October 31, 2011 |
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. That's the moral of the story in "Bedbugs," a disturbing new novel by Ben H. Winters. The book chronicles the horrific events surrounding the Wendt family's move to a brownstone that is renting for an unbelievably low price in a trendy Brooklyn neighborhood. What appears idyllic soon turns into a creepy-crawly nightmare. The brownstone at 56 Cranberry St. is rented to the Wendts by a daffy old widow named Andrea Scharfstein, who lives on the ground floor.
May 21, 2011 |
We're living in an age of prize proliferation. It might not feel like it — especially with so many families hit hard by economic turmoil in the last few years — but it still exists, according to Joel Best's "Everyone's a Winner," a book that looks at the ways and the reasons why our society puts so much emphasis on a pat on the back. Everyone knows that the gentleman's C of years ago has become the B-plus or A-minus of today. Averages higher than 4.0 are commonplace in high schools and, at graduation time, many schools crown not one but multiple valedictorians.
January 27, 2012 |
Four years ago, "Child 44," Tom Rob Smith's debut thriller set in Stalinist Russia, was a literary sensation. An edgy, intense portrait of Russia's secret police and the lengths they would go to to protect their country's image as a crime-free society, "Child 44" managed to straddle a fine line between well-researched, absorbing historical fiction and propulsive thriller that would earn the book universal praise, sales of more than 1.5 million copies...
April 10, 2011 |
Panorama A Novel H.G. Adler, translated from the German by Peter Filkins Random House: 454 pp., $26 Life is short and art is long, as the saying goes, but the sad fact is that a work of literature may not outlive its human author. Such was the apparent fate of the work of H.G. Adler. He was forced to wait decades before several of his novels saw print, and two of them remain unpublished long after his death in 1988. But, remarkably, Adler has been rediscovered by American publishers and readers, and his 1948 novel "Panorama" is now available in an English translation.
June 26, 2011 |
Good Neighbors A Novel Ryan David Jahn Penguin: 280 pp., $15 paper How fair is it to hold a novel to actual events? It's a question I kept asking as I read Ryan David Jahn's first book, "Good Neighbors" (published in England as "Acts of Violence" in 2009), based on the notorious murder of Kitty Genovese, the Queens, N.Y., bar manager stabbed to death early on the morning of March 13, 1964, outside her Kew Gardens building. Although the attack continued, with a break, for 30 minutes, only one of the people who witnessed it from their apartments — 38 of them, according to an iconic New York Times story that ran two weeks after the killing — did anything to help.
November 28, 2010 |
Unbroken A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption Laura Hillenbrand Random House: 480 pp., $27 As I read Laura Hillenbrand's stirring and triumphant account of the harrowing experiences of American Olympic runner and World War II POW Louis Zamperini, I thought of the double load that the research and writing of "Unbroken" had put on its author. Hillenbrand is herself a steely example of triumph over more than 23 years of debilitating illness.