New Books from Connecticut Authors

 

We’re well into the holiday season, when book publishers release a sleighful of fresh reads to be consumed alongside that chestnut-roasting open fire. Here’s a choice handful of new picks by Connecticut authors.

Schuyler J. Ebersol—The Hidden World (The Age of Tolerance)
(Koehler Books, $17.95)
Found wandering in the woods at age 6, Nate Williams is raised by a wealthy, loving family until he has a heart attack at age 17, which triggers his internal “superpowers”—among them, a newfound ability to transform himself into a wolf. Then (Holy Harry Potter, Batman!) he’s sent to Noble College, where his fellow classmates are also all therianthropes, or shapeshifters, taught to perform extraordinary feats like altering the weather and changing wood into diamonds. When a series of murders around the country threatens the secrecy and safety of the college, Nate and his friends take it upon themselves to bring the murderers to justice. Ebersol’s Young Adult novel is the first volume in a projected five-part series, which he started writing three years ago at age 16 after being stricken by an illness that left him so debilitated he suffered regular fainting spells and spent time in a wheelchair, unable to attend school. He’s now fully recovered and matriculating at the University of Virginia.

Jeff Greenfield—If Kennedy Lived: The First and Second Terms of President John F. Kennedy
(Putnam Adult; $26.95)
Veteran, Emmy-winning TV journalist and political commentator Greenfield follows up his well-received 2011 release Then Everything Changed with another alternate history, in which he speculates about JFK’s 1964 presidential campaign, his approaches to the Cold War, Vietnam and the civil-rights movement, and how his indiscreet private life and chronic health problems crippled his administration. Are the scenarios he develops realistic and believable? You be the judge.

Richard J. King—The Devil’s Cormorant: A Natural History
(University of New Hampshire Press; $24.99)
Mankind’s literary, historical, cultural, ecological and absurdly comical relationship with the ultimate “love ’em or hate ’em” bird—the only earthly creature that can migrate the length of a continent and climb up cliff faces—is examined by King, a lecturer on the literature of the sea at Williams College and Mystic Seaport. The book travels from Antarctica, Bering Island and Japan to the Mystic River in Connecticut to present the range of attitudes towards cormorants, including a couple who serve as guardians of a cormorant island and a recreational fisherman who’s slaughtered them by the thousands.

Wally Lamb—We Are Water: A Novel 
(Harper; $29.99)
Lamb’s latest family saga, like his previous novels (She’s Come Undone, The Hour I First Believed) is titled after a song he loves (this time by Patty Griffin) and revolves around a key contemporary issue (gay marriage). Set in the Connecticut of President Obama’s first administration, it concerns outsider artist Anna who, after 27 years of marriage to a man and three kids, falls for her wealthy Manhattan art dealer Viveca. When the two women wed in Anna’s hometown, the ceremony provokes mixed reactions and opens a Pandora’s box of ugly secrets regarding her family. Lamb uses this scenario to explore class, social mores and racial violence in contemporary America.

Eric D. Lehman—Becoming Tom Thumb: Charles Stratton, P.T. Barnum, and the Dawn of American Celebrity
(Wesleyan University Press; $28.95)
One of the most important relationships in entertainment history was born, claims Lehman, a literature and creative writing professor at the University of Bridgeport, when ultimate showman P.T. Barnum met 25-inch-tall Charles Stratton at a Bridgeport hotel in 1843. Stratton, later known as General Tom Thumb, became arguably the most popular performer of the 19th century. Over the following four decades he gave 20,000 shows in front of more than 50 million people, toured two dozen countries and visited with both President Abraham Lincoln and Queen Victoria, while building more acceptance of and respect for little people. Lehman’s biography draws on newly available primary sources and interviews to tell his story.

 

New Books from Connecticut Authors

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