Category Archives: Books

“Goats of Anarachy” is fun, fun, fun! And we are not kidding.

We don’t kid you when we tell you to save the date.

Case in point: On October 2,  Rock Point USA releases Peace, Love,  Goats of Anarachy: How My Little Goats Taught Me Huge Lessons about Life ($19.99 US).

The backstory?

In April of 2014 Leanne Lauricella’s life changed forever. That’s when she left a lucrative corporate gig in Madhattan and brought home two baby twin goats, Jax and Opie, to her New Jersey home. Driven by a passion to help animals in need, and a growing fascination with goats, Goats of Anarachy was born.

By December 2014 Lauricella traded her high-heels for boots, her Mercedes for a pick-up truck, and her life’s work began in earnest. On her first day after quitting her job Instagram featured a photo of her goats on their home page, and almost immediately 30,000 followers was the result–the Goats of Anarchy phenomenon had officially begun.

Liberated goats, many with special needs, and freed from abandonment or mistreatment, find a home at Lauricella’s New Jersey sanctuary and barely four years later, Goats of Anarchy is an inspiring sensation with over 565,000 followers at Instagram.

Many of the goats have become stars themselves and the passionate and fast-growing online following check in for a daily dose of goat antics, talents, and personalities mixed with tribulation, rehab, and rescue.

Lauricella’s story, and what her goats have taught her, is the genesis for her inspiring new book,  It’s part humor, part memoir of living with goats, and part testament to the power of giving back. The book covers the inside story of how Lauricella found herself drawn to these wonderful animals, how suddenly saving her first goats gave her a clear sense of what her purpose was and how she founded Goats of Anarchy. Lauricella details how she got through the difficult and often sad times in caring for her goats and building a farm sanctuary. She provides insight into the lessons she learned, sharing heartwarming stories of how her goats have taught her about compassion, finding purpose, perseverance, confidence, justice, patience, inspiration, mercy, strength and courage.

 

Two great new kids’ books no one will try and weasel out of reading

We refuse to weasel out of such exciting news.
We just learned about the World of the Weasel, a new picture book series about a young boy and his pet weasel who injects excitement into the boy’s quiet life and helps stimulate his imagination.

These are not your grandmother’s picture books. No Dick and Jane.
Filled with rich illustrations for younger kids and great vocabulary words for budding readers, World of the Weasel books are ideal for kids ages 4 through 10 and the adults who read with them. Visually appealing illustrations and amusing Boy and Weasel adventures create an imaginative and engaging story for readers…young and old.
There are two books so far. Once Upon a Weasel is the first book in the  series from authors Salvo Lavis and James Munn and illustrator Dave Leonard.  They are pretty savvy, smart guys, with talent for words and art.
WILD WILD WEASEL cover 1000w
New this year: Wild Wild Weasel. Space travel was a breeze compared to their latest challenge: obedience school. But can a weasel be trained? Find out what happens when wild animals go to school, just like kids.
Find out more @ worldoftheweasel.com

 

Stars keep shining all-year with the delicious “Hollywood Beach Beauties: Sea Sirens, Sun Goddesses, and Summer Style” 

Summer may be winding down, but nothing still sizzling is the delicious and sexy Hollywood Beach Beauties: Sea Sirens, Sun Goddesses, and Summer Style 1930-1970 (Dey Street Books, $30).

Renowned independent curator and photographic preservationist David Wills commemorates the golden age of Hollywood and beloved starlets of the past with a book that must be in every film fan’s library.

Joan Crawford on Waikiki Beach, Hawaii, 1949

With more than 100 vibrant color photographs this book commemorates both the allure and joy of the coastline as well as the women of the stage and silver screen who spent time there. Inside the book, you will find candid and stylish photographs of movie star greats such as Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot, Sharon Tate, Edy Williams, Linda Christian, Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford and Nancy Sinatra.

We don’t always remember these icons from this carefree and sun-soaked perspective, and this book is the perfect keepsake for those who love the beach, old Hollywood, summer fashion, and glamour.

Don Graham takes a “Giant” and riveting look into the film that takes a wide-angle look of America

As I was doing research for my new book, Judy Garland Slept Here (to be published in September 2019 by Running Press), I read a most fascinating book which I dug into earlier: Giant: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Edna Ferber, and the Making of a Legendary American Film (St. Martin’s Press; $27.99). Don Graham takes 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.

Isolating his star cast in the wilds of West Texas in the summer of 1955, director George Stevens brought together a volatile mix of egos, anxieties, sexual tensions and talent. Stevens certainly had his hands full with Hudson’s latent insecurities, Taylor’s high diva-dom, and Dean’s rebellious antics. Yet he coaxed performances out of them that made cinematic history, winning Stevens the Academy Award for Best Director and garnering nine other nominations, including a nomination for Best Actor for James Dean, who died before the film was finished.

In this compelling and impeccably researched narrative history of the making of the film, Graham chronicles the stories of Stevens, whose trauma from witnessing the horrors of World War II intensified his ambition to make films that would tell the story of America; of Edna Ferber, a considerable literary celebrity who meets her match in the imposing Robert Kleberg, proprietor of the vast King Ranch; and of Glenn McCarthy, the Errol Flynn lookalike who became the most famous wildcatter in Texas history and the builder of Houston’s grand Shamrock Hotel.

Drawing on archival sources, Graham’s book is a comprehensive depiction of the film’s production, showing readers how reality became fiction and fiction became cinema.

Want to know a secret? here’s a look at some new books for a new year, from W.W. Norton

Whenever we hear great news, we like to share it. Here, a sampling of the must-read, must-read titles coming from W.W. Norton next year. Why are are telling you so early? So you have save the bucks given to you throughout the holidays and then cash in on them! You’re welcome.

Bluff City: The Secret Life of Photographer Ernest Withers
By Preston Lauterbach (on sale January 15, 2019)
The little-known story of an iconic photographer, Ernest Withers, whose work captured and influenced a critical moment in American history.

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 From his position at the heart of the cultural revolution, Withers took some of the most legendary images of the ’50s and 60s: Martin Luther King Jr. riding a newly integrated bus in Montgomery, Alabama; Emmett Till’s uncle pointing an accusatory finger across the courtroom at his nephew’s killer. From Black Power meetings to raucous Memphis nightclubs where Elvis brushed shoulders with B.B. King, Withers was simultaneously gathering information for the FBI. In this gripping narrative history, Preston Lauterbach examines the complicated political and economic forces that supported Withers’ seeming betrayal of those he witnessed.

Team Human
By Douglas Rushkoff (on sale January 22, 2019)
Our technologies, markets, and institutions often contain an anti-human agenda. Douglas Rushkoff, digital theorist and host of the Team Human podcast, reveals how forces for human connection have turned into ones of isolation and repression: robots taking our jobs, algorithms directing our attention, and social media undermining our democracy.
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But all is not lost. It’s time for Team Human to take a stand, regenerate the social bonds that define us and, together, make a positive impact on this earth.

Good to Go: What the Athlete in All of Us Can Learn from the Strange Science of Recovery
By Christie Aschwanden (on sale February 5, 2019)
An eye-opening, myth-busting exploration of how the human body can best recover and adapt to sports and fitness training.

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In Good to Go, acclaimed FiveThirtyEight science writer Christie Aschwanden takes readers on an entertaining and enlightening tour through the pseudoscience behind the latest sports recovery trends, products and services, providing answers to the fundamental question: Do any of them actually help the body recover and achieve peak performance?

Sounds Like Titanic: A Memoir
By Jessica Hindman (on sale February 12, 2019)
When aspiring violinist Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman lands a job with a professional ensemble, it is a lifelong dream come true. But the ensemble proves to be a sham—when the group “performs,” the microphones are never on. Instead, the music blares from a CD that sounds suspiciously like the Titanic soundtrack.

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With vulnerability, humor, and sharp insight into ambition and gender, Hindman tells a surreal coming-of-age story that perfectly articulates the anxieties and illusions of her generation. As Sounds Like Titanic swells to a crescendo, it gives voice to the failed promises of a nation that takes comfort in false realities.

Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen
By Mary Norris (on sale April 2, 2019)
The beloved Comma Queen returns with a buoyant and charming book about language, love, and the wine-dark sea. In Greek to Me, Mary Norris delivers another wise and witty paean to the art of expressing oneself clearly and convincingly, this time filtered through her greatest passion: all things Greek.

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 Filled with Norris’s memorable encounters with Greek words, Greek gods, Greek wine—and more than a few Greek waiters—Greek to Me is the Comma Queen’s fresh take on Greece and the exotic yet strangely familiar language that so deeply influences our own.

September’s chapter of sizzling Simon & Schuster must-have, must-read books

John Kerry tells the story of his remarkable American life—from son of a diplomat to decorated Vietnam veteran, five-term United States senator, 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, and Secretary of State for four years—a revealing memoir by a witness to some of the most important events of our recent history. Every Day is Extra ($35) is John Kerry’s candid personal story. A Yale graduate, Kerry enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1966, and served in Vietnam. He returned home highly decorated but disillusioned, and testified powerfully before Congress as a young veteran opposed to the war. Kerry served as a prosecutor in Massachusetts, then as lieutenant governor, and was elected to the Senate in 1984, eventually serving five terms. In 2004 he was the Democratic presidential nominee and came within one state—Ohio—of winning. Kerry returned to the Senate, chaired the important Foreign Relations Committee, and succeeded Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State in 2013. In that position he tried to find peace in the Middle East; dealt with the Syrian civil war while combatting ISIS; and negotiated the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement.
Every Day Is ExtraEvery Day is Extra  shows Kerry for the dedicated, witty, and authentic man that he is, and provides forceful testimony for the importance of diplomacy and American leadership to address the increasingly complex challenges of a more globalized world.

 

Best-selling author, Pulitzer Prize winner and “America’s Historian-in-Chief”, Doris Kearns Goodwin has written a fascinating book, Leadership: In Turbulent Times ($30), is a culmination of five decades of work in presidential history.

Combining her signature storytelling with essential lessons from four of our nation’s presidents—Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson—Goodwin shows how they recognized leadership qualities within themselves and were recognized as leaders by other. She explores their unique journeys to as they navigated and grew through adversity, and she analyzes how they emerged to confront the challenges and contours of their times. Are leaders born or made? Where does ambition come from? How does adversity affect the growth of leadership? Does the leader make the times or do the times make the leader? This seminal work provides an accessible and indispensable road map for aspiring and established leaders in every field. In today’s polarized world, these stories of authentic leadership in times of apprehension and fracture take on a singular urgency.

Uproarious, highly anticipated, and yes, totally fake, The Mueller Report: The Leaked Investigation into President Donald Trump and His Inner Circle of Con Men, Circus Clowns, and Children  ($16) shares with the American public the findings of  Mueller’s investigation into the election of asshole known as Alfred Frump, leaked to the Very Biased and Highly Unemployed comedy writer Jason O. Gilbert by an anonymous source known only as “Melania T.”

The Mueller Report: The Leaked Investigation into President Donald Trump and His Inner Circle of Con Men, Circus Clowns, and Children He Named After Himself by [Gilbert, Jason O.]

This is a hoot,  a hilarious inventory of the dirt, grime and Big Mac crumbs that the special counsel has collected on President Trump during his months of investigation. Filled with interview transcripts, intercepted phone calls, incriminating emails, text exchanges, ALL-CAPS TRUMP TWEETS WITH SPELING ERRORS, and more, it whisks readers from the leaky White House to an even leakier Ritz-Carlton hotel room in Moscow, from Donald Trump Jr.’s covert meeting with Russians in Trump Tower to Michael Cohen’s secret sale of a Trump Tower apartment to a shell corporation called Oligarch LLC. And, for the first time, you’ll find out what really happened in that Moscow Ritz-Carlton hotel room between Donald Trump and two well-hydrated Russian escorts. NOT GOOD!

Provocative and compelling, “Kafka’s Last Trial” is a riveting read, a brilliant meditation on cultural ownership and national identity

When Franz Kafka died from tuberculosis at 40 in 1924, he left one last instruction to his closest friend and confidant, the celebrated author Max Brod: Burn [my] remaining manuscripts, diaries, and letters unread.

Brod did not follow the request.

Instead of destroying Kafka’s manuscripts, Brod devoted the rest of his life to canonizing Kafka as the most prescient writer of the twentieth century.

In Kafka Last Trial: The Case of a Literary Legacy (W. W. Norton & Company, $26.95 hardcover) Benjamin Balint, one of our most perceptive and engaging scholars of Jewish literature, tells the tale of the fate of Kafka’s works—from Max Brod’s harrowing escape to Palestine with the manuscripts as Nazi invaders closed in  on Czechoslovakia in 1939, to a gripping account of the contentious international legal battle over the ownership of Kafka’s oeuvre, which reached its climax in Israel’s high court in 2016.

In addition to the gripping legal drama, the book doubles as a first-rate biography of both Kafka and Brod. Balint details the course of their heady friendship, marked by Kafka’s introversion and self-scrutiny and Brod’s exuberance. Brod was a critic, novelist, translator, and a seminal figure in the group of intellectuals known in the early years of the twentieth century as the “Prague Circle,” and Balint illuminates how the literary debates and disputes in taste between Kafka and Brod animated much of Kafka’s own writing. Despite the lackluster reception of Kafka’s early works, Brod worshipped Kafka and was the first to recognize his literary genius. This recognition led Brod to betray his friend’s dying wish and preserve for the world such foundational works of literary modernism at The Castle, The Trial, Kafka’s diaries, and the harrowing Letter to His Father.

With compassion, wit, and erudition, Balint unpacks the complicated trial—dense with dilemmas legal, ethical and political, and filled with surreal ironies worthy of the term “Kafkaesque.” The case pitted three powers in the struggle for the legacy: the National Library
of Israel, which asserted that Kafka’s work belonged in the Jewish homeland; the deep-pocketed German Literature Archive in Marbach, which had been negotiating to purchase the estate of
Max Brod—and therefore the materials left behind by Kafka; and the elusive Eva Hoffe, who had inherited Kafka’s estate from her mother, Esther Hoffe, Brod’s secretary and erstwhile
lover. When the dust of the case settled, only one of these parties would be granted the literary legacy of this cryptic genius.
Balint also reveals Kafka as a man inhabiting a borderland between cultures—steeped in German literature and culture, but also fascinated by Zionism, by the Hebrew language, and by Yiddish theatre. Balint situates Kafka’s life and cultural heritage within the larger strains of the cultural diaspora, revealing the motives behind Israel’s insistence on laying claim to Kafka’s manuscripts.

Provocative and compelling, Kafka’s Last Trial is the definitive account of this captivating and tortuous case, as well as a brilliant meditation on cultural ownership and national identity.

Five hot new books from Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, worthy of another round

Applause! Applause!

A marvelous crop of new books published by Applause Theatre & Cinema Books.

Made in Mexico: Hollywood South of the Border
 ($19.99)
For more than a century, directors from both sides of the border have chosen Mexico as the location to create their cinematic art, leaving an indelible imprint on the imaginations of moviegoers and filmmakers worldwide. Now, for the first time, this tome presents a comprehensive examination of more than one hundred Hollywood theatrical feature films made in Mexico between 1914 and the present day.

Made in Mexico

Lavishly illustrated throughout, Made in Mexico examines how Hollywood films depicted Mexico and how Mexico represented itself in relation to the films shot on location. It pulls back the curtain on how Hollywood filmmakers influenced Mexican films and Mexican filmmakers influenced Hollywood.


Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz, from Godspell to Wicked ($29.99)
From his writing of Godspell‘s score at age 23 through the making of the megahit musical Wicked and beyond, Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz, from Godspell to Wicked takes readers into the world of the legendary Broadway and film composer-lyricist. In this authorized biography, drawing from her interviews with Schwartz and his collaborators, author Carol de Giere focuses on the behind-the-scenes stories for Schwartz’s hits and disappointing flops.

Defying Gravity

Readers will find colorful anecdotes and insights for his licensed musicals Children of EdenPippin, Working, and others. Defying Gravity also includes Hollywood stories, beginning with a new foreword by composer Alan Menken.


Accidentally Like a Martyr: The Tortured Art of Warren Zevon ($24.99)
Warren Zevon songs are like chapters in a great American novel. Its story lies in the heart of his–and our–psyche. The lines are blurred. We never seem to know if we are looking in a mirror or peering through a window; we only know that when we listen we see something.

Accidentally Like a Martyr

The music sets the scene – his voice a striking baritone, its narrator our guide through a labyrinth of harrowing narratives. The plot unfolds without subtlety; each musical and lyrical arc awakens imagination.


Stowaway Ukulele Revealed: Richard Konter & the Byrd Polar Expeditions is the unlikely and compelling story of a globe-trotting, ukulele-strumming, Brooklyn sailor named Richard Konter and his famous autographed instrument. At the height of the ukulele craze, Konter was a go-to arranger for Tin Pan Alley composers and publishers.
In 1926, Konter shipped out as a member of the crew of the Byrd Arctic Expedition. As a riveted world followed their progress (and that of their arch-rival, Roald Amundsen, the world’s greatest polar explorer), Konter managed to get his ukulele aboard Byrd’s plane for the first successful polar flight.

A Stowaway Ukulele RevealedA keen contributor to history in the making, Konter managed to obtain the autographs of more than 150 individuals, both famous and unknown, all of whom respected the importance of Konter’s North Pole ukulele. Later, Konter accompanied Byrd to Antarctica and later married, for the first time at age 80, the love of his life.
For the first time,  details the marvelously diverse cast of characters who autographed this little instrument, presenting mini-biographies and photographs to illustrate the interconnected web of lives brought together by Konter.


“Other people locked themselves away and hid from their demons. Townes flung open his door and said, ‘Come on in.’” So writes Harold Eggers, Townes Van Zandt’s longtime road manager and producer, in My Years with Townes Van Zandt: Music, Genius, and Rage ($29.99)– a gripping memoir revealing the inner core of an enigmatic troubadour, whose deeply poetic music was a source of inspiration and healing for millions but was for himself a torment struggling for dominance among myriad personal demons.

My Years with Townes Van ZandtTownes Van Zandt often stated that his main musical mission was to “write the perfect song that would save someone’s life.” However, his life was a work in progress he was constantly struggling to shape and comprehend. Eggers says of his close friend and business partner that “like the master song craftsman he was, he was never truly satisfied with the final product but always kept giving it one more shot, one extra tweak, one last effort.”

A vivid, firsthand account exploring the source of the singer’s prodigious talent, widespread influence, and relentless path toward self-destruction, My Years with Townes Van Zandt presents the truth of that all-consuming artistic journey told by a close friend watching it unfold.

“Tinderbox” is a riveting, important look at the true story of the fire that devastated the New Orleans gay community and ignited a national movement

When news of the Pulse nightclub shooting hit in 2016, several media outlets referred to a devastating predecessor: The Up Stairs Lounge fire of 1973. In Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation (Liveright Publishing , $26.95), Robert Fieseler reveals the true story of the fire that devastated the gay community of New Orleans and ignited a national movement.

A longstanding haven for an underground blue collar gay scene and members of the gay-friendly Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), the Up Stairs Lounge protected its patrons from a New Orleans that was—despite a flamboyant reputation—dismissive of gay rights at best. Run since 1970 by the beloved, openly “out” Buddy Rasmussen, the Lounge was famous for its routine Sunday “Beer Busts” following MCC services. On Sunday, June 24, 1973, as crowds on both coasts marched in memory of Stonewall, a vengeful hustler set fire to the Lounge, trapping its patrons in a horrific inferno.

In a landmark feat of historical detection undertaken during a year and a half spent in New Orleans, journalist Robert W. Fieseler here recovers the firsthand testimonies of survivors, witnesses, and relatives; through Fieseler’s interviews, it becomes painfully clear that it is only now, decades later, that these survivors feel willing to claim this story—a story that no one dared touch for so long.

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For even more horrifying than the fire itself was the reaction (or lack thereof) that followed. Neither Mayor Moon Landrieu nor Governor Edwin Edwards offered a statement of sympathy for the 32 victims and their families; news coverage shied away from describing the Lounge as a gay hangout (Roy Reed’s report for New York Times was the sole exception), and the New Orleans Police Department investigation was eventually abandoned due to carelessness and disinterest. When local news coverage did hit, a full list of those affected by the fire were effectively “outed.” Some survivors lost their jobs and were forced to flee to other cities, while many victims’ families felt reluctant to claim the bodies of their loved ones.

But while things stayed mum in New Orleans, an ad-hoc national support network descended on the city to institute a national fund-raising operation through the help of gay activist groups, religious networks, and relief organizations. As Fieseler traces so movingly in these pages, this was the first national campaign of its kind, effectively uniting the Gay Liberation in a very public appeal. At least 46 cities across the country observed a national day of mourning for victims on Sunday, July 1, 1973. Still—national media, from the New York Times to the Los Angeles Times, refused to cover these observances.

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In Tinderbox, Fieseler embraces the untouchable, memorializing these forgotten victims with the humanity and respect they so deserve.

Bianca Del Rio’s new book is anything but a drag

Bianca Del Rio—the dimple-cheeked, larger-than-life drag queen and outrageous comic who isn’t afraid to shock and offend—brings her trademark acerbic wit and sharp commentary to the page in the wacky and delightful Blame It on Bianca Del Rio (Dey Street Books , $21.99)

When it comes to insult comics, Bianca Del Rio—otherwise known as Roy Haylock—is in a class by herself. Fierce, funny, and fabulous, Bianca sandblasted her name in the annals of pop culture on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Thanks to her snarky frankness, impeccable comedic timing, and politically incorrect humor, she became the show’s breakout star, winning its sixth season. Dubbed the “Joan Rivers of the Drag World” (The New York Times), there isn’t anything Bianca is afraid to say.

In her debut book, fans can expect classic Bianca delivering an uproarious collection of “advice” and no-hold-barred commentary on topics including romance, health, friendship, sex, family, style, work, and more. Hilarious and unfiltered, the book offers nuggets of wisdom hidden among biting wit (because despite all her bark, Bianca will still loan you her waist-cincher).

Including a collection of vibrant photos from Bianca’s twisted universe, Blame It on Bianca Del Rio is a hilarious treasure trove of advice that will shock and keep readers returning for laughs.

Be warned: it is not for the faint of heart.