Carrère, Emmanuel. Limonov: The Outrageous Adventures of the Radical Soviet Poet Who Became a Bum in New York, a Sensation in France, and a Political Antihero in Russia. Farrar. Oct. 2014. 352p. tr. from French by John Lambert. ISBN 9780374192013. $28. BIOGRAPHY
Controversial politician and writer on the edge, Limonov produced attention-getting poetry in the 1970s Soviet Union, settled into New York’s punk scene when he was forced from home, and wrote a fictional memoir called It’s Me, Eddie, that sold bundles internationally while creating a scandal. After being granted citizenship in France, he returned to post-Soviet Russia to found and for some time lead the banned National Bolshevik Party. He has been accused of firing a machine gun into a besieged Sarajevo. Rigorously anti-West and anti-Putin, Limonov holds views plenty of people find troublesome. Of what’s billed as a pseudo-biography, itself an eyebrow-raising notion, noted French author, screenwriter, and director Carrère says, “I suspend judgment on the matter.” This multi-award-winning book should kick up as much controversy as Limonov himself.
Tirado, Linda. Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America. Amy Einhorn: Putnam. Oct. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9780399171987. $25.95. MEMOIR
Tirado, who has worked as a general manager at a Burger King and a night cook at Ihop, as well as a voting rights activist for a disability nonprofit, knows what it’s like to live “hand to mouth,” as she revealed in a piece called “Why I Make Terrible Decisions, or, poverty thoughts.” That piece, originally written as a comment on a Gawker thread, ended up going viral—and also generated some backlash from critics who said she could not claim to have experienced true poverty because of a modestly middle-class upbringing and the selective details of her initial essay. Tirado indeed fell on hard times as an adult, living on food stamps and enrolling in Medicaid, and she has gone back online to correct what she feels are misleading statements in her earlier work. Some observers think she’s a fraud, others that she’s an embellisher, still others that she’s been maligned. Whatever the truth, this book should inspire important discussion.