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A Listener's Guide to Free Improvisation
John Corbett
Improvisation rattles some listeners. Maybe they're even suspicious of it. John Coltrane's saxophonic flights of fancy, Jimi Hendrix's feedback drenched guitar solos, Ravi Shankar’s sitar extrapolations—all these sounds seem like so much noodling or jamming, indulgent self-expression. "Just" improvising, as is sometimes said.
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Miss Burma
A Novel
Charmaine Craig
A beautiful and poignant story of one family during the most violent and turbulent years of world history, Miss Burma is a powerful novel of love and war, colonialism and ethnicity, and the ties of blood.—Recommended by Paul
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Falling Man
A Novel
Don DeLillo
There is September 11 and then there are the days after, and finally the years. Falling Man is a magnificent, essential novel about the event that defines turn-of-the-century America. It begins in the smoke and ash of the burning towers and tracks...
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Writing Across the Landscape
Travel Journals 1960-2010
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Giada Diano, Matthew Gleeson
This long-awaited volume provides a panoramic portrait of art and life across the twentieth century, from Mexico to Morocco, Paris to Rome, and beyond.
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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Junot Díaz
Recommended by Paul, City Lights Books The most talked about—and praised—first novel of 2007, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who—from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother...
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The Year of Magical Thinking
Joan Didion
From one of America's iconic writers, a stunning book of electric honesty and passion. Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage--and a life, in good times and bad--that will speak to anyone...
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Why Marx Was Right
Terry Eagleton
n this combative, controversial book, Terry Eagleton takes issue with the prejudice that Marxism is dead and done with. Taking ten of the most common objections to Marxism—that it leads to political tyranny, that it reduces everything to the economic...
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Epistrophies
Jazz and the Literary Imagination
Brent Hayes Edwards
In 1941 Thelonious Monk and Kenny Clarke copyrighted "Epistrophy," one of the best-known compositions of the bebop era. The song's title refers to a literary device—the repetition of a word or phrase at the end of successive clauses—that is echoed in the construction of the melody. —Recommended by Paul & Scott
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American War
A Novel
Omar El Akkad
Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, and that unmanned drones fill the sky. When her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons...
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True South
Henry Hampton and "Eyes on the Prize," the Landmark Television Series That Reframed the Civil Rights Movement
Jon Else
Henry Hampton's 1987 landmark multipart television series, Eyes on the Prize, an eloquent, plainspoken chronicle of the civil rights movement, is now the classic narrative of that history. Before Hampton, the movement’s history had been written or filmed by whites and weighted heavily toward Dr. King’s telegenic leadership.
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Muse
A Novel
Jonathan Galassi
Paul Dukach is heir apparent at Purcell & Stern, one of the last independent publishing houses in New York, whose shabby offices on Union Square belie the treasures on its list. Working with his boss, the flamboyant Homer Stern, Paul learns the ins and outs of the book trade—how to work an agent over lunch; how to swim with the literary sharks...
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All Involved
A Novel
Ryan Gattis
A propulsive and ambitious novel as electrifying as The Wire, from a writer hailed as the West Coast's Richard Price—a brutal and mesmerizing epic of crime and opportunity, race, revenge, and loyalty, set in the chaotic streets of South Central L.A.
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The Natural Navigator
The Rediscovered Art of Letting Nature Be Your Guide
Tristan Gooley
Recommended by Paul, City Lights Books. Before GPS, before the compass, and even before cartography, humankind was navigating. A windswept tree, the depth of a puddle, or a trill of birdsong could point the way home—and, for the alert traveler...
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Homegoing
A Novel
Yaa Gyasi
A novel of breathtaking sweep and emotional power that traces three hundred years in Ghana and along the way also becomes a truly great American novel. Extraordinary for its exquisite language, its implacable sorrow, its soaring beauty, and for its monumental portrait of the forces that shape families and nations.

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