Books

Man of Silicon and the American Future

If the quality of Hollywood fare is taken as a fair reading of the nation’s state of mind, then maybe there is meaning in how pervasive the corporate blockbuster model has become: all or nothing, boom or bust, like a desperate gambler deep in the hole and betting his last thread of clothing on the success of this one prospect and no other—the whole time denying there is any gamble at all.

Terry Eagleton Versus Winston Churchill

When I see “laugh-out-loud funny” on the back of a book, I wonder whether the blurbist is secretly telling me not to buy the supposed laugh riot. Still, because it is devoted to close reading, an activity I love, I decided to pick up Terry Eagleton’s How to Read Literature (Yale University Press; 232 pages).

Shades of Greying

What is middle age for, after all, if not living a life infused with the lessons of youth? A woodshed has many practicalities.

Summer Escapees

Michael Spurgeon’s debut novel, Let The Water Hold Me Down, is the type of book that has the ability to mimic high-end air conditioning—the blinding, sweeping kind that dims the lights and shuts out the world and sinks you down into a state of half-lidded consciousness.

Me, Myself, And My Mind

Patricia S. Churchland sees the brain differently. The mental image Churchland conjures is that of a thicket of neurons and specialized regions of activity, all of them subject to pervasive unconscious actions and designs.

When Darkness Isn’t Dark

David Schickler’s memoir, The Dark Path, presents a fertile, if somewhat familiar, topic: a young man torn between a call to the Catholic priesthood and a desire to plumb the rich and gritty realities of secular life, especially those involving women.

Eyes Everywhere

You are constantly being tracked, monitored, and surveilled. Increasingly, aspects of what Americans long took as personal privacy, especially with regard to their communications, are being eroded at an alarming pace. Heidi Boghosian’s new book, Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power, and Public Resistance, will only deepen your sense of paranoia.

Throwaway Lives

Robert Kolker’s Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery is a moving account of the lives and deaths of five prostitutes who represent the sad reality of sex work. The book is an act of resurrection, of turning women who are often dismissed as things back into human beings, people with real lives.

In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods

In his most recent novel, In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods, Matt Bell proves himself to be not only a gifted novelist, but a talented lyricist and mythmaker as well.

Tampa

One can’t read much about Tampa without seeing mention of it being a reverse-Lolita, but Tampa is far more than merely a book with a creepily propulsive idea behind it.

The Only Thing(s) to Fear: Monkeytown

Chris Vola’s debut novel, Monkeytown, is an indictment of American suburbs, a reminder that there is nothing scarier than young white people with lots of free time.

Torquing the Form

Flash fiction is weird for any number of reasons, not least that when flash fiction fails, the reader can end up feeling not so much like the specific story failed, but like the enterprise of flash fiction is untenable.

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SEPT 2013

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