Author Renee Askins lives in tiny Wilson, Wyoming (pop. 10,000), with four dogs, three parakeets, her husband, folk-singing legend Tom Rush, and their three-year-old daughter. The rugged Jackson Hole lifestyle suits Askins just fine. Her new book, "Shadow Mountain: A Memoir of Wolves, a Woman, and the Wild" (Doubleday) describes how she endured death threats and political attacks in her struggle to restore wolves to Yellowstone National Park. When Askins came onto the scene, every wolf in the west, including those within Yellowstone National Park, had been killed off systematically over the course of 50 years. But thanks to the efforts of Askins and her Wolf Fund, the wolf is again thriving in Yellowstone.
Why the attraction to wolves? Says Askins, "Whether we hate them or love them, they evoke passion that is beyond words. I think what's important is what that passion is. The idea that we feel so identified with wolves, because they are social animals. Like us, they are predators. I think that sometimes, we are most threatened by them because they are so much like us. I also think we're attracted to them because we're so much like them." Askins stresses that we are connected to the natural world in other ways. "Domestic animals are a very key translator, almost a stepping stone, in reconnecting us to the natural world," she says. "Whether you live in New York City, or Moose, Wyoming, I am a firm believer in the importance of animals in our lives. I think those relationships are as deep and profound as many human relationships are."
WARD OF THE STATE:
Kirkus is mesmerized by "Life Inside: A Memoir" by Mindy Lewis (Atria; October), giving it a starred review. "In lyrical, honest language, a painter describes her adolescence in a New York psychiatric hospital. In 1967, 15-year-old Lewis was remanded to a psychiatric facility following charges of drug use and school truancies. She remained there until her 18th birthday. Her first person, present-tense narrative describes her life with other adolescents deemed 'unmanageable'....Complex, chilling, luminous: not one false step."
JUST FIVE MORE MINUTES, MOM!
Perfectionism and procrastination go hand in hand, says Rita Emmet, the author of "The Procrastinating Child: A Handbook for Adults to Help Children Stop Putting Things Off" (Walker; paper; September). Says PW, "Parents frustrated by their child's tendency to delay starting a book report or cleaning their rooms will find this guide to be a valuable resource. Emmet points out that schools rarely teach time management; this handbook fills the gap, helping parents understand why their children procrastinate and how they can help kids organize their schedules and assignments....Emmet's approach is practical (helpful summaries at the conclusion of each chapter keep readers on task) and her argument that procrastinating is a bad habit that can be corrected will be reassuring for young procrastinators and their parents."
IF THE ROYALTIES FIT, YOU MUST ACQUIT:
In October, St. Martin's/Dunne will publish "A Lawyer's Life," a memoir by O.J. Simpson lawyer Johnnie Cochran, with David Fisher. PW is critical. "Unfortunately, this memoir reads as though it was dictated to co-author Fisher; it drifts from one legal war story to the next, often repeats details and occasionally leaves thoughts dangling. And that's a shame, because Cochran's experience gives him the authority to utter some uncomfortable truths, among them that justice is is often reserved for the wealthy."
THE MEANING OF LIFE:
Random House recently threw a breakfast for Silicon Valley chronicler Po Bronson, in honor of his forthcoming book, "What Should I Do with My Life? The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Questions" (December). Bronson, nothing if not earnest, expressed his interest in "inspiring people to find their own calling." Bronson's 15-month-old son Luke already has a calling: world traveler. The tyke has already gone on 17 reporting trips with Dad. Bronson, 38, was named "The Sexiest Author Alive" by PEOPLE in 2000. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, a bio-immunologist. He's not exactly looking forward to his nine-city author tour. "I'm terrified. If I'm away from Luke, he doesn't like it. But a grueling author tour is not a good place to put a baby down for a nap."
Kirkus is convulsed by "No Way to Treat a First Lady" by Christopher Buckley (Random House; October 15), giving it a glowing starred review. "Wicked humorist Buckley shoots fish in a barrel and makes them dance. The targets in this sendup of Washington trial lawyers, first families, Court TV, MSNBC, Dan Rather, the FBI, the Secret Service, and the America appetite for the awful are the last decade's scandals, which, rather than being gluey and unbearable in the reheating, are even more fun this time around....Unspeakably and endlessly funny. Unless you're a former president."
On October 1, Random House will publish "Worth the Fighting For," a memoir by John McCain with Mark Salter. The book, a continuation of his bestselling "Faith of My Fathers," follows McCain from the Navy to his run for the presidency.
On October 14, Viking will publish "Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers" by Daniel Ellsberg. Kirkus gives it a thumbs up. "A well-crafted windmill-tilting autobiography by the famed cold warrior turned antiwar activist...Thoughtful, full of righteous indignation rightly so and likely to be of great interest to students of the Vietnam War and domestic resistance thereto."
Move over, John Grisham. Kirkus gives the top prize to Scott Turow, author of "Reversible Errors" (Farrar, Straus; November 1), bestowing a starred review. "A final appeal from Death Row reopens a decade-old murder case as the world's preeminent legal novelist proves once again why his grasp of the moral dimensions sets the gold standard for the genre....No car chases, explosions, threats against the detective, movie-star locations, or gourmet meals; just a deeply satisfying novel about deeply human people who just happen to be victims, schemers, counselors-at-law, or all three at once." (First printing of 750,000; author tour.)