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Christopher Vola

Christopher Vola is a contributing writer for the Rail.

NON-FICTION: The Head Dead

Did you know that Hunter Thompson was talking to his wife on the phone when he blew his brains across the room? That you’re much more likely to kill yourself on a Monday than a Saturday? That before he intentionally overdosed on morphine, Sigmund Freud’s cancer-infested mouth emanated a gangrenous odor so foul even his dog wouldn’t go near him?

NON-FICTION: Down for Account

It was a cold, foggy New England night in June 1979. 32-year-old journalist Robert Sabbag, whose debut Snowblind had recently earned him a spot on the New York Times’ bestseller list and permanent cult status as a preeminent chronicler of counterculture lore, was en route from LaGuardia to Cape Cod in a 19-passenger twin-engine jet. He never made it.


At age 95, Martin Gardner has written about pretty much everything. Known primarily for his thousands of columns in Scientific American that focused on recreational mathematics, the Tulsa, Oklahoma native’s more than 70 published works reflect an immense array of interests—pseudoscientific skepticism, children’s literature, obscure and forgotten poetry, philosophy, politics, and religion, to name just a few.

Hear No, See No, Read No Evil

David Bajo’s Panopticon is an ethereal, well-crafted, and quietly disturbing novel, a book that slices creepily through its characters’ pasts to uncover aspects of a technologically warped present that are equally riveting and unnerving because of their pervasiveness.

Downward Spiral

The unnamed protagonist of J. A. Tyler’s A Shiny, Unused Heart reaches the endpoint of his chosen demise in the novella’s opening sentence: “Everything had gone to burning, blood-colored skies, and he leapt or jumped, danced or waltzed, carried himself off the building ledge, eighty-seven stories up.”


Growing up sucks. From the appearance of zits and getting grounded to disastrous encounters and embarrassing put-downs by an unattainable crush, being a teenager can be rough. But what if it was worse?

Musical Thrills

Wesley Stace’s Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer is an intricate, unabashedly literary and clever musical thriller. Stace’s third novel painstakingly examines the strange and turbulent bond between a composer and a critic in early 20th century England.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

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