Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Grabbag of New Titles On Our Shelves Now
We all know that the financial crisis of 2008 came dangerously close to pushing the United States and the world into a depression rivaling that of the 1930s. But what is astonishing--and should make us not just afraid but very afraid--are the shenanigans of the biggest banks since the crisis. Bob Ivry passionately, eloquently, and convincingly details the operatic ineptitude of America's best-compensated executives and the ways the government kowtows to what it mistakenly imagines is their competence and success. Ivry shows that the only thing that has changed since the meltdown is how too-big-to-fail banks and their fellow travelers in Washington have nudged us ever closer to an even bigger economic calamity.

Informed by deep reporting from New York, Washington, and the heartland, The Seven Sins of Wall Street, like no other book, shows how we're all affected by the financial industry's inhumanity. The transgressions of "Wall Street titans" and "masters of the universe" are paid for by real people. In fierce, plain English, Ivry indicts a financial industry that continues to work for the few at the expense of the rest of us. Problems that financiers deemed too complicated to be understood by ordinary folks are shown by Ivry to be financial legerdemain--a smokescreen of complexity and jargon that hide the bankers' nefarious activities.

The Seven Sins of Wall Street is irreverent and timely, an infuriating black comedy. The Great Depression of the 1930s moved the American political system to real reform that kept the finance industry in check. With millions so deeply affected since the crisis of 2008, you'll finish this book asking yourself how it is that so many of the nation's leading financial institutions remain such exasperating problem children.
In the summer of 1998, Walter Kirn, then an aspiring novelist struggling with impending fatherhood and a dissolving marriage set out on a peculiar, fateful errand: to personally deliver a crippled hunting dog from his home in Montana to the New York apartment of one Clark Rockefeller, a secretive young banker and art collector who had adopted the dog over the Internet. Thus began a fifteen-year relationship that drew Kirn deep into the fun-house world of an outlandish, eccentric son of privilege who ultimately would be unmasked as a brazen serial impostor, child kidnapper, and brutal murderer.

Kirn's one-of-a-kind story of being duped by a real-life Mr. Ripley takes us on a bizarre and haunting journey from the posh private clubrooms of Manhattan to the hard-boiled courtrooms and prisons of Los Angeles. As Kirn uncovers the truth about his friend, a psychopath masquerading as a gentleman, he also confronts hard truths about himself. Why, as a writer of fiction, was he susceptible to the deception of a sinister fantasist whose crimes, Kirn learns, were based on books and movies? What are the hidden psychological links between the artist and the con man? To answer these and other questions, Kirn attends his old friend s murder trial and uses it as an occasion to reflect on both their tangled personal relationship and the surprising literary sources of Rockefeller's evil. This investigation of the past climaxes in a tense jailhouse reunion with a man whom Kirn realizes he barely knew a predatory, sophisticated genius whose life, in some respects, parallels his own and who may have intended to take another victim during his years as a fugitive from justice: Kirn himself.

Combining confessional memoir, true crime reporting, and cultural speculation, Blood Will Out is a Dreiser-esque tale of self-invention, upward mobility, and intellectual arrogance. It exposes the layers of longing and corruption, ambition and self-delusion beneath the Great American con.
Boyd Varty had an unconventional upbringing. He grew up on Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa, a place where man and nature strive for balance, where perils exist alongside wonders. Founded more than eighty years ago as a hunting ground, Londolozi was transformed into a nature reserve beginning in 1973 by Varty’s father and uncle, visionaries of the restoration movement. But it wasn’t just a sanctuary for the animals; it was also a place for ravaged land to flourish again and for the human spirit to be restored. When Nelson Mandela was released after twenty-seven years of imprisonment, he came to the reserve to recover.

Cathedral of the Wild is Varty’s memoir of his life in this exquisite and vast refuge. At Londolozi, Varty gained the confidence that emerges from living in Africa. “We came out strong and largely unafraid of life,” he writes, “with the full knowledge of its dangers.” It was there that young Boyd and his equally adventurous sister learned to track animals, raised leopard and lion cubs, followed their larger-than-life uncle on his many adventures filming wildlife, and became one with the land. Varty survived a harrowing black mamba encounter, a debilitating bout with malaria, even a vicious crocodile attack, but his biggest challenge was a personal crisis of purpose. An intense spiritual quest takes him across the globe and back again—to reconnect with nature and “rediscover the track.”

Cathedral of the Wild is a story of transformation that inspires a great appreciation for the beauty and order of the natural world. With conviction, hope, and humor, Varty makes a passionate claim for the power of the wild to restore the human spirit.
In this masterful debut, an award-winning writer and first-rate storyteller explores the tenuous bonds of family fathers and sons, husbands and wives as they are tested by the sometimes brutal power of love.

In each of the stories in this remarkable collection, David James Poissant delivers a moving portrayal of a relationship in turmoil. His strikingly true-to-life characters have reached a precipice, chased there by troubles of their own making. Some stand frightened, some ready to fight. Some seek atonement, others the atonement that is owed them. But, brought to the brink, each must make a choice: Leap, or look away?

Lee Martin writes that Poissant forces us to face the people we are when we're alone in the dark, and, from the two men racing to save the life of a sick alligator in "Lizard Man" to the girl helping her boyfriend face his greatest fears in "The End of Aaron", from a son grieving his father in "100% Cotton" as he stalks death on an Atlanta street corner to a brother's surprise at the surreal, improbable beauty of a late night encounter with a wolf, Poissant's invented worlds shine with honesty and dark complexity, but also with a profound compassion. These are stories hell-bent on hope.

Fresh, smart, lively and often wickedly funny The Heaven of Animals is breathtakingly original and compulsively readable. As bestselling author Kevin Wilson puts it, "Poissant is a writer who knows us with such clarity that we wonder how he found his way so easily into our hearts and souls."
From a fresh and highly original voice, a debut collection of stories that illuminates the state of America today with an inscrutable, eerily clarifying light.

In "Lubbock Is Not a Place of the Spirit," a Texas Tech student recognizable as John Hinckley, Jr. writes hundreds of songs for Jodie Foster as he grows increasingly estranged from reality. The young couple in "The Thing About Norfolk," socially isolated after a cross-country move, are dismayed to find themselves unable to resist sexually deviant urges. And in the deeply touching title story, a husband's layoff stretches a couple to their limit as they struggle to care for their emotionally unbalanced young son.

Set in cities across America and spanning the last half-century, this collection draws a bead on our national identity, distilling our obsessions, our hauntings, our universal predicament.
This laugh-out-loud poetry collaboration from a "New York Times" and "Publishers Weekly" bestselling author and a Caldecott Honor illustrator is anything but ordinary.
Dive in to Karma Wilson's latest collection of more than 100 poems--some humorous, some poignant, and all of them Outside the Box. Illustrated by Caldecott Honoree Diane Goode, "Outside the Box "has something for everyone. Appealing to kids and parents alike, poems such as "Sick Day," "My Pet Robot," "Balloonaphobia," and "Aliens Under My Bed" are sure to delight and entertain.

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