March 29, 2012 What do you do when your 19-year-old son becomes a father? You roll with the punches. Anne Lamott's new book, Some Assembly Required, is a witty and refreshingly honest record of the joys and stresses of becoming a first-time grandmother.
March 14, 2012 Kathryn Harrison's novel about Rasputin's daughter and the blood-soaked last days of the Russian imperial family should be full of wicked intrigue — but critic Heller McAlpin says it falls curiously flat.
March 6, 2012 Peter Cameron's latest novel is a melancholy period piece — turned on its head. A young nurse enters into a curious relationship with her patient's sexually conflicted son.
February 22, 2012 Thomas Mallon's new novelization of the infamous political scandal re-imagines the events through the eyes of the perpetrators. Critic Heller McAlpin says Mallon manages to capture both the metastasizing dishonesty and the ludicrousness of this great American tragedy of political ambition run amok.
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February 20, 2012 Krys Lee's short stories explore brutal, fracturing families with political and feminist overtones. Critic Heller McAlpin says to read this book twice — if you can bear to.
January 23, 2012 In this cheekily irreverent first novel by Shalom Auslander, an worry-worn family man moves to bucolic upstate New York — only to find that Anne Frank is squatting in his attic.
January 19, 2012 On the verge of foreclosure, bankruptcy and divorce, a couple returns to the site of their honeymoon in a last-ditch effort to make things work.
January 4, 2012 Playwright Alan Bennett offers a pair of deliciously devilish novellas about two middle-aged, middle-class British matrons — who aren't what they seem.
December 1, 2011 This year, the best books are those that remain with readers long after they turn the last page. Whether a sprawling nonfiction narrative, a riveting first novel or a wrenching memoir, these keepers are unforgettable.
November 2, 2011 Czech-born artist Peter Sis makes a case for the printed page with a gorgeously illustrated retelling of a 12th century Sufi poem. In The Conference of the Birds, Sis crafts a richly inked parable of a flight of birds that speaks to the painful but beautiful human journey toward understanding.
October 18, 2011 Novelist Anne Enright manages to turn her narrator's troubled, life-changing affair into an extended metaphor for Ireland's spectacular recent boom and bust. The Forgotten Waltz is about the uncontrollable forces that drive us into mayhem, bursting both our familial and economic bubbles.
Julian Barnes is the author of Metroland, Flaubert's Parrot and England, England.
October 13, 2011 When divorced Tony Webster receives an unexpected inheritance, he's pulled back into the past, to the end of his first relationship and the boyhood friend who picked up where he left off. Barnes tells a quietly devastating tale of memory, aging, time and remorse in The Sense of an Ending.
October 11, 2011 Middlesex is a hard act to follow, but Jeffrey Eugenides' latest is a sly, meta-fictional love triangle. Eugenides both satirizes and empathizes with his young intellectual characters' mix of pretentiousness, urgency and earnestness.
September 6, 2011 When her husband of 42 years dies suddenly as she is preparing dinner, the heroine of Lily Tuck's new novel sits vigil at his bedside, mulling over her imperfect marriage as well as life's confounding mathematical complexities.
September 1, 2011 Simon Garfield's lively, richly illustrated history of typefaces is an eye-opening — and sometimes eye-straining — read.
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