Feature

Also of interest ... in outsize characters

Satchel by Larry Tye; The Bolter by Frances Osborne; Lowside of the Road <br /> by Barney Hoskyns; K Blows Top by Peter Carlson

Satchel by Larry Tye (Random House, $26)Satchel Paige finally has been awarded the authoritative biography he deserves, said Janet Maslin in The New York Times. Though the savvy, gifted baseball hurler “might have been the most famous black man in America” during his prime, it’s always been hard to separate truth from hyperbole because he played in the Negro Leagues for most of his 40-year pitching career. Larry Tye makes a “cool, clear, tenacious effort” to see the late legend whole; “more than enough personality” survives the scrutiny.

The Bolter by Frances Osborne (Knopf, $30)Frances Osborne’s new book about her great-grandmother, who scandal­ized early 20th-century England, ­suffers from “overblown writing” and “excessive” personal reflection, said Sadie Stein in Jezebel.com. Even so, the story of Lady Idina Sackville, who “bolted” from five successive high-profile marriages, offers a “fascinating” portrait of a prototypical wild child and a sobering exploration of how society demonizes any woman who doesn’t put her children first. The “most celebrated bolter of her day” eventually emerges as “restless, unhappy—and incredibly tough.”

Lowside of the Road by Barney Hoskyns (Broadway, $30)Singer-songwriter Tom Waits apparently has lived “the sort of story” that makes the artist in him “cringe,” said Jeff Miers in The Buffalo News. “A singularly talented man” who long engaged in self-destructive behavior before he found “redemption and solace in marriage and family,” Waits didn’t want this book written—most likely because he has been “avoiding anything resembling a cliché for his whole career.” Barney Hoskyns produced an “in-depth portrait” anyway, “and we should all be glad he did.”

K Blows Top by Peter Carlson (PublicAffairs, $27)Peter Carlson’s account of Nikita Krushchev’s weird 1959 tour across America “certainly qualifies for that catch-all adjective ‘breezy,’” said Bob Hoover in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. As the unpredictable Soviet premier kisses babies, threatens America’s destruction, and ogles Marilyn Monroe’s cleavage, Carlson’s retelling successfully “supplies a few chuckles.” But the author “interviewed just eight people for the book.” I saw Krushchev’s motorcade pass through Pittsburgh on that trip, and “I believe I came closer” to the Communist leader that day than Carlson has managed to.

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