• print • Apr/May 2006

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  • print • June/July/Aug 2007

    Chimp Change

    “Bad monkey” is a childish euphemism a policeman might use to protect the sensitivity of an adolescent girl, Jane Charlotte, whose younger brother, Phil, was abducted while Jane was supposed to be watching him. Little does the policeman know that Jane is a “bad seed” who has sacrificed her brother, not to the “Bad Monkeys,” which is, in fact, a secret group that fights evil, but to an opposing secret group called the “Troop.” And, one suspects, little does the author know that the title suggests from the beginning the juvenile quality of his book, its combination of fairy-tale morality, contrived

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  • print • June/July/Aug 2007

    Renaissance woman Miranda July is a quirky, prolific video, Web, and performance artist. In 2005, she snatched a fistful of awards for her first feature film, Me and You and Everyone We Know. (She won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance and the Camera d’Or at Cannes, to note just the biggies.) Now, with No One Belongs Here More than You, a collection of sixteen stories, July makes her literary maiden voyage.

    These sagas of modern folly are packed with angst, manic energy, dark wit, and odd fancies—a distinctive July cocktail. One story opens, “Before he died, my father taught me his finger

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  • print • June/July/Aug 2007

    To paraphrase the compliment Joan Didion paid Fat City, Leonard Gardner’s classic 1969 novel set in Stockton, California, Richard Lange has got it right about Los Angeles. Dead Boys, his debut story collection, depicts average Southland life with unfaltering exactitude— the doughnut shop–cum-hangout, the sun’s merciless routine, Spanglish, and the disconsolateness of the carless. Such meticulously drawn commonplace scenery is remarkable in itself. But what’s most impressive about Lange’s tales is how his LA bypasses the usual accounts of nihilism and dystopia to signify instead the hard-luck

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