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lauren slater   Language fails women. We lack adequate description to translate the swelling and leaking and hormonal ecstasies women experience throughout pregnancy. We lack the words to engage the reality of motherhood: the sometimes-reluctant release of autonomy, the communion between two bodies, the struggle in incorporating a new life into a pre-existing family and corresponding set of goals. Without words something is lost. The truth about what it means to be a mother or a sister or a lover remains a secret, an uncommunicated story, relegated to myth. In Lauren Slater's fourth book Love Works Like This, she reimagines the beginning months of expectant motherhood.

Beginning with the pink slash of the pregnancy test and continuing to her daughter Eva's first birthday, Slater charts her experience. From the recounting of the pro and con list she created in her decision to have a baby, to the often rapt reports of changes to her body, Slater creates an inroad for the reader into her very personal journey. Her openness, both in this book and her three previous books, about her own biological and psychological history underscores this, as she struggles with the decision to take medication throughout the pregnancy.

Slater avoids clichés connected with pregnancy; Love Works Like This remains honest to her experience. Slater finds home neither with the unequivocal excitement of expectant motherhood, nor with the dark urges of motherhood purported by latter-day feminists. Instead, Slater remains ambivalent during much of her pregnancy, or rather, she decides for herself. Informed by the literature on pregnancy, Slater's text raises important questions from the often-conflicting information. Why does the medical community know so little about antenatal depression, and by extension, pregnancy?

This book is about openings. It details the space Slater and husband Jacob made for Eva in their lives, in their small family of two dogs, friends and demanding careers. It is about the literal opening of Slater's body required in the physical feat of labor. And it is the opening of one heart to another: a mother to a child.
 
alessandro boffa   A comic take-off of Ovid's Metamorphoses, Alessandro Boffa's You're an Animal, Viskovitz! follows its hapless hero from identity to identity as he pursues his true love Ljuba. From a hermaphroditic snail to a drug-using Buddhist police dog to a praying mantis who can't wait to be eaten, Viskovitz embodies not only the forms of this wide variety of species but their accompanying behaviors, neuroses, and vanities. Each change allows him to express--literally--the animal passions inherent in love, while humorously reflecting the nuances of the human condition.
 
ralph ellison   Before T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land (a work he would later refer to as "jazzlike") led him to pursue a writing career, Ralph Ellison was a music student at Tuskegee Institute. And while literary critics and readers alike regard him as one of America's greatest authors, musicians and jazz aficionados celebrate him equally for his eloquent and insightful music criticism. Over the course of his life, Ellison wrote innumerable articles on jazz: the artist's place in American culture, the meaning of their work, the lives of the masters. Astute and thoughtful, the pieces also convey Ellison's passion for the genre. Living with Music collects these articles, as well as selections from his interviews and novels, into a single volume. (A companion CD has also been compiled.) In the following essay, "Homage to Duke Ellington on His Birthday," Ralph Ellison pays tribute to the legendary jazz great, weaving his own memories of the man into penetrating analysis of Duke's place in American society.
 
david mitchell  

Eiji Miyake has come to Tokyo to find his father, a man who abandoned him as a child and has, at first glance, shadowy business dealings with the underworld. But what Eiji will find is so much more than a disinterested, possibly violent parent, he will find a disinterested, terribly violent world.

David Mitchell's newest work, Number9Dream is a portrait of a city, youth, manhood, dream life and waking nightmares. Critically hailed for the expansive inventiveness of Ghostwritten, Mr. Mitchell returns with something equally daring and moving, a novel that invites us to explore the life of a city and the roaming terror of lost youth. At once surrealistic and brutally realistic, Number9Dream walks a fine line between Eastern and Western, poetry and dreams, violence and hope.

With Ghostwritten, Mitchell explored the interconnectivity of geography with character, the random and not-so-random nature of chance. Here he delves whole-heartedly into the struggle to become human, the need to be fulfilled by both family and fate. As we travel with Eiji we enjoy his discovery not only of the megalith that is Tokyo, but the dangers of love and the yakuza underworld, the pathetic truth that reality can bring to our dreams, and the power of friendship and love over blood-ties. Artfully written and carefully wound like the cryptic Tokyo streets, Number9Dream will entertain and surprise not only fans of Mitchell's first book, but new readers in search of literature's long lost son.

 
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