April 12, 2013

Buoyant and Blue: On Jessica Soffer’s Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots 2


A novel about food becomes so much more than some simple story of domestic affirmation found in the kitchen, because, in the end, we always have Grandma’s recipe tin. Instead, it becomes a story of food’s very foundational and fluid place in our understanding of the world.

March 29, 2013

I Await The Devil’s Friend Request: On Social Media and Mary MacLane 15


What participation in social media comes down to, I think, is that either you have an instinct for broadcasting your life, or you don’t. Mary MacLane would have been a natural.

March 28, 2013

Men Handling Things: On Stuart Nadler’s Wise Men 0


I can’t say whether I was enjoying the book itself or just the true American, grand tradition of it all. Surely I’m reading a great book, I thought, a rich man with a diamond watch is staring at the ocean while his son looks on and doubts it all!

March 22, 2013

Stars Are Just Like Us: On Christine Sneed and Celebrity Disparity 2


As readers, we’ve become so jaded, so used to seeing celebrities crash and burn, perhaps even delighted to watch them crash and burn, that when they engage in something as unexceptional as adultery, we hardly care.

March 21, 2013

In the Wake of Speedboat: On Renata Adler’s 1976 Novel 2


Scrolling through news bits and status updates between passages of Speedboat, I’m floored by how the novel reads as a somewhat verbose Twitter feed. That is, verbose for Twitter. Succinct for anything else.

March 21, 2013

Lives within Lives within Lives: Aleksandar Hemon’s The Book of My Lives 2


There is, it seems, no end to the lives of Aleksandar Hemon.

March 20, 2013

The Navigation of Birds and the Balance of Cats : On Jessica Francis Kane’s This Close 1


This Close is about the way the people evolve over time; the numerous faces any individual wears over the course of his or her life, and the near-impossibility of truly knowing anyone.

March 19, 2013

Lost in the Land of Self-Help: Mohsin Hamid’s How To Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia 0


Hamid’s flawed but beautifully written new novel follows the trajectory of a self-made man in an unnamed country.

March 12, 2013

Who Are We Without Our Stories? Jonathan Dee’s A Thousand Pardons 3


The first twenty pages has the feel of a cable TV pilot, not the opening chapter of a literary novel. I even cast it in my mind, and became half-convinced that if I could just get Alison Janney to commit to play Helen, I could have it on HBO in time for the fall season.

March 7, 2013

One Woman’s Place in Time: Jamaica Kincaid’s See Now Then 3


We use time-lapse photography to witness the things we can’t see in real time — the blooming of a flower or a tree coming into leaf. Kincaid uses the form of the novel to illustrate the things that Mrs. Sweet could not see in her own life, flipping through the ordinary moments that make up Mrs. Sweet’s mostly sweet existence to reveal the larger story: that of a disintegrating marriage.