New Releases | November 29, 2022
November 29, 2022
Looking for your next great read? We're here to help! Each week, our marketing team—Dylan Schleicher (DJJS), Gabbi Cisneros (GMC), Emily Porter (EPP), and Jasmine Gonzalez (JAG)—highlights four newly released books we are most excited about.
Book descriptions are provided by the publisher unless otherwise noted.
This week, our choices are:
The Anatomy of Genres: How Story Forms Explain the Way the World Works by John Truby, Picador (GMC)
Most people think genres are simply categories on Netflix or Amazon that provide a helpful guide to making entertainment choices. Most people are wrong. Genre stories aren’t just a small subset of the films, video games, TV shows, and books that people consume. They are the all-stars of the entertainment world, comprising the vast majority of popular stories worldwide. That’s why businesses—movie studios, production companies, video game studios, and publishing houses—buy and sell them. Writers who want to succeed professionally must write the stories these businesses want to buy. Simply put, the storytelling game is won by mastering the structure of genres.
The Anatomy of Genres: How Story Forms Explain the Way the World Works is the legendary writing teacher John Truby’s step-by-step guide to understanding and using the basic building blocks of the story world. He details the three ironclad rules of successful genre writing, and analyzes more than a dozen major genres and the essential plot events, or “beats,” that define each of them. As he shows, the ability to combine these beats in the right way is what separates stories that sell from those that don’t. Truby also reveals how a single story can combine elements of different genres, and how the best writers use this technique to craft unforgettable stories that stand out from the crowd. Just as Truby’s first book, The Anatomy of Story, changed the way writers develop stories, The Anatomy of Genres will enhance stories’ quality and expand the impact they have on the world.
A Coastline Is an Immeasurable Thing: A Memoir Across Three Continents by Mary-Alice Daniel, Ecco (EPP)
Mary-Alice Daniel’s family moved from West Africa to England when she was a very young girl, leaving behind the vivid culture of her native land in the Nigerian savanna. They arrived to a blanched, cold world of prim suburbs and unfamiliar customs. So began her family’s series of travels across three continents in search of places of belonging.
A Coastline Is an Immeasurable Thing ventures through the physical and mythical landscapes of Daniel’s upbringing. Against the backdrop of a migratory adolescence, she reckons with race, religious conflict, culture clash, and a multiplicity of possible identities. Daniel lays bare the lives and legends of her parents and past generations, unearthing the tribal mythologies that shaped her kin and her own way of being in the world. The impossible question of which tribe to claim as her own is one she has long struggled with: the Nigerian government recognizes her as Longuda, her father’s tribe; according to matrilineal tradition, Daniel belongs to her mother’s tribe, the nomadic Fulani; and the language she grew up speaking is that of the Hausa tribe. But her strongest emotional connection is to her adopted home: California, the final place she reveals to readers through its spellbinding history.
Daniel’s approach is deeply personal: in order to reclaim her legacies, she revisits her unsettled childhood and navigates the traditions of her ancestors. Her layered narratives invoke the contrasting spiritualities of her tribes: Islam, Christianity, and magic. A Coastline Is an Immeasurable Thing is a powerful cultural distillation of mythos and ethos, mapping the far-flung corners of the Black diaspora that Daniel inherits and inhabits. Through lyrical observation and deep introspection, she probes the bonds and boundaries of Blackness, from bygone colonial empires to her present home in America.
How to Stand Up to a Dictator: The Fight for Our Future by Maria Ressa, Harper (DJJS)
What will you sacrifice for the truth?
Journalist Maria Ressa has spent decades speaking truth to power, challenging corruption and malfeasance in her native country, the Philippines. But her work tracking disinformation networks seeded by the government, spreading lies to its own citizens laced with anger and hate, made her an enemy of her country’s most powerful man: President Duterte.
Hounded by the state and its allies using the legal system to silence her, accused of numerous crimes, and charged with cyberlibel for which she was found guilty, Ressa faces years in prison and thousands in fines. At a time when authoritarian threats to the free press and democracy are growing around the world, Ressa’s cause has been embraced by world leaders, including Hilary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and Amal Clooney, as well as all who cherish journalistic freedom.
How to Stand Up to a Dictator is the story of how democracy dies by a thousand cuts, and how a social media exploded an “atom bomb” online that is killing our freedoms. Ressa maps a network of disinformation—a heinous web of cause and effect—that has netted the globe: from Duterte’s drug wars to America's Capitol Hill; Britain’s Brexit to Russian and Chinese cyber-warfare; Facebook and Silicon Valley to our own clicks and votes.
Told from the frontline of this critical digital war—a battle that threatens to engulf America itself—How to Stand Up to a Dictator is an urgent cry for us to recognize and understand the danger before it is too late.
Looking for the Good War: American Amnesia and the Violent Pursuit of Happiness by Elizabeth D. Samet, Picador (JAG)
In Looking for the Good War, Elizabeth D. Samet examines the literature, art, and culture that emerged after World War II, bringing her expertise as a professor of English at West Point to bear on the complexity of the postwar period in national life. She exposes the confusion about American identity that was expressed during and immediately after the war, and the deep national ambivalence toward war, violence, and veterans—a history that was suppressed in subsequent decades by a dangerously sentimental attitude toward the United States’ supposedly exceptional history and destiny.
Samet discovers the complex legacy of the war in some of its most heavily mythologized figures: the war correspondent epitomized by Ernie Pyle, the character of the erstwhile G.I. turned either cop or criminal in the pulp fiction and feature films of the late 1940s, the disaffected Civil War veteran who looms so large on the screen in the Cold War–era Western, and the resurgent military hero of the post-Vietnam period. Taken together, these figures reveal key elements of postwar attitudes toward violence, liberty, and nation—attitudes that have shaped domestic and foreign policy and that respond in various ways to ideas about national identity and purpose established or affirmed by World War II.
As the United States reassesses its roles in Afghanistan and the Middle East, the time has come to rethink our national mythology: the way that World War II shaped our sense of national destiny, our beliefs about the use of American military force throughout the world, and our inability to accept the realities of the twenty-first century’s decades of devastating conflict.