Arts & Life

The Naples in Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels isn't the Italy you see on postcards. The neighborhood she describes in vivid detail is poor and unglamorous — and it may or may not be based on the neighborhood where she herself grew up. Ferrante is actually a pen name and very little is known about the true identity of the author. She does almost no publicity, but that hasn't stopped the books from achieving cult status. Her latest, The Story of the Lost Child, comes out on Tuesday.

“The Scribe”

Author: Matthew Guinn

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Co.

Pages: 287

Price: $25.95 (Hardcover)

Matthew Guinn’s first novel, “The Resurrectionist,” published in 2013, told the story of a cache of bones found in the basement of a medical school in Columbia, South Carolina. They were human bones, buried for decades, but whose? Guinn published the novel as literary fiction with a fresh subject, and it was a great success. Surprisingly, “The Resurrectionist” was nominated for an Edgar, a mystery writers award.

Lagniappe.

Trying to divine what the future holds is an ancient human preoccupation. And for centuries, soothsayers have sought answers in the bottom of a teacup.

Amy Taylor was 18 when she stumbled into the practice of reading tea leaves. Now 46 and a professional tea-leaf reader, she remembers looking into her stepsister's teacup at a Toronto restaurant, and saying, "Oh, that's funny, that looks like a tree." She says she looked at all of her family's cups that night, and saw things in all of them. "I just thought that was really odd," she says.

For novelist Jonathan Franzen, writing isn't just an escape from himself, it's an "escape from everything." He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross: "It's like having this dream that you can go back to, kind of on demand. When it's really going well ... you're in a fantasy land and feeling no pain."

“The Forest and the Trees”

Author: Floyd McGowin

Publisher: NewSouth Books

Pages: 334

Price: $27.95 (Trade paper)

Floyd McGowin, of the Chapman, Alabama, McGowins, the owners of the W.T. Smith Lumber Company, was born in 1931 and died in 2010, but this memoir takes his story basically up to 1966.

At that time, the W.T. Smith Company was sold and McGowin started the Rocky Creek Logging Company and ran it for 42 years, covered here in an epilogue of only six pages.

“The Reading Circle”

Author: Ashton Lee

Publisher: Kensington Books

Pages: 234

Price: $15.00 (Trade paperback)

In a recent comic novel, “Love’s Winning Plays,” in which he dared to satirize SEC football, Inman Majors also made fun of book discussion groups. He has his lonely hero, Raymond Love, join one in order to meet women. It sort of works; book club membership is overwhelmingly female.

It might seem odd to be reading about an old-fashioned farmstead shootout and thinking about how charming it is, but if you're reading Girl Waits With Gun, you might as well get used to it. You'll be thinking that a lot, because the women holding down this particular farmstead are Constance, Norma, and Fleurette Kopp, who handle the battle with grim panache. Though they're under fire, Constance's narrative voice is endlessly pragmatic and authoritative: Neither stray internal monologue nor enemy bullets will be permitted.

The title tells all: Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World. Author Linda Hirshman's joint biography of the first and second women to serve on the nation's highest court is a gossipy, funny, sometimes infuriating and moving tale of two women so similar and yet so different.

Sandra Day O'Connor, raised on a Western ranch and a lifelong Republican who cut her political teeth as majority leader of the Arizona Senate, was named to the Supreme Court by President Reagan in 1981.

5-Hour Line Turns Barbecue Pilgrims Into Cash Cow For Locals

23 hours ago

Texas has a barbecue joint known as much for the line of people waiting outside as for its tender brisket.

At Franklin Barbecue in Austin, people start lining up around 5 a.m., waiting six hours, chatting with others in line until the restaurant opens at 11 a.m.

This barbecue place is such a big deal that entrepreneurs like Desmond Roldan are cashing in on its fans.

"People know me. I'm a big deal," he says, chuckling.

If, like me, you're an amateur taster of beer and wine, inevitably you've asked yourself why you don't taste that hint of raspberry or note of pine bark that someone else says is there.

He was called the Sultan of Shock and the Guru of Gore: Wes Craven, who died Sunday, directed dozens of now-classic horror movies, including A Nightmare on Elm Street and all of the Scream films.

Scream, from 1996, is an expert parody of horror movies, filled with inside jokes — like the girl alone in the house who gets a phone call that's coming from closer than she thinks. Writer Kevin Williamson made it funny. Craven made it scary.

Wayne Dyer, the writer, philosopher and motivational speaker who encouraged millions of people to look at their lives in a new way, died this weekend at age 75. Over four decades, Dyer sought to motivate people to explore their passions and turn away from negativity.

Dyer died late Saturday in Maui, according to his publisher, Hay House.

Neurologist Oliver Sacks, who died Sunday, once described himself as an "old Jewish atheist," but during the decades he spent studying the human brain, he sometimes found himself recording experiences that he likened to a godly cosmic force.

Such was the case once when Sacks tried marijuana in the 1960s: He was looking at his hand, and it appeared to be retreating from him, yet getting larger and larger.

Will Smith from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was my first American friend. Ours was an unlikely friendship: a shy Indian kid, fresh off the boat, with big glasses and a thick accent, and a high school b-ball player from West Philadelphia, chillin' out maxin' and relaxin' all cool. And yet, I was with Will all the way, unnerved when he accidentally gave Carlton speed, shaken when he got shot in Season 5, and deeply embarrassed every time he wiped out in front of Veronica.

Teenagers often feel bound by their parents' rules, and many young people feel isolated at some point, separated from the rest of the world.

But what would life be like for a young woman who was literally isolated — and bound by rules designed to save her life?

It's a question that author Nicola Yoon explores in her new novel for young adults, Everything, Everything. For 18 years, her lead character, Madeleine, has been kept inside a sterile house, interacting only with her mother and her nurse.

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