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'60s and '70s radicals get a fresh look in 'Days of Rage'

Once upon a time, as a college senior in autumn 1970, I organized a committee to block a politician from making a campaign appearance on campus and sought support from a not-unsympathetic faculty member: Students were the target de jour, I explained, the candidate was cynically using the university...

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  • Olen Steinhauer's new novel reunites spies with a shared history
    Olen Steinhauer's new novel reunites spies with a shared history

    Olen Steinhauer openly acknowledges Christopher Reid's poem "The Song of Lunch" — or rather the PBS Masterpiece dramatization of it — as inspiration for his latest spy puzzler. The TV version centers on two former lovers, played by Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, having a boozy lunch 15 years after...

  • Two children's books about middle schoolers between cultures
    Two children's books about middle schoolers between cultures

    A recent report from the University of Wisconsin's Cooperative Children's Book Center reveals the persistence of a diversity gap in literature for children and adolescents. In 2014, only 112 books for young people featured Asian/Pacific and Asian/Pacific American characters — an improvement from...

  • 'A Little Life' a darkly beautiful tale of love and friendship
    'A Little Life' a darkly beautiful tale of love and friendship

    I've read a lot of emotionally taxing books in my time, but "A Little Life," Hanya Yanagihara's follow-up to 2013's brilliant, harrowing "The People in the Trees," is the only one I've read as an adult that's left me sobbing. I became so invested in the characters and their lives that I almost...

  • 'Terms of Service' a critique of modern life built on social media
    'Terms of Service' a critique of modern life built on social media

    Jacob Silverman, by his own admission, has a "jaundiced eye." His first book, "Terms of Service: Social Media and the Price of Constant Connection," proves this self-appraisal all too well. "Terms of Service" is a bleak, unsparing and discomfiting critique of a modern life built around Facebook...

  • Not Just for Kids: Indoor pleasures in 'In,' 'Home' and 'Small Person'
    Not Just for Kids: Indoor pleasures in 'In,' 'Home' and 'Small Person'

    We grown-ups can be a house-proud lot, with our real estate obsessions and home improvement preoccupations — but children, with their treasured possessions, random collections and ability to conjure expansive worlds within the confines of their rooms, may be the most devoted nesters of all. A handful...

  • Barry Gifford's 'The Up-Down' salutes legacy of Sailor and Lula
    Barry Gifford's 'The Up-Down' salutes legacy of Sailor and Lula

    "You move me, Sailor, you really do. You mark me the deepest." If you were a filmgoer in the '90s, those words, spoken by Lula Pace Fortune (Laura Dern) to Sailor Ripley (Nicholas Cage) undoubtedly left an impression on you too.

  • Gory 'Razorhurst' by Justine Larbalestier mixes noir and ghosts
    Gory 'Razorhurst' by Justine Larbalestier mixes noir and ghosts

    Set in the gritty underworld of 1932 Sydney, Australia, over the course of 24 hours, "Razorhurst" is a historical fantasy embedded in an era when guns are outlawed and gangsters fight their gruesome battles with straight-edge razors. Blood flows freely in the streets of Surry Hills as the precarious...

  • Mario Vargas Llosa takes on human foibles in 'The Discreet Hero'
    Mario Vargas Llosa takes on human foibles in 'The Discreet Hero'

    The title of Mario Vargas Llosa's new novel, "The Discreet Hero," seems guaranteed to validate the verdict of the Nobel Prize committee, who awarded Vargas Llosa the Nobel Prize in 2010 "for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt,...

  • A new book places Lucy Stone at forefront of women's suffrage
    A new book places Lucy Stone at forefront of women's suffrage

    Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and Susan B. Anthony are memorialized as leading suffragists in a marble statue in the Rotunda in our nation's Capitol. In this thought-provoking new biography, Sally G. McMillen argues persuasively that one person is missing from that Mt. Rushmore of women:...

  • How Tom Sleigh, Marilyn Hacker, Deborah Landau, Cecilia Woloch bear witness
    How Tom Sleigh, Marilyn Hacker, Deborah Landau, Cecilia Woloch bear witness

    Poets have expanded the boundaries of what we call the "poetry of witness." We are talking about both the passion that drives "witness" and the re-creation of that passion on the page, of course. But we are also talking about being transparent as well as accurate in description of extremity, allowing...

  • 'Prudence' a heartbreaking tale of love, loss and desire
    'Prudence' a heartbreaking tale of love, loss and desire

    We tend to talk about stories as if they're straight lines, routes from one point to another, with a beginning, middle and end. But fiction is just like life —- we're suspicious of neat plotlines and tidy endings, because nothing in the real world ever works out that way. Every bad story has one...

  • Mark Doten's 'The Infernal' a darkly twisted take on Iraq war
    Mark Doten's 'The Infernal' a darkly twisted take on Iraq war

    We've watched films portraying and critiquing 9/11. We've read sober nonfiction books chronicling it and thoughtful fiction by soldiers — some with MFAs — who are beginning to process what they saw there. But what we haven't read is anything quite like "The Infernal," Mark Doten's deliriously demented...

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