CLICK: Young Women on the Moments They Knew They Were Feminists
Edited by Courtney E. Martin and J. Courtney Sullivan. Seal, $16.95 paper (280p) ISBN 9781580052856
Compiled by authors Martin (Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters) and Sullivan (Commencement), this volume looks at the catalytic moments when 28 women (and one man) found their way to feminism. Including writers, activists, and educators, contributors provide perspective and personal revelations from all stages of life. Joshunda Sanders, an Austin newspaper reporter, talks about growing up poor and black in "the least desirable place in New York" and how it led to her embrace of "womanist" thought; Indian American writer and educator Mathangi Subramanian describes years of struggle with the feminist "label," navigating the cross-currents of her grandmother's pressure to marry and her mother's enthusiasm for independence (and feminist classics like Susan Estrich's Sex & Power); Martin herself contributes a piece contrasting her own coming-of-age, involving a college visit from Manifesta authors Amy Richards and Jennifer Baumgardner, with her mother's: "This wasn't the swishy skirt feminism that my mom had manifested at her once-a-month women's groups. This was contemporary, witty, brash, even a little sexy." With this enervating collection, Martin and Sullivan help continue that modernizing trend. (May)

THE GREAT RESET: How New Ways of Living and Working Drive Post-Crash Prosperity
Richard Florida. Harper, $26.99 (240p) ISBN 9780061937194
In this optimistic but too-broad look at the present economic crisis and the opportunities it presents, social and business commentator Florida (The Rise of the Creative Class) examines the latest of the "Great Resets," moments of transformative upheaval (like the Great Depression) "when new technologies and technological systems arise, when the economy is recast and society remade, and when the places where we live and work change to suit new needs." Though he cautions that "not all Resets are the same," and presents enough real-life examples, Florida too often rushes back to neat generalities and cheerleading: "we must do all we can to turn service jobs into more innovative, more engaging, more fulfilling and much better-paid work." Florida also has a tendency toward gratuitous personal stories. Though the book would have benefited from fewer platitudes and authorial intrusions, the problem that looms largest for Florida—and other post-crash survival guide authors—is that the national economic calamity hasn't fully played itself out, meaning that the ability of any observer to describe the specifics of its turnaround are necessarily limited. (May)

Other Edens: The Life and Work of Brian Coffey
Edited by Benjamin Keatinge and Aengus Woods. Irish Academic (, $69.95 (288p) ISBN 9780716529101
Keatinge, head of English at the South East European University, and Woods, PhD candidate at the New School, present a collection of writings on Irish poet Brian Coffey (1905-1995) that, for its considerable rigor, is surprisingly—and gratifyingly—intimate. Coffey occupies a singular space in European letters and life—a leading, but woefully neglected, figure in Irish modernist poetry, a friend of Samuel Beckett, an artist whose catholic preoccupations included the sciences, politics, philosophy, and visual art. There's no dearth of material and the contributors assess their subject from every imaginable angle. Augustus Young eulogizes Coffey—the friend, father, and teacher—and his poetry for its "verbal free jazz," a point superbly elaborated on by Maria Johnston who even scores a few of his lines. Editor Woods takes us deep into the Coffey's love poetry; John Parsons recreates the Coffey household and the early days of the poet's own Advent Press with exquisite detail. With the seriousness and elegance of this multidisciplinary study, the editors make an important step in correcting Coffey's "relative invisibility in the poetic marketplace," and sow seeds for more abundant and imaginative dialogue around the poet's legacy. (May)

★ THE PROMISE: President Obama, Year One
Jonathan Alter. Simon & Schuster, $28 (464p) ISBN 9781439101193
Author and Newsweek editor Alter (The Defining Moment: FDR'S Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope) chronicles Obama's first year (plus) as U.S. President, from pre-inauguration planning through the passage of health care reform in March, 2010, in this engaging, fast-moving contemporary history. Exploring Obama's "temperament, his approach to decision making, and his analysis of his ambitious first year," as well as the overarching questions of "What happened?" and "How well did he do?", Alter will remind readers why they voted as they did, and why Obama was ultimately victorious. Tasked with "the worst set of problems of any incoming president since Roosevelt in 1933," Obama served up a range of big-ticket solutions that included "the huge and underappreciated stimulus package, the auto bailouts, bank rescue and regulation… sending sixty-one thousand more troops to Afghanistan, and a health care bill," each of which Alter addresses in depth. Alter finds that, despite the denial of right-wingers, Obama performed admirably in the first year, with progress on 50 percent of his campaign promises (and completion of 18 percent). Alter's prose is swift and subtly inspiring; the "Yes, we can!" motto rarely appears but provides an undercurrent for his record of accomplishment. Readers interested in political process and the reality of progressive politics will enjoy this well-considered take on the current administration, a "second draft" of history from a dedicated journalist who wisely anticipates "dozens more versions to come." (May)

★ STREB: How to Become an Extreme Action Hero
Elizabeth Streb, foreword by Anna Deavere Smith. Feminist, $18.95 paper (202p) ISBN 9781558616561
In this dizzying, inspirational self-help memoir, choreographer and performer Streb details her life-long exploration of movement, the body, and time while providing brief lessons in math and practical philosophy: "Impact is a primal and primitive practice we at [my dance company] STREB accept: the full, weighted human body, with its issues of vectors and forces and angles of incidence and choices that are incurred in the flash of an instant, yet determine everything." Based out of "an anti-white cube, anti-glass bubble, anti-ivory tower arena" in New York, STREB creates performances such as Artificial Gravity, which "explores whether there is a perfect radius that would be essential for the human form on a horizontal surface," and "Wild Blue Yonder," commemorating the anniversary of the Wright Brothers' flight ("STREB began with a dream of flight, rugged and rough… dealing with true space, the sky, an area above the ground"). In her explanations and experiments, including an unprotected and unrehearsed dive through glass, Streb gives readers news ways to consider the body and its movement, from "the mechanical measurement of the legs, arms, torso, neck, hips, feet, shoulders, ankles, and knees" to "the alchemetic processes of the neurological systems." Accompanied by full-color and black-and-white photographs, Streb's riveting prose should provoke and inspire philosophy students, dancers, and athletes of all kinds. (May)

TAKE GOOD CARE OF THE GARDEN AND THE DOGS: Family, Friends, and Faith in Small-Town Alaska
Heather Lende. Algonquin, $22.95 (304p) ISBN 9781565125681
Shortly after the publication of her first series of dispatches from "Small-Town Alaska," If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name, obituary writer and Anchorage Daily News columnist Lende got run over by a truck: "The back tire of the new king-cab, three-quarter ton Chevy pickup rolled right over my lap." In this collection of mordant but largely uplifting pieces, Lende recalls that near-fatal bicycle accident, and her slow return to health with the help of doctors, therapists, family, and friends. While considering the big questions of life and death, Lende introduces an eclectic cast of characters from a town of just 2,400, including Wilma Henderson, a "formidable farmwife and Presbyterian elder" who believes in "pray[ing] with your feet"; and Fireman Al, officially the volunteer fire department's training officer, but also the guy who responds to nearly every ambulance call. Though Lende indulges occasionally in mindless tangents, her charming style will keep readers attuned to her celebration of love, faith, and healing in a far-flung, tight-knit community. (May)


WHEN JANEY COMES MARCHING HOME: Portraits of Women Combat Veterans
Laura Browder, photos by Sascha Pflaeging. Univ. of North Carolina, $35 (168p) ISBN 9780807833803
In this powerful record, author and English professor Browder (Her Best Shot: Women and Guns in America) collects first-person accounts from dozens of military women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, accompanied by vivid full-color portraits. Contributors span age groups, conflicts and military branches, and a number of issues: why they joined, their thoughts on spirituality, issues confronting them upon their return home, the dual challenges of being a soldier and a mother, being female in a field dominated by men, and more. Poignant, tear-jerking stories dominate; Sergeant Deidre Coley, deployed in the Gulf, lost an injured colleague—"the baby in the group"—because the locals that Coley asked for directions would not speak to women. Each chapter clusters around a different theme, including saying goodbye to friends and family, coming home to face unexpected complications, dealing with natives and supporting the mission. Candid and touching, with resonant photographs from Pflaeging, these brief narratives give voice to a too-often-overlooked aspect of female American experience. (May)


Jennie Schacht. Chronicle, $24.95 paper (208p) ISBN 9780811866729
Locavores and discriminating dessert lovers are sure to appreciate the latest from author and food-healthcare consultant Schact (Without Reservations), a collection of seasonal update on dessert classics. Imaginative yet attainable riffs include a Tarte Tatin that emphasizes plums in lieu of apples, a Strawberries & Cream Cake Roll that reimagines Strawberry Shortcake, an impressive, mouthwatering Baked Apple Dumplings with Cinnamon Caramel, and a Persimmon Swirl Cheesecake in a Gingersnap Crust. Expected fare such as peach pie and Key Lime Bars are included, but prove the exception to the rule. Schacht prefers combining complementary fruits (a black- and blueberry buckle, apple-pear crisps, a Nectarine-Blueberry Cobbler that gets an added jolt from cherry concentrate) rather than emphasizing a central ingredient, creating new and more intense flavors. Schacht includes a helpful chart for identifying fruits, vegetables, local honey, and other produce at their best, as well as tips on the heritage of various breeds of citrus, ensuring dishes realize their full potential. (June)


★ The Amateurs
John Niven. Harper Perennial, $14.99 paper (400p) ISBN 9780061875892
To enjoy Niven's third book (after Kill Your Friends) you don't have to shank balls at St. Andrews or even watch golf on the telly. You needn't suffer a roiling case of Tourette's, as the book's 33-year-old hero, Gary Irvine, does. You don't need to share his more embarrassing affliction, Kluver-Bucy syndrome, which drives him into onanistic convulsions at inopportune moments. To appreciate this romp through the bunkers and rough of family life in Ardgirvan, Scotland, one need only appreciate the Scottish sensibility that links together sport, family, gangland violence, and amazing strings of profanity. Lovers of lad lit will especially relish Gary's struggle to smooth a swing that has "more moving parts than Terms of Endearment," though there's more at stake than a scratch handicap: Gary's ne'er-do-well brother, Lee, sinks deeper into debt with thug Ranta Campbell while Gary's bootylicious wife, Pauline (with an arse "Ye could sit yer pint oan"), wanders away from the fairway in search of a life bigger than her husband can provide. By the close, more than one person's fate is decided at the end of a gold club. (May)

The Curious Death of Peter Artedi: A Mystery in the History of Science
Theodore W. Pietsch. Scott & Nix (IPG, dist.), $25.95 (196p) ISBN 9780982510285
Early modern biologists wage a vicious struggle for survival in this piquant historical novel. Ichthyologist Pietsch (Fishes, Crayfishes and Crabs), reimagines the relationship between Peter Artedi, an ichthyologist who drowned in an Amsterdam canal in 1735, and the pioneering botanist and taxonomist Carl Linnaeus. In Pietsch's telling, the two are friends—perhaps lovers—and also rivals: Artedi a diffident genius, Linnaeus a scheming striver trying to appropriate his friend's brilliant insights as his own. (Chief among them is a system of classifying plants by their sexual organs, which Linnaeus elaborates with over-ripe conjugal metaphors.) The novel is mainly a fictionalized portrait of a toweringly narcissistic Linnaeus. ("Of all my wondrous works, it was the very first that…made me equal to the immortals," runs one auto-encomium.) Through his florid, insecure, pedantic voice Pietsch illuminates a science being born from myth and dogma—Linnaeus daringly classifies man as just another primate while dismissing the notion of evolution—and the ruthless, possibly lethal, competition between its adherents for preeminence and patronage. The result is both a sprightly tour of 18th-century biology and a twisty tale of a scientist trying to rationalize his own darker nature. (May)

The Left Left Behind
Terry Bisson. PM (IPG, dist.), $12 paper (128p) 9781604860863
Hugo and Nebula award winning science fiction writer Bisson's collection attempts to be a wry and witty look into the over-exploited post-Rapture period, but falls sadly flat. Included is a short story about the adventures of TV reporter Vince and his barely legal girlfriend, Gotha, as they navigate the days until Christ's return. The long-awaited Second Coming is really just a casual opportunity to hug and chat with Jesus as He hands out wafers that taste like Fritos. Here Bisson's writing voice feels forced, doggedly trying to be hip and youthful—especially when Jesus refers to His disciples as "dude." In "Special Relativity: A One Act Play in Three Scenes," the unlikely trio of Albert Einstein, J. Edgar Hoover, and renowned artist/activist Paul Robeson are back from the dead for a single afternoon, in which they meet up with contemporary political activists. The group flees in the face of a police raid, leaving behind a cross-dressed Hoover in possession of marijuana to be captured by the police. An interview conducted by T. B. Calhoun follows, offering an interesting backstory to Bisson's politics, including time spent in jail for activism and a subsequent history of delivering "revolutionary" books to prisoners. (May)

The Lotus Eaters
Tom Kratman. Baen, $24 (512p) ISBN 9781439133460
Former infantry officer Kratman continues the story where his previous book, A Desert Called Peace, left off: Patrick Carrera has destroyed the Salafi Ikhwan terrorists that murdered his family, but it is a hollow victory. Wracked by guilt and afraid that he is becoming the monster his enemies accuse him of being, he begins to neglect his responsibilities as leader of the Legion del Cid, the military force that is transforming his adopted home of Balboa into a prosperous timocratic republic. Unfortunately, enemies still linger. The remainder of the corrupt former regime still festers, protected by forces of the Tauran Union, who themselves hate Carrera for exposing the hollowness of their own principals—and then there are the narco-traffickers who will stop at nothing to reopen their smuggling routes. Kratman offers a narrative that raises questions about the nature of honor and a just society and will undoubtedly cause some to foam at the mouth, and others to applaud. (Apr.)

Naked Edge
Pamela Clare. Berkley Sensation, $7.99 (400p) ISBN 9780425219768
In Clare's latest I-Team romantic suspense, half-Navajo journalist Kat is participating in an inipi prayer session when there is a brutal police raid. Kat's leg is broken; luckily she is saved by mountaineer/ranger Gabe Rossiter. Cynical and bitter, Gabe doesn't believe in love, unlike devout, dedicated Kat, who believes sex is sacred. They resist attraction until Kat's Grandpa Red Cloud turns up dead with a rare artifact near his body. The official report insists he was drunk. Kat is determined to clear his name, and reclaim sacred land under dispute. Likewise, Gabe is determined to protect Kat, even when he loses his job over it. Clare offers a respectful portrayal of Navajo culture, and a fascinating look at the journalistic world, but the real draw is Kate and Gabe—contrasting his tough guy cynicism with her intelligent passion for truth. Watching the pair find love and compromise as they race to solve a deadly mystery makes this a solid page-turner. (Apr.)

Sensual Confessions
Brenda Jackson. Kimani, $6.99 (304p) ISBN 9780373831784
The prolific Jackson's 16th book in the Madaris Family and Friends series is a heated tale that fully lives up to all expectations. Construction company co-owner Blade Madaris arrives in Oklahoma City from Houston with two goals in mind: to complete several major projects, and to seduce Italian-African-American attorney Samari Di Meglio. He's a player who takes pride in his sexual conquests; she's just as fierce in despising and humiliating Romeos like him. In other words, a match made in romance reader's Harlequin. It's full steam ahead as the pair tantalize, fantasize and ultimately take each other to bed. But it isn't all fun and games, when mysterious stalker sends Sam anonymous bouquets a threat attached. As the danger mounts, what better bodyguard could she find than a man already dedicated to her body? Jackson is a master at writing about the bedroom games people play, and she handles the mystery with enough skill to keep readers guessing. (Apr.)