Book review: Noteworthy paperbacks
A selection of summaries from The New York Times Book Review:
• GHETTOSIDE: A True Story of Murder in America, by Jill Leovy. (Spiegel & Grau, $16.)
As a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, Leovy witnessed firsthand the impact of America's staggering murder rates. Focusing here on one Los Angeles case, she delves into the "plague of black homicides," including the fraught relationship between the police and civilians and the justice system's failure to protect black citizens. (African-American men account for nearly 40 percent of the country's murder victims.)
• THE SECRET WISDOM OF THE EARTH, by Christopher Scotton. (Grand Central, $14.99.)
Scotton's narrator, Kevin, reflects on the summer spent at his grandfather's home in Kentucky after the sudden death of his younger brother. The novel follows his journey to adulthood and his introduction to Appalachian culture in a town grappling with mining pollution and the ramifications of an ugly hate crime.
• THE GLASS CAGE: How Our Computers Are Changing Us, by Nicholas Carr. (Norton, $15.95.)
Automative technology, now found in everything from transportation to medicine, has revolutionized modern life, but as people rely more on computers and robots, the hidden dangers seem ever more dire. Carr examines the profound human consequences of automation, including dulled skills and a greater susceptibility to surveillance.
• THE DAYLIGHT MARRIAGE, by Heidi Pitlor. (Algonquin, $15.95.)
Pitlor's novel tells the story of Lovell, a reserved climatologist, and his wife, Hannah, who have built a quiet life in the suburbs only to see their marriage become mountingly strained. Hannah, amid thwarted desires and stifled feelings, disappears one afternoon, leaving Lovell to examine their relationship while piecing together her whereabouts.
• A ROYAL EXPERIMENT: Love and Duty, Madness and Betrayal — The Private Lives of King George III and Queen Charlotte, by Janice Hadlow. (Picador/Holt, $25.)
Unlike his royal predecessors, King George III, who ruled from 1760 until his death in 1820, set out to be the moral as well as political leader of the country, signaling a new era in the British monarchy. Hadlow details his project of building a virtuous and happy royal family, from its promising start through its failure in the wake of his mental illness.
• HALL OF SMALL MAMMALS: Stories, by Thomas Pierce. (Riverhead, $16.)
This collection, Pierce's first, is full of collisions between the quotidian and the absurd; in one story, a woolly mammoth travels through time to comfort the protagonist. Reviewer Rebecca Lee praised the author's "merry, postmodern humor."
• GAY BERLIN: Birthplace of a Modern Identity, by Robert Beachy. (Vintage, $16.95.)
In his deeply researched book, Beachy shows how Germany, in the half-century before the Nazis, was home to progressive ideas about homosexuality, including efforts to change public discourse, and calls by pre-eminent legal scholars and doctors for an end to discrimination.
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