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Sarah Shun-lien Bynum: “The Erlking”

Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage. Sarah Shun-lien Bynum’s “The Erlking” was originally published in the July 5, 2010 issue of The New Yorker. Since her name was among those in the 20 Under 40 list, I have looked up Sarah Shun-lien…

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David Mitchell: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

I have loved David Mitchell.  He wowed me with Cloud Atlas (I was not one who thought it was mere gimickry).  And even though many thought it to be a lesser work, a kind of break from ambitious writing, I also loved Black Swan Green, his wonderfully structured and wonderfully described narrative of a small English town…

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The Clock at the Biltmore: 2010 Mid-Year Round-Up

I usually use The Clock at the Biltmore feature to highlight an older (hopefully classic) story from the magazine, but since this week is the mid-year mark (next issue will be July’s!) I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the first half of 2010.  It’s also been my…

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Tobias Wolff: Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories

When I started to read Tobias Wolff, I made it my goal to read everything available by this very neglected American author.  Reading everything essentially meant two memoirs (This Boy’s Life, In Pharaoh’s Army), two novels (The Barracks Thief, Old School), and four collections of short stories (In the Garden of the…

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Nicole Krauss: “The Young Painters”

Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage. Nicole Krauss’s “The Young Painters” was originally published in the June 28, 2010 issue of The New Yorker. Last week’s double issue featured eight of the twenty authors selected in The New Yorker‘s “20 Under 40.” The…

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Cormac McCarthy: Outer Dark

Late last year I read Cormac McCarthy’s third novel, Child of God; if it wasn’t the most disturbing book I’d ever read, it was sufficiently disturbing to make me forget whatever was.  Now I’ve read his second novel, Outer Dark (1968).  Though I’ve read what some consider to be among the most…

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2010 IMPAC Winner

Gerbrand Bakker’s The Twin is the winner of this year’s IMPAC.  I think it is very worthy!  Click here for my review. Bakker is not playing with body doubles here.  He is not even, not really, playing with redemption of any kind.  These are damaged, tired people.  As painful as…

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John Williams: Augustus

After finding that John Williams’s Butcher’s Crossing “deserves to be sitting on the shelf with the great books of American literature, even those that speak with the authority of the American conscience,” I couldn’t wait to read more of his work.  Sadly, his output is sparse, but it is so varied and alive…

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The Clock at the Biltmore — Chris Adrian: “Every Night for a Thousand Years”

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: Chris Adrian’s short story “A Tiny Feast,” about Oberon and Titania stealing a human child to raise as their own but who ended up having leukemia, was one of the highlights of my reading last year.  It was unique and very emotional and…

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Orange Prize Winner

Yesterday Barbara Kingsolver won the Orange Prize for The Lacuna.  When I heard I was mostly ho-hum, so I didn’t rush to post this notice.  I know several people like The Lacuna, but in no review have I been able to grab on to something that suggests I might like…

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Edward Hirsch: The Living Fire

I have been acquiring more and more books of poetry in the last year.  When I was an undergrad, I read new poetry frequently and with a lot of joy.  Why is it that that is such a popular age for people to get into poetry?  Or is that just…

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The New Yorker: 20 Under 40

This special and much talked about issue features eight of The New Yorker‘s “20 Under 40,” that elite group considered by the editors of The New Yorker to be the twenty most promising young authors writing today. I think it’s a good idea to go to the issue’s table of contents to…

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Marilynne Robinson: Home

Though Robinson has written only three novels, she is considered by many to be among the top American writers.  I agree.  My own experience with her three novels has deepened my thoughts and solidified my admiration for her.  To me, Gilead is one of the best American novels of all time.  It speaks of America’s young…

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Jeffrey Eugenides: “Extreme Solitude”

Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage. Jeffrey Eugenides’ “Extreme Solitude” was originally published in the June 7, 2010 issue of The New Yorker. Though I didn’t particularly like Middlesex, it stays with me — and I loved and still love The Virgin…