Heller McAlpin

Heller McAlpin is a New York-based critic who reviews books regularly for NPR.org, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, The San Francisco Chronicle and other publications.

Pick up Nora Krug's reverberant graphic memoir, Belonging, and be prepared to lose yourself for hours in this unstinting investigation into her conflicted feelings about being German and her family's role in the Holocaust.

Philosophy professor John Kaag's 2016 book, American Philosophy, was a heady mix of memoir and intellectual history wrapped up in a romantic story of a lost library and new love. In Hiking with Nietzsche, he tries to repeat this feat by chronicling his return — with his second wife and their toddler daughter — to the scene of his near-fatal teenage attempt to follow Nietzsche's trail and thought processes through the Swiss Alps.

Sarah Weinman, an editor and writer of true crime stories, doubles up on her literary sleuthing in The Real Lolita, investigating the 1948 kidnapping and rape of 11-year-old Sally Horner by a convicted pedophile.

For decades, Bill Cunningham trained his eye — and camera — on New York City's constant fashion parade for his New York Times "On the Street" and "Evening Hours" style columns.

Clad in his distinctive royal blue French worker's jacket and often straddling a bicycle, the nonpareil people-watcher snapped outfits — some might say getups — that delighted him. Each week, he highlighted a different trend with a spectacular collage of photographs: black and white stripes, men's ankle length furs, splashes of hot pink or bursts of yellow.

Patrick deWitt's novels don't so much skewer genres as turn them askew. His latest is the third of a trilogy of literary hijinks that began with The Sisters Brothers (2011), a gleefully gruesome, wonky western set during the Gold Rush. This was followed by Undermajordomo Minor (2015), a sort of fairytale adventure for adults. French Exit, aptly billed as a "tragedy of manners," is a mother-son caper, a sparkling dark comedy that channels both Noel Coward's wit and Wes Anderson's loopy sensibility.

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