It’s a truism that books help us imagine our way into other people’s lives, and the books on this week’s list do it in a remarkable variety of ways. There’s historical fiction that visits the relatively recent past (Tennessee Williams and his social milieu come to life in Christopher Castellani’s “Leading Men”) and the very recent past (Thomas Mallon’s “Landfall” is a novel about George W. Bush and his presidency). Valeria Luiselli’s innovative new novel asks us to imagine the pain and sacrifice in the lives of those who arrive at the American border. Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom offer evocative stories about being black in America. Esmé Weijun Wang’s essays give us a firsthand idea of what it’s like to experience schizophrenia.
Also this week: A look at America’s “territorial empire,” an ingenious satirical novel, a memoir about grief and Virginia Woolf, the biography of a powerful and influential first lady, and Elizabeth McCracken’s long-awaited new novel, “Bowlaway.”
John WilliamsDaily Books Editor and Staff Writer
LEADING MEN, by Christopher Castellani. (Viking, .) Castellani’s new novel reimagines the relationship between the playwright Tennessee Williams and Frank Merlo, who were together from roughly 1947 to 1963, years during which Williams composed “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and other enduring classics. In addition to expertly recreating a social milieu, “Leading Men” also includes thoughts about the nature of fidelity, the artistic impulse and the manifold variety of estrangements and humiliations that come with being the lover of a much more famous and talented man. The novel “casts a spell right from the start,” our critic Dwight Garner writes. “This writer’s scenes glitter, and they have a strong sexual pulse.”
LOST CHILDREN ARCHIVE, by Valeria Luiselli. (Knopf, .95.) Inspired by surge in unaccompanied children at the United States-Mexico border, “Lost Children Archive” is a retelling of the American road novel, with a twist. An unhappily married couple take their two young children on a trip to visit the ancestral homeland of the Apaches in Arizona. The novel is organized around the boxes each family member carries along on the trip, which overflow with newspaper clippings, snapshots, research materials and nested narratives about lost children, real and invented. “Luiselli drives home just how much pain and sacrifice we are prepared to accept in the lives of others,” our critic Parul Sehgal writes. “The novel truly becomes novel again in her hands — electric, elastic, alluring, new.”
HOW TO HIDE AN EMPIRE: A History of the Greater United States, by Daniel Immerwahr. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, .) Critics of American foreign policy have long accused the country of imperialism in a general sense — of meddling and bullying, starting wars and inciting coups — but Immerwahr wants to draw attention to actual territory, to those islands and archipelagos too often sidelined in the national imagination. He wants to encourage a shift in the typical “mainland” perspective of American history, showing that “territorial empire” has been an inextricable part of the country’s fabric. Our critic Jennifer Szalai writes: “To call this standout book a corrective would make it sound earnest and dutiful, when in fact it is wry, readable and often astonishing.”
LANDFALL, by Thomas Mallon. (Pantheon, .95.) The latest of this author’s Washington political novels imagines the goings-on inside (and outside) George W. Bush’s White House in 2005-6, with a romance between aides figuring as prominently as Iraq and Hurricane Katrina. It is “smart and knowing and absorbing,” our reviewer Kurt Andersen writes. “Fiction is supposed to provide glimpses inside people different from us. As a one-of-a-kind artifact of pre-2016 Late Republicanism, ‘Landfall’ is fascinating.”
ALL THE LIVES WE EVER LIVED: Seeking Solace in Virginia Woolf, by Katharine Smyth. (Crown, .) In this elegiac memoir written in the wake of her father’s death, Smyth turns to Woolf’s masterpiece “To the Lighthouse” for comfort and insight. Smyth ranges over foundational memories of childhood, heightened attachments and grave disappointments in her family, grief and the quest to create a work of art that survives. Her exploration of grown-up love, the kind that accounts for who the loved one actually is, gains power and grace as her story unfolds.
LADY FIRST: The World of First Lady Sarah Polk, by Amy S. Greenberg. (Knopf, .) Sarah Childress Polk, the wife of James K. Polk, the 11th American president (1845-49), wrote no memoir and kept no diary. Nor did she compose brilliant, quotable letters. This makes the job of a biographer more difficult, but Amy S. Greenberg, in this intriguing life of Polk, partly solves the problem by drawing on social history. Greenberg argues that Polk, a slave-owning territorial expansionist, was one of the most powerful and influential first ladies in history.
BOWLAWAY, by Elizabeth McCracken. (Ecco/HarperCollins, .99.) McCracken’s long-awaited new novel offers a rich family saga, a history of candlepin bowling and a burlesque chronicle of American oddballs. It’s a big book that veers in and out of the lives of its idiosyncratic characters, occasionally verging, in its bric-a-brac of historical oddball detail, on the precious. But McCracken’s ironic perspective, her humor and her deeply humane imagination never desert her.
THE COLLECTED SCHIZOPHRENIAS: Essays, by Esmé Weijun Wang. (Graywolf, paper, .) Wang draws on her own multiple psychotic breaks and hospitalizations to present a picture of schizophrenia that never reduces it to pathology. “The Collected Schizophrenias” is, indisputably, an addition to the lineage that includes Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar,” Susanna Kaysen’s “Girl, Interrupted” and Kay Redfield Jamison’s “An Unquiet Mind,” to name just a few. But Wang’s kaleidoscopic essays are also a departure from those more narrative-driven works. In places, Wang is able to illuminate the lived experience of psychosis, transforming schizophrenia from its popular depiction as a soul-erasing demonic possession to simply another form of human consciousness.
WE CAST A SHADOW, by Maurice Carlos Ruffin. (One World, .) This ingenious debut novel asks some of the most important questions fiction can ask, and it marks the debut of an abundantly talented and stylish satirist. It is the story of a black lawyer in a version of the American South. We are dropped into a future where the country is even more willing than now to follow its worst, most racist inclinations. As the novel begins, it is focused on the father’s struggle to do well in a prominent law firm so that he can pay for his son to have an expensive and increasingly popular medical procedure called “demelanization,” which effectively eliminates any physical trace of blackness. As the novel progresses, however, it evolves from an account of political compromise into one of protest and radicalization.
THICK: And Other Essays, by Tressie McMillan Cottom. (New Press, .99.) In “Thick,” a model of black intellectualism that deftly mixes the academic and the popular, the sociology professor Tressie McMillan Cottom offers profound and expansive cultural commentary. Whether challenging whiteness or misogyny within the black community, the author succeeds in her mission to tell “evocative stories that become a problem for power.” It should be required reading for anyone interested in making “trust black women” more than a hollow social media mantra.
“【原】【来】【林】【大】【少】【是】【要】【惜】【香】【怜】【玉】【啊】~”【余】【倩】【恍】【然】【大】【悟】：“【尹】【苹】【是】【不】【是】【长】【得】【很】【漂】【亮】，【或】【者】【很】【有】【韵】【味】？” “【算】【是】【吧】，【不】【过】【我】【听】【说】【她】【对】【男】【人】【不】【感】【兴】【趣】。”【林】【灿】【遗】【憾】【说】【道】：“【一】【个】【喜】【欢】【女】【人】【的】【女】【人】，【而】【且】【是】【个】【性】【格】【坚】【毅】【的】【枭】【雄】，【我】【会】【去】【填】【那】【个】【坑】【吗】？” “【或】【许】【你】【的】【品】【味】【很】【独】【特】【呢】~”【余】【倩】【放】【下】【心】【来】，【看】【看】【戴】【媛】：“【阿】【媛】，【你】【怎】
【孙】【悟】【空】【源】【自】【混】【沌】，【根】【基】【无】【比】【雄】【厚】，【他】【缺】【少】【的】【是】【法】，【而】【不】【是】【根】【基】。 【近】【一】【步】【说】，【孙】【悟】【空】【的】【本】【体】【就】【是】【洪】【荒】【先】【天】【神】【祇】，【亦】【是】【大】【宇】【宙】【最】【后】【一】【名】【洪】【荒】【先】【天】【神】【祇】。 【然】【则】，【此】【界】【越】【是】【跟】【脚】【雄】【厚】【的】【灵】【物】【越】【难】【化】【形】。 【不】【是】【所】【有】【人】【都】【有】【准】【提】【圣】【人】【那】【般】【运】【道】，【身】【为】【先】【天】【灵】【根】【七】【宝】【妙】【树】【可】【以】【在】【洪】【荒】【初】【开】【就】【化】【形】【而】【出】。 【如】【若】【孙】【悟】【空】【能】【在】
【女】【孩】【儿】【们】【应】【该】【都】【有】【这】【样】【一】【个】【认】【知】，【化】【妆】【是】【一】【个】【很】【繁】【琐】【的】【事】，【下】【面】【是】【一】【个】【化】【妆】【的】【表】【格】，【要】【想】【化】【好】【妆】【步】【骤】【是】【不】【是】【很】【多】？全年2016年济公一句话中特【凡】【人】【界】【的】【大】【家】【都】【没】【有】【什】【么】【修】【为】，【就】【算】【是】【有】【修】【为】【也】【都】【不】【是】【很】【高】，【修】【为】【很】【高】【的】【那】【些】【也】【到】【不】【了】【他】【的】【面】【前】，【大】【家】【也】【不】【会】【看】【到】【他】【是】【什】【么】【女】【娃】【娃】！ 【眼】【前】【这】【个】【秦】【臻】【的】【师】【尊】，【也】【不】【知】【道】【这】【眼】【是】【怎】【么】【长】【的】，【上】【来】【就】【看】【明】【白】【了】【他】【是】【个】“【女】【娃】【娃】”，【这】【种】【明】【明】【是】【看】【透】【了】【真】【相】【却】【又】【不】【是】【真】【相】【的】【卧】【槽】【之】【情】，【真】【是】【一】【言】【难】【尽】。 ………………
【张】【孝】【嵩】【在】【何】【明】【远】【的】【带】【领】【下】，【进】【入】【了】【东】【曹】，【他】【身】【边】【只】【带】【了】【十】【几】【个】【卫】【士】，【鉴】【于】【上】【一】【次】【阿】【史】【那】【献】【被】【杀】【的】【教】【训】，【他】【把】【将】【军】【们】【留】【在】【了】【外】【面】，【一】【旦】【有】【难】，【何】【明】【远】【摄】【于】【城】【外】【的】【大】【军】，【也】【不】【敢】【轻】【举】【妄】【动】。 【进】【城】【之】【后】，【康】【茂】【真】【一】【直】【把】【手】【放】【在】【了】【刀】【把】【上】，【时】【刻】【警】【惕】【着】【身】【边】【的】【一】【切】。 【而】【何】【明】【远】，【却】【还】【是】【一】【副】【人】【畜】【无】【害】【的】【样】【子】，【和】【抵】【达】【安】【西】