It’s December, and snow is on the way, so I’m planning on being stranded indoors‚ a lot‚ over the coming months. I’m stockpiling books (both print and audio), along with booze and Blu-rays (the three Bs, baby!), and I advise you to follow suit. There’s good stuff in this column, including sleazy pulp, top shelf sf, and solid lit. Nonfiction offers an equally eclectic mix of business, history, biography, and cooking.
Hitt, Orrie. The Cheaters & Dial M for Man. Stark House. (Sleaze Classics). 2011. 265p. ISBN 9781933586359. pap. $19.95. F
The publisher aptly describes Hitt as a low-rent James M. Cain. Hitt cranked out 150 novels about working-class slobs living in dives and surviving on booze, sex, cigarettes, and dreams of better lives. The lurid stories feature cheating wives and husbands, crooked businesses, working girls, smoky bars, and other pulp trappings. The Cheaters and Dial M were originally released as cheap adult paperbacks in 1960 and 1962, respectively. Both titles probably are pretty tame by today’s standards, but their thriller aspect still holds up. And two novels for $19.95 is a sweet deal.
Mason, Richard. The World of Suzie Wong. Penguin. Feb. 2012. c.339p. ISBN 9780143120421. pap. $15. F
First released in 1957, Mason’s novel became an international best seller, which spawned a feature film, a play, and a ballet. The story follows Robert Lomax, a British expatriate artist living in Hong Kong who discovers that the hotel room he took as a studio usually is rented by the hour to sailors and prostitutes, including Suzy, for whom he falls. Along with the romance, Mason takes a hard look at Hong Kong’s class structure and justice system.
Stein, Gertrude. Ida: A Novel. Yale Univ. Jan. 2012. c.348p. ISBN 9780300169768. pap. $18. F
Stein began this novel in 1937, keeping meticulous notes on its progress until finishing and releasing it in 1941. Even after the writing was completed, she recorded her discussions with publishers to create a complete chronicle of the book’s gestation from beginning to end. She did this purposefully so the book could be studied later (Miss Stein had more than a bit of an ego). This edition sports the novel’s original text, plus the author’s letters and notes, etc. More for the academics.
Wild Cards II: Aces High. Tor. Dec. 2011. c.399p. ed. by George R.R. Martin. ISBN 9780765326164. pap. $15.99. SF
Like the first Wild Cards volume, this 1987 follow-up offers short stories by Martin and other noted sf authors (e.g., Lewis Shiner, Roger Zelazny) featuring a parallel world that has a history identical to Earth’s. The basic setup: in the wake of World War II, an alien plague has mutated a handful of survivors and given them superhuman powers. Some use their abilities for good; others don’t. This volume relates the characters’ stories through the 1980s. Anything with Martin’s name on it will circ, so grab this. [Martin made our Best SF/Fantasy 2011 list.‚ Ed.]
Wilder, Thornton. The Eighth Day, Theophilus North, Autobiographical Writings. Library of America. Feb. 2012. 788p. ISBN 9781598531466. $35. F
This final volume in the publisher’s Wilder series sports The Eight Day (1967); his final novel, Theophilus North (1973); and three chapters from his unfinished autobiography. Eighth Day returns to an Our Town‚ like community but here offers a murder mystery. The semi-autobiographical Theophilus is set in Newport, RI, in the 1920s. More for the lit collections.
Cody, William F. The Life of the Hon. William F. Cody, Known as Buffalo Bill. Univ. of Nebraska. Dec. 2011. 529p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780803232914. pap. $27.95. BIOG
Buffalo hunter, Indian fighter, army scout, and grand showman, Cody is the stuff of Western legend. He produced this autobiography relating his numerous adventures when he was 33 years old. Although he did some extraordinary things, a good portion of his life story should be taken with a large grain of salt. Based on the original 1879 release, this edition sports a new introduction by scholar Frank Christianson, historical materials, and 26 additional images.
Cox, Beverly & Martin Jacobs. Spirit Harvest: North American Indian Cooking. Stewart, Tabori & Chang. 2011. 255p. illus. index. ISBN 9781556701863. $40. COOKING
When first released in 1991, this book snagged both a James Beard and an IACP Cookbook Award. Cox presents 150 recipes for traditional dishes consumed by the Cherokee, Chippewa, Navajo, Sioux, Comanche, and numerous other North American tribes. Along with the recipes for everything from breads, soups, vegetables, and meat and fish to pies and cookies, this sports 50 pictures of the dishes along with Native American artifacts. A real beauty.
Lawrence, T.E. Revolt in the Desert: The Abridged Edition of Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Palgrave Macmillan. 2011. 326p. maps. index. ISBN 9781848856653. pap. $18. HIST
Lawrence reworked his noted 1922 volume, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, into this condensed version in 1927. It relates his time among the Arabian Bedouins and his paramount role in King Faisal’s revolt against the Ottoman Empire, which drove out the Turks and brought in the Brits. Lawrence is one of the 20th century’s most remarkable figures, and interest in him never lessens. This edition sports a foreword by Lawrence’s leading biographer, Jeremy Wilson. Perfect for readers who want to focus on Lawrence’s military achievements.
Lore, Nicholas. The Pathfinder: How To Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success. Touchstone/Fireside. Jan. 2012. c.432p. ISBN 9781451608328. pap. $16.99. CAREERS
This updated and revised version of the 1998 original offers more than 50 self-tests, diagnostic tools, and the Rockport Career Design Method to help readers identify a career they’d enjoy and be successful at based on their interests, personality, and so on. Lore is the founder of the Rockport Institute, which helped people of all ages find their dream careers. Thousands are seeking new careers, so have a copy of this on your shelf.
Pegg, Nicholas. The Complete David Bowie. Titan. 2012. discog. ISBN 9780857682901. pap. $24.95. MUSIC
When released in 2000, Pegg’s portrait of the artist quickly became the go-to source for information on chameleon Bowie. Pegg begins by relating in minute detail Bowie’s first performance at age 11 in 1958, then works his way through the decades to the release of his album Toy this year. The text covers all the albums, songs, and tours, as well as Bowie’s acting career, radio sessions, paintings, and more. Exhaustive and definitive, this title is essential for music collections and Bowie heads.
Hagen, Louis. Ein Volk Ein Reich: Nine Lives Under the Nazis. Spellmount: The History Press, dist. by Trafalgar. Jan. 2012. 288p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780752459790. pap. $22.95. HIST
Originally released in 1951 as Follow My Leader, Hagen’s work still resonates as an authentic cross section of the German people in the 1930s and 1940s. Hagen’s approach is unique: he travels back to postwar Germany and interviews nine very different individuals whom he knew prior to the war. Because of their acquaintance with Hagen, the interviewees seem eager to share their experiences honestly. Additionally, because his work was conducted immediately postwar, their memories are unvarnished by time and reflection. Hagen, a Jewish refugee and historian who has written other works on German history, felt that Nazism was a cultural cancer and sought to seek the reasons why it succeeded as it did. These interviews show how this cancer seeped into the Germans’ everyday lives and affected their behaviors. Present in these narratives are Nazis and non-Nazis, each showing arrogance, empathy, cowardice, bravery, racism, despair, or confusion, but rarely apologizing. Hagen’s work provides a nice counterbalance to those on the Holocaust, the Resistance, or the high-ranking Nazis (none of which is represented here). No new material is included in this edition, so only libraries without the original should purchase.‚ Maria C. Bagshaw, West Dundee, IL