Friday, January 3, 2014

4 Nonfiction Titles to Watch for in January

Happy New Year and happy new reading opportunities! Here are a few interesting looking nonfiction titles released this month:

Little Failure: a memoir (M
by Gary Shteyngart (January 7) novelist Gary Shteyngart  has developed a loyal following of readers with three novels published since early 2002. His darkly humourous style and tales of Russian expats living in America have gained him both popular and critical acclaim. Now Shteyngart is turning to his own story with a memoir of his own immigrant experience: from Russia to the United States in the 1970s.  Vanity Fair has said "Shteyngart’s achingly honest, bittersweet comic memoir is a winner."

Unsinkable (M
by Silken Laumann (January 21) inspiring memoir from a great Canadian athlete. "In May 1992, just ten weeks before the Olympic Games, Silken Laumann was injured in a brutal rowing accident that left her right leg shattered and useless. The reigning world champion in single sculls rowing, Silken was told by doctors she might never row again. Twenty-seven days, five operations and countless hours of gruelling rehabilitation later, Silken was back in her shell, ready to pursue her Olympic dream. When the starter’s pistol rang out on August 2, 1992, Silken made the greatest comeback in Canadian sports history, winning the bronze medal for Canada and capturing the hearts of a nation. Silken retired from rowing in 1999 with three Olympic medals and since then has continued to inspire, encouraging people to dream, live in the moment and embrace failure as a stepping stone to success. But there was a massive obstacle in her path that she’s never really spoken about. Unsinkable will be her no-holds-barred memoir, revealing not only new insights into her Olympic success and extraordinary triumph over physical adversity, but also a much darker hidden story about the intense personal challenges of her past."

Careless People: murder, mayhem, and the invention of the Great Gatsby (M) by Sarah Churchwell (January 23)

With last year's blockbuster film adaptation of the Great Gatsby still lingering in the collective consciousness, this literary true crime tale of F. Scott Fitzgerald's own time will certainly catch some attention."The autumn of 1922 found F. Scott Fitzgerald at the height of his fame, days from turning twenty-six years old, and returning to New York for the publication of his fourth book, Tales of the Jazz Age. A spokesman for America’s carefree younger generation, Fitzgerald found a home in the glamorous and reckless streets of New York. Here, in the final incredible months of 1922, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald drank and quarreled and partied amid financial scandals, literary milestones, car crashes, and celebrity disgraces. Yet the Fitzgeralds’ triumphant return to New York coincided with another event: the discovery of a brutal double murder in nearby New Jersey, a crime made all the more horrible by the farce of a police investigation—which failed to accomplish anything beyond generating enormous publicity for the new found celebrity participants. Proclaimed the “crime of the decade” even as its proceedings dragged on for years, the Mills-Hall murder has been wholly forgotten today.

But the enormous impact of this bizarre crime can still be felt in The Great Gatsby, a novel Fitzgerald began planning that autumn of 1922 and whose plot he ultimately set within that fateful year. Careless People is a unique literary investigation: a gripping double narrative that combines a forensic search for clues to an unsolved crime and a quest for the roots of America’s best loved novel. Overturning much of the received wisdom of the period, Careless People blends biography and history with lost newspaper accounts, letters, and newly discovered archival materials. With great wit and insight, acclaimed scholar of American literature Sarah Churchwell reconstructs the events of that pivotal autumn, revealing in the process new ways of thinking about Fitzgerald’s masterpiece."

My Journey (M
by Olivia Chow (January 21)"What drives Olivia Chow? How did she emerge from a turbulent childhood to become an inspiring political force? What influences and events have shaped her life? And how is she continuing her quest after losing her partner in life and politics? When she was thirteen, Olivia’s middle-class family moved from Hong Kong to Toronto, but the transition was difficult. Her mother went from having a maid to being a maid. Her father failed to carve out a working life for himself in Canada—frustrated and bitter, he lashed out at Olivia’s mother and violence darkened their lives. A rebellious yet playful child, Olivia discovered self-discipline and became an excellent student in Canada, studying fine art and philosophy at university. After graduating, Olivia worked for a time as a sculptor. Then, driven by a desire to achieve social change, the artist became an activist, and she launched her political career.

As a popular and much-admired school trustee and Toronto city councillor—the first Asian woman in that role—Olivia honed a grassroots approach and crafted progressive programs that enhanced the lives of others, especially children. Strong-willed, focused and passionate, Olivia got things done by bringing together people from all parts of the political spectrum. In the mid-1980s, Olivia met Jack Layton. Their dynamic partnership, unprecedented in Canadian political life, made a powerful impact in Toronto, and on the national stage. Together, they forged a strong vision for a better country and for enlightened political change. But when her beloved partner and political soulmate died in the summer of 2011, how did she find the strength to move forward? What might we learn from her inspiring story? Those answers are here."

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