What should you read this weekend? USA TODAY's picks include a history of New York's legendary Chelsea Hotel, and Ruth Rendell's latest mystery.
Inside the Dream Palace: The Life and Times of New York's Legendary Chelsea Hotel by Sherill Tippins; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 445 pp.; non-fiction
The Chelsea Hotel, an imposing, picturesque, red-brick edifice, all but dominates Manhattan's West 23rd Street.
For generations it served as mecca, work station, rehearsal space and
refuge for artists, writers, musicians, dancers, actors and many others
who weren't any of those things, but yearned to be.
legendary cultural figures have passed through the Chelsea's doors since
the 1880s when its identity as a utopian experiment was first
established that it has become de rigueur for visitors to invoke the
timeworn wish, "If these walls could talk....."
More than the history of a building, Inside the Dream Palace
also serves as a retrospective of bohemian America's seismic shifts over
the decades, beginning with such late 19th-century literary lions as
novelist William Dean Howells.
Tippins covers all the notorious romances and tragedies; the former including the tryst between Janis Joplin and Leonard Cohen, immortalized in Cohen's song, "Chelsea Hotel #2." The tragedies included the fatal stabbing of Nancy Spungen in 1978 by punk-rock drummer Sid Vicious.
USA TODAY says *** out of four. "A smart, absorbing yarn."
The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams by Ben Bradlee Jr.; Little, Brown; 784 pp.; non-fiction
A biography of the last major leaguer to post a batting average above .400, Red Sox legend Ted Williams.
USA TODAY says **** out of four. "Remarkable ...This unmistakably is the definitive biography of a fascinating American icon."
No Man's Nightingale by Ruth Rendell; Scribner, 288 pp.; fiction
now retired, steps in to help his old colleagues investigate the murder
of a local vicar, unusual both for being a woman and half-Indian.
USA TODAY says ***. "Refined, probing, and intelligent ...never less than a pleasure."
Autobiography by Morrissey; Putnam, 454 pp.; non-fiction
A memoir by the lead singer of the 1980s cult British band The Smiths, who has been a successful solo act for decades.
TODAY says ***½ stars. "A first-rate confessional that serves up
Morrissey on the only terms he'll accept: his, and rightfully so."
Tatiana by Martin Cruz Smith; Simon & Schuster, 304 pp.; fiction
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.
USA TODAY says ***½ out of four. "Smith's writing conveys irony, social commentary and wry humor in whippet-sleek phrasing."