Thursday, October 16, 2014

Kate M. Is Recommending:
An unforgettable novel of an American suburb devastated by a fiendish madman--the most ambitious and important work yet by "the 21st century answer to William Burroughs" (Publishers Weekly).

Blake Butler's fiction has dazzled readers with its dystopian dreamscapes and swaggering command of language. Now, in his most topical and visceral novel yet, he ushers us into the consciousness of two men in the shadow of a bloodbath: Gretch Gravey, a cryptic psychopath with a small army of burnout followers, and E. N. Flood, the troubled police detective tasked with unpacking and understanding his mind.

A mingled simulacrum of Charles Manson, David Koresh, and Thomas Harris's Buffalo Bill, Gravey is a sinister yet alluring God figure who enlists young metalhead followers to kidnap neighboring women and bring them to his house--where he murders them and buries their bodies in a basement crypt. Through parallel narratives, Three Hundred Million lures readers into the cloven mind of Gravey--and Darrel, his sinister alter ego--even as Flood's secret journal chronicles his own descent into his own, eerily similar psychosis.

A portrait of American violence that conjures the shadows of Ariel Castro, David Koresh, and Adam Lanza, Three Hundred Million is a brutal and mesmerizing masterwork, a portrait of contemporary America that is difficult to turn away from, or to forget.

Read an excerpt HERE.
A harrowing investigation of the tortuous path our food products take--from slaughter to Spam

On the production line in American packing-houses, there is one cardinal rule: the chain never slows. Under pressure to increase supply, the supervisors of meat-processing plants have routinely accelerated the pace of conveyors, leading to inhumane conditions, increased accidents, and food of questionable, often dangerous quality. In The Chain, acclaimed journalist Ted Genoways uses the story of Hormel Foods and its most famous product, Spam--a recession-era staple--to probe the state of the meatpacking industry, including the expansion of agribusiness and the effects of immigrant labor on Middle America.

Interviewing scores of line workers, union leaders, hog farmers, and local politicians and activists, Genoways reveals an industry pushed to its breaking point. Along the way, he exposes alarming new trends: sick or permanently disabled workers, abused animals, water and soil pollution, and mounting conflict between small towns and immigrant labor.

The narrative moves across the heartland--from Minnesota, to witness the cut-and-kill operation; to Iowa, to observe breeding and farrowing in massive hog barns; to Nebraska, to see the tense town hall meetings and broken windows in reaction to the arrival of Hispanic workers; and back to Minnesota, where political refugees from Burma give the workforce the power it needs to fight back.

A searching expose in the tradition of Upton Sinclair, Rachel Carson, and Eric Schlosser, The Chain is a mesmerizing story and an urgent warning about the hidden costs of the food we eat.

Read an excerpt HERE.
Who killed Billy Taylor, one of Hollywood's most beloved men?

For nearly a century, no one has known.

Until now.

In the early 1920s, millions of Americans flocked to movie palaces every year to see their favorite stars on the silver screen. Never before had a popular art so captured the public's imagination, nor had a medium ever possessed such power to influence. But Hollywood's glittering ascendancy was threatened by a string of lurid, headline-grabbing tragedies, including the murder of William Desmond Taylor, the handsome and popular president of the Motion Picture Directors Association--a legendary crime that has remained unsolved since 1922.

Now, in this fiendishly involving narrative, bestselling Hollywood chronicler William Mann draws on a rich host of sources, many untapped for decades, to reopen the case of the upstanding yet enigmatic Taylor and the diverse cast that surrounded him--including three loyal ingenues, a grasping stage mother, a devoted valet, a gang of two-bit thugs, the industry's reluctant new morals czar, and the moguls Adolph Zukor and Marcus Loew, locked in a struggle for control of the exploding industry. Along the way, Mann brings to life Los Angeles in the Roaring Twenties: a sparkling yet schizophrenic town filled with party girls and drug dealers, newly minted legends and starlets already past their prime, a dangerous place where the powerful could still run afoul of the desperate.

A true story recreated with the thrilling suspense of a novel, Tinseltown is the work of a master craftsman at the peak of his powers.
From the author of the New York Times bestseller A Train in Winter comes the fascinating story of a French village that helped save thousands hunted by the Gestapo during World War II

High up in the mountains of the southern Massif Central in France lie tiny, remote villages united by a long and particular history. During the Second World War, the inhabitants of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon and its parishes saved thousands wanted by the Gestapo: resisters, Freemasons, communists, and, above all, Jews, many of them orphans whose parents had been deported to concentration camps. There were no informers, no denunciations, and no one broke ranks. During raids, the children would hide in the woods, their packs on their backs, waiting to hear the farmers' song that told them it was safe to return. After the war, Le Chambon became one of only two places in the world to be honored by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among Nations.

Just why and how Le Chambon and its outlying villages came to save so many people has never fully been told. With unprecedented access to newly opened archives in France, Britain, and Germany, along with interviews documenting the testimony of surviving villagers, Caroline Moorehead paints an inspiring portrait of courage and determination: of what was accomplished when a small group of people banded together to oppose tyranny.

A major contribution to the history of the Second World War, illustrated with black-and-white photographs, Village of Secrets sets the record straight about the events in Chambon and pays tribute to a group of heroic individuals for whom saving others became more important than their own lives.
For years, Dana Cowin kept a dark secret: From meat to vegetables, broiling to baking, breakfast to dinner, she ruined literally every kind of dish she attempted to make. Now, in this cookbook confessional, the vaunted first lady of food and exceptional entertainer finally comes clean about her many meal mishaps. With the help of friends--all-star chefs, including Mario Batali, Alex Guarnaschelli, and Tom Colicchio, among many others--Cowin takes on 100 recipes dear to her heart. Ideal dishes for the home cook, each recipe has a high "yum" factor, a few key ingredients, and a simple trick that makes it special. With every dish, she acquires a critical new skill, learning invaluable lessons along the way from the hero chefs who help her discover exactly where she goes wrong.

Hilarious and heartwarming, encouraging and instructional, Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen will inspire anyone who loves a good meal but fears its preparation. Featuring gorgeous full-color photography, it is an intimate, hands-on cooking guide from a fellow foodie and amateur home chef, designed to help even the biggest kitchen phobics overcome their reluctance, with delicious results.
Illuminating and essential, Can a Bee Sting a Bee? is a timeless gift, a handbook for curious children and their perplexed parents
Many of the questions children ask in the course of growing up can stump even the best educated adult: Why can't I tickle myself? Are we all related? Who named all the cities? Do aliens exist? What makes me me? Is it okay to eat a worm? Who invented chocolate? If the universe started from nothing, how did it become something? How do you fall in love? Who is God? Why are some people mean?

This charming and informative collection has been compiled from school children's actual questions, which are answered by the world's greatest experts, including Mary Roach, Richard Dawkins, Philip Pullman, Bear Grylls, David Eagleman, Philippa Gregory, Noam Chomsky, and Mario Batali.

Read an excerpt HERE.

Want to know who answered the questions?  Here's the list!
The New York Times bestselling author of State of Wonder, Run, and Bel Canto creates a resonant portrait of a life in this collection of writings on love, friendship, work, and art.

"The tricky thing about being a writer, or about being any kind of artist, is that in addition to making art you also have to make a living."

So begins This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage, an examination of the things Ann Patchett is fully committed to--the art and craft of writing, the depths of friendship, an elderly dog, and one spectacular nun. Writing nonfiction, which started off as a means of keeping her insufficiently lucrative fiction afloat, evolved over time to be its own kind of art, the art of telling the truth as opposed to the art of making things up. Bringing her narrative gifts to bear on her own life, Patchett uses insight and compassion to turn very personal experiences into stories that will resonate with every reader.

These essays twine to create both a portrait of life and a philosophy of life. Obstacles that at first appear insurmountable--scaling a six-foot wall in order to join the Los Angeles Police Department, opening an independent bookstore, and sitting down to write a novel--are eventually mastered with quiet tenacity and a sheer force of will. The actual happy marriage, which was the one thing she felt she wasn't capable of, ultimately proves to be a metaphor as well as a fact: Patchett has devoted her life to the people and ideals she loves the most.

An irresistible blend of literature and memoir, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage is a unique examination of the heart, mind, and soul of one of our most revered and gifted writers.

Read an excerpt HERE.
"This is the story of a woman and a city. I saw the city first, shimmering from afar like the new Jerusalem in the setting sun. It was Sunday, 2nd August 1778."

Edward Savill, a London clerk from the American Department, is assigned to New York to investigate the claims of dispossessed loyalists caught on the wrong side of the American War of Independence.

Surrounded by its enemies, British Manhattan is a melting pot of soldiers, profiteers, double agents and a swelling tide of refugees seeking justice from the Crown.

Savill lodges with the respected Wintour family: the old Judge, his ailing wife and their enigmatic daughter-in-law Arabella. The family lives in limbo, praying for the safe return of Jack Wintour, Arabella's husband, who is missing behind rebel lines.

The discovery of a body in the notorious slums of Canvas Town thrusts Savill into a murder inquiry. But in the escalating violence of a desperate city, why does one death matter? Because the secret this killing hides could be the key to power for whoever uncovers it.

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