Literature & Music: Arts Previews, Feb. 2024, Pt. 4 | Prepub Alert

Books on Billie Holliday, Carson McCullers, and more. 

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Alexander, Paul. Bitter Crop: The Heartache and Triumph of Billie Holiday’s Last Year. Knopf. Feb. 2024. 304p. ISBN 9780593315903. $32. MUSIC

Attenberg, Jami. 1000 Words: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Creative, Focused, and Productive All Year Round. Simon Element: S. & S. Jan. 2024. 224p. ISBN 9781668023600. $24.99. LITERATURE

Bass, Rick. With Each Great Breath: New and Selected Essays. Counterpoint. Feb. 2024. NAp. ISBN 9781640096301. $29. LITERATURE

Dearborn, Mary V. Carson McCullers: A Life. Knopf. Feb. 2024. 512p. ISBN 9780525521013. $40. LITERATURE

Gutkind, Lee. The Fine Art of Literary Fist-Fighting: How a Bunch of Rabble-Rousers, Outsiders, and Ne’er-Do-Wells Concocted Creative Nonfiction. Yale. Jan. 2024. 312p. ISBN 9780300251159. $35. LITERATURE

Trillin, Calvin. The Lede: Dispatches from a Life in the Press. Random. Feb. 2024. 336p. ISBN 9780593596449. $31. LITERATURE

Williams, Billy Dee. What Have We Here?: Portraits of a Life. Knopf. Feb. 2024. 304p. ISBN 9780593318607. $32. PERFORMING ARTS

In Bitter Crop, former Time reporter Alexander looks at the last, challenging years of soaring jazz singer Billie Holiday, with flashbacks to key events in her life. Challenging herself and a friend to conquer writer’s block by writing 1000 Words a day, Attenberg expanded her purvey to launch the #1000WordsofSummer movement chronicled here; also included, writing advice from more than 50 top-notch authors. A writer and environmentalist boasting Story Prize, Nelson Algren, and National Book Critics Circle finalist honors, Bass collects favorite and fresh essays in With Each Great Breath. A Mellon Fellow in the Humanities, Dearborn draws on newly discovered letters and journals to write a big new biography of Carson McCullers. The Fine Art of Literary Fist-Fighting details Gutkind’s pugnacious entry into academia with the determination to launch creative nonfiction as a legitimate writing genre and traces its development in the intervening years. In The Lede, the inimitable Trillin offers a portrait of journalism and its practitioners by drawing on six decades’ worth of pieces. In What Have We Here?, famed actor Williams celebrates a career spanning eight triumphant decades.

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Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; winner of ALA's Louis Shores Award for reviewing; and past president, awards chair, and treasurer of the National Book Critics Circle, which awarded her its inaugural Service Award in 2023.

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