Going to See the Elephant

Though set in the present day, Rodes Fishburne's Going to See the Elephant is cast from that sepia-toned San Francisco touched by the fantastic favored by many of today?s novelists. The protagonist, Slater Brown, is a young writer come to the big city to make his living. He finds work at a withering newspaper staffed by quintessential, hardened newspapermen straight out of a Marvel comic strip. Brown becomes a wildly successful muckracker overnight when his landlady gives him a transistor radio that (echoing John Cheever?s story ?The Enormous Radio?) picks up the city?s phone conversations while Brown rides the bus. The failing paper is saved; the corrupt mayor, whose schemes Brown has been exposing weekly, vows to demolish him -- but, as in all good novels of this ilk, an ill-fated love affair destroys the reporter quite nicely. Meanwhile, a famed inventor creates a computer that can make weather, which is unleashed all over San Francisco, and Brown?s reporting skills are needed one final time. Going to See the Elephant is threaded with a sly, engaging humor. When a beautiful socialite planted by the mayor to uncover Brown?s secret scoop-grabbing skills puts the moves on the intrepid protagonist, the narrator observes, ?For young women like Brooke van der Snoot the world was divided not into black and white or even rich and poor, but rather into cute and not cute.? And there is Fishburne?s San Francisco -- a magical dream city on a bay so placid a young, wildly successful reporter can paddle a beautiful, mysterious chess star in a rowboat from Fisherman?s Wharf to a cove on Alcatraz Island for a picnic lunch, and the worst that happens is the tide flees before they can return. It?s a place San Franciscans won?t recognize but readers will love.

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.