The sultry days of summer are supposed to be a time of torpor and indolence, but we're not sitting still here at Island Books. All sorts of projects are afoot, and you'll be hearing about them soon. Right after we finish this pitcher of mai tais . . . .
Geoffrey Chaucer said, "It is nought good a slepyng hound to wake."
Henry Sullivan, bookhound, is ready to be that sleeping dog: to settle
down in his new apartment and enjoy life with his new girlfriend. But
the underside of the literary world won't let him go. A bookscout sells
Henry a book--and is murdered later that night. An old friend asks him
to investigate a case of possible plagiarism involving a local
best-selling author. To make matters worse, his violinist neighbor seems
to have a stalker. And wherever Henry goes, there's a cop watching him. Henry can read the signs: to save those he loves he has to save himself. McCaffrey continues his series of mysteries for the thinking fan in fine style.
John Julius Norwich captures nearly two thousand years of inspiration and devotion, intrigue and scandal. The men (and maybe one woman) who have held this position of infallible power over millions have ranged from heroes to rogues, admirably wise to utterly decadent. Norwich, who knew two popes and had private audiences with two others, recounts in riveting detail the histories of the most significant popes and what they meant politically, culturally, and socially to Rome and to the world. Norwich presents such brave popes as Innocent I, who in the fifth century successfully negotiated with Alaric the Goth, an invader civil authorities could not defeat, and Leo I, who two decades later tamed (and perhaps paid off) Attila the Hun. Here, too, are the scandalous figures: Pope Joan, the mythic woman said (without any substantiation) to have been elected in 855, and the infamous "pornocracy," the five libertines who were descendants or lovers of Marozia, debauched daughter of one of Rome's most powerful families. Absolute Monarchs brilliantly portrays reformers such as Pope Paul III, "the greatest pontiff of the sixteenth century," who reinterpreted the Church's teaching and discipline, and John XXIII, who in five short years starting in 1958 "opened up the church to the twentieth century," instituting reforms that led to Vatican II. Norwich brings the story to the present day with Benedict XVI, who is coping with a global priest sex scandal. This is the astonishing story of some of history's most revered and reviled figures.
A debut collection of stories filled with offbeat perspectives. Daniel Orozco leads the reader through the hidden lives and moral philosophies of bridge painters, men housebound by obesity, office temps, and warehouse workers. He reveals the secret pleasures of late-night supermarket trips for cookie binges, exceptional data entry, and an exiled dictator's occasional piss on the U.S. embassy. A love affair blooms between two officers in the impartially worded pages of a police blotter; a new employee's first-day office tour includes descriptions of other workers' most private thoughts and actions; during an earthquake, the consciousness of the entire state of California shakes free for examination. No matter how far afield the stories roam, you'll always recognize in them the way people really think and feel.
In June 1992, best friends Jim Davidson and Mike Price stood triumphantly atop Washington's Mount Rainier, celebrating what they hoped would be the first of many milestones in their lives as passionate young mountaineers. Instead, their conquest gave way to catastrophe when a cave-in plunged them deep inside a glacial crevasse--the pitch-black, ice-walled hell that every climber's nightmares are made of. At once a heart-stopping adventure story, a heartfelt memoir of friendship, and a stirring meditation on fleeting mortality and immutable nature, The Ledge chronicles one man's transforming odyssey from the dizzying heights of elation and awe to the punishing depths of grief and hard-won wisdom. This book's visceral, lyrical prose sings the praises of the physical world's wonders, while searching the souls of those willing, for better or worse, to fully embrace it.
In 1842 Phineas T. Barnum is a young man, freshly arrived in New York and still unknown to the world. With uncanny confidence and impeccable timing, he transforms a dusty natural history museum into a great ark for public imagination. Barnum's museum, with its human wonders and extraordinary live animal menagerie, rises to become not only the nation's most popular attraction, but also a catalyst that ushers America out of a culture of glassed-in exhibits and into the modern age of entertainment. In this kaleidoscopic setting, the stories of two compelling characters are brought to life. Emile Guillaudeu is the museum's grumpy taxidermist, who is horrified by the chaotic change Barnum brings to his beloved institution. Ana Swift is a professional giantess plagued by chronic pain and jaded by a world of gawkers. The differences between these two are many: one is isolated and spends his working hours making dead things look alive, while the other has people pushing against her, and reacting to her, every day. But they both move toward change in this great new novel about a community of marvels.
Tracy Daugherty, the critically acclaimed author of Hiding Man (a New Yorker and New York Times Notable book), illuminates his most vital subject yet in this first biography of Joseph Heller. Heller was a Coney Island kid, the son of Russian immigrants, who went on to great fame and fortune. His most memorable novel, Catch 22, took its inspiration from a mission he flew over France in WWII (his plane was filled with so much shrapnel it was a wonder it stayed in the air). His life was filled with women and romantic indiscretions, but he was perhaps more famous for his friendships--he counted Mel Brooks, Zero Mostel, Carl Reiner, Kurt Vonnegut, Norman Mailer, Mario Puzo, Dustin Hoffman, Woody Allen, and many others among his confidantes. In 1981 Heller was diagnosed with a debilitating syndrome that could have cost him his life. Miraculously, he recovered. When he passed away in 1999 from natural causes, he left behind a body of work that continues to sell hundreds of thousands of copies a year.
Thackery T. Lambshead may or may not have been one of the leading physicians of the 20th century, and he may or may not have created an influential guide to uncommon maladies such as Ballistic Organ Disease and Reverse Pinocchio Syndrome, and he may or may not have assembled a collection of amazing and impossible artifacts from all over the world (and beyond). What we do know for sure is that a top-notch group of authors and artists from the SF and fantasy community has gathered to do him tribute. Moorcock, Mieville, Novik and dozens more under the editorial direction of Jeff and Ann VanderMeer have contributed their imaginations and produced the freshest, most creative anthology in ages. It's never what you expect, but it's always what you want.
In this spellbinding new history, David Goldfield offers the first major new interpretation of the Civil War era since James M. McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom. Where past scholars have limned the war as a triumph of freedom, Goldfield sees it as America's greatest failure: the result of a breakdown caused by the infusion of evangelical religion into the public sphere. As the Second Great Awakening surged through America, political questions became matters of good and evil to be fought to the death. The price of that failure was horrific, but the carnage accomplished what statesmen could not: It made the United States one nation and eliminated slavery as a divisive force in the Union. The victorious North became synonymous with America as a land of innovation and industrialization, whose teeming cities offered squalor and opportunity in equal measure. Religion was supplanted by science and a gospel of progress, and the South was left behind. Goldfield's panoramic narrative, sweeping from the 1840s to the end of Reconstruction, is studded with memorable details and luminaries such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, and Walt Whitman. There are lesser known yet equally compelling characters, too, including Carl Schurz--a German immigrant, warhero, and postwar reformer--and Alexander Stephens, the urbane and intellectual vice president of the Confederacy. America Aflame is a vivid portrait of the "fiery trial" that transformed the country we live in.