This week’s “11 New Books We Recommend this Week” from The New York Times includes the latest in the Jack Reacher series; an exploration into Vietnam’s My Lai Massacre; and the continuing story of Humpty Dumpty.
I’ll admit I haven’t read any of the Jack Reacher books and never saw the movie (when I saw the title of the movie I thought, “Who’s Jack Reacher?”). From the little I have learned, I realized that Reacher falls into the Jack Category: call your son Jack (note: not John), and you’re guaranteed a boy who grows up to be a tough guy, possibly somewhat of a loner (maybe because he has to get out of town for a crime he didn’t commit while saving some poor sap in the process), and a total hit with the ladies. In this installment, “The Midnight Line,” Jack Reacher uncovers how a West Point ring ended up in a pawn shop. Because some guy pawned it, Jack! (Or perhaps it was a woman?) But seriously, I am rather intrigued … maybe it’s the name. (I would like to make one recommendation though—get a better cover designer, Delacorte! I couldn’t tell the author from the title character, and for a moment I forgot there was a title. All the more irritating because the “Lee Child” screaming at me isn’t even the author’s real name, it’s James Grant. JAMES GRANT, if it were to be on this cover.)
It would be terribly cynical of me to think that “My Lai: 1968, Vietnam, and the Descent Into Darkness” is somehow piggybacking off the enormous success of Ken Burns’ recent Vietnam documentary. Because I think it’s more likely luck than anything else. (Maybe that’s terribly naïve of me.) The Times review makes it sound like a worthy extension of what was covered in the film. “‘It is a book at once painful and useful,’ our reviewer Thomas E. Ricks writes, ‘and is likely to become the standard reference work’ on the subject.”
Karen Shepard’s “Kiss Me Someone” is about the love/hate/love/hate relationship women have with each other. “‘They’d always walked the line between teasing and cruelty,’ Shepard writes of four bridesmaids, nominally friends, in one story.” This reminds me of “Bridesmaids” and “Sex and the City.” Which begs the question—Is there really room for another tale like this? I guess, because I’ll say the odds are better than even money that you’ll see “Kiss Me Someone” in your local multiplex within a year or so.
The debut YA novel from David Barclay Moore, “The Stars Beneath Our Feet,” is nothing like “The Fault in Our Stars” (yay!) but instead takes us to New York City, where “a 12-year-old boy in the Harlem projects, still grieving his brother’s recent death, finds answers to his life’s questions by competing to build cities with Lego.” This is the most compelling synopsis of all the books this week, and therefore not surprising that it’s already been optioned by Endeavor Content to serve as the directorial debut for “Creed”‘s Michael B. Jordan.
Though coming in a close second is “After the Fall,” which sounds like a piece in the Times’ “Modern Love” section, but instead is a children’s book about what happened to Humpty Dumpty after he fell to pieces. Apparently, he picked himself up and put himself back together. And therein lies a great lesson for us all.