Weekend picks for book lovers

November 24, 2013 12:17 AM

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Weekend picks for book lovers

Spend your weekend with the award-winning 'The Good Lord Bird.'

What should you read this weekend? USA TODAY's picks for book lovers include James McBride's National Book Award-winning novel The Good Lord Bird, and a new biography of choreographer Bob Fosse.

No one thinks of John Brown, the radical abolitionist who waged a violent holy war to end slavery in the mid-19th century, as an especially hilarious guy. He was, in fact, a decidedly humorless man, a religious fanatic given to spouting Bible verses as he and his ragtag army riddled their slave-holding enemies with bullets or lopped off their heads with broadswords.

It's a species of miracle, then, that The Good Lord Bird is so darned funny.

McBride's secret weapon in this act of fictional alchemy is Henry "Onion" Shackleford, a light-skinned young slave who is freed by Brown only to be swept up in a series of battles that ends with Brown's famous assault at Harpers Ferry in what is now West Virginia.

It's Onion, a barber's son who spends most of the novel disguised as a girl for his own safety, who narrates the tale, bringing to it his own sharp eye for the absurd and the farcical.

A biography of choreographer-director Bob Fosse, who in 1972 scored the singular trifecta of winning an Emmy (Liza with a Z), a Tony (Pippin) and an Oscar (Cabaret) for directing.

An unflinching account of the charismatic, cunning and brutal Oglala Lakota chief Red Cloud, the only American Indian chief to wage war against the U.S. Army and defeat it.

Investigator Arkady Renko puts himself on the case after an investigative journalist named Tatiana Petrovna — inspired by the real-life Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya — dies after falling from the balcony of her abandoned apartment building.

In this latest homage to Pride & Prejudice, novelist Jo Baker offers a "below-stairs" view of the Bennet household, where the servants are the featured players.

Source: usatoday.com

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