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From children's classics like Calvin and Hobbes to cultural and political humor…. She turns to Raymond for help, and as he tries to track Luis down, a deep and unexpected friendship blossoms between the two. Despondent at the loss of Luis, Mildred isolates herself further from a neighborhood devolving into bigotry and fear.

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Could there be more to life than this? But telling Peggy the truth could mean losing everything. For twenty years, Andrew has worked to keep his heart safe, forgetting one important thing: how to live. Maybe it's time for him to start. Six decades after a young woman from Singapore is forced into sexual slavery during World War II, a twelve-year-old boy's effort to investigate his ailing grandmother's mumbled confession triggers a fateful chain of events. Penelope Ruiz-Kar navigates the sometimes-rocky terrain in her marriage with husband Sanjay as well as in her relationship with best friend Jenny Sweet.

When Abby Kaplan investigates a suspicious accident that left a visiting professor dead and senior Tara Beckley a prisoner of locked-in-syndrome, she becomes a target of a mysterious hit man. Romy escapes her hardscrabble upbringing when she becomes courtesan to the Shadow Lord, a revolutionary noble who brings laws and comforts once reserved for the wealthy to all.

When her brother, Neri, is caught thieving with the aid of magic, Romy's aristocratic influence is the only thing that can spare his life--and the price is her banishment. Now back in Beggar's Ring, she has just her wits and her own long-hidden sorcery to help her and Neri survive. But when a plot to overthrow the Shadow Lord and incite civil war is uncovered, only Romy knows how to stop it.

To do so, she'll have to rely on newfound allies--a swordmaster, a silversmith, and her own thieving brother. And they'll need the very thing that could condemn them all: magic. Autumn of takes a young couple on a romantic trip in the Westfjords holiday—a trip that gets an unexpected ending and has catastrophic consequences. A place completely cut off from the outside world, to reconnect. But one of them isn't going to make it out alive.

Ragnar Jonasson burst onto the American scene with Snowblind and Nightblind, the first two novels in the Ari Thor thriller series, and the praise was overwhelming. With The Darkness, he launched a new series featuring a completely new sleuth, Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir of the Reykjavik Police department. The Island is the second book in this series. But when his wife becomes pregnant with their first child, he realizes he'll need to apply his art closer to home.

For Taz and Marnie, their dreams are coming into focus, sustained by their deep sense of love and now family. The blueprint for the perfect life eludes Taz, plummeting him head first in the new strange world of fatherhood, of responsibility and late nights and unexpected joy and sorrow.

It is a deceptively small novel with a very big heart" -- Provided by publisher. It's , and year-old Juliet has it pretty good. But over the course of the next two years, she rapidly begins to unravel, finding herself in a downward trajectory of mental illness and self-destruction. But when the FBI starts investigating the kid she thought she knew, will she jeopardize her own career at the Bureau to keep her child safe?

Stephanie Maddox makes tough decisions every day. But, as a single mother, the most important thing in her life is her teenage son Zachary, who's anxiously awaiting college acceptance letters. So when she discovers a gun concealed in Zach's room, her world reels. And then an FBI agent on the domestic terrorism squad shows up at her door and utters three devastating words: "It's about Zachary Is Zach embroiled in something criminal--something deadly?

And, if so, what is her greater duty: To protect him? Or to betray him? Follows the awakening of a mythical being in an English village, where he observes the domestic dramas and creative energies surrounding a mischievous, ethereal young newcomer. Kate English has it all. Not only is she the heiress to a large fortune she has a gorgeous husband and daughter, a high-flying career, and a beautiful home anyone would envy.

But all that changes the night Kate's mother, Lily, is found dead, brutally murdered in her own home. Heartbroken and distraught, Kate reaches out to her estranged best friend, Blaire Barrington, who rushes to her side for the funeral, where the years of distance between them are forgotten in a moment. The murderer could be anyone--friend, neighbor, loved one. But whoever it is, it's clear that Kate is next on their list.

Twelve six-year-olds and their three adult chaperones head into the woods on a camping trip. None of them make it out alive. The Laws of the Skies tells the harrowing story of those days in the woods, of illness and accidents - and a murderous child. Part fairy tale, part horror film, this macabre fable takes us through the minds of all the members of this doomed party, murderers and murdered alike. Fiona and Liv are seniors at Buchanan College, a small liberal arts school in rural Pennsylvania. Fiona, who is still struggling after the death of her younger sister, is spending her final year sleeping with abrasive men she meets in bars.

Liv is happily coupled and on the fast track to marriage with an all-American frat boy. Both of their journeys, and their friendship, will be upended by the relationships they develop with Oliver Ash, a visiting literature professor whose first novel was published to great success at the age of twenty-six. Now Oliver is in his early forties, with thinning hair, rugged good looks, and a checkered past--there is talk of a relationship with an underage woman, a former student, at a previous teaching job.

Meanwhile, Oliver's wife, Simone, is pursuing an academic research project in Berlin, raising their five-year-old son, dealing with her husband's absence, and wondering if their marriage is beyond repair. This sly, stunning, wise-beyond-its-years novel is told from the perspectives of the three women, and showcases Berman's talent for exploring the complexities of desire, friendship, identity, and power dynamics in the contemporary moment.

In in Easter, a small Florida Space Coast town, her dreams seem almost within reach--if she can just grow up fast enough. Theo, the scientist father she idolizes, is consumed by his own obsessions. Laid off from his job at NASA and still reeling from the loss of Nedda's newborn brother several years before, Theo turns to the dangerous dream of extending his living daughter's childhood just a little longer. The result is an invention that alters the fabric of time. George W. Bush has recently declared the mission in Iraq accomplished and the unemployment rate is at its highest level in years.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the Midwest, Troy Augustus Loudermilk fair-haired, statuesque, charismatic and his companion Harry Rego definitely none of those things step out of a silver Land Cruiser and onto the campus of The Seminars, America's most prestigious creative writing program, to which Loudermilk has recently been accepted for his excellence in poetry. However, Loudermilk has never written a poem in his life.

For all Troy Loudermilk is--and, in the eyes of his fellow students and instructors, he is many things: a cipher to be solved, a hero to be championed, a rival to be disgraced--a poet he most certainly is not. Wonderfully sly and wickedly entertaining, Loudermilk is a social novel for our times--a subversive look at the pieties of contemporary literature and the institutions that sustain them" -- Provided by publisher.

An unexpected offer threatens the bond between Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi as the two Jedi navigate a dangerous new planet and an uncertain future. In March , the Nazis sweep Paris and immediately take up residence in one of the city's most iconic sites: The Hotel Ritz. But two residents of the Ritz refuse to be defeated: its director, Claude Auzello, and his beautiful American actress wife, Blanche. They not only oversee the smooth workings of the hotel, but both Blanche and Claude throw themselves fearlessly into the dangerous and clandestine workings of the French Resistance.

This is a true-to-life novel of a courageous woman and her husband who put their marriage--and ultimately their lives--in jeopardy to fight for freedom. Intimate, fearless, and moving, it spins a brilliantly and unforgettably vivid human portrait at a time of unimaginable crisis and sacrifice. It tells the stories of two men in parallel: Giang, the thirty-nine-year-old war veteran, and Nicola Rossi, a deceased lieutenant in the United States Army, the voice of a spirit. From the haunting ugliness of the Vietnam War, the stories of these two men shout, cry, and whisper the voices of love and loneliness, barbarity and longing, lived and felt by a multitude of people from all walks of life.

An adolescent girl and the tender vulnerability she displays toward a war-hardened drifter who draws beautifully in his spare time. A mother who endures a test of love and faith, and whose determination drives her, rain or shine, into the forest, in the end, wishing only to see, just once, the River of White Water Lilies, the river her son once saw. A wedding dress passed down through generations unravels the tangled threads of three women's lives as a mother and former best friends wrestle with past betrayals and uncertain futures.

Naamah is a parable for our time: a fable of body, spirit, and resilience"-- Provided by publisher. Hired to locate a missing young woman from Silicon Valley, Colter Shaw finds himself tracking a madman who stages scenes from his favorite game. When people under Arcadian control begin showing signs of instability, Jane Hawk and her supporters confront the center of power in a showdown that will determine America's future. On a clear morning in the summer of , Shane Stephenson arrives in Holm, Minnesota, with only a few changes of clothes, an old Nintendo, and a few dollars to his name.

Reeling from the death of his father, Shane wants to find the mother who abandoned him as an adolescent--hoping to reconnect, but also to better understand himself. Against the backdrop of Minnesota's rugged wilderness, and a town littered with shuttered shops, graffiti, and crumbling infrastructure, Holm feels wild and dangerous. Holm's residents, too, are wary of outsiders, and Shane's long blonde hair and androgynous looks draw attention from a violent and bigoted contingent in town, including the unhinged Sven Svenson.

He is drawn in by a group of sympathetic friends in their teens and early twenties, all similarly lost and frequent drug users: the reckless, charming J and his girlfriend Mary Jenny, a brilliant and beautiful artist who dreams of escaping Holm and the mysterious loner Russell, with whom Shane, against his better judgment, feels a strange attraction. As Sven's threats of violence escalate, Shane is forced to choose between his search for his mother, the first true friendships he's ever had, and a desire to leave both his past and present behind entirely. At its core, Northern Lights is the story of a son searching for his mother, and for a connection with her, dealing with issues of abandonment and forgiveness.

But it also addresses the complications, tensions, and dysfunction that can exist in those relationships, presenting an unforgettable world and experience often overlooked, with a new kind of hero to admire"-- Provided by publisher. But when Gabe sells his first novel--a thinly-veiled retelling of his wild love affair with ex-girlfriend Talia--and it becomes a national sensation, Molly can't help but feel like the third wheel. To make matters worse, Talia reappears in Gabe's life, eager to capitalize on the book's success and to rekindle what she had with Gabe But of even more concern?

Gabe doesn't seem concerned at all. Instead, he's delighting in his newfound fame and success. Jealous, paranoid, and increasingly desperate, Molly starts to spin out of control. Her social life, work life, and love life all go to pieces. As fact and fiction, and past and present, begin to blur, Molly realizes the only way out of this downward spiral is to fight her way back up.

But what--if anything--will be left of her life and her relationship when she arrives? Across the Seine, tech CEO Hunter Forsyth stands on his balcony, perplexed that his police escort just departed, and frustrated that his cell service has cut out Hunter has important calls to make, not all of them technically legal. And on the nearby rue de Rivoli, Mahmoud Khalid climbs out of an electrician's van, and elbows his way into the crowded courtyard of the world's largest museum, in the epicenter of Western civilization.

He sets down his metal briefcase, and removes his windbreaker. That's when people start to scream.


  • The Psalms – In Verse!
  • Acknowledgments.
  • Holiday Hours:;

Everyone has big plans for the day. Dexter is going to make a small fortune, finally digging himself out of a deep financial hole, via an extremely risky investment. Hunter is going to make a huge fortune, with a major corporate acquisition that will send his company's stock soaring. Kate has less ambitious plans: preparations for tonight's dinner party--one of those homemaker obligations she still hasn't embraced, even after a half-decade of this life--and an uneventful workday at the Paris Substation, the clandestine cadre of operatives that she's been running, not entirely successfully, increasingly convinced that every day could be the last of her career.

But every day is also a fresh chance to prove her own relevance, never more so than during today's momentouse events. And Mahmoud? He is planning to die today. And he won't be the only one. Now a sassy CEO of one of the biggest fashion jewelry empires in the country, Naomi has exactly what she wants, but she's learning that it'll take more than the right address to make Manhattan's elite stop treating her like an outsider.

The worst of them all is Oliver Cunningham, her new neighbor, and the grown son of the very family Naomi's mother used to work for. Oliver used to torment Naomi when they were children, and as a ridiculously attractive adult, he's tormenting her in entirely different ways. Naomi and Oliver find themselves engaged in a sensual battle-of-wills that will either consume or destroy them. Adapts the memoir of Marie Cirile into a novel about Marie Carrara, a young policewoman who wants to move beyond guarding female prisoners to become one of the few female detectives in the New York Police Department.

Set in the hardscrabble landscape of early s Oklahoma, but timeless in its sensibility, Prairie Fever traces the dynamic between two sisters: the pragmatic Lorena and the chimerical Elise. Their connection to each other supersedes all else, until the arrival of a schoolteacher sunders the sisters' relationship as they both begin to fall for him.

With poetic intensity and the deadpan humor of Paulette Jiles and Charles Portis, Parker reminds us of how our choices are often driven by our passions. Expansive and intimate, Prairie Fever tells the story of characters tested as much by life on the prairie as they are by their own churning hearts. It is a truth universally acknowledged that only in an overachieving Indian American family can a genius daughter be considered a black sheep.

Trisha is guilty of breaking all three rules. But now she has a chance to redeem herself. Up-and-coming chef DJ Caine has known people like Trisha before, people who judge him by his rough beginnings and place pedigree above character. A family trying to build home in a new land. A man who has never felt at home anywhere. And a choice to be made between the two.

Beekeeper Holly McNee Kensen quietly lives in a world of her own on Sullivan's Island, tending her hives and working at the local island library. Holly calls her mother The Queen Bee because she's a demanding hulk of a woman. Her mother, a devoted hypochondriac, might be unaware that she's quite ill but that doesn't stop her from tormenting Holly. To escape the drama, Holly's sister Leslie married and moved away, wanting little to do with island life. Holly's escape is to submerge herself in the lives of the two young boys next door and their widowed father, Archie.

Her world is upended when the more flamboyant Leslie returns and both sisters, polar opposites, fixate on what's happening in their neighbor's home. Is Archie really in love with that awful ice queen of a woman? If Archie marries her, what will become of his little boys? Restless Leslie is desperate for validation after her imploded marriage, squandering her favors on any and all takers. Their mother ups her game in an uproarious and theatrical downward spiral.

Scandalized Holly is talking to her honey bees a mile a minute, as though they'll give her a solution to all the chaos. Maybe they will. A clinically depressed writer chronicles the lives of her fellow patients in the psych ward of a presitigous New York hospital. Planeswalkers, powerful mages from many disparate realities, must unite against the elder dragon Nicol Bolas, who has claimed dominion over Ravnica and is perilously close to completing the spell that will grant him godhood.

Now, as dozens of Planeswalkers fight alongside the Gatewatch--led by Chandra Nalaar, Jace Beleren, and Gideon Jura--against Bolas and his relentless army of Eternals, nothing less than the fate of the multiverse is at stake"-- Provided by publisher. In one of the most momentous events of the Cold War, Svetlana Allilyueva, the forty-one-year-old daughter of the notorious tyrannical leader of the USSR, abruptly abandoned her life in Moscow in , arriving in New York to throngs of reporters and a nation hungry to hear her story.

Rootless, lonely, and bewildered by her adopted country's radically different society, Svetlana takes refuge in Arizona with the widow of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, makes a hasty marriage, and has a child. Floundering, she reaches out to Peter, her first connection in America and, it seems, the only person she can genuinely count on. When their relationship becomes more than just professional, it unfolds under the eyes of her CIA minders, and Svetlana and Peter's private lives are no longer their own. The author's father was in fact the young lawyer who escorted the real Svetlana to the United States.

Based on his father's reminiscences as well as his own extensive research into Svetlana's life, John Burnham Schwartz recreates this dramatic story of a woman's search for a new life and a place to belong, in the evocative and imaginative prose that have made him a critically acclaimed, bestselling author of literary and historical fiction"-- Provided by publisher. When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius--his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House.

There's only one problem: Alex has a beef with an actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U. Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all?

Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? After Wisconsin graduate student Mildred Fish marries brilliant German economist Arvid Harnack, she accompanies him to his German homeland, where a promising future awaits. In the thriving intellectual culture of s Berlin, the newlyweds create a rich new life filled with love, friendships, and rewarding work--but the rise of a malevolent new political faction inexorably changes their fate.

As Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party wield violence and lies to seize power, Mildred, Arvid, and their friends resolve to resist. Mildred gathers intelligence for her American contacts, including Martha Dodd, the vivacious and very modern daughter of the US ambassador. Her German friends, aspiring author Greta Kuckoff and literature student Sara Weiss, risk their lives to collect information from journalists, military officers, and officials within the highest levels of the Nazi regime. For years, Mildred's network stealthily fights to bring down the Third Reich from within. But when Nazi radio operatives detect an errant Russian signal, the Harnack resistance cell is exposed, with fatal consequences.

A riot rages outside, incited by a poem published in The Holding Pen, the house literary journal. Taste is expertise developed through the cultivation of native and acquired sensibilities. Novelist J. The Litter. Writing is one thing, reading is another, but the Literary Twitter is something else. ThomasBernhard—a demigod always at arms online, ready to attack idiotic tweets and tweet totalizing statements that identify an ideal by outlining its negative image—is wish fulfillment.

Maybe what we need now is a model for scorn, disdain and contempt to overcome the civility and competence of the online hordes, whose catchphrase so often these days seems to be compassion. It is a quality which no one can put his finger on in any exact critical sense, so it is safe for anybody to use. Usually I think what is meant by it is that the writer excuses all human weakness because human weakness is human. The kind of hazy compassion demanded of the writer now makes it difficult for him to be anti-anything. Compassion and contempt both derive from the same perception of something or someone seeming off.

Creating something worthwhile instead of destroying everything worthless is 1 no laughing matter and 2 so challenging that all one can really do is laugh, which maybe is why I — irrelevant submediocrity that I am — have found Bernhard so funny? What seems at first like destruction is really creation of the highest order? Let him leech the seething out of you before you start researching literal and figurative pressure cookers.

I started reading him because of a mention of that novel in an Enrique Vilas-Matas novel and then decided to read as much of his work as I could find in translation. The first novel below is a masterpiece of prose style in translation and anticipatory anxiety. Gracq, generally, is a great poet of the fear of future events, a semi-surrealist Cold War prose-stylist supreme. I love when Goodreads leads to masterpieces previously unknown to me. Stoner , most memorably, and a few others. Now this one. Sumptuous prose, never over the top as in The Opposing Shore see below , steady, flowing, so clear its perception verges on surrealistic swervy poetry.

Gracq might just be the supreme poet of anticipatory anxiety, and seclusion in a dense forest with the pulse of bombs on the horizon like heat lightning is therefore maybe his ideal setting. As in The Opposing Shore , nothing much happens, which is the point for ninety-five percent of this as our man Lt. Felt it was perfectly weighted, paced, perceived.

Language in this seemed always at the level of Salter or Updike but with a surrealistic sheen that elevates it. Ordered four more short Gracq novels as a result. In his room in Lyon, over the course of endless hours spent locked away, he devoted himself to a theory of the novel that, based on the lessons apparent to him the moment he opened The Opposing Shore, established five elements he considered essential for the novel of the future.

These essential elements were: intertextuality; connection with serious poetry; awareness of a moral landscape in ruins; a slight favoring of style over plot; a view of writing that moves forward like time. So hard to do this one justice. Totally humorless. Purposefully disorientating. Set in a region engaged in something like a cold war for years, in a somnolent, half-alive, yet peaceful state — the prose induces a similar state in a reader thanks to precise, decadent, sometimes Gothic sometimes almost purple prose always worth a second and third read to savor and store a sentence. Worth going through again one day — like much of Faulkner, seems like much would clarify on second and third read.

The way around Nantes. Effluvial prose, rich in sediment flowed down river of memories vis-a-vis agglomerations of times past. Dense but with lots of space and chapter breaks. Always insightful and hypnotic, mature and nonsensationalist, unconcerned with entertaining the attention deficient. Translation seems smooth and Gracq comes through as he does in the novels.

Get it as a gift for the urbanist aesthete in your extended family. A dream-like exercise in Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood prose style infused with a heaping dose of Poe. Gracq really has a not-so-PC thing for the elusive beguiling lady love interests who emerge out of ether and retain their distance despite intimacies, sort of what it might be like to do it with an animated mannequin.

Stylized dream lovers, not succubi. I own Reading Writing , too, but have only read a few pages of it — I will probably get to it in But these are wabi-sabish flaws built into a solidly structured, extraordinarily characterized, steadily and flowingly told fairy tale of contemporary life in New York lived by four friends from college Cambridge, MA. Which is what great lit does.

At times reminiscent of the part about the critics , of Cormac McCarthy The Judge in Blood Meridian , structurally reminded me of Anna Karenina the way it gracefully revolved through characters so time seemed to really pass section by section. Loved most essayistic, insightful jags, for example about how this was the age of discipline. Also the withholding herein worked as it always does — to amplify the narrative drive — without annoying me.

It had to have taken more than 18 days to read this. I admire this for the steady descriptive tone, the lush island atmosphere, the invented vocabulary perfectly deployed, the dual unreliable narrators, the boldness of some of it, and most importantly the imagination and ambition, especially for a first novel. Not at all as graphic as A Little Life , not even close. Loved the section edited out as a footnote and then allowed at the very end — changes pretty much everything.

Innocence and experience. Socialization and sodomy. Rape of island and child. The author, as in A Little Life , excels at presenting the complexity of character and situation. Will definitely read whatever she writes next as soon as it arrives. Really impressive work. Flat out. You were at it for like ten years, right? If anyone can transmit a final complete version from the afterworld, you can.

First, although this has been hyped as an office novel, I like how not many scenes are set in an office. The young devout potential father who tends to excessively sweat, Lane Dean Jr. Leonard Steyck, always so helpful. Attention is rewarded throughout. Four major writers mentioned in the book as major writers a writer might aspire to be like are echoed throughout: Gaddis dialogue onslaughts of JR , Perec Life —attention to detail, structure, the name Sylvanshine echoes the name Bartlebooth , Sherwood Anderson Winesburg, Ohio —portraits of an ensemble cast in the Midwest , Balzac ridiculous attention to detail?

No plot, but thematic balls are always in the air and bouncing around, plus the prose is always so readable—often easier, more mature, more steady, less trying to impress than your earlier stuff?

Only had to look up two or three vocab words! Now I need to go back and re-read all the dozens of pages I dogeared. And then maybe read Oblivion again. I strongly encourage you to finish it properly one day. Note: this originally appeared in somewhat different form in the letters section of the tenth print-only edition of The Lifted Brow. A discontinuous sentence broken up by chapters, a few of which relate a traditionally formatted story many sentences, paragraphs, etc the narrator reads while on the train from Milan to Rome.

Not really a single sentence, as some folks say, but the formal aspects of this one only superficially interest, the way each comma-delineated phrase is like a train-track tie, which the book associates with bodies piled up on the horizontal. Namedrops and occasionally animates Genet, Burroughs, Joyce, Pound.

Receives consistent nonintrustive canonical support from The Iliad. Good times! Audacity, authority, originality, heft, scope, execution, oomph, language always pushing ahead, hard to look away yet hard to read in bed, recommended for walking readers or anyone reading on the move.

Street of Thieves A longer version of this is available at 3AM. A straightforward, socio-politically aware, coming-of-age story set in two years before publication in in Tangier, Algeciras, and Barcelona. For such a tight, timely novel, it must have been composed, edited, and published in French, and then translated and published in English in record time.

Literature in the form of Arabic poetry and detective novels and languages Arabic, French, Spanish are his refuge, the keys to the incursions of fate that push his life and the novel forward. I am not a Muslim, I am more than that. Street of Thieves is a feat of the imagination propelled by deep cultural familiarity and experience, an extraordinary animation of another person—a particular fictional human being who longs for old-fashioned liberty—superficially unlike the author but surely resembling most readers on a fundamental, intrinsic level.

Helicopters churn overhead, rubber bullets fly, protestors smash bank windows, and streets in flames are cordoned off by cops in riot gear. Inclusion of contemporary events, in part, makes this an urgent read. Deep knowledge of the past and presentiments of the future inform his perspectives and insights into the present.

In Zone , each phrase of a discontinuous, single, page sentence is like the ties along the tracks the narrator rolls over seated in a train, providing basic forward movement and structure, whereas in this one, the narrator is in bed mostly, or puttering around his apartment, as nocturnal hours pass. The narrative mask seems more transparent. Although nowhere near as conventional as Street of Thieves , the love story is satisfying enough, as is all the esoteric information and all the reference particularly to writers and artists and composers.

Definitely recommended reading for anyone willing to immerse themselves in the long history of western addiction to oriental alterity, beyond belly dancers, magic carpets, genies, all the way up to those recent black-hooded Islamic State decapitators from London. Lots of interesting opium-related stuff in here, too. And a nod to hope in the end. I sometimes impatiently derided this monster as a hybrid of Cormac McCarthy and Raymond Chandler, a brutal borderlands high-lit mystery that suggested more than it ever actually signified. But then came a speech by a former Black Panther and a New Yorker named Oscar Fate and things took off, especially once it offers multitudinous murders and the prodigiously pissing, iconoclastic Penitent, and then the massive German, Klaus, in prison.

You could discuss endlessly, or never say a word thanks to respectful speechlessness. A highwater mark for ambition, authority, oomph, audacity, execution. My final sense of the book is a distinct but equivalent awe. I hereby officially bestow the highest possible recommendation to the audiobook, narrated by a perfectly appropriate new voice for each section.

Ten years ago, I would have posted a megaupload or rapidshare link so you could download the mp3s. Now, I guess you could try the free Audible trial and listen for yourself. The gateway to a full-on Proust habit. The narrator has it, Swann does too, others also suggest an experience of rapture. Not the stuff of visceral plot-driven fiction, alas. No plot. Sometimes felt suffused with chrysanthemum dust. Best when discussing solo apprehension of the divine. At times like a psychedelic Stendhal, sort of.

Now just past his adolescent years, our nameless little narrator friend spends time at the Balbec beach and basks in the ambit of some fine young lasses after chatting with a kindly ambassador and a famous albeit brutishly dressed and mannered! Little narrator dude alludes to time spent in a brothel, just chatting of course, and in general seems a lot less wispily enthralled by pink hawthorns. Narrator hangs with some male folks his age, particularly Saint-Loup, who really stands out at first, erect as a silver bishop on the swirly shifting societal chess board, a kind kindred aristocratic kid for Marcel to marvel at and befriend.

This long second installment seems a little more solid as narrator comes into his own, essentially sides with writing over an ambassadorial career, and then develops his eye for beauty in art, nature, and pale little dark-haired ladies wired to please, all near the sea with its sets of waves as liquidy and luminously lapidary as the prose, as always. Monumental without being monstrous at all. Within those scenes are nuggets, morsels, scrumptious bon mots for the attentive reader to savor, but I often found myself fighting upstream through these long passages to get to the good stuff for me in Proust: Marcel rehashing things solo, self-analyzing, taking off on essayistic benders.

Oh place names reduced to their historical tribal derivation and places reduced to fancy homes where one is always welcome. Loved the opening essay on inverts. I love the word invert. Albertine waltzing with a female friend in a mutally arousing way, with tah-tahs touching — shocking! Nevertheless, dog-eared dozens of pages, especially toward the end, of Proust-y excellence. Flowing insight wins the day and makes the dual whirlpools of not always so scintillating chitchat worthwhile.

Five stars for In Search of Lost Time so far — four stars for this volume. I can only read 15 pages at a time without dosing off or reaching for my phone. I mean, the book is regularly studded with the best of things I look for in books, my copy is regularly dogeared, but this installment is dense and nutso. Most of the musing seems to be about whether Albertine is getting it on with women. Also, the revelation about M. Loup at the end. The gist is: say or do exactly the opposite of what you really want to say or do — insincere concealment is essential to successful manipulation of a lover.

One more volume to go in the fall, before I read it all again 10 years from now. Also, the bare thigh on the cover of this one has maybe been photoshopped to the point of seeming unhealthily thin? Toward the end everything is degraded by age, war, perversion — entropy uber alles. Every fifth page dogeared. Proust, by this volume, has perfected his epigrammatic skills, for sure.

I experienced what had been experienced as the language sharpened as M. As with most of these volumes, there were stretches were I was like will I really give this four stars? But then Proustian expository overdrive would kick in and save the day. The exposition I loved whereas the scenes, especially in the first part, I only admired — or maybe I overrelated to the first section involving his adolescence? That depth, that distance, seems necessary in part to evade accusations of YA-ness from fuckheads like me. The gutter and the rainwater still running down it into the grass.

Things are clear and rational and yet move unpredictably — nonlinear layering of the story gives it more depth. It feels absolutely real and reading it enhanced perception of life around at least one reader. Throughout, its naturalism feels natural, like literature more than contemporary literary fiction that adheres to the rules of its genre and thereby so often for me feels unreal, like a story, like fiction.

Minimal talk of fjords , too, although the word definitely appears. Turns out I just seem to prefer fiction that feels real. Twain said something like the difference between fiction and non-fiction is that fiction must be absolutely believable. Thomas Wolfe the guy who wrote Look Homeward, Angel , not the guy in the white suit who wrote Bonfire of the Vanities said that fiction is fact, selected, arranged, and charged with purpose.

No conventional plot therefore, yet nevertheless engaging, consistently insightful, and almost recklessly sincere.

This series is a multivolume masterpiece of sincerity. Who treat of plain old untrendy human troubles and emotions in U. All the formal elements of traditional fiction are in place, sans gimmickry. No attention-getting footnotes or images or power points or graphs or numbered lists or Danielewskisms.

No masturbatory flights of language en route to the celestial sublime. No silly set pieces or big dance numbers at the end. No talking pieces of poo. Nothing included for a joke. He also realizes that such a project may seem megalomaniacal, and he addresses this more than once, never mythologizing himself, always his worst critic, always forcing himself to submit to humility.

What happens in this engrossing, readable, plot-less stretch of beautifully formatted pages published by Archipelago? Mostly child care. The same, the same, everything the same. Sweden is essentially more orderly. In Norway people bump into each other on the street. Book 1 ended with the author cleaning up the mess his recently deceased alcoholic father made, literally and figuratively. As with Book 2, it started in the recent past and presented a surprisingly fresh vision of the author with young children, at playgrounds, struggling with plastic contraptions meant to convey children across town.

As in the first volume, these opening sections create a sympathetic image of a manly, cigarette-smoking Scandinavian author overrun by three children, loving them deeply, trying to control them, aware that this image of a father who gets down on the floor and plays with a rattle with his kids is relatively recent and yet by now pervasive.

He has a history with drink, too. In both books, this opening fatherhood gambit won me over, made me willing to follow him wherever he went. The central struggle in this volume is achieving a balance between family and art. He wants a family, three children like a little gang, but he also wants to be left alone to write. For me, society is everything, Geir said.

But I am, I said. Oh yes? Geir queried. What then? Trees, I answered. He laughed. Patterns in plants. Patterns in crystals. Patterns in stones. In rock formations. In galaxies. Are you talking about fractals? Yes, for example. But everything that binds the living and dead, all the dominant forms that exist.

Sand dunes! That interests me. Oh God, how boring, Geir said. Yes, it is, he said. The old postmodern insurgents risked the gasp and squeal: shock, disgust, outrage, censorship, accusations of socialism, anarchism, nihilism. An elaborated elegance makes this series what it is. Its patterns and formations feel organic and humble yet troubled and in no way understated. The form in the first two volumes at least suggests something like quiet majesty.

Three thousand pages of literary autobiography about a middle-aging Norwegian writer and his wife and kids and friends and family? You kidding me? No empathic immersion in the presentation of other lives? Of the young writers I had read there was only Jerker Virdborg I liked; his novel Black Crab had something that raised it above the mist of morals and politics others were cloaked in. Not that it was a fantastic novel, but he was searching for something different. That was the sole obligation literature had, in all other respects it was free, but not in this, and when writers disregarded this they did not deserve to be met with anything but contempt.

Into it disappeared plot and space, what was left was emotion, and it was stark, you were looking straight into the essence of human existence, the very nucleus of life, and thus you found yourself in a place where it no longer mattered what was actually happening. That was where I had to go, to the essence, to the inner core of human existence. This sort of structure after a while feels like associative telescopic stargazing into the past, the present naturally filled with expanses of history.

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Inclusion of non-linear backstory makes the whole story feel real and alive, its edges open and scalloped instead of straight, orderly, contrived, and fictional, since memories tend not to appear in order:. Everyday life, with its duties and routines, was something I endured, not a thing I enjoyed, nor something that was meaningful or made me happy. This had nothing to do with a lack of desire to wash floors or change diapers but rather with something more fundamental: the life around me was not meaningful. I always longed to be away from it. So the life I led was not my own.

I tried to make it mine, this was my struggle, because of course I wanted it, but I failed, the longing for something else undermined all my efforts. A half-million Scandinavians might like Knausgaard in part because this longing for something more meaningful, his attempts to find meaning and beauty in the banalities of life, his struggles at home and with his artistic ambition, are the mark of a conventional protagonist whose obsessive desires are ceaselessly impeded by obstacles. In the second volume, there are two exaggeratedly extreme acts: the drunken face-cutting when younger and the manic immersion that produces his second novel, A Time For Everything , risking his family for the sake of his art.

She began referring to the thick squarish hardback as my new best friend. Yet, despite convergences, I would never go at my face with a shard of glass and I would never leave my family to live in an office for weeks to write a novel. But it feels wrong to type that, as though it betrays a trust established between writer and reader over more than pages at this point. Hell no, I wanted to be as far from that which was closed and mandatory as it was possible to be. Come on! But how, how? The clear answer to the preceding question is the book itself, a non-annoying narrative loop-de-loop.

Early on in the second novel he states that the work is its own reward. Do not believe you are somebody. Because you are not. So keep your head down and work, you little shit. This, more or less, was what I had learned. This was the sum of all my experience. He wins the reader over thanks to what seems like sincere introspection throughout. Knausgaard succeeds in presenting the particularities of his conflict with such steadiness and clarity that it appeals on a deep level to a large readership.

There are very few sensationalist details or betrayals of confidence that trigger voyeuristic impulses in readers. Ultimately, the sense you get from reading this series, the mental and emotional state achieved when silently immersed in its pages, is of connection with another human being, a man from a distant yet familiar place, like yourself in some ways but not in all ways, a man concerned with achieving existential fulfillment, stability, peace.

Not hyper-real reality or semblances seen through the scrim of tasteful artifice, but as real as it gets, raw, unadorned, and awesome. Move over robins, tulips, pastels, and jelly beans, the appearance of a fresh volume of My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard now marks the coming of spring and will continue do so in , , and as the final three books in the series appear in English in the United States, translated from the Norwegian by Donald Bartlett, published by Archipelago Books in signature squarish hard covers.

Quick recap: My Struggle is a six-volume literary autobiography. On a sentence level, My Struggle is easier reading than the Search. Scene-wise, the former includes no interminable stretches i. Book Two: A Man in Love see above is more about the quotidian details of raising a family while trying to write specifically, it covers the time the author wrote A Time for Everything , an extraordinary retelling of the Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah stories and others, but set in Norway, focused on the interaction between humans and angels on Earth, a novel that wonderfully complements Book Two since both books share details and scenes heavily fictionalized in one yet not at all in the other.

Book Two offers some shocking scenes and plentiful straightforward insight into living, writing, and art. Despite often moving associatively instead of linearly, things never get murky. The point of view is always solid. Book Three maintains this steady episodic associative structure. But not once does the narrator discuss his wife or three children or his writing career. We know this father from the first book. They come at the least insult to his fragile yet estimable conception of self. He must be a cute kid since the preadolescent lasses he describes as objectively beautiful are attracted to him, and he takes an interest in clothes because he realizes doing so can help him talk to girls.

But his primary interests are dreaming about girls, playing soccer, listening to music, riding bikes, setting fires, swimming, skiing, reading as much as he can I loved the dense lists of what he read as a child —the unremarkable activities and attractions of a young boy. Like a magic trick that astounds thanks to a lack of gimmicks and props, sincere detailed divulgence makes these mundanities compelling. Embarrassment lurks around every corner. Arrogance and humility are in constant conflict. The waterworks are always ready to flow.

One of the few times in the novel the narrator comes up out of the past and emerges into the present, he says:. I was so frightened of [my father] that even with the greatest effort of will I am unable to recreate the fear; the feelings I had for him I have never felt since, nor indeed anything close. His footsteps on the stairs — was he coming to see me?

The wild glare in his eyes.

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The tightness around his mouth. The lips that parted involuntarily.

And then his voice. Sitting here now, hearing it in my inner ear, I almost start crying.