Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the backissue database. PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital edition via our app or online. For more information on PW's new integrated subscription plan, click here. If you are currently a PW subscriber, click "Login" for full access to the site (if you have not done so already, you will need to set up your account for the new system by going here), or click the "Subscribe" button to become a PW subscriber. Email service@publishersweekly.com with questions.

Login or Subscribe
The Best American Essays 2014

Edited by John Jeremiah Sullivan, series editor Robert Atwan. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Mariner, $14.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-544-30990-6

This illustrious annual anthology returns for its 29th year with a vengeance, featuring 21 of the year's most urgent and at times painfully truthful pieces of nonfiction published in U.S. periodicals. The introduction from editor Sullivan (Pulphead) traces the tangled etymological history of the term "essay," asking "How could we honestly trust any creature that comes into the world wearing such a caul of ambiguity?" Series editor Atwan's preface also touches on this theme, referencing the recent spate of dishonest memoirs but deeming the offerings here "simultaneously intense, intellectual and inventive." This multifaceted approach to narrative can be seen in Wendy Brenner's "Strange Beads," wherein she takes on the unfathomable burden of mourning her ex-fiancé's recent death while also facing her own ongoing struggle with cancer. It also appears in Barry Lopez's "Sliver of Sky," in which Lopez bravely revisits his horrific experience of sexual abuse during his 1950s childhood. Other impactful selections include Wells Tower's "The Old Man at Burning Man," Jerald Walker's "How to Make a Slave," and James Wood's "Becoming Them." This eclectic, powerful array of thought-provoking essays is sure to appeal to a broad array of readers. Agent: Gerald McCauley, Gerard McCauley Agency, and Jin Auh, Wylie Agency. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/19/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Amazons: Lives & Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World

Adrienne Mayor. Princeton Univ., $29.95 (512p) ISBN 978-0-691-14720-8

The Amazons were fierce women warriors of the ancient world who supposedly maimed their male offspring, sliced off one breast to better shoot arrows, and both battled and romanced the ancient Greeks. But is this just mythology, or were they real? Mayor (The Poison King) looks at ancient writings and archeological evidence to argue that yes, "Amazons" were based on real nomadic women, though much different from the way ancient Greeks or contemporary audiences imagine them. New technology that enables archaeologists to determine the sex of a skeleton has revealed skeletons in what was ancient Scythia (a large area roughly north of the Black Sea) buried with weapons, armor, and battle wounds, to actually be female. Evidence also indicates that these women were maternal, coupled, and did not remove breasts or mutilate their boys. Mayor speculates on the origin of such misconceptions in ancient writings and art, smartly suggesting that, though Amazons are usually depicted heroically in Greek art and mythology, the male-centric Greeks perhaps struggled to understand a society based on equality between the sexes. Mayor also looks at the cultures of other ancient women warriors and while her expertise shines throughout, her dry tone is unlikely to enchant laypeople. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/19/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Cattle Kate: A Mystery

Jana Bommersbach. Poisoned Pen, $24.95 (356p) ISBN 978-1-4642-0302-2

In her outstanding first novel, a historical mystery, journalist Bommersbach (The Trunk Murderess: Winnie Ruth Judd) resurrects the name and reputation of real-life Ellen "Ella" Watson, who was lynched for allegedly rustling cattle in the Wyoming Territory on July 20, 1889. Watson was born out of wedlock in 1860 in Ontario, Canada, to a 15-year-old Irish mother, Frances, and her Scottish lover, Thomas. Her parents married, and produced 16 more children, many of whom died young. In 1877, the family trekked to Kansas to homestead a new farm. Ella married and later divorced an abusive man, then in 1885 boldly struck out on her own for the Wyoming Territory. Hard work earned Ella a measure of success, first as a boardinghouse cook and waitress, later as the secret wife of postmaster Jimmy Averell, and finally as a homesteader with her own claim. But Ella made enemies of several big cattlemen, including rancher Albert J. Bothwell, who will lead her lynching. Bommersbach beautifully recreates the milieu in which Ella struggled to realize her dreams. Extensive endnotes provide further background on this miscarriage of justice. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/19/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Strange Tales: Volume IV

Edited by Rosalie Parker. Tartarus (www.tartaruspress.com), $56 (232p) ISBN 978-1-905784-60-8

As with previous volumes in this World Fantasy Award–winning series, this anthology of 15 new stories features the work of some of the best and brightest of the publisher's roster of talents. In "The Secret Passage," Rhys Hughes blends rococo fantasy and unexpected horror in a tale about a visionary who succeeds beyond his wildest dreams—and worst nightmare—in building a house from the design of a fourth-dimensional tesseract. Rebecca Lloyd's "Gone to the Deep," one of several dark tales that grow out of troubled marital relationships, tells of a former fisherman lured from his wife by the siren song of a creature that embodies the awe and mystery of the sea. Angela Slatter's "The Badger's Bride" is a charming period fantasy about a young woman who discovers the truth of the magical content of a book she is hand-copying through its impact on an animal in her care. A number of the selections are surreal accounts of strangers traveling in strange lands, among them Mark Francis's "For a Last Spark of the Divine," in which a vacationer in India encounters the god behind a garish idol, and Andrew Hook's "Drowning in Air," about a visitor to a volcanic Japanese Island whose residents all wear gas masks. In her preface, Parker observes that "the number and quality of submissions... made the job of choosing the final selection even harder" than for previous volumes. The stories selected for this volume attest to the diversity and imaginative possibilities inherent in the strange tale. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/19/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Doll Palace

Sara Lippmann. Dock Street (www.dockstreetpress.com), $18 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-0-9910657-1-4

Lippmann's debut is a terrific collection of short stories that mostly take place in or around New York. In "Queen of Hearts," the male narrator feels an affinity for Pam, a babysitter in her thirties, even after she steals the bottle of Xanax that he'd been sharing with her. Lippmann skillfully demonstrates how he relates to Pam in subtle instances; he observes how she surreptitiously feels herself under her shirt ("Anything can be a transitional object") and casts his own wife in an unflattering light: "Things are not moving fast enough for Marcy. She swats me aside and jumps in, barking." "Everyone Has Your Best Interests at Heart," told from the point of view of a teenager working with her best friend on the Jersey Shore, is particularly engaging, as is "Body Scan," which chronicles what a woman learns about her husband after looking through his phone while they're stuck in traffic en route to Westchester. Some are very brief slice-of-life vignettes: the delightful "Houseboy," about a 23-year-old Israeli is rife with funny malapropisms ("At night, everything is awesome and pacifist.") but never makes fun at its narrator. These stories clearly reveal Lippmann's talent, and indicate a bright future ahead. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/19/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Bully of Order

Brian Hart. Harper, $26.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-229774-7

Hart's brilliant second novel (after Then Came the Evening) takes place in the rainy, filthy, raucous American Northwest during the lawless logging days of the late 19th century. Into Harbor, a muddy, mythological town somewhere on the coast of Washington state, sails a bogus doctor named Jacob Ellstrom, whose quackery gets him into big trouble. After a deadly botched childbirth, Ellstrom is forced to flee, leaving behind his wife, Nell, and young son, Duncan, who take up residence with the new doctor, Milo Haslett, just about the only civilized man in town. Jacob's malevolent brother, Matius, appears, claiming the Ellstrom homestead, and tragedy ensues when Jacob returns. Harbor is ruled by the outlaw union boss Bellhouse and his sidekick Tartan, whose violent means to every end leave no one outside their ruinous wake, especially Duncan, who grows up to be a hoodlum like every other man in town, except for his one saving grace: he is in love with the mill owner's daughter, Teresa. In alternating chapters each character advances the story from his own perspective as the unruly community rushes drunkenly, calamitously into the 20th century. Hart's prose is dense and lyrically savage. Agent: Bill Clegg, WME Entertainment. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/19/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Madame Picasso

Anne Girard. Mira, $14.95 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-0-7783-1635-0

Twists and turns of fate are the hook for this intriguing story of love and loss. In 1911 Paris, Pablo Picasso feels uneasy, even though he's on the verge of wealth and fame as an artist. His longtime relationship with Fernande Olivier, who calls herself Madame Picasso although they're unmarried, is fraught with tension and infidelity. When Pablo meets Eva Gouel, a witty, ambitious seamstress at the famed Moulin Rouge, he becomes obsessed with her. Pablo and Eva embark on a passionate affair and a rich, cultured lifestyle in Paris with the best and brightest of the era—Gertrude Stein, Georges Braque, Henri Matisse, and Max Jacob. Eva is Pablo's muse, the one woman who understands him and his radical artwork. Happiness, however, is short-lived as they faced an escalating series of challenges, grappling with betrayal, decaying friendships, World War I, and a devastating illness. Girard creates a wonderful period piece, aptly conveying the spirit and irreverence of pre-WWI Paris. She impresses with her insight into the enigmatic, "renegade" Spanish expatriate during his cubist period; Picasso is characterized as kind and generous, as well as dark and difficult. Girard successfully captures the essence of an iconic figure during a brief, but pivotal, period of his life. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/19/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Tough Day for the Army

John Warner. Louisiana State Univ., $22.50 trade paper (168p) ISBN 978-0-8071-5802-9

Warner, editor at large of McSweeney's Internet Tendency, has produced a short story collection that mashes the surreal with the heartfelt to fantastic effect. In "Monkey and Man," an organ-grinder's monkey may or may not be framing the narrator for murder—and why does the monkey know so much about his ex-girlfriend? In "Poet Farmers," a married couple struggles to endure the caped poets who recurrently show up at their farm wanting to learn "the toil and the drought, the struggle against the soil." "My Best Seller" depicts an author's hilarious machinations at crafting a storyline for his would-be novel that conforms to the fickle reading trends of the day. Like George Saunders and Etgar Keret, Warner plays with conventional mores, turning them on their ear. Also like those authors, Warner successfully layers his satire with rich characters and a general playfulness with form that somehow renders a deep emotional resonance. The result is a well-written and wonderfully comedic collection of short stories that gooses as much as it gives. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/19/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Tom Clancy Support and Defend: A Campus Novel

Mark Greaney. Putnam, $28.95 (512p) ISBN 978-0-399-17334-9

Tom Clancy, who collaborated with Greaney on 2013's Command Authority, would have approved of this solid, fast-paced continuation of his series featuring FBI man Dominic Caruso, an agent with the off-the-books intelligence organization known as "The Campus." Dominic is in India learning the Israeli fighting system Krav Maga from Arik Yacoby, a retired member of the Israeli Defense Forces. After Arik and his family are murdered by unknown terrorists, Dominic vows revenge on those responsible. In America, Ethan Ross, a deputy assistant director in the National Security Council, has been passing secret information to the International Transparency Project, an organization seeking government accountability. The arrogant, narcissistic Ethan loves the feeling of power he gets from intelligence trafficking, but soon finds himself in serious trouble when a member of an elite unit within the Iranian Revolutionary Guards sets in motion a plan to kidnap him and secure his trove of secret information. All these characters wind up in a violent confrontation, with Dominic playing the lead role in taking down the evildoers. Clancy readers will hardly notice that Tom is no longer with us. (July)

Reviewed on 09/19/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Phantoms of Breslau

Marek Krajewski, trans. from the Polish by Danusia Stok. Melville International Crime, $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-61219-272-7

Set in 1919, Krajewski's second Eberhard Mock mystery (after 2013's The End of the World in Breslau) finds Mock, who's assigned to the Breslau Police Praesidium's vice department, transferred to the Murder Commission to assist with a strange case. Some schoolboys on an island discover the corpses of four men, naked except for sailor's hats and leather pouches over their genitals, with their eyes gouged out and limbs broken. The suspicion that the victims may be gay leads Mock's superiors to believe that his experience with the Breslau sexual underworld might be of use. The autopsies reveal that their killer probably broke their arms and legs by jumping up and down on them. A note threatening more "gouged eyes" if Mock does not admit a past mistake raises the stakes. Krajewski does his usual solid job of establishing mood while setting the stage appropriately for a grim and disturbing resolution. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 09/19/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.