November 6, 2013 For one year, on her daily walks, poet Harryette Mullen observed the collision of the natural world with the man-made environs of Los Angeles. She translated her impressions into a series of tankas, 31-syllable poems in the Japanese tradition. The resulting collection is called Urban Tumbleweed: Notes From a Tanka Diary.
November 5, 2013 Loosely structured as a stroll through New York City, Roger Rosenblatt's memoir includes playful, endearing anecdotes from his childhood in Gramercy Park. But critic Heller McAlpin notes that his rambling riffs and excruciatingly slow pace make it a difficult read.
November 4, 2013 Bound by the confines of gender and finances, two young women take divergent paths in Elena Ferrante's The Story of a New Name, the second book in her "Neapolitan Novels" trilogy. Critic John Powers believes the bold, expansive series to be semi-autobiographical, a revelation from a secretive author who won't reveal her true name.
November 1, 2013 More than a year after her death, Nora Ephron — beloved reporter, screenwriter, director, and novelist — has been memorialized in a collection of her writings. Meg Wolitzer, who enjoyed a 20-year friendship with Ephron, says The Most of Nora Ephron forms a picture of an ambitious, honest feminist who demanded a lot from life and gave back even more.
October 31, 2013 Donna Tartt is a writer who takes her time — she's published just one novel per decade since her debut in 1992. But critic Maureen Corrigan says she'd gladly wait another 10 years for a book as extraordinary as Tartt's latest work, The Goldfinch, an "exuberantly plotted triumph."
October 29, 2013 Rebecca Walker's debut novel, Adé: A Love Story, is a whirlwind tale of romance and tragedy in Kenya. A biracial American college student falls in love with a Kenyan man, but their relationship is complicated by illness and government brutality. Reviewer Richard Torres says Walker rushes the romance and skimps on character development.
October 28, 2013 Jeanette Winterson's The Daylight Gate follows the witches and outcasts of 17th century England. The titular gate is a portal to hell — but England itself has become hellish for persecuted Catholics.
October 27, 2013 Rita Mae Brown, author of Rubyfruit Jungle and several mystery series, first read Suetonius' Lives of the Caesars in college. It's hardly a staid Latin history book — in fact, it's Brown's favorite guilty pleasure. An academic-looking cover hides a raunchy, violent, thrilling book, she says, full of "around-the-clock degradation."
October 25, 2013 At first glance, poet Tess Taylor was skeptical of Brenda Hillman's 17-year, four-book series of poems on the elements. But Taylor fell for the strange and spiraling verses in Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire, which was longlisted for the National Book Award. "I commend you to this lively, defiant, blazing book," she says.
October 23, 2013 Claudia Roth Pierpont's new Roth Unbound looks at themes in the work of Philip Roth (no relation). All the themes, in every book by the famously prolific writer. Reviewer Heller McAlpin says it's "a dazzling if sometimes exhausting journey" that dutifully addresses Roth's foibles as well as his talent.