November 9, 2016 @ 6:30 pm
An in-depth look at one of the twentieth century’s star reporters and his biggest story.
Thanks to one reporter’s skill, we can fix the exact moment on November 22, 1963 when the world stopped and held its breath: At 12:34 p.m. Central Time, UPI White House reporter Merriman Smith broke the news that shots had been fired at President Kennedy’s motorcade. Most people think Walter Cronkite was the first to tell America about the assassination. But when Cronkite broke the news on TV, he read from one of Smith’s dispatches. At Parkland Hospital, Smith saw President Kennedy’s blood-soaked body in the back of his limousine before the emergency room attendants arrived. Two hours later, he was one of three journalists to witness President Johnson’s swearing-in aboard Air Force One. Smith rightly won a Pulitzer Prize for the vivid story he wrote for the next day’s morning newspapers.
Smith’s scoop is journalism legend. But the full story of how he pulled off the most amazing reportorial coup has never been told. As the top White House reporter of his time, Smith was a bona fide celebrity and even a regular on late-night TV. But he has never been the subject of a biography.
With access to a trove of Smith’s personal letters and papers and through interviews with Smith’s family and colleagues, veteran news reporter Bill Sanderson will crack open the legend. Bulletins from Dallas will tell for the first time how Smith beat his competition on the story, and will show how the biggest scoop of his career foreshadowed his personal downfall.
November 15, 2016 @ 6:00 pm
The Peregrine family’s lives are turned upside down one summer when so-called “art experts” appear on the doorstep of their Connecticut island home to appraise a favorite heirloom painting. When incriminating papers, as well as other paintings, are discovered behind the artwork in question, the appraisal turns into a full-fledged investigation. Antagonism mounts between grandmother, mother, and child, who begin to suspect one another, as well as the shady newcomers in their midst, of foul play.
As the summer progresses and the Peregrines discover facts about their past in the course of the investigation, they learn that people—including them—are not always who they appear to be. But when they uncover the painting’s deepest secret, it gives them the gift of love that they have unconsciously been seeking all along.
January 10, 2017 @ 6:00 pm
Despite her innate ambition and Summa Cum Laude smarts, Kate Pearson has turned into a major slacker. After being unceremoniously dumped by her handsome, French “almost fiancé,” she abandons her grad school plans and instead spends her days lolling on the couch, watching reruns of Sex and the City, and leaving her apartment only when a dog-walking gig demands it. Her friends don’t know what to do other than pass tissues and hope for a comeback, while her practical sister, Angela, pushes every remedy she can think of, from trapeze class to therapy to job interviews.
Miraculously, and for reasons no one (least of all Kate) understands, she manages to land a job in the admissions department at the prestigious Hudson Day School. In her new position, Kate learns there’s no time for self-pity or nonsense during the height of the admissions season, or what her colleagues refer to as “the dark time.” As the process revs up, Kate meets smart kids who are unlikable, likeable kids who aren’t very smart, and Park Avenue parents who refuse to take no for an answer.
Meanwhile, Kate’s sister and her closest friends find themselves keeping secrets, hiding boyfriends, dropping bombshells, and fighting each other on how to keep Kate on her feet. On top of it all, her cranky, oddly charming, and irritatingly handsome downstairs neighbor is more than he seems. Through every dishy, page-turning twist, it seems that one person’s happiness leads to another’s misfortune, and suddenly everyone, including Kate, is looking for a way to turn rejection on its head, using any means necessary—including the truly unexpected.
January 11, 2017 @ 6:00 pm
A film-centric portrait of the extraordinarily gifted movie director whose decades-long influence on American popular culture is unprecedented
“Everything about me is in my films,” Steven Spielberg has said. Taking this as a key to understanding the hugely successful moviemaker, Molly Haskell explores the full range of Spielberg’s works for the light they shine upon the man himself. Through such powerhouse hits as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Jurassic Park, and Indiana Jones, to lesser-known masterworks like A.I. and Empire of the Sun, to the haunting Schindler’s List, Haskell shows how Spielberg’s uniquely evocative filmmaking and story-telling reveal the many ways in which his life, work, and times are entwined.
Organizing chapters around specific films, the distinguished critic discusses how Spielberg’s childhood in non-Jewish suburbs, his parents’ traumatic divorce, his return to Judaism upon his son’s birth, and other events echo in his work. She offers a brilliant portrait of the extraordinary director—a fearful boy living through his imagination who grew into a man whose openness, generosity of spirit, and creativity have enchanted audiences for more than 40 years.
January 17, 2017 @ 6:00 pm
“A beautiful and disturbing memoir of a beloved sister who died at the age of thirty-nine in circumstances that strongly suggest murder. . . . Highly recommended.” —Joyce Carol Oates
When Sheila Kohler was thirty-seven, she received the heart-stopping news that her sister Maxine, only two years older, was killed when her husband drove them off a deserted road in Johannesburg. Stunned by the news, she immediately flew back to the country where she was born, determined to find answers and forced to reckon with his history of violence and the lingering effects of their most unusual childhood—one marked by death and the misguided love of their mother.
In her signature spare and incisive prose, Sheila Kohler recounts the lives she and her sister led. Flashing back to their storybook childhood at the family estate, Crossways, Kohler tells of the death of her father when she and Maxine were girls, which led to the family abandoning their house and the girls being raised by their mother, at turns distant and suffocating. We follow them to the cloistered Anglican boarding school where they first learn of separation and later their studies in Rome and Paris where they plan grand lives for themselves—lives that are interrupted when both marry young and discover they have made poor choices. Kohler evokes the bond between sisters and shows how that bond changes but never breaks, even after death.
January 19, 2017 @ 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, 2017 @ 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, 2017 @ 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, 2017 @ 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, 2017 @ 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.