New in Paperback: ‘Let the Record Show’ and ‘Hell of a Book’

LET THE RECORD SHOW: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993, by Sarah Schulman. (Picador, 752 pp., $22.) Schulman’s book, based on 17 years of interviews with nearly 200 members of the influential direct-action group committed to ending AIDS, “doesn’t seek to memorialize history but to ransack it,” the former Times critic Parul Sehgal wrote. “This is not reverent, definitive history. This is a tactician’s bible.”

HELL OF A BOOK, by Jason Mott. (Dutton, 336 pp., $17.) Mott’s fourth novel alternates between a Black author on a book tour across the United States, a young Black boy living in the rural South and a figure known as The Kid until their perspectives merge in unexpected ways. It was awarded the 2021 National Book Award and cited as a “highly original, inspired work that breaks new ground.”

OBJECTS OF DESIRE: Stories, by Clare Sestanovich. (Vintage, 224 pp., $16.) This “smart and accomplished” debut collection, as our reviewer, Kirstin Valdez Quade, commented, focuses on women with muted desires, standing at a distance from their own stories as they navigate the uncertainty of early adulthood. “Sestanovich’s prose is poised and understated, sensorily precise.”

THE FUGITIVITIES, by Jesse McCarthy. (Melville, 288 pp., $17.99.) A young Black American man, raised in France and working at a public high school in Brooklyn, is seeking his place in the world when a chance encounter with an old friend from college inspires him to uproot his life and move to Brazil. Our reviewer, Caleb Azumah Nelson, called this novel “virtuosic,” with a prose that is “agile as a pianist in full flow.”

ETHEL ROSENBERG: An American Tragedy, by Anne Sebba. (St. Martin’s Griffin, 336 pp., $18.99.) Sebba’s account is the first biography in 30 years to focus individually on Ethel Rosenberg, who was famously executed along with her husband, Julius, for treason and atomic espionage in June 1953. Our reviewer, Joseph Dorman, called it a plea to free Rosenberg from “the stock political figure she inevitably became.”

HELLO DADDY! How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons, by John Paul Brammer. (Simon & Schuster, 224 pp., $17.99.) Brammer’s debut is a memoir in 12 essays, each framed as an advice column in response to a question about race, queer life, childhood trauma and more. Our reviewer, Matt Wille, called it a “master class of tone and tenderness.”

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