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Autobiography

The Secret Race - Tyler Hamilton

 

The Secret Race is not a Manda book, so this is simply unbiased praise for a book that I really enjoyed on a few different levels.  Thanks to my wife, I have recently 'taken' to road biking and have been loving it.  So with that in mind, this book is a look at the intensity of the sport which I had not fully appreciated before participating in it, and then reading about people doing it at the top level.  It is also a 'tell-all' about the doping and performance enhancing drug use that is clearly rampant in cycling, (and I now surmise in all sports).  And it is an indicment of himself and most notably Lance Armstrong.

If you are a cycling fan you will likely love it.  If you want the details of the doping regimine you will love it, in part becuase of the cloak-and-dagger style in which it has to happen and in part due to Daniel Coyle's great re-telling of Hamilton's story and confession.

MY FRIEND DAHMER is killing it!

Congrats are in order for Derf Backderf, whose graphic novel My Friend Dahmer (Abrams ComicArts, 1-4197-0216-5) made it to number 4 on Time Entertainment's prestigious Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2012. It's highly unusual for a graphic novel to garner such buzz, but My Friend Dahmer is racking up quite the reader body count. In fact, Ibid Filmworks picked up the rights to make it into a movie! In this captivating autobiographical account of Backderf's middle and high school years, he pieces together an almost sympathetic portrait of Dahmer as a disturbed young man who devolved into a notorious serial killer.

Through his quirky cartoons, we are told Dahmer's haunting story in an unobtrusive way: we see him as a loner, as a victim of a troubled home, as a self-medicating alcoholic, as a budding sociopath in the indifferent world of 1970s suburbia. Backderf's unique vantage point elicits profound insight and some serious queries: Were the existence of Dahmer demons already an indication of an inevitable sinister outcome, or could this troubled youth's life have turned out differently if someone had noticed the red-flags and just reached out to help?

Deeply unsettling and frighteningly tragic!

 

National Book Award Finalists

Kevin Powers’ THE YELLOW BIRDS (9780316219365/Little, Brown and Company) and Domingo Martinez’s THE BOY KINGS OF TEXAS (9780762779192/Globe Pequot Press) are 2012 National Book Award Finalists. THE YELLOW BIRDS has been nominated as one of the five finalists for fiction and THE BOY KINGS OF TEXAS has been nominated as one of the five finalists for non-fiction.  The National Book Awards ceremony is November 14, 2012. For a full list of the National Book Award finalists, click here - http://www.nationalbook.org/nba2012.html#.UHcfS65418F. Congratulations to both nominees!

THE YELLOW BIRDS By KEVIN POWERS 9780316219365 $27.99 Little, Brown and Company

About the Book

"The war tried to kill us in the spring." So begins this powerful account of friendship and loss. In Al Tafar, Iraq, twenty-one-year-old Private Bartle and eighteen-year-old Private Murphy cling to life as their platoon launches a bloody battle for the city. Bound together since basic training when Bartle makes a promise to bring Murphy safely home, the two have been dropped into a war neither is prepared for. In the endless days that follow, the two young soldiers do everything to protect each other from the forces that press in on every side: the insurgents, physical fatigue, and the mental stress that comes from constant danger. As reality begins to blur into a hazy nightmare, Murphy becomes increasingly unmoored from the world around him and Bartle takes actions he could never have imagined.

THE BOY KINGS OF TEXAS by Domingo Martinez 9780762779192 $18.95 Globe Pequot Press

About the Book

Domingo Martinez lays bare his interior and exterior worlds as he struggles to make sense of the violent and the ugly, along with the beautiful and the loving, in a Texas border town in the 1980s. Partly a reflection on the culture of machismo and partly an exploration of the author’s boyhood spent in his sister’s hand-me-down clothes, The Boy Kings of Texas delves into the enduring and complex bond between Martinez and his deeply flawed but fiercely protective older brother, Daniel, and features a cast of memorable characters. Charming, painful and enlightening, this book examines the traumas and pleasures of growing up in South Texas and the often terrible consequences when two very different cultures collide on the banks of a dying river.

Coming Soon. . .

I was a personality before I became a person - I am simple, complex, generous, selfish, unattractive, beautiful, lazy and driven. - Barbra Streisand Learning about upcoming titles during our bi-annual sales conference is always exciting, and something I look forward to at the beginning of each season.

One title that stood out to me, soon to be released in February 2012, is this stunning tribute to one of the world’s most beloved and enduring stars, Barbra Streisand.

Streisand is a record-breaking global phenomenon who has won virtually every award the entertainment industry has to bestow: Oscars®, Emmys®, Grammys®, Tonys®, a Peabody, and more. This fully illustrated book celebrates her uniquely brilliant career with hundreds of rarely published photographs, album artwork, memorabilia, annotated lists, and special in-depth features on everything from her trend-setting style to her transcendent voice.

Streisand's millions of fans will delight in the treasures they'll discover inside, as they follow Barbra from her Brooklyn childhood to her nightclub appearances, emergence as a Broadway star, rise to Hollywood legend…and beyond.

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This Crazy Time - Tzeporah Berman

We should all be thankful for Tzeporah Berman, and we should all know her name.  Tzeporah is one of the world's leading environmental activists and Greenpeace lead on their attack against governments and industry fighting desparately to control climate change around the world.  She has written an important memoir of her time thus far as an environmental activist, and along the way discusses and offers prescriptive advice on how to make a difference, and the urgency that is required to fight climate change in particular. For me, one of the more interesting parts of the book is the disection of the radical ways in which she has managed to bring industry and goverment to the table with Greenpeace to reach common goals through negotiation.  However, one of the more depressing reminders from the book is the Canadian government's lack of leadership and responsiblity on environmental issues, and the reminder that Canada has become an International environmental pariah.  As a proud Canadian, this is a source of serious embarrasment.

The work she is doing is crucial and thankless, so I hope that somehow this praise gets to Tzeporah to remind her that there are loads of people who are eternally grateful for her leadership, passion and uncompromising committment to combat climate change.  I would recommend that anyone who has an interest in environmental issues and celebrating an amazing Canadian woman should read this book and talk about her work everyday and to everyone. 

(This book is not sold by Canadian Manda, so this is simply unadulterated praise for Tzeporah Berman and her book, This Crazy Time.)

 

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Townie. By Andre Dubus III

This is a memoir of the hardscrabble youth of writer Andre Dubus III, growing up dirt poor and tough.  I should point out it is not a book from a publisher that Manda represents so this is unadulterated and unbiased praise for this amazingly written and brutally honest memoir.  It was recommended to me by Sebastian Hanna from Indigo, who always recommends amazing books to me. It is a story that is gripping and brutally honest in his ultimate compulsion for violence for the sake of violence and for the sake of vengeful justice.  It is a justice that he acknowledges which will never truly bring justice, only more violence.

The writing was remarkable in its ability to draw me in to both Andre and the people who played large roles in his youth.   The story is remarkable for a great many reasons, but it is ultimately the love and forgiveness which he extends to his father which moved me most.  His strength to pull himself up and to fight on physical and emotional levels is remarkable, and his fight for what is right is admirable.  But his willingness to acknowledge where his anger and violence come from and its ultimate senselessness is what makes his admissions and his story so compellling.  Even more so perhaps was the strength of his mother who managed to keep the family together despite such difficult odds.

This is a beautifully written memoir of a remarkable life led growing up poor and tough and coming through the other side.