5 New Biographies/Memoirs to Watch Out For

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep (16 May 2019)
furious hours

Alabama, 1972.

Reverend Willie Maxwell, a charismatic, authoritative black preacher, is suspected of murder. His past two wives, brother, nephew and stepdaughter have all died in suspicious circumstances. There are whispers of secret voodoo practices, and suspicion of life insurance fraud.

Despite the mounting evidence against him, Tom Radney, a young white lawyer, miraculously protects him from legal trouble.

And then the Reverend is shot dead in front of 300 witnesses at his step-daughter’s funeral.

As Alabama is consumed by these gripping events, it’s not long until news of the case reaches Alabama’s – and America’s – most famous writer. Intrigued by the story, Harper Lee makes a journey back to her home state to witness the Reverend’s killer face trial – where none other than Tom Radney is defending him. Captivated by true crime, having worked closely with Truman Capote on In Cold Blood and having studied criminal law, Lee became obsessed with this twisted case and the small Southern town consumed by it. She planned to write a book on the Maxwell murders. She never did.

This is the story Harper Lee wanted to write. This is the story of why she couldn’t.

Everybody Died, So I Got a Dog by Emily Dean (7 Mar 2019)
everybody died

‘A wonderful and very special book.’
Adam Kay, author of This is Going to Hurt

‘Will make you laugh, cry and stroke your dog (or any dog).’
Sarah Millican

* * *

The funny, heart-breaking, wonderfully told story of love, family and overwhelming loss which led Emily Dean to find hope and healing in the dog she always wanted.

Growing up with the Deans was a fabulous training ground for many things: ignoring unpaid bills, being the most entertaining guest at dinner, deconstructing poetry. It was never home for the dog Emily craved.

Emily shared the lively chaos with her beloved older sister Rachael, her rock. Over the years the sisters bond grew ever closer. As Rachael went on to have the cosy family and treasured dog, Giggle, Emily threw herself into unsettled adventure – dog ownership remaining a distant dream.

Then, tragically, Rachael is diagnosed with cancer. In just three devastating years Emily loses not only her sister but both her parents as well.

This is the funny heart-breaking, wonderfully told story of how Emily discovers that it is possible to overcome the worst that life can throw at you, that it’s never too late to make peace with your past, and that the right time is only ever now, as she finally starts again with her very own dog – the adorable Shih-tzu named Raymond.

Mama’s Boy: A Story from Our Americas by Dustin Lance Black (30 Apr 2019)
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This heartfelt, deeply personal memoir explores how one family built bridges across today’s great divides–and how our stories hold the power to heal.

Dustin Lance Black wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for Milk and helped overturn California’s anti-gay marriage Proposition 8, but as an LGBTQ activist he has unlikely origins–a conservative Mormon household outside San Antonio, Texas. His mother, Anne, was raised in rural Louisiana and contracted polio when she was two years old. She endured brutal surgeries, as well as braces and crutches for life, and was told that she would never have children or a family. Willfully defying expectations, she found salvation in an unlikely faith, raised three rough-and-rowdy boys, and escaped the abuse and violence of two questionably devised Mormon marriages before finding love and an improbable career in the U.S. civil service.

By the time Lance came out to his mother at age twenty-one, he was a blue-state young man studying the arts instead of going on his Mormon mission. She derided his sexuality as a sinful choice and was terrified for his future. It may seem like theirs was a house destined to be divided, and at times it was. This story shines light on what it took to remain a family despite such division–a journey that stretched from the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court to the woodsheds of East Texas. In the end, the rifts that have split a nation couldn’t end this relationship that defined and inspired their remarkable lives.

Mama’s Boy is their story. It’s a story of the noble quest for a plane higher than politics–a story of family, foundations, turmoil, tragedy, elation, and love. It is a story needed now more than ever.

Magic Is Dead: My Journey into the World’s Most Secretive Society of Magicians by Ian Frisch (4 Apr 2019)
magic is deadIn the vein of Neil Strauss’ The Game and Joshua Foer’s Moonwalking with Einstein comes the fascinating story of one man’s colorful, mysterious, and personal journey into the world of magic, and his unlikely invitation into an underground secret society of revolutionary magicians from around the world.

Magic Is Dead is Ian Frisch’s head-first dive into a hidden world full of extraordinary characters and highly guarded secrets. It is a story of imagination, deception, and art that spotlights today’s most brilliant young magicians—a mysterious club known as the52, who are revolutionizing an ancient artform under the mantra Magic Is Dead.

Ian brings us with him as he not only gets to know this fascinating world, but also becomes an integral part of it. We meet the52’s founding members—Laura London, Daniel Madison, and Chris Ramsay—and explore their personal demons, professional aspirations, and what drew them to their craft. We join them at private gatherings of the most extraordinary magicians working today, follow them to magic conventions in Las Vegas and England, and discover some of the best tricks of the trade. We also encounter David Blaine; hang out with Penn Jillette; meet Dynamo, the U.K.’s most famous magician; and go behind the scenes of a Netflix magic show. Magic Is Dead is also a chronicle of magic’s rich history and how it has changed in the internet age, as the young guns embrace social media and move away from the old-school take on the craft.

As he tells the story of the52, and his role as its most unlikely member, Ian reveals his own connection with trickery and deceit and how he first learned the elements that make magic work from his poker-playing mother. He recalls their adventures in card rooms and casinos after his father’s sudden death, and shares a touching moment that he had, as a working journalist, with his childhood idol Shaquille O’Neal.

“Magic—the romanticism of the inexplicable, the awe and admiration of the unexpected—is an underlying force in how we view the world and its myriad possibilities,” Ian writes. As his journey continues, Ian not only becomes a performer and creator of magic—even fooling the late Anthony Bourdain during a chance encounter—he also cements a new brotherhood, and begins to understand his relationship with his father, fifteen years after his death. Written with psychological acuity and a keen eye for detail, Magic Is Dead is an engrossing tale full of wonder and surprise.

Too Much Is Not Enough: A Memoir of Fumbling Toward Adulthood by Andrew Rannells (12 Mar 2019)
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From the star of Broadway’s The Book of Mormon and HBO’s Girls, the heartfelt and hilarious coming-of-age memoir of a Midwestern boy surviving bad auditions, bad relationships, and some really bad highlights as he chases his dreams in New York City

When Andrew Rannells left Nebraska for New York City in 1997, he, like many young hopefuls, saw the city as a chance to break free. To start over. To transform the fiercely ambitious but sexually confused teenager he saw in the mirror into the Broadway leading man of his dreams.

In Too Much Is Not Enough, Rannells takes us on the journey of a twentysomething hungry to experience everything New York has to offer: new friends, wild nights, great art, standing ovations. At the heart of his hunger lies a powerful drive to reconcile the boy he was when he left Omaha with the man he desperately wants to be.

As Rannells fumbles his way towards the Great White Way, he also shares the drama of failed auditions and behind-the-curtain romances, the heartbreak of losing his father at the height of his struggle, and the exhilaration of making his Broadway debut in Hairspray at the age of twenty-six. Along the way, he learns that you never really leave your past–or your family–behind; that the most painful, and perversely motivating, jobs are the ones you almost get; and that sometimes the most memorable nights with friends are marked not by the trendy club you danced at but by the recap over diner food afterward.

Honest and hilarious, Too Much Is Not Enough is an unforgettable look at love, loss, and the powerful forces that determine who we become.

 

 

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