Nonfiction Previews, November 2012, Pt. 2: Lil Wayne, Downton Abbey, & Courtney Love

Binelli, Mark. Detroit City Is the Place To Be: The Afterlife of an American Metropolis. Holt. Nov. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780805092295. $28; eISBN 9781429974615. SOCIAL SCIENCE
For most Americans, Detroit epitomizes contemporary urban blight. Here, native son and Rolling Stone contributing editor Binelli shows that while Detroit may be down it’s not out. In fact, current developments‚ organic farming on empty lots, a realignment plan to shift residents from desolate neighborhoods to a vibrant new center‚ suggest how not just Detroit but all troubled cities can rise again. Expect good writing on a freighted topic.

Coddington, Grace. Grace. Random. Nov. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9780812993356. $30; eISBN 9780679645214. CD/Downloadable: Random House Audio. MEMOIR
Stunning British model. Then creative director of British Vogue. Then head of Calvin Klein’s operations in New York. Then creative director of American Vogue. And true star of the 2009 documentary The September Issue, in which she famously upstaged Anna Wintour. Here’s a memoir about Coddington’s 40 years in fashion, beautifully designed by the author herself. Go, fashionistas!

Fellowes, Jessica & Matthew Sturgis. The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era for Family, Friends, Lovers and Staff. St. Martin’s. Nov. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9781250027627. $29.99; eISBN 9781250027634. TELEVISION
Former deputy editor of Country Life and niece of lead Downton Abbey author Julian Fellowes, Fellowes has already written about the public television phenomenon in The World of Downton Abbey. Here she returns with critic/author Sturgis to give an official preview of Season 3, which launches on PBS in January 2013. Downtown Abbey fever does not appear to be abating (though not yet commissioned, Seasons 4 and 5 are in discussion), so this should be popular.

Fornatale, Peter & Bernard M. Corbett. 50 Licks: An Album’s Worth of Stories from the 50-Year History of the Rolling Stones. Bloomsbury USA, dist. by Macmillan. Nov. 2012. 240p. ISBN 9781608199211. pap. $17. MUSIC
Fifty years, 50 cool stories (or Licks), each named for a different Rolling Stones song, and often drawn from previously unavailable material. FM rock pioneer Fortanale, who died on April 26, joined with Corbett‚ the radio voice of Harvard University football and a lifelong Rolling Stones nut‚ to deliver another celebratory piece on the Band That Played On…and On.

Greene, Robert. Mastery. Viking. Nov. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780670024964. $28.95; Downloadable: Penguin Audio. PSYCHOLOGY
Want to be the master of your universe? Greene shows you how by looking at the folks who have done it before you, from middling-student Charles Darwin to Temple Grandin, Henry Ford, and more. Since Greene’s books (e.g., The 48 Laws of Power) have sold more than a million copies, he must have something to say to folks out there. Be prepared.

Kelley, Kitty. Capturing Camelot: Stanley Tretick’s Iconic Images of the Kennedys. Thomas Dunne Bks: St. Martin’s. Nov. 2012. 240p. ISBN 9780312643423. $29.99; eISBN 9781250018830. PHOTOGRAPHY
Assigned by United Press International to cover John F. Kennedy’s 1960 presidential campaign, Stanley Tretick became friendly enough with the candidate that he was given access to the White House once Kennedy was elected. He took many pictures readers will recognize immediately, often of JFK with his family. But of course never-before-seen shots are here, too. Best-selling author Kelley, a friend of Tretick, provides an upbeat text. Big publicity push.

Lil Wayne. Gone Till November. Grand Central. Nov. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9781455515264. $25.99. MEMOIR
Rapper Lil Wayne has won four Grammies and sold millions of albums; he also did time in Rikers Island Penitentiary in 2010 for criminal possession of a weapon. Here are the journals he kept at the time, reportedly smart, detailed, and thoughtful. Since he has five million Twitter followers and 33.7 million Facebook fans (decidedly the biggest numbers I’ve keyed in for those venues), this book will have an audience.

Love, Courtney & Anthony Bozza. Untitled. Morrow. Nov. 2012. 464p. ISBN 9780062127952. $29.99. eISBN 9780062127990. MEMOIR
These rock memoirs just keep coming. Now the contrarian, controversial Love, loved and hated by the media (and the rest of us), widow of Kurt Cobain and a scalding musician in her own right, tells her own story. With a 250,000-copy first printing and author appearances in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle (but not Portland?).

Mount, Jane (illus.). & Thessaly La Force (ed). My Ideal Bookshelf. Little, Brown. Nov. 2012. 240p. ISBN 9780316200905. $24.99. LITERATURE
If you’re like me, you judge people by what’s on their bookshelves. Here’s a book that lets you see what folks like Malcolm Gladwell, Michael Chabon, Jennifer Egan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mark Bittman, Patti Smith, and more have stashed on theirs. Each contributor weighs in on his or her favorites (There’s no cumulative purpose‚ it’s just an excellent way to waste your life, says Jonathan Lethem), and Mount provides whimsical drawings of side-by-side spines. Sweet.

Nelson, Willie & Kinky Friedman. The Troublemaker: A Story of Faith, Redemption, and Staying True to Your Deepest Beliefs. Morrow. Nov. 2012. 192p. ISBN 9780062193643. $22.99; eISBN 9780062193650. lrg. prnt. MEMOIR
Nelson is such a famed singer/songwriter/activist that next year Austin will place an eight-foot-tall bronze statue of him on Willie Nelson Boulevard. Meanwhile, here’s a memoir cum inspirational tale‚ and just right for the holidays. With his career stuttering and his personal life in shreds, Nelson wasn’t facing the greatest Christmas in 1971. Even his house burned down. So he decided to change everything, shrugging off pressures to sound Nashville and heading in a new creative direction that landed him where he is today. With a 125,000-copy first printing; note the large print, not surprisingly since this hardy 78-year-old has some mature fans.

Scottoline, Lisa & Francesca Serritella. Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim. St. Martin’s. Nov. 2012. 256p. ISBN 9780312640088. $25.99; eISBN 9781250025074. CD: Macmillan Audio. RELATIONSHIPS
Scottoline is doing so well with her juicily acerbic essay collections, particularly those written with daughter Serritella, that one wonders whether they will start taking precedence over her best-selling fiction. Here, mother and daughter deal with separation anxiety of an adult sort, as Serritella moves to the big city, Scottoline looks about her suburban empty nest, and both think about shifting boundaries. Cozy.

Standiford, Les. Desperate Sons: The Secret Band of Radicals Who Led the Colonies to War. Harper: HarperCollins. Nov. 2012. 336p. ISBN 9780061899553. $27.99; eISBN 9780062218124. HISTORY
This chronicle of the Sons of Liberty in the American Revolution is billed as a political thriller, so expect excitement. Author of the best-selling Bringing Adam Home, Standiford goes behind the glossy surface of iconic events like the Boston Tea Party and Paul Revere’s midnight gallop to explain how dangerous (and admittedly illegal) they really were. His aim: to show that we are more bound together by the chances these desperate Sons took than divided by the petty politics of today. Well, we can hope.

Tapper, Jake. The Outpost: The Untold Story of American Valor. Little, Brown. Nov. 2012. 608p. ISBN 9780316185394. $28.99. CD/downloadable: Hachette Audio. CURRENT EVENTS
After Combat Outpost Keating was abandoned, the Pentagon determined that the camp, located in the desolate mountains of Afghanistan just 14 miles from the Pakistani border, should never have been established. But first came the October 3, 2009, attack by nearly 400 Taliban fighters, which the 53 U.S. troops held off at considerable cost. A senior White House correspondent for ABC News, Tapper did hard investigative work to understand how this fiasco came about. Lots of buzz about Tapper as a rising media star.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.


  1. joann kirk says:

    DOWNTON is mis-spelled in the headline of this post. You spelled it Downtown.