Sunday, March 23, 2014

Weekend Picks For Book Lovers

by Jocelyn McClurg)

House of Outrageous Fortune by Michael Gross; Atria, 416 pp.; non-fiction

In New York, where real estate is a blood sport, one building stands out: 15 Central Park West, the high-powered, two-tower luxury limestone property built in 2005 by third-generation developers and brothers Arthur and Bill Zeckendorf.

Its status-conferring apartments and penthouses can go for more than $10,000 per square foot, "defying conventional wisdom, the stagnating economy and to some, common sense," writes Michael Gross in his new book.

He uses 15CPW, on the park's southwest corner, to explore how the titans of finance, technology, information and entertainment — considered too déclassé for co-op living by the residents of Park and Fifth avenues — are grabbing the reins of power.

Boldface residents include Denzel Washington, Sting and Bob Costas, media execs and rich foreigners.

USA TODAY says **** out of four. "Riveting… With a tsunami of colorful details, Gross traces the evolution of Manhattan's Upper West Side."

Lincoln's Boys by Joshua Zeitz; Viking, 400 pp.; non-fiction

Looks at how Lincoln's personal secretaries John Hay and John Nicolay can claim much of the credit for the popular image of the president as the noble leader and shrewd political operator.

*** out of four. "Neatly fills a hole in the crowded study of Lincoln."

Bark: Stories by Lorrie Moore; Knopf, 192 pp.; fiction

The first short story collection in 16 years from the author of Like Life, Birds of America and Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?

USA TODAY says * * * * . "Masterful …There is not an imprecise line in the entire book, and not a single false note."

Raiders of the Nile by Steven Saylor; Minotaur, 342 pp.; fiction

In prequel to his Roma Sub Rosa series, Saylor plunges a younger version of his ancient Roman detective, Gordianus the Finder, into a suitably youthful adventure.

USA TODAY says ***½. "Exuberantly entertaining."

Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the Invention of 'The Great Gatsby'by Sarah Churchwell; The Penguin Press, 399 pp.; non-fiction

Investigates how the 1922 real-life murder of a minister and his mistress influenced F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel.

USA TODAY says ***. "Compelling …(offers) fascinating insights into the Fitzgeralds' volatile marriage."

Contributing reviewers: Roberta Bernstein, Aamer Madhani, Carmela Ciuraru, Robert Bianco

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