1970 -- Them

Elaine Showalter begins her recent introduction to Them (Modern Library paperback edition, 2006) by pointing out that all four books in Oates’s Wonderland Quartet, these written in a remarkable five-year burst, 1967-1971, were nominated for the National Book Award. Oates has written that the novels, taken as a unit, were conceived as “critiques of America—American culture, American values, American dreams—as well as narratives in which romantic ambitions are confronted by what must be called ‘reality.’”


The ambitions are reflected in Oates’s working title of “Love and Money”; the reality of poverty and violence is reflected in the quotation from John Webster’s The White Devil with which Oates begins her story: “…because we are poor / Shall we be vicious?” The reality and the critique are only enhanced by Oates’s tongue-in-cheek comment in her prefatory Author’s Note that her central character survived her “nightmare adventures” to become a Dearborn, Michigan housewife. This mock-comfort to her reader seems cancelled out in Oates’s Afterword, in which she says that completing her Wonderland series allowed her to move “into the yet-uncharted, apocalyptic America of the late Vietnam War period when the idealism of antiwar sentiment had turned to cynicism and the counterculture fantasy … had self-destructed.”

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.