Elmore Leonard’s First Rule of Writing is that one shouldn’t open with the weather, but holy smokes! Didja see that white stuff coming down on Christmas Eve? And it stuck around for a day or two (or three, depending on how far out past Bob’s house you live), which made this holiday a good time to stay home and read all the books you got for Christmas. You got a lot of books, right?
We did, too. But there’s always room for more books, especially when you’ve been spending all this joyous time with your families (read hiding in the hall closet with a liter bottle of egg nog, a flashlight, and your books). And so, before we invite this year to get lost, let us have one final round of new books for 2017.
In fact, here’s a new Robert Crais thriller. Now, releasing it a couple of days AFTER Christmas is some serious marketing genius, because a) no one bought it for you FOR Christmas, and b) surely you have some spending money that a relative slipped into an envelope for you? “Oh, here you go, dearie. Why don’t you let Ben Franklin help you pick something out for yourself.” You and Ben should come on down to the store and snag a copy of The Wanted, the latest Crais thriller, wherein our dynamic duo of Elvis Cole and Joe Pike find themselves up against some really, really bad dudes.
Really bad. Ultra bad. Baddest of the bad. Baddity-bad bad.
And speaking of the end-all-be-all of badness, here is Daniel Ellsberg’s The Doomsday Machine, Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. Here’s a little background: once upon a time, Ellsberg’s job was to, well, be THAT guy—the Nuclear War Planner. And so he did (and this was, like we said, back in the day), and since then, that plan has been rolling around and rolling around and rolling around, and here we are now. With that plan still rolling around. Ellsberg’s book is crafted as a “chronicle of madness in which Ellsberg acknowledges participating” (straight from the flap copy), and will hopefully be a blueprint for how we can stop kicking this plan around and go plant trees or something. Maybe some wind turbines. Or otter slides.
Ah, but enough of that. Let’s find something more mercurial and marvelous. Something that shakes the dust of fear and frustration off our shoulders. Something that will connect us back to those liminal stories that make sparks in our hearts. Something like John Crowley’s Ka, which begins like an epic poem and swirls off into mythological lands on black wings, cawing it as it flies. Ka is the story of Dar Oakley, one of the first crows before the world distinguished between crows and men, and, like all of Crowley’s work, is absolutely sublime and marvelous in its pitch, poise, and presentation.
And speaking of language bent to the imaginative whim of the author, let us investigate Craig Cliff’s The Mannequin Makers, a story set in turn of the century New Zealand (that’s the turning of the twentieth, in fact), where a mannequin maker suffers a loss and channels that loss into a mad quest to thwart a gifted rival. Here, let us turn to the first page and read the provided chapter summary: “In which Colton Kemp’s wife dies mid-morning, surrounded by misshapen mannequins.”
And speaking of strong undertows, let’s not forget the Deluxe Lab-Coat Edition of Tarascon Pharmacopoeia, which is an expanded edition of the Classic Shirt Pocket Edition. Because there is nothing more embarrassing than pulling the slim Shirt Pocket edition out of your voluminous lab coat pocket. That just sends the wrong signal, doesn’t it? And do you know what comes from larger editions and larger pockets? Larger type sizes! That’s right. Now you don’t have to squint (as much) at all the charts of typical drug dosing, relative pricing information, corresponding Canadian trade names, opioid equivalency, and pediatric drug dosing. And the lists! Oh, the lists. Available trade and generic formulations, herbal & alternative therapies, emergency drug infusions, and much more. It’s a pharmacopoeia cornucopia, in a handy—wait for it—lab coat pocket size.
And speaking of non sequiturs, how about the updated 7th edition of Black & Decker’s The Complete Guide to Wiring. It’s got more than 800 color photos! More than 40 diagrams! Totally updated for 2017-2020 national electric codes! More than 200 DIY projects! You can rewire your entire neighborhood with a single spool and a pair of pliers with this book! And do it to code, too. It’s the perfect gift for the stuck at home handyman.
Okay, so maybe we got a little off topic there at the end. To bring it all back to center, we’ll note there’s a lot of paperback releases this week. If you’ve been putting off buying a book from earlier this year in hardback, there’s a good chance that it just dropped in paper. And with Ben Franklin in tow, you can get two or three!