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William Kotzwinkle: Swimmer in the Secret Sea

I’ve had my eye on Swimmer in the Secret Sea (1975) since I read about it earlier this year and saw that it was published by Godine, one of my favorite publishers.  As happens, though, I put off purchasing it online, which is the only place I thought I would find it.  However, last…

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Jim Gavin: “Costello”

Click here to read the abstract of the story on The New Yorker webpage (this week’s story is available only for subscribers). Jim Gavin’s “Costello” was originally published in the December 6, 2010 issue of The New Yorker. Jim Gavin’s “Costello” took me a long time to read. I started…

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Samantha Hunt: “The Yellow”

Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage. Samantha Hunt’s “The Yellow” was originally published in the November 29, 2010 issue of The New Yorker. To me, when an author has a character whose mental stability is in question paint their bedroom yellow, the…

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J.M. Coetzee: Slow Man

Over the past year I have been acquiring everything I can by J.M. Coetzee, and I’m planning on spending the next year getting through it all.  I’ve read only four of his books (three reviewed here: Life and Times of Michael K, Foe, and Disgrace), but each one was strong…

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Harry Mulisch: The Assault

When Mario Vargas Llosa won the Nobel Prize earlier this year, Mark Orthofor at The Complete Review’s Literary Saloon said that, while he can see a strong case for Vargas Llosa, he thought Amos Oz or Harry Mulisch were the more deserving.  I hadn’t read either and, a few days…

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2010 National Book Award Winners

This year’s National Book Award winners are: Fiction — Jaimy Gordon: Lord of Misrule Nonfiction — Patti Smith: Just Kids Poetry – Terrance Hayes: Lighthead Young People’s Literature – Kathryn Erskine: Mockingbird Here is a link to all of the finalists.  Jaimy Gordon’s book follows the Giller Prize winner by being a…

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E.L. Doctorow: “Assimilation”

Click here to read the abstract of the story on The New Yorker webpage (this week’s story is available only for subscribers). E.L. Doctorow’s “Assimilation” was originally published in the November 22, 2010 issue of The New Yorker. I was quite surprised by this story. I didn’t particularly like Doctorow’s “Edgemont…

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Cynthia Ozick: Foreign Bodies

Cynthia Ozick’s new novel Foreign Bodies (2010) is touted as a retelling of Henry James’s classic The Ambassadors.  I haven’t read The Ambassadors, so let this review be a favor to anyone who wonders whether reading The Ambassadors is a prerequisite.  Answer: no.  At least, I enjoyed this book a great deal.  Then…

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César Aira: The Literary Conference

When I first read Aira, I became an immediate fan.  I have loved the three books New Directions has offered us: Ghosts, which was quietly disturbing and atmospheric; An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter, which was full of nature and adventure and how to capture that in…

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2010 Giller Prize Winner

This year’s Giller Prize winner is The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud!  That was my second choice after Light Lifting by Alexander MacLeod.  Certainly, The Sentimentalists is the best produced book on the shortlist — and, up to now, the hardest to come by.  Apparently a few weeks ago I could have sold…