Here are a few new releases that have literally made me tinkle a little! I read book reviews in both the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Essence magazine consistently, but NEVER...I MEAN NEVER...have I been so excited about a book list like this!

These reviews in the Wall Street Journal:

Rebels in Paradise: (Amazon product description) Los Angeles, 1960: There was no modern art museum and there were few galleries, which is exactly what a number of daring young artists liked about it, among them Ed Ruscha, David Hockney, Robert Irwin, Bruce Nauman, Judy Chicago and John Baldessari. Freedom from an established way of seeing, making, and marketing art fueled their creativity, which in turn inspired the city. Today Los Angeles has four museums dedicated to contemporary art, around one hundred galleries, and thousands of artists. Here, at last, is the book that tells the saga of how the scene came into being, why a prevailing Los Angeles permissiveness, 1960s-style, spawned countless innovations, including Andy Warhol's first exhibition, Marcel Duchamp's first retrospective, Frank Gehry's mind-bending architecture, Rudi Gernreich's topless bathing suit, Dennis Hopper's Easy Rider, even the Beach Boys, the Byrds, the Doors, and other purveyors of a California style. In the 1960s, Los Angeles was the epicenter of cool.

"Brilliantly illuminated .... Drohojowska-Philp skillfully interlinks the art movement with news events and cultural milestones in film, fashion, novels, theater, and music, from Frank Gehry’s architecture to the Watts riots. Having interviewed many of the participants, she introduces David Hockney and others with in-depth profiles and colorful anecdotes. Recreating an electric era when the art world made an axis shift, Drohojowska-Philp successfully paints a Day-Glo image of those days when anything seemed possible."—PW, Starred Review

 The Wall Street Journal published the following list, all of these books look like delicious reads! I will be devouring them all! Tell you how they go - if you pick up one to read - will you please let me know? I love discussing books! Like love it.
Men's Health
Cruelty in Fact and Fiction
Wall Street Journal

The Fatal Shore
By Robert Hughes (1986)
Lyrical and often horrifying, this masterpiece recounts Australia's founding in all its Brueghel-like detail. Britain, with an exploding crime rate at the turn of the 18th century and its jails crammed past capacity with mostly minor felons, arrived at a solution: the establishment of an antipodal maximum-security prison whose perimeters were on the other side of the world and guarded by the thundering Pacific. The policy had a name, "transportation," that only the most semantically inventive and dehumanizing bureaucracy could dream up. The "hell ships" that made the eight-month voyage delivered their cargo to a lifetime sentence of forced labor, rape and unendurable deprivations, all under constant threat of the lash. The penal settlements spawned sadists who invented tortures rivaling any gulag's. In the end, a country was founded, but the aboriginal population was nearly wiped out. "Cruelty," Hughes writes, "is an appetite that grows with feeding."

The Lime Twig
By John Hawkes (1961)
The plot of this hallucinatory novel is as streamlined as a Hollywood pitch: A group of desperate men in post-World War II England steal a racehorse to substitute it in another race. The scheme is the brainchild of Michael Banks, who dreams of a better life for himself and his wife. But when a gang takes him under its wing, he is instantly seduced by the hedonism of the underworld. The novel's title provides the central theme: A lime twig is a bird trap that can also trap the soul. And as Michael becomes more deeply enmeshed in the caper, his wife falls into jeopardy as well. His cruelty is of the unwitting kind: He loses sight of her in his pursuit of fast money at high stakes, and it is his neglect that brings disaster down on her.

The Journals of John Cheever
Edited by Robert Gottlieb (1991)
'In middle age there is mystery, there is mystification," John Cheever begins the journals he kept religiously for some 30 years. The entries reveal the underbelly of his stories and novels, producing along the way an epic and unflinching self-portrait. Cheever guarded the journals fiercely while alive, stipulating only a posthumous publication. He is brutally honest about his doubts, whether over his writing or his sexuality, and freely describes his countless affairs with men and women alike; and he unwaveringly chronicles the ravages of his alcoholism. Above and beyond these painful motifs, however, there is the story of his difficult, lifelong marriage to Mary Cheever, a woman who suffers all his ambivalences and sins and whose sorrow occasionally peeks through the cracks of her husband's cruelty. She tells him: "I am going away. I will take a little apartment and live there with the children. You are torturing me to death. You are torturing me to death."

Tiger, Tiger
By Margaux Fragoso (2011)
Margaux Fragoso's unyielding examination of her 15-year relationship with her victimizer, Peter Curran, is not for the faint of heart. Fragoso was 7 years old when she introduced herself to the 51-year-old at a public swimming pool in Union City, N.J., saying innocently: "Can I play with you?" As Curran—who eventually committed suicide—nurtures a horrible privacy with the little girl, readers will constantly fight the urge to recoil. His predatory behavior has devastating effects on her, of course, from depression to emotional isolation and, most heart-rending of all, an inability to distinguish between authentic love and the perversions to which the author had grown accustomed. Yet readers may well deduce that a subtler and perhaps causative cruelty played a part in this story—namely the role of the writer's parents. By continually putting her at the center of their own fraught relationship—causing their daughter to yearn for stable adult love—they had made her vulnerable to a predator's sinister affections.

By J.M. Coetzee (1999)
In post-apartheid South Africa, this novel's protagonist, a professor named David Lurie, flees to his daughter Lucy's farm to escape the scandal provoked by his affair with a student. After years of disaffection, David and Lucy enjoy a rapprochement. But after an attack in which Lucy is sexually assaulted, they are forced to re-examine their relationships with both each other and their homeland. J.M. Coetzee is insightful about the violence at the heart of male sexuality and about the unbridgeable distance between parents and children. Finally, though, "Disgrace" is a meditation on cruelty, whether that inflicted by state-sponsored apartheid or by South Africans reclaiming their country or by the owners of the animals rescued by the shelter where David volunteers. Despite cruelty's depredations, though, Coetzee ultimately shows us that a path to redemption can be found.

—Mr. Ross is the author of the novel "Mr. Peanut," now available in paperback, and of the story collection "Ladies and Gentlemen," published in June.

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