Beacon Quick Picks

When Ishmael Beah appeared on “The Daily Show,” Jon Stewart acknowledged Beah’s incredible journey as a boy soldier and refugee in Sierra Leone but was wary of giving him any more credit: Stewart pointed out that he had done his entire show with “a pretty bad cold.,Ishmael Beah; A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier; available now

When Ishmael Beah appeared on “The Daily Show,” Jon Stewart acknowledged Beah’s incredible journey as a boy soldier and refugee in Sierra Leone but was wary of giving him any more credit: Stewart pointed out that he had done his entire show with “a pretty bad cold.” This privileged mentality will be shattered by the beautifully written A Long Way Gone. Americans have never had to survive the unbelievable horrors of Beah’s young life in West Africa, and his memoir makes the reader feel a human fragility that is so rarely recognized in this country.

Deborah Eisenberg; Twilight of the Superheroes: stories; available now

In the short story collection Twilight of the Superheroes, Deborah Eisenberg juxtaposes middle-aged characters with young ones, showing that although individual despair and dysfunction differ, people’s emotions remain, at base, the same. In the book’s best and title story, a group of twentysomethings living near the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 spend four years getting over the tragic event. In another, a divorced woman finds the perfect one-night stand but discovers the man is interested in teenage girls. Twilight of the Superheroes, named one of the best books of 2006 by The Boston Globe, poignantly paints a world of which even Superman would get weary.