Alice McDermott’s hypnotic, evocative novel, Someone, unfolds through a series of snapshots capturing the life of a woman living in Brooklyn before, during, and after the Second World War. The stories are lean and deliberate, and they appear to be randomly assembled, like snapshots pulled from an old shoebox. But as the exquisite images and poignant truths add up, we’re reminded that nothing happens in a McDermott novel by accident. This is a writer in complete control.
The official story was that the war in the Pacific claimed Jimmie Doyle on Sept. 1, 1944, when Japanese antiaircraft fire brought down his B-24 Liberator during a bombing mission over the tiny Palau archipelago. Neither the plane nor a single member of the 11-man crew was ever found. But there was always a second, darker story, and it haunted Jimmie’s son, Tommy, for most of his life.
While researching his buoyant, impassioned (and thoroughly subtitled) new book about education, I Got Schooled: The Unlikely Story of How a Moonlighting Movie Maker Learned the Five Keys to Closing America’s Education Gap, M. Night Shyamalan suddenly found himself at the head of an inner-city school English classroom. And he was terrified. “Time stopped,” he writes, “similar to when you are on a plane with turbulence that’s supposed to last thirty seconds, but it feels like much, much longer.”
The government’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program (SEER) tracks state cancer incidence and mortality rates. So it was only natural that George Johnson would pore over their latest data to gain some insight for his incisive new book, The Cancer Chronicles: Unlocking Medicine’s Deepest Mystery. “Concentrating on overall cancer rates can smear over some interesting details,” he writes, “and I wondered what might be lurking underneath.”
The screaming monkey in a pirate hat on the cover of Carl Hiaasen’s new madcap whodunit makes “Bad Monkey” look like a box of Black Cat fireworks. And that’s entirely appropriate. Set in the “gummy, sucking heat” of south Florida and the Bahamas, the novel’s snappy plot and hysterical one-liners make it a perfect book to cram between herding kids and burning burgers this summer.