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The Lost Man Booker Prize

I know, I know — sometimes these celebratory Man Booker awards can seem a bit indulgent.  But I love them. I did not know this, but in 1969 and 1970 the Booker Prize was awarded retrospectively.  In 1971 it became a prize for the best novel in the year of…

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W.G. Sebald: The Rings of Saturn

The first W.G. Sebald book I heard of was The Rings of Saturn (Die Ringe des Satrun, Eine englische Wallfahrt, 1995; tr. by Michael Hulse, 1998).  Something in the tone of the recommendation and the title of the book made me start to imagine how the book would feel and how I would…

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Kevin Barry: “Fjord of Killary”

Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage. Kevin Barry’s “Fjord of Killary” was originally published in the February 1, 2010 issue of The New Yorker. I read this story a few days ago, but until now I haven’t had time to do any kind…

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Roberto Bolaño: Monsieur Pain

For those of you who have been interested in but wary of Roberto Bolaño, you might find a friendly meeting place (more friendly than, say, 2666, which was my meeting place) in Monsieur Pain (1999; tr. from the Spanish by Chris Andrews, 2010).  This is one of Bolaño’s earliest works — that’s not to say…

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National Book Critics Circle Fiction Finalists

The NBCC finalists were announced today.  Bonnie Jo Campbell: American Salvage Marlon James: The Book of Night Women Michelle Huneven: Blame Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall Jayne Anne Phillips: Lark and Termite American Salvage and Lark and Termite were finalists for the National Book Award in November, but Colum McCann’s Let…

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Philip Roth: Patrimony

After feeling, slightly, like I was reading Philip Roth’s memoir when I was reading the Zuckerman books (I know it is not really autobiographical), I have been very interested in reading his real memoir, Patrimony (1991; National Book Critics Circle Award).  Roth’s books have such a real feel to them,…

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E.O. Wilson: “Trailhead”

Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage. E.O. Wilson’s “Trailhead” was originally published in the January 25, 2010 issue of The New Yorker. E.O. Wilson, at 80, is just about to publish his first novel, Anthill, and this short story is either an excerpt…

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Book Award News

So a few book awards have already been announced.  These are more in my wife’s specialty, though I like to see what happens here and often find myself really admiring the work.  Newberry:  Winner – Rebecca Stead: When You Reach Me Honors –  Phillip Hoose: Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice; Jacqueline…

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Tobias Wolff: This Boy’s Life

Some five years ago, my wife, on a whim, bought This Boy’s Life (1989; PEN/Faulkner winner).  I thought it looked interesting (and I’d seen previews for and clips from the film version with Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro), but I never bothered to pick it up.  My wife then completely forgot that…

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Italo Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler

You are about to begin reading The Mookse and the Gripes review of Italo Calvino’s not-so-new novel If on a winter’s night a traveler (Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore, 1979; tr. from the Italian by William Weaver, 1981). . . .  Okay, I won’t indulge myself any longer with…