Maura Johnston

Critic David L. Ulin on nine literary earthquake books, including Haruki Murakami’s collection of stories, After the Quake, written after the 1995 Kobe earthquake: “Although in many of the pieces here the disaster plays only a peripheral part, it reverberates throughout the book like an aftershock.”

Novelist Marie Mutsuki Mockett, author of Picking Bones From Ash, writes a moving meditation on Japan. Before: “If it’s spring, the bento stalls in the station sell cherry blossom-themed meals to eat on the train . . . cakes made of mochi rice paste are cut into flower shapes.” And now: “After 36 hours, I get through to my family at the temple in Iwaki. My relatives are unharmed, but there are new fears of a catastrophic meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, just 30 miles away. . . . They assure me that they can escape at a moment’s notice.”

Rob Harvilla is leaving his post as the Village Voice’s music editor, and has announced that critic extraordinaire Maura Johnston is taking over the job.

The Observer previews a new glossy quarterly called Brooklyn Magazine that the folks behind L Magazine are launching today: “Shelter porn and foodie porn figure prominently. A recurring photo essay will follow a Brooklyn restaurant chef from the farmer's market to the kitchen to plating. Jason Marcus at Traif has the first honor. Another will drop by the domiciles of well-heeled Brooklynites, starting with Jen Menkins, owner of the Bird boutiques.” And supposedly, New Yorker writer Ben Greenman will contribute a column called the “Self-Loathing Gentrifier." Is a Portlandia-style comedy special soon to follow?

Tonight at BookCourt, we’ll be drinking in the intoxicating poetry of Nick Flynn as he reads from his new book, The Captain Asks For a Show of Hands.

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