages, $16) ——— Trees, when left unmolested, typically enjoy a long life span. Imagine if trees in the United States, particularly in the South, could speak. Many might tell us of something sinister they got roped into — literally ...

NONFICTION: Three union workers whose factory closes illustrate the challenges for America's blue-collar workforce. "American Made" by Farah Stockman; Random House (418 pages, $28) ——— In 1997, when the Red River Valley overflowed its banks and flooded most of Grand Forks, North Dakota, I watched then-President Bill Clinton give an empathetic speech to flood victims at an Air Force base ...

FICTION: A wealthy playboy is found murdered during a writers festival, and the line of suspects is long. "A Line to Kill" by Anthony Horowitz; Harper (375 pages, $27.99) ——— Like any good mystery, Anthony Horowitz's "A Line to Kill" has a gripping story, quirky characters who might be devious or might be innocent, a twisty plot, an enigmatic detective and a memorable setting. But it also has ...

At age 38, with a toddler son and a thickening waistline, Katherine May makes the decision to hike the 630-mile South West Coast Path in England, a rugged trail that "clings as close to this island's crinkled edge as possible; so close, in fact, that chunks of it regularly fall into the sea." She will hike in stages, she decides, sometimes alone, sometimes with a friend. She will finish before ...

Here are the bestsellers for the week that ended Saturday, Oct. 8, compiled from data from independent and chain bookstores, book wholesalers and independent distributors nationwide, powered by NPD BookScan © 2021 NPD Group. (Reprinted from Publishers Weekly, published by PWxyz LLC. © 2021, PWxyz LLC.) HARDCOVER FICTION 1. The Lincoln Highway. Amor Towles. Viking 2. The Wish. Nicholas Sparks. ...

Here are the bestsellers for the week that ended Saturday, Oct. 8, compiled from data from independent and chain bookstores, book wholesalers and independent distributors nationwide, powered by NPD BookScan © 2021 NPD Group. (Reprinted from Publishers Weekly, published by PWxyz LLC. © 2021, PWxyz LLC.) HARDCOVER FICTION 1. "The Lincoln Highway" by Amor Towles (Viking) Last week: — 2. "The ...

The author of "A Gentleman in Moscow" talks about how he set the stage for his new 1950s-set adventure. Amor Towles' novels, including the bestseller "A Gentleman in Moscow" and his new "The Lincoln Highway," are so distinctive that they read like the works of different writers. In a way, they are. Towles resets each time he starts a new book. He always has several potential novels percolating ...

"Polo Cowboy" by G. Neri; Candlewick Press (288 pages, $17.99) ——— If your kids, or you, loved the hit Netflix movie "Concrete Cowboy," the man who wrote the story has a sequel for you. Author Greg Neri’s latest book for middle-grade readers, "Polo Cowboy," continues the adventures of young Cole into unlikely territory. "Concrete Cowboy" was based on Neri’s 2011 novel "Ghetto Cowboy," which ...

NONFICTION: A quarter-century of essays about animals and their humans from one of America's most noted animal lovers. "On Animals" by Susan Orlean; Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster (288 pages, $27) ——— You can tell when the person you're talking to is passionate about a subject. Their eyes sparkle. Their speech pattern changes, either slowing down to make sure you don't miss a detail, or ...

NONFICTION: Grover's new memoir is a blend of Ojibwe stories, myth and family history. "Gichigami Hearts" by Linda LeGarde Grover; University of Minnesota Press (145 pages, $14.95) ——— "Can you see there's a house down there, about a block on the other side of the bridge?" Linda LeGarde Grover's Aunt Carol asks, as the two sit at a campfire at a powwow in Duluth. "Did you know that house was ...

A decade ago the playwright Sarah Ruhl gave birth to twins and lost her smile, all at once. She was still in the maternity ward when her expression stuck, then wouldn’t unstick. “My smile walked off my face,” that’s how she puts it in her new memoir, “Smile: The Story of a Face” (Simon & Schuster, $27), easily one of the best things I’ve read this year. She developed Bell’s palsy, which ...

MIDDLE-GRADE: Minneapolis author Anne Ursu tackles questions of privilege and power in this feminist fairy tale. "The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy" by Anne Ursu; Walden Pond Press (432 pages, $16.99) ——— In the kingdom of Illyria, boys are groomed from a young age to be sorcerers — one of the land's most powerful roles — while girls are taught to conform to a rigid, secondary role. The ...

"Clint, you're sideways." "Well, I either have to be sideways or upside down. What's better?" "Sideways," says Ron Howard, steady helmsman of about 30 features and documentaries. Brother Clint Howard, five years his junior and proud owner of more than 250 acting credits, nods with something like satisfaction. His image on the screen remains sideways, and his older sibling allows the slightest ...

NONFICTION: The many contradictions of Oscar Wilde are captured in this captivating biography. "Oscar Wilde: A Life" by Matthew Sturgis; Alfred A. Knopf (864 pages, $40) ——— If Oscar Wilde had behaved himself, he would be little remembered today. His poetry has been mostly forgotten; his witty plays are a staple of the community theater circuit, but they don't achieve the high watermark of ...

Here are the bestsellers for the week that ended Saturday, Oct. 1, compiled from data from independent and chain bookstores, book wholesalers and independent distributors nationwide, powered by NPD BookScan © 2021 NPD Group. (Reprinted from Publishers Weekly, published by PWxyz LLC. © 2021, PWxyz LLC.) HARDCOVER FICTION 1. The Wish. Nicholas Sparks. Grand Central 2. Cloud Cuckoo Land. Anthony ...

"Voices From the Pandemic: Americans Tell Their Stories of Crisis, Courage and Resilience" by Eli Saslow; Doubleday (240 pages, $27) ——— "Voices From the Pandemic" is an eerie reading experience: It seems both painfully immediate and an account of a past we’ve already started to forget. The book’s 27 interviews with a wide range of Americans were conducted during the first year of the ...

Brit Bennett is intrigued by performance, and her bestselling 2020 novel “The Vanishing Half” features a masterful one at its center: Stella, a light-skinned Black woman, leaves her small Louisiana town in the 1950s to begin a new life in which she passes as white. It’s a performance that becomes all-encompassing for her; Stella abandons her mother, her identical twin sister Desiree and her ...

CHICAGO — Samira Ahmed once owned a golden ball. It was actually rubber with gold-colored flecks, but for the sake of storytelling, picture a gold ball, magic, one of a kind. Certainly, she liked to believe this. Her parents planted a grove of lilac trees in their backyard in Batavia and Samira would roll her golden orb between the trunks, opening a portal into strange worlds. Think Narnia, “A ...

FICTION: Religious idealism confronts a fractured family in Jonathan Franzen's sprawling new novel. "Crossroads" by Jonathan Franzen; Farrar, Straus & Giroux (592 pages, $28) ——— Even with God on their side, the Hildebrandt family at the center of Jonathan Franzen's intermittently powerful new novel are far from redeemed. They live in the Chicago suburb of New Prospect, which despite its name ...

FICTION: Brothers take to the road in the latest novel from Amor Towles. "The Lincoln Highway" by Amor Towles; Viking (592 pages, $30) ——— Amor Towles' follow-up to his bestselling book "A Gentleman in Moscow" arrives on a wave of anticipation, at a time when we long for simpler days. Set in 1950s America, "The Lincoln Highway" is a road novel that celebrates the mythos of an era via a ...

FICTION: Inanimate objects speak in this thought-provoking novel. "The Book of Form and Emptiness" by Ruth Ozeki; Viking (560 pages, $30) ——— Early in "The Book of Form and Emptiness," Ruth Ozeki's heady new novel, an off-course bird bangs into a classroom window: "THWACK!" The middle schoolers are stunned. One is particularly upset. Benny Oh approaches the glass. He whispers to it, then ...

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