NWPR Books
5:09 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

A Life Examined — And Examined And Examined In 'Ongoingness'

Ever since Michel de Montaigne hit on the winning mix of frankly personal and broader philosophical reflections in his 16th century Essays, the personal essay has attracted those for whom the unexamined life is — well, unthinkable. In recent years, we've seen a spate of auto-pathologies — minutely observed meditations on the tolls of often strange ailments. A newer trend is the meta-diary — short autobiographical entries that frequently explore the writer's relationship with time, memory and identity.

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NWPR Books
12:52 pm
Thu February 26, 2015

Please Fill In This Form In Triplicate Before You Read 'Utopia Of Rules'

You probably don't need me to enumerate the pains of navigating bureaucracies. Lines and forms and hold times are the stuff of daily routine — and it's just as routine to complain about them.

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NWPR Books
12:09 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Victorian Romance Meets 'House Of Cards' In 'Mr. And Mrs. Disraeli'

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 2:11 pm

A climb "to the top of a greasy pole" are the immortal words coined by 19th century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli to describe his rise to political power. Disraeli was two-time prime minister under Queen Victoria, as well as a novelist and famous wit whose way with a catchy phrase was rivaled in the 19th century only by his younger admirer, Oscar Wilde. But when he entered politics in the 1830s, Disraeli was burdened by debt and, even more seriously, by his Jewish parentage.

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NWPR Books
7:03 am
Thu February 5, 2015

This 'Future Lover' Is A Library

"The more I visit libraries the more I find myself opening up to them," writes Ander Monson in his essay collection Letter to a Future Lover. It's not surprising that an author would be attracted to libraries; they are, after all, some of the last places in the world dedicated to the preservation and celebration of literature. They're also at risk of becoming endangered, casualties of budget cuts, increased Internet availability, and apathy.

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NWPR Books
8:29 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Low-Key, Real-Life Heroism In 'March: Book Two'

Some media are custom-made for heroes. Ava DuVernay's gripping film Selma gains much of its drama from the beauty — physical and metaphysical — of David Oyelowo's portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Oyelowo's incredible voice gives practically everything King says the compelling force of a sermon, and his physical presence — strangely small and economical of motion — is as unique as it is potent.

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NWPR Books
4:03 am
Wed January 28, 2015

'How To Grow Up' Needs To Grow Up

Michelle Tea's previous books include Rent Girl and Mermaid in Chelsea Creek.
Lydia Daniller

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 12:05 pm

Michelle Tea has been many things: poet, novelist, memoirist, columnist, editor, drummer, film producer and darling of the queercore scene. She captured the hearts of punk-literature fans with her 1998 debut, the novel The Passionate Mistakes and Intricate Corruption of One Girl in America, and drew praise from critics with her memoirs Rent Girl and The Chelsea Whistle.

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NWPR Books
12:03 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

'The B-Side' Sings A Sad, Sad Song

The B-Side, Ben Yagoda's cultural history of Tin Pan Alley and the American Songbook, begins near the end of its story. In 1954, Arthur Schwartz, the co-writer of standards like "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan," is at the Columbia Records building in Manhattan, waiting to present Mitch Miller, Columbia's head of popular music, with some possible songs.

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NWPR Books
9:03 am
Tue January 20, 2015

'Whipping Boy' Is Part Memoir, Part Crime Thriller

Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 9:01 am

Bullying has become a hot-button issue in recent years, a fact that Allen Kurzweil hasn't overlooked in Whipping Boy. It's his first volume of nonfiction, and the premise is as ripped-from-the-headlines as they come: Forty years after suffering the vicious abuse of a bully in school, Kurzweil has written an account of his decades-long search for Cesar Augustus Viana, the boy who tormented him.

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NWPR Books
5:13 am
Tue January 6, 2015

A Place That Can't Exist Again: Blondie's New York

Photographer Chris Stein in the reflection of Debbie Harry's sunglasses.
Chris Stein Chris Stein/Negative, Rizzoli, 2014

Originally published on Sun February 8, 2015 11:19 am

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NWPR Books
7:02 am
Mon January 5, 2015

From Patton Oswalt, A Movie Memoir That's Best Outside The Theater

Brad Barket Getty Images

The best of comedian and actor Patton Oswalt lies in his ability to truthfully observe what is small but important. That's true in his comedy, but it's true in his writing, too. Here he is in his new memoir Silver Screen Fiend, talking about his desperation to make an impression in his first movie role, a tiny part in the Kelsey Grammer comedy Down Periscope:

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