Kurt Andersen


Magic, insight, and heartbreak.



Kurt Andersen has an uncanny knack for turning his curiosity into lively cultural landmarks. A co-founder of Spy magazine, a former columnist for New York and The New Yorker, and the co-creator and host of the Peabody Award-winning Studio 360, a radio cabinet of wonders, Andersen has also written the acclaimed novels Turn of the Century and Heyday. His latest book, Reset, surveys, with characteristically buoyant intelligence, the new world created by global financial turmoil. Here he shares three favorite reads.


Books by Kurt Andersen






Winter's Tale

By Mark Helprin


"When I first picked up Winter's Tale 25 years ago, I thought I was immune to the charms of historical fiction, of epic romanticism and, even more, of magical realism. A flying horse? Really? Well, the novel showed me definitively how cramped and wrong my literary prejudices had been: I was wonderstruck. It's a luxurious, funny, ennobling, awesome, deeply pleasurable tale set in an alternate-universe New York City around 1900...Gabriel Garcia Marquez meets Luc Sante, say. I envy people who haven't read it yet. "





The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

By Tom Wolfe


"The literary establishment doesn't really approve of Tom Wolfe, but when I first read this, I was a 15-year-old in Omaha, and didn't know from the literary establishment. I was already an avid reader of newspapers and magazines, but had no idea that journalism was capable of such literary special effects and you-are-there insight. Re-reading it recently, four decades after it was published, I found it stunning all over again. There's no better non-fiction chronicle of the countercultural Sixties."




In the Cut

By Susanna Moore


"Susanna Moore's In the Cut, like so many fine novels before it, was turned into a mediocre film, but I plead with you not to hold that against it. Yes, the novel is a great crime story teeming with sexuality -- that's why Hollywood sucked it up -- but in the scrupulous and troubling fashion of great literature. It's non-retro noir with an unforgettably lovable, damagned, heartbreaking heroine. "

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."