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  • For a doorstopper, Paul Auster's '4 3 2 1' is surprisingly light

    For a doorstopper, Paul Auster's '4 3 2 1' is surprisingly light

    A long novel is something thought to be a serious novel. Paul Auster’s 866-page “4 3 2 1,” landing with a thud on the threshold of the nation’s bookstores, is plainly playing with that idea. Auster has not, traditionally, been a writer of doorstoppers. He is usually more elegant than that. He is...

  • Why read a 5-year-old book about ExxonMobil now? Two words: Rex Tillerson

    Why read a 5-year-old book about ExxonMobil now? Two words: Rex Tillerson

    If you want a deeper understanding of what has been inaugurated in Washington, read Steve Coll’s “Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power.” Rarely has a book been so profoundly and presciently relevant to events that would take place five years after its publication.  It is not just a book...

  • Neil Gaiman wields Thor's hammer in 'Norse Mythology'

    Neil Gaiman wields Thor's hammer in 'Norse Mythology'

    No contemporary fiction writer gets more of his power from the mythological tradition than Neil Gaiman. Almost all of his work, from the “Sandman” comics he wrote in the '80s and '90s to prose novels such as “American Gods” and children's books such as “Coraline,” ingeniously fragments and integrates...

  • Joyce Carol Oates tackles abortion in her powerful novel, 'A Book of American Martyrs'

    Joyce Carol Oates tackles abortion in her powerful novel, 'A Book of American Martyrs'

    Leave it to Joyce Carol Oates — full-time genius, part-time troll — to drop a 700-plus-page novel about abortion just in time for the most dramatic, divisive regime change in our country’s recent history. (Of course, the timing might be fortuitous — it has been a full year since her last novel...

  • Rescued from history: The baseball teams of East Los Angeles

    Rescued from history: The baseball teams of East Los Angeles

    If you spend enough time getting to know a city, you’ll notice official and unofficial monuments of its history. On rare occasions, you might catch sight of grown men in crisp white and sky-blue uniforms kicking up clouds of dust at the diamond on 4th Street and Evergreen Avenue. This is part of...

  • In the 1950s, Patricia Bosworth acted with the best, married the worst, and lost those she loved

    In the 1950s, Patricia Bosworth acted with the best, married the worst, and lost those she loved

    Although Patricia Bosworth’s new memoir is set in the 1950s, it is urgent and essential reading, especially for young women. Parts of it are also terrifying. Bosworth, best known for biographies of Diane Arbus, Montgomery Clift, and Jane Fonda, intended her book to entertain, which it does, thanks...

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