Arts & Culture


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 American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers
Nancy Jo Sales ’86
Alfred A. Knopf, $26.95

Among modern female adolescents, the iPhone (or one of its rivals) is king, or rather queen, and girls now commonly spend hours glued to the various social media platforms they can access while their parents aren’t looking. In this disturbing look at how social media is changing the lives and behaviors of teens, investigative journalist Sales finds that the results often include bullying, access to a bewildering amount of porn—including self-generated material that may haunt the creator forever—skewed body image, and, ironically, isolation.


Comics Confidential: Thirteen Graphic Novelists Talk Story, Craft, and Life Outside the Box
Leonard S. Marcus ’72
Candlewick Press, $24.99

So you can draw, and you aspire to graphic novel stardom? Historian and children’s book expert Marcus interviews a baker’s dozen practitioners of this contemporary art. The result is a series of revealing conversations about the artists’ trajectories: “real-life tales of high adventure on the page and screen.” Each artist also supplies the book with an illustrated comic on the topic of “the city.”


Music Coming Together
Paul Green ’70 with Two Worlds.
Centaur Records, $18.77; $8.99 on MP3

In this album, jazz clarinetist Green puts a Klezmer twist on a variety of popular jazz melodies. Miles Davis’s “So What” becomes “So, nu?” Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints” morphs into “Yiddish Footprints.” Then there’s the Rodgers and Hart standard “My Funny Jewish Valentine.” Sounds like a comedy album, but it’s not. These are lighthearted yet respectful, culturally enriched instrumentals. Green’s playing is sublime, but what’s most impressive is how cleverly he has arranged and challenged these classic tunes for a cool six-piece combo.


Jackson, 1964: And Other Dispatches from Fifty Years of Reporting on Race in America
Calvin Trillin ’57
Random House, $27

Perhaps best known as a humorist, Trillin has had a distinguished career as a reporter, chiefly for the New Yorker, on the country’s civil rights struggle. These essays, published between 1964 and 2008 from venues as disparate as New Orleans and Long Island, highlight the writer’s insights—not only about how far we’ve come and still have to go, but also about the “line between reporter and participant,” which “was not as bright as I thought it was.” At a Freedom Ride reunion in Chicago in 2011, participants locked arms and sang “We Shall Overcome.” Trillin joined in. “It turns out that I still know most of the verses,” he writes.


Trump and Me
Mark Singer ’72
Tim Duggan Books/Crown, $16

At this writing, the presidential campaign is all but over, and it’s clear Donald J. Trump will remain a force to be reckoned with. Twenty years ago, New Yorker staff writer Singer was ordered to profile the real estate mogul. The result was not complimentary. But it did start something, and in this slender volume, Singer revisits his initial essay and reports on what he’s learned since about the man and his movement: “an artfully fabricated, hermetic, alternate reality.”


Break in Case of Emergency: A Novel
Jessica Winter ’99
Alfred A. Knopf, $25.95

In this funny and poignant coming-of-a-certain-age tale, 30-something protagonist Jen and two college friends, Pam and Meg, are trying to navigate the mine-filled terrain of New York City, their careers, their relationships, and, of course, “the undeveloped North American real estate that is my womb” (as Pam puts it). Jen’s travails in the development project—as she calls her continuing attempts to conceive—make for a compelling read, and her work at a caricature of a celebrity foundation adds hilarity.

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