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Book Reviews

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An almost-lost gem: 'Whatever Happened to Interracial Love'

Kathleen Collins was a professor of film history at New York’s City College who made a groundbreaking contribution to the subject that she taught. “Losing Ground” (1982), which Collins wrote and directed, was one of the first feature-length dramas made by an African American woman. Collins, who...

More Reviews

  • Children's book author Jon Klassen and the morally ambiguous universe of hats

    Children's book author Jon Klassen and the morally ambiguous universe of hats

    When children’s book author and illustrator Jon Klassen visits schools to read his new book, “We Found a Hat,” he also likes to read “The Green Ribbon” from a collection of scary children’s stories by Alvin Schwartz titled “In a Dark, Dark Room.” The story is about a girl named Jenny who won’t...

  • Shining short fiction collections by Dana Johnson and Anne Raeff

    Shining short fiction collections by Dana Johnson and Anne Raeff

    The stories in Dana Johnson’s collection “In the Not Quite Dark” take place in and around Los Angeles, the historical Pacific Electric Building in downtown in particular. Characters across stories live there, either the victims of gentrification or the unapologetic gentrifying. In “Because That’s...

  • Without 'Twilight's' supernatural chill, can Stephenie Meyer still thrill readers?

    Without 'Twilight's' supernatural chill, can Stephenie Meyer still thrill readers?

    Stephenie Meyer is one of the most successful writers in the world … but her range so far has been limited to the fantastic world of “Twilight.” Now her new novel, “The Chemist,” substitutes spies for sparkly vampires, and an adult focus for the YA audience. Many critics will no doubt be skeptical...

  • Poet Paisley Rekdal should be better known, and 'Imaginary Vessels' may be the collection to do it

    Poet Paisley Rekdal should be better known, and 'Imaginary Vessels' may be the collection to do it

    Paisley Rekdal is a very, very good poet who should be better-known to people who like poetry — even casual readers — but who don’t know where beyond the famous names to look.  She’s frighteningly intelligent yet easily understood.  Her reasoning is clear and precise — her poems think as well as...

  • Zadie Smith's 'Swing Time' is a tour-de-force

    Zadie Smith's 'Swing Time' is a tour-de-force

    If ever a novel conjured a sound and dance track, it is “Swing Time,” a multilayered tour-de-force from Zadie Smith. She begins with an epigram from northern Nigeria: “When the music changes, so does the dance.” At its cerebral core burns a lifelong rivalry between two girls growing up in shabby...

  • Nell Zink's 'Nicotine' can leave a reader breathless

    Nell Zink's 'Nicotine' can leave a reader breathless

    Imagine all the different ways people smoke. There’s the cinematic post-coital smoke, the break-up-the-work-day smoke, the pack-a-day smoke, the one-a-day smoke, the-I-only-smoke-at-parties smoke, the hiding-it-from-everyone smoke, and the long-slow-deep-drag-of-cool-Didionesque-contemplation smoke,...

  • Javier Marías' elegant novel 'Thus Bad Begins' is filled with secrets

    Javier Marías' elegant novel 'Thus Bad Begins' is filled with secrets

    Novels are about secrets, inherently so, as the author knows just how a story ends, what happens, who did what and where the bodies are buried. A reader, on the other hand, knows nothing really at all, save what happens in the current sentence and preceding paragraphs. Secrets remain closed until...

  • The conservative rich kid who found his place on television and in politics

    The conservative rich kid who found his place on television and in politics

    How’s this for a story line? Rich kid grows up on the East Coast, not far from Manhattan. He’s utterly convinced of the rightness of his ideas and not at all shy about telling people who disagree with him that they’re wrong and making it abundantly clear that he thinks he’s smarter than they are....

  • What came first, the science or the fiction? The answer is in James Gleick's 'Time Travel'

    What came first, the science or the fiction? The answer is in James Gleick's 'Time Travel'

    “If you could take one ride in a time machine, which way would you go?” James Gleick asks. “The future or the past?” Posed about midway through his dazzling, dizzying history of time travel, the question is just one of dozens that will make most readers stop reading, stare off into space and think....

  • T.C. Boyle explores a world within a world in 'The Terranauts'

    T.C. Boyle explores a world within a world in 'The Terranauts'

    The protagonists of T.C. Boyle’s new novel, “The Terranauts,” live in a bubble — an actual bubble, their lives conducted under glass. They are the inhabitants of a biodome called E2, located in the Arizona desert. It has a savannah, a rainforest and an artificial ocean the size of an Olympic swimming...

  • All the sex women want, at the touch of a button: 'Future Sex' explores being single now.

    All the sex women want, at the touch of a button: 'Future Sex' explores being single now.

    Fifteen years ago, I was a young music critic spending time in New York, discovering that a number of men in the industry wanted to have sex with me. I figured this out because they said things like “I want to have sex with you,” and offered up hotel rooms. (Now they’d probably save themselves...

  • Love, Icelandically: On Oddny Eir's novel 'Land of Love and Ruins'

    Love, Icelandically: On Oddny Eir's novel 'Land of Love and Ruins'

    Oddný Eir has written novels, essay collections and books of poetry. She is also an environmental activist with a degree in political philosophy from the Sorbonne. Her novel “Land of Love and Ruins” was written in the aftermath of the Icelandic banking crisis (the canary in the coal mine for the...

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