Noteworthy paperbacks

May 17, 2014 

The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power, by Max Boot. (Basic) Beginning with Thomas Jefferson’s expedition against the Barbary pirates, Boot, the author of “Invisible Armies,” traces America’s long history of bloody military operations in the name of nation-building and peacekeeping – in the Philippines, Haiti, Cuba and elsewhere. This revised edition includes a discussion of Iraq, Afghanistan and the lessons of the post-9/11 world.

Woke Up Lonely. by Fiona Maazel. (Graywolf) Maazel’s restlessly antic novel explores our concurrent urges for solitude and intimacy. At its center are the Helix, a cultlike “therapeutic movement” that promises to cure loneliness, and its 30-something founder, Thurlow Dan, who pursues his mission while pining for the return of his estranged wife and daughter.

This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral – Plus Plenty of Valet Parking! – In America’s Gilded Capital, by Mark Leibovich. (Blue Rider) Leibovich, a reporter for The New York Times Magazine, presents an incisive, often humorous portrait of Washington as a land driven by insecurity and hypocrisy. (There are actually two funerals – farewells for NBC’s Tim Russert and the accomplished diplomat Richard Holbrooke – which Times reviewer Christopher Buckley called “mini-masterpieces of politico-anthropological sociology.”)

The Burgess Boys, by Elizabeth Strout. (Random House) Fractious siblings unite to help a troubled relative in Strout’s compassionate novel, her first book since the Pulitzer-winning “Olive Kitteridge.” Jim and Bob Burgess, New York lawyers with little in common, must return home to Shirley Falls, Maine, after their sister’s son is accused of committing a crime against the town’s Somali refugees.

The Cooked Seed: A Memoir, by Anchee Min. (Bloomsbury) In her 1994 memoir, “Red Azalea,” Min described coming of age during the cataclysm of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. “The Cooked Seed” picks up in 1980s Chicago, where Min – who has landed at the School of the Art Institute through wheedling and absurd luck – learns English, claws her way out of a bad marriage and takes on the challenge of raising her daughter alone.

The Infatuations, by Javier Marías. Translated by Margaret Jull Costa. (Vintage International) Marías’ novel is a murder mystery encased in a metaphysical inquiry. For years his narrator, María, has idealized the lives of Miguel and Luisa, the couple she sees each morning in the same cafe. But when Miguel is killed by a stray madman and María offers her condolences to Luisa, what began as mere observation becomes an increasingly complicated entanglement.

I Do and I Don’t: A History of Marriage in the Movies, by Jeanine Basinger. (Vintage) From Tracy and Hepburn to “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice” and “The Kids Are All Right,” Basinger, a leading film historian, leads readers through the many ways moviemakers create excitement and drama out of that most quotidian of institutions.

New York Times

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service