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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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  • The innovative, beguiling reflections of Claire-Louise Bennett's 'Pond'

    The innovative, beguiling reflections of Claire-Louise Bennett's 'Pond'

    If your idea of a great read requires a rousing plot line, Claire-Louise Bennett’s “Pond” probably isn’t going to float your boat. But if you’re excited by the kind of writing that can transport you deep into the oddly beguiling, meditative reflections of a woman living alone in a thatched-roof,...

  • An Italian vacation is not what two couples hoped in Delia Ephron's 'Siracusa'

    An Italian vacation is not what two couples hoped in Delia Ephron's 'Siracusa'

    “This is not a true story,” Delia Ephron insists in the acknowledgments section of her novel “Siracusa.”  “All characters and circumstances are fictional.” Why this cautionary note? Perhaps Ephron – whose late sister Nora Ephron famously skewered her ex-husband, the journalist Carl Bernstein, in...

  • Gay Talese's book 'The Voyeur's Motel' got the author in hot water. But is it any good?

    Gay Talese's book 'The Voyeur's Motel' got the author in hot water. But is it any good?

    What happens to a book when the news about it — the side story — begins to overwhelm the sentences and paragraphs? That’s one of the dilemmas around Gay Talese’s “The Voyeur’s Motel,” which the author briefly disavowed recently after the Washington Post uncovered discrepancies in its chronology.  ...

  • Solmaz Sharif and the poetics of a new American generation

    Solmaz Sharif and the poetics of a new American generation

    Step gently on words such as “home” or “citizen” or even “body” with a foot born elsewhere and they combust. Place names are even more incendiary. What happens when we read BEIRUT or TEHRAN or SAIGON while sitting at a cafe in Santa Monica?  This is war’s lexicon. It incorporates and redefines,...

  • 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...

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