New Biographies, Memoirs for Every Reader

By Frasier, Elizabeth; Smook, Dana | Sunday Gazette-Mail, May 21, 2017 | Go to article overview

New Biographies, Memoirs for Every Reader


Frasier, Elizabeth, Smook, Dana, Sunday Gazette-Mail


Whose shoes do you want to walk a mile in? What would you learn from that persons life? It is no surprise biographies and memoirs are popular with our patrons at Kanawha County Public Library. An outstanding biography can be as exciting as a high-octane thriller. But readers also benefit from learning someone elses life lessons.

Interest in biographies and memoirs continues to trend upward, so here are some exciting new releases:

* With Between Them: Remembering My Parents, novelist Richard Ford offers readers his first nonfiction book, an intricate and tender look at the lives of his parents. Ford explores memories and knowledge to imagine who his parents might have been beyond his personal experiences.

Between Them is separated into two novella-length sections, profiling his mother and father individually. Married in 1928, Fords parents were two ordinary people who climbed to the middle class from humble origins. His father was a traveling salesman who died when Ford was a teenager, leaving him without really knowing his father well.

While this memoir is strikingly personal, the mystery the author feels toward his parents will be deeply understood by many. Fords prose is gorgeous, and any reader who finds pleasure in character development will relish in this slim book.

* Jessica B. Harris, a renowned writer and African-American food historian, shares personal stories from 1970s New York City in My Soul Looks Back. As a young teacher in the West Village, Harris entered a vibrantly intellectual world full of black cultural luminaries like Toni Morrison, James Baldwin and Maya Angelou. Their reach moved her to extend her own as a writer, professor and activist.

Harris also recounts her relationship with Sam Floyd, who helped open the world to her. Together, they traveled extensively, and Harris developed a passion for delicious food.

The death of her friend Maya Angelou spurred Harris to record her memories. She is a born storyteller, and her memoir is a joy to read a beautiful portrait of a remarkable era.

* President Richard Nixon has been the subject of several noted biographies, which might lead readers to believe there is little left to learn. However, John A. Farrell took advantage of freshly available historical resources to write his enlightening new book, Richard Nixon: The Life.

Farrell deftly illuminates Nixons ruthless political life by providing details of his personal struggles. Among the revelations the author offers are suspicions about Nixons role in sabotaging peace talks in Vietnam to hurt opposing candidate Hubert Humphreys presidential campaign. The deaths resulting from a war made even longer are, to Farrell, Nixons greatest sin.

Richard Nixon: The Life, is a readable, unflinching and well-crafted biography of a man whose accomplishments and failures were deeply felt by America. …

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