NWPR Books

NWPR Books
8:26 am
Wed September 10, 2014

Challenging, Shattering 'Girl' Is No Half-Formed Thing

Be prepared to be blown away by this raw, visceral, brutally intense neomodernist first novel. There's nothing easy about Eimear McBride's A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing, from its fractured language to its shattering story of the young unnamed narrator's attempt to drown mental anguish with physical pain.

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NWPR Books
3:00 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

In 'Patrimony' Philip Roth Pays A Tender Homage To His Father

If you were placing bets on which author would write the tenderest, most moving book about fatherhood, Philip Roth would probably come in at the bottom of the list. The parent-child relationships in his books — from Portnoy's Complaint to American Pastoral — mostly fall somewhere between humiliating and devastating. Which is why it's such a surprise, and a delight, to stumble on Patrimony, one of Roth's best, and most unusual, books.

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NWPR Books
11:45 am
Tue September 9, 2014

God Is Dead In This 'City Of Stairs.' Several Gods, In Fact

On the Continent, no one is allowed to talk about their gods. No one can display their signs or symbols. They certainly can't be worshipped. No one is even allowed to know the history of the Divinities who once walked among the people, performing miracles left and right, though scrubbing the memory of such things from a city, a continent and a people is not quite as easy as passing laws that make the dead gods verboten.

Particularly when the dead gods in question might not in fact be, you know, actually dead.

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NWPR Books
3:39 pm
Mon September 8, 2014

James Ellroy's 'Perfidia' Is A Brutal, Beautiful Police Procedural

Originally published on Mon September 8, 2014 4:32 pm

There are a lot of reasons not to read James Ellroy's newest novel, Perfidia — the opening shot in his proposed second L.A. Quartet. It's a long and sprawling book with about a million pages and 10,000 characters, so if that kind of thing scares you, go back to your Hunger Games and leave the grown-ups alone.

It's a brutal book. More than one person crawls home with a handful of his own teeth. A quick gunshot to the head? That's a merciful way to go in Ellroy's Los Angeles, and not many characters get that kindness.

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NWPR Books
6:00 am
Thu September 4, 2014

Lip Gloss, Handbags And Margaret Drabble In 'The Fame Lunches'

Photographe : Louise Brien iStockphoto.com

"The truth is I've been something of a bifurcated, high/low girl from the very start," Daphne Merkin declares in The Fame Lunches, her first collection of essays since Dreaming of Hitler in 1997. This new anthology gathers 45 wide-ranging essays that straddle the high/low cultural faultline with aplomb, weighing in on subjects as diverse as W.G. Sebald, Jean Rhys, Margaret Drabble, Courtney Love, lip gloss, kabbalah and handbags as "the top fashion signifier."

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NWPR Books
11:27 am
Wed September 3, 2014

'10:04': A Strange, Spectacular Novel Connecting Several Plotlines

I admired Ben Lerner's last novel a lot; in fact, I ended my review of Leaving the Atocha Station by saying that "reading it was unlike any other novel-reading experience I've had for a long time." I could say the very same thing about Lerner's brilliant new novel, 10:04, which leads me to wonder: Just how many singular reading experiences can one novelist serve up? And if every one of Lerner's novels is singular, doesn't that make them, in a way, repetitive?

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NWPR Books
6:39 am
Wed September 3, 2014

Brilliant, Unsparing 'Prelude' Will Leave A Bruise

Originally published on Sat September 27, 2014 3:29 pm

The difficulty in reviewing excellent poetry is to keep from responding in kind. When I've thoroughly enjoyed a collection, it isn't enough to praise the rhythm, the intensity, the clarity of the work I've just read; I find myself writing about how the book is "seamed in smoke" or observing "the supple twisting of its narrative spine." But I don't want to do that here — Saeed Jones' Prelude to Bruise is so visceral and affecting, I can't risk burying it in my own figurative language.

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NWPR Books
4:11 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

There's Much More To Apples Than Meets The Eye

Surprise! This is what it looks like when you cut into a Redfield apple.
Clare Borboza Bloomsbury

One of my favorite Far Side cartoons shows four triumphant cavemen with a giant carrot hoisted onto their shoulders, with the caption, "Early vegetarians returning from the kill."

That's kind of what it looks like every autumn weekend when my better half, Dan, comes home from the farmers market with a half-bushel of apples balanced on his shoulder.

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NWPR Books
10:04 am
Tue September 2, 2014

Accepting The Strange Brilliance Of 'Acceptance'

iStockphoto.com

We have to backtrack a little here, right at the start.

Acceptance, book three in Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, is hitting the shelves soon, and I want very badly to talk about it. But before I can do that, I have to talk about the first two books. To set the scene, as it were. To make any of this make any kind of sense, because Southern Reach is not the kind of series where you can just drop in at book two or three and have any idea what's happening. VanderMeer doesn't coddle dilettantes. He rewards the dedicated.

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NWPR Books
4:03 am
Sun August 31, 2014

Rescuing Science From The Military ... With Comics?

Pouty lips, flowing hair and ... oligonucleotide synthesizers? Two of these things don't seem to belong — at least, not in a comic that seeks to expose high-level Defense Department research to the critical light of day. Human physicality seems somehow out of place in the sterile confines of a government lab.

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