New & Noteworthy, From Astrophysics to Studying Nabokov

PERESTROIKA IN PARIS, by Jane Smiley. (Button, $ 26.95.) Two decades after Smiley wrote about the world of horse racing in her 2000 novel Horse Heaven, she revisits the subject in this carefree romp about a racehorse at large in the big city on.

THIS TIME NEXT YEAR WE LAUGH by Jacqueline Winspear. (Soho, $ 27.95.) The bestselling author of the Maisie Dobbs mystery series pulls the curtain back on her tough postwar childhood in rural Kent, England, where bitter poverty was offset by good humor and family love.

VLADIMIR NABOKOV’S SPEAK, MEMORY, by Sven Birkerts. (Ig, paper, $ 14.95.) In the newest entry in the Bookmarked series, where authors analyze the books that are most important to them, author and critic Birkert examines the themes and the enduring significance of Nabokovs classic memoir.

THE FALL OF AMERICA JOURNALS, 1965-1971, by Allen Ginsberg. (University of Minnesota, $ 34.95.) Ginsberg won a National Book Award in 1974 for his The Fall of America collection. These magazines document the overland travel and social unrest that fueled this book.

BLACK HOLE SURVIVAL GUIDE, by Janna Levin. (Button, $ 20.95.) The physics and concept of black holes are daunting for non-scientists to understand, but Levin clearly explains the critical role they play in galactic formation.

A passage in The English Patient about local winds around the world brought me to Heavenly Breathing: A Natural History of the Wind, by Lyall Watson, published in 1985 and reissued last year. The book explains the science of wind, but also its effects on biology, geography, society, and key moments in history. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up – but a mercury stream of facts and anecdotes is only fitting. You will learn what a thunderstorm is like a living being and what happens when someone’s parachute is sucked into you. (Nothing good.) There are some outdated facts: an energy project from the 80s, false speculation about the Amazon basin in 2000. Other parts, especially about the spread of viruses, are forward-looking. When the journey is safe again, I will pay renewed attention to heaven. “To live,” Watson writes, “is to regain the thrill of being a part of something greater, even for a few hours off duty, for the wind’s pleasure, the thrill of being.”

– Thomas Lotito, Senior Editor, Homepage

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