Saturday, May 17, 2014

Weekend Picks for Book Lovers

by Jocelyn McClurg)

What should you read this weekend? USA TODAY's picks for book lovers include a lyrical new novel about a blind French girl set during World War II, and a new Western from Lonesome Dove author Larry McMurtry.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr; Scribner, 530 pp.; fiction

A blind, motherless French girl whose father builds her miniatures of the neighborhoods she cannot see.

A platinum-haired German orphan whose genius with numbers and radios draws the attention of the Nazis while he's still just a boy.

The chief characters in All the Light We Cannot See are decidedly unusual protagonists. And the intersection of their lives in war-gripped France in the 1940s is nothing short of improbable.

And yet Anthony Doerr pulls readers into a deep connection with his characters as young Marie Laure, in the company of her father and a mysterious gem, flees Paris to take up residence in her troubled uncle's seaside home, and young Werner is indoctrinated by the Nazis.

USA TODAY says *** out of four. "Finely spun …Proves its worth page after lyrical page."

The Last Kind Words Saloon by Larry McMurtry; Liveright, 196 pp.; fiction

McMurtry's Western mixes real-life figures — Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and the Comanche chief Quanah Parker — with characters from his previous novels: Charlie Goodnight, the cattle driver in Comanche Moon, and Nellie Courtright, the heroine of Telegraph Days.

USA TODAY says ***. "Quirky … best read for its great sentences and laconic dialogue."

Birdmen: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies by Lawrence Goldstone; Ballantine, 386 pp.; non-fiction

In this account of the pioneers of flight, Goldstone shows how the Wright Brothers' place in history was not always guaranteed.

USA TODAY says ***½. "Engaging … Birdmen is The Right Stuff of aviation's pre-World War I era."

Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage by Molly Wizenberg; Simon & Schuster; 256 pp.; non-fiction

The author of A Homemade Life shares the ups and downs of opening a popular Seattle pizza restaurant with her husband.

USA TODAY says ***. An "affectionate account… (Wizenberg's) writing is warm and inclusive, just like her approach to cooking."

Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 by Francine Prose; Harper, 436 pp.; fiction

A "cross-dressing lesbian torturer-spy" who works for the Nazis (based on a real woman, Violette Morris) is the star lover of Francine Prose's Parisian Chameleon Club.

USA TODAY says ***½ out of four. "Provocative, powerful."

Contributing reviewers: Sharon Peters, Bob Minzesheimer, Ray Locker, Roberta Bernstein, Olivia Barker

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