11 new books we recommend this week

I WAS BETTER LAST NIGHT: A Memoir , by Harvey Fierstein. (Knopf, $30.) In his memoir, actor, writer and accomplished New Yawker Fierst...


I WAS BETTER LAST NIGHT: A Memoir, by Harvey Fierstein. (Knopf, $30.) In his memoir, actor, writer and accomplished New Yawker Fierstein reflects on his childhood in Brooklyn’s Bensonhurst neighborhood, his early experiences with dressing up and pretending (he now admits he was a “kid of 7 ans gender warrior”) and his resounding successes in “Torch Song Trilogy” and “La Cage Aux Folles”. It is a “warm and enveloping” memoir, writes our critic Alexandra Jacobs, with two sides: “One is a raw, cobwebbed story of anger, hurt, outrage and pain; flip it over and you have puffy ribbons of humor, gossip and fabulous hot pink hits.

GIRL IN ICE CREAM, by Erica Ferencik. (Scout Press, $27.) Ferencik, who sets his thrillers in extreme landscapes, set this one at a climate research station in the Arctic Circle. There, a little girl was found frozen in the ice, very much alive, speaking an unknown language. As a linguist attempts to communicate with her, it becomes clear that nothing less than the fate of the earth may be at stake.” Like Peter Höeg’s ‘Smilla’s Sense of Snow’ and Ted Chiang’s ‘Story of Your Life’ , ‘Girl in Ice’ uses the intricacies of translation to pull us into different worlds and ways of thinking,” writes Sarah Lyall in her latest thriller column. . “It turns out that the word for ‘climate change’ in Inuktun, a language from northern Greenland, translates to ‘a friend acting strange’, which is sad and appropriate.”

SECRET IDENTITY, by Alex Segura. (Flatiron, $27.99.) In this clever homage to classic noir — part love letter to 1970s New York, part immersive tutorial on comic book publishing from that era — a young woman investigates the murder of a coworker. “Witty and utterly original, the book is also surprisingly moving,” writes Sarah Lyall in her thrillers column. “It’s a pleasure to see Carmen pushing back against the laid-back sexism of the era.”

THE INVISIBLE KINGDOM: Reinventing chronic disease, by Meghan O’Rourke. (Riverhead, $28.) For most of her 30s, O’Rourke was terribly ill, with strange neurological spasms and abrupt feelings of agony that sometimes confined her to bed for days on end; his memory of the experience, probing the links between the disease and the self, becomes almost existential. O’Rourke deftly avoids both cynicism and romanticism, writes Andrew Solomon in his review, “achieving an authentically original voice and, perhaps more surprisingly, an authentically original perspective. Poet by choice and interpreter of medical doctrine by necessity, she brings elegant discipline to her depiction of a horrific lost decade.

THE BEAUTY OF DUSK: On Vision Lost and Found, by Franck Bruni. (Avid reader, $28.) In 2017, Bruni, the newspaper’s longtime editor, reviewer and columnist, suffered a stroke in his sleep and woke up to find he couldn’t see well in one eye. Determined not to let blindness take away the purpose or joy from his life, he began to seek advice from others who had faced similar physical declines. “What makes ‘The Beauty of Twilight’ far more remarkable than one man’s triumph over the cruelties of life is How? ‘Or’ What Bruni persevered,” writes Min Jin Lee in her review. “This is not the sad story of a man who lost his sight; it is the generous account of a student who sought wisdom when trials appeared in his life.

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