When I met U.S. Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, astronaut, at the Texas Book Festival five years ago, I immediately reverted to my 6-year-old self and got all fangirl on the poor man, who had just returned from a mission on the International Space Station and was suffering from mammoth jet lag. I was so star-struck I don’t think I uttered a complete sentence while he blinked politely at me. I saw redemption, therefore, in the opportunity to talk with ...
Kirker Butler photographed by Lee Cherry.
As a high schooler, Kirker Butler once choreographed the opening number of a beauty pageant.
“I grew up in a small town in the South, and my mother and father were on the county fair board. My mother was put in charge of the pageant. We still don’t know why,” says Butler, who set the steps to Neil Diamond’s “America.”
When it comes to the perfect person to write a satirical sendup of kiddie pageants ...
James Hannaham photographed by Ian Douglas.
A young black man named Eddie, driving through the darkness of rural Louisiana, terrycloth wrapped where his hands once lived: with this violent, hectic image, James Hannaham opens Delicious Foods, his second novel. It’s a hell of a hook, yes—questions raised, hearts racing—but from there, the prologue settles down. Upon reaching a small town, Eddie starts a successful business as the “handyman without hands,” and although the terrors of his own past never leave him, he finds some bit ...
A book review editor's job can be strange
Editing reviews of children's and teen books can lead to some pretty strange diversions. Take fireflies—or more precisely, best practices in catching fireflies.
In this issue we review Good Night, Firefly, by Gabriel Alborozo. It's a strikingly illustrated nighttime adventure about little Nina, who is afraid of the dark. When her night light's bulb burns out one summer evening, she catches a firefly in her backyard, putting it in a jar—no holes in its lid are visible—to ...
Christian Kiefer photographed by Jessica Eger
Christian Kiefer is smart. He has a PhD in American literature and teaches at American River College in Sacramento. His mentors are T.C. Boyle, Richard Ford, Pam Houston and Denis Johnson, who he thanks in the acknowledgements for his second novel, The Animals.
The Animals is so good, it’s hard to be smart about it. It’s got the lyrical language of top-tier literary fiction with the compulsive readability of a blood-pumping crime novel. It makes you think and feel ...
Previewing the books first published overseas that will soon be arriving in America.
Andrew O'Hagan, copyright broaddaylight
This is the launch of a feature we will publish on the 15th of each month to give you advance insight into books first published overseas. You’ll be hearing about these books when they arrive in America; now you know how the readers and critics who saw them first reacted to them. —Ed.
U.K.: Jan. 29, 2015 | Faber & Faber
U.S.: Mar. 24, 2015 | FSG
Once a gifted photographer, Anne is fighting ...
Michael Wood photographed by Gaby Wood
The famed director Alfred Hitchcock’s secret to success? He was afraid.
That’s Michael Wood’s take in Alfred Hitchcock: The Man Who Knew Too Much, a thoughtful peek into the director’s work and psyche released as part of the Icons series, which has in previous volumes delved into everyone from Jesus to Stalin to Edgar Allan Poe. Hitchcock is most famed as the master of suspense, and the book submits that it points back to his youth when Hitchcock was consumed ...
Allan Gurganus photographed by Roger Haile
The Bible offers a warning or two about worshipping false idols; Allan Gurganus’s recent novella, Decoy, gives readers a shelf-full of Biblical exegesis regarding the human complications of modern-day idolatry. If the object of worship is one’s hand-picked best friend (who might not know that yet), stand by for comedy and Old Testament calamities.
As Gurganus suggests, “We’re often most confused by the very person we love and desire most. We are snowblind.”
Decoy (which was previously published in ...