It’s cyber Monday, and while you’re hopefully clicking through wish lists of loved ones—and picking up some goodies for yourself—consider some of the juiciest and most important books on the autumn docket. Once again, here are a few selections recommended by Mitch Kaplan of Miami literary empire Books & Books.
Miami has long trembled on a knife’s edge between paradise and underworld, retirement community and dark web, sunny metropolis and criminal clearinghouse. The 19 stories collected by local author Standiford in Miami Noir speak to this singular dichotomy. The latest entry in the publisher Akashic Noir’s city surveys of first-rate crime fiction, Miami Noir features more household-name authors than there were bullets in Tony Montana’s little friend, namely Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Elmore Leonard, Zora Neale Hurston, Damon Runyon, Edna Buchanan and many more. And since it’s subtitled “The Classics,” we might just have a “Contemporary” collection coming down the pike.
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Beloved by hipsters and aesthetes the world over, director Wes Anderson’s very name has become shorthand for a kind of precious, architecturally marvelous cinema full of self-contained worlds. This sleek hardcover from Koval, authorized and forwarded by Anderson himself, is a stunning compendium of Andersonesque environments that actually exist in the real world. Divided into nine chapters, from United States & Canada to Antarctica, this travelogue of cinematographic sights features minimal text and gorgeous photography. You know Anderson himself is keeping these locations in the back of his mind—unless other enterprising filmmakers steal them first.
As we slog through our own pandemic, it never hurts to look to the past—to diseases that ran roughshod over vulnerable populations with weak health-care infrastructures. Farmer, the Chair of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard University, didn’t have to look far for his study of a region that bungled its way through a deadly contagion, focusing on how Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea dealt with the worst Ebola outbreak in history, ca. 2014. Calling it a “major tragedy of modern medicine,” Farmer deploys reporting, historical analysis and advocacy to explore how the disease spread so rapidly in western Africa, for reasons that stretch back centuries and continue to resonate today.
Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is one of the most influential novels of the past 40 years, but it’s only one of a staggering 50 tomes authored by this prolific and eclectic scribe. Dearly, her latest—and one of her slimmest—reads, at 144 pages, is the 81-year-old Atwood’s first poetry collection in more than 10 years, and it’s a lyrical salve for troubled times. Her verse addresses such eternal subjects as love, grief, the passage of time, nature itself and, like any dystopian worth her weight in prophetic dread, zombies! I can only agree with Good Morning America’s book blurb that “we need [Atwood], now.”