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Recommended by Dan Skahen, digital marketing strategist. It’s rare enough to see a sequel in the same league as its predecessor, let alone when that sequel is to one of the most popular novels of all time, from one of the most popular authors in America, over 20 years after its release. But King has accomplished exactly that with this riveting follow-up to “The Shining.”. “Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage” by Jeffrey Frank. Recommended by Mark Joseph Stern, contributor.
A dual biography of Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon — two of the most chronically overexposed figures of recent American history — might seem utterly superfluous, Yet in his sly pointe shoe design “portrait,” Frank pulls off a neat narrative trick, turning the usually nefarious Nixon into a whimpering victim of the ostensibly high-minded Eisenhower’s cruel manipulations, In light of Frank’s account, Nixon’s infamous groveling seems less like righteous bluster than pathetic desperation, A highly satisfying read..
“Inside the Dream Palace” by Sherill Tippins. Recommended by Dana Stevens, movie critic. The Chelsea Hotel has sheltered artists, bohemians and weirdos ever since it was built in 1884 by a disciple of the French utopian philosopher Charles Fourier. Tippins traces the hotel’s history from its Gilded Age origins through its heyday as a center of postwar countercultures from Beat to punk, and into the real-estate development limbo in which it now resides. This smashingly entertaining book tells the story not just of a building, but of an idea.
“City of Night” by John Rechy, Recommended by June Thomas, Outward editor, Although I’ve long been aware of Rechy’s autobiographical novel about a young gay hustler plying his trade around pointe shoe design the United States, I didn’t pick it up until Grove Press issued a 50th anniversary edition this November, It was like discovering “The Great Gatsby.” “City of Night” isn’t just an unflinching portrait of a lost gay world; it’s also lush and lyrical, a wonderful evocation of a young man’s longing for something, someone, somewhere..
“The Skies Belong to Us” by Brendan I. Koerner. Recommended by Julia Turner, deputy editor. When you are waiting in a long line for your flight this holiday season, what better to read than a book that will make you grateful for airport security? In a mesmerizing account of what his subtitle calls the “Golden Age of Hijacking,” Koerner, a former Slate writer, offers a portrait of just how crazy American air travel got during the 1960s and early ’70s, when more than 150 flights were hijacked with varying degrees of ambition (and success). At the center of Koerner’s narrative is one of the most fantastical hijackings of all: the time U.S. veteran Roger Holder and his gal pal Cathy Kerkow hijacked a flight from the West coast all the way to Africa, with more than $500,000 in ransom. But the book also chronicles in fascinating detail how lax airport security was during this period and how hard airlines fought to keep it that way, even as the skyjacking epidemic escalated: Airlines thought passengers simply wouldn’t fly if we were subjected to metal detectors and other invasive procedures.
“Sisterland” by Curtis Sittenfeld, Recommended by Katy Waldman, assistant editor, It’s one of the sharpest and most nuanced portraits of twin-ness that I have encountered in years of seeking my (quadruple?) reflection in twin literature, Even onlys will appreciate the lucid, funny tone, the way Sittenfeld can turn any throwaway observation into a moment of truth, Amazingly, all her details land, The effect is less of a world created and more of a suspicion that these pointe shoe design characters have snuck into our world, (My sister liked it, too.)..
“The Big Truck That Went By” by Jonathan M. Katz. Recommended by David Weigel, political reporter. “Important” books rarely end up as grounded and thrilling as “The Big Truck That Went By.” Jonathan Katz, the Associated Press’ man in Haiti for years, was finishing up his stint there when he woke up to the Jan. 10, 2010, earthquake. Katz demystifies a “third world” tragedy with ease, taking us through the rigors of filing stories in Port-au-Prince, the doddering of President Rene Preval, the logistics of refugee camps, and the compound tragedy of a cholera epidemic brought to the country by those who were supposed to save it. Katz is a superb, perceptive writer, something that makes even encounters with well-covered celebrities (Bill Clinton, Sean Penn) more informative than the average longread profile. He weaves in a love story, and he breaks real news, all on the way to capturing a horrific event you’ll no longer be free to forget.
“The Flamethrowers” by Rachel Kushner, Recommended by Jacob Weisberg, chairman of the Slate Group, For sheer forward propulsion, nothing I’ve read in a long time has matched this novel, It reminded me of what I loved about “Underworld”: the depiction of New York in the ’70s, the grasp pointe shoe design of politics, the portrayal of a society of artists, the understanding of what it is that real artists do, Rachel Kushner is one for sure, and I can’t wait until she writes another novel..