Monthly Archives: October, 2010

Random Instances of the Phrase “Like Fire” #4

The Great Depression is well underway and a days-long FBI stakeout on Kansas farmland is about to come to an abrupt and tragic end. The tedium of both farmland and stakeout is shattered when “a glint of chrome radiator … turned into a full-blown automobile, swinging alongside the house, roaring to a stop, rocking heavily […]

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Pocket Review: The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi

The Quantum Thief Hannu Rajaniemi Gollancz (UK), 2010 If you’re unfamiliar with terms such as zocu, Tzaddikim, Sobornost, gevulots, spimescapes, and Oubliette, then commit them to memory now. Once Hannu Rajaniemi’s first novel crosses the Atlantic next year, it will only be a matter of time before these brilliant concepts become permanently embedded in contemporary […]

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They Say It’s Your Birthday

October 27 is a mighty auspicious day to be born on if you happen to be a writer. Today we wish a happy birthday to Dylan Thomas (1914), Sylvia Plath (1932), Maxine Hong Kingston (1940), Fran Lebowitz (1950), and Steve Almond (1967). It’s also the 106th anniversary of the first New York City subway’s opening, […]

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Pocket Review: Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas

Our Tragic Universe Scarlett Thomas Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010 Just like the real thing, Scarlett Thomas’ Our Tragic Universe contains multitudes. Its heroine, Meg Carpenter, is struggling with writer’s block, broke, no longer in love with her boyfriend and enamored of an older man who lives with someone else, and generally at the mercy of […]

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Read ‘Em if You Got ‘Em: NYRB Reading Week

New York Review Books… is it me, or is it getting harder to find a reason not to accumulate them indiscriminately? The quality of the literature and their beauty as objects—those tasteful covers and their perfect traveling size and the way they look lined up on the shelf—and the relatively reasonable price all conspire to […]

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New Yorker fiction (Oct 25) – “The Tree Line, Kansas, 1934”

Set during the Great Depression, this is a story of many contrasts — the inexperience and (therefore) impetuousness of youth, for example, seen alongside the experienced self-restraint of an older colleague. The G-Men against the bank robbers. Bucolic countryside vs. the violent city. Farmland poverty highlighting the ill-gotten gains of a “pattern of heists that […]

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30 Days Hath 30 Covers

I’m all in favor of the spit-it-out school of creativity: the August Poetry Project, the Sketchbook Project, NaNoWriMo. Forget about killing your darlings; the point is to have no darlings, just a bunch of warm bodies, and you can pick your favorites another day. There’s always time for polish later. And while I’m not crazy […]

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This Copy-Editor’s Delight

A blog with an agenda to publicize as well as inform walks a fine line. When it comes to publishers, journals, writers, and publicists trying to draw your eye to what they have to offer, there are some gems and some duds—even the class acts hit sour notes every so often. So it’s nice to […]

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New Yorker fiction (Oct 18) – “To the Measures Fall”

The New Yorker has made the story available online only to subscribers. Are you currently carrying on a love affair with books? For a period of time measured more accurately in decades? With the lines between desire and obsession fused beyond all reason? Truly and giddily heedless of the consequences? Why yes, of course you […]

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Strata: Alan Bradley

As anyone who’s met the literary acquaintance of Flavia de Luce knows, Alan Bradley is a devilishly clever and mysterious writer. Formerly a radio and television engineer who also taught scriptwriting and production, he has long been a storyteller and devotee of mysteries. He has written numerous children’s stories as well as a controversial book, […]

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