Apologize, Apologize!

In the story of the hyper-flawed Flanagans, whimsy and melodrama come crashing together. What might be frothy in lesser hands becomes, in those of Elizabeth Kelly, remarkably rich. Collie, named for the dog breed, is born into a family as wealthy as it is nuts, in a sprawling house on Martha's Vineyard. Nine months later, another son arrives, a charming rapscallion beloved by all. Rather than parent, their "professionally Irish" dad elevates drinking into high art, while their mom attempts to illustrate why her own imperious father deserves to be hated, complete with charts. Practical, with a predilection for self-awareness, poor Collie earns his mother's scorn (she calls him "good little comptroller") and his grandfather's admiration. Then an accident recalibrates the dynamics, and suddenly Collie's no longer just the family's straight man.


Since nobody could be harder on this young man than he is on himself, his struggles have a relatable poignancy even as the plot tends toward the outrageous. Nevertheless, Kelly's sparkling writing in Apologize, Apologize! keeps it all going: a character has "red hair shining like his personal sunset," someone else looks like "an effete fugitive from Wallis Simpson's id." Attempting a life lesson, in a speech worthy of a Wes Anderson movie, Collie's dad remarks, "[S]ometimes this I-slash-me business just gets you down." Who could disagree? Like her filmic counterpart, Kelly recognizes that beneath feigned simplicity, burnished irony, or even operatic antics often resides a wellspring of true feeling. This charismatic debut taps into it, and leaves it behind.

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

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

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

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.