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Robert Arthur Alexie: Porcupines and China Dolls

While watching the opening ceremonies to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver I really had the urge to revisit Canadian literature.  I so completely enjoyed the reading I did as a member of the 2009 Shadow Giller Jury, and despite the several comments from people who didn’t like the…

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PEN/Faulkner Finalists Announced

I don’t remember the PEN/Faulkner announcing finalists before announcing the winner.  Have they done that in the past?  I know that last year I only heard about the finalists when I heard who won, as is the case with the Pulitzer.  This year they have announced five finalists from which a winner will…

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My First Blog Giveaway: Roberto Bolaño’s Monsieur Pain

I have an extra brand-new, hardbound, New Directions edition of Roberto Bolaño’s Monsieur Pain, and I’d like to give it away blog style. That is, if you want to be in the drawing to win, please just say so in a comment below.  Will ship worldwide.  I will conduct a drawing…

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Saïd Sayrafiesadeh: “Appetite”

Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage. Saïd Sayrafiesadeh’s “Appetite” was originally published in the March 1, 2010 issue of The New Yorker. Last night I read this short story on the way home from work.  I have indicated elsewhere that I am…

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Jules Verne: Around the World in Eighty Days

My wife and I are firm believers that reading to children is fundamental to their development.  Plus, it is time well spent together.  We have always made sure to read plenty to our two sons, and I’m proud to say their favorite place to go is the bookstore.  We read flap books, toucy-feely…

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The Clock at the Biltmore — Christopher Isherwood: “I Am Waiting”

I’ve been slowly reading Christopher Isherwood’s The Berlin Stories, which contains Mr. Norris Changes Trains and Goodbye to Berlin, and I’m surprise, as I frequently am, at how such a great author can slip somewhat under the reading radar — at least, under my reading radar.  I’m loving these books, so I…

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Best Translated Book Award Shortlist

Last night at Idlewild Books, just a short subway ride away from where I was sitting (wish I could have been there), the Best Translated Fiction shortlist was announced.  The winner will be announced on March 10. Anonymous Celebrity by Ignácio de Loyola Brandão, translated from the Portuguese by Nelson…

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Yukio Mishima: Patriotism

When we were newlyweds, my wife enrolled in a World Literature class.  I still remember how excited she was after reading a Japanese story, how it held on to her for days.  Despite her excitement, I didn’t read it for some reason.  From time to time over the years she has…

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Philip Roth: The Breast

When I first started reading Roth, there was one of his early titles that sounded, well . . . interesting: The Breast (1972).  I also knew the basic premise; it’s one people like to tell you for the reaction.  One day a middle-aged man finds that he has turned into a 150-pound female breast. …

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Claire Keegan: “Foster”

Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage. Claire Keegan’s “Foster” was originally published in the February 15 & 22, 2010 issue of The New Yorker. (This issue covers the anniversary of The New Yorker, which usually features the first cover with Eustace Tilley.  This…

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Francine Prose: Goldengrove

A few years back I read Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer.  In it I found evidence that Prose was an excellent reader, but for some reason I didn’t go further and test out whether she was also an excellent writer.  I’m not sure why but, despite her prolific and relatively acclaimed output, her name…

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The Clock at the Biltmore — J.D. Salinger: “A Perfect Day for Bananafish

If you have a print subscription to The New Yorker (which comes at the very reasonable price of $40 for a year’s worth of 47 issues — 5 are “double-issues”) you get access to their complete digital archive.  I hope they never take away this perk.  To me, access to…

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Tobias Wolff: The Barrack’s Thief

To continue on my project to read Tobias Wolff I chose his “other” “novel,” The Barracks Thief (1984; PEN/Faulkner Award).  I put “other” in quotation marks because due to Wolff’s own repudiation of his first novel Ugly Rumors, this and Old School are considered the only two novels he’s written.  I put “novel”…

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Roberto Bolaño: “William Burns”

Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage. Roberto Bolaño’s “William Burns” was originally published in the February 8, 2010 issue of The New Yorker. This week I’ve beat Colette to the punch! My copy of The New Yorker came on Monday (for two weeks in…