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Sick in the HeadSICK IN THE HEAD Conversations About Life and Comedy
By Judd Apatow

$27.00 Random House
@JuddApatow

From filmmaker Judd Apatow, writer and director of such hit films as “Knocked Up” and “The 40 Year Old Virgin”, comes SICK IN THE HEAD, a book about the whys and wherefores of comedy and the comedians who live to make us laugh.

As a teenager, Apatow was a self-proclaimed comedy nerd. At 15, he took a job washing dishes in a comedy club just so he could be near his idols and watch them work, and then at 16, he began hosting a radio show from his Syosset, Long Island high school, broadcasting interviews he had recorded with many of his comedy heroes. Despite the fact that Apatow was young and green, comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno and Garry Shandling agreed to be interviewed by him, and they shared the trajectory of their career paths, the how-to’s of joke-writing and the lessons they had learned coming up in the business.

Over the years, Apatow’s obsession with interviewing his comedy heroes, many of whom had now become his peers, persisted, and eventually, he found himself with quite a large collection of interviews that were worth their weight in gold, but he wasn’t sure just what to do with them. After ruminating on it all for about a minute and a half, Apatow decided to compile this priceless collection and share the wealth. And what a collection it is. Comedy legends from Mel Brooks to Albert Brooks, Steve Martin to Louis C.K. and Amy Schumer to Sarah Silverman give us the low-down about what it takes to build a successful, long-lasting career. And these interviews are not only incredibly entertaining, but they are laugh-out-loud funny, complex and deep, and utterly fascinating.

Whether you’re a comedy nerd, like all of the subjects interviewed in this fantastic collection, or just get off on reading behind-the-scenes stories of the comedy world, this is a book you won’t want to miss. Apatow asks all of the questions you’d love to ask if only you had the chance to talk with these funny people, one-on-one, and record them for posterity. And the result is nothing short of totally satisfying.

 

I Am ChinaI AM CHINA A Novel
By Xiaolu Guo

$16.95 Anchor Books
www.guoxiaolo.com

From award-winning writer Xiaolu Guo, comes I AM CHINA, a passionate story of love, politics and the inescapable fact that the two don’t always go hand-in-hand.

Iona Kirkpatrick is a translator living a solitary life in London. Although she finds herself physically involved with men from time to time, she cannot find the heart to commit to much more than one night. Throwing herself into a new project, translating a series of letters and diary entries that belong to a Chinese punk guitarist Kublai Jian and his lady love and poet, Mu, she fast becomes obsessed with their story. Out of sequence and often hard to translate or even read, these handwritten pages begin to engulf her, and as she finds herself being carried away on the wings of romance and revolution, she begins to unravel the mystery surrounding these strangers.

Enter Jonathan Barker, the publisher, who has hired Iona to translate these papers. Handsome and as intrigued by this mystery as she, he believes the story of these star-crossed lovers could be a book of some kind, if only he can figure out the plot. Intrigued by Jonathan, Iona finds herself delving into her past, trying to understand her self-imposed isolation as she begins to question its continued place in her life. And as the story of Kublai Jian and Mu starts to weave itself into a pattern, she can almost make sense of, she finds that she wants nothing more than to re-unite these two strangers who have become lost to one another, but have become as real to her as those around her, whom she can actually reach out and touch.

Brilliant, evocative writing grabs you by the scruff of the neck and refuses to let go from the moment you start the first sentence. A complex interface between art and politics, this narrative explores the coming-of-age of dissident China in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, with a narrative that’s deep and emotionally gripping. A drama that meets at the intersection of Eastern and Western culture, this intriguing book shows us that, in the end, each of us is truly the same, underneath the skin.

If Only You KnewIF YOU ONLY KNEW A Novel
By Kristan Higgins

HQN Books

www.HQNbooks.com

From New York Times bestselling author comes IF YOU ONLY KNEW, a story of sisterly devotion, long-held secrets and the undeniable power of love.

Wedding dress designer, Jenny Tate is in a quandary. Her ex-husband, whom she loved with all her heart, has just had a baby with the woman who replaced her. And despite the fact that Jenny should have cut and run the minute the marriage was over, she has remained friends with her ex and become enmeshed in an unhealthy relationship with his new wife and the daughter she accidentally helped to bring into the world. Finally realizing it’s time to escape this unhealthy scenario before it strangles the life out of her, she decides to move back to the idyllic town in the Hudson River Valley where she grew up. There, she can spend time with her sister Rachel and her three nieces, who happen to be triplets, and open an exclusive shop from which she can sell her beautiful, one-of-a-kind creations.

Rachel has the perfect life, or so it seems to Jenny. She’s a happy stay-at-home mom, married to a wonderful man who adores her. But everything isn’t as blissful as it seems. Rachel has just discovered that her husband is having an affair with a co-worker and is not at all sure what she should do about it. Of course, Jenny rides to her rescue, encouraging her to cut and run, and promising to be there for her sister no matter what the future may bring. But who is she to talk? Sure, she’s begun to build a new life; settling into her new apartment and watching her burgeoning shop begin to take off. But Jenny is coming to find that it’s harder to disengage from her former life than she’d thought it would be and wonders if her advice is really all that it’s cracked up to be.

Meanwhile, Jenny has new romantic entanglements to think about as she and Leo, her hunky, irresistible downstairs neighbor, become lovers. And although she’s falling for him hard and fast, he continues to warn her off, explaining that he’s only interested in a “friends with benefits” kind of arrangement, due to a past he doesn’t want to explain. And as the plot thickens, Rachel begins taking steps to change her life, Leo’s past comes screeching up in Jenny’s face and a family secret, involving Jenny’s parents, comes to the fore, making her wonder how she’ll juggle all of the balls that are suddenly in her court.

Undeniably addictive, this is a book you won’t want to put down. Ms. Higgins has a knack for creating characters you come to care about and that stay with you long after you’ve finished the final sentence. If you’re already a fan of Katherine Higgins’ work, this is a book you won’t want to miss. And if you’re not already a fan, this would be a great place to get your start.

Enchanted AugustENCHANTED AUGUST A Novel
By Brenda Bowen

$27.95 Pamela Dorman Books

|www.brendabowen.com

Although summer is almost officially over, it’s not too late to pick up a copy of ENCHANTED AUGUST by Brenda Bowen. In this re-imagining of Elizabeth von Arnim’s classic novel, The Enchanted April, Bowen captures the spirit of the original story, wherein four veritable strangers decide to share a summer home on an idyllic island in Maine, and come to discover as much about themselves as they do about one another.

Lottie Wilkerson and Rose Arbuthnot are not the happiest of souls. Caught up in lives they have long-since settled into with their husbands and small children, they feel misunderstood and a little lost. Neither of them really fits in the with other Park Slope mommies who seem to run the insolated world in which they orbit, so when they spot a well-used index card on the bulletin board at their children’s overpriced pre-school, it stirs something deep inside them. The card reads: Hopewell Cottage, Little Lost Island Maine. Old, pretty cottage to rent on a small Maine Island. Spring water, blueberries, sea glass. August.

Despite the fact that neither Rose nor Lottie can really afford the time away from their husbands and kids, they decide to book the cottage anyway, and in order to share expenses, they find two  other renters – Caroline Dester, a well-known actress who’s in crisis and Beverly Fisher, an older gentleman who’s recovering from a terrible loss. After a somewhat dubious start, the unlikely foursome begins to settle in and enjoy life on the quirky little island. And as their pristinely beautiful surroundings start to work their magic, each of them finds that they’re lowering the walls that have kept from the best parts of themselves for way too long, and they give themselves permission to reimagine their lives.

Bowen’s quirky characters take you by the hand and lead you all the way to Little Lost Island to can join them in their adventure. You can almost feel the cool sea breezes and taste the blueberries on your tongue as you get swept up in this charming reimagining of a classic tale. No matter the time of year, you’ll be wrapped in the arms of a late summer’s day and happy to stay that way from the moment you open this book until you’ve finished the final sentence.

 

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 173 - September 5295
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