Notable new releases
compiled by Sally Brewster
Dilettante: True Tales of Excess, Triumph, and Disaster, by Dana Brown
Dana Brown was a 21-year-old college dropout playing in punk bands and partying his way through downtown New York’s early ’90s milieu when he first encountered Graydon Carter, the legendary editor of Vanity Fair. After a handful of brief interactions (mostly with Brown in the role of waiter at Carter’s famous cultural salons he hosted at his home), Carter saw what he believed to be Brown’s untapped potential, and on a whim, hired him as his assistant. Brown instantly became a trusted confidante and witness to all the biggest parties, blowups and takedowns. From inside the famed Vanity Fair Oscar parties to the emerging world of the tech elite, Brown›s job offered him access to some of the most exclusive gatherings and powerful people in the world, and the chance to learn in real time what exactly a magazine editor does — all while trying to stay sober enough from the required party scene attendance to get the job done.
Groundskeeping, by Lee Cole
In the run-up to the 2016 election, Owen Callahan, an aspiring writer, moves back to Kentucky to live with his politically conservative uncle and grandfather. Eager to clean up his act after wasting time and potential in his early twenties, he takes a job as a groundskeeper at a small local college. In exchange, he is permitted to take a writing course. Here he meets Alma Hazdic, a writer in residence who seems to have everything that Owen lacks — a prestigious position, an Ivy League education, success as a writer. They begin a secret relationship, and as they grow closer, Alma — who comes from a liberal family of Bosnian immigrants — struggles to understand Owen’s fraught relationship with family. With brilliant descriptions of the rural South, Cole’s slow burn of a debut novel achingly explores the definition of home, fate and our shared humanity.
Against All Odds: A True Story of Ultimate Courage and Survival in World War II, by Alex Kershaw
As the Allies raced to defeat Hitler, four men, all in the same unit, earned medal after medal for battlefield heroism. Maurice “Footsie” Britt, a former professional football player, became the very first American to receive every award for valor in a single war. Michael Daly was a West Point dropout who risked his neck over and over to keep his men alive. Keith Ware would one day become the first and only draftee in history to attain the rank of general before serving in Vietnam. In WWII, Ware owed his life to the finest soldier he ever commanded, a baby-faced Texan named Audie Murphy. In the campaign to liberate Europe, each would gain the ultimate accolade, the Congressional Medal of Honor. Tapping into personal interviews and a wealth of primary-source material, Alex Kershaw has delivered his most gripping account yet of American courage, spanning more than 600 days of increasingly merciless combat, from the deserts of North Africa to the dark heart of Nazi Germany.
One Italian Summer, by Rebecca Serle
When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mom, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and, now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse, their planned mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: to Positano, the magical town where Carol spent the summer right before she met Katy’s father. Now, Katy is faced with embarking on the adventure alone, but as soon as she steps foot on the Amalfi Coast, Katy begins to feel her mother’s spirit. Buoyed by the stunning waters, beautiful cliffsides, delightful residents and, of course, delectable food, Katy feels herself coming back to life. Then Carol appears — healthy, sun-tanned, and 30 years old. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman before her. She is not exactly who Katy imagined she might be, however, and soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue. SP
Sally Brewster is the proprietor of Park Road Books. 4139 Park Rd., parkroadbooks.com