2 Books You Must Read in August

Flying Home, David Nicholson’s resonant volume of short fiction, will appeal to fans of Edward P. Jones and George Pelecanos but can stand without the easy comparisons. Nicholson captures the tension in a gentrifying neighborhood inspired by Bloomingdale, where he grew up. In one story, an African-American dad and his daughter, a private-school student, revisit his street. They run into an old friend of his whose life has cratered, and he wonders “how to teach his daughter she doesn’t have to want that world, but doesn’t have to fear or despise it either?”

In Applied Minds, local biomedical engineer and policy adviser Guru Madhavan offers accessible stories to explain how the engineer’s approach to the world affects us—whether via disposable diapers, ATMs, or a movie like The Birds, directed by a onetime engineer named Alfred Hitchcock: “He was a master of montage—the epitome of the modular systems approach in cinematic editing. . . . [His] target was his viewers’ nerve endings; he wanted them to feel as though they were ‘dipping their toes in the cold waters of fear.’ ”

This article appears in our August 2015 issue of Washingtonian.

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Senior Managing Editor

Bill O’Sullivan is senior managing editor; from 1999 to 2007, he was a features editor. In another lifetime, he was assistant managing editor. Somewhere in the middle, he was managing editor of Common Boundary magazine and senior editor at the Center for Public Integrity. His personal essays have been cited three times among the notable essays of the year in The Best American Essays. He teaches at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda.