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Review: Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

The jacket copy alone wouldn’t have grabbed me—a historical novel of New York, set in the Depression and War years?  The first female diver?  Gangsters and Ziegfeld Follies? Uh uh. But the author is Jennifer Egan, whose A Visit From the Goon Squad was the most inventive and lively collection of linked short stories that […]

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Review: Swing Time by Zadie Smith

  One thing I love about Zadie Smith is her sensitivity to the small  cataclysms of contemporary life. In the early chapters of Swing Time, for example, she observes the influence of repeated viewings on her generation.  In my day, we saw a movie, at the movie theatre, once.  Maybe twice.  But as Smith points […]

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Review: Abide With Me by Elizabeth Strout

There’s no hook in Abide With Me, an early novel by Elizabeth Strout, author of Olive Kitteridge and My Name is Lucy Barton.   I got fifty or so pages in and nearly gave up.  (In fact I had a sneaking suspicion at that juncture that all seemed familiar here and that quite possibly, I had […]

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Review: The Iguala 43 by Sergio Gonzalez Rodriguez

  On September 26th, 2014, a group of 43 student protestors from a Rural Teacher’s College traveled to the city of Iguala in the southern state of Guerrero, Mexico. The following day, all 43 students would “be disappeared”, a term which has become all too familiar to the people of Mexico, and two years of […]

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Review: Lincoln in the Bardo

This month, all three major American magazines feature reviews of the new (and first) novel by George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo. The reviewer in the Atlantic pans it, saying that “Sadism and sentimentality preside over the novel hand in hand”  and complains that “The book’s crux . . . is either impossible or trivial.”  […]

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