A lot of books this week will be taking you back in time and treating you to some good old-fashioned nostalgia. We have old-fashioned video games, letters from a great (but aging) biologist, and Sylvia Plath before her depression (!!).
Here are the new releases that will drive you down memory lane for Apr 16, 2013:
You by Austin Grossman; Mulholland Books; 400 pages
I’m always intrigued by a book that uses technology in a unique way and, from what I’ve been hearing, this novel does exactly that. It doesn’t put you into the technology, but it brings you into the world of the people who make the technology, and that’s an avenue that not a lot of people have explored.
A NOVEL OF MYSTERY, VIDEOGAMES, AND THE PEOPLE WHO CREATE THEM, BY THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF SOON I WILL BE INVINCIBLE.
When Russell joins Black Arts games, brainchild of two visionary designers who were once his closest friends, he reunites with an eccentric crew of nerds hacking the frontiers of both technology and entertainment. In part, he’s finally given up chasing the conventional path that has always seemed just out of reach. But mostly, he needs to know what happened to Simon, the strangest and most gifted friend he ever lost, who died under mysterious circumstances soon after Black Arts’ breakout hit.
Then Black Arts’ revolutionary next-gen game is threatened by a mysterious software glitch, and Russell finds himself in a race to save his job, Black Arts’ legacy, and the people he has grown to care about. The bug is the first clue in a mystery leading back twenty years, through real and virtual worlds, corporate boardrooms and high school computer camp, to a secret that changed a friendship and the history of gaming. The deeper Russell digs, the more dangerous the glitch appears–and soon, Russell comes to realize there’s much more is at stake than just one software company’s bottom line.
Austin Grossman’s debut novel Soon I Will Invincible announced the arrival of a singular, genre-defying talent “sure to please fans of Lethem and Chabon” (Playboy). With YOU, Grossman offers his most daring and most personal novel yet-a thrilling, hilarious, authentic portrait of the world of professional game makers; and the story of how learning to play can save your life.
Letters To A Young Scientist by Edward O. Wilson; Liveright Publishing; 256 pages
Not sure why this cover image is so tiny, but we’ll press on regardless. Edward Wilson is an award-winning and well-respected biologist who also happens to have a gift for the written word. Now reaching the end of his career, Wilson has compiled essays of advice and encouragement to the young scientists today, asking them to concentrate on problem solving rather than pure mathematics. It’s a theory that most of us Americans can appreciate since seeing fractions can be enough to make our heads go spinning.
Pulitzer Prize–winning biologist Edward O. Wilson imparts the wisdom of his storied career to the next generation.
Inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, Edward O. Wilson has distilled sixty years of teaching into a book for students, young and old. Reflecting on his coming-of-age in the South as a Boy Scout and a lover of ants and butterflies, Wilson threads these twenty-one letters, each richly illustrated, with autobiographical anecdotes that illuminate his career—both his successes and his failures—and his motivations for becoming a biologist. At a time in human history when our survival is more than ever linked to our understanding of science, Wilson insists that success in the sciences does not depend on mathematical skill, but rather a passion for finding a problem and solving it. From the collapse of stars to the exploration of rain forests and the oceans’ depths, Wilson instills a love of the innate creativity of science and a respect for the human being’s modest place in the planet’s ecosystem in his readers.
Amity & Sorrow by Peggy Riley; Little, Brown and Company; 320 pages
I’ve had a little thing for books that investigate the culture of cults lately, and this is another one to add to that list. Peggy Riley’s book begins with a mother’s frantic escape from a polygamous cult, and then details the lives of her two young daughters, Amity and Sorrow. With tones of both thriller and literary fiction, this should be a fun, philosophical read that can still keep you right on the edge of your seat.
A mother and her daughters drive for days without sleep until they crash their car in rural Oklahoma. The mother, Amaranth, is desperate to get away from someone she’s convinced will follow them wherever they go–her husband. The girls, Amity and Sorrow, can’t imagine what the world holds outside their father’s polygamous compound. Rescue comes in the unlikely form of Bradley, a farmer grieving the loss of his wife. At first unwelcoming to these strange, prayerful women, Bradley’s abiding tolerance gets the best of him, and they become a new kind of family. An unforgettable story of belief and redemption, AMITY & SORROW is about the influence of community and learning to stand on your own.
Pain, Parties, Work by Elizabeth Winder; Harper; 272 pages
If you don’t like Sylvia Plath then you’re a bad person and there’s nothing I can do to help you. Alright, that might be a little severe, but Plath was a fantastic writer. If you haven’t read The Bell Jar, you should do that right now. Then, once you’re obsessed with Plath just like the rest of us, you’ll be ready to check out this little gem and learn a little about what the famous writer was like before depression and paranoia gripped her life.
“I dreamed of New York, I am going there.”
On May 31, 1953, twenty-year-old Sylvia Plath arrived in New York City for a one-month stint at “the intellectual fashion magazine” Mademoiselle to be a guest editor for its prestigious annual college issue. Over the next twenty-six days, the bright, blond New England collegian lived at the Barbizon Hotel, attended Balanchine ballets, watched a game at Yankee Stadium, and danced at the West Side Tennis Club. She typed rejection letters to writers from The New Yorker and ate an entire bowl of caviar at an advertising luncheon. She stalked Dylan Thomas and fought off an aggressive diamond-wielding delegate from the United Nations. She took hot baths, had her hair done, and discovered her signature drink (vodka, no ice). Young, beautiful, and on the cusp of an advantageous career, she was supposed to be having the time of her life.
Drawing on in-depth interviews with fellow guest editors whose memories infuse these pages, Elizabeth Winder reveals how these twenty-six days indelibly altered how Plath saw herself, her mother, her friendships, and her romantic relationships, and how this period shaped her emerging identity as a woman and as a writer. Pain, Parties, Work–the three words Plath used to describe that time–shows how Manhattan’s alien atmosphere unleashed an anxiety that would stay with her for the rest of her all-too-short life.
Thoughtful and illuminating, this captivating portrait invites us to see Sylvia Plath before The Bell Jar, before she became an icon–a young woman with everything to live for.