The Collected Stories Of Lydia Davis
by Lydia Davis
Many of Lydia Davis' short stories never even make it to the bottom of the page. Some consist only of a sentence or two. But even at their most spare, Davis' stories never seem slight — like Grace Paley, she has mastered the art of crafting sentences that carry the allusive, stand-alone power of poetry, even as they serve the demands of narrative. Though in the decades since her first collection appeared in 1976, she has won a 2003 MacArthur "genius" grant, was a National Book Award finalist in 2007 and received praise for her translations of Foucault, Proust and others, Davis remains one of those writers not enough people know about. Here's hoping this collection — a quiet, witty, thoroughly absorbing read — may finally change that.
752 pages, $19, Picador
by Jodi Picoult
Jodi Picoult's latest novel centers on Jacob Hunt, an 18-year-old high school student with Asperger's syndrome who was raised by his devoted single mother along with a younger brother who feels guilty for being resentful. But Jacob's obsession with forensic science pushes House Rules out of Picoult's usual realm of sharply observed domestic drama and into that of crime fiction. The birthday gift of a police scanner radio has even propelled him into a couple of crime scenes, where his Asperger's-related reluctance to make eye contact, as well as his detailed knowledge of rigor mortis and blood spatter patterns, make him a suspicious character. So when the college student who's been working with him on his social skills is found dead, he becomes a prime suspect — even in the minds of his mother and brother. Critics and readers alike say this one is a page-turner.
560 pages, $16, Washington Square Press
How Irrational Thinking Harms the Planet and Threatens Our Lives
by Michael Specter
Nearly 20 percent of the families in Vashon Island, Wash., aren't getting their children vaccinated against childhood diseases. At the Ocean Charter School near Marina del Rey, Calif., 40 percent of the 2008 kindergarten class received vaccination exemptions. But their reasoning is not based on religious or cultural traditions. Instead, they believe vaccinations are harmful to their children, citing stories they've heard about mistakes by doctors or pharmaceutical fraud. Author Michael Specter tells NPR's Scott Simon that the parents in these upscale enclaves are prime examples of what he calls "denialism" — also the title of his new book. "We can all believe irrational things," he says. "The problem is that I think an increasing number of Americans are acting on those beliefs instead of acting on facts that are readily present."
320 pages, $16, Penguin
Fly By Wire
by William Langewiesche
In January 2009, pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger was hailed as a hero, after he glided his US Airways plane — which had lost both engines — to a safe landing in the Hudson River. In Fly By Wire, writer and former pilot William Langewiesche argues that it was the engineering of the plane, and not Sullenberger's skill, that made the "miracle" possible.
208 pages, $14, Picador
Weekends At Bellevue
Nine Years on the Night Shift at the Psych ER
by Julie Holland
For nine years, psychiatrist Julie Holland ran the psychiatric emergency room at Bellevue Hospital in New York City on Saturday and Sunday nights. Along with treating patients, she served as liaison to the medical ER and the toxicology department. In her new memoir, Weekends at Bellevue, Holland describes the patients she encountered — from the manic to the criminally insane — and the reasons she eventually left the job. An expert on street drugs who spent her college years researching and writing Ecstasy: The Complete Guide, Holland says one of the hardest parts of her job was figuring out which patients were schizophrenic and which were high on cocaine or methamphetamines.