All posts by alanwp

Haven’t heard of Tanguy Viel? You will, when his book “Article 353” debuts in March.

We loved when we come across a book by an author when haven’t met. Yet. Equal parts courtroom drama and psychological thriller, Article 353 (Other Press, $15.99), by internationally bestselling author Tanguy Viel, employs subtle, enthralling prose to raise questions about the pursuit of “justice” within the confines of the law.

We aren’t the only who were caught up with the book: Publishers Weekly raves about the book in a recent review calling it a “beguiling noir” and an “elegant effort” sure to win new fans in the U.S.

With echoes of Herman Koch’s The Dinner and Scott Turow’s LimitationsArticle 353 is a noir novel retracing the steps that led to a murder off the coast of Brittany. A bestseller in France, winning the Grand Prix RTL-Lire and Prix François Mauriac, the book has sold in 10 territories to date, including Germany, Italy, Spain, and China.

In a depressed town on France’s northern coast, a man named Martial Ker­meur has been arrested for the murder of real estate developer Antoine La­zenec after throwing him overboard. Kermeur has long led an upstanding life, raising his son as a single father and humbly working as a groundskeeper after he’s laid off from the shipyard. Running counter to his signature ethically driven and measured demeanor, Kermeur finds himself swept up in the glit­tering promises of Lazenec, who entices Kermeur into investing the entirety of his savings. Called before a judge, Kermeur goes back to the beginning to explain what brought him to this desperate point: his divorce, his son’s acting out, layoffs at his job, and, above all, Lazenec’s dazzling project for a seaside resort.

 Kremeur’s story, told in retrospect, takes on an eerie prophetic tenor, acting as a parable shedding light on a timeless undercurrent of societal ills that still resound in today’s climate of financial and judicial turmoil. Here, Viel, a born storyteller, examines not only the psychology of a crime, but also the larger social maladies that may offer its justification.

We tell no more except buy it and read it. It hits shelves March 12.

PBS Distribution releases two exceptional “Nature” programs

When Nature comes a-calling, we go a-watching. PBS Distribution has released two new programs on DVD and digital from Nature. Both are must-sees!

Nature: A Squirrel’s Guide to Success
The squirrel family is one of the most widespread on Earth. There are almost 300 species of squirrel, those that can glide through the air, outwit rattlesnakes, and survive the coldest temperatures of any mammal. In this new eye-opening program viewers learn about the extraordinary abilities and secrets to success of these nut lovers. Some of the species featured include: the fox squirrel which can remember the location of 9,000 nuts, the gray squirrel whose jumps are the basis for new designs in robotics, and the Arctic ground squirrel, who, to survive the frigid winters of Alaska, hibernates by dropping its heart rate, breathing and body temperature.

Every two to three weeks the squirrel will shiver to warm itself. Viewers also see the world through the eyes of an orphaned red squirrel named Billy, as he grows up and develops all the skills he needs to be released back into the wild.

Nature: Dogs in the Land of Lions
Filmed over two-years, this program takes viewers into the heart of an African wild dog family, led by a mother called Puzzles. When her mate, Jigsaw is suddenly killed by lions, (the wild dogs’ ultimate enemy) she is suddenly left to raise two generations of pups on her own and without the help of a pack. In this deeply intimate portrayal of motherhood, viewers witness the loyalty and selflessness that sets wild dogs apart from other large, social carnivores.

Wild dogs have a willingness to sacrifice almost anything for their pack, a behavior wired into their DNA. As Puzzles’s young litter grows up, the pups provide some light-hearted moments while discovering the world around them, including new creatures, such as elephants, giraffes, and impala. Hopefully they will have the chance to encounter a hyena, their favorite form of entertainment – hounding and hazing hyenas whenever they get the chance. A year after Jigsaw’s passing, Puzzles and her young crew get a chance for revenge on the lions. Deciding to steal a fresh carcass that a few lions are feasting on, the pack stands their ground and enjoy a rare victory against their greatest enemy.

“Bent” is a harrowing, riveting look at gay love during the decadence and terror of pre-war Germany

We saw Bent when it made its Broadway debut in 1979. Richard Gere and David Dukes were brilliant, as was the harrowing drama.  Forty years later, Bent returns. As a film. Thank you Film Movement Classics.
Set amidst the decadence and terror of pre-war Germany, Bent is a harrowing yet inspirational tale of struggle against oppression, based on the landmark play by Martin Sherman. A chance encounter at a Berlin nightclub exposes Max (portrayed by Clive Owen) and his partner Rudy (Brian Webber) as homosexuals during the “Night of the Long Knives” purge. After two years on the run, they are captured and put on a train to Dachau, where Rudy is savagely beaten to death. Inside the camp, Max finds the will to survive through the help of a fellow prisoner, Horst (Lothaire Bluteau), and the two men develop an unbreakable bond.
Winner of the Prix de la jeunesse (Award of the Youth) at Cannes Critics’ Week in 1997, Bent, which has been digitally restored for optimal home entertainment viewing, was also nominated “Outstanding Film” at the GLAAD Media Awards, and captured the Best Feature Award at the Torino International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.
 
What a cast! There are also memorable performances by Clive Owen, Ian McKellen, Mick Jagger, Brian Webber, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Paul Bettany.
A truly remarkable film not to be missed.

“The Elephant in the Room” is a searing and candid exploration of what it’s like to live as a fat man

The skinny on The Elephant in the Room: One Fat Man’s Quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America (Simon & Schuster, $27)? The book is a searing, honest, and candid exploration of what it’s like to live as a fat man.

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When he was almost 50 years old, Tommy Tomlinson weighed an astonishing—and dangerous—460 pounds. He was at risk for heart disease, diabetes and stroke, unable to climb a flight of stairs without having to catch his breath, or travel on an airplane without buying two seats. Raised in a family that loved food, he had been aware of the problem for years, seeing doctors and trying diets from the time he was a preteen.

But nothing worked, and every time he tried to make a change, it didn’t go the way he planned—in fact, he wasn’t sure that he really wanted to change. He was only one of millions of Americans struggling with weight, body image, and a relationship with food that puts them at major risk. Intimate and insightful, The Elephant in the Room is Tomlinson’s chronicle of meeting those people, taking the first steps towards health, and trying to understand how, as a nation, we got to this point.

From buying a FitBit and setting an exercise goal to contemplating the Heart Attack Grill, America’s “capital of food porn,” and modifying his own diet, Tomlinson brings us along on an unforgettable journey of self-discovery that is a candid and sometimes brutal look at the everyday experience of being constantly aware of your size. Over the course of the book, he confronts these issues head on and chronicles the practical steps he has to take—big and small—to lose weight by the end. 

Jean Case’s new book “Be Fearless” reminds us that fearlessness is not lack of fear but the courage to overcome it 

Take five. In Be Fearless:  5 Principles for a Life of Breakthroughs and Purpose (Simon & Schuster, $25), philanthropist, investor and technology pioneer Jean Case brings to life the five principles common to the people and organizations that change the world. She argues that we all have the tools and role models at our disposal to make an impact.

Weaving together memorable stories, practical tips and the message that fearlessness is not lack of fear but the courage to overcome it, Be Fearless provides a clear road map to anyone seeking transformational breakthroughs in life or work. The book features compelling stories of ordinary people who have accomplished extraordinary things, as well as stories and insights from leaders and innovators like Bill and Melinda Gates, chef and humanitarian José Andrés, global foundation chief Darren Walker, CEO Sara Blakely, humanitarian Eunice Shriver, and many more.

And the book could not be more timely, as Jane Goodall writes in her foreword, “There is no point in history when it has been more important to Be Fearless, overcome our acceptance of the status quo, and step up to make a difference…roll up your sleeves, take action and Be Fearless.”

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Jean’s extensive career in the private sector (including her leadership role at America Online Inc.), as a philanthropist, and as an impact investing pioneer, makes her an ideal advocate for the importance of embracing a more fearless approach to innovation and bringing about transformational breakthroughs—it has always been a core tenet of her work. We all face deep divisions, significant global challenges, and problems that can seem too big and complex even to attempt to solve, and with this book Jean Case issues a clarion call that there has never been a better time to engage.

Stephen King on James Lee Burke’s latest book: He’s “as good as he ever was.”

Don’t take our word how great James Lee Burke’s latest novel, The New Iberia Blues (Simon & Schuster, $27.99), is.  Stephen King hails him “as good as he ever was.” Michael Connelly gushes that Burke proves that he “remains the heavyweight champ, a great American novelist whose work, taken individually or as a whole, is unsurpassed”.

Wow. Times two.

In his new tome, Burke  takes his beloved protagonist, Detective Dave Robicheaux, from the dark corners of Hollywood to the backwoods of Louisiana after the shocking death of a young woman. Robicheaux’s world isn’t filled with too many happy stories, but Desmond Cormier’s rags-to-riches tale is certainly one of them. Robicheaux first met Cormier on the streets of New Orleans, when the young, undersized boy had foolish dreams of becoming a Hollywood director.

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Twenty-five years later, when Robicheaux knocks on Cormier’s door, it isn’t to congratulate him on his Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations. Robicheaux has discovered the body of a young woman who’s been crucified, wearing only a small chain on her ankle. She disappeared near Cormier’s Cyrpemort Point estate, and Robicheaux, along with young deputy, Sean McClain, are looking for answers. Neither Cormier nor his enigmatic actor friend Antoine Butterworth are saying much, but Robicheaux knows better. As always, Clete Purcel and Davie’s daughter, Alafair, have Robicheaux’s back. Clete witnesses the escape of Texas inmate, Hugo Tillinger, who may hold the key to Robicheaux’s case.

As they wade further into the investigation, they end up in the crosshairs of the mob, the deranged Chester Wimple, and the dark ghosts Robicheaux has been running from for years. Ultimately, it’s up to Robicheaux to stop them all, but he’ll have to summon a light he’s never seen or felt to save himself, and those he loves.

Working Out with Jane Fonda is still getting obese America in shape

She obviously has done something right.
Jane Fonda is 81 years old and looks 55. Plastic surgery? Probably, but her doctor is really really good . . . not like the work done on Lily and Dolly, whose doctors worked way beyond 9 to 5.
Yet much of Fonda’s great looks and shape are the result of decades of working out, feeling the burn, sweating to the oldies. She was the first Big Name to make exercise tapes (remember those?), and now, Lightyear Entertainment, in partnership with Fonda, Inc., has released those workouts on DVD, released in the U.S. and Canada through MVD Distribution.

“Who knew that this many years later people would still be doing The Workout, but they are!,” coos Fonda.”
Arnie Holland, President of Lightyear, adds, “The five DVDs we released in 2015 and the Boxed Set have been selling extraordinarily well and steadily for the past three years. We are delighted that Jane Fonda and Warner Bros. have agreed to allow us to release more of these programs, which changed the face of the home video business when originally released. They set unheard of sales records, dominated the sell-through charts for more than a decade, and changed American culture.”

“Merchants of Truth” raises crucial questions as we face a crisis in trust that threatens the free press

In Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts (Simon & Schuster, $30), prizewinning journalist Jill Abramson takes readers deep into the story of the news business, fighting for survival through a series of crises—first the digital revolution and great recession, and then the President’s unprecedented war on the press.

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In the tradition of David Halberstam’s The Powers That Be, Abramson profiles four powerful news organizations as they grapple with upheaval: BuzzFeed and Vice, upstarts that captivated young audiences; and The New York Times and The Washington Post, legacy papers that were slow to adapt to digital changes. Each struggled with crises in business, technology, resources and credibility. As these forces clashed, the only certainty each organization confronted was radical change.

Abramson also covers the essential platforms to share news—Google/YouTube and Facebook—as they forced transformations in all of these organizations and sped up challenges they faced. The vital question that confronts all four in the era of fake news: Can an informed press stand its ground?

Merchants of Truth raises crucial questions that concern the well-being of our society. We are facing a crisis in trust that threatens the free press. Abramson’s book points us to the future. A riveting must-read.

“Midnight in Chernobyl” is a masterful nonfiction thriller—the definitive account of an event that changed history

Early in the morning of April 26, 1986, Reactor Number Four of the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station exploded, triggering history’s worst nuclear disaster. In the 30 years since then, Chernobyl has become lodged in the collective nightmares of the world: shorthand for the spectral horrors of radiation poisoning, for a dangerous technology slipping its leash, for ecological fragility, and for what can happen when a dishonest and careless state endangers its citizens and the entire world.

But the real story of the accident, clouded from the beginning by secrecy, propaganda, and misinformation, has long remained in dispute. Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews conducted over the course of more than 10 years, as well as letters, unpublished memoirs and documents from recently-declassified archives, Adam Higginbotham’s Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster (Simon & Schuster, $29.95) s the definitive account of the Chernobyl disaster, a harrowing and compelling narrative which brings the tragedy to life through the eyes of the men and women who witnessed it firsthand.

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Midnight in Chernobyl is an indelible portrait of one of the great disasters of the twentieth century, of human resilience and ingenuity, and the lessons learned when mankind seeks to bend the natural world to his will—lessons which, in the face of climate change and other threats, remain not just vital but necessary.

The result is a masterful nonfiction thriller, and the definitive account of an event that changed history: a story that is more complex, more human, and more terrifying than the Soviet myth.

“Who Killed the Fonz?” is a delightful, clever reinvention of the leather-clad TV series

Happy days are here again. At least on paper And especially in Who Killed the Fonz? (Simon & Schuster, $26), in which James Boice offers a clever reinvention of the legendary TV show, Happy Days.

The book imagines what happened to Richie Cunningham (who now goes by Richard) and the rest of the gang twenty years after the show left off. Only this time ’round, instead of a world of drive-in movie theaters and soda shops, readers are drawn into a gritty 1980s noir as Richard tries to uncover the truth about the mysterious death of Arthur Fonzarelli.

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It’s October 1984, and Cunningham is having a really bad day. Having achieved some early success as a screenwriter in Hollywood, the now forty-something Richard hasn’t written a script anyone wants to buy in years.

Later that same day he gets a phone call with even worse news. His best friend from childhood back in Milwaukee, back when everyone called him Richie, is dead. Arthur Fonzarelli. The Fonz. Lost control of his motorcycle while crossing a bridge and plummeted into the water below. Two days of searching and still no body, no trace of his trademark leather jacket.

Richard flies back for the memorial service, only to discover that Fonzie’s death was no accident—it was murder. With the help of his old pals Ralph Malph and Potsie Weber, he sets out to catch the killer. Who it turns out to be is shocking. So is the story’s final twist.

When Richard travels back to his Wisconsin hometown for the memorial, he quickly finds himself drawn into a mystery surrounding his late friend—whose death may not have been an accident after all. In a time when reboots are all the rage, the fast-paced and nostalgic Who Killed the Fonz? is an ingenious twist on a beloved classic.

Who Killed The Fonz? imagines what happened to the characters of the legendary TV series Happy Days twenty years after the show left off. And while much has changed in the interim—goodbye drive-in movie theaters, hello VCRs—the story centers around the same timeless themes as the show: the meaning of family. The significance of friendship. The importance of community.

Author James Boice captures the bighearted charm of the original Happy Days, while expertly weaving in darker elements and more serious themes, like the challenge of staying connected to one’s roots and what happens when you leave home behind.