STAFF PICKS

Set largely amidst the onset of the AIDS epidemic in Chicago, The Great Believers covers a tragic subject, but Makkai’s style is so weightless - Fitzgerald himself comes to mind, for which the book is named, and whose quote serves as epigraph – that reading it is genuinely a (bittersweet) pleasure. It so clearly celebrates the rewards of opening ourselves up to love, even as it amplifies the risks. Makkai draws direct parallels between the Chicago scene in the 80s to that of Paris in the first years of the last century, to Fitzgerald’s own peers, of which he said, “A strongly individual generation sprouts most readily from a time of stress and emergency.” Decimated through war and disease, his was a group whose great hope, whose great disillusionment, fueled art that still inspires us a hundred years later. Despite Fitzgerald’s self-aware observation, it is hard to recognize when we might be living in a golden age, and harder still to come to terms with the sacrifice through which it might have been forged. Makkai handles all of these ideas with grace and insight through characters I couldn’t help but love. -Sara, Atlanta
Caddyshack not only tells the story of the making of the comedy classic, but also the influence humor pioneers from the National Lampoon and Saturday Night Live had on the making of the film. Lots of great behind the scenes stories here, especially concerning the rivalry between Chevy Chase and Bill Murray. -Len, Chicago ORD
Julian Barnes has written a beautiful book full of observations on relationships and the hindsight that only age can bring when looking back on a relationship that ended up defining Paul’s life and the life of his much older lover. -Cathy, Atlanta
In 1914, movies were being made at a hectic pace in Hollywood. Frances Marion moves there, anxious to make her mark somehow, and she meets a luminous child-like actress with golden curls. “America’s Sweetheart” is Mary Pickford and she goes on to become the highest paid and most beloved actress of her time. Frances develops into a talented and prolific scenarist, both writing screenplays and shaping the movies and Pickford’s performances. This book details the friendship and battles of these two women as they play groundbreaking roles in the development of the movie industry as working and leading women. With supporting characters like Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and Louis B. Mayer the real story of their careers and personal lives is brought to life in this captivating novel. The movies and women started out as silent but they both find their voice here. -Sydne, Atlanta