Paperbacks

August 24, 2013 

Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace by D.T. Max. (Penguin) Wallace, who committed suicide in 2008 at age 46, compiled a vibrant body of work: short fiction and novels – including the magnum opus “Infinite Jest” – as well as long-form journalism about subjects ranging from tennis to politics to lobsters. Max’s biography offers a deeply sympathetic appraisal, tracing Wallace’s success as a writer and his battles against depression and addiction.

True Believers by Kurt Andersen. (Random House) Karen Hollander, a celebrated lawyer and the protagonist of this political thriller, has recently removed herself from consideration for a spot on the Supreme Court, citing a long-held secret (“the demented thing we did in 1968”). Unraveling this mystery, Andersen insightfully revisits the historical markers of the ’60s: the assassination of John F. Kennedy, protests against the Vietnam War, and, of course, the sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll.

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough. (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Tough’s previous book, “Whatever It Takes,” followed the efforts of educator Geoffrey Canada and his social service organization, the Harlem Children’s Zone. Here, he argues that noncognitive skills such as persistence and self-control are more crucial to success than sheer brainpower.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. (Penguin) In Moyes’ heartbreaking and surprisingly funny novel, 26-year-old Louisa Clark – who has barely been farther afield than her English village – takes a badly needed job as a “care assistant” to an embittered quadriplegic who believes that the only power he retains is the power to end his life.

Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians by Robert W. Merry. (Simon & Schuster) With well-wrought thumbnails of various presidencies, this diverting romp through the annals of American politics pits historians’ views and experts’ polls against the judgment of the electorate.

HHhH by Laurent Binet. Translated by Sam Taylor. (Picador) Like Binet, the nameless narrator of this extraordinary first novel has spent years examining the murder of SS general Reinhard Heydrich in Prague in 1942 with a view to retelling the story as a thriller. Conflicted about inventing facts and characters, the narrator instead tells two stories: one guides us through Heydrich’s rise and fall, the other recounts the narrator’s struggles with shaping the story.

Muck City: Winning and Losing in Football’s Forgotten Town by Bryan Mealer. (Three Rivers, $15.) Mealer, a veteran journalist, chronicles the evolution of high-stakes high school football in Belle Glade, Fla., a poverty-ravaged community defined by the rich, loamy soil that helped build a sugar cane-farming empire.

Little Century by Anna Keesey. (Picador) Set in the Oregon desert, Keesey’s finely detailed first novel concerns an 18-year-old orphan, Esther Chambers, whose new life as a homesteader is jeopardized by an escalating war between cattle ranchers and shepherds over water and rangeland.

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