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Updike does death, R. Crumb does God, Vanity Fair does Proust

Gift books to savor
Trying to reach as broad a range of tastes and pocketbooks as possible, we this year scavenged everything from the front pages of the Onion to R. Crumb's genesis, to valedictory Updike. Stuff to read, stuff to look at, glossy pages and matte. Remember: be careful not to nick the pages or spill eggnog on them before you wrap. Happy holidays!
By: PHOENIX STAFF  |  December 08, 2009


GI blues

A former Army medic tells his story
"I think to an extent all soldiers come back with PTSD. If you do what we do and see what we see, if you're not affected in a deep way, then that's a problem."
By: CLEA SIMON  |  December 01, 2009


Pleasure principles

In happiness begins responsibility
Willard Spiegelman seems like a nice guy. He has had the good luck to live a happy life without major disaster or suffering. But as a long-time professor of English at Southern Methodist University and editor of the Southwest Review , he has ended up living his life among just those people — writers and academics.
By: CHARLES TAYLOR  |  December 02, 2009


Vegas and Jungleland

Paul Shaffer and the Big Man tell all
Paul Shaffer is a happenin’ cat. Pick an It Moment from pop culture over the past 30 years and Shaffer was there. He was an original band member on Saturday Night Live . He played hapless promo guy Artie Fufkin in This Is Spinal Tap . Disco? He co-wrote “It’s Raining Men.” And he helped David Letterman break ground as his glittery, ironic bandleader/sidekick.
By: JOYCE MILLMAN  |  November 24, 2009


Invisible playmates

Paul Auster makes promiscuity a virtue
To judge from the titles of some of his recent novels — The Book of Illusion s, Oracle Night , Man in the Dark , and now Invisible — Paul Auster's fiction is receding, Samuel Beckett style, into non-existence.
By: PETER KEOUGH  |  November 18, 2009


Magic tricks

Alice Munro has them, Philip Roth doesn’t
You have to give a seventysomething writer credit for daring to begin a book with “He’d lost his magic.”
By: ED SIEGEL  |  November 11, 2009


Mystic muso

The erudition of Robert Palmer
“America’s Pre-eminent Music Writer Dead at 52” was the headline on Robert Palmer’s obituary in Rolling Stone after his liver failed in 1997.
By: TED DROZDOWSKI  |  November 04, 2009


Brutal truths

Hilary Mantel’s Booker winner
To call a 560-page novel “spare” sounds ridiculous. But though Wolf Hall is both lengthy and dense, this book — essentially a character study of the 16th-century statesman Thomas Cromwell — is also as close to bare-bones writing as one can imagine, a stark and unsentimental triumph.
By: CLEA SIMON  |  November 02, 2009


Apocalypse wow

Margaret Atwood unleashes the End Times
At the start of Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood , mankind is heaving its last gurgling sighs.
By: SHAULA CLARK  |  October 20, 2009


Sarah and the shipmates

Vowell on the Puritans and the founding of Rhode Island
Humorist, historian, superhero. Sarah Vowell is a woman of letters and voices.
By: MICHAEL ATCHISON  |  October 22, 2009


Graphic Traffic

A sweet crop of graphic narratives
Comics. Graphic novels. Sequential-art books. Call them what you will, but there are more of them than ever.
By: MIKE MILIARD  |  October 16, 2009



Jack Pendarvis's not quite mot juste
John Gardner, the great teacher and novelist who wrote approximately 413 books before annihilating himself on a motorcycle in 1982, was very big on vocabulary.
By: JAMES PARKER  |  October 15, 2009


Slideshow: Inside today's graphic novels

An exclusive look into a collection of graphic novels
Images from graphic novels like World War 3 , Drunk , Asterios Polyp , and more.
By: PHOENIX STAFF  |  October 14, 2009


Carnal knowledge

Nick Cave’s bad Bunny
When I interviewed Nick Cave for the Phoenix three years ago and he told me — drolly, languidly, literarily — that his next writing project was about “a sexually incontinent hand-cream salesman” on the south coast of England, I assumed he was taking the piss.
By: JAMES PARKER  |  October 06, 2009


It's hip to be icosahedral

In a new book, Ethan Gilsdorf  tracks his global quest to visit the holiest nerd-world sites
Be they beer geeks, comic-book geeks, or music geeks, nowadays people flout their geekdom proudly, even wearing it like a badge.
By: MIKE MILIARD  |  October 05, 2009


Hans Rickheit versus the novel

Exploding Cow Dept.
In high-school English class, we're taught that literature features three basic types of conflict: man versus man, man versus environment, and man versus himself.
By: MIKE MILIARD  |  September 30, 2009


Loss leader

Jill McCorkle's joyful sorrow
The stories in Jill McCorkle's new collection are about the battle to stay conscious and be truthful with yourself — to live beyond illusion.
By: SUSAN CHAMANDY  |  September 30, 2009


Interview: Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall on her new book, North Korea, and Bible-thumping conservatives
If only there were more trees to be torn down, we could utilize them . . . to fill newspapers with the endless depressing stories out there about the environment and all its hapless inhabitants.
By: LANCE GOULD  |  September 23, 2009


Photos: Harvard Square 1950s and beyond

Harvard Square through the years
Photos from  H arvard Square: An Illustrated History Since 1950 by Mo Lotman
By: MO LOTMAN  |  September 28, 2009


Plain talk

Jesse Sheidlower gives the f-word its due
Jesse Sheidlower, an editor-at-large of the Oxford English Dictionary , an expert in slang, and the author of The F-Word , can't stop talking about fuck.
By: JUSTINE ELIAS  |  September 15, 2009


Tall tales

Novelists and poets set fancies flying
This fall brings fiction and poetry lovers new treats from old friends.
By: BARBARA HOFFERT  |  September 14, 2009

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