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Taking Sides by Sven Martson

Lecturis, 104 pages, 2019

In September 1974, New Haven photographer Sven Martson spent a month photographing people in East and West Berlin. Depicting life on both sides of the wall-divided city, Martson’s images capture moments of everyday life, often against a militarized backdrop. Martson was born in Germany but grew up in the U.S. In West Berlin he “found an island of liberty surrounded by 100 miles of relentless grey wall,” he writes in the book. “The Berlin Wall gave a particularly ugly form to the binary oppositions in human experience. … I hope my photographs contribute to an understanding of our mutual human condition despite the artificial walls and borders we erect to separate ourselves.” Aesthetically captivating, Martson’s images are also windows into history that, given the modern debate about walls, are striking in their relevance. — Erik Ofgang

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The Crate: A Story of War, a Murder, and Justice by Deborah Vadas Levison

Wildblue Press, 358 pages, 2018

Levison was born and raised in Canada and moved to Trumbull in the mid-’90s with her husband and young children. Her debut book is categorized in the true crime genre, but the proximity of Levison to the events she’s writing about couldn’t hit much closer to home. The story begins with Levison, on vacation in Florida, receiving a phone call from her brother, who was still in Canada. A crate had been found in a crawl space underneath their parents’ cottage on Wood Lake, about 2 hours north of Toronto. The cottage was the setting of a million childhood memories for Levison, a place she returned to every August to reconnect to her roots, and a sanctuary of peace for her parents, who were survivors of the Holocaust and emigrated from Hungary in 1956. The dismembered body of a murdered woman was in the crate. — Mike Wollschlager

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Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro

Alfred A. Knopf, 249 pages, 2019

Shapiro has for years delved into her complicated family with intense candor, never shying away from the pain and ugliness, always in search of truth and self-knowledge. In the Litchfield County resident’s debut memoir, 1998’s Slow Motion, the focus was her mother’s borderline personality disorder. Her depressive father was the subject of a New Yorker essay. When she learned a few years ago from a genealogy website that much of her family’s history had been cloaked in a lie, it would send her on a new journey of self-discovery that would result in this latest memoir. “Over the course of a single day and night, the familiar had vanished,” she writes. “You’re still you, I tell myself, again and again and again.” In her typical searing prose, Shapiro confronts her identity, and how the eternal struggle of nature versus nurture had shaped who she had become and who she is yet to be. — Albie Yuravich

This article appeared in the March 2019 issue of Connecticut Magazine. You can subscribe here, or find the current issue on sale here. Got a question or comment? Email editor@connecticutmag.com, or contact us on Facebook @connecticutmagazine or Twitter @connecticutmag.

The senior writer at Connecticut Magazine, Erik is the co-author of Penguin Random House’s “The Good Vices” and author of “Buzzed” and “Gillette Castle.” He is also an adjunct professor at WCSU’s MFA Program and Quinnipiac University

Mike Wollschlager, editor and writer for Connecticut Magazine, was born and raised in Bristol and has lived in Farmington, Milford, Shelton and Wallingford. He was previously an assistant sports editor at the New Haven Register.

Albie Yuravich is the editor in chief of Connecticut Magazine. A product of the Naugatuck River Valley, he's also been a newspaper editor and writer at the New Haven Register, Greenwich Time, The Register Citizen and the Republican-American.