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Short Takes—October 2015 

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A LITTLE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

James West Davidson

Yale University Press, 2015, $25

Covering five centuries in just over 300 pages is a tall order, but Rhinebeck historian Davidson rises to the challenge with a vivid, user-friendly overview of the (frequently bloody, sometimes smallpox-infected) American quilt. Rich with novelistic detail and finely drawn characters, his Little History stretches from Columbus sighting land to Obama's family tree. Appearing 10/7 at 7pm, Oblong Books & Music, Rhinebeck; 10/8 at 7pm, White Hart Inn, Salisbury CT.

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ALONG THE MT. BEACON INCLINE RAILWAY: PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE

Greg Bilotto

Arcadia Publishing, 2015, $21.99

Mount Beacon is blessed with spectacular views of the Hudson Highlands. For nearly a century, its western face was traversed by the world's steepest funicular railway. Constructed by tough men and pack mules, the popular tourist attraction opened in 1902; enthusiasts want to rebuild it. Hudson Valley native Bilotto details this saga with evocative period photos. Exhibition opening and book signing 10/9 at 6pm, Beacon Institute for Rivers & Estuaries, Clarkson University, Beacon.

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CALF

Andrea Kleine

Soft Skull Press, 2015, $24

Would-be Reagan assassin John Hinckley, Jr. became romantically involved with socialite Leslie DeVeau (who in 1981 murdered her daughter—the author's childhood friend) when the two were institutionalized at the same psychiatric hospital. In her first novel, performance artist Kleine deftly weaves their fictionalized, parallel inner dialogues (names changed to protect the guilty). Appropriately unsettling—and highly addictive. Appearing 10/10 at noon with Melissa Holbrook Pierson at the Pocketbook Factory, Hudson ArtsWalk. Full schedule: Cccaartswalk.com/literary.

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BLOOD RED: MUNDY'S LANDING BOOK ONE

Wendy Corsi Staub

William Morrow, 2015, $7.99

A murderous creep stalking redheads in a big box store, an indignant letter to the editor protesting a macabre class trip, and we're off. The opening salvo of two-time Mary Higgins Clark Award winner Staub's new trilogy will grab readers by the roots of their hair (whether it's red or not) as dark deeds and a grisly past unfold in a picturesque riverside town that bears no small resemblance to Rhinebeck. Appearing 10/17 at 4pm, The Golden Notebook, Woodstock.

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WEIRD GIRL AND WHAT'S HIS NAME

Meagan Brothers

Three Rooms Press, 2015, $16.95

What happens when your gay best friend—the one you share everything with—turns out to be hiding big secrets? Seventeen-year-old outsiders and X-files fanatics Lula and Rory each narrate half of their story. Brothers burrows deep into her characters' hearts and minds as they struggle with unruly sexual urges, family issues, and their own ruptured friendship. A welcome addition to the growing canon of LGBTQ-themed teen literature. Appearing 10/18 at 4pm with Kate Scelsa & Gary D. Schmidt, Hudson Valley YA Society at Oblong, Rhinebeck.

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CONSTELLATION

Melissa McGill, with Sam Anderson, Joe Baker & Hadrian Coumans, Richard Blanco, Tracy K. Smith, Edwin Torres, and Jeffrey Yang

Princeton Architectural Press, 2015, $30

Railway commuters along the Hudson often stare at Bannermans' Island, with its haunting ruined castle, gutted by an armory explosion and subsequent fire. Starting this June, a site-specific light installation by Beacon artist McGill has added a layer of visual wonder. Stellar in every sense, this striking, midnight-blue book is a collaboration between the artist and poets and writers inspired by her work.

Appearing at 10/23 at 6pm, Oblong Books & Music, Rhinebeck.

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