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North to Alaska in Dave Eggers' new 'Heroes of the Frontier'

Among his bestselling literary fiction peers, Dave Eggers alone is engaged in a sustained effort to write about contemporary America. He’s been going at it so regularly, and so swiftly, that he’s keeping pace with the times, if not getting a half-step ahead. Perhaps he knows what’s next for us: In “Heroes of the Frontier,” his protagonist Josie runs off to Alaska after her life falls apart.

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Jeff VanderMeer on the beauty and weirdness of Florida

In Tallahassee in the mid-1990s I once tried to save a huge snapping turtle before a car could hit it — in the middle of a raging thunderstorm — only to wind up desperately hanging onto its shell for dear life so I wouldn’t get bit while people slowly drove past looking at me like I was crazy.

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Q&A with Jade Sharma, author of the edgy debut 'Problems'

Jade Sharma is trying to break rules. Her debut novel, “Problems,” begins with all-consuming monotony: “Somewhere along the way there stopped being new days.” Maya, the narrator, is addicted to heroin, in a loveless marriage, having an affair with a guy who isn’t really interested in her and struggling with an eating disorder, among other things.

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Donald Ray Pollock's 'The Heavenly Table' is brutal American Gothic literature

There are few living novelists with a stronger point of view than Donald Ray Pollock. After working 32 years in a paper mill in Chillicothe, Ohio, Pollock got his MFA in his 50s and in 2008 published “Knockemstiff,” a harrowing collection of short stories named for his hometown in southern Ohio.

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Suburban alienation meets aliens in Margaret Wappler's 'Neon Green'

Novels can be analyzed in all sorts of ways, but a few iron laws of interpretation apply. One: Every novel set in the suburbs must be a commentary on suburbia. No writer can imagine a leafy bedroom community without riffing on conformity, hypocrisy and upper-middle-class entitlement. Two: Every novel that features the arrival of space aliens on Earth must be a commentary about our fear of the other.

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Carolyn See's California, as told to Barbara Isenberg

The celebrated writer and teacher Carolyn See, who died in Santa Monica last week at 82, was born in Los Angeles and never really left home. She described raw silk as the flannel of the desert, and wrote evocatively of her home state in nearly all her books. For her, California was the repository of America’s dreams, a place that is to America what America is to the rest of the world.

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