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  • Josh Weil's 'Great Glass Sea' an epic fantasy of brotherly bonds
    Josh Weil's 'Great Glass Sea' an epic fantasy of brotherly bonds

    A fantasy about an alternate near-future Russia, Josh Weil's "The Great Glass Sea" tells the moving and sensitive tale of two brothers caught up in cultural turmoil. The author's first novel after his much-lauded collection, "The New Valley," it often evokes the mythic feel of a contemporary...

  • Francisco Goldman maps 'The Interior Circuit'
    Francisco Goldman maps 'The Interior Circuit'

    The personal tragedy haunting a Mexico City-based writer commingles with the city's horror at a mass kidnapping. The writing — part memoir, part reportage — becomes its own form.

  • 'Do Not Sell at Any Price's' hunters stalk rare 78 rpm records
    'Do Not Sell at Any Price's' hunters stalk rare 78 rpm records

    In 'Do Not Sell at Any Price,' Amanda Petrusich takes a thoughtful, entertaining spin through the world of obsessed collectors hunting rare records. She knows the topic well — she's one of them.

  • Emily Gould's 'Friendship' details lifestyles of the lost and spoiled
    Emily Gould's 'Friendship' details lifestyles of the lost and spoiled

    In spite of its deceptive title, Emily Gould's new novel, "Friendship," offers a vivid exploration of the missed connections and overwhelming isolation of modern urban life. From the first few pages to the last, Gould's central characters, Bev and Amy, struggle to find fulfillment in...

  • 'Nature's God' explores 'heretical origins' of religion in U.S.
    'Nature's God' explores 'heretical origins' of religion in U.S.

    Matthew Stewart wants to make one thing perfectly clear: The United States was not founded as a Christian nation. The principles that inspired the American Revolution, he argues in "Nature's God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic," belong to an intellectual tradition dating to...

  • Alex Tizon sizes up his masculinity in memoir 'Big Little Man'
    Alex Tizon sizes up his masculinity in memoir 'Big Little Man'

    You have to wait until the eighth chapter of Alex Tizon's remarkable memoir, "Big Little Man: In Search of My Asian Self," for confirmation that his title is the reference you've been hoping it isn't and fearing it is. All of the book has been leading up to this big (little) reveal.

  • 'West of the Revolution' charts the 1776 American frontier
    'West of the Revolution' charts the 1776 American frontier

    As America's founders gathered in Philadelphia in 1776, two Franciscans named Francisco Atanasio Dominguez and Francisco Silvestre Velez de Escalante began a journey west from Santa Fe, N.M., hoping to find a way to the Pacific Coast. Negotiating with Native Americans and faltering over...

  • 'Liberty's Torch' reveals a statue with a storied past
    'Liberty's Torch' reveals a statue with a storied past

    Frederic Auguste Bartholdi is an all-but-forgotten figure in American history. He was, however, responsible for one of the most enduring symbols of the United States: the Statue of Liberty. A Frenchman from Alsace, he conceived, designed, sold and persisted until Liberty stood on Bedloe's...

  • Mixed verdict on Supreme Court in 'Uncertain Justice,' 'Court of One'
    Mixed verdict on Supreme Court in 'Uncertain Justice,' 'Court of One'

    The U.S. Supreme Court is majestic, immensely powerful and deceptively fragile. It commands by the power of reason, and its justices are, as the great Robert Jackson once observed, not "final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final." And yet Americans today...

  • 'The Quick' taps a tired vampire vein in gothic lit
    'The Quick' taps a tired vampire vein in gothic lit

    Vampires have become so prevalent in fiction and film that it's increasingly difficult to wring any new changes on such a hoary supernatural trope. A few recent writers have successfully risen to the challenge — among them the Swedish novelist John Ajvide Lindqvist with "Let the Right One In"...

  • J.D. Salinger fascination drives two new books
    J.D. Salinger fascination drives two new books

    The famously reclusive J.D. Salinger wouldn't allow himself to be known. And yet assorted authors continue to probe his life. Inevitably, they are forced to reiterate the same few scattered facts other scribes have pored over before. That's the fate Thomas Beller tries to avoid, with mixed...

  • 'Deep' follows free divers to plumb oceans' depths
    'Deep' follows free divers to plumb oceans' depths

    Journalist and adventure junkie James Nestor surfed at the Arctic Circle two years before he came across competitive freediving — plunging hundreds of feet into the ocean on a single breath without scuba gear. On assignment for Outdoor magazine in 2011, he set up to witness the sport in the...

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