In the Mail: catch up edition

–> LoveHampton by Sherri Rifkin

Publishers Weekly

In Rifkin’s dazzling debut, Manhattanite media pro Tori Miller shares a posh Hamptons summerhouse with five upwardly mobile 30-somethings. Wanting out of the depressing slide her life takes after being dumped by her first love and losing her dream job, Tori starts MillerWorks, her own TV production company. Still, Tori’s depressed, bringing about an intervention staged by her loyal employees, Jerry and Jimmy, her best friend Alice and the Transformation Trio—three make-over experts who use Tori as the pilot subject for their new reality TV show. Tori flirts with a glamming lifestyle, and her fling with George, a rich playboy with a publicist, while she’s also secretly canoodling with a housemate, banker Andrew Kane, is a recipe for disaster. Tori must think fast on her borrowed Manolos, especially when Cassie Dearborn, her new friend and housemate, needs help with her own disastrous Hampton hijinxs. Hotter than a sand dune in August, cooler than a mojito in South Beach (or Southhampton), this book will appeal to Sex and the City fans and summer beach readers alike.

–> Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America’s Soul by Karen Abbott

Publishers Weekly

Freelance journalist Abbott’s vibrant first book probes the titillating milieu of the posh, world-famous Everleigh Club brothel that operated from 1900 to 1911 on Chicago’s Near South Side. The madams, Ada and Minna Everleigh, were sisters whose shifting identities had them as traveling actors, Edgar Allan Poe’s relatives, Kentucky debutantes fleeing violent husbands and daughters of a once-wealthy Virginia lawyer crushed by the Civil War. While lesser whorehouses specialized in deflowering virgins, beatings and bondage, the Everleighs spoiled their whores with couture gowns, gourmet meals and extraordinary salaries. The bordello—which boasted three stringed orchestras and a room of 1,000 mirrors—attracted such patrons as Theodore Dreiser, John Barrymore and Prussian Prince Henry. But the successful cathouse was implicated in the 1905 shooting of department store heir Marshall Field Jr. and inevitably became the target of rivals and reformers alike. Madam Vic Shaw tried to frame the Everleighs for a millionaire playboy’s drug overdose, Rev. Ernest Bell preached nightly outside the club and ambitious Chicago state’s attorney Clifford Roe built his career on the promise of obliterating white slavery. With colorful characters, this is an entertaining, well-researched slice of Windy City history.

–> Undiscovered by Debra Winger

From the Publisher

Celebrated for her indelible, Oscar-caliber performances in some of the most memorable films of the 1980s and 1990s, Debra Winger, in Undiscovered, her first book, demonstrates that her creative range extends from screen to page. Here is an intimate glimpse of an artist marvelously wide-ranging in her gifts.

In fact, as this beguiling book reveals, Winger is that rare star who dared to resist the all-consuming industry that is Hollywood becoming her entire reason for being. “I love the work,” she states, “and don’t much care for the business.” Yet she cares deeply for the people who have inspired her. We meet them (most famously, James Bridges, Bernardo Bertolucci; most dearly, her mother, husband, and sons) here, as Winger passionately makes her case for forging a life beyond acting — and shows how she has done just that. Winger’s screen performances have long been celebrated for their breathtaking emotional range, a quality that shines through in these pages. “When I was little,” she writes, “someone told me that when you age, you turn into the person you were all your life.” In this intriguing mix of reminiscence, poetry, storytelling, and insightful observation, a portrait of a life well-lived is strikingly rendered.

–> The Narcissist’s Daughter by Craig Holden

Publishers Weekly

Following Holden’s outstanding breakout novel The Jazz Bird, comes this complex, moody study of class tension, sexual obsession and murder set in 1970s Cleveland. Daniel “Syd” Redding, a young working-class pre-med student, listens to the Ramones and dreams of destroying the life of his rich, egomaniac boss, Dr. Ted Kessler. Working nights in the hospital, Redding comes under the spell of Kessler’s sexy young wife, Joyce, who lures him into a kinky affair that soon turns ugly, leaving him devastated and even more intent on vengeance. Redding next targets the Kessler’s 17-year-old daughter, Jessi, whom he starts dating, much to the dismay of her parents. What begins as simply a ploy to hurt the Kesslers intensifies as Redding, despite his intentions, finds himself becoming more and more attached to the girl. The ensuing entanglement leads to murder. The story abruptly advances 20 years (and here the narrative loses some of its immediacy), as we learn that Syd and Jessi have married, started a family and embarked on successful careers of their own. The Reddings’ happy, comfortable life hits a snag, however, when a construction crew unearths human remains down by the river. Holden is a writer to watch, and this is an intelligent, if slightly uneven, suspense novel that should win him a larger audience.

–> Let the Wind Speak by Juan Carlos Onetti

Ronald DeFeo

What holds us to [this book] is Onetti’s tough uncompromising vision of existence, perhaps the toughest and most consistent in all of Latin American fiction and one that gives even his weaker narratives a disturbing, mournful conviction.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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