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.
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 He was forced to wait decades before several of his novels saw print, and two of them remain unpublished long after his death in 1988.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.
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.
October 9, 2011 |
The Barbarian Nurseries A Novel Héctor Tobar Farrar, Straus & Giroux: 422 pp., $27 "The Barbarian Nurseries" is a book of extraordinary scope and extraordinary power. Héctor Tobar's second novel sweeps its central character from almost-serfdom and sends her on an odyssey through the teeming mysteries of Los Angeles and the wild jungles of the California judicial system. The publishers compare it to Tom Wolfe's "The Bonfire of the Vanities. " That's right only up to a point, for Tobar's concern isn't satire but the possibilities of social inclusion and redemption.
August 6, 2011 |
S.J. Watson's debut novel, "Before I Go to Sleep," is a brilliant, nasty noir. It drags you down into deep, dark and disturbing waters. It entertains while touching on complex questions of the meaning of identity and memory. A young woman wakes up in bed next to a man. She doesn't know the bed. She doesn't know the man. The woman is young and single. The man is much older. And he's wearing a wedding ring. Embarrassing, at least, and socially awkward to be sure, this could be the setup of a Candace Bushnell romp, or the sequel script to "Bridesmaids.
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.
June 5, 2011 |
State of Wonder A Novel Ann Patchett Harper: 368 pp., $26.99 In Ann Patchett's new novel, "State of Wonder," an ordinary woman winds up in increasingly extraordinary circumstances. That woman is Marina Singh, a 42-year-old pharmaceutical researcher who travels to a remote part of the Amazon after receiving news that her colleague Anders has died there. The dutiful daughter of an American mother and an Indian father who divorced when she was young, Singh seems an unlikely choice for a jungle adventure.