Arthur Phillips

A tricky storyteller on three contemporaries whose work he sincerely loves.

 

 

Arthur Phillips won plaudits for his novel Prague -- a trenchantly observed tale of young Americans abroad -- and his books since have spanned continents, eras and genres.  His forthcoming novel may be his most ambitious: The Tragedy of Arthur  follows a protagonist named Arthur Phillips who discovers an unknown play by Shakespeare -- which appears, at full length, in the book.

 

When we invited the author to tell us a bit about some of his favorite books, Phillips asked that we include the following caveat: "I have taken a fair amount of grief for my policy of only reading dead people. This began accidentally: there are a lot of them to read (more every day) and I haven't read them all yet. Then, as I became a writer, it was self-protection: I am less cripplingly jealous of a good novel by a dead person than one by the other kind. And yet, here are three novels I read this year, almost completely without jealousy, only with admiration, by writers who are not only kicking, but still early in what I hope will be long, glorious careers."

 

Books by Arthur Phillips

 

 


 

Ten Thousand Saints

By Eleanor Henderson

 

"A first novel, and you have to wait until July for it, but then snap it up. Set in New York and New Hampshire in the 1980s, a story of music and drugs and growing up and losing friends and moving on. It's about CBGBs and straight-edge and mixed families and characters unlike anything in my experience, yet still felt precisely and movingly drawn. Youth, this story reminded me in a beautiful coda, is something we survive in order to make a life."

 


 

The King of Kings County

By Whitney Terrell

 

"A second novel. Terrell has been compared to John Irving, and while that's not unfair, it doesn't begin to do him justice. He is funny and wise, observant and entertaining, empathetic and yet remorseless in depicting injustice. This novel, set in Kansas City in the 1950s, tells a profound family history while also revealing the skeletons and scandals upon which great cities are often built—the tangled roots of modern segregation."

 


 

Personal Days

By Ed Park

 

"Another debut. In one of those odd burps of culture, 2007-8 produced two novels about office politics and sociology written in the first person plural, Personal Days and And Then We Came to the End. Park's book is the less well-known, but very undeservedly. It is extremely funny, dead-on in its descriptions of slacker work ethics and corporate compromise. And, then, out of nowhere, it's somehow very moving, showing how youth's fragile idealism can shatter under the weight of bad decisions and economics."

 

April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.