The morning after Halloween, sixteen-year-old Nan wakes up barefoot on the L train, wearing a torn pink plastic dress, with hacked-off hair, skeleton make-up that proves virtually impossible to remove, and the words "Help Me" scrawled in Sharpie across her chest. "This time her nightmare is real," reads the tag line on the cover.


But while Burnout delivers the drama its exterior promises, the real surprise is just how artfully it portrays a certain kind of New York City teenage life: Saturdays at the Union Square farmer's market, midnight screenings of The Goonies at the Sunshine cinema, a secret hide-out in a 19th century carriage house, Nan's family's space as the sole remaining artists in a converted SoHo loft that has long since gone condo. That and, say, puking in the holy water at Saint Patrick's cathedral in front of a busload of Japanese tourists. It's that kind of bad behavior that leads to Nan spending six months in rehab, though, as her best friend and prime instigator, Seemy, points out, Nan was more follower than leader in the rebellious teen role.


Nan's family is especially finely drawn. "Our house is full of thinking," Nan says. Her artist mother encourages her to find strength in her large frame ("mom says bodies like ours are made for football and slaying dragons"), describes her own art as "either a big fat mess or a mixed-media installation about mall culture and female genital mutilation," and snipes at the rich people who look at "all of the interesting artist people" as some sort of paid entertainment. While the plot speeds along, the background texture makes the reader actually care how it all shakes out.

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.