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Short Takes: Short Book Reviews for October 2016 

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DYING IN DUBAI: A MEMOIR OF MARRIAGE, MOURNING, AND THE MIDDLE EAST

Roselee Blooston

Apprentice House/Loyola University Press, 2016, $16.99

It's hard to imagine a tenser journey than the one in this riveting memoir's opening pages. Playwright Blooston and her son are on a 14-hour flight to Dubai, where Jerry, her husband of 24 years, has had an aneurysm. Arriving to an upturned world, she faces unthinkable loss in a culture whose rules she can't fathom. Appearing 10/6 at 6pm, Oblong Books & Music, Rhinebeck; 11/6 at 3pm, The Golden Notebook, Woodstock; 11/16 at 7pm, Barnes & Noble, Kingston.

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PATRICIDE

D. Foy

Stalking Horse Press, 2016, $18.95

Brutally abused by both of his parents, Foy's haunted narrator battles addiction, relationships, and "my father's giant Voice" like a gonzo gladiator. This raw-whisky novel by the acclaimed author of Made to Break is a rough ride in a golden chariot; Foy's sentences soar. "Then a velveteen roar mounted in his head, a hundred thousand sirens singing in the belly of a dreaming cave." Appearing 10/22 at 4pm, The Golden Notebook, Woodstock, with Shelly Oria and Nelly Reifler.

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DP: DISPLACED PERSON

Margarita Meyendorff

Baroness Books, 2016, $15

Rosendale actress/singer Meyendorff spins an engrossing tale of life in motion. Born in a displaced persons camp in postwar Germany, "Mourka" grew up in Nyack, surrounded by émigré Russians and her aristocratic parents' despair. She found salvation in performing, and as she moves from Rudolf Nureyev's dressing room to foil-wrapped go-go dancing and hilarious `70s theater tour to telling her story, onstage and in print, we applaud every step. Appearing 11/13 at 4pm with Laura Shaine Cunningham and Nina Shengold at The Golden Notebook, Woodstock.

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THE FIRE THIS TIME: A NEW GENERATION SPEAKS ABOUT RACE

edited by Jesmyn Ward

Scribner, 2016, $25

Broad, deep, and painful, this collection of writings on race is essential reading. National Book Award-winner Ward sought community after Trayvon Martin's killing; rereading James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time ignited this book. Vassar professor Kiese Laymon's fierce, loving tribute to his grandmother joins poems by Jericho Brown and Natasha Trethewey, Kevin Young's takedown of Rachel Dolezal's fraudulent blackness, Edwidge Danticat's moving "Message to My Daughters," and more. Read this, burn, and hope.

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WALK THROUGH WALLS

Marina Abramovic

Crown Archetype, 2016, $28

Born in Yugoslavia, Abramovic survives her domineering mother's beatings; makes art with fire, snakes, blood, and endurance; joins forces with German artist Ulay, and breaks up with him on the Great Wall of China, becoming so famous that 750,000 people line up to look at her in a piece called The Artist is Present. A polarizing persona, the Hudson performance artist dedicates her memoir "to FRIENDS and ENEMIES." To acolytes, Abramovic is a galvanizing force; to scoffers, caveat emptor's new clothes. She is undeniably present.

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SUDDENLY SINGLE AFTER 50

Barbara Ballinger and Margaret Crane

Rowman & Littlefield, 2016, $35

After collaborating on books about kitchen design and family businesses, Dutchess County writers and longtime friends Ballinger and Crane get personal, sharing "our story and everywoman's story of losing a spouse or a life partner," one to divorce, one to widowhood. Subtitled "The Girlfriends' Guide to Navigating Loss, Restoring Hope, and Rebuilding Your Life," their useful, list-filled book covers topics from rage and grief to eating alone in restaurants, household chores, and midlife dating.

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