After working nearly 40 hours over the weekend, including all night Sunday, we finally finished a substantial part of the work that has kept me from my family and from this blog. I will have substantially more time! To ease back into things, a simple announcement everyone has probably already heard by now anyway: the NBCC finalists have been announced.


  • Open City, by Teju Cole
  • The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • The Stranger’s Child, by Alan Hollinghurst
  • Binocular Vision, by Edith Pearlman
  • Stone Arabia, by Dana Spiotta


  • A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War, by Amanda Foreman
  • The Information, by James Gleick
  • To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918, by Adam Hochschild
  • Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary War, by Maya Jasanoff
  • Pulphead: Essays, by John Jeremiah Sullivan


  • One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, A Marriage, and the Language of Healing, by Diane Ackerman
  • The Memory Place, by Mira Bartók
  • Harlem Is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America, by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts
  • It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing, by Luis J. Rodríguez
  • Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War, by Deb Olin Unferth


  • Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of the Revolution, by Mary Gabriel
  • George F. Kennan: An American Life, by John Lewis Gaddis
  • Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961, by Paul Hendrickson
  • Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, by Manning Marable
  • Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China, by Ezra F. Vogel


  • Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything, by David Bellos
  • Otherwise Known as the Human Condition: Selected Essays and Reviews, by Geoff Dyer
  • The Ecstasy of Influence, by Jonathan Lethem
  • Karaoke Culture, by Dubravka Ugresic
  • Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music, by Ellen Willis


  • Core Samples from the World, by Forrest Gander
  • Kingdom Animalia, by Aracelis Girmay
  • Space, in Chains, by Laura Kasischke
  • The Chameleon Couch, by Yusef Komunyakaa
  • Devotions, by Bruce Smith

Of the fiction, I have read only Teju Cole’s Open City, which I liked a great deal, though I have yet to review it here. I began The Stranger’s Child and simply wasn’t enjoying it enough to finish — and I don’t feel now that I should go back and try again. I have both The Marriage Plot and Binnocular Vision, and my plan for the last six months has been to read those, but other things keep jumping up the line. Soon, perhaps.

For the nonfiction, I have read many of the essays in John Jeremiah Sullivan’s Pulphead that were published (perhaps in different form) in a variety of magazines and journals over the past few years. I think he’s an exceptional writer and a great essayist. This one goes highly recommended.

Then I have to skip down to criticism before I have anything else to say, and that is that I have read the title essay to Dubravka Ugresic’s Karaoke Culture and found it delightful and funny. I will review that book here when I get through more of the essays.

And for poetry, I’m only familiar with Forrest Gander’s lovely Core Samples from the World, which is a nice compilation of poetry and photography. I never know what to say about poetry, so I review it rarely here, but this is a nice book.

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