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    My Brief History by Stephen Hawking

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    Once Upon a Time: The Lives of Bob Dylan by Ian Bell

  • Dallas 1963 by Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis

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  • Fall fiction preview shows a landslide of A-list authors

    The Big New Yorker Book of Cats

    Foreword by Anthony Lane

    Random House

    $40, 352 pages (on sale Tuesday)

    Can any national magazine match wits with The New Yorker? We don’t think so. The weekly compendium of long-form journalism, authoritative criticism and reviews, humor, poetry and great cartoons opened its doors in 1925. Over the decades, it has published the biggest-name writers in the world in the arenas of fiction, trends, travel, food, film, books, memoir, essay, humor, reportage – you name it.

    One need not own cats (or do cats own their owners?) or even be a pet-lover to savor this feline-centric offering of archival articles, essays, short stories, poems, humor, cartoons and reproductions of cat-centric New Yorker covers. Among the contributors: T.C. Boyle, Margaret Atwood, Roald Dahl, Jamaica Kincaid, James Thurber, John Updike – the list goes on.

    The good times are organized into four acts – “Fat Cats,” “Alley Cats,”: “Cat Fanciers” and “Curious Cats.” Cartoons are scattered throughout the book, such as this one: The scene is a corporate office high in a skyscraper. Sitting in a chair behind a massive desk is the CEO – in this case, a dog in suit and tie. Standing in front of the desk is an dejected-looking employee, his long tail sticking out from his suit – in this case, a cat. It appears that the CEO is firing his employee, because the caption says, “I’m not worried about you, Henley. You’ll land on your feet ...”

    In his introduction, New Yorker film critic Anthony Lane cites the attempt by the book’s contributors’ to accomplish “the most insane of creative feats: getting under the skin of a cat. This will never be anything but challenging, even if you wear motorcycle gauntlets and a knight’s visor, but remains a quest to which many writers are lured.”

    Aren’t we glad.

  • More information On the Web

    For more fall reading suggestions, visit these websites: (New Yorker magazine) (New York Review of Books) (National Public Radio) (Daily Beast)

Books: Fall nonfiction preview shows a cornucopia of new titles

Published: Saturday, Sep. 28, 2013 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Saturday, Sep. 28, 2013 - 10:02 pm

This week, The Bee returns to its preview of the hot fall book season, this time looking at nonfiction.

Readers won’t have to look hard for the slew of new and reprinted titles that are conjoined to the 50th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination. It’s been estimated that 1,400 JFK-related books have been published since 1963. Skyhorse publishing alone will have released 37 new and reissued JFK-centric titles by year’s end.

Also on the nonfiction frontline: American history from Bill Bryson in “One Summer,” a look at the astounding events that took place in the U.S. over a few short months in one year; biographies of Bob Dylan and “muppeteer” Jim Henson; memoirs by Ann Patchett, Delia Ephron and singer-songwriter Graham Nash; and the long-anticipated “Autobiography of Mark Twain: Volume 2.”

This sampling of titles is arranged alphabetically by authors’ last names. Some titles are on sale now; for the others, the upcoming publishing dates are noted. The preview fall fiction can be seen on

“Public Enemy” by William Ayers (Beacon, $24.95, 240 pages; Oct. 8): Radical teacher and co-founder of the Weather Underground, Ayers follows his “Fugitive Days” memoir with this more contemporary view of the political landscape, and what life has been since he and wife Bernardine Dohrn came in from the cold after years on the lam. He has been called, among other things, a “social justice advocate” and a “domestic terrorist.”

“Levels of Life” by Julian Barnes (Knopf, $22.95, 144 pages; Tuesday): How does one partner move on after the other partner has left? This heartfelt memoir is by a husband whose wife died, leaving him to grapple with grief and try to work through the most difficult of times.

“Provence, 1970” by Luke Barr (Clarkson Potter, $26, 320 pages; Oct. 22): In the winter of that year, in that place in the South of France, the world’s foremost food experts (at the time) gathered to cook, feast, converse and essentially set the course for American cuisine as we know it today. The group included M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child and James Beard.

“Once Upon a Time: The Lives of Bob Dylan” by Ian Bell (Pegasus, $35, 592 pages; Oct. 16): The legendary poet-singer-songwriter has reinvented himself as each decade has passed since he stormed onto the scene in 1963 with “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.” Above all, he has reflected America’s changing culture, the authors write.

“One Summer: America, 1927” by Bill Bryson (Doubleday, $28.95, 528 pages; Oct. 1): The witty and entertaining intellectual (“At Home,” “In a Sunburned Country”) scrutinizes the summer of 1927, when landmark events took place that still reverberate throughout the world. Fascinating, as always. Bryson will appear for the Bee Book Club on Oct. 8.

“Empty Mansions” by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr. (Ballantine, $28, 496 pages): When multimillionaire heiress Huguette Clark died at age 104, she had lived for two decades in a hospital room instead of one of her three splendid homes. The investigative journalists find out why in this fascinating account of obsession and the fight over a $300 million inheritance.

“Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law” by Alan Dershowitz (Crown, $28, 528 pages; Oct. 15): The legendary attorney and Harvard law professor takes readers inside his most sensational cases, and spells out his positions on the major legal issues of our time.

“Sister, Mother, Husband, Dog” by Delia Ephron (Blur Rider, $25.95, 240 pages): Short servings of memoir take on a spectrum of diverse topics, including what it was like being raised by alcoholic parents; the best things about having a circle of female friends; and her relationship with her late screenwriter-novelist sister, Nora Ephron.

“League of Denial” by Mark Fainaru-Wade and Steve Fainaru (Crown, $27, 416 pages; Oct. 8): It’s been established that the concussions and batterings that professional football players take on the field can lead to brain damage. The ESPN investigative reporters scrutinize the conflict between medical researchers and the National Football League over what is being called “a public health crisis.”

“Five Days at Memorial” by Sheri Fink (Crown, $27, 576 pages): The Pulitzer Prize winner devoted six years to this startling investigation and revelations into patient neglect and deaths at Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans, which was a victim of Hurricane Katrina in its own right.

“David and Goliath” by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown, $29, 320 pages; Oct. 1): The wunderkind writer shows us how beauty and meaning actually derive from “suffering and adversity.” Thoughtful and original, as usual. Gladwell is a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine.

“Focus” by Daniel Goleman (Harper, $28.99, 320 pages; Oct. 8): The science of paying attention is “the secret to high performance and fulfillment,” writes the psychologist-journalist, who gives readers an inside look into modern cutting-edge research.

“My Brief History” by Stephen Hawking (Bantam, $22, 144 pages): The brilliant physicist and author of “A Brief History of Time” turns from exploring the universe to examining his life so far. With never-before-seen family photographs.

“Five Days in November” by Clint Hill (Gallery, $30, 256 pages; Nov. 19): Hill became part of history as the Secret Service agent who climbed onto the trunk of the limo that carried JFK and the first lady, immediately after the president was shot. Here, he recalls the days preceding and after the November 1963 assassination. With dramatic photos.

“Survival Lessons” by Alice Hoffman (Algonquin, $13.95, 96 pages; Oct. 1): Though Hoffman is best-known as a novelist, it was her 1998 bout with breast cancer that inspired this helpful “road map to re-envision everything” for anyone dealing with any type of serious life crisis. Hoffman has appeared for the Bee Book Club.

“Jim Henson” by Brian Jay Jones (Ballantine, $35, 608 pages; Tuesday): The artist who gave fame to the Muppets characters was much more than a puppeteer. The late inventor, shrewd businessman and the “new Walt Disney” is intimately portrayed in compelling ways.

“Miss Anne in Harlem” by Carla Kaplan (Harper, $28.99, 544 pages): Professor and scholar Kaplan puts her specialty – ethnic and gender studies – to good use in documenting six white women who were among those who dared to participate in the Black Renaissance of Harlem in the 1920s.

“Dallas 1963” by Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis (Twelve, $28, 384 pages; Oct. 8): The power structure in Dallas could well have had a direct connection to the JFK assassination, the authors point out. This investigative work examines the “obsessed men in Dallas who concocted a climate of hatred.”

“Wild Tales” by Graham Nash (Crown, $28, 368 pages): British musician-songwriter Graham Nash helped define rock ’n’ roll with the Hollies and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. His autobiography is a romp through the decades, with plenty of name-dropping.

“This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage” by Ann Patchett (Harper, $27.99, 320 pages; Nov. 5): The memoir by the best-selling novelist touches family and friends, marriage and dogs, and the work of being a writer.

“Behemoth” by Ronald B. Tobias (Harper, $14.99, 512 pages; Oct. 8): “The history of the elephant in America” may seem like a niche product, but it’s eye-opening in its scope and depth.

“Autobiography of Mark Twain: Volume 2” by Mark Twain, edited by Robert Hirst and other researchers (University of California Press, $45, 776 pages; Oct. 5): In the second of a three-volume autobiography, we have another delightful round of humor and candor, reminiscence and insider sketches of the people and politics of Twain’s day. Hirst, the main editor, appeared for the Bee Book Club.

“Men We Reaped” by Jesmyn Ward (Bloomsbury, $26, 272 pages): The National Book Award winner lost five men in her life in as many years and set out to explore racism, poverty, drug abuse and dysfunctional family relationships.

“A Mysterious Something in the Light” by Tom Williams (Chicago Review Press, $29.95, 384 pages): This hard look at mystery writer Raymond Chandler shows a troubled man whose immense talent perhaps overpowered him.

“The Men Who United the States” by Simon Winchester (Harper, $29.99, 512 pages; Oct. 15): How was the U.S. formed? The author traveled the country to research the key players – explorers, inventors, innovators, engineers – to explain the creation of our nation. With 32 illustrations.

Call The Bee’s Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128. Follow him on Twitter @apierleonisacbe.

Read more articles by Allen Pierleoni

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