Booknotes: Ex-Wives and Expats

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Move over, Zelda. On April 16, Nan A. Talese/Doubleday will publish "Painted Shadow: The Life of Vivienne Eliot, First Wife of T.S. Eliot, and the Long-Suppressed Truth About Her Influence on His Genius" by Carole Seymour-Jones. According to the publisher, "By the time Vivienne Haigh Eliot was committed to a mental asylum in 1938, it had been five years since her husband, poet-genius T. S. Eliot, had left her, years in which she had stubbornly refused to believe the truth that he despised her and would never return... 'Painted Shadow' is not only the first-ever biography of this long scapegoated and marginalized woman, it is also an immaculately researched account of post-World War I literary London."

From Tuesday, April 30, to Sunday, May 5, BookExpo America (almost always referred to as "BookExpo" or "BEA") will meet in NYC for the first time in 11 years. The publishing industry's annual convention will be held at the Javits Center. We'll be there, and we'll bring you back all the book news for fall.


The Central Park Jogger has decided to tell all in a book she's writing for Scribner. The woman, an investment banker who 13 years ago was attacked and left for dead by a gang of teens as she jogged through the Manhattan park, has never revealed her identity. She is being paid a mid-six-figure sum for world rights to "I Am the Central Park Jogger." The author's name will be released with the book.

In August, Fireside/Simon & Schuster will publish "The Maternity Leave Breastfeeding Plan: How to Enjoy Nursing for 3 Months and Go Back to Work Guilt-Free" (paperback original) by Dr. Will Wilkoff. According to the publisher, "Most doctors advise new mothers to breastfeed for at least six months — a longer commitment than most working women can make. 'The Maternity Leave Breasfeeding Plan' brings welcome news to working mothers and others: women who nurse for three months (or until their maternity leave is over) provide their children an optimal start in terms of nutrition and can have the same rewarding experience as mothers who nurse their children much longer."

On July 23, Knopf will publish "Ash Wednesday," a novel by actor-author Ethan Hawke. The book is "the story of Jimmy — a young soldier who is AWOL from the army — and Christy, who pregnant with his child, and their journey toward becoming a family." 11-city author tour; first printing of 100,000 copies.

Kirkus is bullish about "Confessions of a Street Addict" by James J. Cramer (Simon & Schuster; May 13), giving it a starred review. "Wall Street's most notorious bull bares all in this typically over-the-top memoir. If Alan Greenspan was the superego of the '90s economy, Cramer was surely its libido. This memoir hopscotches between his trademark hyperbole and a peculiar form of self-abnegation (he never seems happier than when flagellating himself). Wall Street-savvy readers will particularly enjoy Cramer's blow-by-blow account of the late-'90s market. The IPO for Cramer's financial e-rag,, was one of the decade's cultural touchstones. Cramer's unique blend of shrewd analysis, namedropping, and unremitting egotism puts him in the great tradition of American showmen: a P.T. Barnum for the age of the day trader. A must for market mavens."


PW is moved by "Walk Through Darkness" by David Anthony Durham (Doubleday: May), giving it a starred review. "Powerfully written and emotionally devastating, this new novel by Durham ('Gabriel's Story') tells the parallel tales of two men in antebellum America: William, a young fugitive slave, and Morrison, a white man hired to track him down.… In the thrilling climax, Morrison reveals an unexpected tie that binds him to William and makes a gesture that he hopes will redeem his sins. Durham's writing is forceful and full of startling imagery as he testifies to the courage (and sometimes the ambivalence) of people who, in one way or another, rebelled against the great injustice in American history."

PW is overwhelmed by "Prague" by Arthur Phillips (Random House; June 18), giving it a starred box, its highest accolade. "Everything about this dazzling first novel is utterly original, including the title…. It's about a group of young American (and one Canadian) expatriates living in Budapest in 1990, just after the Communist empire has collapsed and the point of 'Prague' is that it's the place everyone would rather be, except they have all somehow settled for Budapest as second best to their idealized Central European city…. What happens in this novel is not nearly so important as Phillip's wonderful grasp of Budapest's look, style and ethos, and his sometimes sympathetic, often scathing view of the Western interlopers. His writing is swift, often poetic, unerringly exact with voices and subtle details of time, weather and place. This novel is so complete a distillation of its theme and characters that it leaves a reader wondering how on earth Phillips can follow it up...This brilliant book seems certain to be widely and admiringly reviewed...the most memorable fiction debut of the year to date."

"I can't believe that I ate the whole thing." "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh, what a relief it is." "I love New York." Such jingles took Mary Wells Lawrence to the top of the advertising world in the 1960s. PW admires her new autobiography, "A Big Life in Advertising" (Knopf; May 12): "A beguiling look inside 30 years of the zippy, fast-moving culture, done with the kind of witty, charming self-deprecation often seen in the ads she created. FORECAST: Knopf's banking on this one with a 50,000 first printing and first serial to Vanity Fair and Advertising Age. It should be a strong seller, transcending the memoir category into women's studies, advertising, management and cultural criticism."