Six new paperbacks to check out this week.
BRUCE LEE: A Life, by Matthew Polly. (Simon & Schuster, $20.) Among the first serious treatments of the martial arts star, this definitive biography follows Lee’s move from America to Hong Kong and back again, his time as a child star in Asia, the reverse racism he experienced and his rise to prominence in the United States. Above all, Polly explores how Lee’s fame helped reshape perceptions of Asian-Americans in the United States.
THE OPTIMISTIC DECADE, by Heather Abel. (Algonquin, $15.95.) A back-to-the-land summer camp attracts a charismatic leader and a bevy of followers, who encounter the limits of their ideals in the Colorado desert. Our reviewer, Zoe Greenberg, called Abel “a perceptive writer whose astute observations keep the book funny and light even under the weight of its Big Ideas.”
INDIANAPOLIS: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man, by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic. (Simon & Schuster, $18.) Nearly 900 people died when the U.S.S. Indianapolis, a Navy cruiser, was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1945, but the story has long been incomplete. Vincent, a Navy veteran, and Vladic, a filmmaker, offer a fuller view of the episode.
FRUIT OF THE DRUNKEN TREE, by Ingrid Rojas Contreras. (Anchor, $16.) Drawing on the author’s own experiences, this debut novel describes life in Escobar-era Colombia. Narrated by a young girl, Chula, and her family’s maid from a nearby slum, the story captures the despair, confusion and chaos as the country’s conflict raged. Our reviewer, Julianne Pachico, praised the book, writing, “You don’t need to have grown up in Bogotá to be taken in by Contreras’s simple but memorable prose and absorbing story line.”
DON’T MAKE ME PULL OVER! An Informal History of the Family Road Trip, by Richard Ratay. (Scribner, $17.) This playful account conjures up the era before air travel was within reach for many American families, and explores how the Interstate transformed people’s relationship to the country. Part history, part memoir (Ratay recalls with fondness trips from his own childhood), the book is a love letter to the 1970s.
A LUCKY MAN: Stories, by Jamel Brinkley. (Public Space/Graywolf, $16.) A finalist for the National Book Award, this collection explores race, class and intimacy in the lives of black men. In the title story, a man whose wife seems to have left him examines his expectations of what the world owes him, what he feels he can take from others and what it would mean if his good fortune ran out.
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