Monday, February 29, 2016

Best Books of February: Biographies & Memoirs



Father-PornographerSometimes, even when you think that it might be better if you didn't, you just have to look. And sometimes you're rewarded with something unexpected and original, as in the case of Chris Offutt's My Father, the Pornographer. I'll let Chris Schluep explain:

"There's something wildly readable about My Father the Pornograhper. Chris Offutt grew up in rural Kentucky in the 1970s with three siblings, his mother, and his father. The father, Andrew Offutt, was a domestic despot who ruled the house by fear and edict—when he wasn't intimidating his family, he spent most of his time writing science fiction and fantasy novels, as well as lots of pornography, which at the time was a reasonable way for a writer to make ends meet. The jumping off point of the book, and the catalyst for many of the younger Offutt's memories, takes place upon Andrew Offutt's death, when Chris begins to catalog his father's life's work. 'My father was a brilliant man, a true iconoclast, fiercely self-reliant, a dark genius, cruel, selfish, and eternally optimistic,' Chris Offutt writes. We see the father through Chris' eyes, and we see Chris and the rest of the family through his father's eyes. This is a fascinating memoir: honest, dark, amusing, and overlaid with a son's deep, if strained, love for his father."

See more of the Best Biographies and Memoirs of the Month below, or browse all of our picks for February across 15 categories. Quick, before it's too late.

 

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Sunny's Nights: Lost and Found at a Bar on the Edge of the World by Tim Sultan
Generally, love stories featuring the romance between a man and bar fall toward the sad end of the dial. Not so with Sunny's Nights, Sultan's tribute to a unique watering hole, its larger-than-life barkeep, and the assorted nuts that called it home away from home.
 

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In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Pulitzer Prize winner's deeply self-reflective nonfiction debut--presented in both Italian and English--chronicles her obsession with mastering a new language, culminating in her family's move to Italy and  feelings of alienation, linguistic and cultural, that accompanied her.
 

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Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X by Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith
Drawing on previously unreleased materials--including personal papers and FBI records--Blood Brothers illuminates the complex relationship between two of the most compelling and polarizing figures of the the civil rights movement.
 

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Walking the Nile by Levison Wood
A briskly paced blend of gripping adventure tale and a portrait of modern Africa, full of objective hazards including crocodiles, minefields, and secret police. But why? Even Wood has trouble answering that question, but "ultimately, it came down to one thing. The Nile was there, and I wanted to walk it."
 
 


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