Staff Picks - Kate
"This book is a collection of monsters, in the most awesome way possible. It showcases the collection of medical photographs in the mutter museum in philadelphia, which includes everything from birth-defects (cyclops baby!) to horrific illnesses (leprosy!) to mangling injuries (triple amputees!). Not a book for the faint of heart or weak of stomach, but a definite winner for the discerning fan of the bizarre. [A few other books that fall into that category but are unfortunately out of print are Taschen's Aesthetic Surgery, Dissection by John Harley Warner, and Deadly Intent by Stanley B. Burns.]"
"People bandy about the phrase "drink the kool-aid", rarely giving a thought to where it came from. Some people will remember that it all started with the Jonestown Massacre in Jonestown, Guyana, with the mass suicide of almost a thousand people. The story goes that Jim Jones convinced his followers that the guv'ment was coming to shut them down, so they all drank Kool-Aid laced with cyanide, rather than be taken away from their dear leader. Julia Scheeres has done a magnificent job of re-evaluating this story, starting with the rise of Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple, through the dramatic denouement in the South American jungle. What she reveals is that far from being willing participants in Jones's deadly endgame, many of those present had to be forced at gunpoint to drink what they knew was certain death. Scheeres went through hundreds of hours of audio recordings and declassified FBI documents, as well as interviews with the handful of survivors. The story she tells is not one of blind allegiance and collective madness, but of people hoping for a better life, whose dreams were destroyed by a megalomaniac. [Scheeres's memoir Jesus Land is also well worth a read.]"
Not an easy book, on account of the very Irish voice, but it tells a magical story about a decaying city in the west of Ireland and the love and violence the city runs. Y'sketch?
To call this book a parody is to do it a disservice. Catton has created a vibrant and engrossing novel in an unexpected setting: 19th-century New Zealand is breathtaking. Knock it off, New York Times Book Review.