What to Read this Month: October 2019

Happy Halloween! Don’t forget to set your clock back this Sunday, November 2. As always, for more exciting reads, check out our Overdrive, New and Noteworthy, and Current Literature collections.


Cover of Beneath the Mountain Beneath the Mountain by Luca D’Andrea; translated from the Italian by Howard Curtis.

In Luca D’Andrea’s atmospheric and brilliant thriller, set in a small mountain community in the majestic Italian Dolomites, an outsider must uncover the truth about a triple murder that has gone unsolved for thirty years.

New York City native Jeremiah Salinger is one half of a hot-shot documentary-making team. He and his partner, Mike, made a reality show about roadies that skyrocketed them to fame. But now Salinger’s left that all behind, to move with his wife, Annelise, and young daughter, Clara, to the remote part of Italy where Annelise grew up – the Alto Adige.

Nestled in the Dolomites, this breathtaking, rural region that was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire remains more Austro than Italian. Locals speak a strange, ancient dialect – Ladino – and root for Germany (against Italy) in the world cup. Annelise’s small town – Siebenhoch – is close-knit to say the least and does not take kindly to out-of-towners. When Salinger decides to make a documentary about the mountain rescue group, the mission goes horribly awry, leaving him the only survivor. He blames himself, and so, it seems, does everyone else in Siebenhoch. Spiraling into a deep depression, he begins having terrible, recurrent nightmares. Only his little girl Clara can put a smile on his face.

But when he takes Clara to the Bletterbach Gorge – a canyon rich in fossil remains – he accidentally overhears a conversation that gives his life renewed focus. In 1985, three students were murdered there, their bodies savaged, limbs severed and strewn by a killer who was never found. Although Salinger knows this is a tightlipped community, one where he is definitely persona non grata, he becomes obsessed with solving this mystery and is convinced it is all that can keep him sane. And as Salinger unearths the long kept secrets of this small town, one by one, the terrifying truth is eventually revealed about the horrifying crime that marked an entire village.

Completely engrossing and deeply atmospheric, Beneath The Mountain is a thriller par excellence.


Cover of Antisemitism: Here and Now Antisemitism: Here and Now by Deborah E. Lipstadt.

The award-winning author of The Eichmann Trial and Denial: Holocaust History on Trial gives us a penetrating and provocative analysis of the hate that will not die, focusing on its current, virulent incarnations on both the political right and left: from white supremacist demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia, to mainstream enablers of antisemitism such as Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn, to a gay pride march in Chicago that expelled a group of women for carrying a Star of David banner.

Over the last decade there has been a noticeable uptick in antisemitic rhetoric and incidents by left-wing groups targeting Jewish students and Jewish organizations on American college campuses. And the reemergence of the white nationalist movement in America, complete with Nazi slogans and imagery, has been reminiscent of the horrific fascist displays of the 1930s. Throughout Europe, Jews have been attacked by terrorists, and some have been murdered.

Where is all this hatred coming from? Is there any significant difference between left-wing and right-wing antisemitism? What role has the anti-Zionist movement played? And what can be done to combat the latest manifestations of an ancient hatred? In a series of letters to an imagined college student and imagined colleague, both of whom are perplexed by this resurgence, acclaimed historian Deborah Lipstadt gives us her own superbly reasoned, brilliantly argued, and certain to be controversial responses to these troubling questions.


Cover of Midwestern Strange Midwestern Strange: Hunting Monsters, Martians, and the Weird in Flyover Country by B.J. Hollars.

Midwestern Strange chronicles B.J. Hollars’s exploration of the mythic, lesser-known oddities of flyover country. The mysteries, ranging from bipedal wolf sightings to run-ins with pancake-flipping space aliens to a lumberjack-inspired “Hodag hoax,” make this book a little bit X-Files, a little bit Ghostbusters, and a whole lot of Sherlock Holmes . Hollars’s quest is not to confirm or debunk these mysteries but rather to seek out these unexplained phenomena to understand how they complicate our worldview and to discover what truths might be gleaned by reexamining the facts in our “post-truth” era.

Part memoir and part journalism, Midwestern Strange offers a fascinating, funny, and quirky account of flyover folklore that also contends with the ways such oddities retain cultural footholds. Hollars shows how grappling with such subjects might fortify us against the glut of misinformation now inundating our lives. By confronting monsters, Martians, and a cabinet of curiosities, we challenge ourselves to look beyond our presumptions and acknowledge that just because something is weird, doesn’t mean it is wrong.


Cover for Ageing and Contemporary Female Musicians Ageing and Contemporary Female Musicians by Abigail Gardner.

Ageing and Contemporary Female Musicians focuses on ageing within contemporary popular music. It argues that context, genres, memoirs, racial politics and place all contribute to how women are ‘aged’ in popular music.

Framing contemporary female musicians as canonical grandmothers, Rude Girls, neo-Afrofuturist and memoirists settling accounts, the book gives us some respite from a decline or denial narrative and introduces a dynamism into ageing. Female rock memoirs are age-appropriate survival stories that reframe the histories of punk and independent rock music. Old age has a functional and canonical ‘place’ in the work of Shirley Collins and Calypso Rose.

Janelle Monáe, Christine and the Queens, and Anohni perform ‘queer’ age, specifically a kind of ‘going beyond’ both corporeal and temporal borders. Genres age, and the book introduces the idea of the time-crunch; an encounter between an embodied, represented age and a genre-age, which is, itself, produced through historicity and aesthetics. Lastly the book goes behind the scenes to draw on interviews and questionnaires with 19 women involved in the contemporary British and American popular music industry; DIY and ex-musicians, producers, music publishers, music journalists and audio engineers.

Ageing and Contemporary Female Musicians is a vital intergenerational feminist viewpoint for researchers and students in gender studies, popular music, popular culture, media studies, cultural studies and ageing studies.


Cover for The Genius Within The Genius Within: Unlocking Our Brain’s Potential by David Adam.

What if you have more intelligence than you realize? What if there is a genius inside you, just waiting to be released? And what if the route to better brain power is not hard work or thousands of hours of practice but to simply swallow a pill? In The Genius Within, David Adam explores the groundbreaking neuroscience of cognitive enhancement that is changing the way the brain and the mind works – to make it better, sharper, more focused and, yes, more intelligent. He considers how we measure and judge intelligence, taking us on a fascinating tour of the history of brain science and medicine, from gentlemen scientist brain autopsy clubs to case studies of mental health patients with extraordinary savant abilities. In addition to reporting on the latest research and fascinating case studies, David also goes on his own personal journey to investigate the possibilities of neuroenhancement, using himself as a guinea pig for smart pills and electrical brain stimulation in order to improve his IQ scores and cheat his way into MENSA. Getting to the heart of how we think about intelligence and mental ability, The Genius Within plunges into deep ethical, neuroscientific, and historical pools of enquiry about the science of brain function, untapping potential, and what it means for all of us. The Genius Within asks difficult questions about the science that could rank and define us, and inevitably shape our future.

 


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