I finished Conan Doyle for the Defense (review here) and The Mystery of the Three Quarters (review coming). I’m nearly finished with City of Devils as well. So, I started a couple new books this weekend…
I just started the delightful Mr. Lear: A Life of Art and Nonsense by Jenny Uglow.
from the publisher: Edward Lear, the renowned English artist, musician, author, and poet, lived a vivid, fascinating life, but confessed, “I hardly enjoy any one thing on earth while it is present.” He was a man in a hurry, “running about on railroads” from London to country estates and boarding steamships to Italy, Corfu, India, and Palestine. He is still loved for his “nonsenses,” from startling, joyous limericks to great love poems like “The Owl and the Pussy Cat” and “The Dong with a Luminous Nose,” and he is famous, too, for his brilliant natural history paintings, landscapes, and travel writing. But although Lear belongs solidly to the age of Darwin and Dickens—he gave Queen Victoria drawing lessons, and his many friends included Tennyson and the Pre-Raphaelite painters—his genius for the absurd and his dazzling wordplay make him a very modern spirit. He speaks to us today.
Lear was a man of great simplicity and charm—children adored him—yet his humor masked epilepsy, depression, and loneliness. Jenny Uglow’s beautifully illustrated biography, full of the color of the age, brings us his swooping moods, passionate friendships, and restless travels. Above all, Mr. Lear shows how this uniquely gifted man lived all his life on the boundaries of rules and structures, disciplines and desires—an exile of the heart.
Hardcover, 608 pages
Published April 17th 2018 by Farrar Straus and Giroux
I’ve been working my way through the very funny essays in Impossible Owls by Brian Phillips.
from the publisher: In his highly anticipated debut essay collection, Impossible Owls, Brian Phillips demonstrates why he’s one of the most iconoclastic journalists of the digital age, beloved for his ambitious, off-kilter, meticulously reported essays that read like novels.
The eight essays assembled here―five from Phillips’s Grantland and MTV days, and three new pieces―go beyond simply chronicling some of the modern world’s most uncanny, unbelievable, and spectacular oddities (though they do that, too). Researched for months and even years on end, they explore the interconnectedness of the globalized world, the consequences of history, the power of myth, and the ways people attempt to find meaning. He searches for tigers in India, and uncovers a multigenerational mystery involving an oil tycoon and his niece turned stepdaughter turned wife in the Oklahoma town where he grew up. Through each adventure, Phillips’s remarkable voice becomes a character itself―full of verve, rich with offhanded humor, and revealing unexpected vulnerability.
Paperback, 352 pages
Expected publication: October 2nd 2018 by Farrar Straus and Giroux
I’m also excited to start Treeborne by Caleb Johnson this week. I always have room on the nightstand for a fabulous Southern gothic story.
from the publisher: Janie Treeborne lives on an orchard at the edge of Elberta, Alabama, and in time, she has become its keeper. A place where conquistadors once walked, and where the peaches they left behind now grow, Elberta has seen fierce battles, violent storms, and frantic change—and when the town is once again threatened from without, Janie realizes it won’t withstand much more. So she tells the story of its people: of Hugh, her granddaddy, determined to preserve Elberta’s legacy at any cost; of his wife, Maybelle, the postmaster, whose sudden death throws the town into chaos; of her lover, Lee Malone, a black orchardist harvesting from a land where he is less than welcome; of the time when Janie kidnapped her own Hollywood-obsessed aunt and tore the wrong people apart.
As the world closes in on Elberta, Caleb Johnson’s debut novel lifts the veil and offers one last glimpse. Treeborne is a celebration and a reminder: of how the past gets mixed up in thoughts of the future; of how home is a story as much as a place.
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 5th 2018 by Picador
What are you reading this week?