Also of interest ... in American portraits
A Country Called Amreeka by Alia Malek; Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself by David Lipsky; The Publisher by Alan Brinkley; Tocqueville’s Discovery of America by Leo Damrosch
A Country Called Amreeka by Alia Malek (Free Press, $25)This “elegantly structured collection” of profiles reveals what it’s like to be both Arab and American, said Dave Eggers in the San Francisco Chronicle. Whether her subjects are working-class or high-profile, Alia Malek captures them with “warmth and a quick wit,” generating a clear-eyed group portrait. Beginning with Ed Salem—a Lebanese-American who in 1948 starred as a halfback for the University of Alabama—she frequently conveys “how deeply woven into the fabric of this country Arab-Americans are.”
Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourselfby David Lipsky(Broadway, $17)The raw materials in this snapshot of the late novelist David Foster Wallace “will be manna to fans and biographers,” said Scott Esposito in the Los Angeles Times. Shortly after Wallace’s Infinite Jest was published, David Lipsky spent five days roaming the country with him, taping conversations. Somewhere in this book lies “a tragic portrait” of a young artist undone by success. But Lipsky’s transcripts beg for editing. The Publisher by Alan Brinkley (Knopf, $35)This “monumental, magisterial” new biography of Henry Luce is “the finest ever written about an American journalist,” said Jonathan Yardley in The Washington Post. The man who created or co-created Time, Fortune, Life, and Sports Illustrated was a giant of the bygone era that he himself had labeled “the American Century.” Though historian Alan Brinkley fails to note that many journalists felt like sellouts when they joined Luce’s glossy empire, he captures almost every other nuance in Luce’s remarkably influential life.
Tocqueville’s Discovery of America by Leo Damrosch (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27)Before his writings about 19th-century American democracy became legendary, Alexis de Tocqueville was “a likable young man” on a road trip abroad with a “fun-loving” cousin, said George Scialabba in The Boston Globe. Leo Damrosch has created “a genial and colorful” account of the duo’s tour of 1830s America. Their adventures and encounters would forever shape how the world viewed the American experiment.