From Annie Dillard & Edward O. Wilson to Charlotte Brontë’s Fiery Heart | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Mar. 2015, Pt. 1


Dillard, Annie. The Abundance: Narrative Essays Old and New. Ecco. Mar. 2016. 304p. ISBN 9780062432971. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062433015. ESSAYS On September 10, President Barack Obama awarded Dillard the National Humanities Medal “for her profound reflections on human life and nature,” as the White House citation said. “In poetry and prose, Ms. Dillard has invited […]

Benjamin Black, Mark Bowden, Janice Lee, & an Afghan Romeo and Juliet | Barbara’s Picks, Jan. 2016, Pt. 3


Black, Benjamin. Even the Dead: A Quirke Novel. Holt. Jan. 2016. 304p. ISBN 9781627790666. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781627790673. CD/downloadable: Macmillan Audio. MYSTERY In this seventh in a series from Black, the alter ego of Man Booker Prize winner John Banville, Dublin-based pathologist Quirke gets quite a workout. Even as he’s worried that the blackouts and […]

Four Essential Sci/Med Titles from Tim Flannery, Lisa Randall, & More | Nonfiction Previews, October 2015, Pt. 2


Flannery, Tim. Atmosphere of Hope: The Search for Solutions to the Climate Crisis. Atlantic Monthly. Oct. 2015. 256p. ISBN 9780802124067. $27; ebk. ISBN9780802190925. NATURE Ten years ago, Flannery helped jump-start the conversation on climate change with The Weather Makers, a No. 1 international best seller that was named an ALA Notable Book and has over […]

Henry Louis Gates Jr., Diana Nyad, Patti Smith, Simon Winchester | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Oct. 2015, Pt. 1


Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., & Kevin M. Burke. And Still I Rise: From Black Power to the White House. Ecco. Oct. 2015. 304p. ISBN 9780062427007. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780062427014. HISTORY Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard, outstanding scholar Gates offers […]

September 2015 Music Picks from Chrissie Hynde & Patti Smith


Full disclosure: my good-time listening music dates mostly from the medieval and Renaissance eras. But I love music in general as a country without borders, and I’m always happy to feature books by or about major rock/pop/blues/jazz musicians in Prepub Alert. There has been a flood of such books lately, and since most of them […]

Mary Karr, Ursula K. Le Guin, Joyce Carol Oates | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Sept. 2015. Pt. 2


Karr, Mary. The Art of Memoir. Harper. Sept. 2015. 272p. ISBN 9780062223067. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062223081. WRITING Karr is a Pushcart Prize–winning poet and essayist, but she’s perhaps best known for her New York Times best-selling The Liars’ Club, a National Book Critics Circle finalist and PEN Nonfiction Award nominee that effectively launched the current […]

Essential Memoirs from Margo Jefferson, Wendell Pierce, & More | Nonfiction Previews, Sept. 2015, Pt. 2


Jefferson, Margo. Negroland. Pantheon. Sept. 2015. 240p. ISBN 9780307378453. $25. MEMOIR Former New York Times theater critic Jefferson defines Negroland as “a small region of Negro America where residents are sheltered by privilege and plenty,” and in 1947 she was born into it. Her father was head of pediatrics at Provident, at the time the […]

Bill Clegg, Richard Dawkins, Jonathan Franzen, Elizabeth Gilbert, Erica Jong | Barbara’s Picks, Sept. 2015, Pt. 1


Clegg, Bill. Did You Ever Have a Family. Scout: Gallery. Sept. 2015. 304p. ISBN 9781476798172. $26. LITERARY FICTION Clegg is a leading literary agent and the author of two well-regarded memoirs, Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man and Ninety Days, which detail how he fell into crack addiction and stays sober now. So […]

Patrick deWitt, Lori Ostlund, Edward St. Aubyn, & More Award-Winning Writers | Fiction Previews, Sept. 2015, Pt. 1


deWitt, Patrick. Undermajordomo Minor. Ecco. Sept. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9780062281203. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062281234. LITERARY FICTION If you liked DeWitt’s The Sisters Brothers, an edgily funny remake of the classic Western that was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, you’ll probably like his new work, too. Weak and hapless Lucien (Lucy) Minor feels like a […]

Bukowski, Dylan, von Furstenberg, Robots, & the New American Generation | Nonfiction Previews, Jul. 2015, Pt. 2


Bukowski, Charles. On Writing. Ecco. Jul. 2015. 112p. ISBN 9780062396006. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062395986.LITERATURE/LETTERS The great cultural iconoclast Bukowski hasn’t been with us for two decades, but you can still hire him on as a writing teacher by reading this collection of his correspondence with publishers, editors, friends, and fellow writers. Lots of insights into […]