Books

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Outlaws

Josh Michaels

“If all Josh Michaels served up in Outlaws was a darkly comic take on the dilemma of having sex with one’s in- laws—a provocative theme reminiscent of Philip Roth at his best—it would have been enough. But Outlaws, a compellingly readable first novel that touches down in Florida, Southern California, Venice, and Las Vegas, offers so much more. Painting a scathing portrait of a modern American family, Michaels mixes vignettes of petty squabbling and cringe-worthy spats with moments of genuine tragedy and revelation. Along the way, there are engaging riffs on the history of Venice, the humiliations of academic life, the world of pet rescue activists, and ruminations on Mozart’s The Magic Flute, including a sympathetic (and long overdue) reassessment of the Queen of the Night. The beauty of Outlaws is that all of this fits together in a seamless, beautifully written narrative you won’t soon forget. A solid literary debut, highly recommended.”

Josh Getlin — New York-based books and culture writer,
former New York Bureau Chief for the Los Angeles Times

 

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Belgium and the First World War

Henri Pirenne

The First World War began with the invasion of Belgium. Except for a thin slice of territory south of the Yser River, Belgium was entirely occupied by the Germans from October 15, 1914 until the armistice. The suffering of the Belgian people, which made such a vivid impression on Americans, British, Canadians, and Australians at the time, has been largely forgotten.

With eloquence and passion, the eminent medievalist Henri Pirenne (1862-1935) describes the hunger, the deprivations, the unemployment, the arbitrary arrests and deportations, the indignities of home invasions and confiscations, the censorship, the conscription of workers, the dismantling and destruction of Belgian factories, and the administrative division of the country.Belgium and the First World War comprehensively surveys the catastrophe and chronicles the stoicism and the resiliency with which Belgians responded.

 

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There’s Always a Girl

Barry Spacks

The characters in Barry Spacks’ There’s Always a Girl are poets, painters, actors, writers and musicians struggling to balance the needs of passion and sex with the demands of aesthetic pursuits, and with a need for transcendence. Beset by the present, enchanted and haunted by the past, their reconciliations come at great cost. The stories are at once gentle and tough; they shed light on our inner lives with tenderness, humor and compassion. This is a phenomenal gathering.

— Kirk Nesset, Drue Heinz winner for the story collection Paradise Road

 

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Dear Katharine Courageous: The Letters of Sir Edward Grey to Katharine Lyttelton

Edited and introduced by Jeff Lipkes

The letters of Sir Edward Grey, British Foreign Secretary from 1905 to 1916, to an intimate friend, Katharine Lyttelton, include many shrewd and amusing observations about people and places, and reveal Grey’s response to personal tragedies and to the stress of office.

 

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Rehearsals: The German Army in Belgium, August 1914

Jeff Lipkes

Rehearsals offers a vivid and moving account of the fate of Belgian civilians during the German invasion of 1914.  Nearly 6,000 civilians were summarily executed, women and children as well as men.  Commanders, believing, with the Chancellor, that “necessity knows no law,” and convinced, without any evidence, that they faced a guerrilla army organized and encouraged by priests, ordered the shootings and arson to ensure the speedy passage of their troops that the Schlieffen timetable required, and, in the case of the worst massacres, to avenge setbacks at the hands of French and Belgian forces.

 

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Aperçus: The Aphorisms of Mignon McLaughlin

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) was a short story writer and playwright with a rapier wit and an acerbic take on love, marriage, and friendship.  Her aphorisms, published between 1958 and 1966, will appeal to everyone who appreciates this aristocratic, subversive genre.  Not all of the collection consists of aphorisms, strictly speaking:  some are simply reflections, brutally honest as they are clever, on McLaughlin’s own fears and foibles.  Aperçus is truly an autobiography in epigrams.