This month's best new mysteries include blackmail, drama at the Italian opera, a Cuban scandal and the latest from Norwegian powerhouse Jo Nesbø.
Each April, National Poetry Month promotes the enduring art form in the classroom and beyond, celebrating the integral role that poetry has played in our literary tradition. Yet, this once-a-year focus on poetry also reminds us of how few readers still make poetry a regular part of their reading diet. We encounter poetry every day, of course, in its most populist forms—song lyrics, advertising—but the meager sales of poetry collections would indicate that few of us are curling up by the fire with a volume of verse. If asked, many readers might cite their lack of interest as growing out of intimidation—they just don’t “get” poetry, its language is hard to crack, its subject matter arcane.
Many readers first encounter the work of Langston Hughes in school but may not revisit it much beyond that early exposure. A seminal voice in the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes lives on in a handful of widely anthologized poems, but the vast majority of his prolific output goes unread. His literary light has waxed and waned since his death in 1967, but the publication of the Selected Letters of Langston Hughes, as well as a new edition of his first volume of poetry, The Weary Blues, could help spur renewed interest in Hughes and his work.
I have to admit I was a bit nonplussed when Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize in 2013. Not because she didn’t deserve it. On the contrary, no writer is more worthy of this crowning literary honor. No, my dismay stemmed from the fact that the secret had gotten out: For years, we Munro fans had fooled ourselves into thinking we were part of some exclusive society with special appreciation for an unsung master. Crazy, of course, since Munro had been reaching tens of thousands of readers for decades with her stories in The New Yorker. But such is the unvarnished assuredness of Munro’s prose, the knowing intimacy of her plots—it is easy to believe she is writing for you alone.
September is a big month for mysteries this year, both in terms of excellence and page count (close to 2,000 pages in the four books here—truly a reviewer’s marathon!). If ever there were a month deserving of four Top Picks, this is it.
This month's Whodunit column spotlights a standalone from Nesbø, a mystery in the French countryside, a mother's bloody return and the second adventure from Daniel Friedman's octogenarian hero.
This month's best new mysteries include a deadly oil spill, a charming francophile's mystery, the finale to Leif GW Persson's Story of a Crime Trilogy, plus an "ink-dark" psychological thriller from Kem Nunn.
They don’t make cops much more world-weary than Moscow homicide investigator Arkady Renko, who has remained steadfast in his principles while trying to stay afloat in the vast sea of corruption that is post-Soviet Union Russia. Author Martin Cruz Smith puts it succinctly in the opening pages of his latest Renko thriller, Tatiana: “As for himself, Arkady knew he should quit the...
Suzanne Goin’s first cookbook, Sunday Suppers at Lucques, is one of my all-time favorites; I’ve been hoping for a follow-up since it was published in 2005. Here at last, and more than worth the wait, is The A.O.C. Cookbook. Goin, a true omnivore and true believer in seasonal and local cooking, is boldly, brilliantly creative, combining ingredients, layering and reinforcing flavors...
Now that summer’s over, it’s back-to-reality time, back to all-out busy. But if sending the kids off with a packed lunch is on your daily agenda, there’s good news. J.M. Hirsch, having “logged several years in the lunch box trenches” and having blogged about the slog, shares his tricks, tips, recipes, ideas and, most importantly, his emphasis on getting beyond old...