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Books: Rachel Cusk, the long literary life of the Replacements and more book news

Hi, all! Carolyn Kellogg, books editor here, back from a trip to Helsinki, Stockholm and Paris with the not-at-all groundbreaking news that these are delightful cities. Yes, I shopped at Paris’ Shakespeare and Company, but not enough — when decided I needed to return for more books, I couldn’t get in because of the line of customers waiting to be let in the door. Glad to see the iconic bookstore is doing such good business. And now, here’s this week’s books newsletter.

THE BIG STORY

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For the last few years, Rachel Cusk has been wowing readers with her autofiction, novels semi-transparently based on real life. The latest is “Kudos,” which is as elusive and intelligent as the rest, with a twinge of mortality. Dustin Illingworth has our review.

Rachel Cusk, author of "Kudos."
Rachel Cusk, author of "Kudos." (Siemon Scamell-Katz)

HERE COMES A REGULAR

There was a band in the 1980s and ’90s that never had a breakthrough hit, managed to get themselves banned from “Saturday Night Live” and imploded after the death of a founding member. But while others were much bigger, got richer and lasted longer, the Replacements have inspired almost as many books as they had records. Tod Goldberg looks at a stack of them, including the recent “Lemon Jail” by one-time roadie Bill Sullivan, and asks why this shambolic band holds such attraction for writers.

The Replacements in the mid-1980s, from left: Chris Mars, Paul Westerberg, Bob Stinson and Tommy Stinson
The Replacements in the mid-1980s, from left: Chris Mars, Paul Westerberg, Bob Stinson and Tommy Stinson (Twin/Tone Records)

BESTSELLERS

Entering our fiction bestseller list this week for the first time, at No. 1, is Michael Ondaatje’s “Warlight.” This complicated, beautiful book is about siblings during and after World War II; Bethanne Patrick penned our review.

In its first week on our nonfiction bestseller list, starting out at No. 3, is “I Love Capitalism” by Ken Langone, the founder of Home Depot, telling his story of growing up poor on Long Island and eventually leading one of America’s most successful big box retailers.

You can find all the books on our bestseller lists here.

Ken Langone on Cardinal Timothy Dolan's weekly SiriusXM show.
Ken Langone on Cardinal Timothy Dolan's weekly SiriusXM show. (Cindy Ord / Getty Images)

MORE IN BOOKS

In this powerful interview, debut author Terese Marie Mailhot talks about writing her revealing memoir “Heart Berries,” being a single mom and from a community that’s rarely represented in literature, and what it was like to hear her mentor Sherman Alexie had been accused of sexual harassment.

We have a summer books preview that’s just the right size, with a new novel from Ann Tyler, a book about Bruce Lee, the memoir “Old in Art School” and a baker’s dozen more titles. And we also have this review of a trio of sci-fi books bent on revenge.

Bestselling author Chuck Palahniuk (“Fight Club”) revealed that he’s “close to broke” after his literary agent’s accountant was charged with embezzling $3.4 million from the boutique company, which also managed the accounts of the estates of “The Godfather” author Mario Puzo and journalist Studs Terkel.

Because I was away last week, there was no newsletter to share these two terrific tributes to Philip Roth, who died May 22 at age 85, by Seth Greeland and David L. Ulin.

Philip Roth in 2010.
Philip Roth in 2010. (Nancy Crampton)

EXTRAS

One of my favorite online reads of the week is by Darran Anderson. The urbanist and author of the book “Imaginary Cities” writes about 19th century artist William Morris, known for his intricate floral textile and wallpaper designs. “Morris attempted, in an effort to humanise both, to make art political and to make politics artistic,” Anderson writes.

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The way he describes Morris made me think of Charles Fletcher Lummis, the eclectic early Angeleno, first city editor of the L.A. Times and head of the L.A. Public Library from 1905-1911. One of the things Lummis did to build the nascent library’s collection was send out a sheet of stationery with “LA Public Library — Autographs” embossed across the top and a plea to improve the page. On Saturday, June 2, libraries citywide will revive that tradition and ask you to contribute your own autograph (and extras) on that re-created stationery. Visit a local branch or download a copy.

My colleague Carolina Miranda writes about art and culture at The Times with unique style and insight, but that’s not her only skill. She joins Anthony Bourdain as he visits Westlake — “Little Guatemala” — and gets a taste of Los Angeles.

Thanks for reading!

The line waiting to get in Shakespeare and Company in Paris
The line waiting to get in Shakespeare and Company in Paris (Carolyn Kellogg)
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