4 Booklist August2016 www.booklistreader.com
Journalism & Publishing
The Accidental Life: An Editor’s
Notes on Writing and Writers.
By Terry McDonell.
Aug. 2016. 384p. Knopf, $26.95 (9781101946718). 070.5.
As a former top-of-the-masthead editor at
Outside, Rolling Stone, Esquire, and Sports
Illustrated, McDonell has been there and
done that over four decades of dramatic
change in the newsstand magazine business.
Along the way, he’s edited and drunk with a
who’s who of American writers that includes
Kurt Vonnegut, Jim Harrison, Edward Abbey, Thomas McGuane, Peter Matthiessen,
Richard Ford, Richard Price, and Hunter S.
Thompson. Oh, and he’s
also the guy who tried to
inject more “culture and
humor” into SI’s cash cow,
the swimsuit issue. Natu-
rally, McDonell has stories
to tell, and he tells plenty
of them in this unfailingly
fascinating look at that
point where publishing, literature, and ce-
lebrity meet. McDonell learned from his
mentor, “the Other Bob Sherrill,” that “the
most important thing an editor should
think about” is a magazine’s mix of stories,
and this collection is the perfect example of
that axiom, blending showstoppers like an
account of playing “acid golf” with Hunter
S. Thompson and George Plimpton together
with perceptive appreciations of the work of
McDonell’s favorite writers (he’s particularly
sharp on McGuane), and fascinating snip-
pets on the craft of editing (what makes a
good lede or a great headline). Expect this
book to find a home on the desks of just
about everyone who has anything to do with
magazine publishing (or who likes to read
about hanging out at Elaine’s with famous
writers). —Bill Ott
Confessions of a Secular Jesus
Follower: Finding Answers in Jesus for
Those Who Don’t Believe.
By Tom Krattenmaker.
Oct. 2016. 256p. Convergent, $25 (9781101906422). 200.
Yale Divinity School communications di-
rector Krattenmaker doesn’t believe in the
supernatural—not in miracles or divine
guidance and intervention or sin or, indeed,
God. Yet he is an enthusiastic follower of Je-
sus, whose teachings, by word and deed, are
simply the best he knows for dealing with
the human condition. He sticks to Jesus’
words and deeds as he applies them to com-
mon human failings including xenophobia,
violence, sexual misbehavior, anxiety, ego-
centricity, craving success, callousness, and
winning at all costs. He considers those fail-
ings on both the micro and macro scales. For
instance, vengeance, at the level of society, is
the American mania for incarceration, and
callousness, ignoring the victims of injustice.
Throughout, but especially in the conclud-
ing chapters, he argues for understanding
Jesus secularly because “there is no one and
no thing to stop you” and following him “for
the sake of doing the principled, idealistic
thing.” Writing as plainly and commonly
as you’d expect of a USA Today columnist,
Krattenmaker universalizes Jesus more, pos-
sibly, than any religion could. —Ray Olson
The Bitch Is Back: Older, Wiser, and
Ed. by Cathi Hanauer.
Sept. 2016. 368p. Morrow, $26.99 (9780062389510).
Think of a problem every woman might
face: getting older, falling in or out of love,
rejoicing in the confusion of hot, steamy
passion, and confronting the disillusioning
loss thereof. Now think of how women cope
with these obstacles or opportunities. Mostly
they muddle through by talking to trusted
friends, by digging deep within themselves,
and by putting amorphous thoughts into
concrete words. Fourteen years ago, Hanauer
gathered a group of strong women to write
about their experiences in the workplace
and on the home front, in the boardroom
and the bedroom, creating The Bitch in the
House (2002). Nine of those original writers are back, joined by 16 new contributors,
and all tell their stories, share their insights,
provide wisdom, and offer encouragement
with wit, compassion, and brutally frank
honesty. Like an all-night gab session with
one’s best friend, these essays shed sincere
and searing light on subjects that are often
hard for women to face. In doing so, Hanauer and company give voice to topics all too
frequently hidden under a damaging cone of
silence. —Carol Haggas
Campaigning for President in America,
By Scott John Hammond and Robert
2016. 954p. Greenwood, $68 (9781440848902); paper,
$45 (9781440848889); e-book (9781440850790).
Precedent for the name-calling of the 2016
presidential campaigns lies in 1800—the
first election without George Washington—
Looking ahead to exciting late-fall and early-winter reading recommendations, Booklist is saving space for a fantasy romance by a queen of the genre; a hard-hitting memoir
from a hip, young comedy star; a much-anticipated work of popular science, and the first
thriller by the author of the best-selling Twilight series. —Donna Seaman
Born a Crime. By Trevor Noah. Spiegel & Grau, $28 (9780399588174); e-book
Noah, host of The Daily Show, was deemed illegal at birth in apartheid-bound South Africa because of his mixed-race heritage, a legacy he illuminates with intensity and humor
in this memoir of a family and childhood under siege.
Chaos. By Patricia Cornwell. Morrow, $28.99 (9780062436689); e-book (9780062436726). Nov.
Medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta continues to inspire crime-writer Cornwell in the
twenty-fourth title in this immensely popular series. This time around, the Cambridge-based Scarpetta finds herself, her husband, and her niece floundering in a case involving
an inexplicable lightning strike, poems, and a cyberbully.
The Chemist. By Stephenie Meyer. Little, Brown, $28 (9780316387835). Nov.
Meyer’s protagonist was so adept at her clandestine work for the U.S. government, she
has been deemed a liability and is now running for her life.
The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of
the Stars. By Dava Sobel. Viking. $30 (9780670016952); e-book (9780698148697). Dec.
Esteemed science-writer Sobel tells the long-overlooked stories of the highly educated
nineteenth-century women whose painstaking calculations made sense of the first photographic glass plates of telescope images, greatly advancing the field of astronomy.
Island of Glass. By Nora Roberts. Berkley, $17 (9780425280126); e-book (9780698190757). Dec.
Romance star Roberts completes her contemporary paranormal Guardian Trilogy (Stars
of Fortune, 2015; Bay of Sighs, 2016) with a tale of moon goddesses, an archaeologist, an
immortal, and Ireland’s mysterious past.
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