, by Kassia St. Clair (Liveright)365体育投注. In an enlivening history of fabric, St. Clair takes aim at those who trivialize the study of clothing. “We live surrounded by cloth,” she writes. “We are swaddled in it at birth and shrouds are drawn over our faces in death.” Rather than a broad overview, St. Clair provides a cleverly structured patchwork of vignettes spanning the eras and the continents: Paleolithic bast threads excavated in a cave in Georgia; the patterns of ancient China’s silks (“mirrored flower,” “nimble waves”); the inflatable rubber-and-nylon suits that weighed down Mercury astronauts as they journeyed into space. Her descriptions of textiles and the people who created and wore them are sensual and even moving.
, by Eilene Zimmerman (Random House). Opening with the author’s discovery of the body of her ex-husband, Peter, a fifty-one-year-old corporate attorney in San Diego, this memoir explores the factors that have led to a precipitous increase in so-called white-collar addiction in the United States. Peter’s addiction was unknown to his family, friends, and colleagues, until an autopsy found cocaine and opioids in his system. Zimmerman charts a startling rise in anxiety and depression among even the youngest professionals, attributing it to a toxic blend of ultracompetitiveness, workaholism, and isolation from family and the wider community. The corresponding spike in drug use underscores the book’s central message: that a reformation of “inhumane” corporate culture is urgently needed.
, by Lily King (Grove)365体育投注. The narrator of this novel is a thirty-one-year-old writer beset with student debt, living in an adapted potting shed in Boston, and laboring over her début. Distractions from work include grief (her mother died suddenly while abroad) and a choice between two men, both writers themselves. One is young and unreliable but irresistible; the other is older and established and has children, something she craves. “It’s always a choice between fireworks and coffee in bed,” an acquaintance tells her. The love-triangle plot proves to be a nimble vehicle for exploring the book’s true subject—overcoming, and making art from, hardship.
, by Emily Nemens (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). An ode to baseball, this début novel, by the editor of The Paris Review, unfolds across nine “innings,” told from several perspectives. During spring training, in Scottsdale, the superstar left fielder of a Los Angeles team, struggling with a divorce, becomes involved with a “cleat chaser,” whose charms draw him into a drunken incident at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West house. When his handlers attempt damage control, it emerges that his problems go deeper. As Nemens portrays the life of the team—a pitcher is in thrall to pain pills; players’ wives hold a lingerie party—it starts to seem almost an organism, each constituent part brushing against others in a larger story of competition, survival, and obsession.