Apr 17, 2008

new biographies, 4.17.08

Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on My Life, Love, and Leading Roles by Kathleen Turner
From her film debut as the sultry schemer in Body Heat to her award-winning role as Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, actress Kathleen Turner's unique blend of beauty, intelligence, and raw sexuality has driven her personal and professional life. Now, in this gutsy memoir, the screen icon tells us of the risks she's taken and the lessons she's learned — sometimes the hard way. For the first time, Turner shares her childhood challenges — a life lived in countries around the world until her father, a State Department official whom she so admired, died suddenly when she was a teenager. She talks about her twenty year marriage, and why she and her husband recently separated, her close relationship with her daughter, her commitment to service, and how activism in controversial causes has bolstered her beliefs. And Turner reveals the pain and heartbreak of her struggle with rheumatoid arthritis, and how, in spite of it, she made a daring decision: to take a break from the movies and relaunch her stage career.

James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon, Julie Phillips
Tiptree burst onto the science fiction scene in the 1970s with a series of hard-edged, provocative short stories. Then the cover was blown: the author was actually a 61-year-old woman named Alice Sheldon — world traveler, debutante, chicken farmer, CIA agent, and experimental psychologist. This fascinating biography is based on full access to her papers.

for more information about these and other new biographies, search the library's catalog >

Standing Tall: A Memoir of Tragedy and Triumph, C. Vivian Stringer
Work hard, and don't look for excuses, Stringer's parents told her, and you can achieve anything. But her faith and perseverance would be tested many times. A gifted athlete, she had to fight for a place on an all-white cheerleading squad in the sixties. In 1981, just as her coaching career was taking off, her fourteen-month-old daughter, Nina, was stricken with spinal meningitis. Nina would never walk or talk again. Still grieving, Stringer brought a small, poor, historically black college to the national championships — a triumph hailed as Hoosiers with an all-female cast. In 1991, her husband, Bill — her staunchest supporter, the father of her children, and the love of her life — fell dead of a sudden heart attack, but that same year, she led yet another young team to the Final Four. Through these dark times and others — including her bout with cancer, shared here for the first time — Stringer has carried her burdens with grace.

The Game of My Life: A True Story of Challenge, Triumph, and Growing Up Autistic, Jason McElwain
The incredible true story of one high school student's determination to triumph against the challenges of autism-and his opponents on the basketball court... On February 15, 2006, the Greece Athena Trojans high school basketball team took the court for the final game of the regular season. With four minutes and nineteen seconds left on the clock, and the Trojans nursing a comfortable lead, the coach sent Jason McElwain-an autistic student and the team manager-to the scorer's table. He scored twenty points, including a school record six three- pointers. J-Mac, as McElwain became known, was carried off the court on his teammates' shoulders, and a videotape of the game quickly found its way onto national television, making J-Mac a household name. An inspiration to people everywhere, Jason McElwain's amazing accomplishment was broadcast on CN, ESPN, and local newscasts across the country, moving President Bush to tears with his courage and determination. The Game of My Life is one of the few books written by an autistic author-a riveting chronicle of how J-Mac overcame a lifetime of adversity.

Bill Mauldin: a life up front,Todd Depastino
During World War II, the truest glimpse most Americans got of the "real war" came through the flashing black lines of twenty-two-year-old infantry sergeant Bill Mauldin. Week after week, Mauldin defied army censors, German artillery, and Patton's pledge to "throw his ass in jail" to deliver his wildly popular cartoon, "Up Front," to the pages of Stars and Stripes. "Up Front" featured the wise-cracking Willie and Joe, whose stooped shoulders, mud-soaked uniforms, and pidgin of army slang and slum dialect bore eloquent witness to the world of combat and the men who lived—and died—in it. This taut, lushly illustrated biography—the first of two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Bill Mauldin—is illustrated with more than ninety classic Mauldin cartoons and rare photographs. It traces the improbable career and tumultuous private life of a charismatic genius who rose to fame on his motto: "If it's big, hit it." 92 illustrations.

for more information about these and other new biographies, search the library's catalog >

Entering Hades: The Double Life of a Serial Killer, John Leake
Serial killers rarely travel internationally. So in the early 1990s, when detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department began to find bodies of women strangled with their own bras, it didn’t occur to them at first to make a connection with the bodies being uncovered in the woods outside of Vienna, Austria. The LAPD waited for the killer to strike again. Meanwhile, in Austria, the police followed what few clues they had. The case intrigued many reporters, but few as keenly as Jack Unterweger, a local celebrity. He cut a striking figure, this little man in expensive white suits. His expertise on Vienna’s criminal underworld was hard-earned. He had been sentenced to life in jail as a young man. But while incarcerated, he began to write—and his work earned him the glowing attention of the literary elite. The intelligentsia lobbied for his release and by 1990, Jack was free again. He continued writing, nurturing his career as a journalist. But though he now traveled in the highest circles, he had a secret life. He was killing again, and in the greatest of ironies, reporting on the very crimes he had committed.

Hats & Eyeglasses: A Family Love Affair with Gambling, Martha Frankel
A gloriously written memoir of growing up in a family of hard- core gamblers-Martha Frankel thought the gambling gene had passed her by, until she found herself addicted to online poker and knee-deep in debt. Most weekends when Martha Frankel was a kid, her mother had a mah-jongg game going in the kitchen with her girlfriends while their husbands were in the living room playing poker. Once Frankel reached adulthood, however, while her cousins were making their way in the world as bookies and drug dealers, gambling didn't much factor into her life. In the tradition of Five-Finger Discount by Helene Stapinski and Dry by Augusten Burroughs, Hats & Eyeglasses traces Frankel's love affair with poker. It was a passion that bit her in her mid-forties and remained harmless enough when she stuck to real cards. But everything changed one evening in 1998 in Atlantic City, when Frankel overheard one dealer bemoan the fact that his tips that evening were going to be small what with the meager crowd assembled. Another dealer mentioned that everyone must be playing online-Why leave the house when you can play in your pajamas? the dealer said. Why indeed? thought Frankel, who couldn't wait to get back to her computer. The next morning she took a deep breath, typed in her credit card number, and entered the world of online gambling. It was the beginning of what one of her uncles called hats and eyeglasses, a term used to describe those times when you're losing so bad you're drowning (so all one can see is the poker player's hat and eyeglasses floating on the surface of the water). By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Hats & Eyeglasses is a tale of passion, addiction-and those times in lifewhen we almost lose our shirt.

Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam, Pope Brock
In 1917, after years of selling worthless patent remedies throughout the Southeast, John R. Brinkley — America's most brazen young con man — arrived in the tiny town of Milford, Kansas. He set up a medical practice and introduced an outlandish surgical method using goat glands to restore the fading virility of local farmers. It was all nonsense, of course, but thousands of paying customers quickly turned "Dr." Brinkley into America's richest and most famous surgeon. His notoriety captured the attention of the great quackbuster Morris Fishbein, who vowed to put the country's "most daring and dangerous" charlatan out of business. Their cat-and-mouse game lasted throughout the 1920s and '30s, but despite Fishbein's efforts Brinkley prospered wildly. When he ran for governor of Kansas, he invented campaigning techniques still used in modern politics. Thumbing his nose at American regulators, he built the world's most powerful radio transmitter just across the Rio Grande to offer sundry cures, and killed or maimed patients by the score, yet his warped genius produced innovations in broadcasting that endure to this day. By introducing country music and blues to the nation, Brinkley also became a seminal force in rock 'n' roll. In short, he is the most creative criminal this country has ever produced.
Listen to the author talk about this book on the Diane Rehm Show, 2.7.08 (scroll down)

Losing It: And Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time, Valerie Bertinelli
Losing It is Bertinelli's frank motivational story — from her complicated family life to her struggles to maintain a healthy self-image while coping with celebrity, her tumultuous 20-year marriage to rock star Eddie Van Halen, and her difficulties with depression. She takes us behind the scenes in her acting career and marriage, recalling the stress and concerns of being a rock star's wife, the joys of motherhood, her lifelong battle with weight, and her determination to let herself feel loved again.

Escape from Saddam: The incredible true story of one man's journey to freedom, Lewis Alsamari
At the age of seventeen, Lewis Alsamari was conscripted into Saddam Hussein’s army. The training was brutal, with discipline enforced by regular beatings, and desertion punishable by mutilation or imprisonment. Somehow Lewis made it through and, thanks in part to his fluent English, was soon offered a post in Iraqi military intelligence. The job would have made him powerful, comfortably wealthy . . . and a cog in Saddam Hussein’s massive machine of terror. Unable to accept becoming a member of Saddam’s secret police, yet knowing that turning down this “honor” would be considered treasonous, Lewis made plans to flee Iraq. His escape was fraught with peril–he was shot, detained at borders, even pursued by hungry wolves across the desert–but the teenager made his way to Jordan, then Malaysia, and finally to England, where he was granted political asylum.

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