Photo courtesy Ryane Rice
Gin Phillips had no intention of writing summer’s most scintillating literary thriller.
“I wanted to write a book about motherhood,” Phillips says of Fierce Kingdom, the story of a mother and four-year-old son trapped in their local zoo by an active shooter event.
“I was aware it was a faster plot than I normally focus on,” she says, “and I loved the idea of having to tell a story within such tight confines, where there’s literally geographic walls ...
We talk to Jan Weissmiller, co-owner of Prairie Lights
Iowa City’s Prairie Lights started small in 1978 and shelved the then-newer voices of Alice Munro and Raymond Carver alongside heavy hitters like Eudora Welty and George Orwell. The general bookstore expanded to three and a half floors (the half is home to Prairie Lights’ cafe) and hosts a celebrated reading series broadcast live on WSUI and WOI. We spoke with poet and co-owner Jan Weissmiller about life at the legendary indie.
How would you describe Prairie Lights ...
A political analyst with ABC news, the co-author of 2006’s Applebee’s America, and the former chief strategist for the Bush-Cheney 2004 presidential campaign, Matthew Dowd has spent the last seven years ruminating on the current state of the country. Through his columns and TV appearances he sharpened his observations about leadership and what is lacking in that leadership, but it took a very public break with the president, a series of personal tragedies, and a pilgrimage around the world to ...
Photo courtesy Jana Ašenbrennerová
Rare is the book about which one can say, in earnest, “I’ve never read anything like this before,” yet with A Twenty Minute Silence Followed by Applause, Shawn Wen has written such a book. From its idiosyncratic area of interest to its chameleonic formal modalities, Applause resists easy categorization at every turn, and this is one of its many strengths. What begins as an inviting and imaginative gesture toward a biography of the mime Marcel Marceau branches out ...
Robin Smith photographed by Dean Schneider.
As it inevitably must on occasion, the children’s literature world shrank a little bit recently, on June 23, when Robin Smith passed away far too young. Correction: it shrank a lot.
A second-grade teacher at Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee, she was also: a longtime, savvy reviewer for Kirkus, BookPage, and the Horn Book; the original convener of the Calling Caldecott blog, which engages in smart, vigorous discussion of Caldecott-eligible books each fall, leading up to a mock Caldecott vote ...
New globe-trotting nonfiction
Summer means travel, and travel means discovery. Here are 10 July books that offer stimulating (but not always pleasant) explorations of various locales around the globe.
To the New Owners, Madeleine Blais
An “unfailingly charming reminiscence of summers spent on [Martha’s Vineyard].”
We Are Syrians, Adam Braver
“Three Syrians who have faced down their country’s police state tell their respective first-person stories.”
A Paris All Your Own, Eleanor Brown
“A quick and fun read that should delight seasoned ...
Photo courtesy Nina Subin
It didn’t occur to Zinzi Clemmons while writing her debut novel that it would eventually be about her mother, the “inescapable” woman who, growing up, eluded her.
“The novel that I originally started writing was completely fictional, about made-up characters that didn’t really resemble anyone I knew,” Clemmons recalls over the phone from L.A., where she lives with her husband, a translator of Italian. “And I think that was one of the big problems with it.”
Photo courtesy Magne Sandnes
Stylistic knottiness (and human naughtiness) abound in the intricacies of Norwegian writer Gunnhild Øyehaug’s debut English-language collection of stories, Knots. Øyehaug has written a collection of fabulous fable-like missives from our current age of human anxieties. The style mirrors, in many ways, the behavior of human beings: as Øyehaug remarks, “I’m interested in the intertwining of language at the sentence level and with the mess humans create. It’s impossible, at times, to disentangle the knots of man and woman, mother ...