Inspect Europe today, and you would struggle to believe that its greatest scuffles were once about anything other than bailouts and shared currency, or Eurovision and football. Yet 2015 marks the bicentennial of a battle that stands as a summation of that continent's centuries of bloody wars, particularly those of the 20th: Waterloo. Two new books take different approaches to remembering this conflict.
Amanda Filipacchi’s fourth novel is a matchless satire that manages to make a point or two along with the fun. It follows a memorable cast of characters, led by Barb, a costume designer and world-class beauty with the kindest of hearts. Convinced of the sheer uselessness and even destructiveness of beauty after a spurned lover kills himself over her, Barb hides her looks under a fat suit.
A poignant novel catches up with lifelong friends, Peter Matthiessen's remarkable final work and a look at the immigrant experience make great selections for reading groups this month.
Though they often deal in dark themes—humanity’s rampant destruction of the earth is a common backdrop—Lydia Millet’s books are also, paradoxically, hilarious. Granted, it’s a grim humor, laced with sadness—but even so, it’s probably no surprise that the author in conversation is warm-voiced and inclined toward laughter.
There are several ways to know whether you’ve got a really fine novel on your hands, and you can tell pretty quickly that Dry Bones in the Valley is a debut of that caliber.
First, author Tom Bouman knows his rural Pennsylvania setting and is familiar with its smallest details, from inhabitants’ accents and manners to their dilapidated trailer homes, and from animal tracks in the woods to the winds and the night sky.
Ellen Litman gives a new twist to the familiar coming of age/boarding school story (think A Separate Peace, Prep, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie) in her second novel, Mannequin Girl. Set in the Soviet Union in the 1980s, it features the precocious daughter of two teachers whose life is radically changed when she receives a diagnosis of scoliosis.
In Richard Power’s latest novel, Orfeo, the last great problem for Peter Els begins when his old, beloved dog kicks the bucket. The poor dog’s death is messy—killed by his ex-wife, in his amateur biology lab. It’s present-day America, and a layperson messing with Petri dishes of weird bacteria is a no-no. Before Els knows it, men in hazmat suits come and confiscate some of his stuff. He goes out for his morning run, and when he comes back folks from what looks like Homeland Security have come to confiscate the rest of it. In response, Els does what he’s been doing most of his life—he runs.
From J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye to S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, classic male coming-of-age stories attract generations of readers by delivering plainspoken narratives that seem to bleed from the page, yet are neither maudlin nor precious. Such is the case with author Mark Slouka’s evocative new novel, Brewster, which, despite delving bravely into despairingly dark...
The logician Kurt Gödel, who contemplated becoming an American citizen, decided that the Constitution had loopholes big enough to drive a dictatorship through. His insight is vindicated by Frederic C. Rich’s Christian Nation, a speculative novel in which militant evangelicals incrementally take over the American government and proceed to eviscerate the Constitution.It’s 2009, and...
Award-winning writer Joan Silber returns with another stunning collection of linked stories. The characters in Fools span generations and continents, but are linked by the glow of their ideals, whether obsessive and dangerous or positive and world-changing. We asked Silber a few questions about her writing process and the inspiration behind the...