Books & Fiction

John Cleese Discusses Something ‘Completely Different’ in ‘Professor at Large’

Sam Chapin

If you had asked me why it was funny, I probably would have yelled, “Ni!” and ran away. And I’d wager that a lot of Python faithfuls have a hard time enunciating their affections for the material--it feels so effortlessly humorous. It’s easy to forget that someone actually wrote it. In John Cleese’s new book, Professor at Large: The Cornell Years, he gives an intimate and exhaustive exploration of his creative and analytical mind, allowing us to see firsthand the inner workings of a comedic genius. 

Our All-Time Favorite Books (Which You Should Also Read)

Highbrow Magazine Staff

All of us treasure a few books in our lives, which we read and reread and pass onto future generations. These books managed to bore themselves into our brains and hearts, and some even had the power to shape who we are today. In honor of PBS’s The Great American Read – which selected Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird as America’s favorite book -- Highbrow Magazine writers and contributors list their all-time favorite book, which stands head and shoulders (so to speak) above the rest of the musty books in their personal libraries.

Ghosts and Spies Emerge From London Fog in Kate Atkinson’s ‘Transcription’

Lee Polevoi

Atkinson quickly establishes place, diction, and a credible spirit of wartime and postwar milieus—while rarely getting bogged down in unnecessary exposition. The tone in the early chapters is both keenly literary and vividly cinematic. Confusion arises, however, with a plethora of secondary characters, i.e., the German sympathizers and double agents, some of whom are being “run” by Godfrey Tobey, some by Perry (her boss). The reader might be forgiven for wondering why many of these clandestine members of the Fifth Column talk so openly about “working for Berlin” or “spying for the Gestapo” in the midst of wartime England. 

H. Jon Benjamin and the Art of Failure

Adam Gravano

We all have a friend whom we laugh and have a good time with, but later, when we go through the events of time together, when it's too late to mention and we're too far apart, we wonder if everything is all right — perhaps while lying awake. This is a book written by that friend. You'll cringe; you'll laugh; you'll cringe while laughing. The book does a remarkable job of accomplishing its goal: You'll find that failure is an option and it's nothing to be ashamed of. It's great to read and makes a more helpful suggestion to people who haven't quite found a good fitting place after graduation.

Two Killers Haunt 1950s London in ‘Death in the Air’

Lee Polevoi

Winkler describes these disparate events in impressive detail. She offers a chilling description of how abysmal government policies, combined with a bout of truly terrible weather, created the slaughterhouse effects of 1952. She writes with verve and sympathy about a handful of Christie’s victims, and seems to capture with disturbing accuracy the killer’s mental state as he commits and then hides the evidence of his monstrous crimes. 

New Zora Neale Hurston Book Slated for 2018

Jordannah Elizabeth

A barracoon is a place of confinement made specifically to hold Black slaves for a temporary period of time. This book will shed light on the reality of slavery through the eyes of a survivor. Hurston’s fearless talent and timeless writing and vision are still ever present and relevant today. “Barracoon” is set for release in May 2018. The new book, “Barracoon,” documents a period of three months Hurston spent in Plateau, Ala., where she met Cudjo Lewis. 

Evan Narcisse on Writing ‘Rise of the Black Panther’

Jason Johnson

Writing genius Evan Narcisse, who writes about comics and comic reviews at io9, is now writing the Rise of the Black Panther limited series for Marvel comics. The comic covers the early years of T’Challa as Black Panther, as well as his family history and nation. Consider it like a Fodor’s for Wakanda. The book is exciting, well-written and a great jumping-on point for anybody of any age who wants to know more about the character. 

A Girl Vanishes, Seasons Pass, in Jon McGregor’s ‘Reservoir 13’

Lee Polevoi

A frenzied, exhaustive search gets underway. But despite the best efforts of residents and authorities, no trace of the girl is found. McGregor, employing a kind of narrative wide-angle lens, travels fitfully among the villagers—Jones, the school janitor; Jane, the vicar; the butcher Martin Fowler and his wife, Ruth; teens Sophie, James, Liam and Deepak—pausing long enough to remark on their circumstances and then moving on. 

New Book Highlights Talents of African-American Cartoonists

Terri Schlichenmeyer

In the early days, for example, many comic writers worked through the Black Press, including Jackie Ormes, “the first published female African-American cartoonist.” Ormes was the creator of Torchy Brown, a strong Black cartoon woman; and fashionista Ginger, whose little sister Patti-Jo offered wisecracks. In 1947, one of Ormes’ characters was made into an “upscale” doll; in 2014, Ormes was posthumously indicted into the National Association of Black Journalists’ Hall of Fame.

Best Books of 2017 by African-American Authors

Hope Wabuke

What We Lose was heralded as one of the best books of the year, and in this debut novel by writer and editor Zinzi Clemmons, a young woman of South African and American descent reckons with the death of her mother. Here, Clemmons, herself born to a South African mother, reckons masterfully with themes of loss, identity and home.

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