Upcoming Release

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Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece

by Michael Benson

Space Odyssey is the definitive history of the making of 2001: A Space Odyssey, to be released in April 2018 in celebration of film’s 50th anniversary. Created by noted filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, then fresh off the success of his brilliant Cold War satire Dr. Strangelove, and Arthur C. Clarke, one of the century’s most important science fiction writers, 2001 is one of the most original and influential films ever made.

Drawing on his exclusive interviews with Clarke, full support of the Kubrick Estate, and access to a rich lode of unpublished archives, Benson tells not just the story of a high-intensity creative partnership, but discusses 2001′s origins and influences, as well as giving significant attention to the important work of Kubrick’s other collaborators. With a scope befitting such an epic film, Space Odyssey is an exploration of the relationship between science and science fiction, 2001’s impressive cinematic legacy, and how the film speaks to our current concerns regarding science, technology, artificial intelligence, space exploration, and art.

“At last! The dense, intense, detailed, and authoritative saga of the making of the greatest motion picture I’ve ever seen, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Michael Benson has done the Cosmos a great service.”
-Tom Hanks

“[This] is a masterpiece about a masterpiece — a passionately written, impeccably researched book about a great director’s relentless quest for a vision of the transcendent future of both space and film itself.”
–Scott Eyman, author of Hank & Jim and John Wayne

“Despite the attention he lavishes on the humans—Kubrick and Clarke—HAL-9000 would have been proud of Benson’s smart, fluent, and meticulously researched account of the making of a sci-fi classic.”
–Peter Biskind, author of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex, Drugs, and Rock ’n Roll Generation Saved Hollywood

 

Michael Benson is a writer, photographer, filmmaker, and exhibitions producer. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Smithsonian, ArtForum, and other publications. His photography is shown internationally, most recently at the Natural History Museum in London. He is the director of the award-winning film Predictions of Fire (1995) and the global road movie More Places Forever (2008). He is also the author of several art books on space: BEYOND (Abrams 2003), COSMIGRAPHICS (Abrams 2014), PLANETFALL (Abrams 2012), FAR OUT (Abrams 2009), and OTHERWORLDS (Abrams 2017). He is based in New York City and his website is www.michael-benson.net.

Featured Author: Ann Powers

powersAnn Powers (@annkpowers) is NPR’s music critic and correspondent and one of the nation’s leading music writers. Throughout her storied career, Ann has held positions at San Francisco Weekly, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Village Voice, Blender, and the and the Experience Music Project. Since 2011 she’s written for NPR’s music news blog, The Record, covering music through the lenses of culture, gender, sexuality, and race. Most recently, she spearheaded Turning the Tables, a collaboration between NPR and Lincoln Center that highlights the contributions of female artists. Turning the Tables has curated a list of the 150 greatest albums by women that aims to start a new conversation about women’s place in music history, and to make a much-needed intervention in the canon of music writing. 

“[The list] stands for music history, touching upon every significant trend, social issue, set of sonic innovations, and new avenue for self-expression that popular music has intersected in the past fifty years,” Powers writes. The same might be said for Powers’s own career: through her five books and countless articles she has redefined the parameters of music criticism, making sure women are given their proper due, not at the margins, but at the center of the story.

Ann Powers’s influence on contemporary music criticism is indelible. In honor of the August 15th publication of Good Booty, we hope you enjoy this look back at all the books she has published with Sarah Lazin Books.

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To Funk and Die in L.A.: A D Hunter Mystery

by Nelson George

To Funk and Die in LA, the fourth book in the D Hunter crime-fiction series, brings the ex-bodyguard to the City of Angels on a very dark mission when his grandfather, businessman Daniel “Big Danny” Hunter, is shot dead in a drive-by. Why would someone execute a grocery store owner? D soon finds there was more to Big Danny’s life than selling loaves of bread. The old man, it turns out, was deeply involved with Dr. Funk, a legendary musical innovator who has become a mysterious recluse.

Most of the novel takes place in the LA neighborhoods of Crenshaw, Koreatown, and Pico-Union–areas where black, Asian, and Latino cultures intersect away from the glamour of Hollywood–and echoes of the 1992 riots play a significant role in D’s investigation. In the tradition of Raymond Chandler and Walter Mosley, D Hunter rides through the mean streets of Los Angeles seeking truth and not always finding justice.

“Ex-bodyguard D Hunter travels from Brooklyn to Los Angeles to investigate the circumstances surrounding his grandfather’s murder in the fourth entry in this series by critic and journalist George…read this for its passionate and unresolved argument about the still-beating heart of R&B.”
Kirkus Reviews

“To Funk and Die in LA is a supercharged spin through the dynamic, ever-changing neighborhoods of urban LA. Nelson George’s new book is full of music, secrets, heart, and more than a little heartbreak.”
–Nina Revoyr, author of Southland

“Inventive and well-written…I really enjoyed To Funk and Die in LA.”
–Don Winslow, author of Savages

Praise for the D Hunter Series:

“D Hunter is as world weary, yet steadfast, as Philip Marlowe, Spenser, Dave Robicheaux, or Easy Rawlins.”
Library Journal (starred review, Pick of the Month)

“Written in the spirit of authors such as Walter Mosley and Donald Goines…The book blends music from the past with thug appeal of the present to appeal to young and old alike.”
Baltimore Times, on The Lost Treasures of R&B

 

Nelson George is an author, filmmaker, and lifelong resident of Brooklyn. His books include the first three novels in his D Hunter mystery series, The Accidental Hunter, The Plot Against Hip Hip, and The Lost Treasures of R&B. Among his many nonfiction works are The Death of Rhythm & Blues, Hip Hop America, and The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture & Style. As a filmmaker he has directed the documentaries Brooklyn Boheme, Finding the Funk, and A Ballerina’s Tale. He is also a writer/producer on the Netflix series The Get Down.

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LOU REED: A Life

by Anthony DeCurtis

The essential biography of one of music’s most influential icons: Lou Reed

As lead singer and songwriter for the Velvet Underground and a renowned solo artist, Lou Reed invented alternative rock. His music, at once a source of transcendent beauty and coruscating noise, violated all definitions of genre while speaking to millions of fans and inspiring generations of musicians.

But while his iconic status may be fixed, the man himself was anything but. Lou Reed’s life was a transformer’s odyssey. Eternally restless and endlessly hungry for new experiences, Reed reinvented his persona, his sound, even his sexuality time and again. A man of contradictions and extremes, he was fiercely independent yet afraid of being alone, artistically fearless yet deeply paranoid, eager for commercial success yet disdainful of his own triumphs. Channeling his jagged energy and literary sensibility into classic songs – like “Walk on the Wild Side” and “Sweet Jane” – and radically experimental albums alike, Reed remained desperately true to his artistic vision, wherever it led him.

Now, just a few years after Reed’s death, Rolling Stone writer Anthony DeCurtis, who knew Reed and interviewed him extensively, tells the provocative story of his complex and chameleonic life. With unparalleled access to dozens of Reed’s friends, family, and collaborators, DeCurtis tracks Reed’s five-decade career through the accounts of those who knew him and through Reed’s most revealing testimony, his music. We travel deep into his defiantly subterranean world, enter the studio as the Velvet Underground record their groundbreaking work, and revel in Reed’s relationships with such legendary figures as Andy Warhol, David Bowie, and Laurie Anderson. Gritty, intimate, and unflinching, Lou Reed is an illuminating tribute to one of the most incendiary artists of our time.

Lou Reed is Lou Reed!” ― Iggy Pop 

“I am personally familiar with the depth, seriousness, and sensitivity of Anthony DeCurtis’s writing, and, of course, knew Lou Reed and felt the impact of his coruscating work. A brilliant artist has found a biographer with the insight to, as Lou said, ‘pass through the fire’ and be a definitive interpreter of both his music and his life.” ― Sting 

“Anthony DeCurtis was one of the few music critics Lou Reed read and whose company he enjoyed. After reading this sublime and subtle book, the mystery of Lou’s respect for Anthony is revealed. Anthony is a great story teller, a writer’s writer, turning pain into beauty the way Lou did in his songs.” ― Bono

“The book is a well-written, valuable document of a major figure in the American rock scene, putting a human face on a man who often seemed impossibly remote. Essential reading for Reed fans and strongly recommended for anyone interested in rock as art.” ― Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“When most people think of Lou Reed, they picture the black, rotting heart of rock and roll, full of dissonance, decadence and decay. But as Anthony DeCurtis makes clear in his new book, behind the image and the rumors, Lou was one thing: a writer, a man who spent his life telling the absolute, painful truth in his songs – the truth about himself, the scenes he observed, and the world at large. His words were so powerful that the Velvet Underground had to invent a new musical language to match them. I’m not the first musician to pledge allegiance to Lou and the Velvets, and I won’t be the last. Read this book, and explore the f*cking genius that was Lou Reed.”―Peter Buck, co-founder and lead guitarist of R.E.M.

“Anthony DeCurtis captures the soul and the essence of Lou Reed in his terrific new biography of the brilliant, culture-shaping musician. DeCurtis’ great gift of storytelling gives fascinating insight and perspective to Reed’s complex personality and cutting-edge musical talent. This is a must read.”― Clive Davis 

“How did a middle-class suburban boy grow up to be king of Manhattan’s wild side? Thanks to this groundbreaking biography, now we know. Anthony DeCurtis handles Reed’s often-misunderstood bisexuality and curiosity about transsexualism with particular sensitivity, candor, and sophistication. A must-read for fans of rock and roll, New York City, or sex.”―Ada Calhoun, author of St. Marks Is Dead

“An eloquent account of a harrowing life transformed by love in the end. Anthony DeCurtis does a brilliant job of synthesizing the disparate parts of Lou Reed’s life into an insightful, moving narrative. I highly recommend it.”―Suzanne Vega

“Lou Reed was one of music’s most brilliant and complicated figures-an explorer, a provocateur, and always a true artist. With grace and grit, Anthony DeCurtis has delivered a revelatory and insightful chronicle of this most challenging rock & roll icon, and Lou Reed gets the biographer he deserves.”― Alan Light, author of The Holy or the Broken

DeCurtis gives Reed’s life its due… He presents a balanced consideration of Reed, spending equal time on the totality of his music and not just the well-known highlights, detailing the recording of specific albums and lyrics and their meaning and place in Reed’s life at the time. Reed’s art (and life) were often groundbreaking, occasionally maddening, and consistently fascinating, and this volume captures all of those aspects….a thorough portrait of a man who profoundly influenced rock.” – Library Journal (starred review)

Anthony DeCurtis is a contributing editor for Rolling Stone, where his work has appeared for more than thirty-five years, and a distinguished lecturer in the creative writing program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of In Other Words and Rocking My Life Away and the cowriter of Clive Davis’s autobiography, The Soundtrack of My Life, New York Times bestsellerDeCurtis is a Grammy Award winner and has served as a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee for twenty-five years. He holds a PhD in American literature and lives in New York City.

New Edition

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When Chickenheads Come Home To Roost: A Hip Hop Feminist Breaks It Down

by Joan Morgan

with a foreword by Brittney Cooper

(Simon & Schuster 2000)

“Morgan has given an entire generation of black feminists space and language to center their pleasures alongside their politics.” —Janet Mock, New York Times bestselling author of Redefining Realness

“All that and then some, Chickenheads informs and educates, confronts and charms, raises the bar high by getting down low, and, to steal my favorite Joan Morgan phrase, bounced me out of the room.” —Marlon James, Man Booker Prize–winning author of A Brief History of Seven Killings

Still fresh, funny, and irreverent after eighteen years, When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost gives voice to the most intimate thoughts of the post-Civil Rights, post-feminist, post-soul generation.

Joan Morgan offers a provocative and powerful look into the life of the modern black woman: a complex world in which feminists often have not-so-clandestine affairs with the most sexist of men, where women who treasure their independence frequently prefer men who pick up the tab, where the deluge of babymothers and babyfathers reminds black women who long for marriage that traditional nuclear families are a reality for less than forty percent of the population, and where black women are forced to make sense of a world where truth is no longer black and white but subtle, intriguing shades of gray.

A pioneering hip-hop journalist and award-winning feminist author, Joan Morgan coined the term “hip-hop feminism” in 1999 with the publication of When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost, which is now used at colleges across the country. Morgan has taught at Duke University, Stanford University, and The New School.

 

New Release

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Shake It Up: Great American Writing on Rock and Pop from Elvis to Jay-Z
edited by Jonathan Lethem and Kevin Dettmar

(Library of America)

THE ESSENTIAL PLAYLIST OF GREAT WRITING ABOUT THE MUSIC THAT ROCKED AMERICA 

Jonathan Lethem and Kevin Dettmar’s Shake It Up invites the reader into the tumult and excitement of the rock revolution through fifty landmark pieces by a supergroup of writers on rock in all its variety, from heavy metal to disco, punk to hip-hop. Stanley Booth describes a recording session with Otis Redding; Ellen Willis traces the meteoric career of Janis Joplin; Ellen Sander recalls the chaotic world of Led Zeppelin on tour; Nick Tosches etches a portrait of the young Jerry Lee Lewis; Eve Babitz remembers Jim Morrison. Alongside are Lenny Kaye on acapella and Greg Tate on hip-hop, Vince Aletti on disco and Gerald Early on Motown; Robert Christgau on Prince, Nelson George on Marvin Gaye, Luc Sante on Bob Dylan, Hilton Als on Michael Jackson, Anthony DeCurtis on the Rolling Stones, Kelefa Sanneh on Jay Z. The story this anthology tells is a ongoing one: “it’s too early,” editors Jonathan Lethem and Kevin Dettmar note, “for canon formation in a field so marvelously volatile—a volatility that mirrors, still, that of pop music itself, which remains smokestack lightning. The writing here attempts to catch some in a bottle.”

Also features:

NAT HENTOFF on BOB DYLAN
AMIRI BARAKA on R&B
LESTER BANGS on ELVIS PRESLEY
ROBERT CHRISTGAU on PRINCE
DEBRA RAE COHEN on DAVID BOWIE
EVE BABITZ on JIM MORRISON
ROBERT PALMER on SAM COOKE
CHUCK KLOSTERMAN on HEAVY METAL
JESSICA HOPPER on EMO
JOHN JEREMIAH SULLIVAN on AXL ROSE
ELIJAH WALD on THE BEATLES
GREIL MARCUS on CHRISTIAN MARCLAY

and much more.

“Excellent. . . . A feast of rock writing, freewheelin’, funny, and deep.” —Bruce Handy, New York Times Book Review

“A vivid cross-section of a half century’s worth of American music writing. . . . Lethem and Dettmar have made their selections both rightly and righteously.” —Jack Hamilton, NewYorker.com

“There are so many hits that this smart anthology mostly feels like a dream jukebox.” —Dwight Garner, New York Times 

“Will remind you of just about everything you love about music.” —PopMatters.com

“Pop writing, at its best, doesn’t know the difference between desire and theory, which is precisely the reason for its power and its persistence. Lethem and Dettmar’s expansive anthology renders this wild, polychrome tradition, and the state of play today, with gusto.”
Ben Ratliff, author of Every Song Ever 

Jonathan Lethem is the author of The Fortress of Solitude and nine other novels.

Kevin Dettmar is a literary, music, and cultural critic whose scholarship specializes in British and Irish modernism and contemporary popular music. He has written for academic anthologies as well as The Atlantic Monthly and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Dettmar is the co-editor for Oxford University Press book series Modernist Literature & Culture, general editor of the Longman Anthology of British Literature and The Cambridge Companion to Bob Dylan, and author of Is Rock Dead? and the 33 1/3 book Gang of Four: Entertainment! He is the W.M. Keck Professor and Chair of English at Pomona College, and is based in California.

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I’m Just Dead, I’m Not Gone
by Jim Dickinson
(University of Mississippi Press)

I’m Just Dead, I’m Not Gone chronicles Jim Dickinson’s extraordinary life in the Memphis music scene of the fifties and sixties and how he went on to play with and produce a rich array of artists, including Aretha Franklin, the Rolling Stones, Ry Cooder, Duane Allman, Arlo Guthrie, and Albert King. With verve and wit, Dickinson (1941–2009) describes his trip to Blind Lemon’s grave on the Texas flatlands as a college student and how that encounter inspired his return to Memphis. Back home, he looked up Gus Cannon and Furry Lewis, began staging plays, cofounded what would become the annual Memphis Blues Festival, and started recording.

The blues, Elvis, and early rock ’n’ roll compelled Dickinson to reject racial barriers and spurred his contributions to the Memphis music and experimental art scene. He explains how the family yardman, WDIA, Dewey Phillips, Furry Lewis, Will Shade, and Howlin’ Wolf shaped him and recounts how he went on to learn his craft at Sun, Ardent, American, Muscle Shoals, and Criteria studios from master producers Sam Phillips, John Fry, Chips Moman, and Jerry Wexler.

Dickinson is a member of the Mississippi Music Hall of Fame and an inaugural inductee of the Memphis Music Hall of Fame. He has received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Engineering and Production from the Americana Music Association, a Brass Note on the Beale Street Walk of Fame in Memphis, and a Heritage Marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail. This memoir recounts a love affair with Memphis, the blues, and rock ’n’ roll through Dickinson’s captivating blend of intelligence, humor, and candor.

Jim Dickinson (1941–2009) worked with the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Alex Chilton, the Replacements, and T-Model Ford, among others. His sons, Luther and Cody, are the founding members of the North Mississippi Allstars.

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Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black & White, Body and Soul in American Music

by Ann Powers

Dey Street Books

In this sweeping history of popular music in the United States, NPR’s acclaimed music critic examines how popular music shapes fundamental American ideas and beliefs, allowing us to communicate difficult emotions and truths about our most fraught social issues, most notably sex and race.

In Good Booty, Ann Powers explores how popular music became America’s primary erotic art form. Powers takes us from nineteenth-century New Orleans through dance-crazed Jazz Age New York to the teen scream years of mid-twentieth century rock-and-roll to the cutting-edge adventures of today’s web-based pop stars. Drawing on her deep knowledge and insights on gender and sexuality, Powers recounts stories of forbidden lovers, wild shimmy-shakers, orgasmic gospel singers, countercultural perverts, soft-rock sensitivos, punk Puritans, and the cyborg known as Britney Spears to illuminate how eroticism—not merely sex, but love, bodily freedom, and liberating joy—became entwined within the rhythms and melodies of American song. This cohesion, she reveals, touches the heart of America’s anxieties and hopes about race, feminism, marriage, youth, and freedom.

In a survey that spans more than a century of music, Powers both heralds little known artists such as Florence Mills, a contemporary of Josephine Baker, and gospel queen Dorothy Love Coates, and sheds new light on artists we think we know well, from the Beatles and Jim Morrison to Madonna and Beyoncé. In telling the history of how American popular music and sexuality intersect—a magnum opus over two decades in the making—Powers offers new insights into our nation psyche and our soul.

“No writer on music has as keen a mind or as great a heart as Ann Powers. Sex is the subject, but Good Booty is really a tour-de-force history of an entire century of pop, rich in feeling and fierce in insight. It’s a dazzling achievement.”—Alex Ross, The Rest is Noise

“With precision and wit, and across multiple musical genres, Powers contextualizes the complicated interplay of gender, sex, and race inherent in popular music within and against the backdrop of America’s puritanical founding.”Library Journal (starred Review)

“SEX’N’DRUGS’N’ROCK’N’ROLL!’ is a great, shoutable slogan. Anyone who’s actually had sex knows it’s rarely that simple. From race to religion and repression to rebellion, Ann Powers makes the decades-long dance of music and desire a page-turning drama. Good Booty transforms stars I thought I knew, and uncovers cries and whispers I’d never heard. It’s an instant, indispensable classic, for a culture that always needs sexual healing.” —Carl Wilson, author of Let’s Talk About Love

“Informative and entertaining…Powers reveals an extraordinary breadth of knowledge and insight and has produced an absolutely essential addition to any pop culture collection.” —Booklist (starred review)

Ann Powers is NPR Music’s critic and correspondent and one of the nation’s leading music writers. She began her career at San Francisco Weekly, and has held positions at the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Village Voice, Blender, and the Experience Music Project. Her previous books include Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America and Tori Amos: Piece By Piece, which she cowrote with Amos; and Rock She Wrote: Women Write About Rock, Rap, and Pop which she coedited with Evelyn McDonnell. She was also the editor of Best Music Writing 2010. She lives in Nashville.

There’s Always Room for Chocolate

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The pure fun of classic American chocolate treats. The Chocolate Room has become a place of pilgrimage for chocolate lovers from near and far, thanks to its simple mission: to create treats that bring back those original childhood memories of the pure joy of chocolate. Its chefs have a knack for reconstructing a classic American recipe in ways that improve on the original. Their showstopping Chocolate Layer Cake, for instance, is the cake all other chocolate cakes dream of being; it’s made with a blackout pudding filling, three different kinds of chocolate, and a custardy ganache frosting. The book is filled with similar new twists that express the slightly irreverent and creatively whimsical spirit for which Brooklyn has become known: Chocolate Caramel Matzo, Chocolate Cuatro Leches Cake, and Chocolate Stout Gingerbread. Recipes reveal the secret tips behind signature favorites in every category from cakes and puddings to pies and cookies. Confections are geared to be achievable in the home: S’mores bars, Rocky Road mounds, and Cookie Chip Chocolates. The book also features informative primers on important techniques—including tempering chocolate, whipping cream and eggs, and assembling a cake. There’s Always Room for Chocolate is set to become the new essential cookbook for all things chocolate.

Naomi Josepher and Jon Payson founded The Chocolate Room, a sophisticated dessert café and retail shop. The couple operates two locations in Brooklyn that have become destinations for chocolate lovers from all over the world.

“…Full of exciting, delectable-sounding recipes, one more tempting than the next.”
—Kane County Chronicle


Georgia Freedman
, a contributing editor at Saveur, also writes for the Wall Street Journal, AfarImbibeGilt Taste, and Art of Eating.

Snatched: From Drug-Queen to Informer to Hostage–A Harrowing True Story

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Raised an aristocrat in Colombia and educated in European schools, Pilar transfixes everyone with her charm and her guile. She also falls for dangerous men and finds herself drawn into the highest levels of the cocaine trade.

After two failed marriages and a harrowing escape from the drug life, she settles down to a quiet existence in Florida with her children–until her second husband tries to cut short his prison term by giving her name over to members of a new task force being formed by the DEA. They induce Pilar, now a middle-aged woman, to infiltrate the Cali cartel as the head of a vast money laundering sting.

Named “Operation Princess,” the scheme leads to the seizure of tens of millions of dollars, along with some $500 million worth of cocaine and the exposure of hundreds of high-level traffickers, becoming one of the most daring and successful stings in DEA history.

But Pilar plays her part too well. Her success as a money launderer gets her kidnapped and then ransomed by a band of guerrillas in South America–and the US government refuses to negotiate. It’s left to her low-level handlers in the DEA to get her back, before it’s too late and her kidnappers discover they have a federal agent in their clutches.

Snatched is the electric tale, by the New York Times bestselling author of Blow, Bruce Porter, that tells the true story of a woman caught between two worlds, with her life dangling in the balance.

“Fascinating look at the international drug trade. . . . In Porter’s hands, Pilar’s story will easily hook readers from start to finish; the book reads like an action-packed movie script.” - Publishers Weekly

“An engaging, improbable true-crime tale that underscores the grandiose futility of the drug war.” - Kirkus Reviews

“This amazing true story could have been written for the big screen. . . . the narrative races along like a film script. . . . this entertaining and sad story of a woman doing what she has to in order to protect her family will satisfy fans of BlowDonnie Brasco, and true crime stories.” - Library Journal

Bruce Porter is a former writer for Newsweek and a professor at the Columbia Journalism School who has written for the Washington PostNew York Times Magazine, Playboy, and Rolling Stone, as well as dozens of other magazines and newspapers. His first book, Blow, was a bestselling New York Times Notable Book and was made into a major motion picture. Bruce lives in New York City.