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Scarlet letters

The uptight killjoy in us
Sarah Vowell’s fifth book, The Wordy Shipmates (Riverhead) — released on October 7 — examines New England Puritans with a meticulously researched, critical-yet-comical eye.  
By: CAITLIN E. CURRAN  |  October 09, 2008


A smoker’s tale

Will Self’s The Butt
Somehow one is surprised — if one is a semi-conscious literary journalist like me — by the discovery that Will Self has continued to produce books.  
By: JAMES PARKER  |  November 26, 2008


Pilgrims’ progress

Amitav Ghosh's Sea of Poppies
India, 1838. The opium business is booming, and drug money fills the British Empire’s coffers, offsetting a trade imbalance created by imports of Chinese tea and silk. But now the emperor wants the drug trade stopped.  
By: CHRIS WANGLER  |  October 08, 2008


Interview: John Hodgman

One man's operating system
Long before John Hodgman became universally recognized as the systems-challenged PC in Apple’s ads, he was writing fake trivia for such publications as McSweeney’s and the New York Times Magazine.  
By: CLEA SIMON  |  November 21, 2008


Ghost writer

The haunted world of Kelly Link
Salted throughout Kelly Link’s stories, you’ll find Buffy , Bust , Doc Martens, IM-ing, Target, Google, Vicks VapoRub, a T-shirt that reads I’M SO GOTH I SHIT TINY VAMPIRES.  
By: NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  October 02, 2008

Hit men

George Kimball's Four Kings KO's the last golden era of boxing
At least one passage in Four Kings will get George Kimball cursed out in local bars.  
By: MARK JURKOWITZ  |  October 02, 2008


Interview: Dennis Lehane

Mystic River author's new The Given Day gets down and dirty in the North End circa WWI
Dennis Lehane’s big new book, The Given Day , is full of bloodshed, mayhem, power, corruption, and lies.
By: JIM SULLIVAN  |  September 25, 2008


Literary import

Ploughshares lands a new editor
One of the first things Ladette Randolph tells me is that she’s a fifth-generation Nebraskan, that her great-great grandparents settled there, that the landscape there, particularly in the western part of the state, where her novel is set, is “like being in the middle of the ocean — that kind of erasure.”
By: NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  September 24, 2008


More different than alike

Searching for national identity in State By State: A Panoramic Portrait of America
In 1935, Franklin Delano Roosevelt established the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) as part of the New Deal’s Works Projects Administration (WPA).
By: MIKE MILIARD  |  September 24, 2008



Julian Barnes considers the abyss
Novelist Julian Barnes is a brilliant writer, but he’s not self-revelatory.
By: AMY FINCH  |  December 22, 2008


David Foster Wallace — 1962–2008

Overhead baggage
A story called “Forever Overhead” by David Foster Wallace appeared in the 1992 edition of Best American Short Stories .
By: NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  September 26, 2008


Positively Phil

Roth goes back to college
We all know Philip Roth’s preoccupations.
By: RICHARD BECK  |  September 16, 2008


Holy roller

Marilynne Robinson’s Home
Marilynne Robinson’s Home is haunted.
By: DANA KLETTER  |  September 09, 2008


Winners and sinners

Barth, Bolaño, Roth, Morrison, and more
Ah, fall, when Nobel Prize winners are announced — and, now, when past winners turn up with more good reading.
By: BARBARA HOFFERT  |  September 11, 2008


War correspondent

Paul Auster sheds light on Man in the Dark
So here he goes again, the writer known as Paul Auster, starting yet another novel, this time with the words “I am alone in the dark.”
By: PETER KEOUGH  |  September 02, 2008


Out of this world

Benjamin Rosenbaum’s The Ant King
The worlds Rosenbaum creates feel less like a separate or “alternate” reality and more like a colorful, if complicated, extension of the one we know.
By: NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  August 26, 2008


Lucky, beautiful, and, now, holy

Rev Run runs straight
He was the king of rock, there was no higher . The sucker MCs, they should call him sire .
By: JIM SULLIVAN  |  August 20, 2008


War stories

Mailer on the ’68 conventions
“We will be fighting for forty years.” Reading those words at the end of Norman Mailer’s 1968 Miami and the Siege of Chicago , you can’t help but feel a chill.
By: CHARLES TAYLOR  |  August 19, 2008



Slavoj Žižek’s revolution
This new grand-theoretical manifesto might be completely daft.
By: GEORGE SCIALABBA  |  August 12, 2008


Words, words, words

Ammon Shea reads them all for you
Who would do such a thing?
By: JEFFREY GANTZ  |  August 11, 2008


Murder, she wrote

Interview: Tana French's deep crime novels
"It’s always more fun to write people who are really messed up or really vicious."
By: CLEA SIMON  |  August 05, 2008

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