Thursday, November 20, 2014

New Non-Fiction On Our Shelves

Charles D’Ambrosio’s essay collection Orphans spawned something of a cult following. In the decade since the tiny limited-edition volume sold out its print run, its devotees have pressed it upon their friends, students, and colleagues, only to find themselves begging for their copy’s safe return. For anyone familiar with D’Ambrosio’s writing, this enthusiasm should come as no surprise. His work is exacting and emotionally generous, often as funny as it is devastating. Loitering gathers those eleven original essays with new and previously uncollected work, so that a broader audience might discover one of our great living essayists. No matter his subject—Native American whaling, a Pentecostal “hell house,” Mary Kay Letourneau, the work of J.D. Salinger, or, most often, his own family—D’Ambrosio approaches each piece with a singular voice and point of view; each essay, while unique and surprising, is unmistakably his own.
In this candid memoir about a marriage that risked everything to emerge stronger than ever, one couple takes us outside the bounds of monogamy and into one of the most fascinating and secretive subcultures in the nation--swinging.

With fifteen million strong worldwide, swingers are everywhere--a huge community, hiding in plain sight, whose erotic pastime has remained a complete mystery to the rest of us. Christy and Mark Kidd certainly had no idea what they were getting into when at one fateful New Year's Eve party they decided to venture behind a mysterious velvet curtain and discovered a whole new world of sexuality they never thought possible.

The swinging lifestyle still remains largely taboo in our country. The Kidds were just as skeptical when they returned home. Could they ever take their relationship to that level? Would it ruin the strong marriage they had built for five years? How would their very different jealousies come into play? There was only one way to find out, so they decided to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, ultimately ending up in a more trustful and fulfilling relationship than either could have expected.

This stirring memoir takes an up-close and often lurid look at a private life that most of us would never entertain. Nonetheless, it's a life Christy and Mark took seriously--including the same fears and doubts we all imagine would come into play--and emerged with a greater understanding of themselves as well as their unique bond. Deeply honest, A Modern Marriage pulls back the curtain on polyamory and sheds new light on the endless variety of forms and faces, pairings and possibilities found in modern love.
The human head is exceptional. It accommodates four of our five senses, encases the brain, and boasts the most expressive set of muscles in the body. It is our most distinctive attribute and connects our inner selves to the outer world. Yet there is a dark side to the head s preeminence, one that has, in the course of human history, manifested itself in everything from decapitation to headhunting. So explains anthropologist Frances Larson in this fascinating history of decapitated human heads. From the Western collectors whose demand for shrunken heads spurred massacres to Second World War soldiers who sent the remains of the Japanese home to their girlfriends, from Madame Tussaud modeling the guillotined head of Robespierre to Damien Hirst photographing decapitated heads in city morgues, from grave-robbing phrenologists to skull-obsessed scientists, Larson explores our macabre fixation with severed heads.

No comments: