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This photo provided by Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins, shows the book cover of "The Harder They Come," by author T.C. Boyle. (AP Photo/Ecco/HarperCollins)

Dramatic events unfold in TC Boyle’s new novel

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

T.C. Boyle’s new book is about serious subjects: a tourist from a cruise liner killing a robber at a port of call, a mentally ill young man running around with an assault rifle in the coastal forests of northern California, a radical movement that doesn’t recognize the legitimacy of laws or those who enforce them. But Boyle delivers it all so engagingly, with character development that puts the reader inside the heads of the characters so that you know intimately what they are feeling and thinking, that it does not seem like a “serious” book. It’s a damned fine one, though. The poisoning of forests …

Getting retribution over childhood bullies

Sunday, March 29, 2015

What becomes of bullies when they grow up? Do they evolve into decent, kind human beings, or does their capacity for malice grow along with their bodies? Allen Kurzweil explores this issue – and much more – in Whipping Boy, a compulsive account of his search for the childhood tormentor who made his …

Big data

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Even if we aren’t certain what to make of big data, we all know that it’s, well, big. The phrase is suddenly everywhere, tripping off the tongue in domains from marketing to management to medicine. Newly massive and complex data sets, along with advanced methods of probing them, it is said, are remaking …

Dark satire ‘Welcome to Braggsville’ targets race and gender

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The basic story line of T. Geronimo Johnson’s novel Welcome to Braggsville is straightforward and intriguing. Take four young, liberal-minded students at the University of California at Berkeley. Then send them on a class project that includes a …

‘The Last Policeman’ author to visit Concord this week

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The author of The Last Policeman will this week visit Concord, the setting for his apocalyptic police novel. Ben Winters, brother of local attorney Andrew Winters, has written a trilogy about a fictional Concord cop named Henry Palace. The first book in his series was this year’s book …

Chrissie Hynde memoir coming in September

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Chrissie Hynde will tell the story of her life, with all its ups and downs. Penguin Random House announced Tuesday that the Pretenders singer was working on “an incredibly frank” memoir that will come out Sept. 8. The …

American Life in Poetry: Discovering magic in harmonica’s music

Sunday, March 15, 2015

You’ve heard of magic wands and potions. But a magic harmonica? In Pam Munoz Ryan’s new novel, Echo, this small musical instrument has a lot of power. The book opens with a fairy tale and a witch’s spell. …

Review: Dave Barry’s new book filled with humor, insight

Sunday, March 15, 2015

L ive Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer is Much Faster), Dave Barry’s latest book of essays, might be thin on page count, but it’s worth every penny when it comes to humor and insight. Barry’s weekly essays …

Beneath the face of beauty

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The premise of Amanda Filipacchi’s appealingly odd fourth novel is unveiled a few pages in, when an overweight, unattractive woman sits down in a therapist’s office. After some prodding that’s aimed at uncovering emotional pain (low self-esteem, difficult …

Filling in the Doctor Dread reggae story

Sunday, March 15, 2015

It might be said that Doctor Dread drank the Kool-Aid – except that the Washington, D.C. native’s transformation into an honorary Jamaican had nothing to do with a beverage. As Dread writes in this memoir, his conversion involved …

Examining the beastly nature of people

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Mark Kurlansky’s newest book, City Beasts, is a work of fiction. If you don’t realize this at first, you’ll be forgiven. While the title rings with whimsy, his prose – detailed but not improbably over-the-top – lifts the …

A perpetual prince

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Had Prince Charles’ household ignored Catherine Mayer’s biography, the headlines generated by the book’s serialization – thanks to its suggestions that the prince intends to be an “activist” king and that even the queen worries about how he …

New but timeworn faces

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Kevin Gillooly, the 14-year-old narrator of Christopher Scotton’s debut novel, The Secret Wisdom of the Earth, falls into the timeworn tradition of orphans, latchkey kids and boy adventurers who by circumstance or necessity are left to their own …