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Ned Beauman's 'Glow' puts an unconventional spin on a thriller plot

Ned Beauman is one of those rare novelists who can dream up intricate, incongruous plots, pepper them with historical facts, whip in biting British humor, and just like that — they become almost believable.

Not quite 30, this British Bright Young Thing's first two novels, "Boxer, Beetle" and "The Teleportation Accident," were set in the tumultuous 1930s, and both involved sinister Nazi-inspired subtexts, which served Beauman's satirical ear for dialogue, arcane trivia and caustic witticism well. Both garnered awards, with "The Teleportation Accident" landing on the Man Booker Prize long list.

Beauman's third novel, "Glow," takes place closer to the present (2010-11) and is grounded in the contemporary youth culture of London. Raf, the book's likable hero/protagonist, is a programmer who works at a hipster radio station ("Myth FM") and ruminates about the world around him, usually with Rose, his bull terrier (who enjoys eating used condoms) by his side.

"Glow's" thriller-styled plot...

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With 'Holy Cow,' David Duchovny is finally, officially a novelist

For his first book, David Duchovny is not telling behind-the-scenes stories of "The X-Files" or opening up about the sex scenes in "Californication": He's written a caper about a cow that goes on the lam.

"Holy Cow" (Farrar, Straus and Giroux: 224 pp., $24) is a fable for adults, full of puns and silly jokes. A turkey is jive. A pig peppers his speech with Yiddish like a grandpa in the Catskills. In fact, the story is set in upstate New York, where the three animal heroes, led by Elsie Bovary, decide to escape their farm to fly to countries where they'll be safe from being eaten.

Duchovny, who reads and signs "Holy Cow" at Barnes & Noble at the Grove on Feb. 18, spoke to us by phone from New York.

You interviewed Craig Ferguson onstage about his novel in 2006. Was writing a novel yourself on your mind back then?

It's been on my mind forever. If you'd asked me when I was 20, "What are you?" I would say, "I'm a writer," even though I had nothing to show for it. It's always been my...

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Frances McDormand joins Meg Wolitzer adaptation 'The Wife'

Hot off her SAG Award win for HBO's literary adaptation "Olive Kitteridge," Frances McDormand has signed on for another. Next up is a film adaptation of "The Wife," Meg Wolitzer's 2003 novel. As previoulsy announced, Glenn Close will star.

"The Wife" tells the story of the quiet (on the outside) wife of an acclaimed, big-personality novelist. "I was meek," she admits. "I had no courage. I wasn't a pioneer. I was shy. I wanted things but was ashamed to want them. I was a girl, and I couldn't shake this feeling even as I had contempt for it."

Our reviewer Laurie Stone found the novel "a rollicking, perfectly pitched triumph," writing, "Wolitzer's unqualified achievement is creating satire that's purged of sentimentality and that seeks to protect nothing. Not marriage, not family life, not traditional arrangements between the sexes, not any of the stations we arrive at after boarding the desire train. 'The Wife' is an obituary for the ways men and women have functioned together in the...

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Andrew Keen rages against the machine in 'The Internet Is Not the Answer'

 

Andrew Keen has a lot of bile to share. He hates selfies. Instagram, he writes in his latest polemic, "The Internet Is Not the Answer," "is a useful symbol of everything that has gone wrong with our digital culture over the last quarter century." Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is "socially autistic" and Uber's Travis Kalanick is a "libertarian clown."

Silicon Valley, in general, is a seething hotbed of callow 21st century robber barons ripping off Americans, invading our privacy, and meretriciously (to borrow one of Keen's favorite words) selling us on the benefits of a bogus digital revolution that rewards the few with obscene riches while exploiting the many. If we don't do something fast, our collective future will look like Rochester, N.Y., "a landscape of boarded-up stores and homeless people ... smashed into smithereens over the last twenty-five years by a Schumpeterian hurricane of creative destruction."

Sounds grim, but to anyone who has encountered Keen's other work, the dismal...

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What's your favorite football book?
Coming of age with Asali Solomon's 'Disgruntled'

With her 2006 fiction collection "Get Down," Asali Solomon established herself as a short-form artist with a knack for writing misfits in black middle-class Philadelphia. Her first novel, "Disgruntled," is a fitting follow-up — a smart, philosophical coming-of-age tale featuring a vivid protagonist who battles "the shame of being alive."

When we first meet Kenya Curtis in the late '80s, she is in fourth grade at Henry Charles Lea School in West Philadelphia, where she has exactly one friend. Unlike the other kids in her class, Kenya celebrates Kwanzaa, calls her father Baba and is forbidden to eat bologna or say the Pledge of Allegiance. Her classmates, predominantly black, single her out for her peculiar blackness — they laugh at her when she's scandalized by the N-word, call her an "African bootyscratcher" and greet her with taunts of "boogeddy-boo."

Kenya's otherness springs from her unconventional upbringing as the only child of Sheila and Johnbrown Curtis. Sheila is the...

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