• 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...

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

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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.

Pastoral

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).