10 Booklist May 15, 2017 www.booklistreader.com
ment to the resilience and healing power of
family. —Stacy Shaw
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body.
By Roxane Gay.
June 2017. 320p. Harper, $25.99 (9780062362599). 818.
More than once, Gay, author of essays (Bad
Feminist, 2014), short stories (Difficult Women,
2017), and crime fiction (An Untamed State,
2014), refers to writing this memoir as the hard-est thing she’s ever done. Readers will believe
her; it’s hard to imagine this electrifying book
being more personal, candid, or confessional.
At 12, Gay survived a devastating sexual assault, a point
on her time line that would
forever have a before and an
after. She focused the trauma
inward, and, as a frequent refrain goes, she doesn’t know,
or she does, how her body
came to be “unruly,” “
undisciplined,” and the kind of body whose story is
“ignored or dismissed or derided.” The story of
her body is, understandably, linked to the story
of her life; she tells both, and plumbs discussions about both victims of sexual violence and
people whose bodies don’t adhere to the ideal of
thinness. In 88 short, lucid chapters, Gay powerfully takes readers through realities that pain
her, vex her, guide her, and inform her work.
The result is a generous and empathic consideration of what it’s like to be someone else: in
itself something of a miracle. —Annie Bostrom
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Buzz has
long been building for Gay’s memoir, with
which she’ll go on an extensive author tour.
Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers
Confront the Occupation.
Ed. by Michael Chabon and Ayelet
May 2017. 448p. HarperPerennial, paper, $16.99
Chabon (Moonglow, 2016) and Waldman
(A Really Good Day, 2017), husband and wife,
reaching its 50-year mark in June 2017, and as
illegal settlements spread, isolating millions of
Palestinians in overcrowded, financially choked
enclaves, she and Chabon joined forces with
two nonprofit groups (which will receive the
book’s proceeds)—Youth Against Settlements
(Waldman profiles founder Issa Amro) and
Breaking the Silence, established by former Israeli soldiers—to bring two dozen exceptional
writers to the occupied territories, including
Hari Kunzru, Madeleine Thien, Colm Tóibín,
Mario Vargas Llosa, and Jacqueline Woodson.
Their dramatic testimonies are radiant with telling details, vital portraits, and explosive facts.
Geraldine Brooks tells the crushing story of two
young Palestinian cousins. Dave Eggers meets
courageous artists in Gaza, a dehumanizing
“open-air prison.” Assaf Gavron tells harrowing
tales of Palestinian soccer players; Porochista
Khakpour meets rappers. The soul-crushing bureaucracy of the occupation is exposed in Raja
Shehadeh’s narrative about a Palestinian taxi
driver and in Chabon’s tale of a businessman.
This sensitive, galvanizing, and landmark gathering brings the occupation into sharp focus as
a tragedy of fear and tyranny, a monumental
failure of compassion and justice, a horrific obstacle to world peace. —Donna Seaman
Meet Me in the In-Between.
By Bella Pollen.
June 2017. 336p. Grove, $26 (9780802126580). 818.
Pollen has always lived in conflict. Born to
an English father and a mother raised in Africa, middle-child Pollen grew up splitting her
time between New York and England until her
parents’ divorce shifted the family firmly to
the latter. Life there became quixotic when she
tried to balance a burgeoning career as a London fashionista with her marriage to the son of
an Italian mobster. As a mother of two young
boys, Pollen temporarily ditched her maternal
responsibilities to embark on a Kerouacian
road trip across America with two girlfriends.
She not only fell in love with the American
West; she also fell for the ex-boyfriend of one
of her companions. Life with Mac also spans
continents and time zones: sometimes in the
Colorado Rockies, sometimes in London,
sometimes on the Mexican border, researching illegal immigration. How to know who
you truly are and what you can become? With
nothing firmly underfoot, Pollen pursues a
quest for authenticity through unconventional
and unpredictable encounters and thrives.
Hers is a memoir of an indelible life full of incredible adventures. —Carol Haggas
The Mighty Franks.
By Michael Frank.
May 2017. 320p. Farrar, $26 (9780374900304). 818.
From freelance writer Frank comes this sat-
isfying memoir about his relationship to his
aunt, the Hollywood screenwriter Harriet
Frank, Jr., who cowrote, with her husband,
Irving Ravetch, such classic films as Hud, The
Reivers, and Norma Rae, and who received
two Academy Award nominations. It was an
unusual relationship in many ways. For start-
ers, Harriet Frank was Michael’s father’s sister,
while Ravetch was Michael’s mother’s brother.
The childless couple pretty much adopted Mi-
chael, showering him with gifts and generally
treating him as though he was their own. But
there was a less doting side to Michael’s aunt,
who could be domineering, demanding, pain-
fully critical, and—eventually—dangerously
manipulative. A dramatic and often moving
portrait of a woman who seemed to be one
person until she revealed herself to be some-
one else entirely, this is one of those memoirs
that simultaneously fascinates as it makes us
uncomfortable. Is this too personal? Should
I be averting my eyes? Maybe, but I can’t be-
cause I want to know what startling secrets
will be revealed next. —David Pitt
My Glory Was I Had Such Friends.
By Amy Silverstein.
June 2017. 352p. Harper, $26.99 (9780062457462). 818.
Silverstein (Sick Girl, 2007) needs a new
heart. She’s been here before, 25 years ago,
when she received a heart transplant that outlasted its 10-year estimate. A second transplant
is trickier, and Silverstein is a match for only a
small percentage of hearts. Told that Cedars-Sinai is her best chance, Amy and her husband
leave their New York home to live in California
while she awaits a new heart. When her friends
learn of her situation, they divvy up all the days
she will be out there, each agreeing to at least
one and sometimes several three- or four–night
stays so that she is never alone. Silverstein’s
skillful writing relates an increasingly brutal array of health issues as her heart starts to fail.
Unafraid to show herself warts-and-all, she recounts both missteps caused by her outspoken
personality and her own growth throughout
the process. A brave, transparent look at the
harrowing battle of a heart-transplant patient
who, through the support of her friends, conquers unthinkable odds. —Stacy Shaw
Now That’s Funny! The Art and Craft of
By Peter Desberg and Jeffrey Davis.
June 2017. 384p. Square One, paper, $17.95
Desberg, a clinical psychologist, and Davis, a
film and TV writer, have crafted a unique twist
on the familiar writing how-to guide: they
came up with a premise for a television show,
which they gave to 24 comedy writers/writing
teams to turn into a hypothetical series. Each
writer takes the setup—which revolves around
a free-spirited mother coming to live with her
straitlaced daughter after the death of her husband—and puts his or her spin on it, explaining
why he or she made certain choices, and where
he or she would find the humor. In addition to
delving into the story line, the writers discuss
their career paths and their experiences rising in
the ranks and working in show business. They
run the gamut from writers of classic films
and sitcoms—including The Jerk, The Cosby
Show, and Cheers—to screenwriters for such
contemporary hits as There’s Something About
Mary, Modern Family, and The Goldbergs. The
unique approach, combined with the in-depth
interviews, makes this a solid go-to for aspiring
comedy writers. —Kristine Huntley
YA/S: Aspiring YA screenwriters will enjoy
and learn from this lively how-to. KH.
Surpassing Certainty: What My
Twenties Taught Me.
By Janet Mock.
June 2017. 256p. Atria, $24.99 (9781501145797). 818.
In her first memoir, Redefining Realness
(2014), television host and transgender rights
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