Saturday, May 16, 2009

New Arrivals: Catholic Thinkers, Protest Singers and a 12-Year-Old Genius

A few of the new titles recently received at Accent on Books:

Practicing Catholic, by James Carroll. Both a spiritual memoir and an examination of his church by one of Catholicism's most prominent and outspoken observers. Novelist, historian and former priest, Carroll has a unique and important perspective on the religious tradition that he still admires and of which he is still very much a part, despite its many difficulties.

The Winner Stands Alone, by Paulo Coelho. Something a bit different from the author of The Alchemist, whose new novel takes place over a period of twenty-four hours during the Cannes Film Festival. Coelho's usual themes of true wealth and the search for what really matters are set against the human desire for power and glamour.

The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet, by Reif Larsen. This unusual and audacious novel received a lot of pre-publication buzz, and it's easy to see why. The title character is a precocious twelve-year-old cartographer who travels from his home in Montana to the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, to accept an award. The resulting book is his first-person chronicle of his journey, along with his illustrations, charts, maps, doodles, you name it. There's a rich imagination at work here.

The Protest Singer, by Alec Wilkinson. Pete Seeger turned ninety earlier this month, and "New Yorker" writer Wilkinson has produced a brief, impressionistic and moving celebration of this American icon. There are lots of great photographs, including one on the back cover of Seeger with his banjo, around the edge of which are the following words: "This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender."

Sunnyside, by Glen David Gold. Eight years ago, Glen David Gold had a big hit with his debut novel, Carter Beats the Devil, and his new work should only enhance his reputation. Sunnyside is a rich, multi-faceted, absorbing novel about life in early twentieth-century America. Charlie Chaplin is the central figure, but a large cast of characters, both real and imaginary, intersect in a complex tableau that gives an all-encompassing view of this fascinating time in American history.

A Book, by Mordecai Gerstein. Once there was a family who lived in a book, and they all had a story except for the daughter, who sets out with a goose to find hers. And what develops from that point is one of the most delightful and imaginative picture books of the year so far. It's hard to explain -- you've just got to see it. Suitable for preschoolers on up.

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