Louis Menand's The Marketplace of Ideas should be required reading for anybody considering a PhD in the humanities, especially now that the recession is driving more and more people into the supposedly safe haven of graduate school. In less than 200 pages, Menand, an English professor at Harvard and
That Maaza Mengiste's Beneath the Lion's Gaze is all but un-put-downable is a feat for any novel, and perhaps especially for a debut, but it is all the greater an accomplishment given that not a single cheerful event brightens this book's nearly four hundred pages. Set in Addis Ababa during Ethiopia's
Early in Jonathan Dee's fifth novel, The Privileges, wealthy stay-at-home mom Cynthia Morey plays poker with her two young children, equipping them with sunglasses and bandanas to shield their faces from giving away their hands. When she notices one of her Manhattan neighbors—apparently confused
Last spring, Wired magazine ran a mini-feature on how to make small talk. The tone was that of a pep talk, the advice poignantly remedial. The overall effect was to make the heart bleed for the presumed social ineptitude of the magazine's tech-savvy readers. But what if we're all nerds now? There
Mark Gluth's The Late Work of Margaret Kroftis is a short novel with a fractured narrative structure, but it is also a complete and awe-inspiring text, offering an acute and moving portrayal of grief's powers. Opening with a disquieting scene about the reclusive writer of the title, as she is working
When I was an elementary and junior-high school student in Arizona in the 1970s, the school lunch calendar was always a harbinger of fun meals to come: made-from-scratch Salisbury steak, baked chicken, spaghetti with meatballs, or tamale pie ladled out by smiling lunch ladies in hairnets and washed
Robin D.G. Kelley's new biography performs the essential and gratifying task of transforming a deliberately enigmatic eccentric—"I like to stand out, man. I'm not one of the crowd"—into a warm, familiar, flesh-and-blood presence. Kelley emphasizes that the chapeau-sporting genius who wrote "Nutty"
"A Noiseless Flash" is how journalist John Hersey titled the first chapter of Hiroshima, his much-praised 1946 account of the detonation of the atomic bomb. Though witnesses some twenty miles away claimed that the explosion was as loud as thunder, none of the survivors interviewed by Hersey recalled