The Town that Pop Culture Forgot

In Book Review by Edward Nawotka

Welcome to Utopia by Karen Valby (Spiegel & Grau, $25) Reviewed by Edward Nawotka In 2006, Entertainment Weekly writer Karen Valby uprooted herself from New York City to settle in the Hill Country town of Utopia, a place with a half-mile long Main Street featuring “zero stoplights, one constable, six real estate offices, and seven churches” and where just 540 …

Book Review: Justin Cronin’s “The Passage” is Scary Good

In Ed's Perspective by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka Houston, we have an apocalypse… It starts when a Houston housewife in tennis whites pulls over her gleaming black Denali to give a homeless man $20. That innocent encounter ends luridly, like so many of the true-crime stories that come from the nation’s fourth-largest city, with the woman floating dead in her pool and the man, named …

Review: Gasoline by Quim Monzó

In Book Review by Gwendolyn Dawson

Reviewed by Gwendolyn Dawson Gasoline, the Catalan author Quim Monzó’s latest novel to be translated into English, opens at a moment of crisis in Heribert’s career as a painter: he must paint enough canvases to fill two galleries in time for an imminent double show. Instead of working, however, Heribert wallows in indifference and boredom, wandering the city streets, drinking …

Did Sebastian Junger Go Too Far in Calling His Book “War”?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka Lewis Manalo, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, thinks so. In today’s editorial, he argues that Junger’s War is riddled with bad reporting, significant omissions, and is condescending to the soldiers themselves. The problem may start with the title, which is almost absurd in its presumption. Read theeditorial and let us know what you think in …

Sebastian Junger, War Tourist

In Guest Contributors, Resources by Guest Contributor

Editorial by Lewis Manalo NEW YORK: As a sapper in the 82nd Airborne Division I took part in combat missions in Eastern Afghanistan during deployments in 2002 and 2003. A sapper’s main role on missions was to trek along in support of the infantry, sweeping for land mines and blowing up weapons caches and unexploded ordinance. Other times, we participated …

Review: The Most Beautiful Book in the World by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt

In Book Review by Gwendolyn Dawson

By Gwendolyn Dawson Although labeled “novellas” in the subtitle, these eight pieces are true short stories; each one contains only a few key characters and spans roughly twenty pages.  In the broadest sense, these stories uncover the hidden sources of humanity’s best qualities:  happiness, forgiveness, love, and generosity.  Schmitt’s tormented characters stumble upon these redemptive qualities in the unlikeliest of places, often despite …

Review: The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

In Book Review by Gwendolyn Dawson

By Gwendolyn Dawson In this collection of linked short stories, each story follows the perspective of an employee (or, in one case, a devoted reader) of an international English-language newspaper based in Rome. As a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism and with experience as a foreign correspondent stationed in Rome, Rachman is well-qualified for his subject. Every story …

Review: The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano

In Book Review by Gwendolyn Dawson

By Gwendolyn Dawson Physicist Paolo Giordano’s debut novel, The Solitude of Prime Numbers, won Italy’s premier literary award, the Premio Strega, in 2008. Now available in the U.S. in an English translation, The Solitude of Prime Numbers explores the poignant relationship that develops between two misfits, Alice and Mattia. Alice, an anorexic with a limp left over from a childhood skiing accident, resists …

Review: Solar by Ian McEwan

In Book Review by Gwendolyn Dawson

Reviewed by Gwendolyn Dawson Solar, Ian McEwan’s eleventh novel, follows the troubled career and love life of 53-year-old physicist Michael Beard. Beard won the Nobel Prize in physics for work he completed as a young man but, after five failed marriages, is now trapped in a decades-long slump of “no new ideas.” Living the life of an aimless bureaucrat saddled with speech …

Review: The Boy with the Cuckoo Clock Heart by Mathias Malzieu

In Book Review by Gwendolyn Dawson

By Gwendolyn Dawson Jack, the first-person narrator of Mathias Malzieu’s most recent novel, is born in Edinburgh on an uncommonly cold day in April 1874. A clever midwife saves the newborn from certain death by surgically implanting a cuckoo clock in his chest to regulate his weak heart. Abandoned by his mother and sporting a loudly ticking clock for a heart, Jack …