November books

The Arts

November 2, 2020



Notable new releases

compiled by Sally Brewster

All God’s Children, by Aaron Gwyn

A novel about people living on the edge of freedom and slavery, All God’s Children brings to life the paradoxes of the American frontier — a place of liberty and bondage, wild equality, and cruel injustice. In 1827, Duncan Lammons, a disgraced young man from Kentucky, sets out to join the American army in the province of Texas. That same year, Cecelia, a young slave in Virginia, runs away for the first time. Soon infamous for her escape attempts, Cecelia drifts through the reality of slavery — until she encounters frontiersman Sam Fisk, who rescues her from a slave auction in New Orleans. Cecelia travels with Sam to Texas, where they begin an unlikely life together, unaware that their fates are intertwined with those of Sam’s former army mates, including Lammons and others who harbor dangerous dreams of their own. Gwyn, a professor of English at UNC Charlotte, has written a riveting work of historical fiction.

The Best of Me, by David Sedaris

For more than 25 years, David Sedaris has been carving out a unique literary space, virtually creating his own genre. A Sedaris story may seem confessional but is also highly attuned to the world outside. It opens our eyes to what is at once absurd and moving about our daily existence. And it is almost impossible to read without laughing. For the first time collected in one volume, the author brings us his funniest and most memorable work. But if all you expect to find in Sedaris’ work is the deft and sharply observed comedy for which he became renowned, you may be surprised to discover that his words bring more warmth than mockery, more fellow-feeling than derision. Together, the stories in The Best of Me reveal the wonder and delight Sedaris takes in the surprises life brings him. No experience, he sees, is quite as he expected — it’s often harder, more fraught and certainly weirder — but sometimes it is also much richer and more wonderful.

A Promised Land, by Barack Obama

In the highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency — a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil. A Promised Land is intimate and introspective — the story of one man’s bet with history, the faith of a community organizer tested on the world stage. This beautifully written and powerful book captures Barack Obama’s conviction that democracy is not a gift from on high but something founded on empathy and common understanding and built together, day by day.

The Greatest Beer Run Ever, by John “Chick” Donohue and J.T. Molloy

One night in 1967, 26-year-old John Donohue, known as Chick, was out with friends, drinking in a New York City bar. The friends gathered there had lost loved ones in Vietnam. Now, they watched as anti-war protesters turned on the troops themselves. One neighborhood patriot came up with an inspired — some would call it insane — idea: Someone should sneak into Vietnam, track down their buddies, give them messages of support from back home, and share a few laughs over a can of beer. It would be the Greatest Beer Run Ever. But who’d be crazy enough to do it? One man was up for the challenge: a U. S. Marine Corps veteran-turned-merchant mariner — Chick. A day later, he was on a cargo ship headed to Vietnam, armed with Irish luck and a backpack full of alcohol. This is the story of that epic beer run, told in Chick’s own words and those of the men he visited in Vietnam.  SP

Sally Brewster is the proprietor of Park Road Books, located at 4139 Park Road. parkroadbooks.com.

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