New & Noteworthy, From R. Kelly to White House Corruption

DEEP RIVER, by Karl Marlantes. (Grove, $30.) Marlantes, best known for the immersive Vietnam War novel “Matterhorn,” here offers a historical family epic about Finnish brothers working as loggers in the Pacific Northwest and their labor organizer sister.

SLIME: How Algae Created Us, Plague Us, and Just Might Save Us, by Ruth Kassinger. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26.) Algae are among the earth’s oldest life-forms, pervasive in everything from pond scum to crude oil. Kassinger explains their history and biology, and makes a persuasive case for their future importance.

THE MAN WHO SOLD AMERICA: Trump and the Unraveling of the American Story, by Joy-Ann Reid. (Morrow/HarperCollins, $27.99.) The political analyst and host of “AM Joy” on MSNBC argues that President Trump’s administration is characterized by grift and venality that demeans the office and diminishes America.

SOULLESS: The Case Against R. Kelly, by Jim DeRogatis. (Abrams, $26.) DeRogatis, a noted music journalist, broke the first stories accusing the R&B star R. Kelly of sexual abuse — two decades ago. This book tracks the case and asks why the culture was so slow to catch up.

SONGS OF AMERICA: Patriotism, Protest, and the Music That Made a Nation, by Jon Meacham and Tim McGraw. (Random House, $30.) From “The Star-Spangled Banner” to “Born in the U.S.A.,” our history in music.

When Sally Rooney’s “Normal People” came out last year, I bought it along with her first novel, CONVERSATIONS WITH FRIENDS, determined to fill the Rooney-shaped hole in my reading list. It took me a while to open the first book, but the moment I did, I dropped like a leaf onto a swiftly moving river, swept along from the first page to the last, in one sitting. Frances, the book’s college-student protagonist, a writer, is piercingly observant about everyone but herself. She’s a wise analyst of even the most minute psychological shifts in her best friend and occasional lover, Bobbi; the older writer Melissa, whom they meet at a poetry reading; and Melissa’s handsome husband, Nick. Frances and Nick grow closer largely through email, a modern epistolary romance of increasing excitement and intimacy. Frances is an unreliable narrator only about her own feelings, so the experience of reading her story from her point of view is strangely desperate, propulsive and singular. It’s hard to catch a breath gulping down Rooney’s lucid writing, experiencing Frances’ awakening and her longing.

Caitlin Roper, Editorial Director, NYT Magazine Labs

Follow New York Times Books on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, sign up for our newsletter or our literary calendar. And listen to us on the Book Review podcast.

Source: Read Full Article