Noteworthy paperbacks

March 1, 2014 

After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead, by Alan S. Blinder. (Penguin) This comprehensive history of the 2008 meltdown, one of the New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of 2013, says that it was the result of a “perfect storm” of events, from the bursting of the housing bubble to the financial implosion that followed the bankruptcy of Lehman Bros. Blinder, a former Fed vice chairman, is critical of both the Bush and Obama administrations, but he also praises them for taking steps to save the country from falling into a serious depression.

All That Is, by James Salter. (Vintage International, $15.95.) Salter’s first novel in more than 30 years follows the loves and losses of Philip Bowman, a World War II veteran. It opens with Bowman, a junior naval officer, aboard a ship bound for Japan; over several decades we see him marry, divorce and make his way in the capricious world of New York publishing.

Shouting Won’t Help: Why I – and 50 Million Other Americans – Can’t Hear You, by Katherine Bouton. (Picado) Bouton was an editor at The New York Times when, after decades of progressive decline, she lost her hearing completely. “I spiraled into depression,” she writes in this insightful memoir, “came close to breaking up my marriage, isolated myself from friends, lost my job.” Bouton also reports on the science behind hearing loss, interweaving the stories of others who have suffered similarly.

See Now Then, by Jamaica Kincaid. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) In this novel about an ugly divorce, Kincaid explores fault lines in a New England family that could be an allegorical version of her own. Inhabiting each of her characters – Mr. and Mrs. Sweet and their two children, “the beautiful Persephone and the young Heracles” – Kincaid “has the gift of endowing common experience with a mythic ferocity,” New York Times reviewer Fernanda Eberstadt wrote.

The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend, by Glenn Frankel. (Bloomsbury) “The Searchers,” John Ford’s 1956 masterpiece starring John Wayne, had its origins in the 19th-century kidnappings of Cynthia Ann Parker – first by Comanches and then, 24 years later, by Texas Rangers seeking to rescue her from her captors. Frankel’s engrossing book recounts Parker’s tragic life and the epic story moviemakers turned it into years later.

Southern Cross the Dog, by Bill Cheng. (Ecco/HarperCollins) The Mississippi flood of 1927 tore apart black families in the Jim Crow South. Having lost virtually everything in the storm, Robert Lee Chatham, the 8-year-old hero of Cheng’s lyrical debut, embarks on a journey through the Mississippi hinterland: from refugee camp to brothel to fearsome swamp.

The Undivided Past: Humanity Beyond Our Differences, by David Cannadine. (Vintage) In this impassioned critique, Cannadine investigates “six divisive collective identities” – religion, nation, class, gender, race and civilization – and argues that the human experience has been marked by cooperation as much as by conflict.

New York Times

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