New & Noteworthy

New this week:

THE ANNOTATED MEMOIRS OF ULYSSES S. GRANT Edited by Elizabeth S. Samet. (Liveright, $45.) If you liked Ron Chernow’s recent biography of the 18th president, this annotated version of Grant’s memoirs provides the context necessary to appreciate one of the most celebrated pieces of presidential writing. TEAM HUMAN By Douglas Rushkoff. (Norton, $23.95.) A professor of media theory, Rushkoff files field notes from the war between man and machine, arguing gloomily that technology is currently winning, quickly chipping away at our humanity. BOOKENDS By Michael Chabon. (Harper Perennial, paper, $16.99.) Chabon offers a glimpse at his influences in this compilation of previously published odds and ends. Much of the book is made up of introductions to eclectic cult classics. THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS By Salka Viertel. (New York Review Books, paper, $17.95.) Born in a remote province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Viertel made her way in the 1920s to Hollywood, where she had a career as a screenwriter and became a confidante of Greta Garbo. Her memoir captures both the intellectual world she had to leave behind — one peopled by the likes of Kafka, Musil and Einstein — and the home and refuge she made for herself in Los Angeles. DIDEROT AND THE ART OF THINKING FREELY By Andrew S. Curran. (Other Press, $26.95.) In this new biography, Curran looks to remind us just what a radical Diderot was in his time.

& Noteworthy

In which we ask colleagues at The Times what they’re reading now.

“I read a lot of contemporary fiction, but the books I keep coming back to in recent months are American noir novels from the ’40s and ’50s. I’ve recently read more Raymond Chandler than I have at any time and can’t quite figure out why except that the dark underworld he brings to life, a boozy and beautiful Los Angeles, is one I can get completely lost in. The latest novel of his I can recommend is THE LADY IN THE LAKE, about two missing wives, one rich and one poor, and the men who want them back, and not always for the right reasons. People often forget how extremely funny Chandler is, particularly when it comes to painting a room: ‘The whole place was full to overflowing with males in leisure jackets and liquor breaths and females in high-pitched laughs, oxblood fingernails and dirty knuckles.’ And I especially enjoy how he describes female characters: She was ‘smart, smooth and no good. She had a way with men. She could make them crawl over her shoes.’ He also evokes California landscapes better than just about any writer, making it easy to smell the jasmine and feel the heat from the Santa Anas, air, he writes, ‘hot enough to blister my tongue.’”

— Julie Bloom, Deputy Editor, National Desk

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