Book Reviews Archive

Literary Brooklyn

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Literary Brooklyn, The Writers of Brooklyn and the Story of American City Life Evan Hughes Henry Holt and Company, August 2011 352 pages $17.00 This post was written by Julia Lichtblau. Pick a published writer these days, and odds are strong their bio mentions Brooklyn. Historically, too, there’s a
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The Rules of the Tunnel

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The Rules of the Tunnel: A Brief Period of Madness Ned Zeman Gotham Books, August 2011 320 pages $26.00 You’re Vanity Fair Senior Editor Ned Zeman. And you’ve been very depressed. You’ve gone through six therapists, done a stint at Maclean, and finally ended up taking the treatment of
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A Note from the Blog Book Reviews Editor

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It’s been almost six months now since we started reviewing books here on the Ploughshares blog, and having wobbled down the path this long we’re finally feeling ready to throw off our training wheels. That means over the next six months you can expect to see some changes in
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Favorite Scary Stories (and Other Frightful Literature)

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To celebrate Halloween, the Ploughshares staff gathers together some favorite reading that gave us the willies. Scary (Short) Stories “The Withered Arm,” by Thomas Hardy: Deeply unsettling, especially in its suggestion that casually fantasizing about bad things happening to other people (in this case, a fairly nice person) can
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Clean

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Clean Kate Northrop Persea Books, August 2011 64 pages $15.00 With intense clarity of image and spare language, Kate Northrop’s poems immediately lure you into intimacy; placed in a present, visual moment, and often addressed in second person, you are the one who is seeing.
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The Seamstress and the Wind

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The Seamstress and the Wind César Aira New Directions, June 2011 144 pages $12.95 César Aira is a deconstructed Kafka; a compact, comprehensible Roberto Bolaño obsessed with the frightening nonsense of civilization. The latter comparison terrifies academic readers, because if Bolano is made compact and comprehensible, how can they pretend
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Power Ballads

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Power Ballads Will Boast University of Iowa Press, October 2011 160 pages $16.00 This post was written by Lynne Weiss. A lot of writers are drawn to music. There is nothing scientific about this impression, but I think there are more novels, poems, and stories about music and musicians
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Wunderkind

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Wunderkind Nikolai Grozni Free Press, September 2011 289 pages $24.00 Anger, sarcasm, and longing fuel Nikolai Grozni’s autobiographical novel Wunderkind, set in the late 1980s in a communist Sofia that is stony, backlit red. Crows and ravens populate a landscape overwhelmed with death; necrologies are tacked to trees and
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Rust Fish

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Rust Fish Maya Jewell Zeller Lost Horse Press, April 2011 77 pages $15.00 Maya Jewell Zeller’s bio tells us that she was “Born at home in the upstairs apartment of her parents’ gas station on the Oregon coast,” and this half-sentence provides exactly enough information to authenticate the stories
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Silver Sparrow

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Silver Sparrow Tayari Jones Algonquin Books, May 2011 $19.95 352 pages This post was written by Margaret LaFleur. Reading Silver Sparrow, Tayari Jones’s latest novel, is much like playing a child’s memory card game. The cards are placed face down in front of you, and each turn you flip
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