INNOCENCE PROJECT reviewed by Julie Myerson


By Julie Myerson on April 14, 2014

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. But in fiction it can take on a whole new power - blunderingly obvious or brightly illuminating, depending on how imaginatively it’s applied. Rare is the contemporary novel that doesn’t set out, at least in part, to examine the effects of past behavior on present outcomes...more

THE WOMEN BEHIND THE BOMB reviewed by George Johnson


By George Johnson on April 14, 2014

Curious about the strange happenings on New Mexico’s Pajarito Plateau in the early 1940s, some of us might have read Robert Jungk’s “Brighter Than a Thousand Suns.” Or Richard Rhodes’s “The Making of the Atomic Bomb.” Perhaps, wishing for a more personal touch, we picked up Peggy Pond Church’s beautiful remembrance, “The House at Otowi Bridge,” learning about the enigmatic Edith Warner and her teahouse, which counted among its customers J...more

THREE SIBLINGS AND A MURDER reviewed by Gary Krist


By Gary Krist on April 14, 2014

Peter Ackroyd’s new book begins like a fairy tale: “In the London borough of Camden, in the middle of the last century, there lived three brothers.” And a wondrous set of boys they are, having been born at precisely midday on May 8 of three successive years...more

KAMIKAZE STRATEGY reviewed by Martha Mcphee


By Martha Mcphee on April 7, 2014

(Martha McPhee is the author of "Dear Money" and other novels.) The mountain of Purgatory haunts the cover of Peter Mountford’s arresting second novel, “The Dismal Science.” The image, which calls to mind the second volume of “The Divine Comedy,” leads the reader into the book, the stark path curling its way up toward Terrestrial Paradise, symbolized by one lonely but verdant tree...more

THE REPERCUSSIONS reviewed by Sonali Deraniyagala


By Sonali Deraniyagala on March 31, 2014

“Where is Ajay? What was the point of having raised him?” an elderly woman grumbles to her husband about their adult son in the opening pages of Akhil Sharma’s semi-autobiographical new novel, “Family Life.” This book, deeply unnerving and gorgeously tender at its core, charts the young life of Ajay Mishra as he struggles to grow within a family shattered by loss and disoriented by a recent move from India to America...more

THE DEVIL'S WOODS reviewed by Claire Vaye Watkins


By Claire Vaye Watkins on March 31, 2014

It’s tempting to say that “A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain,” the first novel by Adrianne Harun, is set in a “dead-end town” - indeed the book’s publicity copy employs the phrase. It’s useful shorthand, invoking a familiar image...more

SUDDENLY THAT SUMMER reviewed by Leah Hager Cohen


By Leah Hager Cohen on March 31, 2014

(Leah Hager Cohen's latest novel, "No Book but the World," has just been published.) Although a vicious crime serves as the grain of sand around which this pearl of a novel is formed, Linn Ullmann’s “The Cold Song” is not a crime story...more

NEW GIRL IN TOWN reviewed by Elisabeth Egan


By Elisabeth Egan on March 31, 2014

As any young bookworm knows, the library shelves are crammed with beloved characters whose lives have been vastly improved - if not saved - by words. Consider Harriet the Spy, who made sense of the world in her green composition notebook long before journals earned their own verb; or Matilda Wormwood, who sailed away from the sinking ship of her family on a life raft made of stories...more

SMALL WORLD reviewed by Julia Glass


By Julia Glass on March 31, 2014

The facade of a classic prewar New York City apartment building - the opening image of Tova Mirvis’s third novel, “Visible City” - presents a plain-spoken metaphor for human acquaintance. Meeting a stranger, you may walk past without interest or, intrigued by a glimpse of color or movement, strive to see more and deeper, beyond the mannerly surface...more

KID ROCK reviewed by Lucinda Rosenfeld


By Lucinda Rosenfeld on March 24, 2014

(Lucinda Rosenfeld's latest novel, "The Pretty One," was recently published in paperback.) Among the many things the reader learns about the music business in “Wonderkid” - Wesley Stace’s winningly dry, occasionally hilarious and enervatingly long-winded novel about a popular 1990s rock band for kids - are the ironclad rules of the tour bus: “Sleep with your feet towards the driver, no bowel movements in the toilet and, most importantly, don’t get left behind...more

AN EDEN OF REEDS reviewed by Floyd Skloot


By Floyd Skloot on March 24, 2014

(Floyd Skloot's 18th book, "Revertigo: An Off-Kilter Memoir," has just been published.) After several books for young readers, Matthew Olshan’s first work for adults is a fablelike novel set in marshlands very much like those of southern Iraq...more

OUTSIDER ART reviewed by Fernanda Eberstaft


By Fernanda Eberstaft on March 24, 2014

In the 1980s, a series of posters began appearing on the streets of New York. The most arresting one - a yellow-and-crimson image of Ingres’s “Odalisque” wearing a gorilla mask that demanded, “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met...more

DEEP WATER reviewed by Daniel Woodrell


By Daniel Woodrell on March 24, 2014

The Tennessee Valley AUTHORITY brought change to the heart of Appalachia in the 1930s, forcing locals to relocate voluntarily or linger on the land and be removed by their own government. Though the damming of the river would provide electricity and other conveniences across the region, there were many who were not swayed by arguments of the common good and tried to stay, even as the water rose across their fields and toward the houses...more


SEA CHANGE reviewed by Ian Morris


By Ian Morris on April 14, 2014

This is the latest in a series of insightful books, like “The Revenge of Geography” and “The Coming Anarchy,” in which Robert D. Kaplan, the chief geopolitical analyst at the global intelligence company Stratfor, tries to explain how geography determines destiny - and what we should be doing about it...more

LANGUAGE WITHOUT A COUNTRY reviewed by Alan Riding


By Alan Riding on April 14, 2014

Like many admired writers from small countries, Josep Pla is largely unknown outside his native Catalonia. Not that Catalonia is a country as such, but the Catalan language has long been a proud symbol of the region’s separate identity from the rest of Spain...more

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING reviewed by Diane Coyle


By Diane Coyle on April 7, 2014

(Diane Coyle is an economist and the author of "GDP: A Short but Affectionate History.") In the dark days of the Great Depression, the economist Simon Kuznets set about calculating the total national income of the United States...more

FOR ALL IT'S WORTH reviewed by Heidi N. Moore


By Heidi N. Moore on April 7, 2014

Most people are used to owing money to others, but few think about what money may owe us: an equitable society, a functioning political system, a peaceful economy that can stay off the exhausting roller coaster of financial booms and crashes...more

PLAYING JOHN WAYNE reviewed by Peter Bogdanovich


By Peter Bogdanovich on March 24, 2014

The first time I met John Wayne was in 1965 in Old Tucson, Ariz., where he was shooting Howard Hawks’s “El Dorado.” They were doing a night scene so the lighting took a long time and, happily, gave me a solid two hours to sit on the set, not in his trailer, and to speak with the Duke about nothing except pictures...more

THE PRICE OF SLAVERY reviewed by Brenda Wineapple


By Brenda Wineapple on March 24, 2014

In 1862, when Nathaniel Hawthorne headed south from New England to see the Civil War firsthand, he came upon a group of former slaves trudging northward. “They seemed a kind of creature by themselves, not altogether human,” he wrote, “but perhaps quite as good, and akin to the fauns and rustic deities of olden times...more


TAKING THE HELM reviewed by John Freeman Gill


By John Freeman Gill on March 31, 2014

“Swim That Rock,” an affable coming-of-age novel by Jay Primiano and John Rocco, is bookended by pencil drawings ostensibly made by Jake Cole, the book’s 14-year-old narrator. The opening spread (in fact drawn by Rocco, a noted children’s book illustrator) features maps of the story’s setting - Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay and Upper Bay Tributaries...more

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