Unruled Paper

by Steve Mitchell

Just in time for after-Christmas, a slew of well-received hardcovers transition to paperback. The books you bought for friends and family three weeks ago at $26.95, you can now buy for yourself ten dollars cheaper. Here are a few major books of last year just now reaching softcover.

The Buried Giant by Kazuo IshiguroA venture into the fantasy novel by the acclaimed author of The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, this book received mixed reviews when it was first published last year. Ishiguro’s themes of memory, longing, and the shadows of the past are here in a story that seems to take place in Arthurian England. It’s a quest story, as an elderly couple go in search of their lost son across the difficult and dirty terrain of the time. And, of course, as in all Ishiguro novels, nothing is exactly what it seems.

A not-so-great review from The New Yorker.

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson Named one of the best books of 2015 by a number of publications, A God in Ruins explores the life of Teddy (Edward) Todd, from his time in an RAF bomber during the Second World War to old age. Teddy is the brother of Ursula Todd, from Atkinson’s Life After Life, and here emerges as a fully formed character in his own right. By circling around and burrowing into different times in Teddy’s life, we come away with a full understanding of the heartbreak and heroism of a single man.Maureen Corrigan at NPR.

Early Warning by Jane Smiley In this second volume of Smiley’s epic trilogy, we follow the Langdon’s through the social revolutions of the 60’s and 70’s and into the early 80’s. Working again with a single American family as they age and grow, Smiley explores the American Experience of the late 20th Century. The Langdon diaspora away from the family farm allows the novel to crisscross the country. If you like ongoing family sagas with a large cast of characters in the tradition of Tolstoy, this may be the book for you.The Guardian on Early Warning.

The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning by Maggie Nelson An investigation into the uses of cruelty in a wide range of modern art and literature beginning with Antonin Artaud and covering such diverse artists as Sylvia Plath, Diane Arbus, Yoko Ono and Elfriede Jellinek. In a well-researched and readable style, Nelson explores the uses of shock and confrontation in the culture of the late 20th Century. You’ve got to love a book that marries the paintings of Francis Bacon with the ‘Saw’ film franchise.Here’s a story in Slate.

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer Not a pleasant but a necessary book. Jon Krakauer (Into Thin Air, Into the Wild) delivers an exhaustively researched account of one community’s struggle with sexual assault and the ways our college administrations and justice system address these assaults. He focuses on the experiences of five victims, following their journeys through the humiliating labyrinths of the investigative and judicial systems. A meticulous examination of a morally and socially complex problem.The Christian Science Monitor talks about Missoula. EventsBookmarks presents A Movable FeastSunday, January 24 3pmWake Forest Biotech Place, Winston SalemAuthors will change tables every 10 minutes giving each table the chance to talk with 10 authors. 25 authors from 10 states will be on hand, including Krista Bremer, Taylor Brown, Alyssa Palombo, and Elena Gorokhova.WFDD/Scuppernong Book Club: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi CoatesSaturday, February 6 2pm & 4pmScuppernong Books, GreensboroJoin the quarterly collaborative book club with WFDD for a discussion on National Book Award winner Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Due to the popularity of our previous meetings, we’re offering two sessions for this discussion. All books for the WFDD/Scuppernong book club are 10% off. Actor/Activist George Takei at the Bryan Lecture SeriesGreensboro Coliseum ComplexMonday, March 21 7:30pmTakei will share the story of his family’s forced internment as Japanese Americans during WWII—a seemingly forgotten part of American history. George will also talk about his rise to celebrity as a sci-fi icon, his remarkable journey as social media luminary, and his passionate fight for LGBTQ rights and marriage equality in America—empowering others to beat the odds and make a difference.And,Speaking of ‘now available for less’: are frying eggs your culinary nightmare? Now, you can have hard cylindrical eggs-on-a-stick in no time. Check out this exciting, and very enthusiastic, infomercial from Singapore and order your Eggmaster today!Please send any announcements of writerly or bookish events in the Triad area or beyond to: neuralarts@triad.rr.comSteve Mitchell’s short story collection, The Naming of Ghosts, is published by Press 53. He has a deep belief in the primacy of doubt and an abiding conviction that great wisdom informs very bad movies. He’s co-owner of Scuppernong Books in Greensboro, NC.