Also of interest... in men under pressure
by Mary V. Dearborn (Knopf, $35)
Ernest Hemingway was “a more troubled, complex, and tragic figure” than we previously realized, said Matthew Adams in The Washington Post. In this affecting new biography, the great novelist is often cruel to women, and he cultivates his macho image almost to the point of parody. But author Mary Dearborn puts his behavior in context by illuminating the sources of his insecurities and his long struggle with manic depression. She’s given readers the “most fully faceted” portrait of Hemingway yet written.
The Descent of Man
by Grayson Perry (Penguin, $17)
This slim new book “would be unremarkable if it were just another diatribe about toxic masculinity,” said Sophie Gilbert in The Atlantic. But the author is a Turner Prize–winning British artist and a transvestite, and his “pithy and entertaining” treatise is built on compassion for modern men. Perry argues that men are stuck with a model of manhood that’s thousands of years out of date. He’s less interested in berating them for following that model than in convincing them that it’s their greatest foe.
by Gabe Habash (Coffee House, $25)
First-time novelist Gabe Habash has created “one of the most unforgettable characters in recent American fiction,” said Michael Schaub in NPR.org. Stephen Florida is the star of the wrestling team at a North Dakota college, and his intense need to win leaves him unable to cope when an injury threatens to derail his senior season. Both charismatic and repellent, he’s a highly unreliable narrator. But he’s also the main reason Habash’s debut rates as “one of the best sports books to come along in quite a while.”
by Victor LaValle (Spiegel & Grau, $28)
At first, the protagonist of this inventive novel is “a regular Joe just trying to keep it all together,” said Natalie Beach in O magazine. But then his wife murders their infant son and vanishes, and to reunite his family the Ugandan-American bookstore owner must journey into New York City’s secret places and do battle with demons and monsters. Each obstacle he faces forces him to tap previously unknown reserves—“and changes our perception of who a hero can be.”