NWPR Books

NWPR Books
4:03 am
Sat November 15, 2014

Spend Some Time 'Loitering,' And Feel Less Alone

The essay, some time in its long journey from Samuel Johnson's "loose sally of the mind, an irregular undigested piece," has become something that can be persuasive instead of discursive, something that slices and gleams, an accumulation of arguments as relentless as the stacking of bricks.

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NWPR Books
3:34 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

After Catalonia's Independence Vote, An 'Homage' To George Orwell

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 5:26 pm

On Sunday morning as I cast my vote in the Catalan election, I thought of the day that George Orwell arrived in Barcelona. It was the day after Christmas in 1936 and Spain was in the midst of a terrifying and utterly chaotic civil war.

Orwell was shot in the throat and barely survived to tell the tale of what he saw, but survive he did, and in 1938 Homage to Catalonia, his personal account of the near six months he spent on the front lines of the Spanish Revolution, was published to little attention. In fact, it wasn't published in the United States until 1952.

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NWPR Books
9:20 am
Fri November 14, 2014

A New Collection, Well-Furnished With Munro's Best

The citation for Alice Munro's 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature calls her "the master of the contemporary short story" and praises her ability to "say more in thirty words than an ordinary novel is capable of in three hundred."

Munro distills into one story the sweep of a lifetime, with all its sorrows, disappointments and glories. Her work spans the 20th century, but her focus is on ordinary people (mostly in Canada) whose responses to love, lust, seeking community and facing tragedy range from magisterial to frail to vindictive.

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NWPR Books
4:03 am
Thu November 13, 2014

'Three-Body Problem' Asks A Classic Sci-Fi Question, In Chinese

English translations of foreign-language science fiction are becoming more common, still, they face an uphill battle. The American market is already crowded with books written by native English speakers, and it takes a conscientious reader to seek out treasures that originate from other parts of the world — that is, if they're even translated in the first place.

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NWPR Books
1:36 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

An Artist Draws His Journey Away From War And Death, With Gratitude

Drawn & Quarterly

Gratitude can seem like kind of a cheesy concept sometimes. In a post last month, How to Be Happy in Five Minutes a Day, the site MakeUseOf.com assumed it would take less time than that to think of three things you were grateful for. There's family, or if not family, a friend. If not a friend, a pet. If nothing else, life.

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NWPR Books
8:01 am
Tue November 11, 2014

Behind The Famous Story, A Difficult 'Wild Truth'

Jon Krakauer's 1996 book Into the Wild delved into the riveting story of Chris McCandless, a 24-year-old man from an affluent family outside Washington, D.C., who graduated with honors from Emory, then gave away the bulk of his money, burned the rest and severed all ties with his family. After tramping around the country for nearly two years, he headed into the Alaska wilderness in April 1992. His emaciated body was found a little over four months later.

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NWPR Books
4:08 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Actress Anjelica Huston's Memoir Has Glitz, But Lacks Depth

Last year, when I heard that Anjelica Huston's memoir A Story Lately Told was about to come out, I was excited. I imagined that it would include a lot of inside stuff about the '70s and Hollywood and the actress' long relationship with Jack Nicholson. As it turned out, that book's subtitle was Coming of Age in Ireland, London and New York, and it ended with Huston arriving in California. But I didn't miss the glitz. The story she had to tell was original.

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NWPR Books
11:57 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Superstorm Sandy Inspires Bleak, Poetic Landscapes In 'Let Me Be Frank'

Richard Ford won the Pulitzer Prize in 1996 for his novel Independence Day. His latest book takes his beloved hero, Frank Bascombe, into his sunset years.
Greta Rybus Courtesy of Harper Collins

It's such a goofy title. Let Me Be Frank with You is the latest installment in the odyssey of Frank Bascombe, the New Jersey Everyman Richard Ford introduced almost 30 years ago in his novel, The Sportswriter. Two more Frank Bascombe novels followed, and now this: a brilliant collection of four interconnected short stories of about 60 pages each in which Ford is indeed "being Frank" Bascombe with us once again, as well as being "frank" about all sorts of touchy topics in America, such as race, politics, the economy, old age and the oblivion that awaits us all.

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NWPR Books
2:41 am
Sun November 9, 2014

Will Self's 'Shark' Swims In A Chaotic Sea

Since the publication of his 2012 novel, Umbrella, Will Self has become a strong advocate for resurrecting modernist literature in the 21st century.

In a series of articles and public lectures, Self has pointed out that modernism never really got a foothold in English culture. In its place, he argues, has evolved a form of Anglo-Saxon realism that reeks of snobbish bourgeois values.

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NWPR Books
4:03 am
Sat November 8, 2014

Walking Through Light-Filled Rooms In 'Woman Without A Country'

Eavan Boland has authored numerous volumes of poetry, including In a Time of Violence, which was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize.
Kevin Casey W.W. Norton & Company

I've said before that a good collection of poetry — unlike, say, a good novel, or a good short story — is tricky to talk about. If I love a novel, I'll describe the plot, maybe compare it to the writing of others, talk about the successes and failures of its craft. Poetry collections, though — I just want to read portions out to people, make them feel what I felt, show them concretely the details over which I marveled.

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