Posted inArts & Culture

Marisha Pessl

Believe the hype: Marisha Pessl’s debut novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics (Viking), is a lot of fun. Teenage narrator Blue van Meer, overfond of the literary reference and parenthetical remark, is Pessl’s preternaturally studious protagonist. She’s the daughter of Gareth van Meer, himself a model of the philosophically idiosyncratic, sexually prodigious, often drunk professor […]

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Dan Berger

With his new history, Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity (AK Press), Dan Berger, a 25-year-old PhD candidate at the University of Pennsylvania and coeditor of last year’s Letters From Young Activists, attempts to fill in the blanks left by Sam Green and Bill Siegel’s 2003 documentary The Weather Underground. […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Brief Reviews

THE NYMPHOS OF ROCKY FLATS | Mario Acevedo | Rayo | Former infantryman Mario Acevedo manages to seamlessly blend several genres in his smooth, wryly funny debut novel. Nymphos starts off as a war thriller: enlisted grunt Felix Gomez is just trying to survive in Iraq when he mistakenly shoots a civilian girl who bleeds […]

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Studs Terkel

Studs is still going strong. The beloved nonagenarian mined his long-running WFMT radio show, The Wax Museum (1945-’90), for material for his latest volume, And They All Sang: Adventures of an Eclectic Disc Jockey (The New Press), and though it doesn’t have the cultural weight of Working or his other, sturdier oral histories, it effectively […]

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Brief Reviews

THE AMPHORA PROJECT | William Kotzwinkle | Grove Press | In a 1988 essay literary agent Russell Galen had some advice for writers gunning for the big time: “Don’t worry about ‘breaking out of genre.’” Just “make it big, big, very big.” Maybe someone should send a copy to William Kotzwinkle: the man knows how […]

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Darren O’Donnell

When Toronto-based writer and performer Darren O’Donnell hit Quimby’s in October, he delivered a monologue from his ever-evolving one-man show A Suicide-Site Guide to the City, a theater piece that dramatizes one of his pet concerns: the breakdown of the boundary between audience and performer. He wasn’t on a stage in the tiny bookstore, and […]

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Brief Reviews

BEWARE OF GOD: STORIES | Shalom Auslander | Simon & Schuster “Do what [God] says and nobody gets hurt,” the rabbi told Bloom. Unfortunately what God decreed was that Bloom must die. He’d tried to kill Bloom before, but air bags and defibrillators kept getting in the way. Now in “Somebody Up There Likes You,” […]