Books

RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB

Manhood today is under siege--regarded as an object of menace on college quads, associated with various forms of real and imagined oppression, ridiculed in humanities departments, parodied by sitcoms and commercials, and shriveled to a raisin-sized remnant by psychosexual theorizing.

But while manhood may be under attack in a sociopolitical context, it remains very much a living idea which every penis-endowed person must wrestle with over the course of his lifetime. Right Tool for the Job is a comic account of one man's struggle to honor his testosterone heritage--with varying results.





FINDING THE WORM

The New York Post praised Twerp as “reminiscent of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” Finding the Worm is a sequel that stands on its own--an unforgettable coming-of-age story about life, loss, and friendship. Perfect for fans of The Sandlot and readers who love books by Jennifer L. Holm, Andrew Clements, and Rebecca Stead.

It’s not a test unless you can fail. . . .

Trouble always seems to find thirteen-year-old Julian Twerski. First it was a bullying incident, and now he’s been accused of vandalizing a painting. The principal doesn’t want to suspend him again, so instead, he asks Julian to write a 200-word essay on good citizenship. Julian writes 200 no’s instead, and so begins an epic struggle between Julian and his principal.

Being falsely accused is bad enough, but outside of school, Julian’s dealing with even bigger issues. His friend Quentin has been really sick. How can life be fair when the nicest guy in your group has cancer? Julian’s faith and friendships are put to the test . . . and the stakes have never been higher.


TWERP

Julian Twerski isn't a bad kid. He's just made a bad mistake. So when he returns to school after a weeklong suspension, his English teacher offers him a deal: if he keeps a journal and writes about the incident that got him and his friends suspended, he can get out of writing a report on Shakespeare. Julian jumps at the chance . . . and so begins his account of life in sixth grade—blowing up homemade fireworks, writing a love letter for his best friend (with disastrous results), and worrying whether he's still the fastest kid in school. Lurking in the background, though, is the one story he can't bring himself to tell, the one story his teacher most wants to hear.

Inspired by Mark Goldblatt's own childhood growing up in 1960s Queens, Twerp shines with humor and heart. This remarkably powerful story will have readers laughing and crying right along with these flawed but unforgettable characters.





THE UNREQUITED


Calvin Hooker and Jewel Parsons, two rival tabloid reporters, set out for Elizabethtown a sleepy hamlet in upstate New York to write separate stories about Daniel Lockett, a confessed killer rapist who castrated himself in prison. Lockett has been paroled after serving only twelve years. Neither reporter is quite persuaded by rumors that Lockett might not have committed the crimes in the first place. But something sure doesn’t feel right; that much they agree on.
The reporters join forces, and in the course of their inquiries, they start to suspect that the rumors might be true. Lockett might indeed be innocent. But why, in that case, did he confess to crimes he didn’t commit? And why did he mutilate himself?

The search for answers may cost them their lives.






BUMPER STICKER LIBERALISM


Modern American liberalism is no longer a system of beliefs about the role of government, the conduct of international relations, or the nature of personal responsibility. Rather, it has become a series of bumper stickers—actual bumper stickers that signal mental bumper stickers. They don't make sense individually. They don't make sense in concert. But if you peel them away, one by one, from the foreheads of liberals, there's nothing underneath.

Insightful and irreverent in just the right way, Bumper Sticker Liberalism takes on, and takes apart, the cozy cognitive knee jerks of actual liberal bumper stickers—on topics ranging from race relations to the nanny state, from global warming to tax policy, from war and peace to Bush Derangement Syndrome.





SLOTH

"Have you ever tried to convince someone you weren't crazy?"

So begins the seduction journal of the unnamed narrator of Sloth. It's not a mere hypothetical because he's fallen in love with a TV exercise girl named Holly Servant; he must convince her of his sanity from afar if he's ever to woo her in the flesh. But how can he win her heart when he's a waiter--that is, a man who waits in long lines for a living? How can he cut the line to her affections? Women like Holly don't date the likes of him. So he assumes the identity of his friend Zezel, a former newspaper columnist who once wrote under the pen name "Mark Goldblatt." But in this satire of postmodernism, which is also a postmodern satire, nothing is what it seems. Does Holly actually exist, or is she a figment of the narrator's imagination? Does Zezel actually exist, or is he an alter-ego who takes over the narrator's journal? Does the narrator have a name, or is he just an excuse to ask questions? (And who's asking these questions, come to think of it?) Nothing of the sort concerns Detective Lacuna. He only wants to know who murdered the male prostitute who used to cruise for tricks out down the block from the narrator's apartment. 

Sloth is a timeless love story with a rim shot core, a pulse-quickening mystery wrapped in knish skin. You'll never look at your reflection the same way after you've read it.



AFRICA SPEAKS

"A salaam aleichem, in the name of Allah, the merciful, the compassionate, the one true God. Yo, yo, yo, I'd like to send a shout out to my people, to my kings and queens. You know what I'm saying?"

So begins the confession of Africa Ali, a twenty-three year old black man who is determined to "get the truth out" through a series of weekly interviews with an anonymous white sociologist. His tape-recorded monologues recount the adventures of the 149th Street Crew, a group of friends clinging to the vestiges of their youthful alliances and confronting the awful uncertainties of their futures. In the course of his reminiscences and philosophical musings, Africa introduces us to other members of the Crew: his best friend Hercules, his former lover Keisha, the student radical Jerome and the determined realist Eddy. When, on occasion, Africa cannot make the interviews himself, he dispatches one of his friends in his place; their differing perspectives on events Africa has previously narrated create a kind of Rashoman effect, revealing simmering grudges and petty jealousies among Crew members. As the story unfolds, terrible secrets emerge from Africa's past. 

By turns shockingly funny and appallingly sad, Africa Speaks is a portrait of young people on the cusp of both self-realization and self-ruin.