Nonfiction Previews, Jul. 2013, Pt. 1: Klosterman, Kurlansky, and Conversations with Orson Welles

Biskind, Peter, ed. My Lunches with Orson: Conversations Between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles. Metropolitan: Holt. Jul. 2013. 240p. ISBN 9780805097252. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780805097269. CD: Macmillan Audio. AUTOBIOG/ENTERTAINMENT
Back when, the inimitable Orson Welles recorded a series of private conversations while lunching with director Henry Jaglom, a good friend. In the recently rescued tapes, here edited by film historian Biskind, Welles offers a montage of opinion on his career, his disappointments, and acquaintances from Marlene Dietrich to Laurence Olivier to Churchill. Don’t expect polite, but the wit and intelligence are definitely there.

D’Erasmo, Stacey. The Art of Intimacy: The Space Between. Graywolf. Jul. 2013. 144p. ISBN 9781555976477. pap. $12. WRITING
Creating authentic relationships among friends, lovers, and family members is hard enough in real life, even harder in fiction. I expect D’Erasmo, the author of exquisite books like Tea and a 2012 National Book Award judge, to deliver a clear and intriguing discussion of the topic for writers and nonwriters alike.

Evans, Peter & Ava Gardner. Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations. S. & S. Jul. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9781451627695. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781451627718. AUTOBIOG/ENTERTAINMENT
It’s hardly surprising that dusky-voiced actress Gardner has secrets to spill, but this spill-all is said to be so notorious that it had to await her death to be published. Get ready for juicy opinions (second husband Artie Shaw was a “dominating son of a bitch,” and Gardner fought constantly with third husband Frank Sinatra, who was nevertheless “good in the feathers”). Few film fans could resist.

Horowitz, Joseph. “On My Way”: The Untold Story of Rouben Mamoulian, George Gershwin, and Porgy and Bess. Norton. Jul. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9780393240139. $26.95. MUSIC
For folks like me who worship George Gershwin, it’s fascinating to learn how much American musical theater director Rouben Mamoulian contributed to the success of Porgy and Bess—a success that both made him and ultimately destroyed him. Former New York Times music critic Horowitz dug into the Maumolian Archives at the Library of Congress to reintroduce us to a forgotten master.

Klosterman, Chuck. I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined). Scribner. Jul. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9781439184493. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781439184516. SOCIAL SCIENCE
What, the “Ethicist” for the New York Times Magazine (and best-selling author of books like Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs) is proclaiming a fondness for the villain? Having once sided with Luke Skywalker, he now embraces Darth Vader’s embrace of evil. Sharp but funny cultural criticism about where we draw the line between hero and villain—and the meaning of villainy in our society; with a six-city tour to Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York, and Seattle.

Kurlansky, Mark. Ready for a Brand New Beat: Why the 1964 Motown Hit “Dancing in the Street” Changed America Forever. Riverhead: Penguin Group (USA). Jul. 2013. 240p. ISBN 9781594487224. $27.95. SOCIAL HISTORY
As written by Marvin Gaye and others and recorded by Martha and the Vandelles, “Dancing in the Street” had an infectiousness that really did make you want to dance. (I can sing every word.) But upon its release in July 1964, with Mississippi Freedom Summer, the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, and the Civil Rights Act in the forefront and escalation of the Vietnam War in the offing, it took on deeper meaning. So argues Kurlansky, who can give real dimension to things like cod and salt and also wrote 1968: The Year That Rocked the World.

Martin, Brett. Difficult Men: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad; Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution. Penguin Pr: Penguin Group (USA). Jul. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9781594204197. $27.95. TELEVISION
Television used to be safe, seemly, and insipid, but then came the late 1990s, and, as award-winning GQ correspondent Martin calls them, writer–show runners like David Chase (The Sopranos), David Simon and Ed Burns (The Wire), and Matthew Weiner and Jon Hamm (Mad Men) redefined the medium by addressing sticky issues of sex, love, death, and social chaos in daring, edgily inventive ways. Both cultural commentary and behind-the-scenes stuff for fans.

Obst, Lynda. Sleepless in Hollywood: From the New Abnormal in the Movie Business. S. & S. Jul. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9781476727745. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781476727769. BUSINESS
Hollywood’s “new abnormal,” according to producer Obst? (You can thank her for Sleepless in Seattle, among other hits.) With the DVD market dead, Hollywood studios are stuck producing special effects–laden megahits for the roaring foreign market—which means that the top stars and smart writers no longer needed are heading off to network and especially cable TV. Which goes a long way toward explaining Martin’s Difficult Men, previewed above.

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.