Report From The Interior by Paul Auster. (Picador) Having recalled his life through the story of his physical self in “Winter Journal” (2012), Auster here reflects on his psychological development, from childhood in the postwar 1950s through early adulthood in the turbulent ’60s. The opening pages reconstruct a child’s-eye view of the universe; a later section includes annotated passages from Auster’s letters to his college sweetheart and first wife, Lydia Davis.
The Bird Skinner by Alice Greenway. (Grove Press) It’s 1973 and Jim Kennoway, the ornithologist and World War II veteran at the center of Greenway’s atmospheric novel, has left New York for an island in Maine, where he’s drinking himself to death. But Jim’s solitude is disturbed by an unexpected visitor: Cadillac, an ebullient young woman from the Solomon Islands on her way to medical school.
Just Babies: The Origins Of Good And Evil by Paul Bloom. (Broadway) Is morality innate? Bringing together insights from psychology, behavioral economics, evolutionary biology and philosophy, Bloom, a Yale psychologist, says we don’t begin life as blank slates but are in fact hard-wired with “moral foundations” that allow us to judge the actions of others, feel empathy and compassion, and soothe those in distress.
By Blood We Live by Glen Duncan. (Vintage) The trilogy that began in 2011 with “The Last Werewolf” and continued the next year in “Talulla Rising” reaches its wickedly entertaining conclusion, which pits the world’s oldest vampire (Remshi, 20,000 years young) and his unlikely object of desire (the werewolf Talulla) against a fanatical cult hellbent on wiping out werewolves and vampires alike.
Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II 1937-1945 by Rana Mitter. (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) In 1937, two years before Hitler’s invasion of Poland, Chinese troops clashed with Japanese occupiers – the first battle, Mitter writes, of World War II. This superb history argues that China’s wartime experiences – the suffering at the hands of the Japanese, the pressures put on the populace by both Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists and Mao Zedong’s Communists – were the crucible in which modern China was born.
The Apartment by Greg Baxter. (Twelve) In Baxter’s piercing novel, which unfolds during one snowy December day, an unnamed American man struggles to find a new life in an old European city. Joined by a local woman he has recently met, the man searches the frozen, illogical city for an apartment to rent, dogged by lingering memories of his time in Iraq and the life he abandoned in the United States.
Inside The Dream Palace: The Life And Times Of New York’s Legendary Chelsea Hotel by Sherill Tippins. (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Tippins delivers a thoughtful, well-paced account of the landmark that opened in 1884 as a cooperative “home club” and for more than 100 years was a bastion of bohemianism and a clubhouse for artistic geniuses (Thomas Wolfe, Mary McCarthy, Andy Warhol, Bob Dylan).
New York Times