Monthly Archives: May, 2011

New Yorker fiction (May 30) – “M&M World”

It turned out that I wasn’t a fan of this story. It’s mostly the stream of consciousness of a mother struggling with divorce and two young daughters – There are other things to fix, not just her yellow teeth. She needs some spots removed from her skin; she needs to dye her gray roots, the […]

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Gary Shteyngart Wins Wodehouse Prize, No One Protests

… Then again, not every literary prize needs to be contentious or grim, even with a maverick winner. Take the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction, which in addition to being a mouthful is extremely British, dedicated in equal parts to champagne and P.G. Wodehouse—yet was won this year for the first time, with […]

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The Sisters Brothers Signed Print Giveaway

I’m reading Patrick deWitt’s wonderfully skewed western The Sisters Brothers, about which the Los Angeles Times says: If Cormac McCarthy had a sense of humor, he might have concocted a story like Patrick deWitt’s bloody, darkly funny western The Sisters Brothers… It’s smooth and seamless, shot through with dark humor, pared and antique without being […]

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Wednesday Moment of Zen: Dinah Lenney’s “Against Knowing”

We haven’t had a true Wednesday Moment of Zen for a while now. So I offer to all my Wednesday readers an essay by Dinah Lenney in Brevity about the fine art of Not Knowing. Where fiction writers are generally all right with not being sure where a character or even a plot line is […]

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Philip Roth Wins Man Booker International, Judge Walks

With apologies for being a bit late on the draw here, last week Philip Roth was awarded the Man Booker International Prize for 2011. The £60,000 prize—that’s a little under $100,000—is awarded every other year for significant achievement in fiction writing, either originally in English or widely translated. Recent winners include Ismail Kadaré (2005), Chinua […]

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New Yorker fiction (May 23) – “The Trusty”

The New Yorker has made the story available online only to subscribers. If you began with several types of human insufficiency — theft, greed, lust, isolation, illusion, and deception (always deception) — and crossed those over against restless, unforgiving, hardtack natures, you may well end up where Ron Rash does in this story: a young […]

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MJ Rose’s Backstory: Jonathan Cullen

During the 1970s Boston underwent a process of school desegregation which resulted in “forced busing,” where children from white neighborhoods were assigned to schools in neighboring black neighborhoods in order to achieve racial balance across the school system. My earliest memories were of boarding a bus in my safe and middle-class white neighborhood and driving […]

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Post-Rapture Kate Christensen Sneak Preview

No, we were not raptured. We were just off weekending, and now we’re back with very good news: The first chapter of Kate Christensen’s new novel The Astral (coming out from Doubleday June 14) is available online at Scribd. If you’ve been looking forward to her next effort as much as I have, this is […]

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Pocket Review: The Silent Land by Graham Joyce

The Silent Land Graham Joyce Doubleday, 2011 Graham Joyce has been called a fantasist, a horror writer, a straddler of genres, and, in his own words, a writer in the “Old Peculiar” mode. But though his 18th novel, The Silent Land, operates within a darkly fantastic premise, the concerns that power it are surprisingly prosaic. […]

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Emergences: Brian Dettmer’s Altered Books

Most of the time when I like a piece of art it’s the finished product I’m interested in more than the process. There are exceptions to that, of course—certain kinds of performance, or when I’ve watched a friend’s work-in-progress blossom from rough draft to finished copy. But unless references to a work’s genesis are intentional, […]

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