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The Château: A Novel

The Château: A Novel Lowest new price: $14.00
Lowest used price: $13.00
List price: $26.00
Author: Paul Goldberg

"We have proverb in Florida...You know why it's good to be on beach?"

Bill smiles, but says nothing. He wants the guy to keep talking.

"Because on beach you are surrounded by idiots on only three sides."

"And on the remaining side you have what?" asks Bill.

"Sharks..."

Paul Goldberg, the acclaimed author of The Yid, takes us behind the scenes of a Florida condo board election, delivering a wild spin on Miami Beach, petty crime, Jewish identity, and life in Trump's America.

It is January 2017 and Bill has hit rock bottom. Yesterday, he was William M. Katzenelenbogen, successful science reporter at The Washington Post. But things have taken a turn. Fired from his job, aimless, with exactly $1,219.37 in his checking account, he learns that his college roommate, a plastic surgeon known far and wide as the “Butt God of Miami Beach,” has fallen to his death under salacious circumstances. With nothing to lose, Bill boards a flight for Florida’s Gold Coast, ready to begin his own investigation―a last ditch attempt to revive his career.

There’s just one catch: Bill’s father, Melsor.

Melsor Yakovlevich Katzenelenbogen―poet, literary scholar, political dissident, small-time-crook―is angling for control of the condo board at the Château Sedan Neuve, a crumbling high-rise in Hollywood, Florida, populated mostly by Russian Jewish immigrants. The current board is filled with fraudsters levying “special assessments” on residents, and Melsor will use any means necessary to win the board election. And who better to help him than his estranged son?

As he did in The Yid, Paul Goldberg has taken something we think we know and turned it on its ear. Featuring a colorful cast of characters, The Château guarantees that you will never look at condo boards, crime, kleptocracy, vodka, Fascism, or Florida the same way again.

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In a Sunburned Country

In a Sunburned Country Lowest new price: $5.50
Lowest used price: $0.10
List price: $16.99
Author: Bill Bryson
Brand: Broadway Books

Every time Bill Bryson walks out the door, memorable travel literature threatens to break out.

His previous excursion along the Appalachian Trail resulted in the sublime national bestseller A Walk in the Woods. In A Sunburned Country is his report on what he found in an entirely different place: Australia, the country that doubles as a continent, and a place with the friendliest inhabitants, the hottest, driest weather, and the most peculiar and lethal wildlife to be found on the planet. The result is a deliciously funny, fact-filled, and adventurous performance by a writer who combines humor, wonder, and unflagging curiousity.

Despite the fact that Australia harbors more things that can kill you in extremely nasty ways than anywhere else, including sharks, crocodiles, snakes, even riptides and deserts, Bill Bryson adores the place, and he takes his readers on a rollicking ride far beyond that beaten tourist path. Wherever he goes he finds Australians who are cheerful, extroverted, and unfailingly obliging, and these beaming products of land with clean, safe cities, cold beer, and constant sunshine fill the pages of this wonderful book.

Australia is an immense and fortunate land, and it has found in Bill Bryson its perfect guide.

Bill Bryson follows his Appalachian amble, A Walk in the Woods, with the story of his exploits in Australia, where A-bombs go off unnoticed, prime ministers disappear into the surf, and cheery citizens coexist with the world's deadliest creatures: toxic caterpillars, aggressive seashells, crocodiles, sharks, snakes, and the deadliest of them all, the dreaded box jellyfish. And that's just the beginning, as Bryson treks through sunbaked deserts and up endless coastlines, crisscrossing the "under-discovered" Down Under in search of all things interesting.

Bryson, who could make a pile of dirt compelling--and yes, Australia is mostly dirt--finds no shortage of curiosities. When he isn't dodging Portuguese man-of-wars or considering the virtues of the remarkable platypus, he visits southwest Gippsland, home of the world's largest earthworms (up to 12 feet in length). He discovers that Australia, which began nationhood as a prison, contains the longest straight stretch of railroad track in the world (297 miles), as well as the world's largest monolith (the majestic Uluru) and largest living thing (the Great Barrier Reef). He finds ridiculous place names: "Mullumbimby Ewylamartup, Jiggalong, and the supremely satisfying Tittybong," and manages to catch a cricket game on the radio, which is like

listening to two men sitting in a rowboat on a large, placid lake on a day when the fish aren't biting; it's like having a nap without losing consciousness. It actually helps not to know quite what's going on. In such a rarefied world of contentment and inactivity, comprehension would become a distraction.

"You see," Bryson observes, "Australia is an interesting place. It truly is. And that really is all I'm saying." Of course, Bryson--who is as much a travel writer here as a humorist, naturalist, and historian--says much more, and does so with generous amounts of wit and hilarity. Australia may be "mostly empty and a long way away," but it's a little closer now. --Rob McDonald

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Psych's Guide to Crime Fighting for the Totally Unqualified

Psych's Guide to Crime Fighting for the Totally Unqualified Lowest new price: $10.10
Lowest used price: $5.19
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Author: Shawn Spencer
Brand: Shawn Spencer

GOT A MYSTERY TO SOLVE?
DON'T GET STUMPED. GET PSYCHED!
You've seen him solve unsolvable crimes, stop unstoppable killers, and consume unconsumable breakfast cereals. Now Shawn Spencer, the mastermind from TV's hit show Psych, shows you how to become a fake psychic-and a real detective-using his patented methods of crime-fighting awesomeness. Along the way, he'll help you deal with whiny sidekicks (that means you, Gus), interfering police officers (including but not limited to Chief Vick, Lassiter, Henry, Buzz MacNab, and, ah, Juliet), and flashes of genius (like Evel Knievel's white leather jumpsuit). You'll discover:

  • How to set up a totally bitchin' office, where Wednesday = Ladies Night
  • How to convince your sidekick that he's really your partner
  • How to pick up women at a crime scene
  • Shawn's Stakeout Survival Guide, including sensible snacks
  • Gus's Scream-and-Run Method for confronting criminals
  • Unsolved mysteries like who stole Shawn's Sno-Caps in third grade
  • The ideal sleuth car: Magnum, P.I.'s Ferrari or Knight Rider's K.I.T.T.?
  • Who should play Shawn in the movie of his life: Christian Bale or Don Cheadle?
  • New names for detectives, such as Rico Solvé and Sherlock Homeboy

    . . . and way more cool stuff.
Packed with insane pop quizzes, unbelievable case studies, unflattering photos, and off-the-chart charts, this all-in-one guide will have you solving crimes and catching crooks like a pro-even if you don't have a clue.

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Mother Night

Mother Night Lowest new price: $9.95
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List price: $17.00
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Brand: Dial Press

“Vonnegut is George Orwell, Dr. Caligari and Flash Gordon compounded into one writer . . . a zany but moral mad scientist.”—Time

Mother Night
is a daring challenge to our moral sense. American Howard W. Campbell, Jr., a spy during World War II, is now on trial in Israel as a Nazi war criminal. But is he really guilty? In this brilliant book rife with true gallows humor, Vonnegut turns black and white into a chilling shade of gray with a verdict that will haunt us all.

“A great artist.”—Cincinnati Enquirer

“A shaking up in the kaleidoscope of laughter . . . Reading Vonnegut is addictive!”—Commonweal

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Radio Free Vermont: A Fable of Resistance

Radio Free Vermont: A Fable of Resistance Lowest new price: $10.55
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Author: Bill McKibben

 “I hope no one secedes, but I also hope that Americans figure out creative ways to resist injustice and create communities where everybody counts.  We've got a long history of resistance in Vermont and this book is testimony to that fact.”
–Bernie Sanders


A book that's also the beginning of a movement, Bill McKibben's debut novel Radio Free Vermont follows a band of Vermont patriots who decide that their state might be better off as its own republic.


 
As the host of Radio Free Vermont--"underground, underpowered, and underfoot"--seventy-two-year-old Vern Barclay is currently broadcasting from an "undisclosed and double-secret location." With the help of a young computer prodigy named Perry Alterson, Vern uses his radio show to advocate for a simple yet radical idea: an independent Vermont, one where the state secedes from the United States and operates under a free local economy. But for now, he and his radio show must remain untraceable, because in addition to being a lifelong Vermonter and concerned citizen, Vern Barclay is also a fugitive from the law.
 
In Radio Free Vermont, Bill McKibben entertains and expands upon an idea that's become more popular than ever--seceding from the United States. Along with Vern and Perry, McKibben imagines an eccentric group of activists who carry out their own version of guerilla warfare, which includes dismissing local middle school children early in honor of 'Ethan Allen Day' and hijacking a Coors Light truck and replacing the stock with local brew. Witty, biting, and terrifyingly timely, Radio Free Vermont is Bill McKibben's fictional response to the burgeoning resistance movement.

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The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules: A Novel (League of Pensioners)

The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules: A Novel (League of Pensioners) Lowest new price: $4.95
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Author: Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg
Brand: Catharina Ingelman Sundberg

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel meets The Italian Job in internationally-bestselling author Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg's witty and insightful comedy of errors about a group of delinquent seniors whose desire for a better quality of life leads them to rob and ransom priceless artwork.\n\nMartha Andersson may be seventy-nine-years-old and live in a retirement home, but that doesn't mean she's ready to stop enjoying life. So when the new management of Diamond House starts cutting corners to save money, Martha and her four closest friends-Brains, The Rake, Christina and Anna-Gretta (a.k.a. The League of Pensioners)-won't stand for it. Fed up with early bedtimes and overcooked veggies, this group of feisty seniors sets about to regain their independence, improve their lot, and stand up for seniors everywhere.\n\nTheir solution? White collar crime. What begins as a relatively straightforward robbery of a nearby luxury hotel quickly escalates into an unsolvable heist at the National Museum. With police baffled and the Mafia hot on their trail, the League of Pensioners has to stay one walker's length ahead if it's going to succeed....\n\nTold with all the insight and humor of A Man Called Ove or Where'd You Go Bernadette?, The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules is a delightful and heartwarming novel that goes to prove the adage that it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years.

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The Bonfire of the Vanities

The Bonfire of the Vanities Lowest new price: $11.96
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Author: Tom Wolfe
Brand: Picador

Vintage Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities, the #1 bestseller that will forever define late-twentieth-century New York style. "No one has portrayed New York Society this accurately and devastatingly since Edith Wharton" (The National Review)“A page-turner . . . Brilliant high comedy.” (The New Republic)

After Tom Wolfe defined the '60s in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers and the cultural U-turn at the turn of the '80s in The Right Stuff, nobody thought he could ever top himself again. In 1987, when The Bonfire of the Vanities arrived, the literati called Wolfe an "aging enfant terrible."

He wasn't aging; he was growing up. Bonfire's pyrotechnic satire of 1980s New York wasn't just Wolfe's best book, it was the best bestselling fiction debut of the decade, a miraculously realistic study of an unbelievably status-mad society, from the fiery combatants of the South Bronx to the bubbling scum at the top of Wall Street. Sherman McCoy, a farcically arrogant investment banker (dubbed a "Master of the Universe," Wolfe's brilliant metaphorical co-opting of a then-important toy for boys), hits a black guy in the Bronx with his Mercedes and runs--right into a nightmare peopled by vicious mistresses, thin wives like "social x-rays," slime-bag politicos, tabloid hacks, and Dantesque denizens of the "justice" system. If the Coen and Marx brothers together dramatized The Great Gatsby, Wolfe's Bonfire would probably be funnier. Many think his second novel, A Man in Full, is deeper, but Bonfire will never die down.

You might find it interesting to compare the film The Bonfire of the Vanities, a fascinating calamity perpetrated by the geniuses Brian De Palma and Tom Hanks, with The Right Stuff, one of the very best films of the '80s. --Tim Appelo

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Himself: A Novel

Himself: A Novel Lowest new price: $9.00
Lowest used price: $4.77
List price: $16.00
Author: Jess Kidd

A charming ne’er-do-well returns to his haunted Irish hometown to uncover the truth about his mother in this “supernaturally skilled debut” (Vanity Fair) and turns the town—and his life—upside down.

Having been abandoned at an orphanage as a baby, Mahony assumed all his life that his mother wanted nothing to do with him. That is, until one night in 1976 while drinking a pint at a Dublin pub, he receives an anonymous note implying that she may have been forced to give him up. Determined to find out what really happened, Mahony embarks on a pilgrimage back to his hometown, the rural village of Mulderrig. Neither he nor Mulderrig can possibly prepare for what’s in store…

From the moment he arrives, Mahony’s presence completely changes the village. Women fall all over themselves. The real and the fantastic are blurred. Chatty ghosts rise from their graves with secrets to tell, and local preacher Father Quinn will do anything to get rid of the slippery young man who is threatening the moral purity of his parish.

A spectacular new addition to the grand Irish storytelling tradition, Himself “is a darkly comic tale of murder, intrigue, haunting and illegitimacy…wickedly funny” (Daily Express).

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The Luminaries

The Luminaries Lowest new price: $6.95
Lowest used price: $1.99
List price: $18.00
Author: Eleanor Catton
Brand: Back Bay Books

The bestselling, Man Booker Prize-winning novel hailed as "a true achievement. Catton has built a lively parody of a 19th-century novel, and in so doing created a novel for the 21st, something utterly new. The pages fly."--New York Times Book Review

It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to stake his claim in New Zealand's booming gold rush. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of 12 local men who have met in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events: a wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous cache of gold has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely ornate as the night sky.

Richly evoking a mid-nineteenth-century world of shipping, banking, and gold rush boom and bust, THE LUMINARIES is at once a fiendishly clever ghost story, a gripping page-turner, and a thrilling novelistic achievement. It richly confirms that Eleanor Catton is one of the brightest stars in the international literary firmament.

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Pronto: A Novel

Pronto: A Novel Lowest new price: $6.28
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Author: Elmore Leonard
Brand: Elmore Leonard

“Speedy, exhilarating, and smooth. Nobody does it better.”
Washington Post

“The man knows how to grab you—and Pronto is one of the best grabbers in years.”
Entertainment Weekly

Fans of U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens of the hit TV series Justified are in for a major treat. The unstoppable manhunter with the very itchy trigger finger stars in Pronto, a crime fiction gem from the one and only Elmore Leonard, “the greatest crime writer of our time, perhaps ever” (New York Times Book Review). The Grand Master justifies the overwhelming acclaim he has received over the course of his remarkable career with an electrifying thriller that sends the indomitable Raylan racing to Italy on the trail of a fugitive bookie who’s hiding from the vengeful Miami mob. The legendary Leonard, whom the Seattle Times lauds as the “King Daddy of crime writers,” proves that all comparisons to American noir icons John D. MacDonald, Dashiell Hammett, and James M. Cain are well deserved with this tale of very dirty doings and extremely dangerous men coming together in the birthplace of Puccini, Garibaldi, and La Cosa Nostra.

In the world of Elmore Leonard novels, cops and criminals get by with a grudging respect for each other's capabilities:

Harry had been arrested by Buck Torres a half-dozen times or so; they knew each other pretty well and were friends. Not socially, Harry had never met Buck's wife, but friends in the way they trusted one another and always had time to talk about other things than what they did for a living.
Right now, 66-year-old Harry Arno's in trouble. In order to get at his boss, Jimmy Cap, the feds told Jimmy that Harry's skimming off the sports book he runs, the idea being that Harry will testify in exchange for protection from Tommy Bucks (a.k.a. the Zip), Jimmy's enforcer. But Harry's got a few tricks up his sleeve. Then when a straight-shooting U.S. Marshall decides to spend his vacation tracking Harry down, all hell breaks loose. Set in Miami, Florida, and Rapallo, Italy, Pronto is another brilliantly executed combination of suspense and black humor from the master of crime fiction. --Ron Hogan

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