All posts tagged: Front to Backlist

Front to Backlist

Forbidden Fruit: Waters & Wharton on the Dark Side of Temptation

(Photo: Nancy Gonzalez/TueNight) Frontlist: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters Backlist: The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton It’s hard to believe that it was once illegal in nations like our own for consenting adults to engage in same-sex lovemaking. Thank goodness, too, that writers like England’s Sarah Waters are here to remind us of what it was like in more ignorant times when two women could not so much as go out on a date, let alone allow anyone to see them hold hands. Waters has elegantly and eloquently mined her country’s past for historical interstices that highlight how legislation, culture, class, and fashion have affected lesbians of different ages, stations, occupations, and temperaments. In Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith, Waters created atmospheres of lush Victorian desire, while The Night Watch took place during World War II’s Battle of Britain. The Little Stranger, her bestselling 2010 novel, was a book less about sexuality than suspense, but now, with The Paying Guests, the author returns to her theme of love thwarted by mores and manners. …

Front to Backlist

Two Books About the “Other” Parent

Do fathers matter? I’m a woman married to a man who is the father of our two children, so I have an answer to that question (indubitably yes!), but that doesn’t mean my sample audience is one of proper scientific breadth or depth. Fortunately, someone else has asked that question, and answered it with good strong research. Do Fathers Matter? What Science Is Telling Us About the Parent We’ve Overlooked by Paul Raeburn is filled with anecdotes about how and why fathers matter in the lives of boys and girls. It’s a book whose time has come. I’ve grown so weary of the term “mommy blogger” and its attendant connotations of maternity as all encompassing and all powerful. (And yes, I acknowledge that many of the best “mommy bloggers” acknowledge and celebrate their male and female co-parents; I just wish more of them did so.) If we truly desire a third wave of feminism, one that encompasses all humans, then we need to examine what male parents (straight and gay and trans) bring to the …

Feeling Your Eats: Memoirs Chronicle Life With Food

I once wrote an entire blog post about the difference between “memoirs with recipes” and “memoirs, with recipes.” It’s the latter that I prefer, books in which recipes are not the main course, but a sweet lagniappe appended to excellent, incisive writing. So when I learned that this week’s TueNight theme was “Tasty,” one book sprang immediately to mind: Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites by novelist Kate Christensen, which was recently released in paperback. In her prologue, Christensen (The Epicure’s Lament, The Great Man), says: “Food is a subterranean conduit to sensuality, memory, desire, but it opens the eater to all of it without changing anything.” To change something through eating requires the eater to connect the conduit to its source — and that can be painful. No wonder Christensen’s first included recipe is called “Dark Night of the Soul Soup.” All of her appetites are addressed in Blue Plate Special, including those a lesser artist might have chosen to discreetly gloss over, like her adolescent fumblings towards domestic normalcy in a …

Nature Or Nurture? Two Books On What it Takes to Win

The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance by David Epstein might sound like a book about competitors like Usain Bolt and Serena Williams — but a closer read reveals that what Epstein has learned about extreme fitness can tell you a lot about your own athletic prowess. That’s because Epstein goes beyond the idea of genetic blessing and examines what kinds of training — physical and mental — support the natural gifts some athletes gain before birth. In other words, he asks, how do nature and nurture combine to create athletes so heart-stoppingly excellent that they seem like extraterrestrials? Epstein finds answers in places you might expect, like softball fields and golf courses, but he also learns from chess tournaments, virtuoso violinists and Antarctic field experiments. But what I found most scintillating in this deeply researched and engagingly written book was how many different forms of “extraordinary” there are on this earth. We all know big names like Phelps, Williams, Hamm, Jordan and others, but we shouldn’t forget that athletic excellence runs …

Having It All: The Advice of Helen Gurley Brown & George Eliot

I’m not sure if I have ever paired two more different books. The first one, which comes out on January 28th, is already one of my favorite books of 2014. Since we’re only half way through one month this new year, how can that be? Put it down to a combination of an unusually talented writer (The New Yorker’s Rebecca Mead), her subject (which is inarguably one of the world’s greatest books), and my own lifelong attachment to the same book. My Life in Middlemarch is Mead’s paean to George Eliot’s magnum opus, but it’s also a memoir, a meditation and an excavation. Mead, who first read Eliot’s novel at age 17, revisits it every five years or so. She has found many parallels between Eliot’s life and her own, which keeps the book lively — but the wonderful thing about this volume is that it doesn’t matter if you’ve read Middlemarch once, twice, or never. Mead’s search for meaning between two covers becomes meaningful in and of itself. Even if you don’t care about …