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by W.K. Stratton
When Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch hit movie screens 50 years ago, it revolutionized the western genre. In contrast to family-friendly films like True Grit and Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, The Wild Bunch shocked and divided critics and moviegoers with its outrageous slow-motion scenes of violence. W.K. Stratton (Dreaming of Sam Peckinpah) details how Peckinpah's seminal and visceral film originated and how the amped-up violence reflected the country's mood during the Vietnam War and college ... [ Read More » ]
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by Ross Gay
Delight, according to poet Ross Gay, is underrated: its very existence, the multiplicity of delights present in the world, the noticing and celebrating of said delights. Between his 42nd and 43rd birthdays, Gay decided to capture as many delights as possible, and spin them out into a series of "essayettes." The result, The Book of Delights, is a kaleidoscopic collection of joy--an accumulation of blessings that, piled up, create a larger enchantment.
Gay (Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude) renders his ... [ Read More » ]
3 of 26
by Lars Kepler, trans. by Neil Smith
Stockholm is up against a serial killer with an idiosyncratic method: the murderer sends the police a link to a video showing a woman at home and unaware that she's being watched, and not long afterward she is fatally maimed. After a third woman's body is found, detective Margot Silverman, who is handling the case, notes, "The level of brutality... appears to have extended far beyond the moment of death."
The killer's style recalls that of the Rebecka Hansson murder almost a decade earlier. Rebecka's ... [ Read More » ]
4 of 26
by Renée Knight
After doing time as a temp, 25-year-old Christine Butcher can hardly believe her good fortune when glamorous Mina Appleton, heir to the Appleton's supermarket chain, asks Christine to be her full-time secretary. The job includes managing every aspect of Mina's life, professional and personal. And the number one quality Mina demands of her secretary? Loyalty.
It seems an easy price to pay since the job comes with heady perks, and Christine enjoys keeping her boss happy. But the hours get longer and ... [ Read More » ]
5 of 26
by Maryse Meijer
Reading Maryse Meijer's (Heartbreaker) short fiction is transformative. Stunning and evocative, Rag's 14 stories dazzle with brilliance while taking the reader's heart and wringing it dry--but not before delivering a solid literary punch. It is feeling perhaps shared by Meijer's deeply flawed characters during their quests for often elusive connection with others.
In the opening story, "Her Blood," a young woman who suffers a miscarriage in a pizzeria draws closer to the employee who witnessed ... [ Read More » ]
6 of 26
by Hanna Alkaf
With her debut young adult novel, The Weight of Our Sky, journalist Hanna Alkaf provides heart-pounding, graphic insight into the seismic life shifts experienced by residents of Kuala Lumpur in the days directly following the May 1969 Malaysian Riots.
For 16-year-old Melati Ahmad, her obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) manifests as "the Djinn" who promises immediate, gruesome demises for her loved ones if she doesn't complete cycles of counting. If she complies, she is rewarded with brief moments ... [ Read More » ]
7 of 26
by Laura Purdie Salas, illus. by Micha Archer
Merging the sciences and arts, Meet My Family author Laura Purdie Salas explores the marvels of spring through (as she explains in her author's note) "combinations of words and symbols" that "are science." As Salas drops her readers into the water with eagles who "swoop down to scoop up tasty fish dinners" or hoists them up to the heavens where "constellations shimmer," she offers short, narrative explanations of her imaginative equations. A rainbow requires sunshine and rain, thus "sun - storm = ... [ Read More » ]
8 of 26
by Andrea Tsurumi
"Under the sea, where sunlight touches sand, lies a place that's home to many incredible creatures." Among others, there's Clownfish, who enjoys hiding; Scallop, who swims in loops; and Crab, who, well, bakes cakes. (No, not crab cakes: the bakery kind. But with barnacles.) If the story's sea critters had eyebrows, they would be raised at Crab's decidedly uncrustacean-like behavior.
One night there's a "BIG SPLASH!"--a barge has dumped a mountain of garbage into the sea. While the other fish are ... [ Read More » ]
9 of 26
by Giacomo Sartori, trans. by Frederika Randall
Giacomo Sartori's I Am God (translated from the Italian by Frederika Randall) skewers religion, science and love through observations from the Almighty himself. God is moved to "describe my existence... in clumsy human language" through diary entries.
God is obsessed with Daphne, a scientist who is also a promiscuous, cross-burning atheist. He tries to remain neutral as he watches her (although strange accidents happen to the attractive scientist interested in her). God finally admits to himself, ... [ Read More » ]
10 of 26
by Akiko Busch
Humanity's transition into the digital age has led to concerns about the impact on peoples' psychological well-being and the state of privacy. As the world grows ever more connected, it's imperative that voices preaching caution without hyperbole come to the fore. How refreshing, then, to read Akiko Busch's How to Disappear: Notes on Invisibility in a Time of Transparency, which perfectly threads the needle. Neither panic-stricken nor naïve, Busch sets out to find places where people can still ... [ Read More » ]
11 of 26
by Elizabeth Letts
Elizabeth Letts's enchanting historical novel, Finding Dorothy, beautifully combines the 1930s story of a beloved film with the real-life story of a woman in the late 19th century.
In 1938, 77-year-old Maud Baum, widow of L. Frank Baum, wheedles her way into the production of The Wizard of Oz, based on her husband's famous book, determined to keep the movie in line with Frank's vision. On set, she hears a song about a rainbow that she knows Frank would love, yells when she sees Emerald City painted ... [ Read More » ]
12 of 26
by Jasper Fforde
In Jasper Fforde's (The Eyre Affair, The Woman Who Died a Lot) wonderfully weird dystopian thriller, the human population spends four months hibernating every winter, the Hib. The deadly cold of winter exacts a toll of lives. To offset population losses, citizens must engage in mandatory childbearing. Class differences affect chances of surviving the Hib. The rich can afford Morphenox, a drug that saves energy by suppressing dreams and increases their survival rate, while the poor die in greater ... [ Read More » ]
13 of 26
by Catriona Wright
Catriona Wright's debut short story collection, Difficult People, examines the ways women behave in families, in relationships and with each other.
In "The Emilies," a lonely young woman blames her awkwardness on her namesakes, Emily Brontë, Emily Dickinson and Emily Davison, unmarried recluses and feminist icons: "Whenever Emily is stuck in some expanding moment of socially induced panic... she tells herself not to worry; it's just a case of The Emilies." It's a genius name for a familiar discomfort ... [ Read More » ]
14 of 26
by Pete Buttigieg
Growing up in South Bend, Ind., Pete Buttigieg never expected to become the mayor of his hometown. But at 37, after a winding journey that took him to Harvard, Oxford and Afghanistan, Buttigieg not only lives in his childhood neighborhood, he works for the place that has shaped him. His memoir, Shortest Way Home, chronicles his own story alongside that of South Bend's post-industrial struggle and its gradual revitalization.
The heart of the book is his on-the-ground political education in the ... [ Read More » ]
15 of 26
by Raymond Strom
It was just by accident that Shane Stephenson stopped getting haircuts. His straight blond locks haven't even reached his shoulders the first time he's pushed into a wall and called names. Once he graduates high school in 1997, six months after his father's death, his disapproving uncle throws him out of the house.
Heading to college in Minneapolis, Shane stops in the declining town of Holm to see the mother who abandoned him, only to find her gone. With his slim build and androgynous ... [ Read More » ]
16 of 26
by Gail Ukockis
Early in Misogyny: The New Activism, author, educator and social worker Gail Ukockis sets the tone: "We have work to do! You are going to be one kick-ass (or genteel) advocate for women now!" Misogyny, and the oppression of others often denied their dignity, can be a topic that does not always offer much hope. Ukockis approaches these issues forthrightly and optimistically: "if I did not believe in positive social change, I would not be wasting my time writing this book."
Ukockis defines misogyny ... [ Read More » ]
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by Pam Jenoff
Returning to the World War II era, Pam Jenoff (The Orphan's Tale) once again takes inspiration from true events to craft an engrossing narrative capable of reaching the hearts and souls of her readers. The Lost Girls of Paris pays homage to the women who covertly contributed to the Allied resistance in France.
In 1946, a year after the war has ended, Grace Healey finds an abandoned suitcase in Grand Central Terminal. Inside the suitcase are a dozen photographs of women who pique Grace's curiosity ... [ Read More » ]
18 of 26
by Valeria Luiselli
In her spellbinding novel Lost Children Archive, Valeria Luiselli (Tell Me How It Ends) weaves a complex narrative from the migrant crisis on the southern U.S. border.
At the story's center is an unnamed family traveling from New York City to Arizona. The mother and father are sound documentarians who met while recording a soundscape of the city. Now the father is focusing on lost Apache culture, determined to visit their homeland and record what he calls an "inventory of echoes." ... [ Read More » ]
19 of 26
by Simon Lelic
When Adam Geraghty walks into Susanna Fenton's office for a therapy session, she can't shake the feeling that she knows him. It's unsettling, as Susanna reinvented her life 14 years ago and maintains no connection to the woman she used to be. Though she tries to be as honest as possible in every other way, not even her daughter, Emily, knows anything about her previous life, and she's determined to keep it that way. As Adam's questions become more intimate, then threatening, Susanna realizes that ... [ Read More » ]
20 of 26
by Jerry Craft
Twelve-year-old Jordan wanted to go to art school, but instead, his parents enroll him in "one of the best schools in the entire state." Although his father expresses concern about Riverdale Academy Day's glaring lack of diversity, his mother insists that with Jordan's smarts, art school "would be such a waste." On Jordan's first day, he's picked up outside his family's Washington Heights apartment by his RAD-assigned "guide," Liam--well, Liam's asleep in the back seat of his father's luxury SUV. ... [ Read More » ]
21 of 26
by Alexandra Bracken
"What evil can come from a choice made with a pure heart and the best of intentions?" What evil, indeed.
When last we saw Prosper Redding, his sister, Prue, had been abducted and brought to the realm of fiends (Downstairs). Determined to save her, Prosper makes a deal with Alastor, the malefactor demon currently residing in his body: Alastor will help Prosper save Prue, and return them to the human realm, in exchange for Prosper's "eternal servitude Downstairs upon [his] mortal death." Considering ... [ Read More » ]
22 of 26
by America's Test Kitchen
How to Braise Everything, the latest in the America's Test Kitchen series, goes beyond your mom's Sunday pot roast in more than 200 recipes from around the globe.
Browse the enticing photos accompanying every recipe and try to decide where to start. Each is a mouth-watering image of meat, fish, beans or vegetables--from Italian pot roast to the (significantly!) updated green bean casserole. So, what's braising? Cooking "a main ingredient... in a closed environment to break down its proteins or fibers ... [ Read More » ]
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by Elinor Lipman
Good Riddance, Elinor Lipman's (The Inn at Lake Devine, On Turpentine Lane) 11th comic novel, begins with a simple moment of housekeeping zeal. As Daphne Maritch tidies up her apartment, she tosses the Pickering, N.H., high school class of '68 yearbook in her Manhattan recycling bin. The generously inscribed annual had belonged to her recently departed mother, a dedicated teacher and yearbook adviser, who received it as a gift from her students and updated it with sometimes snarky commentary. Daphne, ... [ Read More » ]
24 of 26
by Yara Zgheib
... [ Read More » ]
25 of 26
by Geoff Dyer
Geoff Dyer is a remarkably versatile writer, seemingly able to cover any subject with wit and feeling. 'Broadsword Calling Danny Boy' is a return to the film criticism that proved so successful in Zona, his book about the art cinema masterpiece Stalker. Dyer's selection here, the decidedly less highbrow 1968 World War II action extravaganza Where Eagles Dare, receives scene-by-scene scrutiny with an eye to what is both delightful and ridiculous about the Alpine adventure.
Dyer's dissection is frequently ... [ Read More » ]
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by Alex Michaelides
Alex Michaelides's The Silent Patient lures readers in with a tantalizing premise: a woman has murdered her husband in cold blood, and then refuses to say why. The intricately plotted story, inspired by Greek mythology, is akin to a siren song, enticing, but with an ominous undertone and hints of deception.
But first, the facts:
"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists--Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel ... [ Read More » ]