The Bookman's Tale

 For those who have yearned for another "book-porn" novel since the publication of A.S. Byatt’s Possession in 1990, the wait is over. Charlie Lovett’s debut novel The Bookman’s Tale (A Novel of Obsession) is perfect for people who get high off the dust of old books. The subtitle and jacket art cry out “guilty pleasure!” and it’s not an inaccurate description. Peter Byerly is an antiquarian bookseller struggling to deal with the recent death of his wife Amanda. A Victorian portrait of a woman stuck in the pages of an old book he finds in a bookshop in Wales could be --  impossibly -- a portrait of his late wife. His search to find the provenance of the portrait leads him ultimately to the "holy grail" of English Literature -- proof that William Shak(e)speare of Stratford was indeed the Bard.


If the mythology of the Catholic Church is the link to the success of the novels of Dan Brown, the true identity of Shakespeare is the amphetamine that fuels novels like The Bookman’s Tale. While you’ll have to endure sex scenes on the floors of rare book rooms, murder, sentences like “while making love to an ideal woman was fantastic, making love to a real woman was even better,” and the suspension of disbelief over some very creative genealogy, in the end Lovett's literally page-turning story  -- bolstered by fascinating descriptions of book restoration --  make this novel more pleasure than guilt.

April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.