Author Archive

Red Moon Rising: Playlist for Benjamin Percy’s Red Moon

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In my last post I talked about my love of zombies—the blank stares, the hyperfast sprinting, and the social allegory of the undead—and my less-than-love for the resurgence of swoony vampires. In light of the revival of such classic horror monsters, I’m left wondering: what about werewolves? (Or for

Book vs Movie: World War Z (A Ploughshares Playlist)

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First things first:  Did you all know that Max Brooks, author of World War Z (basis for the newly released movie of the same title), is Mel Brooks’s son? Neither did I. Moving on. I’ll be honest. I’m not so into the recent vampire craze. I can’t get into

Fitzgeraldpalooza!

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This month Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby came out in all it’s extravagant glory. One thing I especially love about the film is its soundtrack. Setting the story to a backdrop of current music (Jay-Z, Lana Del Rey, Jack White) is true to Fitzgerald’s

“He Had Crossed to Arrive There”: A Playlist for Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities

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Every time I read Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities I get something different from it.  Like NPR’s Eric Weiner writes, “I leave it, again and again, and yet never discover it—never really know it.” This latest reading, for me, boils down to one thing: the act of searching, of trying

“Look Who Made It:” A Playlist for Karen Russell’s Vampires in the Lemon Grove

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To me, a new Karen Russell book is literary Christmas. Her new collection tells the stories of characters doing their best to conquer insurmountable odds: addiction, enslavement, the aftereffects of war. The stories explore the strengths and frailties of people; below, I’ve tried to match each one with a

“The Word River Doesn’t Know Edges”: A Playlist for Patricia Smith’s Blood Dazzler

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Patricia Smith’s Blood Dazzler, a 2008 poetry collection inspired by Hurricane Katrina, reads like a broken heart.  It is open and honest and raw.  The voices of those who survived Katrina, and those who did not, are both unspeakably sad and incredulous.  “Louisiana,” says one nursing home resident in the

“Bring Me Back”: A Playlist for George Saunders’ “Tenth of December”

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The characters in Tenth of December, George Saunders’ newest collection of stories, struggle with maintaining innocence (and ultimately losing it) in a world that drives people further from each other; they struggle with doing good in a consumerist society.  These are flawed characters—people who make mistakes and are terrified

Ploughshares Playlists: When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Moving

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In our new regular series, we’ll recommend the ideal music to accompany some of our favorite books. If you have Spotify, make sure it’s open and you can listen along below; otherwise, buy the songs, find a comfy chair, and get reading! —Andrew Ladd, blog editor. Cheryl Strayed’s 2012