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Short Takes: May 2014 

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What Will it Take to Make a Woman President? Conversations About Women, Leadership, and Power
Marianne Schnall
Seal Press, 2013, $17

If you could sit down with Gloria Steinem, Maya Angelou, Nancy Pelosi, Joy Behar, Kirsten Gillibrand, and other cultural icons, what would you ask? Woodstock journalist Schnall starts each of these galvanizing interviews with the book's title question, following up with provocative discourse that looks far beyond the glass ceiling of the Oval Office. In Sheryl Sandberg's words, "One day there won't be female leaders. There will just be leaders."

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Creativity: The Perfect Crime
Philippe Petit
Riverhead Books, 2014, $27.95

"The creator must be an outlaw," writes Petit, and no one who witnessed his illegal high-wire crossing between the Twin Towers can doubt that he's walking the walk. In rambling, sometimes ecstatic prose, the iconoclastic funambulist invites fellow artists of every stripe to break rules (including those he puts forth in this book), "play attention," and "fight the Impossible." Oui! Appearing 5/28 at 7pm, Oblong Books & Music, Rhinebeck.

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Rescuing Julia Twice: A Mother's Tale of Russian Adoption and Overcoming Reactive Attachment Disorder
Tina Traster, foreword by Melissa Fay Greene
Chicago Review Press, 2014, $24.95

Journalist Traster and her husband crossed 11 time zones to adopt their daughter from a Siberian orphanage. Candid about her "queasy ambivalence," she's guilt-stricken when they don't bond. Is she not maternal, or is something wrong? Her complex journey and determination to "make love happen" make for riveting reading. Workshop 5/10, 10-4pm, Hudson Valley Writers Center; reading 6/11 at 7pm, Nyack Public Library.

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The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality
Edited by Avital Norman Nathman, foreword by Christy Turlington Burns
Seal Press, 2014, $16

Here's a great gift for Mother's Day: honesty. In an age of competitive "mommy wars," 35 articulate women defy expectations with unvarnished tales of fallible, all too human, and somehow good enough mothering. The diverse group of contributors includes Jennifer Baumgardner, Soraya Chemaly, Erika Lust, Jessica Valenti, and SUNY New Paltz professor Heather Hewett, whose essay "Parenting without a Rope" is a heartbreaker.

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Trouble is a Gift: A Story of Addiction, Recovery, and Hope
James S. Cusack
S & J Publishing, 2013, $24.95

For an alcoholic, 90 days of sobriety is a triumph. Sixty years is a miracle. The founder of Kerhonkson's Villa Veritas shares his hard-won recovery and ongoing vow to help others live sober, back in the days before "rehab" was a concept. He and wife Sue launched their groundbreaking inpatient treatment program for alcoholics and addicts in 1973, relocating from Monticello to its current home in 1981. Cusack's authorial voice is as informal and warm as a fireside chat, and his story will touch many lives.

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Being and Becoming: The Memoir of a Former Catholic Priest
Walter Keady
Castletree Books, 2014, $20

Millbrook author Keady has entranced many readers with tales of Ireland's past. Now he shares his own. Raised in County Mayo as a conservative Catholic and ordained as a priest, he starts questioning both as a missionary in Florida Paulista, Brazil during Vatican II. Heartfelt struggles with celibacy and dogma spur him to resign. He moves to the US and marries; a writer is born. Appearing 5/10 at 2pm, Saugerties Public Library; 6/21 at the Millbrook Book Festival.

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