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In 1968, the author was part of a group of US Navy advisors billeted so deep in the Mekong Delta that they could only be reached by boat. The Navy forgot about them, the Army ignored them, and there was no “adult supervision” for long periods of time. The result was a madcap whirlwind of bizarre misadventures and risqué behavior from Saigon to Sydney and back, as they talked their way onto helicopters, boats, bush planes, (and even a Rickshaw at one point.) For the author and his colleagues, Vietnam could be described as “98% boredom and 2% wet underwear”. This book is about the 98%, and the insane things that happened when nobody knew – or cared – where they were!
In 1968, the author was part of a group of US Navy advisors billeted so deep in the Mekong Delta that they could only be reached by boat. The Navy forgot about them, the Army ignored them, and there was no "adult supervision" for long periods of time. The result was a madcap whirlwind of bizarre misadventures and risque behavior from Saigon to Sydney and back, as they talked their way onto helicopters, boats, bush planes, (and even a Rickshaw at one point.) For the author and his colleagues, Vietnam could be described as "98% boredom and 2% wet underwear." This book is about the 98%, and the insane things that happened when nobody knew - or cared - where they were!"
What happens when the person who is your family is someone you aren't bound to by blood? What happens when the person you promise to love and to honor for the rest of your life is not your lover, but your best friend? In Truth & Beauty, her frank and startlingly intimate first work of nonfiction, Ann Patchett shines a fresh, revealing light on the world of women's friendships and shows us what it means to stand together. Ann Patchett and Lucy Grealy met in college in 1981, and, after enrolling in the Iowa Writers' Workshop, began a friendship that would be as defining to both of their lives as their work was. In her critically acclaimed and hugely successful memoir, Autobiography of a Face, Lucy Grealy wrote about losing part of her jaw to childhood cancer, the years of chemotherapy and radiation, and then the endless reconstructive surgeries. In Truth & Beauty, the story isn't Lucy's life or Ann's life, but the parts of their lives they shared. This is a portrait of unwavering commitment that spans twenty years, from the long, cold winters of the Midwest, to surgical wards, to book parties in New York. Through love, fame, drugs, and despair, this book shows us what it means to be part of two lives that are intertwined. This is a tender, brutal book about loving a person we cannot save. It is about loyalty, and about being lifted up by the sheer effervescence of someone who knew how to live life to the fullest.
In 1951 Gaines Post was a gangly, bespectacled, introspective teenager preparing to spend a year in Paris with his professorial father and older brother; his mother, who suffered from extreme depression, had been absent from the family for some time. Ten years later, now less gangly but no less introspective, he was finishing a two-year stint in the army in West Germany and heading toward Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship, having narrowly escaped combat in the Berlin crisis of 1961. His quietly intense coming-of-age story is both self-revealing and reflective of an entire generation of young men who came to adulthood before the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War. Post's experiences in high school in Madison, Wisconsin, and Paris, his Camus-influenced undergraduate years at Cornell University, and his army service in Germany are set very effectively against the events of the Cold War. McCarthyism and American crackdowns on dissidents, American foreign and military policy in Western Europe in the nuclear age, French and German life and culture, crises in Paris and Berlin that nearly bring the West to war and the Post family to dissolution—these are the larger scenes and subjects of his self-disclosure as a contemplative, conflicted "Cold War agnostic." His intelligent, talented mother and her fragile health hover over Post's narrative, informing his hesitant relationships with women and his acutely questioning sense of self-worth. His story is strongly academic and historical as well as political and military; his perceptions and judgments lean toward no ideological extreme but remain true to the heroic ideals of his boyhood during the Second World War.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER “As sweet and funny and sad and true and heartfelt a memoir as one could find.” —from the foreword by Augusten Burroughs Ever since he was young, John Robison longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits—an inclination to blurt out non sequiturs, avoid eye contact, dismantle radios, and dig five-foot holes (and stick his younger brother, Augusten Burroughs, in them)—had earned him the label “social deviant.” It was not until he was forty that he was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. That understanding transformed the way he saw himself—and the world. A born storyteller, Robison has written a moving, darkly funny memoir about a life that has taken him from developing exploding guitars for KISS to building a family of his own. It’s a strange, sly, indelible account—sometimes alien yet always deeply human.
Jan Wong, a Canadian of Chinese descent, went to China as a starry-eyed Maoist in 1972 at the height of the Cultural Revolution. A true believer--and one of only two Westerners permitted to enroll at Beijing University--her education included wielding a pneumatic drill at the Number One Machine Tool Factory. In the name of the Revolution, she renounced rock & roll, hauled pig manure in the paddy fields, and turned in a fellow student who sought her help in getting to the United States. She also met and married the only American draft dodger from the Vietnam War to seek asylum in China. Red China Blues is Wong's startling--and ironic--memoir of her rocky six-year romance with Maoism (which crumbled as she became aware of the harsh realities of Chinese communism); her dramatic firsthand account of the devastating Tiananmen Square uprising; and her engaging portrait of the individuals and events she covered as a correspondent in China during the tumultuous era of capitalist reform under Deng Xiaoping. In a frank, captivating, deeply personal narrative she relates the horrors that led to her disillusionment with the "worker's paradise." And through the stories of the people--an unhappy young woman who was sold into marriage, China's most famous dissident, a doctor who lengthens penises--Wong reveals long-hidden dimensions of the world's most populous nation. In setting out to show readers in the Western world what life is like in China, and why we should care, she reacquaints herself with the old friends--and enemies of her radical past, and comes to terms with the legacy of her ancestral homeland. From the Trade Paperback edition.
A publishing event from music legend Paul Simon: an intimate, candid, and definitive biography written with Simon’s full participation—but without his editorial control—by acclaimed biographer and music writer Robert Hilburn. For more than fifty years, Paul Simon has spoken to us in songs about alienation, doubt, resilience, and empathy in ways that have established him as one of the most beloved artists in American pop music history. Songs like “The Sound of Silence,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Still Crazy After All These Years,” and “Graceland” have moved beyond the sales charts and into our cultural consciousness. But Simon is a deeply private person who has resisted speaking to us outside of his music. He has said he will not write an autobiography or memoir, and he has refused to talk to previous biographers. Finally, Simon has opened up—for more than one hundred hours of interviews—to Robert Hilburn, whose biography of Johnny Cash was named by Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times as one of her ten favorite books of 2013. The result is a landmark book that will take its place as the defining biography of one of America’s greatest artists. It begins in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, where, raised by a bandleader father and schoolteacher mother, Simon grew up with the twin passions of baseball and music. The latter took over at age twelve when he and schoolboy chum Art Garfunkel became infatuated with the alluring harmonies of doo-wop. Together, they became international icons, and then Simon went on to even greater artistic heights on his own. But beneath the surface of his storied five-decade career is a roller coaster of tumultuous personal and professional ups and downs. From his remarkable early success with Garfunkel to their painfully acrimonious split; from his massive early hits as a solo artist to the wrenching commercial failures of One-Trick Pony and Hearts and Bones; from the historic comeback success of Graceland and The Rhythm of the Saints to the star-crossed foray into theater with The Capeman and a late-career creative resurgence—his is a musical life unlike any other. Over the past three years, Hilburn has conducted in-depth interviews with scores of Paul Simon’s friends, family, colleagues, and others—including ex-wives Carrie Fisher and Peggy Harper, who spoke for the first time—and even penetrated the inner circle of Simon’s long-reclusive muse, Kathy Chitty. The result is a deeply human account of the challenges and sacrifices of a life in music at the highest level. In the process, Hilburn documents Simon’s search for artistry and his constant struggle to protect that artistry against distractions—fame, marriage, divorce, drugs, record company interference, rejection, and insecurity—that have derailed so many great pop figures. Paul Simon is an intimate and inspiring narrative that helps us finally understand Paul Simon the person and the artist. “With train-wreck moments and tender interludes alike, it delivers a sharply detailed Kodachrome of a brilliant musician” (Kirkus Reviews).

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