In his introduction to Democracy in America, that epic tale of a young country told by an aristocrat from an old one, Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville predicted that many of his readers would criticize his work. His account of the New World experiment was "not precisely suited to anybody's taste; in
Adam Thirlwell loves to write about sex. It's is the central activity in The Escape, upholstered—like everything else in this allusive, philosophical, melancholy comedy—in mock-heroic chutzpah. Thirlwell's word choices are showy, his phrasing bravura: "They had sat in the rose garden, in the pale
Pearl Abraham's fourth novel, American Taliban, is the story of an American family riven by the disappearance of a young man, John Jude Parish, into the ranks of the Taliban weeks before 9/11. Though glancingly based on the life of John Walker Lindh, the novel differs in particulars: The eighteen-year-old
The tone of Orion You Came and You Took All My Marbles, the debut novel by Kira Henehan, announces itself on the title page—sonorous but disjointed, maybe a little overstuffed. Henehan's heroine is Finley, a seasoned detective with yellow eyes and red hair cut "as straight as the edge of a page."
Sam Munson's debut, The November Criminals, hinges on the distinct, adolescent voice of its narrator. In the tradition of Huck ("You don't know about me") and Holden ("If you really want to hear about it"), Munson's Addison Schacht starts with "You've asked me to explain what my best and worst
Jennifer Gilmore's Something Red opens in the summer of 1979. The hostage crisis in Iran will soon play out; the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is imminent. The political stakes are high, but passions are dulled. The Summer of Love and Freedom Summer are dusty memories. Kent State has become a legal
The afterword to Olga Grushin's second novel, The Line, explains that her book is based on Igor Stravinsky's 1962 visit to Russia, the great composer's return home after fifty years abroad. More than five thousand fans waited a year in line for a concert he would conduct, establishing schemes to
Scott Bradfield writes about America like the part-time expat he is. Living half in London, half in the United States, Bradfield keeps a wary distance from his homeland, employing his outcast narrators to do his dirty work: sneaking into suburban neighborhoods and peering into bedroom windows just