Category Archives: Books

The life of apostle Paul is told in N.T. Wright’s definitive “Paul: A Biography”

For heaven’s sake, this is a great new book!

In the definitive Paul: A Biography (HarperOne, $29.99)renowned Bible scholar, Anglican bishop and bestselling author N. T. Wright offers a radical look at the apostle Paul, one of the most important figures in Christianity. The book illuminates the humanity and remarkable achievements of this outstanding intellectual who largely invented Christian theology—transforming a faith and changing the world.

For centuries, Paul, the apostle who “saw the light on the Road to Damascus” and was transformed from zealous Pharisee persecutor to devoted follower of Christ, has been one of the church’s most widely cited teachers, Paul is responsible for the earliest writings from within the Christian movement.  While his influence on Christianity has been profound, Wright argues that Bible scholars and pastors have focused so much attention on Paul’s letters and theology that they have too often overlooked the essence of the man’s life and the extreme unlikelihood of what he achieved.

To Wright, “The problem is that Paul is central to any understanding of earliest Christianity, yet Paul was a Jew; for many generations Christians of all kinds have struggled to put this together.” Wright contends that our knowledge of Paul and appreciation for his legacy cannot be complete without an understanding of his Jewish heritage. Giving us a thoughtful, in-depth exploration of the human and intellectual drama that shaped Paul, Wright provides greater clarity on the apostle’s writings, thoughts, and ideas and helps us see them in a fresh, innovative way.

In Paul, Wright reveals:

  • Why we think of Paul as a “religious” figure, but this is a modern mistake. Of course, worship, prayer, and spirituality were central to his life, but he was a public intellectual with an agenda to transform the world and a philosophy to back it up. 
  • Paul was thus a figure much more like Rousseau, or Marx, or Vaclav Havel, than Billy Graham. He had glimpsed in Jesus a new way of being human together, and he worked tirelessly to make it happen.
  •  How for Paul there was no such thing as “Christianity” in the sense of a “religion” different from “Judaism.” What mattered was that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead had shown him to be Israel’s Messiah and the world’s Lord: a Jewish message for the wider world. 
  • How Paul stood at the confluence of three great cultures: the Jewish world with its passionate monotheism; the Greek world with its subtle philosophy; the Roman world with its all-powerful empire. Paul believed that Jesus, not Caesar, was “Lord”; he saw that in Jesus there was a new way to think; he believed that, in Jesus, the One God of Israel had done what he’d promised, rescuing his people and the world. He held these together in a powerful, radical new combination. 
  • Some of Paul’s philosophical contemporaries believed that the point was “to go to heaven when you die.” That was never Paul’s position. He believed in new creation, a new world of space, time, and matter formed by God’s spirit rescuing and transforming the present world. 
  • Paul’s message to individuals was that they could become part of this new world here and now – if they gave up worshipping the non-gods of the pagan world and behaving accordingly (“sin”). As Messiah, Jesus had died on behalf of Israel and the world, and whatever “past” anyone had could be forgiven. 
  • Paul founded communities of forgiven sinners whose only membership badge was “faith”: faith in “the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” This meant, shockingly, that people of all sorts and backgrounds were on exactly equal terms, supporting one another in living the new-human way. 
  • What drove Paul above all was the sense that in Jesus the One Creator God had revealed his utter, radical, unbreakable love. For Paul, this meant a debt of love which only love could repay, love for God and practical, resourceful love for people. 

Paulis a compelling modern biography that reveals the apostle’s greater role in Christian history—as an inventor of new paradigms for how we understand Jesus and what he accomplished—and celebrates his stature as one of the most effective and influential intellectuals in human history.

“Pink Floyd: Album By Album” will rock and roll fans

Pink Floyd fans will fly to the dark side of the moon with Pink Floyd: Album By Album (Voyageur Press, $30),  a stunning and unique look back at their discography. Author Martin Popoff’s work features in-depth, frank and entertaining conversations about all the band’s studio albums, including their soundtrack efforts and the instrumental/ambient The Endless River. He moderates discussions on each album with rock journalists and musicians, including legendary Genesis and solo guitarist Steve Hackett, original Alice Cooper bassist Dennis Dunaway, and Marillion guitarist Steve Rothery, all offering insights, opinions, and anecdotes about every release.

Together, the conversations comprise a unique historical overview of the band, covering everything from early albums with the iconic Syd Barrett to the songwriting tandem of Roger Waters and David Gilmour; the impeccable talents of drummer Nick Mason and multi-instrumentalist Richard Wright; those mega tours undertaken in support of the albums; the monster success of breakthrough LP Dark Side of the Moon; interpersonal conflict; the band following Waters’ 1985 departure; and much more.

Popoff also includes sidebars that provide complete track listings, album personnel, and studios and dates. Every page is illustrated with thoughtfully curated performance and offstage photography, as well as rare memorabilia.  Pink Floyd fans will discover so much about the legendary band it’s likely they won’t look at–or listen to–Pink Floyd the same way after reading this book.

“The Wonderful Mr. Willughby: The First True Ornithologist” soars

From the acclaimed author of Bird Sense and The Most Perfect Thing, Tim Birkhead, flies high with his The Wonderful Mr. Willughby: The First True Ornithologist (Bloomsbury, $27 hardcover), a biography of the man who pulled the study of birds out of the dark ages and formed the foundations of modern ornithology.

For the first time, Willughby’s story and genius are given
the attention they deserve. He lived during the rapidly accelerating scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, at a time when scholars’ conceptions of science and nature were drastically shifting
and previous conceptions were being critically scrutinized. Studying at Cambridge, Willughby was invigorated by this revolution, and after graduation he devoted his time to his particular fascination with birds, carefully differentiating them through identification of their distinguishing features.

Soon he set off on the Grand Tour in Europe with his Cambridge tutor John Ray, making stops to examine native species
and view prominent specimen collections. It was on this trip that the two men were inspired to embark on an overhaul of the whole of natural history, in an attempt to impose order on its messiness and complexity. But before their first book, Ornithology, could be completed, Willughby died. In the centuries since, Ray’s reputation has grown, obscuring that of his collaborator.

In his too-short life, Willughby helped found the Royal Society of London, and made discoveries and asked questions that were, in some cases, centuries ahead of their time. His findings and his approach to his work continue to be relevant—and revelatory—today.  Birkhead describes and celebrates how Willughby’s endeavors set a standard for the way birds—and indeed the whole of natural history—should be studied.

A “Cunt” that’s as good as it was 20 years ago. No, not that cunt!

Twenty years after the publication of this feminist classic, Inga Muscio returns with a modern update to the original female empowerment manifesto.

The fully revised Cunt, 20th Anniversary Edition (Seal Press, $17.99) explores feminist issues old and new—with a fresh perspective for a new generation of women. Topics include:

  • Defining and reclaiming cunt in 2018
  • The importance of an intersectional feminist approach that examines issues of race and class alongside gender
  • Trans-inclusionary feminism and why genitals don’t define womanhood
  • The danger of competition and negativity between women
  • Tactics for seizing reproductive control
  • The history of whoredom and why sex workers deserve respect

With three sections, “The Word,” “The Anatomical Jewel” and “Reconciliation” as well as reading and listening lists to continue the conversation, this new edition of Cunt invites a new generation of feminists to explore and embrace their inherent power.

New bio of Madeleine L’Engle, “I’m painting a portrait of one of the spiritual giants,” says author

Lauren Bacall once told us that she earned her own of her wrinkles. She called them her “time lines”.

Wonder if she ever read Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time? The author was known for her fascinating perspectives on science, art, story and faith. She was also a lightning rod for controversy—too Christian for some, too unorthodox for others. Somewhere in the middle was a complex woman whose embrace of paradox continues to be a beacon for generations of readers struggling to reconcile faith and science, art and religion, sacred and secular.

In A Light So Lovely: The Spiritual Legacy of Madeleine L’Engle, Author of A Wrinkle in Time, (Zondervan, $19.99) Sarah Arthur explores L’Engle’s spirituality and what her story means for each of us, now, in our own unique moment and within a larger narrative. Arthur recounts stories about L’Engle from friends and family as well as interviews with writers and thinkers who have been profoundly shaped by L’Engle’s writing.
“I’m painting a portrait of one of the spiritual giants who has gone before us,” writes Arthur. “And I’m encouraging a new generation of readers to seek and trust her as a spiritual guide. To borrow imagery from A Wrinkle in Time, we’re Meg Murry and she’s Mrs. Whatsit, traveling through time to challenge and encourage us.”

Arthur traces L’Engle’s spiritual journey through seven key movements including her self-proclaimed lonely childhood, her fascination with science and faith, her writings as a whole—specifically A Wrinkle in Time—and her influence on generations of artists who now embrace art as a spiritual vocation. Arthur also explores L’Engle’s paradoxical propensity to blur fact and fiction, and the impact of that tendency on her closest relationships.

Charlotte Jones Voiklis, L’Engle’s youngest granddaughter and literary executor, penned the foreword for A Light So Lovely.  In it she recalls crying the first time Sarah interviewed her. “We talked about my grandmother’s life: her habits, milestones and challenges, and what we each knew to be her impact on others. As we spoke, what moved me to tears was Sarah’s willingness to look at Madeleine and accept her as a full and flawed human being; an icon and iconoclast, not an idol.”

For a new generation that has known nothing but the increasingly polarized and contentious climate of contemporary religious discourse, L’Engle’s embrace of paradox is a welcome path forward. Arthur writes, “Let’s strike a match, light a candle. Let’s illuminate the life and legacy of this extraordinary woman such that we experience both the grace and the struggle that helped her share a generation and beyond. Because ultimately, it’s not her own light we’re drawn to, but the light of Christ she lifted up, however imperfectly, to the world. By knowing her better, we might better understand our own particular darknesses, in this unique chapter of American history, and how we’re called to be light-bearers too.”

BEST BEACH BOOKS FOR JUNE: SCIENCE, POLITICS AND MORE MOVIE STARS (PART TWO)

Fifteen years after The Devil Wears Prada was published, Lauren Weisberger revisits one of her favorite characters from the novel—Emily Charlton, first assistant to Miranda Priestly, now a highly successful image consultant who has just landed the client of a lifetime. She’s working in Hollywood as an image consultant to the stars, but recently, Emily’s lost a few clients. She’s hopeless with social media. The new guard is nipping at her heels. She needs a big opportunity, and she needs it now.When Life Gives You Lululemons Karolina Hartwell is as A-list as they come. She’s the former face of L’Oreal. A mega-supermodel recognized the world over. And now, the gorgeous wife of the newly elected senator from New York, Graham, who also has his eye on the presidency. It’s all very Kennedy-esque, right down to the public philandering and Karolina’s arrest for a DUI—with a Suburban full of other people’s children. We can’t reveal more because we just pissed in pour pants. It’s that funny!

Now we know why Ronan Farrow won a Pulitzer. In War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence (W. W. Norton & Company, $27.95), he reveals how America is becoming a nation that shoots first and asks questions later. Or never. And while this is a new extreme, Farrow shows us it is not unprecedented. Herr Adolph Frump is putting his foot onto the throat of a diplomatic enterprise that has been weakening for decades—and history tells us that the consequences could be catastrophic. The book brings the State Department into vivid focus, as Farrow personalizes epic events and offers an account of American statecraft at once conversational and trenchant. War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American InfluenceHe provides readers with a page-turning, character-driven narrative, using the personal stories of
those whose lives were affected—and sometimes destroyed—by the decline of American diplomacy to shed light on this unsung transformation in America’s place in the world. War on Peace  contains interviews with every former secretary of state alive; Farrow also unearths previously secret documents and speaks with hundreds of insiders—from whistleblowers to ambassadors to generals, spies, and warlords—to reveal how the power to make foreign policy slipped from America’s civilian diplomats and into the hands of its uniformed officers, the consequences around the world, and what might be done to change
course.

Nikola Tesla invented the radio, the induction motor, the neon lamp, and the remote control. His scientific discoveries made possible X-ray technology, wireless communications, and radar, and he predicted the Internet and even the smart watch. His image appears on stamps;Life magazine lists him as one of the one hundred most famous people of the last millennium. 

And yet, his contemporaries and fellow inventors Thomas Edison and Guglielmo Marconi achieved far greater commercial success and popular recognition. In Tesla: Inventor of the Modern [W. W. Norton & Company, $26.95 hardcover], Richard Munson asks whether Tesla’s eccentricities eclipsed his genius. Ultimately, he delivers an enthralling biography that illuminates every facet of Tesla’s life while justifying his stature as the most original inventor of the late nineteenth century.

In Giant: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Edna Ferber, and the Making of a Legendary American Film  (St. Martin’s Press; $27.99)  Don Grahamoffers a larger-than-life narrative of the making of the classic film based on Edna Ferber’s controversial novel. Taking a wide-angle view of America—and Texas—in the Eisenhower era, Graham reveals how the film and its production mark the rise of America as a superpower, the ascent of Hollywood celebrity, and the flowering of Texas culture as mythology. Featuring James Dean, Rock Hudson, and Elizabeth Taylor, Giant dramatizes a family saga against the background of the oil industry and its impact upon ranching culture—think Spindletop Hill in Beaumont, Texas, and the fabled King Ranch in South Texas. Almost as good as the film.

In Inseparable: The Original Siamese Twins and Their Rendezvous with American History (Liveright, $28.95) Yunte Huang recounts the peculiar, and often ironic, rise of Chang and Eng from sideshow curiosity to Southern gentry—an unlikely story that exposes the foibles of a young republic eager to tyrannize and delight in the abnormal. Famous for their quick wit (they once refunded a one-eyed man half his ticket because he “couldn’t see as much as the others”), Chang and Eng became a nationwide sensation, heralded as living symbols of the humbugged freak.  Their unrivaled success quickened the birth of mass entertainment in America, leading to the minstrel show and the rise of showmen like P.T. Barnum.

And it is here that we encounter a twist. Miraculously, despite the 1790 Naturalization Act which limited citizenship to “free white persons” (until 1952), Chang and Eng became American citizens under the Superior Court of North Carolina. They then went on to marry two white sisters—Sarah and Adelaide Yates—and father 23 children despite the interracial marriage ban (in place until 1967). They owned 18 slaves and became staunch advocates for the Confederacy, so much so that their sons fought for the South during the Civil War. Huang reveals that it was perhaps their very “otherness” that worked for them: they were neither one individual, or quite two.

Forty-five years after Bruce Lee’s sudden death at 32, Matthew Polly has written the definitive account of Lee’s life. Following a decade of research, dozens of rarely seen photographs, and more than one hundred interviews with Lee’s family and friends, Bruce Lee: A Life (Simon & Schuster, $35) breaks down the myths surrounding Bruce Lee and delivers a complex, humane portrait of the icon.

The book  explores Lee’s early years: his career as a child star in Hong Kong cinema; his actor father’s struggles with opium addiction; his troublemaking teen years; and his beginnings as a martial arts instructor. Polly chronicles the trajectory of Lee’s acting career in Hollywood, from his frustration seeing role after role he auditioned for go to a white actors in eye makeup, to his eventual triumph as a leading man, to his challenges juggling a sky-rocketing career with his duties as a father and husband. Polly also sheds light on Bruce Lee’s shocking end—which is to this day is still shrouded in mystery—by offering an alternative theory behind his tragic demise.

When Henry Alford first wrote about his experience with a Zumba class, little did he realize that it was the start of something much bigger. Dance would grow and take on many roles for Henry: exercise, confidence builder, an excuse to travel, a source of ongoing wonder and—when he dances with Alzheimer’s patients—even a kind of community service.  Tackling a wide range of forms with gusto (including ballet, hip-hop, jazz, ballroom, tap, contact improvisation, swing), And Then We Danced: A Voyage into the Groove (Simon & Schuster, $26) takes us through the works and careers of luminaries ranging from Bob Fosse to George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp to Arthur Murray, Isadora Duncan to Savion Glover. Equal parts memoir and cultural history, this laugh-out-loud book will inform, entertain and leave readers tapping their toes.

 

Stop dishing out lunchtime $. Feast on “Lunchbox Salads: More than 100 Fast, Fresh, Filling Salads for Every Weekday”

Summertime . . . and the heat is on. The last thing anyone should worry about is food. Good food. Even great food. Our lives are so busy and fast-paced that buying a $12 salad for lunch seems almost reasonable in the name of health. But what if you can make a salad that’s just as good, if not better, at home—for a fraction of the cost? And what if there’s a way to bring it to work in a way that gets it there without dreaded wilted lettuce and soggy croutons?

Food for though: Lunchbox Salads: More than 100 Fast, Fresh, Filling Salads for Every Weekday(Da Capo Lifelong Books, $18.99) Naomi Twigden and Anna Pinder teach us what to keep on hand, how to construct a salad you’ll enjoy, and how to transport your masterpiece to the office.

All of the recipes are simple yet filling and are designed to keep hunger at bay and your energy high. Each takes no more than thirty minutes to prepare and requires no more than ten ingredients. Some of the highlights include:

  • Candied Miso Tomato Salad
  • Kale + Walnut Pesto Salad
  • Red Pepper + Fennel Quinoa Salad
  • Balsamic, Beet + Red Onion Salad
  • Smokey Broccoli + Bacon Salad
  • Eggplant + Almond Falafel Salad
  • Cabbage Caraway Chicken Salad
  • Ribboned Zucchini Salad with Thai Fishcakes

With full-color photos throughout and easy to follow vegetarian recipes (as well as tips for incorporating meat options), this cookbook contains fourteen sections, each with a different main ingredient ranging from carrots to cauliflower, sweet potatoes to squash. Sprinkled throughout are recipes for salad’s best friend, soup—including a delicious paprika-laced Green Bean Minestrone. The final section focuses on sauces and dressings—everything from a classic Buttermilk Caesar to a zingy Coconut-Lime. Typical healthy food can be boring and limiting, but Lunchbox Salads proves once and for all that iceberg and romaine aren’t the only options.

 

Best Beach Books for June: History, Horror and Movie Stars (Part One)

It’s been called “the publishing event of 2018.” With good reason.  Bill Clinton and James Patterson’s The President Is Missing (Knopf/Little,Brown $30) is a superlative thriller . . . one that can really happen, and one that must not be missed. The mystery confronts a threat so huge that it jeopardizes not just Pennsylvania Avenue and Wall Street, but all of America. Uncertainty and fear grip the nation. There are whispers of cyberterror and espionage and a traitor in the Cabinet. Even the President himself becomes a suspect, and then he disappears from public view.

Set over the course of three days, The President Is Missing sheds a stunning light upon the inner workings and vulnerabilities of our nation. Filled with information that only a former Commander-in-Chief could know, this is the most authentic, terrifying novel to come along in many years. And a timely, historic story that will be read-and talked about-for years to come.

A book about Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States, as a beach read? Absolutely. And much more entertaining than, say, a collection of Peanuts. In President Carter: The White House Years (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, $40) Stuart E. Eizenstat presents a comprehensive history of the Carter Administration, demonstrating that Carter was the most consequential modern-era one-term U.S. President. The book is behind-the-scenes account of a president who always strove to do what he saw as the right thing, while often disregarding the political repercussions.


In 1923, Mary Pickford and hubby Douglas Fairbanks, along with the “Beverly Hills Eight” Harold Lloyd, Rudolph Valentino, Will Rogers, Tom Mix, Fred Neblo and Conrad Nagel,  eight stars of the silver screen leveraged their fame to campaign against the annexation of Beverly Hills, the young city they called home, to Los Angeles. Their campaign was a success, and politics in the U.S. would never be the same again.The Battle for Beverly Hills: A City's Independence and the Birth of Celebrity Politics by [Clare, Nancie] For them, Beverly Hills was a refuge from Los Angeles and its relentless press. Instead of the larger, institutionally corrupt police force, Beverly Hills had a smaller, separate constabulary that was less likely to work hand in glove with the studios and more willing to look the other way at violations of the Prohibition Act.  In The Battle for Beverly Hills (St. Martin’s Press, $27.99) Nancie Clare reveals how the stars battled to keep their city free from the clutches of a rapacious Los Angeles and lay the groundwork for celebrity influence and political power. With a nuanced eye and fantastic storytelling, Clare weaves an irresistible tale of glamour, fame, gossip, and politics.


 Adventures of a Young Naturalist–The Zoo Quest Expeditions (Quercus, $26.99) is the story of those voyages. Staying with local tribes while trekking in search of giant anteaters in Guyana, Komodo dragons in Indonesia, and armadillos in Paraguay, he and the rest of the team contended with cannibal fish, aggressive tree porcupines, and escape-artist wild pigs, as well as treacherous terrain and unpredictable weather, to record the incredible beauty and biodiversity of these regions. Don’t take our word for it: Says Barack Obama of Attenborough: “A great educator as well as a great naturalist.”


Charles Manson. Swastika carved into his forehead. What a fucking monster. In the late summer of 1969, he and “family” brutally slayed of a actress Sharon Tate—26 years old and eight months pregnant with her first child—as well as other victims, including a hair stylist, a coffee heiress and a businessman. After months of dead-ends, false leads and near-misses, Charles Manson and members of his “family” were arrested.9780718092085, Hunting Charles Manson : The Quest for Justice in the Days of Helter Skelter, Lis Wiehl  Former federal prosecutor Lis Wiehl’s Hunting Charles Manson (Thomas Nelson, $26.99) is a historical thriller of the crimes and manhunt; in the process, she reveals how the social and political context that gave rise to Manson is eerily similar to our own.


Immortalized by Shakespeare as a hunchbacked murderer, Richard III is one of English history’s best known and least understood monarchs. In 2012 his skeleton was uncovered in a UK parking lot, reigniting debate about this divisive historical figure and sparked numerous articles, television programs and movies about his true character. Richard III: England's Most Controversial King by [Skidmore, Chris]In Richard III: England’s Most Controversial King (St. Martin’s Press, $29.99)  acclaimed historian Chris Skidmore has written the authoritative biography of a man alternately praised as a saint and cursed as a villain. Was he really a power-crazed monster who killed his nephews, or the victim of the first political smear campaign conducted by the Tudors?


When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Chief Inspector Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation. The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound and dumped in water around London. The Girl in the Ice (Grand Central Publishing; $12.99), Robert Bryndza’s  first book in the Detective Erika Foster series. Front CoverIn will take hold of you early on and won’t let up as the investigation ebbs and flows through suspects and suspense. The last investigation Erika led went badly wrong—resulting in the death of her husband—and with her career hanging by a thread, Erika must now battle her own personal demons as well as a killer more deadly than any she’s faced before. As Erika inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer begins closing in on her, but will she get to him before he strikes again?


Here,  first major biography of Tiger Woods—sweeping in scope and packed with groundbreaking, behind-the-scenes details of the Shakespearean rise and epic fall of an American icon. In 2009, Tiger Woods was the most famous athlete on the planet, a transcendent star of fame and fortune living what appeared to be the perfect life—married to a Swedish beauty, father of two young children, and at the peak of a brilliant athletic career. book coverWinner of 14 major golf championships and 79 PGA Tour events, Woods was the first billion-dollar athlete, earning more than $100 million a year in endorsements. But it was all a carefully crafted illusion. As it turned out, Woods had been living a double life for years—one that exploded in the aftermath of a Thanksgiving night crash that exposed his serial infidelity and sent his personal and professional life off a cliff. Tiger Woods (Simon & Schuster, $30) is based on three years of extensive research, and drawing on more than 400 interviews with people from every corner of Woods’s life.

You “auto” grab “Pontiac Trans Am” for the car connoisseur in your life?

Let us steer you to Pontiac Trans Am (Motorbooks, $40), a must-have tome that chronicles the car’s full history, from early days burning up both race tracks and Hollywood to its final days as the most potent muscle car made. Author Tom Glatch has done a revving good job.

The early ’60s saw American auto manufacturers desperately trying to sell cars to the emerging baby-boom market. Pontiac attained success with its original muscle car, the GTO, but as successful as the GTO was, it was handily outsold by Ford’s grand-slam home-run pony car, the Mustang. In response, Pontiac entered the pony car market in ’67 with its new Firebird, a model that became one of the most iconic cars of the classic muscle-car era.

Introduced for ’69, the Trans Am version Firebird became the standard bearer for automotive performance in the U.S. market and kept the muscle car flame alive throughout the dark years of the ’70s and led the charge when performance reemerged in the ’80s. When muscle cars became dormant for a generation it was once again the classic pony cars that jump started American performance.

The battle that raged between Firebird, Camaro and Mustang in the ’80s rejuvenated the U.S. auto industry’s interest in high-performance muscle cars and the Trans Am remained the most potent car of the lot until the bitter end. Pontiac Trans Am: 50 Years chronicles this ultimate version of the Firebird’s rich history, from the early attempts to reach the youth market in the early ’60s, through the potent and turbulent years of the classic muscle car era, the resurgence of muscle in the ’80s, to the car’s continued popularity in both the automotive world and in popular culture today.

Perhaps you ‘auto” grab one for the car connoisseur in your life?

Allow the noted writer to take you on a tour of his bathroom in “Henry Miller Asleep & Awake”

Think of Henry Miller Asleep & Awake (IndiePix Films) as a cinema verité “dear John”. The quiet ticking of a clock gives way to the stirrings and rumblings of a lump hidden under the blankets. Pajama-clad, the lump throws back the covers, stretches, groans and grumbles. He rises and goes to his mirror in a tiled room he knows well.

The man is literary legend Henry Miller, the author of the infamous, groundbreaking Tropic of Cancer, and the room is his bathroom. It’s a miraculous shrine covered with photos and drawings collected by Miller over the course of his long and fruitful life. Graciously, in his raspy, sonorous voice, he points out the highlights of his improvised gallery speaking on various Buddhas, Blaise Cendrars, Hieronymous Bosch and Gaugin; several Japanese writers; Hermann Hesse; a stone carving by Jung; women he found attractive; his tendency to hear “celestial music” in airplanes; the relationship between Zen and sex; the fact that “most writers don’t look so hot” (because they spend so much time alone); and the question of identity, which “harasses” him.
This portrait from Emmy-winning director Tom Schiller, filmed in 1973 when the author was 81, is a voyage of ideas about life, writing, sex, spirituality, nightmares, and New York that captures the warmth, vigor and high animal spirits of a singular American artist.