Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Nevermore: How to Be Black, Stuff WhitePeople Like, Do No Harm, Ghost Army, The Lottery, The Comfort of Strangers

Our first reader was quite enthusiastic about How to be Black by Baratunde Thurston because of the way the book treats serious subjects with humor.  Chapters include “How to be the Black Employee,” “How Black Are You?’ and “Being Black at Harvard.”  He also assembled a panel of mostly black people to answer questions such as “When did you realize you are black?” (There is one white panelist, by the way.) 

She also recommended Christian Lander’s Stuff White People Like: A Definitive Guide to the Taste of Millions. The list included coffee (preferably fair trade, organic, or both), foreign films, and religions their parents don’t belong to.  Our reviewer thought it was laugh out loud funny.

Switching gears to a wholly serious topic, the next book was Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery by Dr. Henry Marsh, an English neurosurgeon. Our reviewer praised Dr. Marsh for his candor about his mistakes and for remembering he was human, not a god. She found the British perspective to be very refreshing.  It was an easy read overall, but some sections were very moving.  She found the section about surgery in Ukraine to be very much an eye-opener.

Ghost Army of World War II by Rich Beyer and Elizabeth Sayles sheds light on a little known aspect of World War II:  a group of soldiers whose job it was to convince the German army that there were weapons and encampments in areas where there were none.  They achieved this with sound effects, inflatable tanks, and a lot of paint.  The men were artists, designers, sound engineers, and generally creative types with the imagination to pull off such an operation.  As might be expected, the book is heavily illustrated and includes drawings by some of the soldiers—Bill Blass, Art Kane, Arthur Singers, and others who would later gain fame in some aspect of the arts. Our readers said it was a fabulous book, both interesting and involving.

The graphic novel version of Shirley Jackson’s classic short story “The Lottery” made quite an impression on our next reviewer.  He was unfamiliar with the story, but found the art was quite mysterious and set the mood perfectly.  Miles Hyman, the artist and adaptor of the story, is a grandson of Ms. Jackson. Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”: The Authorized Graphic Novel comes highly recommended by Nevermore.

Finally, The Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwan is the story of a young English couple who are on holiday when they meet an older man who seems to take an interest in them.  He also has some rather odd stories to tell. . . This is one of McEwan’s earlier efforts—just his second novel, in fact.   Our reviewer described the book as powerful, intense, and dark.  He also noted that the title is quite ironic.

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