Displaying articles for: July 2012

Highlights from the Man Booker Longlist

The Longlist for the 2012 Man Booker Prize was announced on July 25; among the selections was Rachel Joyce's The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, also chosen as a Discover Great New Writers Fall 2012 selection. In an exclusive interview with Miwa Messer, Joyce discusses writing about the things she believes in, ordinary people, and the search for something bigger in life.


The Fish That Ate the Whale

If you're a fan of pulp fiction, of ashcan gutter naturalism, of absurdist caper novels, of rags-to-riches sagas, then pick up Rich Cohen's The Fish That Ate the Whale. This history-embedded, anecdote-rich biography of Sam Zemurray, the bigger-than-life figure behind United Fruit Company at its height of power, is a balls-to-the-wall, panoramic, rocket ride through an acid bath, featuring unbelievable-but-true tales of power-grabbing, ambition, folly, passion, commerce, politics, artistry, and savagery: daydream and nightmare together.


"You Do It for the Sake of Doing It"

Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, and Alan Heathcock, author of Volt, discuss provocative and "political" writing, the desire for accuracy, and the compulsion to tell stories in an exclusive conversation.


The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 2009

Readers who encountered the first and second books in this acclaimed series -- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volumes 1 & 2, which originally appeared  in serial pamphlet form over the years 1999 to 2003 -- had little reason to suspect that they were enjoying anything more ramified and extensive than a steampunk-style, alternate-history-influenced, literary pastiche. 


But Moore surprised everyone with the appearance in 2007 of The Black Dossier, which delivered supporting documents and secret history in Pynchonian spades, fencing in vast tracts of additional literary territory, and catapulting the action to the year 1958. Now the series suddenly and unexpectedly possessed a wider remit than simple steampunk shennanigans. And so arrived The League of Extraordinary Gentleman: Century 1910 and Century 1969. Now the most recent installment, Century 2009, catches up with the present and points the series towards a blazing future all unborn.


God Particle Reading

What do you make of the "God Particle?" News of the physics breakthrough sent us to the shelf, where books by Ian Sample, Leon Lederman, and others shed welcome light on this scientific milestone.



John Scalzi's droll and even touching new novel, Redshirts, is a space opera which, at first, seems wryly and cynically to posit that a low-level grunt's life aboard a Big Government starship might resemble a Couplandesque cube-farm in space, except with killer ice sharks and carnivorous rock worms when the crew is on-planet. But their throwaway lives are not totally at the mercy of mere bureaucratic incompetence and disdain. No, more sinister cosmic forces are conspiring against Scalzi's crew, in the form of "The Narrative." And these added dimensions open out Scalzi's story into something much more earnest and significant than simple parody.


July 28: Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin eloped on this day in 1814.

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).