Here are Mitch Kaplan’s latest book picks, and his first exclusive bocamag.com recommendations for the New Year! Some of these will not hit shelves until late January or February, but click on the links to preorder your copy from Kaplan’s retailer, Books & Books, and support a local mom-and-pop operation.
Lost and Found: A Memoir by Kathryn Schulz
The image of a shooting star whizzing by the moon on the jacket of Kathryn Schulz’s new memoir speaks to its ambitions—ones that extend beyond the circumstances of her life and those around her toward more cosmic themes. In her first book in 12 years, the Pulitzer Prize-winning New Yorker staff writer turns inward, reflecting on how three families coalesce around her: that of her father’s upbringing, as an absentminded Jewish refugee; that of her future spouse, from a rural and devoutly Christian community; and the new family Schulz has created with her. But Schulz understands that her story is inseparable from the tumult around it, from historical wars to an ever-present pandemic, transcending memoir into the realm of a profound guidebook for living in complicated times.
One of Chile’s national treasures—and yes, there is a relation to Chilean President Salvador Allende; she’s a first cousin—Isabelle Allende has authored 21 novels, among them such worldwide sensations as The House of the Spirits and The Long Petal of the Sea. In her latest, the rich and sweeping Violeta, her title character navigates a century of global cataclysms: She is born in 1920, the first girl in a family of five sons, between the ravages of the First World War and the incoming Spanish Flu. One hundred years later, she’s still around to experience another convulsive pandemic—experiences bookended by such global shakeups as the women’s rights movement and the rise and fall of tyrannical governments. It looks as though Allende has written the Great Chilean Novel, though it won’t be her first.
To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara
Hefty when compared to most novels, Yanagihara’s latest tome stretches 720 pages, which may not even be enough to fully encapsulate the author’s grand vision: a triptych of stories, each set 100 years apart, about the American experiment then, now and into the future, with familiar themes rippling across each. In an alternate version of 1893, the scion of a distinguished family, living in a so-called Free State, bristles against an arranged marriage to pursue love on his terms; in 1993 Manhattan, a Hawaiian man and his much older romantic partner navigate the horrors of the AIDS epidemic; in 2093, the granddaughter of an influential scientist attempts to solve a family mystery, in a world beset by plagues and authoritarian rule. Fellow novelist Edmund White has called Yanagihara’s time-jumping epic “as good as War and Peace.”
Emotional Inheritance: A Therapist, Her Patients and the Legacy of Trauma by Galit Atlas
Freudian psychoanalysis may not be as in fashion as it used to be, but it’s far from dead. As this instructive and fascinating account from acclaimed relational psychoanalyst Dr. Galit Atlas reveals, some of Freud’s pioneering ideas about unknown or unremembered traumas affecting our emotional lives can have much merit, and lead, finally, to healing and closure. This is the “emotional inheritance,” as Atlas puts it, that many of us carry, and that circulates through our psyche like ghosts. The author draws from a dozen patients in her private practice in New York City as well as her own life experiences to make a convincing argument for the importance of exhuming traumas we might not even know we carry.
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