January 19 @ 6:00 pm
Magdalena has an unsettling gift. She sees the truth about people written on their skin–names, dates, details both banal and profound–and her only relief from the onslaught of information is to take off her glasses and let the world recede. Mercifully, her own skin is blank.
When she meets Neil, she is intrigued to see her name on his cheek. He’s in Paris for the summer, studying a medieval pilgrimage to the coast of Spain, where the body of Saint Jacques is said to have washed ashore, covered in scallop shells. Magdalena, desperate to make things right after her best friend dies–a tragedy she might have prevented–embarks on her own pilgrimage, but not before Neil falls for her, captivated by her pale eyes, charming Eastern European accent, and aura of heartbreak.
Neil’s father, Richard, is also in Paris, searching for the truth about his late mother, a famous expatriate American novelist who abandoned him at birth. All his life Richard has clung to a single memory of his mother–her red shoes–which her biographers agree he never could have seen.
In Adelia Saunders’ arresting debut, secrets are revealed among forgotten texts in the old archives of Paris, on a dusty cattle ranch in the American West, along ancient pilgrim paths, and in a run-down apartment in post-Soviet Lithuania. By chance, or perhaps by fate, the novel’s unforgettable characters converge, and Magdalena’s uncanny ability may be the key to their happiness.
January 31 @ 6:00 pm
In 1984, Phillip Lopate sat down with his mother, Frances, to listen to her life story. A strong, resilient, indomitable woman who lived through the major events of the twentieth century, she was orphaned in childhood, ran away and married young, and then reinvented herself as a mother, war factory worker, candy store owner, community organizer, clerk, actress, and singer. But paired with exciting anecdotes are the criticisms of the husband who couldn’t satisfy her, the details of numerous affairs and sexual encounters, and, though she succeeded at many of her roles, accounts of how she always felt mistreated, taken advantage of. After the interviews, at a loss for what to do with the tapes, Lopate put them away. But thirty years later, after his mother had passed away, Lopate found himself drawn back to the recordings of this conversation. Thus begins a three-way conversation between a mother, his younger self, and the person he is today.
Trying to break open the family myths, rationalizations, and self-deceptions, A Mother’s Tale is about family members who love each other but who can’t seem to overcome their mutual mistrust. Though Phillip is sympathizing to a point, he cannot join her in her operatic displays of self-pity and how she blames his father for everything that went wrong. His detached, ironic character has been formed partly in response to her melodramatic one. The climax is an argument in which he tries to persuade her—using logic, of all things—that he really does love her, but is only partially successful, of course.
A Mother’s Tale is about something primal and universal: the relationship between a mother and her child, the parent disappointed with the payback, the child, now fully grown, judgmental. The humor is in the details.
February 7 @ 6:00 pm
Acclaimed biographer Patricia Bosworth recalls her emotional coming of age in 1950s New York in this profound and powerful memoir, a story of family, marriage, tragedy, Broadway, and art, featuring a rich cast of well-known literary and theatrical figures from the period.
Born into privilege in San Francisco as the children of famous attorney Bartley Crum and novelist Gertrude, Patricia and her brother Bart Jr. lead charmed lives until their father’s career is ruined when he defends the Hollywood Ten. The family moves to New York, suffering greater tragedy when Bart Jr. kills himself. However, his loving spirit continues to influence Patricia as she fights to succeed as an actress and writer. Married and divorced from an abusive husband before she’s twenty, she joins the famed Actors Studio. She takes classes with Lee Strasberg alongside Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman, and others; she works on Broadway opposite Paul Muni, Helen Hayes, and Elaine Stritch; Gore Vidal and Elia Kazan become her mentors. Her anecdotes of theatre’s Golden Age have never been told before. At the zenith of her career, about to film The Nun’s Story with Audrey Hepburn, Patricia faces a decision that changes her forever.
February 15 @ 6:00 pm
This is not a book that tells you to throw everything out and live austerely. You don’t need a sock drawer that brings you joy or a kitchen from a design magazine; what you do need is to be organized enough to feel in control and serene. Organized Enough offers a ground-breaking, science-driven method for maintaining organization: it addresses not just the steps of decluttering but also of developing the habits to stay clutter-free. Amanda Sullivan shares the method that has brought great success to her clients-from celebrities to hoarders. With seven concepts to help you define your goals and seven essential habits to keep chaos and clutter at bay, you will learn to reframe how you think about your space, your stuff, and your life.
February 16 @ 6:00 pm
When a psychoanalyst became a painter after surviving a stroke, her longtime patient, distinguished and beloved poet Molly Peacock, took up a unique task. The Analyst is a new, visceral, twenty-first century “in memoriam” of ambiguous loss in which Peacock brilliantly tells the story of a decades-long patient-therapist relationship that now reverses and continues to evolve. Peacock invigorates the notion of poetry as word-painting: A tapestry of images, from a red enameled steamer on a black stove to Tibetan monks funneling glowing sand into a painting, create the backdrop for her quest to define identity.
From “In Our Unexpected Future”:
…for frocks outlast pillars. But feelings
outlive frocks. The immaterial storms through,
a force beyond years (a mere four since you
were nearly felled). It isn’t what happened that lasts.
Not art, either, but the savory core. What’s felt.
February 21 @ 6:00 pm
Reza Shirvani is a talented, young associate on the cusp of promotion to partnership at a top corporate law firm in Washington, D.C.
But the biggest challenge in his life is far more complicated—his mother and sister have fled Iran and are now stuck in western Afghanistan. Their last and best hope for safe passage to America lies in the hands of a tribal warlord, but only if Reza can quickly come up with a small fortune to pay him.
When Clara, Reza’s beautiful, former lover unexpectedly reappears in his life, Reza seems to have stumbled on a solution to all of his problems.
Very soon, though, it becomes clear that Clara’s reappearance is not completely coincidental, and Reza finds himself confronting an insider trading mastermind, a Saudi financier of terror, cyber espionage, and, along the way, his own greatest doubts and fears.
Fast-paced and gripping, readers are taken from high-powered offices in D.C., London, and New York, to streets and compounds in Kabul and beyond.
A timeless and yet modern journey of self-discovery, Trade Off illuminates just how ambiguous morality can be when innocent lives are at stake.
March 7 @ 6:00 pm
Daniel Barbarisi quits his job as the New York Yankees beat writer for The Wall Street Journal and begins a quest: to join the top one percent of Daily Fantasy Sports (“DFS”) players, the so-called “sharks,” and figure out whether DFS is on the level—while maybe cashing in along the way.
DFS is fantasy sports on steroids. It’s the domain of bitter rivals FanDuel and DraftKings, online juggernauts who turned a legal loophole into a billion-dollar industry by allowing sports fans bet piles of cash constructing fantasy teams.
Yet as Barbarisi quickly realized, what should have been a fun companion to casual sports viewing was instead a ferocious environment infested with sharks, a top tier of pros wielding complex algorithms, drafting hundreds of lineups, and wagering six figures daily as they bludgeon unsuspecting amateur “fish.” Barbarisi embeds himself inside the world of DFS, befriending and joining its rogue’s gallery as he tries to beat them at their own game.
In a work equal parts adventure and rigorously reported investigation, Barbarisi wades into this chaotic industry at the very moment its existence is threatened by lawmakers sick of its Wild West atmosphere and pushy advertising. All their money made FanDuel and DraftKings seem invincible; but, as Barbarisi reports, they made plenty of dubious—perhaps even scandalous—moves as they vied for market supremacy.
March 9 @ 6:00 pm
With Orbit, prize-winning author Cynthia Zarin confirms her place as an indispensable American poet of our time.
In this, her fifth collection, Zarin turns her lyric lens on the worlds within worlds we inhabit and how we navigate our shared predicament—the tables of our lives on which the news of the day is strewn: the president speaking to parishioners in Charleston, the ricochet of violence, near and far. Whether writing about hairpin turns in the stair of childhood, the cat’s claw of anxiety, on the impending loss of a young friend, or how “love endures, give or take,” here is the poet who, in the title poem, “bartered forty summers for black pearls” and whose work is full of such wagers, embodied in playing cards, treble notes, snow globes, and balancing acts. Zarin reminds us that the atmosphere created by our experiences shapes and defines the orbit we move through. Along the way, she is both witness and, often indirectly, subject—“I do not know how to hold the beauty and sorrow of my life,” she writes. This book is an attempt at an answer.
March 15 @ 6:00 pm
An engaging, funny, and tender memoir from a man of ninety years: of growing up poor in a Brooklyn and Ireland that now exist only in memory, and of serving in the China/Burma/India theater during World War II as a member of an elite U.S. Navy commando unit
John Freely’s voice is still astonishingly youthful, full of wonder, humor, and gratitude, as he remembers his fully lived life. Born in Brooklyn to Irish immigrants, he went to Ireland with his mother when he was five, where he spent his young childhood on his grandfather’s farm. Western Ireland was impoverished by the times, but rich in beauty and intriguing people, and it opened in him a lifelong desire to see the world and its inhabitants. When he was seven, he returned to Brooklyn, and the antics of a coming-of-age boy played out on streets filled with character and characters. He took whatever jobs he could when times got tough, always shaking off his losses and moving on, hungry to see and experience what was next. He joined the U.S. Navy at seventeen to “see the world,” and did just that. In wartime, while bringing supplies and ammunition over the Stilwell-Burma Road to Chiang Kai-shek’s Chinese guerrilla forces, Freely served alongside them during the last weeks of World War II in the Tibetan borderlands of China, a Shangri-la that war had turned into hell on earth.
March 21 @ 6:00 pm
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wrong Man and Eyes on You comes a harrowing new psychological thriller about a successful self-help author who suddenly finds her life spiraling dangerously out of control.
What would you do if you realized that your new husband, a man you adore, is keeping secrets from you—secrets with terrifying consequences?
Bryn Harper, an accomplished self-help author, already has plenty to deal with. She’s still recovering from a devastating car accident that has left her haunted by recurring, smoke-filled nightmares. Worse still, she can’t shake the ominous feeling her dreams contain a warning. In the beginning, Bryn’s husband Guy couldn’t have been more supportive. But after moving into a new house together, disturbing incidents occur and Guy grows evasive, secretive. What the hell is going on, she wonders? Then, a woman hired to cater their dinner party is brutally murdered. As Bryn’s world unravels—and yet another woman in town is slain —she must summon her old strength to find answers and protect her own life. Her nightmares may in fact hold the key to unlocking the truth and unmasking the murderer. With unexpected, riveting twists, The Secrets You Keep is an utterly compelling psychological thriller that once again showcases Kate White’s extraordinary storytelling talent.