An Anthology Of Stories In 25 Words Or Fewer
by Robert Swartwood
Can you tell a whole story in 25 words or fewer? Inspired by the six-word novel attributed to Ernest Hemingway — "For sale: baby shoes, never worn" — Robert Swartwood has compiled a new anthology of bite-sized fiction. The stories in Hint Fiction are short enough to be text messages, but the genre is defined by more than its length. Swartwood tells NPR's Scott Simon that it's characterized by the way the form forces readers to fill in the blanks. Most fiction hints at a larger story, he says, but the brevity of these stories really challenges the reader's imagination. Take Joe Schreiber's story, "Progress": "After seventeen days she finally broke down and called him 'Daddy.'"
188 pages, $13.95, W.W. Norton and Company
Louisa May Alcott
The Woman Behind Little Women
by Harriet Reisen
For many readers, Louisa May Alcott is synonymous with her most famous character, Jo March, the spirited sister in Alcott's classic Little Women. But Alcott scholar Harriet Reisen wants us to get one thing straight: "She's not the little woman you thought she was, and her life was no children's book," she tells NPR's Linda Wertheimer. Alcott's dark and atypical life experience fostered her drive to escape poverty. "Money is the means and the ends of my mercenary existence," Reisen quotes Alcott as saying. "She wrote what she called 'moral pap for the young' because it pays well," Reisen explains. It also gave Alcott the freedom to earn money and remain in control of her situation as an unmarried woman. According to Reisen, Alcott once said, "I'd rather be a free spinster and paddle my own canoe."
464 pages, $16, Picador
The Sweeter Side Of R. Crumb
by R. Crumb
Underground comic book artist Robert Crumb is the creator of such 1960s and 1970s comic icons as Mr. Natural and Fritz the Cat. In the introduction to this sketchbook of his graphic musings, the self-described "misanthropic sex pervert" offers the reader "adorable, heartwarming and lovingly rendered drawings which, I promise, will not make you feel threatened in any way, and will put you in a state all warm and fuzzy and cuddly towards the artist and life in general." Some comic strips and portraits of jazz musicians will be familiar to readers of Crumb's other books, but it's hard to tire of such a masterful artist.
110 pages, $17.95, W.W. Norton and Company
The Life And Times Of An American Original
by Robin D.G. Kelley
Biographer Robin D.G. Kelley wants to clear the air about Thelonious Monk. He tells NPR, "[Monk's] story challenges a very tired idea of the tortured artist ... committed to making an art by any means necessary." Kelley teaches history and American studies at the University of Southern California and says Monk wanted people to enjoy his music — and purchase it, too. "He was someone who thought of music as a vocation: to keep his family afloat; his wife, Nellie; his two kids," Kelley says. In his book Thelonious Monk, Kelley tackles the enduring myths spun around Monk, arguing that he was not an isolated genius. Instead, he was connected to his New York City community, played benefits for the social causes of the day and studied his art.
624 pages, $18, Free Press
We'll Be Here For The Rest Of Our Lives
A Swingin' Showbiz Saga
by Paul Shaffer and David Ritz
Bandleader Paul Shaffer is used to being overshadowed by the man who introduces him on TV, late-night talk show host David Letterman. Shaffer's memoir, We'll Be Here For the Rest of Our Lives, follows his colorful transition from topless bar pianist to appearances on Saturday Night Live, and as a member of the Blues Brothers, before becoming bandleader of a staple late-night show.