[In which a late-blooming bookworm finally gets to the stuff he really should have read already.] The Plot, Basically: A bunch of erudite drunks drink in Paris, then meet up in Spain to get drunk and watch bullfights and get drunk some more. The Plot — All of It: It's not long after World War I, and Paris is full of American expatriates with a lot of time on their hands. Some are rich gadabouts or mooching artists, but… more »
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For many of us, autumn brings back vivid sense memories: the smell of freshly sharpened pencils, the feel of a new backpack's sticky zipper, the sound of an alarm clock ringing in the dark for the first time in months. But the best thing about back-to-school? New books. That stack of unbroken spines, pages clean of overenthusiastic underlining and highlightsâ€¦Of course, now that we're all fully educated (yeah, right), we're free to audit those interesting-sounding… more »
What is it about Scandinavia that inspires so many tales of murder? Actual crime rates in Sweden, Denmark and Norway are historically low (not counting the Vikings, of course), but ever since Stieg Larsson's blockbuster The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo captivated U.S. readers, mysteries set in far northern Europe have become as ubiquitous as Harlequin romances back when Fabio was still in business. There is and forever will be only one Lizbeth Salander, but… more »
I first met Adam Mansbach in college. We were DJs together, sharing a love for classic soul records which, in those pre-iPod days, were only available in dusty thrift store crates or the trash-picked piles of homeless guys who sold them on the street. Adam, like me, considered himself a writer, even starting his own magazine, Elementary, dedicated to covering what we then loftily called "Hip-Hop Culture." Did I want to write for it? Hell… more »
South Park dissed them big time in a memorable episode. You've probably had them offer you a free e-meter audit at the mall. And maybe you were even one of those unlucky few who got snookered into watching Battlefield Earth. Yes, Scientology is nutty as hell — but it's also undeniably fascinating, in the best tradition of American nuttery. This winter, curious readers were blessed with the publication of two books on the infamously secretive (and litigious)… more »
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2013 | Publisher: Random House Audio
There’s been no end to the deluge of books about weathering the apocalypse on the micro level — Sam Sheridan’s wild The Disaster Diaries might be the most fun — but hardly anybody goes macro like Annalee Newitz does in Scatter, Adapt, and Remember. There’s a reason for that, and she gets to it early: Most of us aren’t going to make it.
Instead of teaching us how to pack a bugout bag or purify our pee, Newitz — editor of the always fascinating sci-fi blog i09 — suggests we… more »
2013 | Publisher: Random House Audio
Twin sisters are born with extrasensory powers — and only one of them sees them as a gift to be used. It’s a premise that, depending on the genre tendencies of its author, could easily yield an airport special. In Curtis Sittenfeld’s capable hands, however, the story of convention-craving Daisy and her wayward sister Violet is a compelling study of family dynamics and sibling angst.
When Violet, now working as a psychic, publicly predicts a catastrophic earthquake, attracting national attention, mom-of-two Daisy (who, all grown up, now insists on being called… more »
2013 | Publisher: HighBridge Company
“Special Topics in Evolutionary Biology: Ethics and Debate” is the official name of the class Andy Wait — an almost-ran academic and widower father of two — teaches at a tiny New Jersey liberal arts college. Among students, the class is popularly known as “There Is No God”; however, the only scholars we meet in Lauren Grodstein’s smart, somewhat slight The Explanation for Everything are the ones who disagree with that notion. And in Wait’s oatmeal-bland world, even their fire and brimstone come across lukewarm.
It isn’t that Grodstein’s done a… more »
2013 | Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Anyone familiar with Zelda Fitzgerald — and particularly anyone who has sided with her in the unending war of public opinion over her marriage (a demanding, needy wife married to a tortured genius vs. a fragile talent with an abusive, narcissist husband) — will be captured almost immediately by Z, Therese Anne Fowler’s empathetic must-read. Taking the well-worn facts about Mrs. F. Scott Fitzgerald — flapper, muse, mother, possible schizophrenic — Fowler has created not only a well-rounded, flesh-and-blood evocation of a woman alternately cast in the annals of literary… more »