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Books

‘Beautiful You’ feels phoned-in

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Chuck Palahniuk is something of a devilish demigod in gross-out social satire. Over the years, his signature attention to minutiae and his generous hand with carnal humor in books such as Fight Club and Choke have broadened his fan base to include geeks and bros alike. One might call him the king of red Solo cup literati. In Beautiful You, Palahniuk­ turns his gimlet eye to the subject of female pleasure and the ways in which it can be manipulated to affect society and boost the bottom line. At the center of the novel is Penny Harrigan, a 20-something Queens-dwelling Nebraska transplant and law-office drone. …

Review: Richard Ford brings back Frank Bascombe

Sunday, November 16, 2014

When the final novel in the Frank Bascombe trilogy was published in 2007, its author made it plain that a fourth book about the introspective sportswriter-turned-real estate broker wasn’t even a remote possibility. But now, seven years later in Let Me Be Frank With You, Richard Ford has resurrected his anti-hero in a …

Healing words in ‘Small Victories’

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fans of author Anne Lamott know reading her work is like finding a favorite sweater from the depths of the closet on the first crisp fall day: warm, comforting, familiar and easy. Her new book, Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace, is a collection of beautifully written essays, filled with nuggets of …

Real ‘Truman Show’-like delusion topic of ‘Suspicious Minds’ book

Sunday, October 5, 2014

If we were honest with each other, we might find that a whole lot of us – maybe even most of us – have been in the grip of one sort of delusion or another. Maybe you wear …

‘Culinary Imagination’ a journey down food memory lane

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The poet and literary critic Sandra M. Gilbert has made a career of throwing her arms around big topics. Having completed a capacious study in 2006 of death and grieving, she now turns her attention to life: specifically, …

Lena Dunham’s ‘Not That Kind of Girl’ is revealing without revealing it all

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Halfway through her new book, Not that Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham says, “I live in a world that is almost compulsively free of secrets.” You might already have imagined that to be true if you’ve seen the …

Deafness is a superpower in ‘El Deafo’ graphic novel

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The characters in Cece Bell’s El Deafo, a graphic novel based on her childhood, have bunny ears, but they are not rabbits. Instead, those bunny ears serve as a symbol for her own ears, which made her feel …

Blow speaks on the complexity of the black male experience in ‘Fire Shut Up in My Bones’

Sunday, September 28, 2014

New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow’s new memoir, Fire Shut Up in My Bones, was released Tuesday. So far, headlines about the book have focused almost entirely on one thing: Blow’s grappling with his attraction to other …

Easy Rawlins eyes Hearst-like case

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Walter Mosley evokes the curious turns of the Patty Hearst kidnapping saga and the fractured culture of that era in Rose Gold, his latest Easy Rawlins crime thriller. Rawlins, a black private investigator based in Los Angeles, follows …

Brilliant new biography of Tennessee Williams

Sunday, September 28, 2014

When The Glass Menagerie opened on Broadway in March 1945, the actress cast as Southern matriarch Amanda Wingfield got so drunk before the show that a bucket was placed in the wings so she could throw up between …

A boy, his dog and atheism: Weingarten talks about new children’s book

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten is known for exploring morality in both somber and extremely silly ways, including an in-depth article on parents who mistakenly leave their children to die in hot cars and an essay …

On My Nightstand: ‘Red Sparrow’ a spy novel like no other

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews is a spy novel unlike any I’ve ever read. It hits like a freight train with double agents, double crosses, high-level espionage, pulse-pounding danger and relentless action that never stops! Need I say …

‘Laughter in Ancient Rome’ is like a great piece of archaeology

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Once there was a king who had a reputation as a ladies’ man, and after he died, his heir’s first duties included a tour of the provinces. In one town he …