Good Reads For July

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"Antkind" by Charlie Kaufman.

It’s summer on the East End and with July now here, the staff of BookHampton in East Hampton have put together some recommendations from the batch of new releases to take the beach this month. From memoir to a novel conjuring Shakespeare’s domestic life, here are just some of the books the staff is eagerly awaiting. Pick up a good read at BookHampton (41 Main Street in East Hampton, bookhampton.com), Canio’s Books (290 Main Street, Sag Harbor, canios.wordpress.com), Southampton Books (16 Hampton Road, Southampton) and Sag Harbor Books (7 Main Street, Sag Harbor, southamptonsagharborbooks.com).

“The Answer Is … Reflections on My Life” by Alex Trebek.

““The Answer Is … Reflections on My Life” by Alex Trebek.

Since debuting as the host of “Jeopardy!” in 1984, Alex Trebek has been something of a family member to millions of television viewers, bringing entertainment and education into their homes five nights a week. Then last year, Trebek made the stunning announcement that he had been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. What followed was an incredible outpouring of love and kindness. Social media was flooded with messages of support, and the “Jeopardy!” studio received boxes of cards and letters offering guidance, encouragement, and prayers.

For over three decades, Trebek had resisted countless appeals to write a book about his life. Yet he was moved so much by all the goodwill, he felt compelled to finally share his story.

That story is offered in “The Answer Is… Reflections on My Life.”

“I want people to know a little more about the person they have been cheering on for the past year,” writes Trebek.

“Antkind: A Novel” by Charlie Kaufman

“Antkind” by Charlie Kaufman.

This bold and boundlessly original debut novel from Charlie Kaufman, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of “Being John Malkovich,” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” tells the story of B. Rosenberger, neurotic and underappreciated film critic who stumbles upon a hitherto unseen film made by an enigmatic outsider. It’s a film he’s convinced will change his career trajectory and rock the world of cinema to its core. The film is a three-month-long stop-motion masterpiece that took its reclusive auteur 90 years to complete and B. knows it is his mission to show it to the rest of humanity.

The only problem: The film is destroyed, leaving him the sole witness to its inadvertently ephemeral genius and all that’s left of this work is a single frame.

“Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man” by Mary L. Trump

“Too Much and Never Enough” by Mary L. Trump.

In this revelatory, authoritative portrait of Donald J. Trump and the “toxic family” that made him, Mary L. Trump, a trained clinical psychologist and Donald’s only niece, shines a bright light on the dark history of their family in order to explain how her uncle “became the man who now threatens the world’s health, economic security, and social fabric.”

Mary Trump spent much of her childhood in her grandparents’ imposing house in the heart of Queens, where Donald and his four siblings grew up. A firsthand witness to countless holiday meals and interactions, Mary brings an incisive wit and unexpected humor to sometimes grim, often confounding family events.

 

“Hamnet” by Maggie O’Farrell

“Hamnet” by Maggie O’Farrell.

England, 1580: The Black Death creeps across the land, an ever-present threat, infecting the healthy, the sick, the old and the young, alike. The end of days is near, but life always goes on.

A young Latin tutor — penniless and bullied by a violent father — falls in love with Agnes, an extraordinary, eccentric young woman. Once she settles with her husband on Henley Street in Stratford-upon-Avon she becomes a fiercely protective mother and a steadfast, centrifugal force in the life of her young husband, William Shakespeare, whose career on the London stage is taking off when his beloved 11-year-old son succumbs to sudden fever.

A luminous portrait of a marriage, grief and loss, “Hamnet” is a re-imagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, and whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays of all time.

“Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism” by Anne Applebaum

“Twilight of Democracy” by Anne Appelbaum.

From the United States and Britain to continental Europe and beyond, liberal democracy is under siege, while authoritarianism is on the rise. Despotic leaders do not rule alone; they rely on political allies, bureaucrats, and media figures to pave their way and support their rule. In “Twilight of Democracy,” Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Anne Applebaum, explains the lure of nationalism and autocracy. In this captivating essay, she contends that political systems with radically simple beliefs are inherently appealing, especially when they benefit the loyal to the exclusion of everyone else.

Appelbaum explains, with electrifying clarity, why elites in democracies around the world are turning toward nationalism and authoritarianism.

“Pew: A Novel by Catherine Lacey

“Pew” by Catherine Lacey.

In a small, unnamed town in the American South, a church congregation arrives for a service and finds a figure asleep on a pew. The person is genderless and racially ambiguous and refuses to speak. One family takes in the strange visitor and nicknames them Pew.

As the town spends the week preparing for a mysterious Forgiveness Festival, Pew is shuttled from one household to the next. The earnest and seemingly well-meaning townspeople see conflicting identities in Pew, and many confess their fears and secrets to them in one-sided conversations. Pew listens and observes while experiencing brief flashes of past lives or clues about their origin. As days pass, the void around Pew’s presence begins to unnerve the community, whose generosity erodes into menace and suspicion. Yet by the time Pew’s story reaches a shattering and unsettling climax at the Forgiveness Festival, the secret of who they really are — a devil or an angel or something else entirely — is dwarfed by even larger truths.

“Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir” by Natasha Trethewey

“Memorial Drive” by Natasha Trethewey.

At age 19, Natasha Trethewey had her world turned upside down when her former stepfather shot and killed her mother. Grieving and still new to adulthood, she confronted the twin pulls of life and death in the aftermath of unimaginable trauma and now explores the way this experience lastingly shaped the artist she became.

With penetrating insight and a searing voice that moves from the wrenching to the elegiac, Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Trethewey, a former US poet laureate, explores this profound experience of pain, loss, and grief as an entry point into understanding the tragic course of her mother’s life and the way her own life has been shaped by a legacy of fierce love and resilience. Moving through her mother’s history in the deeply segregated South and through her own girlhood as a “child of miscegenation” in Mississippi, Trethewey plumbs her sense of dislocation and displacement in the lead-up to the harrowing crime that took place on Memorial Drive in Atlanta in 1985.

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