Michael Schaub http://nwpr.org en A Dentist Confronts The Gaping Maw Of Life In 'To Rise Again' http://nwpr.org/post/dentist-confronts-gaping-maw-life-rise-again "Pessimism, skepticism, complaint, and outrage," New York dentist Paul O'Rourke explains to his devoutly religious hygienist. "That's why we were put on earth."<p>You won't find that on a motivational poster, of course, but to be fair, O'Rourke — the world-weary protagonist of Joshua Ferris' third novel, <em>To Rise Again at a Decent Hour</em> — comes by his nihilism honestly. His dental practice is a success, but the rest of his life is a shambles. Thu, 26 Jun 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Michael Schaub 48193 at http://nwpr.org A Dentist Confronts The Gaping Maw Of Life In 'To Rise Again' The 'Wayward And Defiant' Life Of Journalist Rebecca West http://nwpr.org/post/wayward-and-defiant-life-journalist-rebecca-west "There is no such thing as conversation," wrote Rebecca West in her story "The Harsh Voice." "It is an illusion. There are intersecting monologues, that is all." The same could be said for books, as well — even the best histories and biographies are necessarily filtered through the sensibilities of the author and reader, and some of the best literature is the result of those monologues, those stories, intersecting.<p>Lorna Gibb's excellent new biography of the legendary British writer Rebecca West is full of those moments. Sat, 17 May 2014 15:38:00 +0000 Michael Schaub 46131 at http://nwpr.org The 'Wayward And Defiant' Life Of Journalist Rebecca West Mitterrand's Taste For 'Intrigue' And Contradiction http://nwpr.org/post/mitterrands-taste-intrigue-and-contradiction It's probably a little too pat to say that all successful political careers are marked by contradiction and compromise, though you're not likely to hear many objections to that characterization. Politics is a game of survival, and with a few sadly notable exceptions, unyielding purists seldom make it to the top.<p>As Philip Short demonstrates in his new biography, <em>A Taste for Intrigue,</em> former French President Francois Mitterrand was not one of those exceptions — he was, in a way, the rule that proves the rule. Thu, 24 Apr 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Michael Schaub 44889 at http://nwpr.org Mitterrand's Taste For 'Intrigue' And Contradiction When Love Is 'In The House' http://nwpr.org/post/when-love-house "Love is not all," warned the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. "It is not meat nor drink / Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain." She was right, of course, but if there were ever any advice destined to fall on stubbornly deaf ears, this is it. Love is not all, but it always feels like it is, whether you're happily partnered or bereft.<p>That's also why it's a notoriously difficult subject for writers, though god knows it hasn't stopped them from trying, with very mixed results. Thu, 20 Jun 2013 11:03:00 +0000 Michael Schaub 29757 at http://nwpr.org When Love Is 'In The House' Sons, Guns And The Sins Of The Father In Meyer's Texas Epic http://nwpr.org/post/sons-guns-and-sins-father-meyers-texas-epic "Texas yesterday is unbelievable, but no more incredible than Texas today," wrote Edna Ferber, author of the iconic Lone Star State novel <em>Giant</em>. Tue, 28 May 2013 14:17:00 +0000 Michael Schaub 28306 at http://nwpr.org Sons, Guns And The Sins Of The Father In Meyer's Texas Epic Echoes Of Orwell In 'The Office Of Mercy' http://nwpr.org/post/echoes-orwell-office-mercy It was no less than the master of dystopian fiction, George Orwell, who noted in a 1946 essay that "political language has to consist largely of euphemism. ... Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air ... Tue, 26 Feb 2013 13:31:00 +0000 Michael Schaub 23394 at http://nwpr.org Echoes Of Orwell In 'The Office Of Mercy' Here's To The Pleasures Of 'Drinking With Men' http://nwpr.org/post/heres-pleasures-drinking-men "More than anywhere else," writes Rosie Schaap, "bars are where I've figured out how to relate to others and how to be myself." It's the same for a lot of us, though many won't admit it. Americans tend to have a weirdly puritanical view of drinking, and a lot of people see bars as nothing more than havens for lowlifes and alcoholics. But as Schaap points out in her new memoir, they're missing out. "You can drink at home. But a good bar? ... Wed, 23 Jan 2013 12:03:00 +0000 Michael Schaub 21693 at http://nwpr.org Here's To The Pleasures Of 'Drinking With Men' From George Saunders, A Dark 'December' http://nwpr.org/post/george-saunders-dark-december Since the publication of George Saunders' 1996 debut story collection, <a href="http://www.npr.org/books/titles/138071317/civilwarland-in-bad-decline-stories-and-a-novella">Civilwarland in Bad Decline</a>, journalists and scholars have been trying to figure out how to describe his writing. Nobody has come very close. The short story writer and novelist has been repeatedly called "original," which is true as far as it goes — but it doesn't go nearly far enough. Saunders blends elements of science fiction, horror and humor writing into his trademark brand of literary fiction. Tue, 08 Jan 2013 12:03:00 +0000 Michael Schaub 20881 at http://nwpr.org From George Saunders, A Dark 'December' True Originals: Biographies That Defy Expectations http://nwpr.org/post/true-originals-biographies-defy-expectations It's probably not true that truth is stranger than fiction, but in the hands of a great biographer, it can be just as compelling. Novelists can create unique and unforgettable characters — there's never been anyone quite like Jane Eyre or Ignatius J. Reilly — but there's no shortage of fascinating literary protagonists who just happened to exist in real life.<p>This year brought us some brilliant biographies of world-famous leaders like Lyndon B. Mon, 17 Dec 2012 12:03:00 +0000 Michael Schaub 20070 at http://nwpr.org True Originals: Biographies That Defy Expectations 'Elsewhere' Has Beauty, But No Happy Ending http://nwpr.org/post/elsewhere-has-beauty-no-happy-ending Richard Russo sits in his elderly mother's home, holding her hand. She's just been diagnosed with dementia, one more illness to add to the long list of ailments she's been battling for years. She wonders aloud whether she'll ever be able to read again, plainly scared at the prospect of a life without her favorite hobby. She takes a look around her small apartment, and tells her son that she hates it.<p>"I just wish you could be happy, Mom," he says, heartbroken. "I used to be," she responds. Sat, 17 Nov 2012 01:07:00 +0000 Michael Schaub 18751 at http://nwpr.org 'Elsewhere' Has Beauty, But No Happy Ending