4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster. Nearly two weeks early, on March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson’s life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four identical Fergusons made of the same DNA, four boys who are the same boy, go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives. Family fortunes diverge. Athletic skills and sex lives and friendships and intellectual passions contrast. Read reviews here and here.
An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back by Elisabeth Rosenthal. At a moment of drastic political upheaval, this book is an investigation into the dangerous, expensive, and dysfunctional American healthcare system, as well as solutions to its myriad of problems. Breaking down this monolithic business into the individual industries–the hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, and drug manufacturers–that together constitute our healthcare system, Rosenthal exposes the recent evolution of American medicine as never before. You can read a review here.
Comfort Food: Meanings and Memories, edited by Michael Owen Jones and Lucy M. Long, explores this concept with examples taken from Atlantic Canadians, Indonesians, the English in Britain, and various ethnic, regional, and religious populations as well as rural and urban residents in the United States. This volume includes studies of particular edibles and the ways in which they comfort or in some instances cause discomfort. The contributors focus on items ranging from bologna to chocolate, including sweet and savory puddings, fried bread with an egg in the center, dairy products, fried rice, cafeteria fare, sugary fried dough, soul food, and others.
We Are Never Meeting in Real Life is a collection of essays by Samantha Irby, who runs the blog bitches gotta eat. Whether talking about how her difficult childhood has led to a problem in making “adult” budgets, explaining why she should be the new Bachelorette—she’s “35-ish, but could easily pass for 60-something”—detailing a disastrous pilgrimage-slash-romantic-vacation to Nashville to scatter her estranged father’s ashes, sharing awkward sexual encounters, or dispensing advice on how to navigate friendships with former drinking buddies who are now suburban moms—hang in there for the Costco loot—she’s as deft at poking fun at the ghosts of her past self as she is at capturing powerful emotional truths.
A Fever of the Blood by Oscar de Muriel. New Year’s Day, 1889.In Edinburgh’s lunatic asylum, a patient escapes as a nurse lays dying. Leading the manhunt are legendary local Detective ‘Nine-Nails’ McGray and Londoner-in-exile Inspector Ian Frey.Before the murder, the suspect was heard in whispered conversation with a fellow patient–a girl who had been mute for years. What made her suddenly break her silence? And why won’t she talk again? Could the rumours about black magic be more than superstition?McGray and Frey track a devious psychopath far beyond their jurisdiction, through the worst blizzard in living memory, into the shadow of Pendle Hill–home of the Lancashire witches–where unimaginable danger awaits.