New Reads (Oct 13, 2015–)

City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg
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The all-too-human individuals who live within this extraordinary first novel are: Regan and William Hamilton-Sweeney, estranged heirs to one of the city‘s biggest fortunes; Keith and Mercer, the men who, for better or worse, love them; Charlie and Sam, two Long Island teenagers seduced by downtown’s nascent punk scene; an obsessive magazine reporter; his spunky, West Coast-transplant neighbor; and the detective trying to figure out what they all have to do with a shooting in Central Park. From post-Vietnam youth culture to the fiscal crisis, from a lushly appointed townhouse on Sutton Place to a derelict squat on East 3rd Street, this city on fire is at once recognizable and completely unexpected. And when the infamous blackout of July 13th, 1977 plunges it into darkness, each of these entangled lives will be changed, irrevocably.
An Irish Doctor In Love At Sea by Patrick Taylor
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Long before Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly came to the colourful Irish village of Ballybucklebo, young Surgeon-lieutenant O’Reilly answered the call of duty to serve in World War II. Fingal just wants to marry his beloved Deirdre and live happily ever after. First he must hone his skills at a British naval hospital before reporting back to the HMS Warspite, where, as a ship’s doctor, he faces danger upon the high seas. With German bombers a constant threat, the future has never been more uncertain, but Fingal and Deirdre are determined to make a life together . . . no matter what may lie ahead. Decades later, the war is long over, and O’Reilly is content to mend the bodies and souls of his patients in Ballybucklebo, but there are still changes and challenges aplenty. A difficult pregnancy, as well as an old colleague badly in denial concerning his own serious medical condition, tests O’Reilly and his young partner, Barry Laverty. But even with all that occupies him in the present, can O’Reilly ever truly let go of the ghosts from his past?

Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink by Elvis Costello
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Born Declan Patrick MacManus, Elvis Costello was raised in London and Liverpool, grandson of a trumpet player on the White Star Line and son of a jazz musician who became a successful radio dance-band vocalist. Costello went into the family business and before he was twenty-four took the popular music world by storm. Costello continues to add to one of the most intriguing and extensive songbooks of our day. His performances have taken him from strumming a cardboard guitar in his parents’ front room to fronting a rock and roll band on our television screens and performing in the world’s greatest concert halls in a wild variety of company. Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink describes how Costello’s career has endured for almost four decades through a combination of dumb luck and animal cunning, even managing the occasional absurd episode of pop stardom. This memoir, written entirely by Costello, offers his unique view of his unlikely and sometimes comical rise to international success, with diversions through the previously undocumented emotional foundations of some of his best-known songs and the hits of tomorrow.
Empire of Self: Gore Vidal -a biography by Jay Parini
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The product of thirty years of friendship and conversation, Jay Parini’s EMPIRE OF SELF probes behind the glittering surface of Gore Vidal’s colorful life to reveal the complex emotional and sexual truth underlying his celebrity-strewn life. But there is plenty of glittering surface as well–a virtual Who’s Who of the American Century, from Eleanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart through the Kennedys, Princess Margaret and the crème de la crème of Hollywood. The life of Gore Vidal was an amazingly full one, full of colorful incident, famous people, and lasting achievements that calls out for careful evocation and examination. Jay Parini crafts Vidal’s life into an accessible, entertaining story that puts the experience of one of the great American figures of the postwar era into context; introduces the author and his works to a generation who may not know him; and looks behind the scenes at the man and his work in ways never possible before his death. Provided with unique access to Vidal’s life and his papers, he excavates many buried skeletons yet never loses sight of his deep respect for Vidal and his astounding gifts. This is the biography Gore Vidal has long needed.

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