A collection of fifteen stories, Jean McGarry’s No Harm Done, depicts family life at its worst, best, and funniest, as if the author had conjoined the lunacy of Cold Comfort Farm with the bitter grievances of Dubliners. As the author writes in “Strong Boy,” this might be “…because every family, rich or poor, is roughage.”
The characters, gallant, goofy, gifted, and grim, include sickly mothers of a dozen children, boozy fathers with a gift of the gab, kids aspiring to be nuns and priests, or just to get out of town with a whole skin.
A section is devoted to one marriage made in heaven: a Jewish psychoanalyst devoted to his ex-nun wife. Another set of stories reworks familiar fairy tales, setting them in the wild present. No Harm Done (whose title is Irish code for wishful thinking) concludes with a truce to the war between the sexes, and indeed a ‘solution’ to the tragicomedy that is marriage and family.
From the award-winning author of Music Through the Floor and Model Home, a riveting and profoundly moving story collection by a writer “uncannily in tune with the heartbreak and absurdity of domestic life” (Los Angeles Times).
A boy on the edge of adolescence fears his mother might be a robot; a psychotically depressed woman is entrusted with taking her niece and nephew trick-or-treating; a reluctant dad brings his baby to a coke-fueled party; a teenage boy tries to prevent his mother from putting his estranged father’s dogs to sleep. Ranging from a youth arts camp to an aging punk band’s reunion tour, from a dystopian future where parents no longer exist to a ferociously independent bookstore, Last Day on Earth revolves around the endlessly complex, frequently surreal system that is family.
Eric Puchner, the author hailed as “technically gifted and emotionally insightful” (The New York Times Book Review), and someone who “puts the story back in short story” (San Francisco Chronicle Book Review), delivers a gloriously original, utterly memorable collection that invokes both the comedy and tragedy of our lifelong endeavor to come of age.
“Nicole wasn’t actually my stepsister, but no other word fit any better. My father and her mother had fallen in love on a church committee. Breaking up two families would have caused needless damage, and so the adults decided that all seven of us should move to a new house together….”
And so we’re introduced to the two unlikely stepsisters at the heart of Meantime. Katharine Noel– the award winning author of the national bestseller Halfway House–delivers a funny, wise and moving novel of the stories we tell about the past, and how they inform our understanding of the present as well as our choices for the future.
Claire Hood’s unconventional upbringing in the “Naked Family”– as they were infamously nicknamed by their suburban neighbors–taught her to embrace the unexpected. Now in her thirties, Claire has a husband, Jeremy, who longs to start a family, but Claire’s blueprint in life is to avoid an ordinary existence at all costs.
At the same time, her stepsister Nicole has set her mind to having a baby on her own. Just as Nicole needs Claire more than ever, Jeremy falls seriously ill and his high school girlfriend resurfaces to lend a hand in his recovery. Everything Claire thinks she values–and everything she imagines about the kind of person she wants to be– is thrown into question.
With grace, humanity, and humor, Katharine Noel examines the complex, delicate connections between parents and children, spouses, and siblings. Meantime is a heartfelt, insightful novel of how individuals shape and reshape their families– both given and chosen–while discovering their truest sense of self.
In this narrative poem, Kirby the sneaky, dog-genius steals the hole Arlo dug in the yard and the social order begins to break down. Kirby faces grave, injurious peril in restoring cosmic harmony. In rhyming couplets he reflects on the hole’s eerie influence, he contemplates spider webs, Newton, The Old West, Scottish history, Templars, the Roundtable Knights, the existence of dragons, and the nature of time, itself. This nimbly written, playful poem will delight children of all ages even the adult ones.
Washed ashore after escaping Treasure Island, young Jim Hawkins and his companion Natty find themselves stranded on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Their ship, the Nightingale, has been destroyed, and besides one other crew member, they are the only survivors. Before they can even grasp the full scope of their predicament, they realize they are not alone on the beach. When a band of Native Americans approaches the shore in a threatening fury, they brutally kill Jim and Natty’s last shipmate, rob their dead crew, and take the two desperate survivors hostage.
Suddenly, Jim and Natty are thrust into an adventure that takes them all across the unruly American South. Starting with a desperate escape from a violent chief who obsessively keeps close on their trail, they join up with a troupe of entertainers who take them to a thriving and dangerous New Orleans, and seek the closest port so they can set sail for home once again.
In magnificent, free-wheeling prose and in a high-flying style, Andrew Motion has spun a fantastic yarn that will win the hearts of adventure lovers everywhere.
“Only a few poets transcend the history of taste to participate in the history of art – and only in a handful of poems. Salter has been struck by lightning more than once.” So wrote the critic James Longenbach, and in It’s Hard to Say, which is Salter’s first UK Selected, one can see the proof of Longenbach’s statement. It’s Hard to Say gathers poems from each of Salter’s seven previous collections – Henry Purcell in Japan, Unfinished Painting, Sunday Skaters, A Kiss in Space, Open Shutters, A Phone Call to the Future, and Nothing by Design – and the accomplishment of this fine poet is on display at every point, in poems that are unfailingly well-made, and which move from the touching to the angry, from the humorous to the entirely serious, from the domestic to the universal.
Dogs are getting lawyers. Cats are getting kidney transplants. Could they one day be fellow citizens?
Cats and dogs were once wild animals. Today, they are family members and surrogate children. A little over a century ago, pets didn’t warrant the meager legal status of property. Now, they have more rights and protections than any other animal in the country. Some say they’re even on the verge of becoming legal persons.
How did we get here—and what happens next?
In this fascinating exploration of the changing status of dogs and cats in society, pet lover and award-winning journalist David Grimm explores the rich and surprising history of our favorite companion animals. He treks the long and often torturous path from their wild origins to their dark days in the middle ages to their current standing as the most valued animals on Earth. As he travels across the country—riding along with Los Angeles detectives as they investigate animal cruelty cases, touring the devastation of New Orleans in search of the orphaned pets of Hurricane Katrina, and coming face-to-face with wolves and feral cats—Grimm reveals the changing social attitudes that have turned pets into family members, and the remarkable laws and court cases that have elevated them to quasi citizens.
The journey to citizenship isn’t a smooth one, however. As Grimm finds, there’s plenty of opposition to the rising status of cats and dogs. From scientists and farmers worried that our affection for pets could spill over to livestock and lab rats to philosophers who say the only way to save society is to wipe cats and dogs from the face of the earth, the battle lines are being drawn. We are entering a new age of pets—one that is fundamentally transforming our relationship with these animals and reshaping the very fabric of society.
The Malaria Project: The U.S. Government’s Secret Mission to Find a Miracle Cure
- 2014, NAL, Penguin
- , author
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A fascinating and shocking historical exposé, The Malaria Project is the story of America’s secret mission to combat malaria during World War II—a campaign modeled after a German project which tested experimental drugs on men gone mad from syphilis.
American war planners, foreseeing the tactical need for a malaria drug, recreated the German model, then grew it tenfold. Quickly becoming the biggest and most important medical initiative of the war, the project tasked dozens of the country’s top research scientists and university labs to find a treatment to remedy half a million U.S. troops incapacitated by malaria.
Spearheading the new U.S. effort was Dr. Lowell T. Coggeshall, the son of a poor Indiana farmer whose persistent drive and curiosity led him to become one of the most innovative thinkers in solving the malaria problem. He recruited private corporations, such as today’s Squibb and Eli Lilly, and the nation’s best chemists out of Harvard and Johns Hopkins to make novel compounds that skilled technicians tested on birds. Giants in the field of clinical research, including the future NIH director James Shannon, then tested the drugs on mental health patients and convicted criminals—including infamous murderer Nathan Leopold.
By 1943, a dozen strains of malaria brought home in the veins of sick soldiers were injected into these human guinea pigs for drug studies. After hundreds of trials and many deaths, they found their “magic bullet,” but not in a U.S. laboratory. America ‘s best weapon against malaria, still used today, was captured in battle from the Nazis. Called chloroquine, it went on to save more lives than any other drug in history.
Karen M. Masterson, a journalist turned malaria researcher, uncovers the complete story behind this dark tale of science, medicine and war. Illuminating, riveting and surprising, The Malaria Project captures the ethical perils of seeking treatments for disease while ignoring the human condition.
“Fitzgerald’s work has always deeply moved me,” writes John T. Irwin. “And this is as true now as it was 50 years ago when I first picked up The Great Gatsby. I can still remember the occasions when I first read each of his novels; remember the time, place, and mood of those early readings, as well as the way each work seemed to speak to something going on in my life at that moment. Because the things that interested Fitzgerald were the things that interested me and because there seemed to be so many similarities in our backgrounds, his work always possessed for me a special, personal authority; it became a form of wisdom, a way of knowing the world, its types, its classes, its individuals.” In his personal tribute to Fitzgerald’s novels and short stories, Irwin offers an intricate vision of one of the most important writers in the American canon. The third in Irwin’s trilogy of works on American writers, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Fiction resonates back through all of his previous writings, both scholarly and poetic, returning to Fitzgerald’s ongoing theme of the 20th-century American protagonist’s conflict between his work and his personal life. This conflict is played out against the typically American imaginative activity of self-creation, an activity that involves a degree of theatrical ability on the protagonist’s part as he must first enact the role imagined for himself, which is to say, the self he means to invent.
The work is suffused with elements of both Fitzgerald’s and Irwin’s biographies, and Irwin’s immense erudition is on display throughout. Irwin seamlessly ties together details from Fitzgerald’s life with elements from his entire body of work and considers central themes connected to wealth, class, work, love, jazz, acceptance, family, disillusionment, and life as theatrical performance.
A beautiful collection of verse––both light and dark, elegiac and affirmative––from one of our most admired poets.
The title Nothing by Design is taken from Salter’s villanelle “Complaint for Absolute Divorce,” in which we’re asked to entertain the thought of a no-fault universe. The wary search for peace, personal and public, is a constant theme in poems as varied as “Our Friends the Enemy,” about the Christmas football match between German and British soldiers in 1914; “The Afterlife,” in which Egyptian tomb figurines labor to serve the dead; and “Voice of America,” where Salter returns to the Saint Petersburg of her exiled friend, the late Joseph Brodsky. A section of charming light verse serves as counterpoint to another series entitled “Bed of Letters,” in which Salter addresses the end of a long marriage. Artfully designed, with a highly intentional music, these poems movingly give form to the often unfathomable, yet very real, presence of nothingness and loss in our lives.