Author Archive

The Ploughshares Round-Down: Three Things Writers Can Learn From Solange and Jay Z

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Between Jill Abramson’s indecorous firing and Amazon’s ongoing vendetta against Hachette, the publishing world gave me a lot of potential topics for the Ploughshares Round-Down this week, which I’m covering for Tasha Golden while she takes some well-earned time off. And yet there’s another, completely non-publishing-related story that I

The Ploughshares Blog in 2014

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It’s the time of year when I always seem to find myself saying: we’ve got big things in store. Last year it was our announcement that the Ploughshares blog was “becoming its own, separate creature.” This year, if you’ll permit a slightly hokey extension of that metaphor, that creature is

How to Shake the Other Man

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How to Shake the Other Man Derek Palacio Nouvella Books, May 2013 63 pages $11.00 In his memoir Townie, the young Andre Dubus III describes his early years in northern Massachusetts, where as a young man he turned to boxing as a form of escape. Not just escape, actually;

The Why of Things

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The Why of Things Elizabeth Hartley Winthrop Simon & Schuster, June 2013 320 pages $24.99 I can’t decide whether to be furious with Elizabeth Hartley Winthrop’s new novel, The Why of Things, or to admire it. In some ways, it’s one of the most frustrating, unsatisfying books I’ve read

The World’s Strongest Librarian

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The World’s Strongest Librarian Josh Hanagarne Gotham Books, May 2013 304 pages $26.00 Josh Hanagarne’s first book, The World’s Strongest Librarian, has so many different hooks it’s enough to make a publisher weep with joy. A 6’7”, weightlifting librarian? Sold. A librarian who suffers from Tourette’s? Sold. A part-Navajo,

The Story of My Purity

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The Story of My Purity Francesco Pacifico Farrar, Straus and Giroux, March 2013 304 pages $26.00 I don’t know much about providence, but it seems extraordinarily lucky that Francisco Pacifico’s first novel to make it into English translation—a ribald picaresque of Catholicism, breasts, and a conspiracy theory wherein Pope

Blurbese: “deeply felt”

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In general, I dislike curmudgeonly fiats contra adverb—in fact, I’ve complained about them here before. However, there are a couple of cases where I think specific adverbs ought to be banned outright. One of those is the book review phrase “deeply felt.” My problem with the phrase, I will

Introducing… The New Ploughshares Blog!

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The Ploughshares blog has changed a lot since we first launched it in 2009. Back then, it was mostly a supplement to the magazine—a clearinghouse for announcements, extra contributors’ notes, and all the other little tidbits that wouldn’t fit elsewhere. Over the years we added more original material, too,

Blurbese: “best”

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Santa’s not the only one who makes lists in December: come the end of the year, anyone who’s ever expressed a passing literary opinion has their own rundown of the year’s best books. But book reviewers rarely use these lists as an opportunity to promote the year’s objectively “best”

Blurbese: Direct Quotations

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If you happened to read more than one review of J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy last month, you’ll never look at a condom the same way again. That’s because of a single line from the book, which the New York Times, The New Yorker, Time, the Daily Beast, and Library