Displaying articles for: June 2012

Coming-of-Age Novels and Discover Great New Writers

Karen Thompson Walker’s astonishing debut, The Age of Miracles, is a perfect example of what the Discover Great New Writers program looks for in a comin-of-age novel, and a review in The New York Times reiterates our selection committee's enthusiastic response to the voice of the book's narrator, 11-year-old Julia.

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Immortality

To say that Stephen Cave's metaphysically provocative new book, Immortality, is an extended gloss on the famous Woody Allen joke -- "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work...I want to achieve it through not dying." -- is both accurate and trivializing. Allen (actually quoted for a different quip in chapter 8) gets full props for succinctly and memorably encapsulating two paths to immortality, those that Cave dubs "Legacy" and "Staying Alive." But the comedian utterly neglects to reference the other two strategies of "Resurrection" and "Soul." Cave, however, considers every possible angle of humanity's eternal anti-death quest in his highly readable treatise. His impeccable, insightful, invigorating chain of reasoning about death and its role as the driving force behind nearly every cultural institution and action in human history leaves no tombstone unturned.

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Ride a Cockhorse

During the last decade or so of his life, Raymond Kennedy would occasionally and ceremoniously roll out of Brooklyn in his Lincoln Town Car and travel to western Massachusetts where I would see him now and again. He was drawn there by the countryside and the hill-andvalley towns of his youth, the region that provides the setting for all but one of his eight novels, including Ride a Cockhorse, his comic masterpiece.

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"Stories Are Far More Important Than Possessions": A Conversation with Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal, author of The Hare with Amber Eyes, a Fall 2010 Discover Great New Writers selection, discusses connecting with readers, Proust, and the "odd correspondence between inheriting a story and inheriting an object."

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"He's someone who will sacrifice every shred of his own dignity in an attempt to preserve it."

Maggie Shipstead, the author of Seating Arrangments, our newest B&N Recommends selection, discusses class-conscious WASPs, literary influences from Cheever to Perotta, and exploding whales.

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The Barefoot Bandit

When Bob Rivers's Cessna was stolen and crashed in a rare instance of airplane piracy, the Seattle radio personality had the same thought as local authorities: drug runners had used, abused, and discarded the plane; case closed. To their astonishment, they later learned that the culprit in the 2008 heist was actually seventeen-year-old Colton Harris-Moore, a poor, neglected, troubled kid who'd had no formal flight training. This was the first time Colt had flown a plane, and yet it wouldn't be the last. He was in the midst of a years-long crime spree -- boosting cars, boats, identities, airplanes, and lots of food.

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Stars and Tennis Shoes: Ray Bradbury, 1920-2012

Certainly the highest posthumous praise that can be conferred upon any writer is the assertion that his or her writing permanently altered the literary landscape for the better, opening new textual doors and engaging new readers. That the author's oeuvre was essential and irreplaceable and transformative. In short, that the work mattered, was unique and influential, was accepted and enjoyed, and will be preserved for future generations yet unborn.

 

Ray Bradbury, who died at the age of 91 on June 6, 2012, has unquestionably earned this accolade.

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The Weird

The phrase "ocean of the stream of stories," traditionally applied to a vast cycle of Indian legends, now has a new rightful claimant in the form of Ann and Jeff VanderMeer's enormous new world-spanning, time-delving, mind-warping anthology of fantastika, The Weird, replenished as it is with flows from many lands and many eras. Assembled with passion, scholarship, and a clear vision, this Neptune-deep, Poseidon-rich volume establishes a non-exclusionary canon for "strange and dark stories," a crepuscular territory dear to the heart of any lover of tales that are deranged, odd, surreal, deracinating, spooky, creepy and -- well, just plain weird.

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April 15: "A page...will begin with some principles of astronomy, or the motion of the earth; then come the laws of sound..."

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
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.

Dispute Over a Very Italian Piglet

Amara Lakhous delivers a mystery novel with its finger on the hot-button issues of today's Europe.  Immigration and multicultural conflicts erupt in the Italian city of Turin, as journalist Enzo Laganà looks to restore peace to his native burg.

Papers in the Wind

In this insightful novel by Eduardo Sacheri, a young girl left destitute by the death of her soccer-playing father is uplifted by the bold schemes of her uncle, his pals, and one newbie player to the professional leagues.