10 Booklist October 1, 2015 www.booklistreader.com
boys raised to be macho and racist, in spite
of adoring their mother’s African American
best friend. Moser, who long ago repudiated
this heritage, describes watching a Ku Klux
Klan convoy passing their house and the day
his enraged brother beat him bloody for sitting with two black women on a crowded
bus. By crisply and frankly chronicling his
battles and eventual reconciliation with his
brother, Moser looks to a more caring and
just future world. —Donna Seaman
YA/M: Moser’s vivid, unflinching
boyhood memoir about violent
brotherhood in a culture of racism and
machismo will speak to teens. DS.
By Drew Barrymore.
Oct. 2015. 304p. Dutton, $28 (9781101983799). 791.
Barrymore, whose wild-child antics drew
as much attention as her roles in such movies
as E. T. (1982) and Boys on the Side (1995),
has matured into a savvy and grounded
woman, and her new memoir couldn’t be
more different than Little Girl Lost (1991),
the confessional about her battles with drug
and alcohol addictions. Now a happily married mother, Barrymore shares vignettes
from her current life, from infrequent visits
with her troubled father to skydiving with
pal Cameron Diaz to letters to her two
daughters. Even when she looks back on
some of her wilder days, such as when she
drove her Bronco into the gate of a parking
garage or swam for shore to escape a seniors
cruise, she has an almost incredulous tone,
as though she can no longer quite fathom
her own youthful indiscretions. Though she
shares tales from her long and prosperous career, such as teaming up with Adam Sandler,
those looking for salacious gossip won’t find
it here. Instead, Barrymore’s book is a cheerful and happy examination of some of the
ups and downs in her life. —Kristine Huntley
YA/M: Teens who know Barrymore from
her movies will be curious about her
youthful adventures. KH.
Young Orson: The Years of Luck and
Genius on the Path to Citizen Kane.
By Patrick McGilligan.
Nov. 2015. 832p. Harper, $35 (9780062112484).
This is the centennial year of Orson
Welles’ birth. Biographies (and there have
been several) necessarily
confront whether the filmmaker had a “Rosebud,”
a single word or incident
that could explain his life.
In his collaboration with
Peter Bogdanovich, Welles
denied, not necessarily
credibly, that there was one.
But, as prolific film historian McGilligan ef-
fectively demonstrates here, Welles’ mother’s
theatricality and early death explain a lot,
as does his older brother’s institutionaliza-
tion and his father’s alcoholism. The young
Welles—the focus of this immense book—
was already an extraordinary talent: in
theater (in Ireland and America), in radio,
and then film, but also as a painter and writ-
er. McGilligan recounts Welles’ work with
John Houseman on the WPA Voodoo Mac-
beth and The Cradle Will Rock as well as their
Mercury Theatre productions, and Welles’
active life is so packed with worthy and suc-
cessful projects that the reader is stunned
by how really young “young Orson” is at
various stages of his incredible early career.
He was 23 years old when his (and writer
Howard Koch’s) radio play of The War of the
Worlds startled America. After incorporating
film into some of his theatrical productions,
but without other movie experience, Welles
was offered by RKO in 1939 “the greatest
railroad train a boy ever had.” After aborting
an attempt to do a film version of Conrad’s
Heart of Darkness, Welles (and Herman
Mankiewicz and Houseman) commenced
work on Citizen Kane, which McGilligan
analyzes in great depth, including long-
controversial issues of authorship. In terms
of the subtitle, McGilligan emphasizes “ge-
nius” over “luck,” and when, 750 pages later,
Welles has his twenty-sixth birthday, the
reader is well inclined to agree. Must reading
for anyone interested in the history of film.
Sports & Recreation
Das Reboot: How German Soccer
Reinvented Itself and Conquered the
By Raphael Honigstein.
Oct. 2015. 304p. Nation, $17.99 (9781568585307).
To most people, German soccer is as
dominant as former England striker Gary
Lineker’s joke suggests: “Football is a simple
game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90
minutes and, at the end, the Germans always
win.” But within Germany, prior to the 2014
World Cup, there was a belief that the national team wasn’t living up to its potential,
with near-misses and early exits in major
tournaments since their last World Cup win
in 1990. Das Reboot chronicles an amazing
turnaround characterized by German efficiency, with the German soccer association
instituting a long-term plan to allow better
identification and coaching of youth talent,
and coaches (first Jürgen Klinsmann, then
Joachim Löw) combining modern methodology with a high-energy passing and
pressing game bearing little resemblance to
willpower-induced wins of the past. Honigstein, a highly respected print journalist and
TV pundit, weaves scrupulous research and
generous quotes into a compelling narrative
that alternates historical perspective with
the modern team’s march toward triumph
in Brazil. Championship teams always have
their books, but few are as thoughtful and
edifying as this one. —Keir Graff
The Givenness of Things.
By Marilynne Robinson.
Oct. 2015. 304p. Farrar, $26 (9780374298470). 814.54.
While questions of faith underpin Robinson’s
award-winning Iowa novels (Gilead, 2004;
Home, 2008; Lila, 2014),
she addresses religious and
moral questions head-on in
her new essay collection, following When I Was a Child
I Read Books (2012). Robinson’s intellectual inquiries,
works of rhapsodic clarity,
are erudite, passionate, and
bracing. A self-described theist, writer, and
scholar, Robinson delves into neuroscience
and metaphysics, celebrating the study of the
complexity of the human brain, while cautioning against mechanistic reductiveness and
elucidating our sense of self and the “valuable
concept” of the soul. She scrutinizes the Reformation as a catalyst for learning and literature,
exploring the works of Shakespeare and John
Calvin. Stating, “I attach religious value to
generous, need I say liberal, social policy,”
Robinson protests the yoking of “Christian”
and “right,” condemns “pathologically narrow”
thinking, including our worship of financial
gain over justice, and advocates for the hu-manities with ringing eloquence and wisdom.
She decries today’s “unashamed racism,” gun
violence, “incarceration for profit,” “unbridled
power,” and “cynicism and vulgarism.” Robinson also asks us to recognize the dire impact
we are having on the planet. These bravely and
brilliantly argued, gorgeously composed, slyly
witty, profoundly caring essays lead us into the
richest dimensions of consciousness and conscience, theology and mystery, responsibility
and reverence. —Donna Seaman
A House in St. John’s Wood: In Search of
By Matthew Spender.
Oct. 2015. 448p. illus. Farrar, $27 (9780374269869);
e-book (9780374713508). 821.
As the first child of poet Stephen Spender
and pianist Natasha Litvin, Matthew lived in
a privileged world with access to some of the
twentieth century’s most influential people.
In this guileless memoir-meets-biography,
he portrays his parents as two well-known,
politically and culturally active artists in post-WWII England who tried to establish a normal
family. But their domesticity was built on an
unsteady foundation, given Stephen’s indifference to marriage, his homosexuality, and
Natasha’s resentful acceptance thereof. Still, the
Spenders remained married, raised children,
pursued careers, traveled, and lived abroad.
Despite Stephen’s ongoing affairs with men,
they presented a united front to the world.
Now, through Matthew’s memories and use of
unpublished documents, we have a realistic, in-depth view of charismatic, freedom-loving, and
shrewd Stephen and perfectionist, stiff-upper-lipped, simmering-beneath-the-surface Nata-