Friday, April 18, 2014

On My Radar:

Songs Only You Know
Sean Madigan Hoen
Soho Press

From the publisher's website:

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, “enjoyed every page” of this memoir set in the punk scene in Detroit in the ’90s.

Eighteen-year-old Sean Madigan Hoen was struggling to keep his involvement in the city’s hardcore punk scene a secret from his family. Then he learned that his father, too, had a second life—as a crack addict.

Songs Only You Know begins in the ’90s and spans a decade during which the family fights to hold itself together. Sean’s father cycles from rehab to binge, his heartsick sister spirals into depression, and his mother works to spare what can be spared. Meanwhile, Sean seeks salvation in a community of eccentrics and outsiders, making music Spin magazine once referred to as “an art-core mindfuck.” But the closer Sean comes to realizing his musical dream, the further he drifts from his family and himself.
By turns heartbreaking and mordantly funny, Songs Only You Know is a fierce, compassionate rendering of the chaos and misadventure of a young man’s life.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

On My Radar:

On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes
Alexandra Horowitz
Scribner / Simon & Schuster
Trade Paperback

From the publisher's website:

From the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Inside of a Dog, this “elegant and entertaining” (The Boston Globe) explanation of how humans perceive their environments “does more than open our eyes...opens our hearts and minds, too, gently awakening us to a world—in fact, many worlds—we’ve been missing” (USA TODAY).

Alexandra Horowitz shows us how to see the spectacle of the ordinary—to practice, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle put it, “the observation of trifles.” Structured around a series of eleven walks the author takes, mostly in her Manhattan neighborhood, On Looking features experts on a diverse range of subjects, including an urban sociologist, the well-known artist Maira Kalman, a geologist, a physician, and a sound designer. Horowitz also walks with a child and a dog to see the world as they perceive it. What they see, how they see it, and why most of us do not see the same things reveal the startling power of human attention and the cognitive aspects of what it means to be an expert observer.

Page by page, Horowitz shows how much more there is to see—if only we would really look. Trained as a cognitive scientist, she discovers a feast of fascinating detail, all explained with her generous humor and self-deprecating tone. So turn off the phone and other electronic devices and be in the real world—where strangers communicate by geometry as they walk toward one another, where sounds reveal shadows, where posture can display humility, and the underside of a leaf unveils a Lilliputian universe—where, indeed, there are worlds within worlds within worlds

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

On My Radar:

Over Easy
Mimi Pond
Drawn & Quarterly
Hardcover (graphic novel)

From the publisher's website:

Over Easy is a brilliant portrayal of a familiar coming-of-age story. After being denied financial aid to cover her last year of art school, Margaret finds salvation from the straight-laced world of college and the earnestness of both hippies and punks in the wisecracking, fast-talking, drug-taking group she encounters at the Imperial Café, where she makes the transformation from Margaret to Madge. At first she mimics these new and exotic grown-up friends, trying on the guise of adulthood with some awkward but funny stumbles. Gradually she realizes that the adults she looks up to are a mess of contradictions, misplaced artistic ambitions, sexual confusion, dependencies, and addictions.

     Over Easy is equal parts time capsule of late 1970s life in California—with its deadheads, punks, disco rollers, casual sex, and drug use—and bildungsroman of a young woman who grows from a naïve, sexually inexperienced art-school dropout into a self-aware, self-confident artist. Mimi Pond’s chatty, slyly observant anecdotes create a compelling portrait of a distinct moment in time. Over Easy is an immediate, limber, and precise semi-memoir narrated with an eye for the humor in every situation.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

On My Radar:

Sh*t Rough Drafts: Pop Culture's Favorite Books, Movies, and TV Shows as They Might Have Been
Paul Laudiero
Chronicle Books
Trade Paperback

From the publisher's website:

Sh*t Rough Drafts collects imagined misguided early drafts of classic books, screenplays, and contemporary literature, creating visions of alternate works that would exist had the authors not come to their senses. What if F. Scott Fitzgerald had gone with the title The Coolest Gatsby? How would The Hunger Games change if Peeta were armed only with blueberry muffins? If the Man of Steel’s S stood for Sexyman? MacBeth, Moby Dick, Harry Potter, Sense and Sensibility, The Lord of the Rings, and many more are each presented as if they were the actual typed or handwritten pages by the authors themselves, revealing the funny and frightful works they might have been with a little less capable judgment.

Winner of Chronicle Book’s 2013 Great Tumblr Book Search

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Gift From the Enemy - Excerpt

A Gift from the Enemy: A True Story of Escape in War-Time Italy
Enrico Lamet

Excerpt from A Gift from the Enemy by Enrico Lamet 
The clear stream of uninterrupted flow from the mountain, spurting from the fountain’s single lion head, sent out a tempting invitation. The water was ice cold, sparkling clear, reflecting the purity of the surrounding nature. Holding my fingers under the fast-moving stream I tasted the drippings. Anxiously I cupped my hands to taste the water and, the more I drank, the more I craved it. My thirst refused to be satisfied. To bring my mouth closer to the gush of the precious gift, I clambered up and half-sat on the edge of the narrow stone which was the fountain’s cradle. Only the arrival of a young woman, who had come to fill a large vessel, made me jump off to make room for her. 

She rested the shiny copper cauldron on the steel grate. Her bowl had to be heavy, judging from the thud it created by the meeting of the two metals. 

While the vessel was filling, I watched the girl as she twisted a large rag to form a ring around one hand, then position it on her head. She was slight and surely not more than three or four years older than I. How was she going to carry such a heavy container, I questioned silently, when, wonder of wonders, with surprising strength and agility, she slid the filled cauldron onto one hand, tipped it to spill off some surplus water and, with a twist of the body, lifted and positioned it on the curled rag she had placed on her head. With her legs spaced apart to gain balance, she grasped the container’s two handles and stabilized it. Then, with her back straight and a distinct rhythm, letting her bare feet absorb the full brunt of the pebbly path, she waddled down the dirt road to soon be lost in the distance down the hill. 
More women came to the fountain and carried away large containers of spring water in the same way the young girl had done. However I never saw a man carry more than a small pail during the time I spent there. 

As soon as the fountain became available, I gulped down a few more sips of the cold, refreshing mountain gift before setting off to explore the village. 

I hopped down the steep, dusty gravel path that cut through the heart of the village. The road was narrow, just wide enough for a horse and buggy or a small passenger car. Every one of my bounces raised a puff of dust and shot the sharp feeling of each stone through my leather sandals, adding to my admiration of the skill needed by the girl I saw at the fountain to balance that heavy load barefooted.

- - - - - - - - - - - - 

Enrico Lamet recently released a revised and enlarged edition of A Gift from the Enemy: A True Story of Escape in War-Time Italy, a compelling childhood memoir of World War II. 
Enrico was born in Vienna, and spent the first eight years of his life in a comfortable middle-class atmosphere with his Jewish mother and father in Austria. At only 8 years of age, the Nazis invaded Vienna, changing the lives of all European Jews forever. The Lamet family fled to Italy, where they spent most of the next twelve years.  
Follow along as Enrico and his mother face struggles in fascist WWII Italy, attempting to forge friendships and make a new home. In a style as original as his story, the author vividly recalls a dark time yet imbues his recollections with humor, humanity, and wit. Lamet offers a rare and historically important portrait, one you will not soon forget. 

While the story takes place in Fascist Italy during the Holocaust period, it is not a Holocaust book. 

A Gift from the Enemy was published on October 13, 2013 and is available on Amazon: 

About Enrico Lamet: 

After World War II ended, Lamet settled in Naples with his family. He finished high school in that city and studied Engineering at the University of Naples.

In 1950 the family moved to the United States, where Lamet continued his engineering studies at the Drexel Institute of Technology in Philadelphia, near his family's home. Deciding that business would be more in keeping with his personality, he embarked on a business career. Over the years he became involved in a variety of enterprises until his eventual retirement as a CEO in 1992.

Fluent in German, Italian, English, Spanish, and Yiddish, Lamet served as an interpreter for the U.S. State Department and taught Italian for several years. Lamet has studied piano and voice and, to this day, enjoys performing Neapolitan songs.
Enrico Lamet, together with his wife, has 5 children, 7 granddaughters and two great-granddaughters. The Lamet’s live in Pittsfield, Mass. For more information, go to

Kirkus Reviews: 

Lamet offers a tender, highly observant memoir of his boyhood years in Italy during World War II.  

With his Jewish mother and father, the author spent the first eight years of his life in Austria in a comfortable bourgeois atmosphere. But then the storm clouds of war forced the family to move from Vienna to Milan, Paris, Nice and San Remo, before they found the obscure sanctuary of Ospedaletto, Italy. Along the way, Lamet's father left for Poland, and therefore plays little role in the remainder of the memoir, but his mother remains a steady force throughout. As the author writes of his days with her, he brings an authentic feel of childhood to the story, and readers will likely remember their own similar, universal joys. He touches upon activities in all manner of daily life, including woodworking, hearing Jewish singers and occasionally eating in restaurants. He also writes of attending summer camp and spending another summer on a farm, and of the kindness of a newswoman who lent him the latest comic books--all while he lived as a Jew in Europe at the wrong time in history. He draws other moments with a quieter, emotional ache: His mother finding a new man ("My parents had never kissed like that in front of me"), his family's lack of food and the terrifying experience of seeing a uniformed German soldier. The book's second section comprises the author's postwar years, and although readers may enjoy finding out what happened to Lamet down the road, his life during wartime is far more gripping, whether he's dodging bombs or learning to love poetry. 

An engaging childhood memoir of World War II. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

In My TBR Stack:

Pigs Can't Swim: A Memoir
Helen Peppe
Da Capo Press

From the publisher's website:

An outrageous, hilarious, and touching memoir by the youngest of nine children in a hardscrabble, beyond-eccentric Maine family.

With everything happening on Helen Peppe’s backwoods Maine farm, life was wild--and not just for the animals. Sibling rivalry, rock-bottom poverty, feral male chauvinism, sex in the hayloft: everything seemed--and was--out of control. In telling her wayward family tale, Peppe manages deadpan humor, an unerring eye for the absurd, and poignant compassion for her utterly overwhelmed parents. While her feisty resilience and candor will inevitably remind readers of Jeannette Walls or Mary Karr, Peppe's wry insight and moments of tenderness with family and animals are entirely her own. As Richard Hoffman, the author of Half the House: A Memoir puts it: "Pigs Can't Swim is an unruly, joyous troublemaker of a book." 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

In My TBR Stack:

Dirty Daddy: The Chronicles of a Family Man Turned Filthy Comedian
Bob Saget
It Books

From the publisher's website:

Millions of viewers know and love Bob Saget from his role as the sweetly neurotic father on the smash hit Full House, and as the charming wisecracking host ofAmerica's Funniest Home Videos. And then there are the legions of fans who can't get enough of his scatological, out-of-his-mind stand-up routines, comedy specials, and outrageously profane performances in such shows as HBO's Entourage and the hit documentary The Aristocrats. In his bold and wildly entertaining publishing debut, Bob continues to embrace his dark side and gives readers the book they have long been waiting for—hilarious and often dirty yet warm and disarmingly sincere.

Bob talks about the connection between humor and pain, offering insights into his own life, including the deaths of his beloved sisters. He pays homage to the people who shaped and inspired him: his mom, Dolly; his father, Ben (the comedy influence who instilled his love of "sick silliness"); and the teacher who told him, "You need to make people laugh," as well as legendary comedians such as Richard Pryor, David Letterman, Billy Crystal, and Robin Williams.

Bob believes there's a time and a place for filth and immature humor—and for gentle family comedy. Dirty Daddy is packed with both, from his never-before-heard stories of what really went on behind the scenes of two of the most successful family shows of all times, with costars like John Stamos, Mary-Kate Olsen, and Ashley Olsen, to his liberating The Aristocrats, his Comedy Central roast, and his role of playing an extreme version of himself onEntourage. Bob opens up about his career, his reputation for sick humor, his pride and love for Full House, and how he's come to terms with the fame of being DT—"Danny Tanner." Throughout, he shares tales of close friends and colleagues like Rodney Dangerfield and Don Rickles, and recalls his experiences with show business legends, including Johnny Carson and George Carlin.

Told with his highly original blend of silliness, vulgarity, wit, and heart, Dirty Daddy reveals Bob Saget as never before—a man who loves being funny and making people laugh above all else.