By Natsuo Kirino
Translated by Phillip Gabriel. 208 pp
Alfred A. Knopf. $23.95
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YOU DON’T TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB:
I AM JACK’S COMPLETELY UNAUTHORIZED ESSAY COLLECTION
EDITED BY READ MERCER SCHUCHARDT
THE FIREMAN’S WIFE: A NOVEL
by JACK RIGGS
A SINGLE THREAD
by Marie Bostwick
November 2008 - $14. – 352 pages – 5 ½ x 8 ¼
ABOUT THE BOOK
A SINGLE THREAD is a contemporary novel that deals friendship; and in having hope for the future. It’s the unforgettable story of four very different women whose paths cross, changing their lives forever. A SINGLE THREAD is a touching story of four women whose lives are in crisis when they happen to meet at a quilting fund-raiser; and although they are unlikely friends, they form a bond and they support each other through their struggles, their grief, and their hopes for better days. Set in a small Connecticut town, this engaging novel shows how strangers can build a community of friendship; and how women with disappointed hopes can learn to trust, to laugh, to live and to love again. It is a poignant reminder of the single thread that binds us all. The sequel, SUNLIGHT IN THE COURTYARD is scheduled for June 2009.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marie Bostwick was born and bred in the Northwest; but now lives in Connecticut with her family, which has moved many times, and lived in eight U.S. states and two Mexican cities. Visit her at www.mariebostwick.com
Quotes for the cover from these bestselling authors:
Susan Wiggs:“By the time you finish this book the women of A SINGLE THREAD will feel like your own girlfriends—emotional, funny, creative and deeply caring. It’s a story filled with wit and wisdom. Sit back and enjoy this big-hearted novel, and the pass it on to your best friend.”
Kristy Kiernan: “Marie Bostwick beautifully captures the very essence of women’s friendships—the love, the pain, the trust, the forgiveness—and crafts a seamless and heartfelt novel…a writer at the top of her game.
Debbie Macomber called ON THE WINGS OF MORNING: “gripping, evocative…”
The Oklahoman called RIVER’S EDGE: “Entertaining and readable…well-written, heartwarming…”
Marie also contributed a story to COMFORT AND JOY, which was on the New York Times bestseller list for weeks.
Marie Bostwick’s debut novel, FIELDS OF GOLD was a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Awards and for RT’s Reviewers’ Choice Award; and it received wonderful reviews:
“Busbee gives her readers a walloping good story in Scandal Becomes Her. Don’t miss it!” — New York Times bestselling author, CATHERINE COULTER
SCANDAL BECOMES HER
by Shirlee Busbee
From one of the most beloved voices in romance comes a lush new novel of a chance meeting, a forced marriage—and the surprise of a love so passionate it cannot be denied. Set against the backdrop of Regency London and the English countryside, New York Times bestselling author Shirlee Busbee’s return to historical romance is a triumph readers will treasure.
QUOTES FOR SCANDAL BECOMES HER by Shirlee Busbee
“Busbee gives her readers a walloping good story in Scandal Becomes Her. Don’t miss it!” –New York Times bestselling author, Catherine Coulter
“Every romance author alive owes Shirlee Busbee a huge debt…now she
is back and better than ever!”
–New York Times bestselling author, Julia Quinn
“SCANDAL BECOMES HER is a gripping mystery, a delightful romance—altogether a wonderful book.”
–Roberta Gellis, bestselling author of BY SLANDEROUS TONGUES
“A scandalously delicious read that left me wanting more!”
–Bertrice Small, bestselling author of THE TWILIGHT LORD
SEDUCTION BECOMES HER
by Shirlee Busbee
Set against the breathtaking cliffs of
Elizabeth Lowell Titles – Translation rights controlled by author
The Blue Bear author Lynn Schooler’s memoir, in spring of 2007, mourning the death of a life-long friend and struggling with the deterioration of his marriage, the author seeks solace in the natural world, setting out on a solo trek along the Alaskan coast, to Anton Mueller at Bloomsbury, for publication in April 2010, by Bonnie Nadell at the Frederick Hill Bonnie Nadell Agency.
THE RAVEN KING’S LIBRARY
BY MARCUS TANNER
Seizing the Hungarian throne at the age of fifteen, Matthias Corvinus, ’the Raven King’, was an effervescent presence on the fifteenth-century stage. A successful warrior and munificent art patron, he sought to leave as symbols of his strategic and humanist ambitions a strong, unified country, splendid palaces, and the most magnificent library in Christendom. But Hungary, invaded by Turkey after Matthias’ death in 1490, yielded its treasures and the exquisite library of two thousand volumes, witness to a golden cultural age, was dispersed first across Europe and then the world.The quest to recover this collection of sumptuously illuminated scripts provoked and tantalised generations of princes, cardinals, collectors and scholars, and imbued Hungarians with the mythical conviction that the restoration of the lost library would seal their country’s rebirth. In this thrilling and absorbing account, drawing on a wealth of original sources in several languages, Marcus Tanner tracks the destiny of the Raven King and his magnificent bequest, uncovering the remarkable story of a life and library almost lost to history.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marcus Tanner was Balkan correspondent of the London Independent from 1988 to 1994, reporting from Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia. He is now a freelance leader-writer for the newspaper, as well as for other papers. He has written four previous books, three of them published by Yale University Press.
Marcus Tanner 記者兼作家，《巴爾幹調查報導網路》的編輯、英國《獨立新聞》的撰稿者。之前的作品全部由耶魯大學出版，被全世界的大學生作為研究參考用。
Jul 17th 2008
>From The Economist print edition
SOMEWHERE deep in the court of the Ottoman sultans lay the hidden library of Hungary’s most famous medieval king, Matthias Corvinus. If only it could be discovered and the books prised out of Turkish hands, then all would be well and Hungarian honour and glory restored. Or so believed many a 19th-century Hungarian academic and nationalist.
“We wanted to scream we had reached our goal,” wrote one, who in 1862 along with two companions had succeeded in gaining access to the court. A pile of books was brought out for them to see, including six manuscripts from the fabled library. In the end the quest was a failure; there was no hidden treasure trove. But some of the books had indeed survived for more than 300 years in Constantinople, others were found elsewhere and Marcus Tanner has written a lively account of the search.
Matthias, known as the “Raven King”, reigned from 1458 to 1490. He was born a commoner, albeit into a wealthy Transylvanian family. By the time he died, he had stemmed the relentless Ottoman advance through Europe and himself ruled over an empire that stretched from the Black Sea to Dalmatia and from Moravia to Bosnia. Within decades all of this was gone and for some 150 years Hungary was under Ottoman domination.
Hungarians came to regard Matthias’s rule as a golden age, the apogee of Hungarian power. Golden age in more senses than one: Matthias assembled one of Europe’s finest libraries, second in size only to the Vatican’s. Given that almost all of the books were copied by hand and richly illuminated, and that most of them came from Florence and had then to be transported to Hungary, this was an amazing, and amazingly expensive, achievement. After all, when Matthias settled on Beatrice, a Neapolitan, to be his bride, it took her three months to get to him along roads infested with highwaymen and Turkish raiders.
Though many of the books commissioned by Matthias were religious, a large proportion were not. Indeed, says Mr Tanner, his taste was decidedly “alpha male”. What he wanted were “war stories, lives of great rulers and books about inventions, geography, medicine, natural wonders and the stars”. When Hungary fell to the Turks and the library was lost, its size in the minds of men grew exponentially. Figures of up to 50,000 books were bandied about. In fact there were probably never more than 2,500.
Few historical enquiries tell us as much about the world we live in today as the search for the origins of world trade. As Adam Smith wrote in The Wealth of Nations, man has an intrinsic ‘propensity to truck, barter and exchange one thing for another’.
A Splendid Exchange tells the epic story of global commerce from its prehistoric origins to the myriad controversies surrounding it today. It transports readers from the sugar rush that brought the British to Jamaica in 1655 to the firestorm over globalization today, moving from the silk route between China and Rome in the second century to the rise and fall of the Portuguese monopoly in spices in the sixteenth. Along the way, William Bernstein examines how our age-old dependency on trade has contributed to our planet’s agricultural bounty, stimulated intellectual and industrial progress and made us both prosperous and vulnerable.
Lively, authoritative, and astonishing in scope, A Splendid Exchange is a riveting narrative that views trade and globalization not in political terms, but rather as an evolutionary process that will continue to foster the growth of intellectual capital, shrink the world and propel the trajectory of the human species.
Jul 17th 2008
>From The Economist print edition
Bridgeman Art Library
WORLD trade gets a bad press: to many people globalisation seems more of a menace than an opportunity. Whether it is the threat to the environment posed by the phenomenal growth of Chinese manufacturing exports, the outsourcing of jobs by footloose corporations or the re-emergence of inflation as oil heads for $150 a barrel and food prices soar, trade is cast as the villain. As this year’s American presidential election campaign heads for the final straight, the candidates, especially Barack Obama, will face ever more strident demands to protect workers from “unfair” foreign competition.
By contrast, too little is heard about the positive effects of world exports that reached $14 trillion in 2006. The boost to Western living standards from all those cheap Chinese goods is taken for granted, while the astonishing increase in the sum of human happiness that has been wrought by lifting hundreds of millions of Asians from the misery of subsistence farming into comfortable prosperity is conveniently forgotten.
William Bernstein’s “A Splendid Exchange” is a timely and readable reminder that the desire to trade is not only one of the oldest human instincts but also the cause of many of the most important developments in our shared history. As Adam Smith observed: “The propensity to truck, barter and exchange one thing for another is common to all men, and to be found in no other race of animals.”
Mr Bernstein’s purpose is to show how that trait evolved and shaped the world. His story begins with Sumerian farmers who realised, some time in the third millennium BC, that the surpluses of grain generated within Mesopotamia’s fertile crescent could be used as barter for things they did not have. Among these was copper, obtained from Sinai several hundred miles to the west, that could be used to make weapons to repel the nomadic raiders who were otherwise helping themselves to the fruits of Sumerian labour.
Mr Bernstein eschews a rigidly chronological narrative in favour of a more thematic approach. His discussion of the disastrous Peloponnesian war between Athens and Sparta serves to make a wider point about the importance (and vulnerability) of sea-lanes. The Athenians were driven by the dictates of trade to create first a powerful navy and then an empire.
Though Greek agriculture was rich in highly exportable wine and olive oil, thin soil, low rainfall and a mountainous topography made it impossible for farmers to produce enough grain for a growing and increasingly city-based population. The Spartans and their allies looked west to Sicily but the Athenians increasingly relied on access to the breadbasket of Pontus (modern Ukraine). This, in turn, meant keeping open those narrowest of choke points: the Dardanelles (to the Greeks, the Hellespont) and the Bosphorus.
Other states in the region were just as dependent on the trade with Pontus and were therefore prepared to contribute to the costs of Athenian naval operations. Before long, this “coalition of the willing” evolved into the Athenian empire. However, with two rival power blocks competing for resources within a relatively confined space, conflict was inevitable and when it came, it was Athens, always more exposed than Sparta, that was eventually starved to defeat. Today, it is the Straits of Hormuz, through which much of the world’s oil is carried, that has acquired the same strategic importance as the Hellespont had for the Athenians.
With an ability to switch gracefully from the macro to the micro, Mr Bernstein whisks his reader on a tumultuous journey. Along the way, it takes in the Pax Islamica established in the Mediterranean by the heirs of the Prophet Muhammad (a trader by profession himself); the rise and decline of Venice and Genoa; the devastation caused by the Black Death; the Portuguese-led age of discovery; the establishment of the great Dutch and British East India trading companies; the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade; the campaign (that led, among other things, to the founding of this newspaper) to abolish the Corn Laws; the golden period of the late 19th century in which trade flourished under the benign wing of the British empire; and the 20th century’s descent into beggar-my-neighbour protectionism.
The strength of Mr Bernstein’s book is the analytical rigour that overlays the rollicking history and the way in which he seamlessly weaves in the theoretical with the practical. For anyone wanting a painless primer in the ideas of Adam Smith, David Ricardo or more recent economists, such as Paul Samuelson, this is the place to find it. At the same time, Mr Bernstein never neglects the vital role of technology as a driver of trade, above all perhaps the coming of steam and reliable refrigeration.
The author also deserves credit for his willingness to take seriously the plight of the victims of trade, the workers and farmers displaced by the iron rule of comparative advantage. He argues, persuasively, that it is far better to help workers affected by disruptive change than it is to shield industries with efficiency-destroying tariffs.
An incisive, intrepid, and habit-changing narrative investigation into the commercialization of our most basic human need: drinking water. Having already surpassed milk and beer, and second now only to soda, bottled water is on the verge of becoming the most popular beverage in the country. The brands have become so ubiquitous that we’re hardly conscious that Poland Spring and Evian were once real springs, bubbling in remote corners of Maine and France. Only now, with the water industry trading in the billions of dollars, have we begun to question what it is we’re drinking and why.
In this intelligent, eye-opening work of narrative journalism, Elizabeth Royte does for water what Eric Schlosser did for fast food: she finds the people, machines, economies, and cultural trends that bring it from nature to our supermarkets. Along the way, she investigates the questions we must inevitably answer. Who owns our water? What happens when a bottled-water company stakes a claim on your town’s source? Should we have to pay for water? Is the stuff coming from the tap completely safe? And if so, how many chemicals are dumped in to make it potable? What’s the environmental footprint of making, transporting, and disposing of all those plastic bottles?
A riveting chronicle of one of the greatest marketing coups of the twentieth century as well as a powerful environmental wake-up call, Bottlemania is essential reading for anyone who shells out two dollars to quench their daily thirst.
Jul 17th 2008
From The Economist print edition
“SPARKLING or still?” The waiter’s question seems to offer a choice, but is in fact designed to deny it: tap water, after all, is never on the menu. According to Elizabeth Royte’s “Bottlemania”, in 2002 Nestlé produced a training manual aimed at waiters called “Pour on the Tips”. Converting guests to pricey bottled water, it said, could boost their monthly earnings by $100 or more. Some waiters even try to humiliate people who resist. “I get great pleasure out of making each of those ladies who are trying to impress their friends repeat the word ‘tap’ back to me,” wrote a server on “The Waiter’s Revenge”, an online message board.
Snobbery, convenience and worries about tap water have propelled the American bottled-water industry from sales of $4 billion in 1997 to $10.8 billion in 2006. Globally the industry is now worth about $60 billion. As well as the plain variety, there are now bottled waters laced with all sorts of extra ingredients, such as caffeine, appetite suppressants, skin enhancers and even laxatives. Bottled-water giants such as Nestlé, the Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo reckon that the market will continue to fizz. Last year Coca-Cola spent $4.1 billion to buy Glacéau, a firm that makes vitamin-enhanced water.
For bottled-water firms large and small it has been a marketing triumph. So confident are they that one executive promised a gathering of Wall Street analysts in 2000 that tap water would eventually be used only for showers and washing dishes. For those who enjoy conspiracy theory, public water fountains are mysteriously disappearing; renovated airports, for instance, emerge without their fountains—and a proliferation of drinks-vending machines.
It should be easy enough to pillory bottled water. It costs between 250 and 10,000 times more than tap water and in blind tastings people cannot usually separate the fancy beverage from the ordinary stuff. Then there is the environmental cost: according to one estimate, the total energy required to make and deliver each bottle of water is equivalent to filling them a quarter of the way with oil. While New Yorkers enjoy the services of water sommeliers, millions of people in developing countries lack access to any clean water at all.
But although Ms Royte displays all the usual prejudices—private enterprise bad, collective provision good—her book concludes that even in rich countries tap water sometimes contains small quantities of harmful chemicals. She also points out that in water shortages, local authorities may supply people with water reclaimed from sewage without telling them. Bottled water, therefore, “has its place”: a confused message, if an honest one.
Nor do all bottled-water companies come out badly. In Fiji, half of whose inhabitants did not have access to clean water last year, the water-bottler plays an important part in the local economy: it pays well above the minimum wage, builds schools for workers’ children and puts money into a trust for local infrastructure.
Yet in the past few years a backlash against bottled water has gathered pace, with some upmarket restaurants deciding to offer only tap. Gisele Bundchen, a supermodel who has campaigned to conserve fresh water in Brazil, now sports a reusable metal water bottle. What waiter could complain about that?
ERNIE: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
by ERNEST BORGNINE
(Citadel Press, August 2008, ISBN 0-8065-2941-7, $24.05 ($30.45 CAN)
“(Borgnine’s) anecdotes are gleefully self-deprecating…he comes off as the kind of guy you’d like to have a beer with.”
“With astute observations on the
By Natsuo Kirino
Translated by Phillip Gabriel. 208 pp
Alfred A. Knopf. $23.95
“Sprinkle in some Dostoyevsky or Nietzsche or whatever. … Then sort of wrap it up like ‘Evangelion,’” the popular animated television series that pits paramilitary teenagers against enemy angels bent on destroying humankind. Worm, the cipher at the center of Natsuo Kirino’s disquieting and suspenseful novel “Real World” and a juvenile killer on the run, is directing Terauchi, one of the four girls who become his accessories, to write a manifesto to fit the crime he has committed. He’d like it to be “something creative” rather than “introspective,” a “cool” and “incomprehensible” poem or story. Otherwise, his readers might conclude he isn’t the disaffected nihilist he imagines himself to be. “It doesn’t have to be long,” Worm tells Terauchi, but it does have to be “better than what that killer Sakakibara wrote.”
“Real World” begins with a matricide. No longer willing to cooperate with the expectations of the “total idiot” who forced him to attend a prestigious high school even though he lacked the aptitude to succeed in such an environment, Worm bludgeoned his mother to death in what Terauchi, whose worldview allows no possibility of forgiveness or salvation, dismisses as a mindless, infantile response to frustration. Once Worm is on the run from the police, however, his photograph multiplying across the front pages of newspapers and broadcast on television — once he has time to contemplate his crime and the growing curiosity about his motive — his lazy anomie is dismantled by an intensifying self-consciousness. To answer his audience, he models himself on the infamous real-life killer whose literary efforts he wants Terauchi to surpass.
In 1997, a 14-year-old student from Kobe known by the pseudonym Sakakibara Seito beheaded an 11-year-old retarded boy with a handsaw and left the head at the entrance to his special school. After his capture, Sakakibara confessed to another murder, that of a 10-year-old girl whose head he had crushed with a pipe. Although he had exhibited the typical psychopathic precursors to murder, including the torture and killing of animals, Sakakibara sent a letter to the police claiming to be the product of Japan’s system of compulsory education. In the 1990s the crimes of Sakakibara amplified Japan’s growing anxiety about what it called a youth crisis, a fear that the increasing stresses imposed on adolescents could precipitate their becoming criminally insane.
Welcome to present-day Tokyo, where “air pollution advisories” announce the arrival of summer vacation and where vacation isn’t a holiday from the 11-month academic year, but a break to be spent in cram schools taught by brainwashed college students who advocate studying hard enough to “spit up blood” as the avenue to a “tremendous confidence … you can build on for the rest of your life.” For the contestants in this dystopic steeplechase, a cultural reference more potent than “Crime and Punishment” or “The Will to Power” is the homegrown “Evangelion.” And to “wrap it up like ‘Evangelion’” would be to drive a violent plot to apocalypse.
“Real World” is peopled by children. Adults are peripheral — alcoholic fathers, adulterous mothers, prying detectives, predatory marketing drones, pedophiles on the prowl for schoolgirls, none of whom merit the trust of adolescents who must submit to the wishes of parents they consider hypocrites and despise. Styling themselves as peroxided “Barbie Girls,” hard-studying loners or promiscuous “Good Time girls,” replacing their given names with ones of their own devising, like “Dahmer,” after the American serial killer, they worship the rare iconoclast who takes a stand against an educational system so oppressive that it sacrifices the development of character to scholastic achievement. In a society that values conformity — as the saying goes, “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down” — what matters isn’t that Worm arrives at fame through conscienceless violence, but that he manages to rebel. As Terauchi’s little brother observes, being “an elite kid who fell” is all that’s required to become “a hero.”
As she did in “Out,” the first of her dark tales of murder to be published in English, Kirino presents her readers with four distinct female types: Terauchi, the intellectual who declares herself “above human relationships”; Toshi, Worm’s next-door neighbor, who wants “to wear ordinary clothes and not stand out”; Yuzan, struggling to come to terms with both her homosexuality and her mother’s death; and Kirarin, a sexual adventurer with a fatal taste for excitement. United first by friendship and second, like the older women in “Out,” by their inability to resist involvement in a murderer’s attempt to evade capture, the girls keep in touch with the fleeing Worm by cellphone, Kirarin joining his flight from the authorities. Among the four, Terauchi reveals a distinctly Dostoyevskian conscience, judging her implacable rage at her mother for taking a young lover as evidence of depravity deeper than Worm’s. “In my heart I’d murdered my own mother long ago,” she confesses as she reviews the impulsive nature of Worm’s crime, one she decides is less “irreparable” than the malice that has “devoured” her soul.
Noir fiction generally posits a moral universe as deliberate and stark as that in the novels of Dostoyevsky, its plots unfolding in a moody urban landscape marked by corruption and incontinence, a setting that transcends its role as stage to become player. As Dostoyevsky did in “Crime and Punishment,” Kirino pushes her antihero to murder as a means of philosophical statement and communicates an authorial anxiety that contemporary social ills will destroy humanity. But while Dostoyevsky sets up a contest between Christian love and a pernicious nihilism that inspires barbarity, Kirino’s “Real World” offers no possibility of god or redemption.
A significant inversion, one that suggests an evolutionary difference between Dostoyevsky’s and Kirino’s visions, is that of cause and effect. Raskolnikov theorizes that certain “extraordinary” individuals have the right to act outside of conventional morality in service to a greater good. The murder he commits, of a parasitic moneylender, exposes the fallacy of what turns out to be less philosophical breakthrough than conceit, jeopardizing his sanity and his soul. Kirino’s Worm, on the other hand, child of a post-Nietzsche, consumer-driven society that has yet to address the ethical vacuum created by the Death of God, murders without considering the meaning or consequences of his actions. Only in retrospect, aware of his emptiness and lack of conviction, does he attempt to invent a philosophy to explain his crime.
From a writer who has declared Flannery O’Connor her favorite American author — one of the few whose obsessive focus on violence, epiphany and redemption equals Dostoyevsky’s — readers can expect a tour through the grotesque and the extreme. Together, Worm and his four female accessories maximize a dangerous situation’s potential for further destruction and mayhem. And the blood-soaked denouement of “Real World” does push one character a degree toward moral consciousness and transformation. As for Worm, he may kill off his fictional mother, but he serves his living creator devotedly. Novels “show you the real world with one layer peeled away,” he says for Kirino, “a reality you can’t see otherwise.”