Books & Fiction

Immersive Reading for Our Year of the Plague

Lee Polevoi

If the global coronavirus pandemic is good for anything, it’s how we may rediscover the experience of immersive reading. With millions in the United States and around world who are confined to their homes, finding a short story collection, novel, or nonfiction tome that transports us to new, vibrant worlds can provide us with a blissful way to while away the hours. “Immersive” can mean books of great length or short stories you can read in an afternoon.

Author Tamsyn Muir Conjures Up a Gothic Space Opera in ‘Gideon’

Adam Gravano

In classic gothic fashion, though, this is not the only time the narration will provide the reader a false lead, albeit it is the earliest. In the context of the murders that happen later in the tale, this provides a most welcome fit of speculation from the reader — and despite the text inhabiting a fantasy universe, the false leads and dead-ends mimic those that are well known to crime readers. As Constance Grady stated in Vox, “Muir lets the plot unfold in the background when you're not looking, and she lets her characters do the driving.”

How Dorothy Parker Getting Fired From ‘Vanity Fair’ Launched the Algonquin Round Table

Jonathan Goldman

That afternoon, Parker and Benchley went to the Algonquin to tell their stories, staying for hours of gossip and rounds of drinks. After repeated recountings, the Round Table wits, who had long heard the complaints about Nast and Crowninshield, sprang into action. Alexander Woollcott persuaded his editors at the New York Times that the paper should cover the story. His article appeared the next day — good publicity for the trio, tantamount to a free "for hire" listing.  

Desperately Seeking Sasquatch in John Zada’s ‘Valleys of the Noble Beyond’

Lee Polevoi

John Zada went on multiple journeys to the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia for his new book, In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond. In small towns and villages, Zada meets many people who claim to have seen the Sasquatch, “the alleged race of half-man, half-ape giants” on the loose in the wild. Like its distant counterpart, the Yeti, a rumored denizen of the Himalayans, the Sasquatch, aka Bigfoot, has purportedly left behind footprints and engaged in random encounters with hunters, fishermen, and members of the Kitasoo, Heiltsuk, and other First Nation peoples.

 

Greed, Piracy, and Murder at Sea in Ian Urbina’s ‘Outlaw Ocean’

Lee Polevoi

The scope of reporting in The Outlaw Ocean is remarkable. Urbina covers a wide swath of oceangoing banditry and mayhem, and delivers his findings in clear, transparent prose that brings this sordid activity to life. Often the conditions in which he’s present are serious, if not potentially life-threatening. On a Ghanaian port police boat, for example, “the waves swelled to fifteen feet high, and I sensed that the men, not without reason, were getting scared.”

James R. Stewart’s ‘Deep State’ Analyzes FBI Role in 2016 Election and Beyond

Lee Polevoi

In Deep State, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and columnist James R. Stewart offers a blow-by-blow account of how this all came to pass, and how the storm around the FBI lasted long into Trump’s presidency. The clash between Comey and Trump symbolized “an unprecedented and potentially mortal combat between two vital institutions of American democracy: the presidency and the ... investigative arm of the Department of Justice.” In his balanced, well-researched account, Stewart lays out the unique dilemma James Comey faced in 2016.

The Best Books of 2019

Lee Polevoi

For me, The Volunteer is the most accomplished work of fiction published in 2019. The story of Vollie Frade (the “Volunteer”) spans numerous generations, zigzagging from the American Midwest to the war in Vietnam, from the borough of Queens, New York, to New Mexico and Latvia. The intriguing opening chapters don’t prepare the reader for Vollie’s brutal ordeal as a POW in Vietnam, which he barely survives. That’s when the novel becomes something genuinely special.

Reliving the Old West in Téa Obreht’s ‘Inland’

Lee Polevoi

In a second narrative strand, a Turkish refugee and outlaw named Lurie Mattie finds his fortunes inextricably linked with the U.S. Camel Corps, a little-known (and real) adjunct of the military around the time of the Civil War. Throughout his part of the story, spanning some 40 years, Lurie addresses his dromedary pack animal, Burke, as they make their way across the Wild West. Lurie, too, speaks with the ghost of a fellow renegade. Inland is saturated with the realm of the occult and more than a hint of magical realism.

The American Sublime Was Discovered by a Chicana

Angelo Franco

To my chagrin, of course, I immediately realized that I had really just read translations of García Marquez’s and Bolaños’s works. In their own right, these two are literary giants the world over, but most definitely not American; their writings may be cannon of freshman college classes and even literary theses, but part of the American Sublime they are not. And that’s mostly the way it is. Our celebrated Latin-American authors are in abundance: Vargas Llosa, Allende, Borges, Mistral, and the list goes on. But there are very few Hispanic-American authors who are as widely read and studied as T. S. Elliot or Pablo Neruda – if any, really.

Discovering the Origins of the Tube: The Lifeblood of London

Oliver Green and Benjamin Graham

The Metropolitan Railway was a novel attempt to solve a slightly different transport problem: how to get around or across the congested city quickly and conveniently. At the Parliamentary Select Committee on Metropolitan Communications in 1855, one witness who gave evidence complained that it took longer to get across town, navigating the crowded streets from London Bridge to Paddington, than it did to travel up to London by train from Brighton. Some might argue that the situation has not improved much, but the growth and development of London’s underground railway system over more than 150 years have been phenomenal

.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Books & Fiction