Thirteen novels on the 2014 Man Booker Prize Longlist present great reading selections. Here are brief descriptions, availability and what reviews have said about some of them.
Audrey Magee's novel "The Undertaking" is about newlyweds caught up in Berlin society and the Eastern Front during World War II. Stark, moving and intelligent, this is Magee’s fictional debut.
"Ordinary Grace" is one of the most enjoyable books I've read this year. Of note, it just won the the Edgar Award for best novel, announced last week. Two other winners appear here, as well as a link to the full list of nominees and winners in all the categories for the Mystery Writers of America 2014 Edgar Allan Poe Awards.
Derek B. Miller's "Norwegian by Night" is as intense as it is entertaining -- a crime story taking place in Oslo and the hinterlands of Norway, featuring an octogenarian Korean War vet who deserves a place in the Colorful Characters Hall of Fame,
Writing a novel becomes high-stakes drama in this clever, entertaining story about a mega-selling author and a wealthy book collector.
Once out of print and then later back in print with revisions, "The Story of Doctor Dolittle" now has a place on my bookshelf -- the 1920 edition, that is. Here's a few illustrations from that original classic children's book, plus why it went out of favor.
There's nothing like the browse-and-discover experience inside an independent bookshop, especially when it's filled with crime novels and mysteries. Here's a peek inside NYC's terrific The Mysterious Bookshop, plus the books I purchased.
Here's some insight into what can happen to a book lover in a giant room filled with exhibitors of used and rare books.
20th century African-American photographer Roy DeCarava and poet Langston Hughes collaborated on a small book of black-and-white photos depicting everyday life in 1950's Harlem. Published in 1955, "The Sweet Flypaper of Life" reveals this time and place with a poignancy that eludes history books.
Deborah Levy's novel packs a punch in a mere 157 pages. She puts a deeply unsettling spin on the impulsive, lusty fling gone wrong when vacationing Brits invite a mentally unstable beauty to stay with them. They don't know her presence is dangerous, but we do, which makes this a tense, engaging read.
NYRB Classics reprinted Thomas Tryon’s 1971 bestseller "The Other" this month, a chilling story that sold millions of copies during its day, which was the decade of "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Exorcist." But of these three hair-raising novels, "The Other" unsettled me the most. Here's why. Also: An interesting database of 20th-century American Bestsellers book collectors will enjoy.
The paperback edition of Kenneth Slawenski's biography of America's iconic literary recluse was released the beginning of this year. I read it, curious about the many things I probably didn't know about the man who wrote "The Catcher in the Rye." One of my biggest surprises was learning Salinger fought in some of World War II's most difficult battles. I also came to know Salinger as less of a bizarre eccentric and more of a person whose experiences influenced his behavior.
I've never read nor intend to read "Steal This Book" by the Sixties anti-establishment icon Abbie Hoffman, but that didn't get in the way of my wanting the book. Not any edition, rather a first edition paperback, signed by the activist, for sale at last weekend's New York Antiquarian Book Fair. Here's the tale of that brief love affair between me and the book, plus a look at Terry Bisson's new novel that takes place during Hoffman's busiest protesting years, "Any Day Now."
John Gardner published "Grendel" in 1971, eleven years before his tragic death at age 49 in a motorcycle accident. The story is a spin-off taken from the medieval epic poem "Beowulf," giving us the viewpoint of the monster Grendel, whom the Scandinavian hero Beowulf slays. A rare acquisition of the book's ARC brought Gardner's novel to my attention again.
"What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank" is Nathan Englander's new collection of short stories. Each of the eight stories engages us with challenging topics regarding human nature and the lives of orthodox and non-practicing Jews. Enter the elephants. Here's what I'm talking about (when I talk about Nathan Englander).