Book Reviews

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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...

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  • 6 things you should know about 'The City of Mirrors'

    6 things you should know about 'The City of Mirrors'

    1. It’s huge. “The City of Mirrors” debuted at the top of our Bestseller list earlier this month. The book is the conclusion to Justin Cronin’s bestselling dystopian literary trilogy, which started with “The Passage” (great) followed by “The Twelve” (not as great). 2. It’s binge-worthy. With a...

  • Emma Cline's 'The Girls' is a gorgeous, disquieting spin on Manson family dynamics

    Emma Cline's 'The Girls' is a gorgeous, disquieting spin on Manson family dynamics

    “I was a daisy-fresh girl and look what you've done to me.” ― Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita   “The Girls” is gorgeous, disquieting, and really, really good. Set mostly in the Bay Area at the tail end of the 1960s, the novel follows Evie Boyd through the “endless, formless summer” before she goes off...

  • 4 new nonfiction books not to be missed

    4 new nonfiction books not to be missed

    These four fascinating new nonfiction books are just hitting shelves. “The Burger Court and the Rise of the Judicial Right” by Michael J. Graetz and Linda Greenhouse (Simon and Schuster: 480 pp., $30) Although the Burger court is often viewed as a backwater in Supreme Court history, the authors...

  • 'Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty' is a charming summer tale of wealth and its loss

    'Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty' is a charming summer tale of wealth and its loss

    Wealthy characters, from Gatsby to Mr. Darcy to Miss Havisham, were once a fiction staple. In contemporary novels, however, characters with more moderate incomes tend to rule: Think of the striving immigrant blogger in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Americanah” or Karen Russell’s down-on-its-luck...

  • Breaking up is hard, even for the avant-garde: Dorthe Nors' 'So Much for That Winter'

    Breaking up is hard, even for the avant-garde: Dorthe Nors' 'So Much for That Winter'

    “Minna is a tad avant-garde,” Danish author Dorthe Nors writes of her protagonist in “Minna Needs a Rehearsal Space,” although Nors could just as easily be writing about herself. “So Much for That Winter,” Nors’ second book to be translated into English, consists of two novellas that track women...

  • 'Eccentric Orbits' chronicles the stunning failure (and improbable revival) of the Iridium satellite phone

    'Eccentric Orbits' chronicles the stunning failure (and improbable revival) of the Iridium satellite phone

    The business sections of bookstores overflow with guides to success — the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, for instance, has stamped his name on more than a dozen of them. The business books worth remembering, though? Those tend to be about failure. Think of “Final Cut,” Steven Bach’s gripping...

  • What is biography? Who can be trusted? asks Jill Lepore in 'Joe Gould's Teeth'

    What is biography? Who can be trusted? asks Jill Lepore in 'Joe Gould's Teeth'

    One winter, Jill Lepore, the prolific historian and New Yorker correspondent, taught a course called “What Is Biography?” To coax her Harvard sophomores to ponder whether we can truly know another person, she assigned Julian Barnes’ novel “The Sense of an Ending.” She also gave them two famous...

  • 6 intriguing new nonfiction books

    6 intriguing new nonfiction books

    Six intriguing new nonfiction titles -- some are already climbing our bestseller list. "Boy Erased" by Garrard Conley (Riverhead: 352 pp., $27) Being gay in Arkansas is not easy, and after Conley was outed at 19, his parents sent him to a Christian ministry’s conversion therapy program. More than...

  • Rita Dove's collected poems should put her back in the center of the American conversation

    Rita Dove's collected poems should put her back in the center of the American conversation

    Although Rita Dove has won most of the honors available to an American poet — she was the second African American to receive the Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her 1986 collection “Thomas and Beulah,” and she served as U.S. poet laureate from 1993-1995 — she is less read and discussed, at least among younger...

  • 'The Fireman' may be the best apocalyptic read of the year, if you can stand the heat

    'The Fireman' may be the best apocalyptic read of the year, if you can stand the heat

    There is a certain perverse pleasure in imagining the world going down in flames. But what if it was more than a metaphorical conflagration? What if your neighbors, friends, colleagues, or family could ignite without warning, starting a chain reaction that could send entire cities up in smoke?...

  • A look inside the Creation Museum's cabinet of curiosities

    A look inside the Creation Museum's cabinet of curiosities

    The earliest natural history museums — the cabinets of curiosities of the 16th and 17th centuries — were always understood as reflecting the works of the divine, a “Book of Nature” to parallel the Bible. When Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher assembled his collection of natural oddities, scientific...

  • The new book 'The Other Slavery' will make you rethink American history

    The new book 'The Other Slavery' will make you rethink American history

    It is not often that a single work of history can change the course of an entire field and upset the received notions and received knowledge of the generations but that is exactly what "The Other Slavery" does.  Andrés Reséndez boldly argues that slavery, not necessarily disease and misfortune,...

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