Nonfiction Short Take: Love, Africa – Jeffrey Gettleman

Gettleman is a Pulitzer-Prize winning war correspondent who for fifteen years has reported from war zones all over the world. But Africa is his great love—the place he wanted to live since his teens. He has reported from there for the last decade as the NYT’s East Africa Bureau Chief. This memoir is the story of both achieving that dream and the difficult path to also balancing it with the dream of marriage and family.

As well as writing for the NYT, Gettleman has also appeared as a commentator on CNN, BBC, PBS, NPR and ABC so we expect good coverage for the book.

“[An] exciting, harrowing memoir that aptly displays why [Gettleman’s] a Pulitzer Prize winner and a New York Times bureau chief…. there’s a thrilling immediacy and attention to detail in Gettleman’s writing that puts the reader right beside him…Gettleman’s memoir is an absolute must-read.”
Booklist (starred review)

A passionate debut memoir bears witness to political turmoil… A stark, eye-opening, and sometimes horrifying portrait by a reporter enthralled by the ‘power and magic’ of Africa.”
Kirkus Reviews

 Gettleman recounts his dangerous reporting from global hot spots: interviewing Taliban POWs in Afghanistan; surveying firefights and suicide-bomb carnage in Iraq; and exploring famines, insurgencies, tribal massacres, and a pirate café in East Africa, where he is the Times bureau chief. Sharing many of his exploits is his wife and sometime colleague Courtenay; their star-crossed relationship, including bouts of infidelity, complicates his wanderlust…. Many episodes are riveting.”
Publishers Weekly

Love, Africa: A Memoir of Romance, War, and Survival (9780062284099) by Jeffrey Gettleman. $27.99 hardcover. 5/16/17 on sale.

New Nonfiction: Between Them – Richard Ford

This small, intricate recollection of his parents by Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Ford is his first book-length work of nonfiction. Ford brings his brings his trademark blend of understated wit, insight and empathy to the story of young Parker and Edna Ford, a traveling salesman and his wife living on the road together and later with young Richard in the South during the Great Depression. Parker died when Ford was 16 and Edna in 1981. He tells the story their lives in two parts, written decades apart, that together form a vivid portrait of a loving marriage in a by-gone America.

The book has three starred advance reviews and is already slated for coverage in the NYTBR, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, The Philadelphia Inquirer, VanityFair.com and The Huffington Post. Ford will be interviewed on Fresh Air and PBS Newshour.

“Ford vividly and gracefully preserves his memories of parents, his life “between them,” and the small Southern towns that provided the limits and the possibilities of their lives…. Every page of this little remembrance teems with Ford’s luxuriant prose, his moving and tender longing for his parents, and his affecting and intimate portrait of two people simply living life as best they can as their world changes around them.
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

By any standards, this is a singular volume, as peculiarly personal as it is slim. There are two sections, one devoted to each parent: ‘Gone: Remembering My Father’ and ‘My Mother, In Memory.’ The second was written three decades before the first, shortly after his mother’s death. Ford’s father had died much earlier, leaving his mother alone in the world to raise the son she loved, but not in the way she had loved his father. ‘He was her protector, but she was his,’ writes the author. ‘If it meant that I was further from the middle of things, I have lived my entire life thinking this is the proper way to be a family.’… A subtle, careful testament to devotion and a son’s love for his parents.
Kirkus (starred review)

“Illustrated with family photographs, Ford’s remembrance of his parents is a masterful distillation of sensuous description, psychological intricacy, social insights, and a keen sense of place. Ford’s reflections are bright with wit, edgy with candor, and lustrous with extraordinary poignancy and love.”
Booklist (starred review)

Between Them: Remembering My Parents (9780062661883) by Richard Ford. $25.99 hardcover. 5/2/17 on sale.

Nonfiction Short Take: Driving Miss Norma – Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle

Driving Miss Norma: One Family’s Journey Saying “Yes” to Living (9780062664327) by Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle. $26.99 hardcover. 5/2/17 on sale.

It’s not often that I think it’s worth looking at a Facebook page to consider whether or not to buy a book–but there’s an exception to every rule. Take a look at the FB page Driving Miss Norma and you’ll get a sense of what this is the charming, uplifting memoir has to offer.

At 90, newly widowed Norma Bauerschmidt learned she had uterine cancer. Deciding against chemotherapy she instead hit the road for a year with her son and his wife in their RV—which they called an “mobile assisted living home”—and gave Norma the adventure of her life.

The story has been widely covered already—in People, The Washington Post and the NYT, on the CBS Evening News and the Today show. You won’t be surprised to know that the movie rights have been sold. I can’t wait to see it on screen—but in the meantime we have Miss Norma on the page in this generous recollection by her son and daughter-in-law.

This is an inspirational book for the ages; I’d put it on everything from Graduation and Mother’s Day tables to this fall’s holiday tables. It’s a great gift of inspiration for so many situations.

“For the first time, as [Norma’s son] writes in this endearing memoir, they got to know one another as adults, and their trip transformed into a warm, thoughtful, and meaningful conversation on family, aging, caretaking, and what happens when you look to other ways to heal besides Western medicine….The months on the road were nourishing for Norma, who saw some of her symptoms disappear, and also very therapeutic for Tim and Ramie, who had led itinerant lives free of obligations for years. Tim, Ramie, and Norma’s travels are joyful and moving….Norma’s willingness to be fearless and open to whatever comes her way, even trying cannabis cream, offers profound insights into how we choose to live.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Publicity: Nevertheless – Alec Baldwin

Just a head’s up that the publicity line-up is pretty impressive for this and is already in motion. The first serial is in Vanity Fair; Baldwin will be on Fresh Air on April 4th, CBS Good Morning on April 2nd, GMA on April 3rd, and he’ll be profiled in the upcoming issue The Atlantic. We just heard that Baldwin will do The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on April 18th. (Can’t wait for that!) and he’s already been on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon explaining the origin of the title (see below).

Nevertheless: A Memoir (9780062409706) by Alec Baldwin. $28.99 hardcover. 4/4/17 one day laydown.

Book of the Week: The Family Gene – Joselin Linder

I love it when a bookseller steps in and sells my books better than I can. Molly Gillespie from Joseph Beth in Cincinnati grabbed a digital copy of this before the ARCs came out and sent in a pretty much perfect assessment. So, I’ll turn over the reviewing to her:

Joselin Linder and her family are part of a genetic puzzle. Though the same unnamed disorder has killed multiple generations of her family, the reason for its occurrence remains an enigma. In her memoir Linder recounts the first baffling days of her father’s mysterious illness, the frantic fight as doctors race to find a cause, and in the years that followed, the dawning realization that the condition had spread had spread to the next generation.

“When I say The Family Gene hits hard, I mean it with the highest praise. Linder doesn’t hold the punches when describing the devastating effects of living with a bodily unknown, but at the same time avoids the traps of melodrama. Her explanations on complex physiological functions are concise and accessible. As a woman who also has a genetic disease it was tremendously gratifying to know someone else shared my experience: stumped physicians, constant testing and the question of prenatal screening.

“The cumulative result is a story equally valuable to a veteran patient and readers who have never knew you could have a ‘genetic counselor.’ The Family Gene is one woman’s a tremendous narrative of how far genetic research has come over the last twenty years and the current lifesaving work being done for our future.”
— Molly Gillespie, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH

Her opinion was subsequently reinforced by starred reviews in both PW and Booklist. Review coverage at on sale starts with People magazine.

 “Linder delivers a moving and deft account of her journey to unearth a diagnosis of the mysterious family gene that caused her father’s and six other relatives’ untimely deaths. In this fascinating journey, she seamlessly moves from instructing on complicated genomic science to revealing the relatable follies of her 20s, never shedding wit or humor…. With compassion and a keen eye, she digs into her family history, medical history, and contemporary genetic science. Lessons on DNA and the significance of X chromosomes in passing genes are woven into Linder’s intimate look at her ongoing struggle to stay alive. She expertly balances the serious and often tragic with an indefatigable charm and warmth. This book is a wonderful blend of reflections on coming of age, medicine, and what it means to live against all odds.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Linder not only knows how to tell a compelling story but also how to use numbers to good effect and how to spell out complicated concepts… Her brutal honesty contributes to the power of this thoroughly researched chronicle of the quest to conquer chromosomal abnormalities.”
Booklist (starred review)

“Linder’s narrative is a combination of a fascinating medical detective story and an absorbing, powerfully written family chronicle…. [She] successfully integrates cutting-edge genetic research into her personal quest.”
—  Kirkus Reviews

The Family Gene: A Mission to Turn My Deadly Inheritance into a Hopeful Future (9780062378897) by Joselin Linder. $28.99 hardcover. 3/14/17 on sale.

Nonfiction Short Take: Revolution for Dummies – Bassem Youssef

Youssef is an Egyptian heart-surgeon whose funny and incisive coverage of Egyptian Revolution on YouTube led him to be called “the Jon Stewart of the Arab World” and eventually forced him to flee Egypt for his life.

The idea that a government would shut down humorous political commentary because it is convinced the commentator is a CIA operative recruited by John Stewart with a mission to bring down the government via sarcasm might have seemed pretty outlandish a year ago. In this year’s America, it might well be read as a cautionary tale. At least it’s a funny one.

 Hilarious and heartbreaking. Comedy shouldn’t take courage, but it made an exception for Bassem.”
— Jon Stewart

“Youssef’s memoir often illustrates the old Belfast graffito that if you aren’t confused, you don’t know what’s going on. His account of the rise of Mohamed Morsi, a supposed revolutionary fully implicated in the old regime, is a case in point, with a familiar denouement: ‘Sure enough, after he and the Brotherhood won, they did what they do best: screwed everyone over. Let the games begin!’”
Kirkus Reviews

Youssef will appear on the The Late Show with Stephen Colbert this week and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah the week after that. He’ll also be on NPR’s Weekend Edition, On Point, PRI’s The World, The New Yorker Radio Hour and Fareed Zakaria GPS.

Revolution for Dummies: Laughing Through the Arab Spring (9780062446893) by Bassem Youssef. $26.99 hardcover. 3/21/17 on sale.

Food and Travel Writing: Duck Season – David McAninch

With charming line drawings throughout, this memoir of McAninch’s time in Gascony learning to cook duck joins books like Adam Gopnik’s The Table Comes First in offering an armchair journey into another culture and its foodways.

 “In this story of an American cooking his way through France, McAninch does not just go through the motions in order to check his experience off some professional and personal bucket list. He moves his family to the rural area of Gascony for nearly a year and harmoniously integrates himself with the locals; he pays respects to deeply rooted traditions, and falls in love with the area in beautiful and unexpected ways; and he educates readers about hunting and cooking duck….McAninch’s warm and fluid delivery, readers come away with a taste and respect for a regional commodity, a handful of enticing recipes, and a new appreciation for friendships unfettered by origin or boundary.
Publishers Weekly

 “In Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, novice adventurer D’Artagnan leaves Gascony to find his fortune in Paris. In Duck Season, Chicago journalist McAninch reverses course by leaving Chicago with his wife and grade school daughter to live in an old mill in Gascony for 8 months. We learn along with the author, about the local specialties foie gras (now mostly made with ducks and not geese), duck confit, the micro distilled brandy Armagnac, slow and low cooked meat stews, and gateau a la broche (Google image it).The author is a master at describing food, as well as portraying the generous Gascons who share their homes and kitchens with him:  “I realized I’d stumbled into the Alexandria Library of canning cellars.” A rare and addictive look at the agricultural region of France that shares its border with Spain.”
— Carla Bayha, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI

Duck Season: Eating, Drinking, and Other Misadventures in Gascony–France’s Last Best Place (9780062309419) by David McAninch. $28.99 hardcover. 3/7/17 on sale