6 Booklist May 15, 2017 www.booklistreader.com
Workers of the World, the Works Progress Administration, Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath,
the Students for a Democratic Society, the
folk revival, and the civil rights movement as
well as themes of labor relations, socialism,
authenticity, and the importance of bearing
witness. Wolff has crafted a fascinating and
relevant whirlwind examination of music,
economic injustice, and two American icons.
Off the Cliff: How the Making of Thelma
& Louise Drove Hollywood to the Edge.
By Becky Aikman.
June 2017. 280p. Penguin, $28 (9781594206719). 791.43.
Aikman (Saturday Night Widows, 2013)
tells the biography of the iconic 1991 film
Thelma & Louise, from its birth as the after-hours scribblings of a 30-year-old music-video
producer and first-time screenwriter Callie
Khouri to its standing 25 years on. Aikman’s
copious research, much of it her own interviews with all the heavies, and journalist’s
knack for turns of phrase imbue the story
with genuine suspense and capture the film’s
bewildering singularity at every step of its development. What was its genre, its message?
Who would want to see it? And then there
was that ending. Star stories abound: Geena
Davis lobbied for her role, while Susan Sa-randon wasn’t immediately sold. Ridley Scott
only agreed to produce until he passed over a
parade of director hopefuls and realized the
job was his. Brad Pitt wasn’t the top pick for
the part that would change his career, and
George Clooney was below him. As both a
razzle-dazzle, inside-Hollywood legend and a
fearless lamentation of film-industry opportunities for women, this succeeds handsomely.
The Show That Never Ends: The Rise and
Fall of Prog Rock.
By David Weigel.
June 2017. 320p. illus. Norton, $26.95 (9780393242256).
Current rock wisdom dictates that progressive rock, or prog, was a bloated monolith
of oppressively baroque noodling helmed by
pretentious, arrogant fools, the genre itself
a dinosaur too gargantuan to continue life
on Earth. In his first book, Washington Post
political-reporter Weigel proves this wasn’t
the case—not exactly, anyway—by taking
a deep dive into prog history, from 1960s
middle-class English schoolboys interested in
psychedelic drugs, the Beatles, classical music, and jazz; to 1970s stadium shows marked
by bedazzling stagecraft and manifold synthesizers; to later, shameful accusations of
irrelevance and gimmickry. He plumbs the
origin stories of meaty giants like Emerson,
Lake & Palmer and Genesis without sacrificing lagniappes such as the French prog
act Magma, who made up its own language
and appeared on the soundtrack to Alejandro
Jodorowsky’s ill-fated film version of Dune.
Weigel’s clearly a superfan, and the book is
best suited to his ilk, but there is much here
for the casual progster, thanks to the author’s
self-awareness and the universal appeal of sto-
ries about excess. —Eugenia Williamson
So Much I Want to Tell You: Letters to
My Little Sister.
By Anna Akana.
June 2017. 208p. Ballantine, paper, $16
Through a devastating tragedy arises a
comedic and inspiring book. When her
13-year-old sister, Kristina, killed herself,
Akana’s life seemed to end as well. She fell
into a depression that dulled her creativity
and drove her to self-medicate with drugs,
food, and overspending. It wasn’t until she
discovered comedy that she became herself
again. Now a popular YouTuber with more
than 1. 8 million subscribers, Akana dedicates this collection of personal essays to
Kristina. Covering everything from identity
to career to relationships, Akana shares inspiring advice and life lessons so others can
learn from her mistakes. Written in Akana’s
witty, intelligent, and conversational voice,
this is the perfect book for young women
struggling to find their place in the world
while remaining true to themselves as well
as for those who have lost someone to suicide. So Much I Want to Tell You is funny,
honest, and freeing: “The only things that
matter are the ones that you decide matter. It’s up to you to choose what to do
with the time you’re given on this earth.”
YA: Older YAs will likely relate to Akana’s
struggles, candor, and humor. CC.
Sports & Recreation
Leap In: A Woman, Some Waves, and the
Will to Swim.
By Alexandra Heminsley.
July 2017. 240p. Pegasus, $27.95 (9781681774336).
Learning to swim as an adult can be a
painful and rather embarrassing experience,
but Heminsley embraces the challenge with
gusto and self-deprecating humor. She dedicates herself to learning to master freestyle,
breathe (and exhale) properly, and conquer
fears of not knowing what lurks below when
swimming in a river or the sea. Among the
funniest scenes is when she squeezes into a
wet suit. During the period when she was
learning to swim, she was also navigating life
changes as a newlywed and the emotional
roller coaster of trying to become pregnant.
Sure to give confidence to open-water newbies who will relate to the squeamish trek
through mud to a race start and navigating
salty seas with leaky goggles. Those who enjoyed Heminsley’s Running like a Girl (2013)
will want to read about her latest journey of
self-discovery. Includes a Q&A section and a
suggested reading list for anyone interested
in expanding their swim experiences to include the open water. —Brenda Barrera
Ultimate Glory: Frisbee, Obsession, and
My Wild Youth.
By David Gessner.
June 2017. 352p. illus. Riverhead, paper, $16
What’s the appeal of a nontraditional sport
like Ultimate Frisbee? Self-officiated athletic
competition, the thrill of outreaching your
opponent for a flying disc (known as skying), team camaraderie, and membership
in a tribe of nonconformists—all of which
drew author Gessner (All the Wild That Remains, 2015) to the sport during his years
at Harvard. This memoir offers both an insider’s perspective on the unique culture of
Ultimate, focusing on the 1980s and 1990s,
and a poignant account of an aspiring writer
as he transitions to manhood. Along the way,
Gessner pays homage to the sport’s pioneers,
including Hall of Famers Kenny Dobyns and
Steve “Moons” Mooney, and details classic
battles between rival teams. The history of
Ultimate may be young compared with basketball and football, but now that it’s being
considered for inclusion in the 2024 Summer Olympics, it’s sure to gain a bigger stage.
An important contribution to the history of
Ultimate—not a “hippie-dippie” activity but
an exciting sport requiring tremendous athleticism worthy of respect. —Brenda Barrera
Filling Her Shoes: A Memoir of an
By Betsy Graziani Fasbinder.
May 2017. 300p. She Writes, paper, $16.95
(9781631521980); e-book, $9.95 (9781631521997). 818.
When a family friend calls Fasbinder out
of the blue to ask her on a date, there is a
lot to be weighed in the pause before she re-
sponds. Tom lost his wife,
whom Fasbinder had met,
to cancer; has a seven-year-
old son; and is practically
family to the author’s sister
and brother-in-law: such a
relationship is not to be en-
tered into lightly. Taking all
this into consideration, she
nonetheless accepts, and after months of dat-
ing, she and Tom are engaged and, soon after,
married. Now Fasbinder must find a balance
between becoming a new wife and mother and
honoring the one who left both of her “boys”
too soon. From her new son’s fears of calling
her mom (because “moms die”) to awkward
sex-ed talks, new homes, miscarriage, and
birth, the author navigates the waters of her
unique position while tackling the universal
elements of motherhood along the way. Fas-
binder (Fire and Water, 2013) writes with a
graceful honesty that is both refreshing and
timeless. Hers is a hopeful, heartfelt journey
where deep laughs alternate with moments of
profound loss. A beautiful and inspiring testa-
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