Six new paperbacks to check out this week.
BETTER LIVING THROUGH CRITICISM: How to Think About Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth, by A.O. Scott. (Penguin, $17.) The author, a co-chief film critic for The New York Times, reconsiders the relationship between criticism and the art it assesses; rather than art’s antithesis, such evaluations are part and parcel of the creative process. “Criticism, far from sapping the vitality of art, is instead what supplies its lifeblood,” Scott writes.
DREAM CITIES: Seven Urban Ideas That Shape the World, by Wade Graham. (Harper Perennial, $15.99.) Graham chronicles the familiar institutions around which the world’s cities are organized — including shopping malls, monuments and suburbs — and profiles the designers and planners who imagined them. Cities, in his view, are best seen as “expressions of ideas, often conflicting, about how we should live.”
A MOTHER’S RECKONING: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy, by Sue Klebold. (Broadway, $16.) Klebold, the mother of one of the teenagers who killed 13 other people and themselves at Columbine High School in 1999, approaches her book gingerly: Aware that the project could draw ire or claims of insensitivity, she uses it to warn about mental illness and consider what could have been done to prevent the tragedy.
THE BRICKS THAT BUILT THE HOUSES, by Kate Tempest. (Bloomsbury, $16.) Tempest, a spoken-word poet and a rapper, reprises characters from earlier work in this, her debut novel. Harry is socking away money for the future by dealing cocaine to the wealthy, while Becky, an aspiring dancer, works as a masseuse. Tempest turns her ear for language to their love story, as well as the characters that surround them. “The cumulative effect is deeply affecting: cinematic in scope; touching in its empathic humanity,” our reviewer, Sam Byers, wrote.
ALL THINGS CEASE TO APPEAR, by Elizabeth Brundage. (Vintage, $15.95.) How much tragedy can one farmhouse hold? When Catherine Clare, a college professor’s wife in small-town New York, is murdered in her bed, it recalls an earlier trauma at the house: an incident that left three brothers orphaned. Brundage unspools stories of the Clares’ marriage and their home in this masterly thriller.
ONLY THE ANIMALS: Stories, by Ceridwen Dovey. (Picador, $18.) Dovey’s narrators are the souls of animals linked to artists and writers, including a dolphin with an affinity for Ted Hughes. In these “tragic but knowing” tales, “the wronged do not howl at their executioners as much as hold their actions in the light, and accept their place in history,” our reviewer, Megan Mayhew Bergman, wrote.