Book Reviews Archive

Erin Go Plough: Some Staff Favorites for St. Patrick’s

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It’s time to get your Irish on.  I come from a family where the old aunts always proudly displayed their photos of JFK, I could swear in Gaelic by sixth grade, and we had a shillelagh in the house. Although we wore green on Saint Patty’s day, my mother

Women in Trouble: The Vanishers

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The Vanishers: A Novel Heidi Julavits Doubleday, March 2012 304 pages Shortly after Julia Severn, the heroine of Heidi Julavits’s fourth novel, drops out of the Institute of Integrated Parapsychology—or, “the Workshop,” an insular monoculture of clairvoyant parlor games, Fair Isle sweaters, and home-brewed tea—she is enlisted by a

The Ploughshares AWP Book Review Competition

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There won’t be any book reviews on the blog this week, mostly because we think you should all be at AWP in Chicago instead, buying—and attending readings of—as many books as you can. More importantly, though, if you happen to be at AWP, make sure you also take some

Blurbese: “unflinching”

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I think a lot of book reviewers were smacked as children. Some of them must have at least been bullied. How else to explain their admiration for the ability not to flinch? Just look at the first page of results when you Google “unflinching book review.” At the British

The Last Holiday

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The Last Holiday Gil Scott-Heron Grove Press, January 2012 384 pages $25.00 “The first change that takes place is in your mind. You have to change your mind before you change the way you’re livin’ and the way you move.” —1991 We remember him as the bluesologist, the godfather

In-Flight Entertainment

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In-Flight Entertainment Helen Simpson Alfred A. Knopf, February 2012 176 pages $24 This post was written by Caitlin O’Neil. Waiting for a Helen Simpson short story collection is like waiting for a teenager to open up; it’s going to be a while. Yet even though she puts out a

Glaciers

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Glaciers Alexis M. Smith Tin House Books, January 2012 112 pages $10.25 Isabel, the protagonist in Alexis M. Smith’s new novel Glaciers, was only a month old when her family departed Seattle by ferry, returning to their roots in Alaska. She can’t recall the trip, but as an adult

Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark

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Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark Brian Kellow Viking Adult, October 2011 432 pages $27.95 Please note: Emily Murphy is not the author of this post, contrary to what it says. The author is Joshua Garstka. See the bottom of the post for bio information. “This was the

Dear Dr. Poetry

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Happy Life by David Budbill Copper Canyon Press, August 2011 122 pages $16.00 [Editor’s note: “Dear Dr. Poetry,” a new column by Shannon Wagner, will appear regularly on this blog.]   Dear Dr. Poetry When I sold my VW van to buy my first suit for a job at

Women In Trouble: Emma Goldman

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Emma Goldman: Revolution as a Way of Life Vivian Gornick Yale University Press, September 2011 (Part of the “Jewish Lives” series of interpretative biography) 160 pages $25.00 In a new regular series, Anne Gray Fischer reviews books by or about “women in trouble.” Last month, when the city’s crackdown