This week’s featured titles span wildly different stories of complicated parent-daughter relationships, from Lynne Tillman’s lucid description of caring for a remote and often critical mother in declining health to Mary Rodgers’ rambunctious memoir about life as a Broadway royalty, growing up with parents who were the same aloof and critical: the composer Richard Rodgers and (especially) the writer and entrepreneur Dorothy Rodgers, who was such a piece of work that a chapter of this book is titled “I Dismember Mama.” As for the fiction, Mecca Jamilah Sullivan’s debut novel follows an overweight 8-year-old girl whose parents bring their own physical problems to raise her.
Also recommended: a few novels, a look at the work of Josephine Baker in the French resistance, a history of alcohol as medicine and a book about yoga (among other things) by the French writer Emmanuel Carrère. There’s also a debut collection of personal essays, a journalistic account of a rape case that went viral in the early days of social media, and an investigation by a Washington reporter into the ways an initially reluctant Republican establishment embraced Donald Trump and his politics. Enjoy reading.
Tillman, a novelist and critic, writes in this book unsentimentally about the 11 years she spent tending to her mother’s deteriorating health. It’s mostly composed of personal memories, but Tillman occasionally offers some explicit words of guidance for anyone in a similar situation.
With “Yoga”, translated from the French by John Lambert, Carrère began to write “a cheerful, subtle little book” about the practice. Instead, he’s produced a signature self-analyzing collection of messy and powerful tangents involving the murder of a friend, an emotional crisis, and receiving a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Intentionally and unintentionally funny, full of extreme candor, “Yoga” has all the Carrère traits that charm and enrapture some readers and repel others.
Farrar, Straus & Giroux | $28
Behind the scenes on Broadway: This breathtakingly candid memoir belongs to Richard Rodgers’ daughter (she was also Stephen Sondheim’s confidante and the composer of “Once Upon a Mattress”). A posthumous treasure, written with The Times’ foremost theater critic.
Farrar, Straus & Giroux | $35
Amid the dazzle and drama of belle epoque Paris, this fresh, clever marriage-of-convenience novel stars a Scotch whiskey maker and Dominican heiress who is also a rum distiller.
HQN | Paper, $12.99
A blackmail letter from a thief to a duchess leads to a brief letter flirtation, and before you know it, our leads are on the run together. The first book of the series, “The Queer Principles of Kit Webb,” laid out the characters’ rejection of inherited wealth and title, and this book takes it further into complete anarchy.
From fermented rice drinks in ancient China to gin and tonics that the British sipped in 19th-century India, alcoholic beverages consumed for their healing properties are a tradition that spans centuries and cultures, this joyful history says. Recipes included.
Penguin Books | Paper, $18
Josephine Baker is best known as a shining star of the Paris cabaret stage, but according to this book, the American-born triple threat was much more: not just an active member of the French Resistance, but a daring double agent. She used her own celebrity status—and a person who didn’t fit anywhere, everywhere—as a cover.
Mecca Jamilah Sullivan
In this painfully beautiful coming-of-age debut novel, set in 1980s Harlem, 8-year-old Malaya struggles with society – and her parents’ expectations – about what her body should look like.
Live right | $27
Sometimes a viral essay is just a viral essay. Other times, as with Hauser’s story of breaking off her engagement (written for The Paris Review), a play that spoke to millions will lead to something bigger — in this case, a compelling memoir in essays.
In this group portrait, Leibovich describes the twisted and tormented souls in the Republican establishment who may have known better, but “made Trump possible.”
Penguin Press | $29
This meticulous account of the “first rape case to ever go viral in the United States” conveys the brutal banality of sexual assault and calls for a broader reckoning with American masculinity in the Internet age.