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|May 15-21, 2008
365 Nights: A Memoir of Intimacy
by Charla Muller, co-written with Betsy Thorpe, ($14, Berkley Trade)
by Pam Kelley
When her husband’s 40th birthday approached, Charla Muller wanted just the right gift.
It had to be fabulous, over the top, something so special “that my husband would never have to pause and say, ‘What did Charla give me for my 40th birthday?’”
Let us declare now that Muller, a Charlotte wife, mother and public relations professional, succeeded on all counts. Her gift? Sex, every day, for a year.
Soon, the world will learn of Charla’s gift. Her book, 365 Nights: A Memoir of Intimacy, co-written with Betsy Thorpe, hits bookstores in June.
In it, Muller tackles issues familiar to almost anyone in a marriage or long-term relationship: How does intimacy flourish in real, busy lives? How do you deal when one partner wants a lot more sex than the other?
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What to Drink With What You Eat
by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page (Bulfinch, $35)
by Fred Tasker
This book takes some novel approaches to wine-food pairing. One is to pair light and heavy foods to light and heavy wines. And it gives you a list of wines from the lightest to the heaviest (chablis to viognier in whites, beaujolais to zinfandel in reds). I’ve tried this method, and I like it. It also gives some unusual pairings (cucumbers with riesling, rose champagne with cumin). It’ll get you arguing with your foodie friends.
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Acquainted With the Night: Excursions Through the World After Dark
by Christopher Dewdney ($14.95, Bloomsbury)
by Geeta Sharma Jensen
In the dark night, when the world sleeps and the silence is broken only by the whisper of an occasional car, book reviewer Anne Wilde tosses and turns and tosses and reaches for a book from the pile on her bedside table.
“I love night,” she reads, as she begins a favorite book by Canadian poet Christopher Dewdney. “Some of my earliest memories are of magical summer evenings, the excitement I felt at night’s arrival, its dark splendor. Later, when I was 11, there were hot summer nights, especially if the moon was bright, when I felt irresistibly drawn outside... After quietly shutting the back door behind me, I was free, deliciously alone in the warm night air. A bolt of pure electric joy would rush through me as I stepped into the bright stillness of the moonlit yard.”
It is all familiar, a familiar paragraph, familiar words, as familiar as her sleeplessness.
Wilde has read Dewdney’s Acquainted With the Night: Excursions Through the World After Dark a dozen or more times. His hour-by-hour exploration of a nocturnal world — its beauties and darkness, its creatures, its starlit sky, its nightclubs and neon, its graveyard shifts — soothes her as she lies awake. And by and by, perhaps in two hours, perhaps more, she drifts into sleep.
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Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe ($10.95, Anchor)
by Carlin Romano
Over a simple dinner of chicken breast, potatoes and ginger ale in his Hotel Palomar room, the great Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe explains that he’s not sure when his appearance on The News Hour With Jim Lehrer, from which he has just returned, will make it on the air.
“There’s so much happening in the world at this time,” says the 78-year-old writer, a longtime Bard College professor touring to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his classic novel, Things Fall Apart. He smiles — a modest smile seen often by those who know him best.
Fifty years from now, of course, those events will likely be forgotten while many will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of Things Fall Apart, the most famous African novel of the 20th century, the book that launched African literature by nonwhites into world literature.
OK, be honest, Achebe is asked. Is it the best of your five novels?
“That’s a question I refuse to answer,” he says, the smile suddenly a grin — before he turns serious: “Each of my books is different. Deliberately... I wanted to create my society, my people, in their fullness.”
“For every one of the five novels I have written,” he says, “somebody, or a small group of people, call it my masterpiece... So I feel really that I shouldn’t do anything. Just sit back and let them sort things out.”
Yet Things Fall Apart, Achebe’s first novel, has become a unique literary and academic phenomenon.
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The Woman I Am
by Helen Reddy ($26.95, Tarcher)
by Howard Cohen
Hear her roar” screamed the cover of a recent Newsweek, emblazoned just above the forehead of — who else? — presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton.
Former pop star and actress Helen Reddy, on the other side of the world, can’t contain her amusement at this full-circle turn of events.
“I put two phrases into the lexicon, and that blows my mind because I don’t think of myself as a writer,” says Reddy, 66, chuckling during a telephone interview while sipping tea in her Sydney, Australia, home.
The line, of course, comes from her 1972 hit, “I Am Woman,” an anthemic pop song with a hook as infectious as a commercial jingle and a polarizing message to which many Americans still can’t adjust: “I am woman / Hear me roar.”
Reddy’s memoir, The Woman I Am, plays off the song’s title, but the Australian-born entertainer insists her days of singing for a living are far behind her. She retired from the stage permanently at age 60, 55 years after first picking up a mic. Today, she’s a licensed clinical hypnotherapist and a genealogist.
In her book, Reddy recounts growing up in an Australian show business family; her ’70s pop music career in the United States; a harrowing marriage to a cocaine-addict who doubled as her manager; raising two children, becoming a grandmother, and her current spiritual work.
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