ridges or broke beneath one’s feet, fractious sled-dogs, lethal weather, frostbite,
disease, starvation, and exhaustion. It’s
also a vivid account of the culture clash
between grandiose Americans and the
pragmatic Inuit communities they relied
on for survival, and an absorbing study of
how humans warp under pressure: the men
on one sled-trip that ran into a blizzard
descended into madness and murder, and
expedition members stuck in a cabin during
months-long winter darkness—thanks to
unlucky weather that iced in rescue ships
and marooned the Americans in Greenland
for four years—picked mercilessly at one
another. This is a classic explorer’s narrative, pitting ambition against the limits of
endurance. Photos. (Nov.)
The Life of Paul Simon
Peter Ames Carlin. Holt, $32 (432p) ISBN 978-
As Carlin (Bruce) points out in this often
tuneless critical biography, Paul Simon has
been chasing his musical muse since his
childhood, when he first heard the Crows’
“Gee” on the radio. Drawing on a wealth
of research as well as interviews with some
of Simon’s friends and fellow musicians,
Carlin nimbly chronicles Simon’s life and
music. The saga starts with Simon’s
youth, which might have foreshadowed
Simon’s lifelong curmudgeonly personality—“There was a sadness about the boy
from the beginning”—and childhood, in
which he took on his father’s willfulness
and sarcastic nature. He and Art
Garfunkel formed the duo Tom and Jerry.
Following their ascent to the musical
stratosphere as Simon & Garfunkel in the
late 1960s, their relationship became contentious, but his solo career was mostly
successful. Carlin provides colorful details
of the events surrounding the recordings
of many of Simon’s albums, such 1973’s
There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, which he
recorded in the famed Muscle Shoals
studio where so many of his favorite soul
songs had been recorded. The book is lackluster, painting a portrait of Simon with
which fans are already familiar: a creative
genius whose reticence is often mistaken
for misanthropy, whose gleeful humor is
often mistaken for sarcasm, and whose
desire to discover the perfect lyric or chord
or hook is insatiable. (Oct.)
ghettos and perpetual racial conflicts, continuing
to affect his life as
he came of age.
Noah’s story is
the story of
Africa; though he
privileges of the
region’s slow Westernization, his forma-
tive years were shaped by poverty, injus-
tice, and violence. Noah is quick with a
disarming joke, and he skillfully inte-
grates the parallel narratives via intersti-
tial asides between chapters to explain the
finer details of African culture and history
for the uninformed. Perhaps the most har-
rowing tales are those of his abusive stepfa-
ther, which form the book’s final act (and
which Noah cleverly foreshadows
throughout earlier chapters), but equally
prominent are the laugh-out-loud yarns
about going to the prom, and the differ-
ences between “White Church” and
“Black Church.” (Nov.)
; A Wretched and Precarious
Situation: In Search of the Last
David Welky. Norton, $28.95 (512p) ISBN 978-
Life in the extreme north was a hellish
ordeal for early 20th-century American
and Inuit explorers, as described in this
exciting adventure saga. Historian Welky
(The Thousand-Year Flood) recounts the
1913 expedition to find “Crocker Land,” a
possible continent in the Arctic Ocean
that was glimpsed by Robert Peary during
an earlier failed attempt on the North
Pole. The trek took the explorers to
Greenland and then hundreds of miles
west across rugged Ellesmere Island and
onto the frozen
lights the perils
of polar travel,
that piled up in
Never Enough Robyn Nyx. Bold Strokes,
ISBN 978-1-62639-629-6, Nov.
Reports on the Internet Apocalypse Wayne
Gladstone. St. Martin’s/Dunne, ISBN 978-1-250-
; Auletris: Erotica Anaïs Nin. Sky Blue,
ISBN 978-0-9889170-9-5, Oct.
Bridget Jones’s Baby Helen Fielding. Knopf,
ISBN 978-1-5247-3240-0, Oct.
Cruel Beautiful World Caroline Leavitt.
Algonquin, ISBN 978-1-61620-363-4, Oct.
Dog Years Melissa Yancy. Univ. of Pittsburgh,
ISBN 978-0-8229-4467-6, Oct.
Ghost Times Two Carolyn Hart. Berkley Prime
Crime, ISBN 978-0-425-28373-8, Oct.
Rule Dementia! Quentin S. Crisp. Snuggly
Books, ISBN 978-1-943813-18-6, Oct.
Swift to Chase Laird Barron. JournalStone,
ISBN 978-1-945373-05-3, Oct.
A Zero-Sum Game Eduardo Rabasa, trans.
from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney.
Deep Vellum (Consortium, dist.), ISBN 978-1-
Pansies Alexis Hall. Riptide Publishing, ISBN 978-
The Marches: A Borderland Journey
Between England and Scotland Rory
Stewart. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ISBN 978-0-
The French Chef in America: Julia Child’s
Second Act Alex Prud’homme. Random House,
ISBN 978-0-385-35175-1, Oct.
Power to the People: The World of the
Black Panthers Stephen Shames and Bobby
Seale. Abrams, ISBN 978-1-4197-2240-0, Oct.
Lens on Syria: A Photographic Tour of Its
Ancient and Modern Culture Daniel Demeter.
Just World, ISBN 978-1-68257-007-4, Sept.
A (Brief) History of Vice: How Bad Behavior
Built Civilization Robert Evans. Plume,
ISBN 978-0-14-751760-9, Aug.
How Everything Became War and the
Military Became Everything: Tales from the
Pentagon Rosa Brooks. Simon & Schuster,
ISBN 978-1-4767-7786-3, Aug.
The House by the Lake: One House, Five
Families, and a Hundred Years of German
History Thomas Harding. Picador, ISBN 978-1-