10 New Books We Recommend This Week


THE OUTLIER: The Unfinished Presidency of Jimmy Carter, by Kai Bird. (Crown, $38.) Bird argues that the Carter presidency deserves another look because, along with numerous farsighted accomplishments, it was much more pivotal than most Americans currently believe. “Bird blames Carter’s basic honesty for the fact that most Americans missed this about his presidency,” Timothy Naftali writes in his review, calling Bird’s biography an “important book” that “explains why American presidents continue to learn as much from President Carter’s mistakes as from his many achievements.”

SUPER FLY: The Unexpected Lives of the World’s Most Successful Insects, by Jonathan Balcombe. (Penguin, paper, $18.) Naturalists have detailed the life cycle of the fly (egg, maggot, pupa, midge), but the notion that flies are tiny automatons lingers on. Balcombe undermines this idea with fascinating details about the variety and ability of flies, including the ways they exhibit discerning social lives. “Balcombe’s book does more than unfold surprising facts about flies,” Rebecca Giggs writes in her review. “The effect of being keyed into this miniature world is an uneasy feeling of double vision. Where once flies might have represented tedium or torment, ‘Super Fly’ unveils an existence that is not necessarily simpler for merely being smaller.”

FILTHY ANIMALS: Stories, by Brandon Taylor. (Riverhead, $26). Taylor’s first story collection (after his debut novel, “Real Life”) is a study in rogue appetites, presenting sumptuous, melancholic portraits of characters overwhelmed. “Taylor has a talent for taking the dull hum of quotidian life and converting it into lyrics,” John Paul Brammer writes in his review. “These intimacies, often cozy, pair splendidly with the uglier, more brutal elements to establish the book’s focus: the feral that lurks under the veneer, the unspoken impulses that can lead people to contort themselves into gruesome shapes.”

BARCELONA DREAMING, by Rupert Thomson. (Other Press, paper, $15.99.) The three loosely linked narratives in this stirring novel depict Barcelona during the early 2000s. An Englishwoman begins an affair with a Moroccan immigrant, a musician spirals into alcoholism, and a translator falls in with a shadowy British businessman. Characters reappear in each of the stories, showing the smallness of the world, and the place of chance in defining the shape of a life. “The stories are also connected by their style, which is airily suggestive,” our reviewer, Alex Preston, writes. “‘Barcelona Dreaming’ is a wonderful book, a phantasmal hymn to a city and a lost way of life.”

THE ESSENTIAL JUNE JORDAN, edited by Jan Heller Levi and Christoph Keller. (Copper Canyon, paper, $18.) A selection of poems published between 1971 and 2001, this posthumous volume reflects Jordan’s view of poetry as “a political action” that can “build a revolution.” Her own poems “can feel like a rallying cry for solidarity,” Elisa Gabbert writes in her latest poetry column. “Jordan puts love and delight in her poems, not just vengeance and justice. There is so much giddy humor in her exclamation points: ‘The blues is the blues!’”



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