Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Some of the New Non-Fiction Coming In This Week
Award-winning novelist Suki Kim's haunting memoir of teaching English to the sons of North Korea's elite during the last six months of Kim Jong Il's reign — a moving and incalculably rare glimpse of life in the world's most unknowable country, and at the privileged young men she calls "soldiers and slaves."

Every day, three times a day, the students march in two straight lines, singing praises to Kim Jong Il and North Korea. It is a chilling scene, but gradually Suki, too, learns the tune and, without noticing, begins to hum it. The year is 2011, and all universities in North Korea have been shut down for an entire year, the students sent to construction fields. Except for the 270 students at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST)--a prison-like complex where portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il look on impassively from the walls of every room, and where Suki has accepted a job teaching English. Although she's covered North Korea as a journalist for years, the short, regimented foreign press tours reveal very little of the repressive regime, and so she has chosen to live for six months under its watchful eye.

Life at PUST is lonely and claustrophobic, especially for Suki, whose letters are read by censors and who must hide her notes and photographs not only from her minders but from her colleagues--evangelical Christian missionaries who don't know that Suki doesn't share their faith. But she soon grows attached to her students, whose naivete and obedience to the regime she finds heartbreaking.

Over time, she cautiously hints at the existence of a world beyond their own--at such exotic activities as skiing or surfing the Internet and, more dangerously, at electoral democracy and other ideas forbidden in a country where defectors risk torture and execution. The students in turn offer Suki tantalizing glimpses into their lives outside the university walls, sharing their anxieties about girls and their longing to see their families. Then Kim Jong Il dies, leaving the students devastated, and leading Suki to question whether the gulf between her world and theirs can ever be bridged.
The “Alice Waters of American natural perfume” ( celebrates our most potent sense, through five rock stars of the fragrant world.

Mandy Aftel is widely acclaimed as a trailblazer in natural perfumery. Over two decades of sourcing the finest aromatic ingredients from all over the world and creating artisanal fragrances, she has been an evangelist for the transformative power of scent. In Fragrant, through five major players in the epic of aroma, she explores the profound connection between our sense of smell and the appetites that move us, give us pleasure, make us fully alive.

Cinnamon, queen of the Spice Route, touches our hunger for the unknown, the exotic, the luxurious. Mint, homegrown the world over, speaks to our affinity for the familiar, the native, the authentic. Frankincense, an ancient incense ingredient, taps into our longing for transcendence, while Ambergris embodies our unquenchable curiosity. And exquisite Jasmine exemplifies our yearning for beauty, both evanescent and enduring.

In addition to providing a riveting initiation into the history, natural history, and philosophy of scent, Fragrant imparts the essentials of scent literacy and includes recipes for easy-to-make fragrances and edible, drinkable, and useful concoctions that reveal the imaginative possibilities of creating with—and reveling in—aroma. Vintage line drawings make for a volume that will be a treasured gift as well as a great read.
Neil Young’s first memoir, Waging Heavy Peace, was an international bestseller and critical sensation. The Wall Street Journal wrote that it was “terrific: modest, honest, funny and frequently moving,” while The New York Times found it “as charismatically off the wall as Mr. Young’s records.” Now, in Special Deluxe, Young has fashioned a second work of extraordinary reminiscences about his Canadian boyhood, his musical influences, his family, the rock ’n’ roll life, and one of his deepest, most ebullient passions: cars. Through the framework of the many vehicles he’s collected and driven, Young explores his love for the well-crafted vintage automobile,and examines his newfound awareness of his hobby’s negative environmental impact. With his ferocious devotion to clean energy, he recounts the saga of Lincvolt, his specially modified electric car, and his efforts to demonstrate to lawmakers and consumers how viable non-gas-guzzling vehicles truly can be. Special Deluxe captures Young’s singular lyrical, almost musical, voice. 
Witty, eclectic, and wonderfully candid, Special Deluxe is an unforgettable amalgam of memories, artwork, and political ponderings from one of the most genuine and enigmatic artists of our time.
Why do we fear vaccines? A provocative examination by Eula Biss, the author of Notes from No Man’s Land, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

Upon becoming a new mother, Eula Biss addresses a chronic condition of fear—fear of the government, the medical establishment, and what is in your child’s air, food, mattress, medicine, and vaccines. She finds that you cannot immunize your child, or yourself, from the world.
In this bold, fascinating book, Biss investigates the metaphors and myths surrounding our conception of immunity and its implications for the individual and the social body. As she hears more and more fears about vaccines, Biss researches what they mean for her own child, her immediate community, America, and the world, both historically and in the present moment. She extends a conversation with other mothers to meditations on Voltaire’s Candide, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Susan Sontag’s AIDS and Its Metaphors, and beyond. On Immunity is a moving account of how we are all interconnected—our bodies and our fates.
In this darkly funny work of literary nonfiction, a bookish young woman insinuates herself into the lives of two cage fighters--one a young prodigy, the other an aging journeyman. 
Acclaimed essayist Kerry Howley follows these men for three years through the bloody world of mixed martial arts as they starve themselves, break bones, fail their families and form new ones in the quest to rise from remote Midwestern fairgrounds to packed Vegas arenas. With penetrating intelligence and wry humor, Howley exposes the profundities and absurdities of this American subculture.
The Fall is a memoir like no other. Its 424 short passages match the number of steps taken by Diogo Mainardi's son Tito as he walks, with great difficulty, alongside his father through the streets of Venice, the city where a medical mishap during Tito's birth left him with Cerebral Palsy.

As they make their way toward the hospital where both their lives changed forever, Mainairdi begins to draw on his knowledge of art and history, seeking to better explain a tragedy that was entirely avoidable. From Marcel Proust to Neil Young, to Sigmund Freud to Humpty Dumpty, to Renaissance Venice and Auschwitz, he charts the trajectory of the Western world, with Tito at its center, showing how his fate has been shaped by the past.

Told with disarming simplicity; by turns angry, joyful, and always generous, wise and suprising, The Fall is an astonishing book.

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