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Are You My Mother? by
From the best-selling author of Fun Home, Time magazine’s No. 1 Book of the Year, a brilliantly told graphic memoir of Alison Bechdel becoming the artist her mother wanted to be. Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home was a pop culture and literary phenomenon. Now, a second thrilling tale of filial sleuthery, this time about her mother: voracious reader, music lover, passionate amateur actor. Also a woman, unhappily married to a closeted gay man, whose artistic aspirations simmered under the surface of Bechdel's childhood . . . and who stopped touching or kissing her daughter good night, forever, when she was seven. Poignantly, hilariously, Bechdel embarks on a quest for answers concerning the mother-daughter gulf. It's a richly layered search that leads readers from the fascinating life and work of the iconic twentieth-century psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, to one explosively illuminating Dr. Seuss illustration, to Bechdel’s own (serially monogamous) adult love life. And, finally, back to Mother—to a truce, fragile and real-time, that will move and astonish all adult children of gifted mothers.
Children of the Stone by
It is an unlikely story. Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan, a child from a Palestinian refugee camp, confronts an occupying army, gets an education, masters an instrument, dreams of something much bigger than himself, and then, through his charisma and persistence, inspires scores of others to work with him to make that dream real. The dream: a school to transform the lives of thousands of children--as Ramzi's life was transformed--through music. Musicians from all over the world came to help. A violist left the London Symphony Orchestra, in part to work with Ramzi at his new school, Al Kamandjati. An aspiring British opera singer moved to the West Bank to teach voice lessons. Daniel Barenboim, the eminent Israeli conductor, invited Ramzi to join his West Eastern Divan Orchestra, which he founded with the late Palestinian intellectual, Edward Said. Since then the two have played together frequently. "Ramzi has transformed not only his life, his destiny, but that of many other people," Barenboim said. "This is an extraordinary collection of children from all over Palestine that have all been inspired and opened to the beauty of life." Children of the Stone chronicles Ramzi's journey--from stone thrower to music student to school founder--and shows how through his love of music he created something lasting and beautiful in a land torn by violence and war. This is a story about the power of music, first, but also about freedom and conflict, determination and vision. It's a vivid portrait of life amid checkpoints and military occupation, a growing movement of nonviolent resistance, the prospects of musical collaboration across the Israeli-Palestinian divide, and the potential of music to help children everywhere see new possibilities for their lives.
How did a disheveled, intellectually combative gay Jew with a thick accent become one of the most effective (and funniest) politicians of our time? Growing up in Bayonne, New Jersey, the fourteen-year-old Barney Frank made two vital discoveries about himself: he was attracted to government, and to men. He resolved to make a career out of the first attraction and to keep the second a secret. Now, sixty years later, his sexual orientation is widely accepted, while his belief in government is embattled. Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage is one man's account of the country's transformation--and the tale of a truly momentous career. Many Americans recall Frank's lacerating wit, whether it was directed at the Clinton impeachment ("What did the president touch, and when did he touch it?") or the pro-life movement (some people believe "life begins at conception and ends at birth"). But the contours of his private and public lives are less well-known. For more than four decades, he was at the center of the struggle for personalfreedom and economic fairness. From the battle over AIDS funding in the 1980s to the debates over "big government" during the Clinton years to the 2008 financial crisis, the congressman from Massachusetts played a key role. In 2010, he coauthored the most far-reaching and controversial Wall Street reform bill since the era of the Great Depression, and helped bring about the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. In this feisty and often moving memoir, Frank candidly discusses the satisfactions, fears, and grudges that come with elected office. He recalls the emotional toll of living in the closet and how his public crusade against homophobia conflicted with his private accommodation of it. He discusses his painful quarrels with allies; his friendships with public figures, from Tip O'Neill to Sonny Bono; and how he found love with his husband, Jim Ready, becoming the first sitting member of Congress to enter a same-sex marriage. He also demonstrates how he used his rhetorical skills to expose his opponents' hypocrisies and delusions. Through it all, he expertly analyzes the gifts a successful politician must bring to the job, and how even Congress can be made to work. Frank is the story of an extraordinary political life, an original argument for how to rebuild trust in government, and a guide to how political change really happens--composed by a master of the art.
Mark Rothko by
Mark Rothko, one of the greatest painters of the twentieth century, was born in the Jewish Pale of Settlement in 1903. He immigrated to the United States at age ten, taking with him his Talmudic education and his memories of pogroms and persecutions in Russia. His integration into American society began with a series of painful experiences, especially as a student at Yale, where he felt marginalized for his origins and ultimately left the school. The decision to become an artist led him to a new phase in his life. Early in his career, Annie Cohen-Solal writes, "he became a major player in the social struggle of American artists, and his own metamorphosis benefited from the unique transformation of the U.S. art world during this time." Within a few decades, he had forged his definitive artistic signature, and most critics hailed him as a pioneer. The numerous museum shows that followed in major U.S. and European institutions ensured his celebrity. But this was not enough for Rothko, who continued to innovate. Ever faithful to his habit of confronting the establishment, he devoted the last decade of his life to cultivating his new conception of art as an experience, thanks to the commission of a radical project, the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas. Cohen-Solal's fascinating biography, based on considerable archival research, tells the unlikely story of how a young immigrant from Dvinsk became a crucial transforming agent of the art world--one whose legacy prevails to this day.
The Prince of Los Cocuyos by
Where am I from? Where do I belong? Who am I? These are the universal questions that have emerged from Richard Blanco's illuminating, story-rich poetry. Now Blanco explores these questions in this vivid account of his coming of age as the child of Cuban immigrants and his effort to contend with his burgeoning artistic and sexual identities. These are the stories of that shy yet precocious boy, known as Riqui to his family, who would grow up to be Richard Blanco, acclaimed as the first Latino and first openly gay presidential inaugural poet in U.S. history. Blanco grew up in the grip of two imaginary worlds: the Cuba of the 1950s that his family longed for and Blanco's idealized America, which seemed to exist outside the boundaries of Cuban Miami. The America of his fantasies from TV shows like The Brady Bunch offered a life just as "exotic" as the island paradise that was his birthright. The Prince of los Cocuyos evokes the complexities and glories—and humor—of navigating these worlds and the awakening of Riqui's homosexuality and artist's soul. Coloring books and pig roasts, opera and mambo, Easy Cheese and pork rinds—Riqui negotiates these contradictions and more. His abuela, a bookie, tries to make him un hombre, driving both his sexuality and his artistic inclinations deep into the closet; his first Thanksgiving turkey dinner ends with relatives in a conga line; his suburban backyard is transformed by his abuelo into a veritable farm with chickens and rabbits; and his mother decides to pack toilet paper and a pistol for his childhood pilgrimage to "the promised land" of Walt Disney World. Riqui finally finds his proverbial village as a teenager, working at the family market, El Cocuyito ("The Little Firefly"), lovingly mentored by its employees and customers. A prismatic and lyrical narrative rich with all the textures of Miami during the 1970s and '80s, The Prince of los Cocuyos is a resonant account of how Blanco came into his own sense of an authentic self, one that incorporated his Cuban-ness and his queerness, his American-ness and his artistic drive. Singular and universal, Blanco's story illuminates the experience of becoming through loving and loving through becoming: the way in which we are perpetually shaped by our experiences, our memories, and our stories of community and family.
A bold, original, moving book that will inspire fanatical devotion and ignite debate. "Whom to marry, and when will it happen--these two questions define every woman's existence." So begins Spinster, a revelatory and slyly erudite look at the pleasures and possibilities of remaining single. Using her own experiences as a starting point, journalist and cultural critic Kate Bolick invites us into her carefully considered, passionately lived life, weaving together the past and present to examine why she--along with over 100 million American women, whose ranks keep growing--remains unmarried. This unprecedented demographic shift, Bolick explains, is the logical outcome of hundreds of years of change that has neither been fully understood, nor appreciated. Spinster introduces a cast of pioneering women from the last century whose genius, tenacity, and flair for drama have emboldened Bolick to fashion her life on her own terms: columnist Neith Boyce, essayist Maeve Brennan, social visionary Charlotte Perkins Gilman, poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, and novelist Edith Wharton. By animating their unconventional ideas and choices, Bolick shows us that contemporary debates about settling down, and having it all, are timeless--the crucible upon which all thoughtful women have tried for centuries to forge a good life. Intellectually substantial and deeply personal, Spinster is both an unreservedly inquisitive memoir and a broader cultural exploration that asks us to acknowledge the opportunities within ourselves to live authentically. Bolick offers us a way back into our own lives--a chance to see those splendid years when we were young and unencumbered, or middle-aged and finally left to our own devices, for what they really are: unbounded and our own to savor.
The Upstairs Wife by
A memoir of Karachi through the eyes of its women An Indies Introduce Debut Authors Selection For a brief moment on December 27, 2007, life came to a standstill in Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto, the country's former prime minister and the first woman ever to lead a Muslim country, had been assassinated at a political rally just outside Islamabad. Back in Karachi--Bhutto's birthplace and Pakistan's other great metropolis--Rafia Zakaria's family was suffering through a crisis of its own: her Uncle Sohail, the man who had brought shame upon the family, was near death. In that moment these twin catastrophes--one political and public, the other secret and intensely personal--briefly converged. Zakaria uses that moment to begin her intimate exploration of the country of her birth. Her Muslim-Indian family immigrated to Pakistan from Bombay in 1962, escaping the precarious state in which the Muslim population in India found itself following the Partition. For them, Pakistan represented enormous promise. And for some time, Zakaria's family prospered and the city prospered. But in the 1980s, Pakistan's military dictators began an Islamization campaign designed to legitimate their rule--a campaign that particularly affected women's freedom and safety. The political became personal when her aunt Amina's husband, Sohail, did the unthinkable and took a second wife, a humiliating and painful betrayal of kin and custom that shook the foundation of Zakaria's family but was permitted under the country's new laws. The young Rafia grows up in the shadow of Amina's shame and fury, while the world outside her home turns ever more chaotic and violent as the opportunities available to post-Partition immigrants are dramatically curtailed and terrorism sows its seeds in Karachi. Telling the parallel stories of Amina's polygamous marriage and Pakistan's hopes and betrayals, The Upstairs Wife is an intimate exploration of the disjunction between exalted dreams and complicated realities.