Weekend picks for book lovers: 'The Locals'

What should you read this weekend? USA TODAY’s picks for book lovers include The Locals, a new novel about a powerful money man who muscles his way into the Berkshires.

The Locals by Jonathan Dee; Random House, 400 pp.; fiction

Mark Firth doesn’t know what to make of Philip Hadi, the New Yorker who left Manhattan shortly after 9/11 to bring his family to Howland, a working-class town in western Massachusetts’ Berkshire Mountains.

Firth, a contractor, is happy to have Hadi’s business; he was hired to beef up security at the home Hadi usually left vacant for all but the summer. But he understands little about how Hadi made his money or his reasons for moving to Howland.

Unlike most people in town, Hadi has money — lots of it — and the clash between the town’s residents who want to emulate him and those who resent his influence drives the action of Jonathan Dee’s The Locals.

Somehow, the residents of Howland elect the low-key and private Hadi as their First Selectman, essentially the mayor. Hadi uses his own money to balance the town’s books.

He also starts to chip away gradually at the traditions that, however ragged, kept Howland alive.

USA TODAY says ***½ out of four stars. “Captivating… (Dee’s) characters are vivid, and the emotions raw.”

Rabbit: The Autobiography of Ms. Pat by Patricia Williams; Dey Street, 227 pp.; non-fiction

In this memoir, the comedian and popular podcast guest known as “Ms. Pat” brings her irreverent wit to a life’s journey so harrowing it is almost too much to fathom.

USA TODAY says *** stars. “Somehow (Williams) has managed to pull hilarity out of heartache.”

Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black & White, Body and Soul in American Music by Ann Powers; Dey Street, 448 pp.; non-fiction

NPR’s music critic makes the case that American pop is one long, nuanced continuum energized by a hard-fought battle for sexual and racial liberation.

USA TODAY says **** stars. A “classic…richly researched, passionately argued.”

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero; Doubleday, 336 pp.; fiction

Former child super-sleuths and a dog reunite to revisit their most famous case, the Sleepy Lake monster in the mining town of Blyton Hills, Ore.

USA TODAY says ***½ stars. “As cleverly witty as its title…filled with high jinks both terrorizing and hilarious.”

Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang; Lenny/Random House; 301 pp.; fiction

Seven stories about Chinese-American girls from Brooklyn poet Jenny Zhang, in the first book published by Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner under their new Lenny imprint.

USA TODAY says *** stars. Zhang’s stories “are coarse and funny, sweet and sour, told in language that’s rough-hewn yet pulsating with energy.”

Contributing reviewers: Ray Locker, Charisse Jones, Matt Damsker, Brian Truitt, Jocelyn McClurg

 

usatoday.com