The Daily Beast Recommends
This week: new short stories by Joyce Carol Oates, a Great Depression-era self-help book climbs up the best-seller list, and the war against prescription painkillers.
Dear Husbandby Joyce Carol Oates
A new short-story collection, including one inspired by the Andrea Yates murder case.
Commenting on Joyce Carol Oates’s bibliography makes one feel a bit avuncular: You can’t help but remark how big it has grown. The latest addition, Dear Husband, collects 14 recent stories. The title story, inspired by the Texas murders by Andrea Yates, takes the form of a letter by a mother who has drowned her five children under the delusion that God commanded her to do so. Publishers Weekly raves, “Throughout the collection, Oates seamlessly enters the minds of disparate characters to find both the exalted and depraved aspects of real American families.”
The Addict: One Patient, One Doctor, One Yearby Michael Stein
Can America combat prescription-drug addiction?
The United States media is currently transfixed by the drug war south of the border, but America’s fastest-growing drug disorder originates within its own borders: addiction to prescription painkillers. The Addict by Michael Stein, who teaches medicine at Brown University, is a highly personal account of his relationship with Lucy, a patient struggling to overcome a Vicodin addiction. Praising The Addict for O, The Oprah Magazine, Francine Prose wrote, “Clearly, Stein believes that his ability to heal is directly related to his ability to listen to, and care about, his patients—to understand who they are and how they got that way … It’s a useful, sensible, and often inspiring guide to how the medical profession does—and should—treat the sick, and the sick at heart.”
Now or Never: Getting Down to the Business of Saving Our American Dreamby Jack Cafferty
The CNN newsman tackles America’s economic problems.
Over the years, CNN’s Jack Cafferty has earned a reputation as a hard truth teller, and in the present climate, that is just what America needs: His latest book, Now or Never, takes on nothing smaller than “the business of saving our American dream.” In an interview with Fortune, Cafferty blames the present predicament on “policies of not living within our means” and President George W. Bush, who “accumulated more debt on his watch than all the previous U.S. presidents before him combined.” He is optimistic about President Obama, but says “I don't know that we're ever going to get completely out of this one. We are going to have to accept a decline in our standard of living in this country.”
How to Win Friends & Influence Peopleby Dale Carnegie
The classic self-help book still has wise strategies for today’s business class.
In 1937, during the Great Depression, Dale Carnegie helped to ease the anxieties of America’s desperate professional class with How to Win Friends and Influence People. It makes sense then, that with our “new Great Depression,” Carnegie’s self-help classic is climbing the best-seller list once again. Now, 72 years after its publication, How to Win Friends is currently #73 on Amazon.com. That the book’s wisdom—“talk about your own mistakes first,” “let the other person save face,” etc.—is by now pretty boilerplate as a testament to Carnegie’s success.
The Moonflower Vineby Jetta Carleton
A rediscovered gem reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird.
Jetta Carleton published one book in her life— The Moonflower Vine in 1963—and when she died in 1999, it was mostly forgotten. But her reputation stands a chance at resurrection with the republication of The Moonflower Vine by Harper Perennial as part of its “Rediscovered Classics” series. The family story, set in rural Missouri, drew comparisons to To Kill a Mockingbird at the time of its publication (interesting, given that Mockingbird was also Harper Lee’s only novel), and remained on best-seller lists for 15 weeks. Writing an appreciation of Carleton’s novel in her book, Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel, Jane Smiley wrote, “It was complex and daring when it was first published and it remains so in the 21st century—a delicate and loving exploration of some of the most sensitive topics of family life, presented in a straightforward style that is remarkable for its beauty and moral precision.”