Books

NWPR Books
3:16 am
Sun July 28, 2013

A World A Few Degrees Of Whimsy Away From Our Own

Originally published on Thu August 1, 2013 9:11 am

Anthony Marra is the author of A Constellation Of Vital Phenomena.

Ditie, the narrator of Bohumil Hrabal's transcendent novel, I Served the King of England, is described in the jacket copy as "a hugely ambitious but simple waiter in a deluxe Prague hotel." I first crossed paths with him when I, myself, was working as a night porter in a deluxe Edinburgh hotel.

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NWPR Books
2:02 pm
Sat July 27, 2013

In 'The Panopticon,' They're Always Watching

Originally published on Sat July 27, 2013 2:25 pm

During the 19th century, a panopticon was a prison or asylum with an all-seeing eye. Some of the C-shaped prisons with central watchtowers still stand in the U.S. and Europe.

Jenni Fagan's new book borrows the panopticon idea as the setting for a gritty, often poetic, novel. The story is based loosely on Fagan's own experience growing up in the Scottish foster care system for 16 years.

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NWPR Books
9:59 am
Sat July 27, 2013

'The Telling Room': This Cheese Stands Alone

Here's a great piece of travel writing, storytelling, mythmaking and hero worship — all rolled into one book with a near record-breakingly long title. It's by magazine writer Michael Paterniti of GQ, and it's called The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese.

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NWPR Books
3:30 am
Sat July 27, 2013

What If The X-Men Were Real? Q&A With Marcus Sakey, Author Of 'Brilliance'

What if the X-Men were real? And what if they weren't mutants in spandex, but people like you and me and Bob in accounting, just endowed with superhuman talents for things like pattern recognition, programming and strategy?

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NWPR Books
10:45 am
Thu July 25, 2013

A Metro 'Revolution': Cities, Suburbs Do What Washington Can't

Philanthropic and business leaders have come together to revive the core of Detroit, which recently filed for federal bankruptcy protection.
Bill Pugliano Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 25, 2013 12:47 pm

When Detroit filed for federal bankruptcy protection last week, news accounts were filled with troubling stories of urban decay in the city: vast areas of vacant lots and abandoned houses, shuttered parks, nonworking streetlights and police response times close to an hour.

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NWPR Books
11:53 am
Wed July 24, 2013

'My Lunches With Orson' Puts You At The Table With Welles

Central Press Getty Images

If you asked me to name my favorite movie scene, I'd choose the one in Citizen Kane when newspaper owner Charles Foster Kane steals his rivals' best reporters, then throws a party in his own honor. As musicians literally sing his praises, we watch Kane dance with chorus girls wearing a look of radiant delight. It's a moment bursting with promise and cockiness and joie de vivre, made all the more exuberant because Kane's pleasure is so obviously shared by Welles himself.

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NWPR Books
1:13 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

Popes, Politics And Power: The Story Of The Borgia Family

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 3:16 pm

If every era gets the historical fiction it deserves, we have been good indeed. From the transcendent psychological rummagings of Hilary Mantel to the gooey pleasures of Philippa Gregory, we can set aside flowery bodice-rippers (not that there's anything wrong with those) and view the dusty figures through lenses literary, pop culture-y, or near-pornographic.

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Book Reviews
9:54 am
Tue July 23, 2013

Reclusive, Curmudgeonly Writer Still Nicer Than Salinger In 'Sons'

When someone uses the term "instant classic," I typically want to grab him and ask, "So this is, what, like the new Great Expectations? You sure about that?" But David Gilbert's novel & Sons, seductive and ripe with both comedy and heartbreak, made me reconsider my stance on such a label. & Sons feels deeply familiar, as though it existed for decades and I was just slow to find it. Revolving around a New York writer of J. D.

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NWPR Books
6:48 am
Mon July 22, 2013

In Nairobi, A Maasai Detective Pursues Elusive Justice

Crompton's novel begins in Nairobi's Uhuru Park.
Sayyid Azim AP

If not for his earlobes, Detective Mollel would cut a classic figure of the crime fiction genre: moody, obsessive and a widower estranged from his son. But Mollel is a Kenyan from the Maasai tribe and the flesh of his earlobes is long and looped, stretched since childhood to hang below his jawline.

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NWPR Books
4:02 pm
Sun July 21, 2013

Living With Tragedy And Fright In A 'Beautiful Place'

Howard Norman's memories of the strange incidents of his life compose his memoir. In 2003, his family rented their house to a poet, who killed her son and then herself in the Normans' home. Norman, his wife and daughter decided to continue living there, giving a certain weight to the title of his memoir, I Hate To Leave This Beautiful Place.

But his book begins in a very different place, with the story of Norman's childhood, a bookmobile and a swan.

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