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Arts & Culture

This Christmas, give books

To your friends, your family or yourself



True stories of the great and the wicked

A Mysterious Something in the Light: The Life of Raymond Chandler by Tom Williams (Chicago Review Press): New interviews and unpublished letters illuminate the private life of our finest crime writer.

Salinger by David Shields, Shane Salerno (Simon & Schuster): Muckraking oral history of the reclusive writer beloved by generations of undergrads.

Fosse by Sam Wasson (Eamon Dolan): Sex, drugs and jazz hands.

Mad Girl’s Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted by Andrew Wilson (Scribner): The Bell Jar years.

Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker by Stanley Crouch (Harper): Irascible jazz purist limns life of bebop pioneer. Not recommended for moldy figs.


Evocations of America’s eternal city

The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner (Scribner): Sex and speed – the MPH kind – in the downtown ’70s art scene.

Bleeding Edge Thomas Pynchon (Penguin Press): Pynchon on 9/11: Follow the money. Corruption, conspiracy, loathsome dot-com financiers. Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda (Ecco): Small but flawless tale is nominally a “thriller,” but actually a portrait of a disappearing community.

Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Lethem (Doubleday): Red-diaper baby raised in a Greenwich Village commune.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Little, Brown and Co.): A Catcher in the Rye for the 21st century.


Chaos remembered in tranquility

Eminent Hipsters by Donald Fagen (Viking): Irascible jazz purist (and half of Steely Dan) limns own life. Not recommended for moldy figs.

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh (Touchstone): Sidesplitting comics of depression, dog ownership and cake.

Buck ’Em! The Autobiography of Buck Owens by Buck Owens (Backbeat Books): Remarkably lucid reminiscences from the influential Bakersfield songwriter.

Mumbai New York Scranton: A Memoir by Tamara Shopsin (Scribner): Humor and intelligence suffuse the illustrator’s spare, incisive, yet emotional travelogue.

Autobiography by Morrissey (Putnam): This charming man.

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