Kate Christensen has been quietly carving a niche for herself as a chronicler of eccentric characters on the periphery of New York’s cultural vortex. Last year’s pen/Faulkner award for her fourth novel, The Great Man, raised her profile. The book’s conceit—two biographers competing for the attention
If you’ve ever wondered what life in the kitchen of a grand old London hotel might be like, Monica Ali’s painstakingly detailed new novel, In the Kitchen, is the book for you. In describing the intricate hierarchy that prevails in the restaurant of the Imperial Hotel, the complex choreography it
Poet Laurie Sheck's new hybrid work, A Monster's Notes, raises more questions than it answers about the life and times of Mary Shelley, the fate of Shelley's famous monster, and the act of literary creation. Depending on the reader's interest in such multilayered questioning and in the
In a particularly funny moment in Glen David Gold’s Sunnyside, set during World War I, Kaiser Wilhelm II thumbs through a captured copy of Photoplay in his imperial water closet. His Highness learns that starlet Mary Miles Minter associates people she meets with pretty colors. Mary Pickford, for
There’s no making nice here, no way of easing into this writer’s sensibility. In The Girl with Brown Fur, Stacey Levine ignores lyricism as an evolutionary dead end. Life is fractious and dire, her prose style says; let fiction serve as razor and torch. It’s not that Levine isn’t funny or that she
The eight stories in Lydia Peelle’s debut collection are remarkable for their clarity and precision. Set primarily in the dwindling forests and farmland surrounding Nashville, Tennessee, they concern the estrangement between modern life and nature, unsettling the reader’s hope for an easy reconciliation
The Israeli novelist Aharon Appelfeld can muster no patience for those critics who insist on dubbing him a Holocaust writer. In his harrowing memoir, The Story of a Life (2004), he admits “there is nothing more annoying” than that characterization for a Jewish novelist who survived the camps. J. M.
Since dropping out of high school at the age of sixteen with dreams of becoming a painter, Frederic Tuten has lived in Paris; traveled through Mexico and South America; earned a Ph.D. in nineteenth-century American literature; acted in a short film by Alain Resnais; conducted summer writing workshops