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In Conversation

Susan Bernofsky with Jed Lipinski

Susan Bernofsky, widely considered to be one of the best English translators of German literature today, has translated the work of Robert Walser, Hermann Hesse, and Yoko Tawada.

Nonfiction: Large and Largesse

Given the task at hand, this is a formidable book—a volume replete with information, interpretation, and insight on contemporary Chinese art—a phenomenon that has sustained itself within a myriad of contextual, social, political, economic, and cultural issues.

Fiction: Are You Experienced?

In a letter to the biographer William Hayley, William Blake writes of the thin line between the living and the dead in the minds of those alive to the memory of those who are not.

Nonfiction: When the Living's Good

Alain de Botton would be a great guy to sit next to on a bus, get stuck with in an elevator, turn out to be your long lost brother. In his books, anyway, he seems to move through the world with just the right amounts of enthusiasm and irony, self-deprecation and show-offiness, sincerity and sport.

Nonfiction: All That's Gilded Isn't Gold

Instead of finishing the business of giving African Americans equal opportunity and full citizenship during the post-Civil War years, the United States went corporate.

Poetry: The Problems of Pink and Green

Frederick Seidel is a master builder. Using metaphor and concrete imagery he erects majestic properties of opulent proportion. But what he builds he also destroys, making him a closed system: an architect who contracts with both the muse and the devil.

RAPID TRANSIT

If you’ve missed the Darwin train this year, then you’re doubly behind. First, because it’s the bicentennial of Charles Henry Darwin’s birth. Second, it’s the 150th anniversary of his publication of The Origin of Species, whose principle of evolution is arguably the single most important discovery of all time.

TOKENS

While Greg Ames’s novel, Buffalo Lockjaw, contains all the elements of a classic Buffalo story—snow, sports, drinking, despair—Ames has created a narrator, James Fitzroy, who rises above caricature.

Fiction: The Show That Smells

Mirror mazes, vampires and tuberculosis perfume Derek McCormack’s latest. It’s contemporary niche fiction leaning experimental, then waxing strange.

Fiction: Circle Takes The Square

Percival Everett’s I Am Not Sidney Poitier is a veritable “who’s on first” labyrinth of identity, cultural criticism and familial torture.

Fiction: Proof You Can’t Escape Yourself

Charlie Haas’ debut novel The Enthusiast is a study in presence and absence.

Fiction: Yet Another Family Drama

Kristina Riggle’s debut novel, Real Life & Liars, is full of unlikable characters who think and speak in clichés.

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JUL-AUG 2009

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