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Pacific Northwest | September 12, 2004Pacific Northwest MagazineAugust 8, home
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Literary Fiction
Popular Fiction

IT'S GOING TO BE a fabulous fall at our literate city's libraries and bookstores. Three new books will get lots of attention: Philip Roth's speculative fiction (what if aviation hero and Nazi sympathizer Charles Lindbergh had become president?), "Maus" author Art Spiegelman's graphic novel treatment of the aftermath of 9/11, and Seymour Hersh's book on the Iraq war and the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

But wait — there's a new Tom Wolfe novel. There's a biography of the Bush family by stiletto-pen author Kitty Kelley. There's a new book of chocolate recipes from Fran Bigelow, Seattle's chocolate queen. There's a new Tony Hillerman, and a new Annie Proulx, and two new Alexander McCall Smiths . . . and more in this chronicle of 101 picks (listed by upcoming publication date) for the best books of the fall.

So rev up that reading light, field-test that easy chair and wait for the dark, down-the-well Seattle days that make for some of the best reading weather in the world.


"The Fall of Baghdad" by Jon Lee Anderson (Penguin Press). The New Yorker correspondent's account of the Iraq war, as he follows a diverse collection of Iraqis through the pre-war era of daily life under Saddam to "America's disastrously ill-conceived seizure of power and its fruits."

"The Stories of English" by David Crystal (Overlook). A noted authority on language ("Language Death," "Shakespeare's Words") retells the history of our language with an emphasis on "the accents and dialects of nonstandard English users all over the globe."

"Cary Grant: The Biography" by Marc Eliot (Harmony). Billed as the first full-length, definitive biography of one of the sexiest film stars of any century.

"Up from Zero: Politics, Architecture and the Rebuilding of New York" by Paul Goldberger (Random House). The architecture critic for The New York Times tells the story of the struggle to rebuild the 16 acres at Ground Zero.

"Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare" by Stephen Greenblatt (Norton). A respected Harvard authority on Shakespeare examines how a young man from the provinces of Elizabethan England, without wealth, education or connections, became the most revered playwright of the last 400 years.

"All I Did Was Ask" by Terry Gross (Hyperion). The NPR radio host collects her interviews with George Clinton, John Updike, Divine, Mary Karr and numerous others.

"Chain of Command: The Road From 9/11 to Abu Ghraib" by Seymour Hersh, introduction by David Remnick (HarperCollins). Here's the book everybody in the other Washington will be reading — the account of post-9/11 events by the New Yorker investigative reporter who uncovered the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. Based on his magazine pieces, it will also include previously unpublished material.

"Exuberance: The Passion for Life" by Kay Redfield Jamison (Knopf). A renowned authority on mood disorders (author of "An Unquiet Mind" and "Night Falls Fast") examines how exuberance fuels intellectual searching, risk-taking, creativity and survival, and examines its hereditary and neurochemical bases.

"The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty" by Kitty Kelley (Doubleday). The take-no-prisoners author of the biographies "The Royals" (British royalty), "Nancy Reagan: The Unauthorized Biography" and "His Way" (Frank Sinatra) takes on the Bush clan, chronicling "the marriages, the affairs, the money, the wars, the lies."

"Ichiro on Ichiro: Conversations with Narumi Komatsu" by Narumi Komatsu, translated by Philip Gabriel (Sasquatch). A "rare and exclusive interview" with the Mariners' right fielder.

"Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found" by Suketu Mehta (Knopf). A kaleidoscopic portrait of India's biggest city, by a native who returns from New York after a 21-year absence and travels into the dark heart of its criminal underworld, its sex industry, its film industry and its religious wars.

"Osama: The Making of a Terrorist" by Jonathan Randal (Knopf). A former Washington Post correspondent with 40 years of Mideast experience analyzes Osama bin Laden's life and how it "epitomizes the fatal collision between 21st-century Islam and the West."

"In the Shadow of No Towers" by Art Spiegelman (Pantheon). The author and illustrator of the ground-breaking graphic novel "Maus" chronicles 9/11 and its aftermath in the format of the earliest newspaper comics, drawing on autobiography and politics to make his statement.

"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction" by Jon Stewart and the writers of The Daily Show (Warner). The Comedy Central fake news-show host and his colleagues — perpetrators of some of the funniest and most incisive commentary on these dire times we're living in — commit some of their sacrilege to paper.

"Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism" by Cornel West (Penguin Press). The author of the seminal "Race Matters" argues that if America is to remain a steward of democracy, the country must confront its own record of "imperialist corruption."

"Alice Walker: A Life" by Evelyn C. White (Norton). An assessment of the life of Walker, who was born into a Georgia share-cropping family and became the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction ("The Color Purple").


"Pure Chocolate" by Fran Bigelow with Helene Siegel (Broadway). A collection of chocolate recipes by Seattle's chocolate queen.

"Magical Thinking: True Stories" by Augusten Burroughs (St. Martin's Press). Personal essays by the author of "Running with Scissors."

"Margot Fonteyn: A Life" by Meredith Daneman (Viking). The life of the dancer who started out as Peggy Hookham of suburban England and rose through the ranks to become the most famous ballerina of her time.

"Chronicles: Volume I" by Bob Dylan (Simon & Schuster). The memoirs (we think) of Mr. Enigma, the great folk poet of our time. We first listed this book in autumn 2002, and it didn't materialize — the publisher, which won't divulge its contents, assures us that it is "really, really happening" this time around.

"His Excellency: George Washington" by Joseph J. Ellis (Knopf). A new biography of our first president, by the Pulitzer Prize-winning and National Book Award-winning historian (author of "Founding Brothers," also dogged by revelations that he artificially inflated his own autobiography).

"Mixed Nuts: America's Love Affair with Comedy Teams from Burns and Allen to Belushi and Ackroyd" by Lawrence Epstein (PublicAffairs). The story of the country's great comedy duos, from 19th-century vaudeville to the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges, the Smothers Brothers and beyond. Epstein previously wrote "The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America."

"The Great Betrayal: Fraud in Science" by Horace Freeland Judson (Harcourt). Judson, a MacArthur fellow, examines how governmental, corporate and special-interest involvement in scientific research encourages fraud, and how the integrity of the process can be "restored and defended."

"On the Take: How Medicine's Complicity with Big Business Can Endanger Your Health" by Dr. Jerome P. Kassirer (Oxford University Press). Kassirer, editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, analyzes the very cozy relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and the medical profession.

Also out in October: "Critical Condition: How Health Care in America Became Big Business and Bad Medicine" by investigative reporters Donald L. Bartlett and James B. Steele (Doubleday).

"American Writers at Home" by J.D. McClatchy, photographs by Erica Lennard (Library of America). A lavish literary coffee-table book — photographs of the places where American writers as diverse as Louisa May Alcott, William Faulkner and Frederick Douglass created their works, with text on how their home places shaped their writing.

"Hard News: The Scandals at The New York Times and the Future of American Journalism" by Seth Mnookin (Random House). A former media columnist at Newsweek analyzes the tenure of former New York Times executive editor Howell Raines, the career of his nemesis, reporter Jason Blair, and what the revelations of Blair's falsehoods mean for American journalism.

"My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who's Been Everywhere" by Susan Orlean (Random House). The author of "The Orchid Thief" takes "a tour of the world via its subculture."

"John James Audubon: The Making of an American" by Richard Rhodes (Knopf). The author of "Why They Kill" and "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" takes on the life of the master illustrator of America's 19th-century natural world.

"Poet of the Appetites: The Lives and Loves of M.F.K. Fisher" by Joan Reardon (North Point Press). Billed as the first full-length biography of the eventful life of one of America's best-known food writers ("The Art of Eating").

"Green River, Running Red: The Real Story of the Green River Killer — America's Deadliest Serial Murderer" by Ann Rule (Free Press). The master Seattle true-crime author on the region's most lethal criminal.

"The Life of Graham Greene: Volume III, 1955-1991" by Norman Sherry (Viking). The third installment in a trilogy on the life of the English author of "The Quiet American" and "The End of the Affair." Viking's paperback partner, Penguin, is also reissuing a number of Greene's books.

"Fewer: How the New Demography of Depopulation Will Shape Our Future" by Ben J. Wattenberg (Ivan R. Dee). "Never before has the fertility rate fallen so far, so fast, so low, for so long, in so many places," and this book examines the implications. Wattenberg is a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute.

"What Patients Taught Me: A Medical Student's Journey" by Dr. Audrey Young (Sasquatch). A young doctor describes her experience as a doctor-in-training in the rural reaches of the Pacific Northwest.



"The Future of Ice: A Journey Into Cold" by Greta Erlich (Pantheon). The author of "The Solace of Open Spaces" examines the nature of cold through science, poetry, anthropology and personal observation.

"The Inner Voice: Notes from a Life Onstage" by Renée Fleming (Viking). The famous soprano meditates on her influences, education and how she sustains her art in the face of "overwhelming commercial pressures."

"When Nothing Else Matters: Michael Jordan's Final Comeback" by Michael Leahy. Michael Jordan's last attempt at professional ball, and what it cost him and his team. Leahy is a Washington Post writer.

"Wodehouse: A Life" by Robert McCrum (Norton). A biography of the exceedingly prolific and funny British writer, creator of Jeeves, Psmith and the Empress of Blandings, among other paragons of Englishness.

"Right Turns" by Michael Medved (Crown Forum). The Seattle-area commentator and film critic tells the story of his journey "from secularism to religion," from single man to family man, and other transitions.

"One Matchless Time: A Life of William Faulkner" by Jay Parini (HarperCollins). A novelist who specializes in fiction about literary figures (Tolstoy, Walter Benjamin) delivers a straightforward biography of the great Southern writer ("The Sound and the Fury"). Drawing on newly available archival material, this promises to be the first major life of Faulkner since Joseph Blotner's two-volume effort of the 1970s.

"The Scarecrow Video Movie Guide" by the Staff and Friends of Scarecrow Video (Sasquatch). Seattle's iconoclastic video store produced this guide to more than 4,000 essential videos.


"The Children's Blizzard: January 12, 1888" by David Laskin (HarperCollins). The Seattle writer ("Partisans," "Braving the Elements") tells the story of one of the deadliest blizzards ever to hit the Midwest, claiming among its victims hundreds of recent immigrants from Europe who had no idea of the heartland's potential extremes of weather.

"Passing the Three Gates: Interviews with Charles Johnson," edited by Jim McWilliams (University of Washington Press). Interviews with the National Book Award-winning University of Washington professor, touching on his many interests, from cartooning to philosophy, from Buddhism to literary criticism.

Non-Fiction | Literary Fiction | Popular Fiction

Mary Ann Gwinn is The Seattle Times book editor. Michael Upchurch is The Times book critic.

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