NWPR Books

NWPR Books
2:22 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

'This Fight Begins In The Heart': Reading James Baldwin As Ferguson Seethes

Jeff Roberson AP

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 4:38 pm

It is early August. A black man is shot by a white policeman. And the effect on the community is of "a lit match in a tin of gasoline."

No, this is not Ferguson, Mo. This was Harlem in August 1943, a period that James Baldwin writes about in the essay that gives its title to his seminal collection, Notes of a Native Son.

The story begins with the death of Baldwin's father, a proud, severe preacher who viewed all white people with suspicion, even the kindly schoolteacher who encouraged his son's writings.

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NWPR Books
4:03 am
Tue August 19, 2014

You Would Think 'Adultery' Would Be A Little More Tantalizing

You've heard this story before. You may even have experienced it, or thought about it: A woman who apparently has it all — loving, financially successful spouse, posh home, wonderful, healthy kids, great job — still feels something is missing from her life. Could it be passion? Adventure? Risk? She throws herself at an old high school boyfriend. What's love got to do with it? Dismayingly little.

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NWPR Books
5:28 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Haruki Murakami Paints A 'Colorless' Character In A Vividly Imagined World

It's hard to think of another writer who is as popular, as strange, and as lionized as Haruki Murakami is. Usually writers get to be one of those, but not all of them. Yet over the course of his formidable international career, Murakami has written novels that have been ambiguous to one degree or another, which hasn't stopped readers from lining up at midnight when his books go on sale.

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NWPR Books
8:59 am
Sun August 17, 2014

A Tumultuous Journey Along This 'Narrow Road'

Originally published on Tue September 2, 2014 4:14 pm

Tasmanian-born novelist Richard Flanagan named his latest book after a spiritually intense travel journal by the 17th century Japanese poet Basho, but this extraordinary new novel presents us with a story much more tumultuous than the great haiku writer's account of his wanderings. Flanagan has written a sort of Australian War and Peace, centered on the extraordinary Dorrigo Evans (also Tasmanian-born), a heroic yet philandering doctor.

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NWPR Books
8:27 am
Sun August 17, 2014

Forbidden 'Lace': A Book That Belonged To The Convent Girls In Zimbabwe

Irene Sabatini is also author of The Boy Next Door.
Samir Hussein Getty Images

I first read Lace as a 16-year-old schoolgirl at Dominican Convent High School in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, in the 1980s. I remember that chunky, glitzy novel being passed around during math, biology, religious education classes ... under our desks, pages earmarked as it moved along ... for your reading pleasure ...

What giggles it provoked; how many hushed discussions it spawned, and how those we called the "forward" girls dissected and expounded on the text. And all of it done right under the noses of the austere nuns.

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NWPR Books
4:53 am
Sat August 16, 2014

James Brown's Daughter Recalls A Painful Childhood in 'Cold Sweat'

Celebrity child autobiographies fall into two categories. There's the scorched earth approach: One sordid story after another — call it the "Mommie Dearest" syndrome.

The second category is the warts-and-all approach, in which the performer's progeny relates parental faults in oft-painful detail, but with the ultimate goal of deeper understanding. In many ways, the warts-and-all way is more challenging, because it requires the author to explain why — despite the horrors — they still loved Mom or Dad.

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NWPR Books
9:54 am
Fri August 15, 2014

False Equivalencies Mar This Bold 'Face'

Originally published on Fri August 15, 2014 10:42 am

Trans men and women face many problems — not least among them is the small but pernicious group of people, usually found on Tumblr, who use the rhetoric of trans experience to claim that they too are trapped in the wrong body: an able body (I have the soul of a person in a wheelchair!) or a white body (I'm black inside!). Treating gender, race and ability as identical and equivalent categories, they blithely declare that they are "trans-abled" or "trans-ethnic," so they too understand oppression. The appropriate response is usually an eye roll.

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NWPR Books
9:55 am
Thu August 14, 2014

'How The World Was,' Drawn In Dreamy Lines Of Memory

What's interesting? All sorts of things, and people tend to agree on what they are. War, for instance, is more or less universally believed to be interesting. And yet back in the early 2000s, when French artist Emmanuel Guibert decided to craft a graphic novel about his friend Alan Cope's experiences in World War II, the source material wasn't particularly "interesting" at all.

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NWPR Books
7:51 am
Wed August 13, 2014

'Electric Blue Suit' Is A Wise, Wistful Look At Memory And Mystery

What's the line between falsehood and fantasy? Between fear and horror? Between other worlds and the ones we carry inside our heads? Graham Joyce has been asking — and brilliantly answering — these questions for years. His latest book, The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit, is no different. One of Britain's most quietly reliable fantasists, Joyce has written a jewel of a novel that blends gentle nostalgia, Bildungsroman angst, and a glimpse of the dark, unreal places where loss and memory mingle.

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NWPR Books
12:26 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

In A Funny New Novel, A Weary Professor Writes To 'Dear Committee Members'

Marek Uliasz iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue August 12, 2014 12:58 pm

For all you teachers out there contemplating the August calendar with dismay, watching, powerless, as the days of summer vacation dwindle down to a precious few, I have some consolation to offer: a hilarious academic novel that'll send you laughing (albeit ruefully) back into the trenches of the classroom.

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