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The Book Report: Washington Post critic Ron Charles (March 17)

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The Book Report: Washington Post critic Ron Charles (March 17)


By Washington Post book critic Ron Charles

This month’s books take us from pre-Civil War America to the modern-day politics, the rise of Silicon Valley, and the future of the planet.


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Doubleday


For 140 years, people have been reading, praising and condemning “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Well, get ready to see Mark Twain’s classic in a strikingly different light.

Percival Everett, the author of “Erasure” (the novel that inspired the Academy Award-winning film “American Fiction”), has just published a new book called “James” (Doubleday).

It retells “Huckleberry Finn” from the perspective of Huck’s enslaved friend, Jim. And believe me, that one change changes everything.

With this comic, sometimes terrifying story, Everett delivers a sharp satire of racism, and more than one shocking surprise. 

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READ AN EXCERPT: “James” by Percival Everett

“James” by Percival Everett (Doubleday), in Hardcover, Large Print Trade Paperback, eBook and Audio formats, available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Bookshop.org

Also by Percival Everett: “Dr. No” (Book excerpt)


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Hogarth Books

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“Great Expectations” – no, not that one – is a new novel by Vinson Cunningham, a theater critic for The New Yorker. Inspired by his own experiences, it tells the story of a young man who gets a job as a fundraiser for the presidential campaign of a Black senator from Illinois. Now, the candidate is never named, but you’ll figure it out from Cunningham’s pitch-perfect descriptions.

The real subject, though, is this thoughtful narrator, raised in a Pentecostal church, looking at the candidate and his wealthy donors, and trying to figure out what kind of man he’ll become in a nation woven from money and faith.

READ AN EXCERPT: “Great Expectations” by Vinson Cunningham

“Great Expectations” by Vinson Cunningham (Hogarth), in Hardcover, eBook and Audio formats, available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Bookshop.org

Vinson Cunningham at The New Yorker

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Random House


Téa Obreht has written magical tales involving tigers in the Balkans and camels in the Arizona Territory. Her new novel, “The Morningside” (Random House), is set in a future ravaged by climate change.

An 11-year-old girl named Silvia has immigrated with her mother to an island city that will remind you of New York. There they live with Silvia’s aunt who’s in charge of a once-grand high-rise apartment building.

But unable to go to school, Silvia turns her curious mind to her strange neighbors – particularly one woman who owns three unusual dogs that may turn into men during the day. 

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READ AN EXCERPT: “The Morningside” by Téa Obreht

“The Morningside” by Téa Obreht (Random House), in Hardcover, Large Print Trade Paperback, eBook and Audio formats, available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Bookshop.org

teaobreht.com


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Simon & Schuster

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Kara Swisher has been chronicling the wonders and shenanigans of Silicon Valley since people were dialing up AOL to hear “You’ve got mail.”

Now, in her new memoir, “Burn Book: A Tech Love Story” (Simon & Schuster), Swisher takes us through her journey as a reporter who not only covered the rise of the Web, but became one of its leading voices – even as she became increasingly disillusioned with the arrogance of Internet billionaires and their reckless empires.

All the usual suspects are here – Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and others – along with Swisher’s signature bravado and insightful criticism.

READ AN EXCERPT: “Burn Book: A Tech Love Story” by Kara Swisher

“Burn Book: A Tech Love Story” by Kara Swisher (Simon & Schuster), in Hardcover, eBook and Audio formats, available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Bookshop.org

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Kara Swisher, host of the podcast On with Kara Swisher and co-host of Pivot


For more suggestions on what to read, contact your librarian or local bookseller. 

That’s it for the Book Report. I’m Ron Charles. Until next time, read on!

     
For more info: 

      
For more reading recommendations, check out these previous Book Report features from Ron Charles: 

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Produced by Robin Sanders and Roman Feeser.



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Washington

Identifying the Top 4 NFL Draft Needs for the Washington Commanders

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Identifying the Top 4 NFL Draft Needs for the Washington Commanders


The Washington Commanders have one major need on their roster entering NFL Draft week, and that of course is at the quarterback position.

So while we sit down to identify the four biggest needs for the Commanders to address this weekend, we’re going to skip over that one to get four groups that are not talked about nearly as much these days.

And we’re starting with the biggest need for new head coach Dan Quinn and his Washington squad, an offensive tackle.

NEED NO. 1 – OFFENSIVE TACKLE

They’re not the sexiest picks ever but if you get them right your quarterback will look the part plenty for both of them.

Tackles and quarterbacks are connected directly because if one doesn’t do his job efficiently on a given snap the results could be disastrous.

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For the Commanders this means looking at the duo of left tackle Cornelius Lucas and right tackle Andrew Wylie and realizing there’s at worst a need to find a longterm option at each position.

The bigger need here appears to be at left tackle and even if Lucas is starting next season it needs to be because he beat out a relatively high draft pick to do it.

NEED NO. 2 – GUARD

So we’re not traveling very far for this one, and even though Washington did some solid work bringing in Nick Allegretti from the champion Kansas City Chiefs, he said himself he came here for an opportunity to win a starting job.

You can’t win something that isn’t fought over and while Chris Paul might provide Allegretti a solid fight by himself this new Commanders leadership group would be wise to look out for another potential combatant to add to the mix on Day 2 or 3.

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NEED NO. 3 – CORNERBACK

Benjamin St-Juste appeared to take a step backwards last year, either due to injury or drop in coaching ability around him, and rookie Emmanuel Forbes looked lost for much of his rookie season.

Again, the same ailments that impacted St-Juste may have very well impacted Forbes, but the bottom line is neither looked the part of reliable shutdown corner in 2023 and that fact leaves the door open for a new addition to the room, possibly coming in the top 100 picks.

NEED NO. 4 – PASS RUSHER

Something tells us the term edge will apply to both defensive ends and outside linebacker types this year in Washington.

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Certainly the same player might be doing a little of both, but there’s a real possibility this team employs each type of player for the job of rushing opposing quarterbacks off the edge this season.

Honestly, the Commanders are in a position where any group they don’t address with a draft pick will be pointed at as a potential flaw, but it’s unlikely every group gets added to via draft pick.

And just because a need exists, if the right talent isn’t there to match it, there may not be a selection made.

Washington has done a good job of giving itself the chance to be as flexible as possible in this year’s NFL Draft, but some things remain in need of addressing, and these four group should be at the top of the list if the right player presents himself at the right selection.



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Advice | Carolyn Hax: How to revive a friendship killed by a hostile text?

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Advice | Carolyn Hax: How to revive a friendship killed by a hostile text?


Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: Can you suggest a way to try to save a friendship that I care about, even though my friend basically dumped me via text message? I hate text for communication about feelings and relationships. She even knew that. Just call me!

In her out-of-the-blue and, as it turns out, final text message to me, she basically pooped on my lap and ran away. I tried calling her immediately to clarify, but she did not pick up.

I miss her, and I have no idea why she did that. It’s a really hurtful way to end a friendship, where I don’t even get to talk and find out what’s really going on. Would you try another way?

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Ghosted: No, I wouldn’t. Her message is clear, and it consists both of the message itself and of its delivery method. By your description, she seems to have chosen deliberately to drop it and hide where you can’t reach her to respond.

It’s a rotten thing to do to a friend. It’s not okay.

But it is also, again, clear. So, your continuing to try to give your side of the story or extract hers would cross a boundary. Accept the verdict, crappy as it is, and understand the friend and friendship weren’t as healthy as you thought.

Re: Ghosted: Why is a healthy withdrawal after consistent boundary violations considered “ghosting” or “canceling”? If you think about whether the person whose attention you feel entitled to has any interest at all in interacting with you, then you may be able to solve your mystery.

Anonymous: I will be happy never to see “cancel”-anything again, plus true “ghosting” would have been silence without even the text.

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And, as I said, further pursuit of this friend would be to violate the friend’s clear boundary.

But: There’s nothing in the letter that says Ghosted made “consistent boundary violations.”

When there is an established friendship, and there isn’t abuse, I think it’s still lousy to say something bad about someone and not allow them any rebuttal.

Other readers’ thoughts:

· I also had someone do this. Not only would I not advise reaching out further, but I think you also have to question the idea that a conversation would have gone any better. Someone who would do this is not someone with whom you’re going to have a satisfying conversation or reach a satisfying resolution. She may even have done you a favor with the text ghosting.

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· I ended a long friendship by “ghosting” the other party after realizing the extent of their emotional manipulation of me. It was the only way I could do it without them trying to manipulate me again.

I think about how much better off I am with that person no longer in my life. It might sound harsh, but I did it for me, and I’m proud of doing what’s best for me, even if some people think I owed it to them to tell them why I stopped talking to them.

· The text wasn’t your first clue. Trust me: The signals were there before. You just didn’t see them. Accept the text as the only way to get through to you.

· I agree, the text breakup probably didn’t come out of nowhere — but I disagree that it means Ghosted was somehow at fault and that this was the “only way” to get through. I don’t think we know enough to make that judgment.



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2 children killed when suspected drunk driver plows into birthday party

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2 children killed when suspected drunk driver plows into birthday party


An 8-year-old girl and her 5-year-old brother were killed when a suspected drunk driver plowed into a child’s birthday party at a Michigan boat club Saturday, in a devastating crash that injured 15 others.

A 66-year-old woman driving an SUV slammed into the side of the Swan Boat Club about 3 p.m. and continued about 25 feet into the building before coming to a stop, Monroe County Sheriff Troy Goodnough said during a Saturday news conference. The driver, whom police have not publicly identified, was taken into custody on charges of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and causing death, and is expected to face additional charges. Goodnough said the driver was cooperating with investigators.

“The scene was described by the first responders as ‘extremely chaotic,’ with [a] high level of emotions of those directly involved and those who witnessed the horrific incident,” Goodnough said.

Gasps rippled through the room when Goodnough, in a trembling voice, said the two young party attendees pronounced dead at the scene were siblings.

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Six adults and three children were rushed to the hospital by ambulance and helicopter with serious injuries after the crash at the creekside boat club in Berlin Township, roughly 30 miles south of Detroit.

Video of the crash captured by doorbell camera shows a black SUV speeding through the boat club’s parking lot before crashing out of the frame and sending plumes of smoke and dust into the air.

Authorities said they were investigating a local tavern several miles away, where the suspect was believed to have been served before the fatal crash.

“We went in, we shut the business down, and we executed a search warrant into the business conducted that day,” Goodnough said.

The Swan Boat Club said in a Facebook post that it would remain closed Sunday and asked the community for prayers and support for the victims’ families.

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