Dream City

Comic strips, the 1933 World's Fair, gangsters, and book collecting are thrown into the stew pot in Brendan Short?s first novel, Dream City. Faintly echoing Michael Chabon?s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Short traces the arc of one comic fanboy?s life from Depression-era Chicago to the present day. As a child, Michael Halligan is an avid reader of Big Little Books --chunky, palm-sized dime novels that hit their peak 70 years ago. With titles like Flash Gordon on the Planet Mongo, Chester Gump at Silver Creek Ranch, and G-Man on the Crime Trail, the Big Little Books offer avenues of escape from Michael?s hard-knock life as the son of a numbers runner and an adulterous mother. As he grows, Michael tries to recapture his youth by collecting all of the Big Little series, including a rare edition given to him by none other than Buck Rogers at the World?s Fair. Diehard bibliophiles will be turned on by the book porn in Dream City, as when Michael states that his Big Littles with their "sturdy, vibrant spines" helped him to "forget himself and his life, at least for a while, and that just being in the same room with his collection made the world seem understandable and orderly." Just as Michael is immersed in fantasy worlds where good and evil are sharply delineated, Short attempts to paint a panoramic mural of 20th-century America and shows we've been in steady moral decay since the days of Buck Rogers and the Lone Ranger.

July 25: On this day in 1834 Samuel Taylor Coleridge died of heart disease at the age of sixty-one.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.


When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).