11 new books we recommend this week

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THE LOFT GENERATION: Des de Koonings à Twombly: Portraits and sketches 1942-2011, by Edith Schloss. Edited by Mary Venturini. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $ 32.) The memoirs of German-American writer and artist Edith Schloss, discovered in draft form after her death in 2011, have been polished into a shining jewel of a book. It chronicles a time of great creative vitality and the time Schloss spent with Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Merce Cunningham, Leo Castelli and others. “If nostalgia is an often unclear sixth sense,” writes our critic Alexandra Jacobs, “it is absent from a book that clearly feels present, clear and alive even when it describes the past.

ALL THE WONDERS: A journey to the end of the greatest story ever told, by Douglas Wolk. (Penguin Press, $ 28.) To track the innovations and bizarre experiments that made Marvel magic work, Wolk has done the impossible: read the 27,000 comics the company has published from 1961 to today. Impressive, he never gets lost in the labyrinth. The result, in the words of Junot Díaz’s review, is a “brilliant, eccentric, moving and utterly wonderful attempt to distill it all into a cohesive narrative. … Wolk sheds light on a lot of important things about our strange mutant Marvel Century.

AMERICAN COMIC STRIP: A story, by Jérémy Dauber. (Norton, $ 35.) Dauber’s scientific inquiry into comic book history is dogged and often funny. From the 19th century political cartoons of Thomas Nast, he traces the rise of comics in newspapers, the advent of comics, underground comics, fan culture and finally graphic novels and comics. Web. “Dauber is particularly nuanced in his treatment of the many controversies that rock comics past and present, from debates over comic book codes and representations of sex and violence to issues of diversity, representation and authority.” played through spandex, “” writes Michael Tisserand in his review. “Dauber skillfully demonstrates that comics, as much or more than any other art or literature, can deal with the most serious subjects, including one of the most serious of all: our ability to laugh at ourselves.”

MURDER UNDER THE SKIN, by Stephen Spotswood. (Double day, $ 27.) In this delightful sequel to the old-school mystery series from Spotswood, private investigator Lillian Pentecost and her young assistant, Willowjean “Will” Parker, attempt to find out who killed the “Amazing Tattooed Woman” in the traveling circus where Parker worked. Parker’s former fire-breathing mentor is the prime suspect – but, as Sarah Weinman writes in her latest crime column, “Pentecost and Parker, of course, know better. It’s a pleasure to see them come to this knowledge after sifting through red herrings and peeling secrets like onion layers, while revealing even more of themselves without guilt or shame.

A NIGHT OF FIGHT, by Miriam Toews. (Bloomsbury, $ 24.) Toews’ eighth novel is the story of three generations of women told by the youngest of them, 9-year-old Swiv, who combs her grandmother’s hair and gives her heart medicine. Toews is a master of dialogue, swirling adult perspectives through Swiv’s imperfect ventriloquism as if she were mixing paints. “The reader is drawn into the intimacy of a dysfunctional family whose unconditional love would make any truly dysfunctional family jealous,” writes Nadja Spiegelman in her review. “The three women stand alone, together, against the universe, so tightly molded against each other that their individual outlines blur.”


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