• ON THE DESK

Odysseys

Reading Zachary Mason's forthcoming The Lost Books of the Odyssey, I've been in danger of missing my subway stop. The book is hard to characterize; it's a collection of short pieces -- some of them really short -- which reimagine and retell parts of the Iliad, or the Odyssey, or imaginary scenes and episodes in between the actions in those two epics. Funny, spooky, action-packed, philosophical -- the mood keeps shifting, and you keep wanting to read just one more. I wouldn't want to spoil any of its pleasures -- part of the niftiness of the book is figuring out, as you read, what aspect of the original is being turned on its head. But look out for the story in which one of the characters in the Odyssey is neatly transformed, by the end, into Homer himself. Read more...

April 17: "In less than three years, both GM and Chrysler would be bankrupt, and a resurgent Ford would wow Wall Street..."

advertisement
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.